Oregon has made another controversial decision to lethally remove a mountain lion from an area in the town of Bend. The commitment to public safety is indeed understandable and no-one would argue otherwise. The question is, however, whether the knee jerk reaction of immediately killing mountain lions is the very best response to ensuring public safety?
Oregon’s neighbor to the south, California, has a totally different attitude and response to the presence of mountain lions in that great state. The people of California voted to protect cougars from the practice of recreational slaughter. This does not mean that mountain lions are not managed, indeed authorities still respond to situations of public safety and livestock growers are able to protect their domestic interests. The difference is in the way that authorities respond and the receptivity of the public in contributing to their own safety.
Within hours of each other the following two scenarios unfolded. We must question why one was dealt with in a proactive, humane and successful manner and the actions in the other were reactive and frankly, offensive. How can we encourage states to be sensitive and protect their citizens at the same time? California and Florida prove it can be done. We must ask the states that ‘shoot first’ why they make the choice to do so, because that is all it is…a choice