Hunters have killed 26 mountain lions in the Black Hills Fire Protection District so far this season. 13 of the harvested cats have been females. The Black Hills season runs through March 31; the quota is 75 lions, or 50 females.
An additional 3 lionshave been killed in the Prairie Region so far in 2015. A new rule will go into effect on March 2nd, 2015 allowing the use of hounds to hunt mountain lions year-round on private lands in the Prairie Region.
This story illustrates that although science is constant, states differ in their response to mountain lion incidents. Colorado authorities successfully hazed a mountain lion that had a deer cache under the deck of a family home. The agency removed the deer and made life a little uncomfortable for the lion to deter it from further activity in the area. Yet in Oregon the policy is automatic execution for any lion that is seen near human development. Most states claim to base their protocols on science so what is so different from the science that Oregon is using from the science utilized by Colorado?
Thank you Colorado for not inciting panic and for being realistic about how we can safely and humanely respond to mountain lions.
Please click this link to send your comments http://www.cougarfund.org/advocacy/policy-watch/
An Idaho man, writing in the Coeur d’Alene Press, has shed light on the challenges female cougars face not just in Idaho, but across the western United States where lions are hunted. Cougars can reproduce at any time of year, and females are pregnant or caring for dependent young for nearly 75% of their lives. These two unique life history traits that have helped cougars evolve into the North America’s widest ranging predator also threaten it’s long-term survival.
Cougar hunting seasons often span eight to ten months of the year, with some running all year long. As a result, females with kittens are being hunted and killed. Kittens are then orphaned and either starve, succumb to the elements, or come into conflict with humans as they attempt to eek out a sub-optimal living.
This opinion article hits on all the key points, and highlights exactly what we are working to change.
HB 2050/HB 2181/SB 126/SB 453 – Identical Bills that will allow individual counties to exempt themselves from Measure 18 which banned the use of dogs to hunt or pursue cougars. A two thirds majority of county voters is needed to facilitate the exemption.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on HB 2050 & HB 2181 on February 17th, 2015. Comments must be submitted 24 hours in advance of the hearing, so please make sure to send your comments before Monday, February 16th.
Click here to send an email to the House Committee telling them you oppose HB 2050 & HB 2181 (This link will open a pre-addressed email to the Representatives in your default mail client. If it does not open properly, make sure you have selected a default mail client on your computer or device. Please contact us if it still does not work). Be sure to include your name and where you are from in the body of the email. Please be polite and courteous. Also consider including some or all of these talking points in your message:
- Despite quota increases (the quota now stands at 970) and astronomical license sales (nearly 50,000 per year), hunter harvest has remained relatively stable in recent years (between 200-300 animals each year). This suggests that the population may not be as robust and fast-growing as some are claiming.
- Cougar complaints are declining (from a high of 1,072 in 1999 to 287 in 2012). This is in large part due to ODFW’s expanded education and outreach efforts. Increased awareness – not increased hunting – is the key to reducing conflict between humans and wildlife.
- Research in nearby Washington State found that high levels of cougar harvest resulted in increased complaints and conflict. As hunters remove older, trophy-sized cougars from the population, these “well behaved” adults are often replaced by inexperienced juveniles who are more prone to conflict with humans. In response to these findings, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has adapted their approach to cougar management.
- Female cougars spend nearly 75% of their lives pregnant or caring for dependent young. Any increase in hunter harvest will bring with it an increase in kitten orphaning, an outcome that neither managers, hunters, or non-consumptive users will find palatable.
- Current best-available science indicates that even extremely high harvest of predators has little long-term benefit for declining ungulate populations (the major culprit remains habitat loss or degradation).
- The proponents of these bills have failed to provide any data that justifies hound hunting. Increased opportunity and participation have not resulted in increased harvest, and conflict has been gradually decreasing. Combined with the lack of empirical data on cougar populations, the need for hound hunting is not supported.