In 2012 the Wyoming Game and Fish Department approved plans to drastically increase the sport hunting of mountain lions in their region of the Black Hills. This small island-like patch of mountain lion habitat lies between Wyoming and South Dakota, and it is home to a small — though crucial — population of lions.
The Black Hills may only support a couple hundred mountain lions, but dispersing juveniles from this region are America’s best hope for seeing the species reestablish populations throughout the Midwest and eastern states.
Unfortunately, both Wyoming and South Dakota have stated they want to suppress the Black Hills lion population. For the current trophy season, both states increased their quotas by fifty percent and have created special “unlimited zones” that allow for an unrestricted number of lions to be killed. Many biologists speculated there would not be enough lions to reach the inflated quotas.
To our morbid surprise, within a few months Wyoming ranchers and trophy hunters have already maxed out some of the hunting zones and killed a whopping 56 lions in their portion of the Black Hills.
Artificially shrinking a mountain lion population has been shown to decrease the overall age of the population and increase conflicts with people and domestic animals.