A recent study presented to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department revealed the state’s mountain lion population were taking as many deer as the hunters were durIng the year. This has caused a near panic as concerns surface about how many deer can be taken before the deer population begins to decline. Assuming that one can scientifically divine that answer and if we had responsible wildlife management in that state (or most of the states in the union, for that matter), then the department might be moving to limit the number of deer taken in the state by hunters. They would have the absolute good sense and the understanding of both nature and mountain lions to know that the lions will manage the deer populations better than any human can and work to minimize human impacts. But that is not what is happening.
Most state wildlife departments are not interested in performing true wildlife management but instead practice hunting protection and development. They are generally pawns of their state’s political machines and subservient to administrators who are political appointees of their governors. It’s all too common that these appointees are hunters who view the states as their own private playgrounds. Genuine wildlife management does not stand a chance when this is true.
The South Dakota reaction to the report is an example of such a poisonous scenario. They are looking to increase the number of lions that hunters are allowed to take in the belief that they will solve the problem by thinning out the mountain lions in the state. In a tip of the hat to environmental attitudes and understandings of the 1800’s, they are claiming that people want to see fewer mountain lions. This also portrays the killers as heroes who carry out the will of the people and protect the citizens of the state. There is nothing heroic about this approach. It is an illustration of ignorance and arrogance based a belief system that no matter what we do to the earth around us, we will survive.
If you want to be heroic and still believe you must go kill a mountain lion, leave your gun at home, grab a Bowie knife and head out. But real courage involves doing what is right for the world around you.
I don’t believe that killing more mountain lions in the South Dakota case is it.