Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
 
Photo of landsacape.

SOUTH DAKOTA LION SCIENCE AND RESEARCH

Outside the Black Hills, landowners can kill a lion year-round and it doesn't count toward the hunting quota.


Mountain Lion research in South Dakota is generally conducted by the state wildlife agency, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks.


Always a work in progress, please contact us if we are missing work or new projects have started up.

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  • Return to the portal page for South Dakota.

  • The status of puma concolor in South Dakota.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in South Dakota.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in South Dakota.

  • Cougar science and research in South Dakota.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

South Dakota Lion Science

The SDGFP conducts wildlife research, often in conjunction with researchers at South Dakota State University. The SDGFP allocates part of their federal funding towards wildlife research for mountain lion management, as well as to manage other wildlife species.


There are three main research projects that have taken place or are currently taking place in the state. These projects include Study 7537, which focuses on determining impacts of mountain lions on bighorn sheep and other prey sources in the Black Hills. Some of the objectives are to assess puma prey selection as well as evaluating seasonal and annual prey consumption rates. The second is Study 7587, with the objective of evaluating the effects of hunting on mountain lions in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Researchers wanted to scientifically verify whether hunting pressure on mountain lions is additive or compensatory. That is, researchers wanted to know whether hunting kills mountain lions that would have died anyway, or whether hunting kills additional individuals that could have gone on to breed. An additional objective was to examine the prevalence of infectious diseases within the population.


A third research project, Study 7545, has focused on estimating population size of mountain lions using DNA markers. The objectives were to estimate mountain lion population size using mark recapture methods with radio marking and compare it to DNA techniques. They published a paper entitled "Assessing temporal genetic variation in a cougar population: influence of harvest and neighboring populations."


This project found that genetic variability within the Black Hills has been maintained despite increased mountain lion harvest. The study emphasized the importance of mountain lion dispersal across state boundaries and the need for collaboration among management agencies.



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