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Will lion hunts on prairie go to the dogs?

PIERRE — Hunters might be allowed to use dogs to pursue mountain lions throughout the rest of South Dakota, outside the Black Hills fire protection district.

The state House of Representatives will consider the legislation as early as today. If House members approve, the measure would move to the Senate for consideration.

Dogs are allowed for mountain lion hunting in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota, according to Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City.

No one else testified on either side during a hearing Thursday by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

She explained the legislation doesn’t affect the Black Hills, where the season length and quotas apply as set by the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission. The commission also has designated five special permits for hunters to take lions in Custer State Park using dogs. Those wouldn’t be affected by Olson’s legislation either.

“We have a different season out here, and I just thought it had a better chance of passing if I didn’t mess with that,” she said.

The committee endorsed the bill 11-0 and put it on the House consent calendar. That means House members won’t debate it but can ask questions.

A House member can request that it be scheduled for debate, however. If that happens, the bill would be scheduled for House consideration on Tuesday.