Historically, mountain lions (Puma concolor) occurred throughout South Dakota and were considered numerous in the Black Hills. However, the population declined in the early 1900’s due to unregulated hunting, and bounties were placed on mountain lions until 1966. In 1978, mountain lions were listed as a state threatened species. With a breeding population established in the Black Hills and a better understanding of population dynamics within the Black Hills, the mountain lion was removed from the state threatened species list and classified as a big game animal in 2003 with protection under a year-round closed season. The first hunting season was established in 2005 as an “experimental season” and a season continues to be implemented as a management tool to manage mountain lion populations at a desired level.
The Black Hills Fire Protection season will be closed earlier if the harvest limit is reached. Statewide season is open year-round.
- When a limit of 60 total mountain lions are taken; or
- When a limit of 40 female mountain lions are taken.
When a lion is harvested:
- All harvested mountain lions must be presented to a GFP representative for inspection within 24 hours of harvest.
- Mountain lions harvested in the Black Hills must be reported to GFP personnel, and checked in at the Rapid City GFP Regional Office (4130 Adventure Trail at the site of the Rapid City Outdoor Campus) or the park headquarters at Custer State Park.
- Hunters who are successful in taking a mountain lion must call the GFP Regional Office at 605.394.2391, or CSP office headquarters at 605.255.4515, during weekday office hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.), or call State Radio at 605.393.8121 during nights and weekends.
- Arrangements can then be made to have a GFP representative meet the hunter at the Rapid City GFP Office or the headquarters at Custer State Park.
- Individuals who take mountain lions outside of the Black Hills must contact a Conservation Officer or other GFP representative within 24 hours of kill to arrange for inspection of the carcass.
2023 Black Hills Mountain Lion Count