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GF&P officials clarify dogs-and-lions bill

RAPID CITY (AP) -- A new South Dakota law that appears to authorize the use of dogs to hunt mountain lions does not actually change restrictions and is confusing hunters, state wildlife officials say.

The bill signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Wednesday is titled, "An act to allow the use of dogs to hunt mountain lions and leashed dogs to track and retrieve wounded or presumed dead big game animals." That is misleading, Game, Fish & Parks Department Regional Supervisor Mike Kintigh told the media.

"I've heard people say, 'OK, now we can go out anywhere and hunt lions with dogs.' It doesn't do that at all," he said. "It actually started out to allow the use of leashed dogs to retrieve wounded big game, and then that lions stuff got confusing."

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission already had the authority to allow the use of dogs for lion hunting -- but dogs are still prohibited for that purpose outside of Custer State Park.

"The existing language in statute on that was reconfigured a bit, and unfortunately, that was misunderstood," said Emmett Keyser, an assistant Wildlife Division director for Game, Fish & Parks in Pierre.

The intent of the bill is to allow the use of leashed dogs in finding big game animals such as lions that are wounded or presumed dead.

"We had a guy from Sioux Falls bring that issue. We ended up not bringing it as a department bill but said we would work with him on it," Keyser said. "Then we had people show up to testify who thought the bill would really open up the use of dogs for lions. But that part of the law hasn't changed."