RAPID CITY, S.D. — The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
Department has fired a big game biologist who waited almost a day to
report a mountain lion kill that would have ended the hunting
The lion shot by Lowell Schmitz of Rapid City on
Feb. 29 would have been the 70th of the season had he checked it in
that day, prompting an automatic season closure. Schmitz waited
until the next day to report the kill, and three more lions ended up
being killed March 1.
Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Jeff
Vonk confirmed Schmitz’s firing to the Rapid City Journal but
declined to elaborate. Schmitz did not immediately return telephone
calls to the Journal or to The Associated Press.
not violate regulations — hunters have a one-day reporting grace
period. Schmitz said last week that he was delayed in reporting by
parental duties and a migraine headache.
The three lions
that were killed over the state-set limit of 70 also were deemed
However, Schmitz’s reporting delay was
criticized by mountain lion advocates, including Custer veterinarian
Sharon Seneczko, founder of the Black Hills Mountain Lion
“It would have been so easy to call that in,”
Seneczko said state officials should reconsider
regulations on what is expected of lion hunters when the quota is
close to being reached.
The grace period is in place because
many hunters are in remote areas of the Black Hills.
not saying you have to walk to the highest peak or anything,”
Seneczko said. “All we’re saying is when you do get cellphone
service, you should be able to call that in.”
Game Fish and Parks Wildlife Division director, said the agency
provides a number of ways for hunters to keep track of the quota.
The status is updated as quickly as possible on the agency website.
There is a toll-free phone number to call for updates. Hunters also
can get updates on their cellphones.
“Our goal is to try to
use every possible communication means there is to make sure hunters
know what the status of the season is and, most importantly, when
the season is over,” Leif said. “I can tell you this, we will step
back and talk about our reporting system and the requirements we put
on hunters. After two years of exceeding the harvest limit, it’s a
topic worth discussion.”
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