Mountain lion euthanized in Hill City

By Gray Hughes

Despite a mountain lion (not the one pictured above) being euthanized in Hill City on Nov. 12, officials say seeing a mountain lion in the wild is a rare site.

A mountain lion was euthanized in Hill City on Nov. 12.

The mountain lion was seen around town for several days, said Brett McMacken, Hill City city administrator, which led to the decision to euthanize the mountain lion.

“It was tracked and determination was made to euthanize it because of its potential threat and proximity to the public,” he said.

Mountain lions are known to travel through the Black Hills when pushed from their home territory, according to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

Deer are the mountain lion’s primary food. Their primary natural enemies are other mountain lions, disease, vehicles and people.

The mountain lion that was euthanized was a male that was approximately 4 years old. It was euthanized on the east side of town by Chute Rooster Drive.

It weighed about 130 pounds.

Despite the mountain lion in Hill City recently, seeing a mountain lion is a rare occurrence, said John Kanta, regional supervisor for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

“We have a healthy population of mountain lions in the Black Hills,” Kanta said. “Having said that, mountain lions are very secretive and the chances of seeing one is rare. The chances of having an encounter with a mountain lion is very low.”

Mountain lions can be dangerous in “certain situations,” he said, but the threat to humans is minimal.

There has never been a confirmed case of a mountain lion attacking a human in South Dakota, Kanta added.

“Mountain lions can be a risk to pets and livestock if the pets and livestock are not properly protected,” he said. “We have a number of recommendations to minimize risk to humans, pets and livestock.”

If someone lives in “lion country,” South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks would like to remind people not to feed the lions.

If someone encounters a lion, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks says to stay calm, stop and do not run, try to appear large, make plenty of noise, throw stones, branches or whatever is near as well as getting your hands on anything you can to throw at the mountain lion without crouching down or turning one’s back, while slowly waving arms and speaking firmly, and fight back if the mountain lion attacks.

South Dakota offers unlimited licenses for hunting mountain lions, Kanta said.

“There is a harvest limit of 60 total mountain lions or 40 female mountain lions in the Black Hills,” he added. “The season dates run from Dec. 26 through March 31 in the Black Hills. The season runs year round with no limit outside of the Black Hills.”

So far in South Dakota for 2018, 31 mountain lions in the Black Hills have been harvested, and 11 mountain lions have been harvested outside of the Black Hills.

If someone in the general public sees a mountain lion, Kanta says to immediately contact South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks so they can determine if something needs to be done about it.

“Depending on the situation we may just write a report or we may go as far as to euthanize the mountain lion,” he said.