Kevin Woster delivers the horrifying news that the SDGFP commission is hell-bent on exterminating South Dakota's cougar population by incrementally increasing 2011's kill numbers even though there is overwhelming scientific evidence that predators help sustain the aspen growth that retards the advance of the mountain pine beetle by predating the elk and deer that browse aspen shoots.
In a state where Republicans control the wildlife management agency charged with "conservation," biologists are again stymied by an entrenched political machine greased by the hunter's lobbies and the livestock producers that contribute to the GOP-dominated Governor's Club.
In two phone interviews conducted this morning with activists involved in cougar preservation efforts, ip learned that in past lawsuits seeking to stop this slaughter, courts in South Dakota have exhibited flagrant complicity with actions that generate large amounts of revenue from "sportsmen" that converge on the state to stalk and kill these magnificent animals.
Cougars are a keystone species in the food web. Remove them, and coyote numbers will swell; wolf packs hiding out in the Powder River Basin and in the Bighorns, will find their way to the Black Hills, if they have not already been, encouraged by fewer cougar numbers. Next, sage grouse will cease to exist, fewer aspen mean fewer songbirds. The bark beetle is managing the pine forests because South Dakotans have been deceived into blaming the Forest Service and State Forestry for not controlling the bug.
The Game Fish and Parks is an arm of the South Dakota Republican Party, nothing more.
What if hunters were trained to administer specially-designed darts filled with the cougar equivalent of DepoProvera to chemically spay or neuter a cougar, or wolf, for a year, maybe longer. Design hunts around breeding seasons. Use hounds in some hunts to better identify and include a microchip to track animal movements. Encourage hunters to pay to manage wildfire through wildlife in a more holistic way.
Where is the outrage? Get angry!