Bill to let landownwers killing cougars keep pelt

Jan 25, 6:55 AM EST

Bill to let landownwers killing cougars keep pelt

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — State Rep. Betty Olson says a bill that she and several
other lawmakers have introduced in the 2009 Legislature would let landowners
shoot cougars regardless of whether the landowners have a special mountain
lion license.

Olson, a Prairie City Republican, says HB1004 also would let those shooting
the lion keep the carcass if they want to take it to a taxidermist or have it
made into a pelt.

The bill would change some rules now in place, she said.
"If I shoot it now, it's not illegal. But I can't keep the pelt. (Game, Fish
and Parks) will come out and take the pelt. If I shoot it and I've bought
that license from Game and Fish, I can shoot it any time of the year, but I
have to buy the license every year," Olson said.

"You very seldom see the mountain lions. They're nocturnal, they're
secretive. I've only seen one, and I didn't have a rifle with me when I saw it.
I would have shot it then and I would have lost the pelt," she said.
"There are people that would like to have (pelts) and I think they should if
it (lion) was out there fixing to eat on their horses or their cows or their
sheep."

Tony Leif, the GF&P's Wildlife Division director, said landowners already
can shoot mountain lions that they consider a threat. They just have to buy a
license each year, he said.

"The part about allowing landowners to protect themselves or their property
… from a mountain lion is already in place. We have a number of instances
where a landowner has elected to kill a mountain lion because it was on their
property in close proximity to their livestock or close proximity to their
home or buildings, and in no case have we ever prosecuted any of those
landowners for doing that," Leif said.

"The key in this particular piece of legislation is not only does it allow
landowners to kill that particular animal, but it allows them to keep it,
too," he said. "And that's where we cross the line because if a landowner wants
to hunt mountain lions, kill a mountain lion, there's a license available for
them."
Last year, the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission set the year-around
mountain lion hunting season for landowners. It only affects landowners outside
the Black Hills Fire Protection District.

Olson's bill would hurt the GF&Ps ability to manage mountain lions,
according to Leif.

It has been referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources
Committee.

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http://www.BigCatRescue.org
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