Saturday, July 27, 2019

Black Hills residents want fewer cougars killed

Over a hundred wildlife species in South Dakota are at risk to the Republican Party but most Black Hills residents want fewer mountain lions killed while Republican welfare ranchers in the prairie areas want them eradicated according to the just-released cougar "management" plan from South Dakota Game, Fish & Plunder (GF&P).
Black Hills residents were more likely than residents on the prairie to agree (55% compared with 36%) that a healthy, viable population of mountain lions in SD is important to them (Longmire 2019). Black Hills residents were more likely than residents on the prairie to agree (67% compared to 54%) that mountain lions’ presence was a sign of a healthy environment (Longmire 2019). Black Hills residents were more likely to disagree than residents on the prairie (67% compared to 50%) with the statement that having mountain lions in SD was too dangerous a risk to people (Longmire 2019). Black Hills residents were more likely than residents on the prairie to indicate they would prefer the mountain lion population in the Black Hills Fire Protection District remain about the same over the next five years (44% compared to 38%). [SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LION MANAGEMENT PLAN, 2019-2029, Draft]
GF&P may have been interested in science at some point in its past but like Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and as revenues collapse the eventual extirpation of mountain lions from the Black Hills looks like a given. Under pressure from the Humane Society of the United States the South Dakota Game, Fish and Plunder Commission did reverse itself on hunting cougars with weaponized dogs.

After the 2002 Grizzly Gulch Fire opened nearly 13,000 acres of overgrown and beetle-killed ponderosa pine invasive weeds and cheatgrass moved in because collisions with cars and hunters have killed off most of the native bighorn sheep, elk, white-tailed and mule deer. Now, a herd of disease-prone bighorn sheep, likely seeking relative protection from cougars orphaned by one of Game, Fish and Plunder's other failed policies, has moved right in and made themselves at home within the City of Deadwood causing traffic snarls and wreaking havoc on gardens and lawns.

As a result, GF&P wants to auction opportunities to "harvest" bighorn sheep to prop up Republican Governor Kristi Noem's pheasant killing initiative.
The GFP Department is planning to create a marketing strategy for the auction that may include hiring a national firm to get the word out about the auction. Wild Sheep Foundation representatives were supportive of the changes, including limiting the bighorn sheep funds to $85,000. [State pushes spendy bighorn sheep tags to raise money for pheasant habitat fund]
The reasoning is hardly mysterious: it's all about the money hunting and subsidized grazing bring to the South Dakota Republican Party depleting watersheds and smothering habitat under single-party rule.

Not wolves, cougars or even coyotes: golden eagles levied a 53% mortality rate on domestic sheep on one ranch in Wyoming. Kill off apex predators like wolves and cougars; spray glyphosate and POEA on everything then wonder why cervids contract a prion disease like Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

During one season a white christian trophy hunter illegally slew a three-month old, fourteen pound cougar kitten in the Black Hills. The idiot was cited for a class one misdemeanor improper tagging, which carries a penalty of fines to $1,000, one year in jail and loss of hunting privileges for a year. That particular incident is par for the course in Lawrence County where firearms and alcohol mixed with meth chasers are as common as sibling marriages.

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