RAPID CITY – A group of conservation organizations have joined together to provide funding to continue the mountain lion studies that the Ogalala Parks & Recreation Authority has been conducting on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the last three years. The South Dakota Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Sierra Club’s National Wildlife & Endangered Species Committee, the Rapid City Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, the Black Hills Mountain Lion Foundation, Prairie Hills Audubon Society, and Tom Huhnerkoch, DVM, have joined together to provide $5,900 in funding for the OSPRA study during the 2008 season. The Oglala Sioux Tribe has designated the study of the mountain lions on the Reservation as an environmental priority. Trudy Ecoffey, OSPRA?s senior wildlife biologist, said, “The Tribe recognizes that the mountain lion is an indigenous species to this area and lions should continue to play an integral role in the ecosystem.” Ecoffey gratefully acknowledged the contribution, explaining that this funding will help in keeping the study crews in the field. “Our study is largely focused in northwestern corner of the Reservation, in the area located between and in the drainages of the White and Cheyenne Rivers. It’s a huge area and increasing fuel costs make it harder for our study crews to cover all of the territory we need to work in.”

It was this large contiguous area of potential habitat that attracted Sierra Club members in the Black Hills area to come up with the idea of raising funds to support the Lakota mountain lion study. Jim Margadant, local Sierra Club staff explained, “We have been promoting wilderness designation for the Red Shirt and Indian Creek roadless areas in the Cheyenne River valley for over six years. When we looked at all of the acres of secure wildlife habitat that is offered when you combine the Red Shirt, Indian Creek, Rake Creek areas with the Badlands National Park and the wildlife habitat involved in the Lakota lion study, our members wanted help further wildlife studies in that ecosystem.”

The funding grant will be formally announced at a presentation during the 2008 Endangered Species Day Celebration on Friday, May 16, 2008, at the Surbeck Center Ballroom on the SDSM&T campus in Rapid City. Ecoffey will be giving a presentation concerning OSPRA?s wildlife management and habitat restoration programs on the Pine Ridge Reservation. There is no charge to attend the event.

For additional information please contact Jim Margadant at jim.margadant@sierraclub.org or at 605-342-2244