URGENT RALLY ON MAY 22ND AT 1 PM AND HEARING AT 3 PM TO PROTEST HOUND HUNTING HB 2624. PROTECT OUR COUGARS! PROTECT OUR VOTES! SHOW AND RALLY AND TESTIFY TO STOP HB 2624!! HEARING TO KILL COUGAR WITH HOUND DOGS HB 2624.
WE NEED YOU TO TESTIFY AND STOP THIS BILL FROM HAPPENING!
WE NEED YOU TO RALLY BEFORE THE HEARING TO STOP THIS BILL!
WHEN: Hearing is Wednesday, May 22, 2013.
TIME: 3 PM
LOCATION: Capitol Building, 900 State Street, Salem, Oregon Room C
RALLY: Wednesday, May 22, 2013.
Capitol Building, 900 State Street at the base of the steps on the
parking island. Signs, flyers and postcards are done and ready to go.
We just need YOU for the rally to happen!
RALLY TIME: 1 PM to 2 PM.
This leaves enough time to get to the hearing room to sign in to talk.
Hunters, poachers, and hound hunters will try and clog the hearing so
you cannot speak. Get there before they do and sign in!!
needs an outside unbiased peer review of our current Cougar Management
Plan that is based on sound science and an accurate cougar model
population count. We need to scrap Oregon Department Of Fish and
Wildlife’s (ODFW) cougar management plan and create a new sustainable
and humane plan based on sound science! The current plan is a failed
and flawed plan. Written into the body of HB 2624 is the demand for
sound science and our current Cougar Management Plan cannot support
sound science! Both the current plan and population model count were
written with a political motive in mind and were not based on sound
science. The Oregon Cougar Management Plan is a failed and flawed plan
that supports failed and flawed policies and ODFW is largely to blame for
this! According to the law of M18, every 5 years ODFW was required to
get an outside unbiased peer review. They did not do that. Instead of
supporting Oregonians and their vote, ODFW supports a small band of
Hound Hunters, the NRA, Safari Club International and poachers. ODFW
only did one peer review in 18 years! And the review stated that ODFW's
Cougar Management Plan is a bad plan that is not based on sound
science. It was so bad that Dr. Jane Goodall mentioned it in her book,
"The 10 Trusts" as being a bad plan and the Smithsonian Magazine wrote
in an article dated September 2006 about our failed and flawed plan!
Dr. Wielgus from Washington State University did the peer review and he
stated there was no real science in the plan and that ODFW, "needs to go
back to the drawing board and start over!"
Furthermore, HB 2624
and many other cougar bills that have surfaced, want to usurp the voters
voice and overturn M18. Not only do the hunters, the NRA, Safari Club
International, Hound Hunters and poachers want to kill cougar, they want
to take your right away to a meaningful and democratic vote!
OUR VOTE! PROTECT OUR COUGAR! JOIN OUR RALLY AND ATTEND THE HEARING
TO TESTIFY! IT IS TIME ODFW STAND BEHIND THE VOTER AND NOT SHADY BILLS
TO KILL COUGAR!
Questions: Contact Jayne Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit www.OreCat.org to learn more about Oregon’s cougars.
Below are links to the hound hunters. Learn how disrespectful they are to Oregon voters and our cougars!
http://www.ifish.net/board/showthread.php?p=4571095#post4571095 How Hound Hunters interpret the “law” and moral issues.
http://www.eugeneweekly.com/20130516/news-features/predatory-nonprofit The truth behind the myth of HB 2624. It is fraud!
Here is Dr. Wielgus's cougar report:
Stop the Killing (WARNING, NOT FOR CHILDREN! Shows a hound hunter killing a cougar):
YOU KBOO RADIO FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT FOR OREGON'S COUGAR!!!! WE HEAR
YOU IN RURAL OREGON!!!
HOW MANY COUGAR DO WE HAVE? HOW MANY DO WE NEED? BEATS ME,
LETS STOP KILLING THEM AND FIND OUT!
Oregon needs an outside unbiased peer
review of their cougar population and the policies that impact them.
We need to be assured that our vote for Measure 18 are being honored
before this irreplaceable resource, the cougar, disappears! STOP THE BILLS THAT IGNORE THE VOTERS VOICE AND THE PROTECTION M18 OFFERS COUGARS. STOP the NRA and Safari Club (International) H.B.2624 and H.B. 2390 designed by Brian Clem, HB 3395 by Sherrie Sprenger, and Senate Bill 428! All three bills are the same! All three bills kill cougars using hound dogs. This is abusive to the dogs, the cougar and the cougar cubs! California has a better plan for cougars: http://news.yahoo.com/mountain-lion-protections-strengthened-california-192949562.html
Oregon's plan is to kill our cougar - even the cubs! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=colv5FIZHrw
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATIVE TODAY AT: http://www.leg.state.or.us/senate/ AND ASK THAT THEY DO NOT SUPPORT BILLS TO KILL COUGAR AND WOLVES. Tell them that Oregon needs an unbiased outside peer review of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Cougar Management Plan and an accurate cougar population count NOW before we kill anymore cougar or wolves. Click on the OreCat Home button to learn more and donate today to help us fight for the lives of our cougar and wolves!
Study: Poachers kill as many deer in Oregon as hunters
By Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has found that poachers are killing as many mule deer as legal hunters.
The poaching is considering a contributing factor to a decline in the
state mule deer population, which has fallen to 216,000 animals from
historic peaks of more than 300,000.
Research supervisor DeWayne Jackson in Roseburg said poachers
typically kill female deer, which are more important to reproduction.
Licensed hunters kill more bucks than does.
"If we look at the illegal take, it's basically equal to the legal
take — it's bad," said Michelle Dennehy, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman
in Salem. "Poaching is not ethical, it's not hunting."
State biologists discovered the level of poaching during a five-year
research study of deer between Bend and the California border, The
Oregonian reported. The state study of 500 mule deer fitted with radio
collars was conducted between July 2005 and last January.
Researchers said 128 deer died during the study. Of those, poachers
killed 19 and hunters legally shot 21. Cougars killed 15 and eight were
hit and killed by cars.
Of the rest, five succumbed to coyotes, disease claimed five and four
others died while tangled in fences or from some other accident,
Biologists listed 51 as "cause of death unknown," but poachers could
have taken some of those, he said. "Sometimes we just find the radio
collar laying out in the sagebrush," he said.
Because the study wasn't designed to detect poachers, biologists
don't know if other areas have comparable numbers of deer taken
illegally, said Don Whittaker, Fish and Wildlife ungulate coordinator.
But wildlife managers suspect poaching is happening across Oregon.
Poaching "is out of hand in Oregon," said Ken Hand of Klamath Falls,
regional director of the 11,000-member nonprofit Mule Deer Foundation
based in Salt Lake City. "It's going on all over the state, 365 days a
year. From all the contacts I have around the state, I just hear about
The chance of Oregon's mule deer population ever rebuilding seem
pretty slim "with the predators out there, including the humans," he
Oregon mule deer are native to the state and typically found east of
the Cascade Range crest. Wildlife managers say the deer are under
intense pressure from predators, including an estimated 5,700 cougars
roaming Oregon's forests and high deserts, up from 2,600 two decades
Oregon also has 25,000 black bears, and Canadian gray wolves have
staked claim to the state's northeastern corner. All three species prey
on mule deer.
Automobiles, too, account for plenty of mule deer deaths. A Fish and
Wildlife study documented 1,626 mule deer killed by motor vehicles along
150 miles of U.S. 97 and Oregon 31, south of Bend, between October 2005
Dennehy said habitat issues are also a concern in central Oregon,
where resort development, new homes and other human activities have
sharply reduced winter range for mule deer.
It's difficult to catch poachers in the act, said Oregon State Police game officer Chris Hawkins of La Grande.
Many areas simply don't have many officers, he said. Wallowa County,
which is the size of Delaware and Rhode Island and has a population of
7,150, has three game officers, Hawkins said.
Dennehy said the Oregon Hunters Association's "turn-in-poachers"
program, or TIP, offers rewards, but that won't cure the problem.
"It's a very vast landscape," Dennehy said. "We can't have eyes everywhere."
Study shows surprising rate of mule deer poaching
Published: Monday, November 15, 2010, 9:21 PM Updated: Monday, December 13, 2010, 10:59 PM
often like to shoot deer as trophies, wildlife officials say. They can
make thousands of dollars selling mounted heads as decorations.Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the number of whitetail deer in Oregon.
GRANDE -- The 62-year-old retired eastern Oregon businessman admits to
poaching dozens of Oregon mule deer over the past 35 years with
everything from .22-caliber rifles to scope-sighted hunting rifles.
the way he grew up in the Midwest: Poaching was a rite of passage in a
culture of blue-collar rural men who held down their grocery bills by
illegally killing a deer now and then.
In his view, most
Oregon poachers are rural men like himself "who have been in the woods
all their lives." The man, who spoke on condition that his name not be
used because he could get in trouble, says he's never gotten caught.
Early days: Mule deer numbers
have fluctuated dramatically since explorers Peter Skene Ogden and John
Fremont passed through Oregon between 1826 and the 1840s and reported
seeing few of the deer. By the late 1850s, gold miners reported abundant
populations in eastern Oregon.
to increase during the 1930s, '40s and '50s -- a time when they had
little to fear from cougars and wolves, which were largely wiped out by
humans. (Not correct, this is when ODFW started the artificial birthing
program by killing off the predators and altering the landscape,
damaging the ecosystem. Old timers understood the value of the cougar
and stopped killing them then...)
By the 1980s: The
population topped out above 300,000. (it took us 34 to 47 years to get
3000 cougar back and the deer population was doing wonderful during this
time period) Voter passage of Measure 18 in
1994, followed by a bill enacted by the Legislature three years later to
clarify the law, abolished the sport hunting of cougars and bears with
hounds, resulting in a dramatic upsurge in cougar numbers (not
true, ODFW changed the cougar hunting regulations by increasing the
season to one year, reducing the cost of the tags, implemented a
mandatory Public Safety program killing 3000 cougar a year (not counting
the 1000's of cubs killed in this process) and included the tags in a
package program all resulted in more cougar being killed after M18 than
before M18.) and a
simultaneous decline in mule deer in some areas.
Other species: Western Oregon's
blacktail deer, a subspecies of mule deer, populations also are
declining. They number about 320,000, down from 387,000 in 1998. The
state also has less than 20,000 whitetail deer in northeastern and
Elsewhere: The populations also
have fallen in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, states with predator
and habitat problems similar to Oregon's.
he's tapered off considerably in recent years: He doesn't really need
the meat, and getting arrested would bring unpleasant legal consequences
that he doesn't need at this stage of his life, he says.
But he admits: "It was a habit that was hard to break."
is a habit that too many Oregonians apparently share. Mule deer
populations have dropped in Oregon to 216,000 animals from historic
peaks of more than 300,000 and poaching is one of the reasons why, state
wildlife managers say. Current numbers are far short of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's mule deer population objective of 347,400.
biologists recently discovered a shocking level of poaching while
conducting a mule deer distribution study in central Oregon south of
"If we look at the illegal take, it's basically equal to
the legal take -- it's bad," says Michelle Dennehy, a Fish and Wildlife
spokeswoman in Salem. "Poaching is not ethical, it's not hunting."
the five-year research project shows poachers typically take female
deer, said DeWayne Jackson, Fish and Wildlife research supervisor in
"Does are extremely important" so the herds can
reproduce, Jackson said. Legitimate hunters -- those who buy licenses
and tags, put in for controlled hunts and confine themselves to
designated seasons -- kill more bucks than does, he said.
state study was conducted from Bend to the California border. Of 500
mule deer fitted with radio collars between July 2005 and last January,
128 died during the research. Of those, poachers killed 19 and hunters
legally shot 21. (The ecosystem cannot sustain enough deer for
human pleasure to kill. Take care of poaching issues first and reduce
the artificial birthing rate of deer and leave the cougar alone. If you
continue to blame and kill the cougar, another predator will simply
move in. More poachers will take the place of cougars and the
ecosystems will collapse.) Cougars killed 15 and eight were hit and
more human killing. Humans killed a total of 48 plus deer - more than
twice as many as the cougar. Killing our cougar is not going to help
the deer population, stopping the poaching will). Of the rest, five succumbed to coyotes, disease claimed five and
four died while tangled in fences or from some other accident, Jackson
Biologists listed 51 as "cause of death unknown" but
poachers could have taken some of those, he said. "Sometimes we just
find the radio collar laying out in the sagebrush," he said. (Human killing issues far exceed normal cougar killing).
the study wasn't designed to ferret out poachers, biologists don't know
if other areas have comparable numbers of deer taken illegally, said
Don Whittaker, Fish and Wildlife ungulate coordinator, but they suspect
poaching is happening across Oregon.
Poaching "is out of hand in Oregon," said Ken Hand of Klamath Falls, regional director of the 11,000-member nonprofit Mule Deer Foundation
based in Salt Lake City. "It's going on all over the state, 365 days a
year. From all the contacts I have around the state, I just hear about
The chance of Oregon's mule deer population ever
rebuilding seem pretty slim "with the predators out there, including
the humans," he said. (Mostly humans. Look at how many are
poached and killed legally. Not only can the vegetation not sustain
them, ODFW has an artificial birthing rate that is not normal for mule
mule deer -- native to the state and typically found east of the
Cascade crest -- are under intense pressure from predators. An
estimated 5,700 (wrong numbers) cougars roam
Oregon's forests and high deserts, up from
2,600 two decades ago, according to state statistics. Oregon also has
25,000 black bears, and Canadian gray wolves have staked claim to the
state's northeastern corner. All three species prey on mule deer. (but
not to the extent of humans killing them for Sport (fun)).
too, account for plenty of mule deer deaths. A Fish and Wildlife study
documented 1,626 mule deer killed by motor vehicles along 150 miles of
U.S. 97 and Oregon 31, south of Bend, between October 2005 and January.
all that in central Oregon are habitat issues, Dennehy said. Resort
development, new homes and other human activities have sharply reduced
winter range for mule deer, she said.
Expanding juniper forests
are especially worrisome, she said. Juniper siphons away large volumes
of water, leaving little moisture for plants and grasses that nourish
mule deer, Dennehy said. The wildlife department is logging juniper in
the Murderers Creek area of Grant County and culling dozens of cougar in
other areas, including Harney County's Steens Mountain, to ease
pressure on mule deer, elk and cattle, she said.
Poachers are the great unknown predator.
View full sizeOregon
State Police troopers Jim Collom (left) and Randy Caldwell confiscated
deer head mounts discovered in an investigation in Harney County in
summer 2008. They cited three people for falsely applying for hunting
tags and unlawful possession of deer.Deer
are Oregon's most popular hunting species, and illegal hunters are
motivated by all kinds of things, including a desire to get a jump on
the hunting season, annoyance at state game laws, a desire to shoot and
kill something, or the money they can get for trophy heads.
animals (including cougar) can bring thousands of dollars for poachers who sell the
mounted heads to people who want to decorate a home, office or business.
The Legislature has tried to crack down on the practice, making it
illegal to kill a deer with four points on each antler with a fine of
$7,500, but the problem persists.
Hunting fees are another
reason: Increases for licenses and tags brought revenues soaring to
$21.6 million in 2007, up from $9.2 million in 1987. A "sport pack" of
hunting and fishing licenses with elk, deer, cougar, bear, waterfowl,
upland game birds, salmon and shellfish tags now costs $164.75.
may be filling in the gaps caused by an overall drop in hunter numbers
in Oregon. The state issued 283,000 hunting licenses overall last year,
(that is almost the population of deer! Human predators leave nothing for the natural predators!)down from 336,052 in 1987 and 329,211 in 1975, according to Fish and
It's difficult to catch poachers in the act,
said Oregon State Police game officer Chris Hawkins of La Grande. Many
areas simply don't have many officers, he said. Wallowa County, the size
of Delaware and Rhode Island with a population of 7,150, has three game
officers, he said.
View full sizeAnd
poachers often work quickly -- within minutes after killing a deer,
they move on, Hawkins said. "They take the backstrap and hindquarters
and they're gone," he said, noting that scavengers strip the rest and
scatter the bones within a week or two.
"Think of an elderberry
bush out in the woods and how many elderberries you can pick off before a
game warden walks by," he said. "We would have to be right there at
just the right time."
As one poacher told him during a criminal case: "Some people do cocaine. Hunting is my drug."
to address the problem include hiring more OSP Fish and Wildlife
Division troopers, raising fines and offering rewards for turning in
poachers, Dennehy said. The state hired two more OSP game officers this
year in Bend and Prineville.
The Oregon Hunters Association's "turn-in-poachers" program, or TIP, offers rewards, but that won't cure the problem, she said. (stop the poachers, not the cougar)
"It's a very vast landscape," Dennehy said. "We can't have eyes everywhere.
POACHING IN OREGON
M18 was voted in, right around State Legislature time there have been unusual
sightings or conflict with cougar that are out of character for them.
Many of these types of conflicts with cougars could be due to the fact
that cougar cubs are some of the few wildlife that can be taken from the
wild and immediately domesticated. Please view the YouTube links below
It could be
that these out of character cougar issues happening around State
Legislature time, and especially the young; are caught in the wild and
held in captivity and then released around humans with the intent of
creating cougar hysteria and getting this into the news to help support
killing them with bills at the legislature. The pattern over the years
is so consistent that it could be so. Below the YouTube documents is a
report from the Sweethome school district regarding cougar sightings
near schools and bus stops. With the exception of one date, all dates
coincide with the Oregon State Legislative sessions for those years.
DON'T BELIEVE EVERY
COUGAR SCARE STORY TO BE A COUGAR THAT WAS RAISED IN THE WILD. Please
view the YouTube links below to learn how easy it is to raise cougars
captured as cubs in captivity.
BigCatRescure cougar data very good.
Proof cougars can be domesticated and released into the public.
and oh boy this one too!
OREGON COUGAR ACTION TEAM DOES NOT SUPPORT HUNTING COUGAR WITH HOUNDS.
Most hunters are not reporting the results of their big-game and turkey hunting tags despite the fact that it is mandatory.
rates average about 35 percent for all of the tags sold that have a
reporting requirement, Fish and Wildlife officials said.
September 17, 2010 Statesman Journal Newspaper:
Mandatory reporting: Numbers are lagging
Most hunters are not reporting the results of their big-game and turkey hunting
tags despite the fact that it is mandatory.
Compliance rates average about 35 percent for all of the tags sold that have a
reporting requirement, Fish and Wildlife officials said.
Cougars in chaos
How a state hunting policy pushed Washington's big cats to the brink
Browse images »
on the heels of a cougar, Catherine Lambert could barely contain her
excitement. She had nearly nailed the location of a radio-collared
female first captured the previous winter, when her telemetry antenna
signaled that the cat had abruptly changed its speed. She must be
running after a meal, Lambert thought. Then the Washington State
University graduate student heard a strange howling, and soon after,
lost the signal.
next day, we received a call to retrieve her radio collar," Lambert
says, her soft French-Canadian accent tinged with sadness. Hunters had
chased down and killed the cougar, which - just a few weeks before - had
been traveling with kittens.
same thing happened again and again as Lambert and her fellow
researchers followed cougars through the forests of northeastern
Washington in 2002. As the body count mounted, "the bell went off,"
Lambert says. "I thought, 'There's something really wrong here.' " In
the end, the dispirited research team collected 22 collars - nearly half
of their study subjects. The scientists worried that overhunting could
be placing the state's cougars in serious jeopardy.
the same time, a growing chorus of newspaper columnists, politicians
and ranchers claimed that Washington's cougar population was exploding
and called for even more hunting. A 1996 statewide initiative (I-655)
that banned the use of hounds to hunt cougars, they said, had allowed
the cats to flourish and increasingly threaten livestock, pets and
reality, as the researchers would show, the measure led to the highest
rates of cougar slaughter since the height of the predator
bounty-hunting era in the 1930s and '40s. Ironically, biologists like
Lambert now suspect that all this killing - originally authorized to
reduce cougar-human conflicts - may actually be triggering yet more
The spike in cougar deaths
resulted in part from a radical change in the state's game-management
plan. After the hound-hunting ban passed, Washington Department of Fish
and Wildlife officials quickly liberalized hunting regulations in order
to control the cougar population and maintain the revenue from cougar
licenses. They extended the hunting season by six months, doubled the
legal bag limit, and rolled half-price cougar tags - traditionally sold
to just 1,000 hunters a year - into big-game hunting packages.
the new policy, nearly 60,000 deer and elk hunters hit the woods each
season with cougar tags in their pockets. Still, complaints about
cougars skyrocketed. Before the hound-hunting ban, such complaints
averaged about 250 a year. They more than doubled the year after the ban
before peaking at 936 in 2000.
shy by nature, cougars would just as soon avoid humans. But
Washington's rapid population growth - nearly 60 percent above the
national average between 1990 and 2000 - and the attendant loss of
70,000 acres of undeveloped land each year reduced the wide-ranging
cats' habitat, forcing them into closer contact with humans.
only 2,500 to 4,000 cougars lived in the state, they seemed to be
causing consternation everywhere, eating endangered caribou and deer,
killing livestock and pets, even attacking the occasional human. Cougar
attacks on people are rare - lightning strikes are more common - but
eight of Washington's nine recorded attacks occurred in the 1990s,
including the mauling of two children in the northeastern corner of the
were especially high in Okanogan County, where Washington's only
recorded fatal cougar attack on a human occurred in 1924. Okanogan
County commissioners threatened to declare open season on cougars,
arguing that the increased number of complaints meant that there were
too many cats. Rancher Joel Kretz, now a state senator, blames the
hound-hunting ban for the heavy losses he sustained on his Okanogan
County property. "For a while, there were cougars everywhere," he says.
"And for a while I was losing half my foal crop." Kretz stoked local
fears about cougars by circulating a grisly photo in 2003 that showed a
colt missing a wide patch of skin from its flank.
growing hysteria fueled a legislative blitz to once again expand cougar
hunting. By 2004, nine statewide bills had been introduced to reverse
or circumvent the hound-hunting ban. Two of them passed: One authorized
the use of hounds for public safety hunts and the other launched a pilot
program that gave commissioners in five northeastern counties control
over emergency safety hunts. On March 13, Washington Gov. Christine
Gregoire, D, extended the pilot program through 2011 - and opened it to
all counties in the state.
these legislative efforts were based in part on the untested assumption
that the hound-hunting ban had caused a rapid rise in cougar numbers
and a consequent increase in run-ins with people. But even as state
wildlife officials and politicians unleashed more hunters, Lambert and
other researchers began to uncover evidence that this popular notion was
By the time Lambert
began her work at Washington State University's Large Carnivore
Conservation Laboratory in 2002, lab director Rob Wielgus and his team
had already captured and collared 32 cougars in the Selkirk Mountains at
the junction of Washington, Idaho and British Columbia. Their efforts
over the next several years revealed some unexpected and disturbing
trends. Over half of the cougar kittens and yearlings - and nearly 70
percent of adult males - were dying each year. Hardly any mature cougars
were left. Hunters were responsible for most of the deaths, and
indirectly killed many kittens by shooting their mothers. By 2000 - even
as cougar complaints reached an all-time high - "the population was
tanking," Wielgus says. If these kill rates continued, the group
reported in 2006, the area's cougars would be gone within 30 years.
kittens in the Colville National Forest, southwest of the Selkirks,
were also faring poorly, as were adult females. But the population
appeared stable because immigrants, mostly younger males, were moving in
to fill the gaps. "But males won't stick around if there aren't any
females," Wielgus says. And without females, a population is doomed.
thinks that wolves, cougars, and other big predators are very resilient
to hunting," Lambert says. But when the killing is heavy and
widespread, even immigration from outside areas stops.
hunting was creating chaos at both research sites. Mature male cougars
maintain order by keeping the younger males in line, Wielgus says.
Without them, the cougars' home ranges and population densities were
"shifting all over the place." Infanticide had increased, and the cats
were getting into far more trouble with humans. Mounting evidence
suggests that inexperienced yearlings - the "hooligan" teenagers, as
Wielgus calls them - are responsible for most attacks on people.
hound-hunting ban was passed "presumably to protect cougars," Wielgus
says. But it appears to be doing exactly the opposite, and people - and
cougars - are paying the price. "The road to hell is paved with good
Now, the Washington Department
of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a new game-management
plan, which will drive wildlife policy for the next five years. Agency
biologist Rich Beausoleil, a predator specialist, believes the new plan
will do a better job of managing cougars based on science, not public
opinion. Agency officials will have to rethink their assumption that
killing cougars can reduce cougar-human conflicts and grapple with the
consequences of giving cougar tags to so many hunters.
hunting is unlikely to reduce cougar-human interactions, Wielgus says,
because predator behavior is learned. Removing one problem cat may prove
far more effective than expanding general cougar hunting. Still, as
long as the state allows hunters to kill cougars for sport, both
Beausoleil and Wielgus think bringing back hound hunting might be part
of the answer. Wielgus argues that cougars fared far better with hound
hunters than with deer and elk hunters, whose sheer numbers and
indiscriminate hunting style nearly wiped out the population. Where
hound hunters pursue mostly older males - the trophy toms - deer and elk
hunters kill far more females, a study by Beausoleil shows, leaving
more kittens vulnerable to starvation and predation. With more hunters
buying cougar tags each year - over 66,000 were sold in 2007 -
Beausoleil says statewide quotas will also be a critical part of the
the public to accept cougars as an integral part of a healthy landscape
is one of the agency's long-term goals, Beausoleil says. Without top
predators, the links between different species of an ecological
community begin to unravel. Researchers think the loss of cougars and
wolves in the East, for example, may have caused the decline of
songbirds there. Once hunters killed all the top predators, populations
of mid-sized predators like raccoons, foxes, and skunks exploded and, in
time, ate all the songbird eggs.
the benefits of large carnivores are a tough sell among those who view
them as threats to life and property. "One of the things we'll never get
a handle on is the folks who move to the end of a box canyon in the
middle of nowhere, and maybe they come from the city, and they see a
cougar and say, 'Hey, I saw a cougar, you've got to remove him,' "
Beausoleil says. "Well, no, that's not what we do. You're living in
cougar country now." He hopes that one day developers, whose brochures
tout the wildflowers, deer and elk in Washington's wild places, will
tell people about all the bears and cougars, too.
need to make a decision," says Lambert. "Do we want to live with
cougars? If so, then we need to make changes in our behavior and accept
that they're part of the landscape."
The author is senior science writer and editor for PLoS Biology (www.plosbiology.org), where a version of this story was originally published. She writes from Kensington, California