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Wolves, Moose and Bears, Oh My!

    There are all kinds of wildlife in the Black Hills. We have lots of bison, deer, and elk. There are populations of bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Coyotes and mountain lions are around, but elusive.

    But there are three species — moose, bears, and wolves — that you probably won’t see.

    At least not yet.

    Of the three, moose are the most likely candidates. Occasionally a lone moose will wander into the Black Hills from the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. In fact, in the summer and fall of 2016, there were confirmed reports of a lone cow wandering the central Black Hills.

    Bears were once common in the region, but they disappeared from the Black Hills of South Dakota several years ago. Recent sitings have turned out to be dark-colored rocks or some other illusion. However, in recent years black bears have been confirmed across the state line in the Bear Lodge Mountains in Wyoming, which are part of the Black Hills National Forest.

    Wildlife officials say they wouldn’t be surprised if black bears turn up in the Black Hills proper. There’s debate about whether the Hills have enough suitable habitat for a population of black bears.

    Wolves once roamed throughout western South Dakota, but they were killed off, primarily by ranchers who feared for the loss of lambs and calves. Now wolves are extremely rare in the Black Hills. There was a confirmed siting in the Southern Hills in 2015. Wildlife officials said it was likely a lone male who had ranged from established populations in Wyoming or Minnesota.

    So if you do see a moose, a bear or a wolf in the Black Hills, get a photo. You’ll need to prove it.