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Mountain lion quotas might be 'status quo' next hunting season

PIERRE — State biologists aren't recommending any changes to the next hunting season for mountain lions.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission will consider the proposal at its meeting today and Friday in Fort Pierre.

If changes aren't sought, the commission won't need to hold a public hearing next month about the season. That would be a big change from many past seasons when hunters, lion advocates, landowners, state biologists and commissioners often disagreed with each other, sometimes strongly.

The state Wildlife Division suggests that the Black Hills harvest limit remain at 75 lions total or 50 females.

Those were the limits for the 2013-2014 season. But hunters haven't taken that many lions since the season resumed in 2005 in South Dakota.

They harvested 22 males and 33 females in the 2013-2014 season that began last December.

The 2013 harvest was 26 males and 35 females. The 2012 season saw hunters take highs of 27 males and 46 females.

The proposed 2014-2015 season would open Dec. 26. It would run through March 31, 2015, unless one of the harvest limits is reached sooner.

Licensed hunters who don't take a lion in the Black Hills can take one lion apiece per year outside the Black Hills. The season outside the Black Hills runs year-round.