Exposing the Big Game

Forget Hunters' Feeble Rationalizations and Trust Your Gut Feelings: Making Sport of Killing Is Not Healthy Human Behavior

Exposing the Big Game

Colorado wildlife officials trap, kill 5 mountain lions

RIFLE, Colo. — Wildlife officials have trapped and killed five mountain lions near a Colorado town after residents reported aggressive behavior by the predators.

The Rifle Citizen Telegram reports Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials trapped and killed the mountain lions last month in the Glenwood Springs area.

Area wildlife manager Perry Will says four of the animals were believed to be a mother and her grown kittens.

Video footage from a west Glenwood Springs residence showed the four mountain lions stalking the neighborhood.

Will says each of the lions killed last month were believed to be at least a year old and over 80 pounds.

Will says euthanizing the cats is often the only option.

He says officials are not actively targeting anymore lions at this time.

Mountain lion shot and killed in Bismarck

Photo courtesy: MGN

UPDATE (10:53): According to Casey Anderson with North Dakota Game and Fish, the lion was a male between one and three years old, and weighed about 100 pounds. Anderson says the department will do a full health work-up on the animal. He says it’s an unfortunate situation when they have to kill one of the animals, but it is done because of public safety.

Anderson says they can’t determine if it’s the same mountain lion that was reported in north Bismarck in December.

A mountain lion has been shot and killed in Bismarck early this morning.

The Bismarck police department says they responded to a report of a mountain lion in the backyard of a residence around 5am this morning.

The department was able to follow the lion’s footprints through Zonta park, the municipal ball park and into Kiwanis park.

Police say they eventually found the lion and shot it.

The ND Game and Fish department have taken the mountain lion for testing.

Oregon May Be Over-Hunting Cougars — Which Could Cause More Conflicts



Problem encounters with cougars have increased in Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Problem encounters with cougars have increased in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

National Park Service

A fatal cougar attack has reignited debates over hound hunting and cougar management in Oregon. Groups of Oregonians, particularly hound hunters, say that Oregon’s cougar population is growing out of control. Cougar advocates, on the other hand, say that Oregon is over-hunting cougars, which research suggests can lead to an increase in problem encounters.

But before you can figure out if Oregon’s cougars are being over-hunted or under-hunted, you need to know how many cougars there are in the state.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates there about 6,600 cougars here, and possibly as many as 7,600. That’s three times higher than the numbers reported Washington or Idaho. It’s even slightly higher than the estimate for California: 4,000 to 6,000 cougars are thought to roam the massive state.

But hunting groups, ranchers and Oregonians who live in cougar country say the Oregon’s cougar count severely underestimates the state’s actual population. Conservationists argue it’s too high. Biologists and wildlife officials from other states say it’s a lot more complicated, and more than just a question of numbers.

One of the big reasons Oregon’s number is so much higher than its neighbors’: Oregon’s estimate includes kittens, which rarely survive to adulthood. Oregon does not count the juveniles of any other game species, like elk or bighorn sheep.

Two juvenile cougars hide on a fence to avoid territorial coyotes in Wyoming. Cougar kittens rarely survive to adulthood.

Two juvenile cougars hide on a fence to avoid territorial coyotes in Wyoming. Cougar kittens rarely survive to adulthood.

Lori Iverson / US Fish and Wildlife Service

“The fact that they don’t clarify themselves every time says that they want people to assume there are 6,600 big cats running around the state,” said John Laundré, a predator ecologist at Western Oregon University. “They don’t include babies for other ephemeral species, like ducks or deer.” And only adult animals can be hunted.

Derek Broman, ODFW’s state carnivore biologist, said whenever he gives a presentation he makes it clear that all ages are included in official population estimates. But there’s no mention of that on the department’s cougar webpage, and you have to look deep into the cougar management plan find adult cat estimates. A brochure specifies that the population includes all age classes, but never offers adult numbers.

Even if you exclude kittens and juvenile cougars from population estimates, Oregon still reports some of the highest densities of adult cougars in the country.

Washington’s research into cougar densities dates back nearly two decades and includes seven study areas. Across those areas, the state has documented consistent findings: Roughly two cougars for every 100 square kilometers, said Rich Beausoleil, the bear and cougar specialist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He said Washington’s cougar-density numbers are consistent with what other studies  — except Oregon’s — report.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s surveys found adult densities twice that, depending on the ecosystem.

“I’ve not seen such high densities anywhere in the world,” said Rob Wielgus, former director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University, commenting on a controversial density survey conducted by Oregon.

Beausoleil has spoken to ODFW about the state’s population estimates before, and has criticized the design of Oregon’s studies, which he says will naturally overestimate regional populations. Derek Broman says ODFW controlled for overestimation and stands by their data.

It’s not unusual for cougar surveys to arrive at different conclusions, said David Stoner, a cougar biologist at Utah State University. Cougars are extremely hard to study because they’re so hard to find.

ODFW says these surveys confirm their statewide population estimates, which they calculate using a model. They estimate statewide density by mapping cougar deaths, and then add expected birth rates. They also tweak the numbers depending on food availability in the region.

Laundré said the growth estimate used in the study is an optimistic “best-case scenario” one: “A model is only as good as what you put into it. I could make their model show that there were only 3,000 total animals or 10,000 total animals.”

A tranquilized cougar is fit with a radio collar in California.

A tranquilized cougar is fit with a radio collar in California.

Harry Morse, California Department of Fish and Game

All of this might seem like an internal debate about the best way to count cougars. Everyone agrees that at one point in the 1960s there were only 200 or so cougars in the state, and today there are several thousand. The cats are in no danger of going extinct.

But a lot rides on accurate population estimates. Not only do these numbers tell management officials if populations are growing or shrinking, they’re used to help set hunting quotas for each region. Some scientists found that when cougars are over-hunted, problem encounters with humans and livestock increase.

Wielgus, who has left Washington for the Bend area, was one of the first to identify such a link.

“In the 20 years of research I did with WDFW, we conducted the largest study of cougars ever done anywhere. We found that heavy retaliatory killing or preventive killing actually causes increased problems,” he said.

It works like this: Female cougars have smallish overlapping territories that seem to fluctuate with prey abundance. Male cougars have larger, non-overlapping territories that encompass multiple female ones.

Only large, older males are capable of holding down these territories, “and you don’t get to be a 10-year-old male by attacking humans or livestock or pets.”

But Wielgus found that those 10-year-old males were far more likely to be killed by hunters. “And we found that when you remove an older male, you have two or three teenage males come in to take their place. And those are the ones that are responsible for most bad encounters between cougars and people, as well as the majority of livestock and pet depredations.”

This movement of younger animals also means it can be difficult to tell if a population is declining due to overhunting or staying the same.

Wielgus is a controversial figure in the predator management community, in part for research indicating that hunting wolves can increase attacks on livestock. He says he was silenced and forced out of his position at Washington State University because of his work.

A 10-month-old cougar is startled by a trail camera in the California mountains. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife includes juvenile cougars in their total population estimates.

A 10-month-old cougar is startled by a trail camera in the California mountains. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife includes juvenile cougars in their total population estimates.

National Park Service

A smattering of papers have attempted to debunk his cougar research, but even more have supported it. One of the most recent was a massive, 30-year look at hunting and problem cougars in British Columbia. For their part, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stands by Wielgus’ research and their own: Today, they manage cougars specifically to avoid the consequences of over-hunting.

“Our management philosophy is to manage for the social stability of the animal. We want to promote territoriality,” Beausoleil said.

WDFW’s data shows that when more than 14 percent of a cougar population is harvested in a given region, the population starts to skew young, territories dissolve, and problem encounters increase. To avoid this, they split the state into 49 game management units, and each unit allows 12 percent to 16 percent of cougars to be taken. When one of those units reaches that quota, it closes, and hunters can go to an adjacent unit. It’s not a perfect system: Sometimes, it can take a while to close a unit, and more cougars are killed.

At first glance, Oregon seems to be following Washington’s no-conflict guidelines: On average, Oregon’s hunters take less than 14 percent of the state’s big cats each year. But unlike Washington and Montana, where there are dozens of game management units used to set cougar quotas, Oregon’s cats are divided into just six large regions, which makes it more difficult to track regional densities.

The statewide quota for 2018 is 970 human-caused deaths — a whopping 27 percent of the state’s estimated 3,500 adults. Per the cougar management plan, the quota serves as a mortality cap, and not a target. The statewide quota has never been filled, but some of the game management units regularly approach theirs.

Zone A, which includes the region where the hiker was attacked, covers the North Cascades and the coast. As of Nov. 6, its humans have killed 167 of the 180 allowed cougars. ODFW estimates there were 989 cougars of all ages in Zone A in 2015. If half of those were adults, then roughly one third of adult cougars in the region were killed: Research suggests that’s a number high enough to cause conflicts with humans.

Overhunting cougars can have impacts on cougars’ societies, too. Once thought of as loners, recent research has revealed cougars’ social lives to be much more complex than previously thought.

Mark Elbroch, the director of the puma program at wildcat conservation organization Panthera, studies cougar communities. He’s found that the mountain lions within one male’s territory function like a society: They interact non-aggressively and seem to frequently share food, a favor that’s apparently returned in the future.

“You can imagine that overhunting will have huge impacts on these social networks and organizations, on the glue that holds them together as functioning groups,” Elbroch said.

A radiocollared cougar shares a kill with another cat, thought to be her cub. Cougars have been found to share kills with related and non-related cats, though they rarely eat at the same time.

A radiocollared cougar shares a kill with another cat, thought to be her cub. Cougars have been found to share kills with related and non-related cats, though they rarely eat at the same time.

National Park Service

And anecdotally, he’s seen the impacts of removing one large male from that society. After one of his study males was killed by hunters, he noticed a nearby male start to encroach on the old territory, just enough so that it crossed paths with a female and her two cubs. The female charged the strange male, and died. Her cubs lasted a little while, but eventually both died.

“One could argue that one bullet killed four mountain lions,” Elbroch said.

ODFW’s Derek Broman is dismissive of the “social chaos” hypothesis. He says the department has conducted its own research, and “there’s no information to suggest chaos and turmoil. Death and mortality is a common occurrence, even outside of human influence.”

Oregon officials may dispute the idea that their management practices lead to more problem cougars. But the state does remove more such animals than neighboring states. In 2017 there were 462 such complaints, and 175 cougars were killed. Those numbers remain fairly stable from year to year, though they’ve risen dramatically in the Willamette Valley.

In comparison, about 100 cougars are killed in California each year for attacking livestock. In 2016, 46 nuisance cougars were killed in Washington.

Hunters say that the best way to combat these problem cats is to increase hunting. But unless a large number of cougars are removed over a large area, more will just move in to take their place. Which is why some are calling for a return to hound hunting.

The theory is this: Hound hunters, unlike normal hunters, can be selective. If their dogs tree a cougar, the hunter can choose if it’s going to be a worthwhile trophy. If the animal is small or female, the hunter can pull their dogs off the tree, and the cougar can live.

This, say hound hunting advocates, creates a population of scared cougars, who will run away as soon as they hear a human in the forest.

Laundré and Elbroch are skeptical that hound hunting leads to scared cougars, but other biologists think it’s not impossible.

“Hound hunting doesn’t have to be a lethal pursuit,” Stoner noted. “You have the ability to pursue multiple animals over the course of a season, and can in theory select a nice tom.”

Unfortunately, that selectivity targets large toms: the exact animals many biologists say are necessary for maintaining cougar social stability. Indeed, when hound hunting was banned in Oregon, the average age of cats killed dropped.

In the end, biologists say it’s important to remember that the only way most people will ever interact with a cougar is through their livestock or pets. “Cougars aren’t fearsome,” said Laundré, who has tracked and collared more than 250 cougars. “I’ve never had a cat behave aggressively.”

As Teddy Roosevelt noted after chasing a cougar with hounds and stabbing it to death, “He was more afraid of us than the dogs.”

What Caused Washington’s Cougar Attack?

One cyclist was killed and another injured by a mountain lion near Seattle, Washington, on Saturday. Such attacks are exceptionally rare, and the circumstances of this one belied typical mountain lion behavior. So what happened? Well, there are a number of theories about the incident. To find out which ones are the most valid, I called up a handful of cougar experts and emergency responders. Here’s what they said. 

Theory #1: The Cougar Was Starving

The three-year old male mountain lion weighed just 103 pounds, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife—about 25 pounds less than healthy males that age typically weigh. WDFW Captain Alan Myers, who responded to the scene, describes the animal’s condition as “emaciated,” and speculates that starvation or another health problem could have lead it to seek out riskier prey.

But Lynn Cullens, the executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, disagrees. “One hundred pounds is certainly on the low end for adult males, but it’s not necessarily starving,” she tells me, going on to say that the cougar’s body does not look notably thin or unhealthy in photos from the scene. “It could have just been a small cougar,” she says.

Washington State University is performing a necropsy on the animal to determine if disease, injury, or starvation could have been a factor in the mountain lion’s behavior. Myers tells us he expects to see the results in a couple weeks. Both Cullens and Myers are skeptical that rabies could have been a factor, as the disease is unheard of in the Pacific Northwest’s cougar population.

Theory #2: The Victims’ Behavior Triggered the Attack

The pair was mountain biking at the time, potentially triggering the cougar’s predatory instincts by mimicking the behavior of fleeing prey. “These guys go flashing by on their bikes at an extreme speed, maybe 20 miles an hour, and this animal goes into predatory mode,” wildlife expert Jeff Corwin told CNN.

Cullens agrees the cat likely thought the riders were prey. “I think it’s likely that it mistook the [riders] for deer,” she says. “Mountain lions don’t see well in bright sunlight.”

Yet that doesn’t mean the cyclists did anything wrong. In fact, “They did everything right,” Myers says. When the cougar initially started to pursue the riders, they stopped, shouted at it, and swung their bikes in the air to scare it off. And it worked, at first. “They did what they were supposed to, which is make noise and distract the cougar,” Ryan Abbott of the King County Sheriff’s Office told the Seattle Times. “The cougar ran away.”

But what happened next was the really odd part. Cougars are timid creatures who usually avoid humans and are known to shy away from any aggressive behavior. I’ve encountered cougars in the same area where this attack took place, and they fled upon seeing me. But, this cougar came back after being initially scared away.

As the pair talked about how scary it had been seeing the cougar, the animal reappeared and attacked them. “He jumped the first victim and attacked him,” says Abbott. “The second victim turned and started to run away. The cougar saw that and went after the second victim. The first victim saw his friend being pulled by the cougar. He got on his bike and started to bike away.” The man rode two miles before he found cell reception and called for help.

Theory #3: The Victims Could Have Done More to Stop the Attack

I spoke with Chris Morgan, a local wildlife ecologist and filmmaker, who received first-hand reports from the scene, and describes indications of a violent brawl. “There was hair from the cougar stuck in the bike’s chainwheel,” he says. Myers says the victim who ended up escaping had his head trapped in the jaws of the mountain lion before it saw the other rider fleeing, and dropped the first victim to pursue the second.

So what else could the pair have done after the attack started? Carrying bear spray might have helped, says Morgan. He also advises that people venturing into mountain-lion country carry a whistle or bell with them, then regularly using it to warn animals that humans are around.

They also shouldn’t have run away, says Cullens, of the Mountain Lion Foundation. “We advise people to hike or bike in pairs when they’re recreating in mountain lion country,” she says. “The hope is that if one of you is attacked, both of you fight. You should never run away from a mountain lion. If you see one, you should leave the area immediately, not stand around and talk about it.”

Theory #4: Suburban Expansion Is Increasing the Chances of Cougar Encounters 

North Bend, Washington, the town where the attack took place, lies at the foot of the Cascades. It’s surrounded by dense forest and it’s nearly quadrupled its population since 1980. Washington state has grown from 4.1 million to 7.4 million residents in that same time. The Outdoor Industry Association reports that 72 percent of Washington residents participate in outdoor recreation activities each year.

Every fall, I travel from Los Angeles to the North Bend area to bow-hunt deer, black bear, and elk. Using archery equipment, my friends and I are able to hunt areas that are immediately adjacent to human habitation, which is good for us, because those areas seem to contain the most wildlife. A few years ago, I took a deer just yards from a popular hiking trail outside North Bend, and when we returned to the site the next day, there were cougar tracks in the dried blood. Friends text me photos of bears eating from the fruit trees in their front yards.

My point: All of these people live in an area that was totally wild just a few decades ago, and which still supports massive wildlife populations.

“Every weekend, there’s hundreds of cars parked at the popular trailheads,” says Chase Gunnell, an area resident. “With so many people recreating where there’s so much wildlife, it’s inevitable that conflicts will occur.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that, as of 2015, there’s about 1,800 to 2,100 adult cougars in the state, spread out at about two cats per 39 square miles in areas of suitable habitat. They may be sneaky, but they’re out there.

Theory #5: Hunting Is Altering Cougars’ Behavior 

“When human beings get involved in it, such as killing predators, it backfires,” Brooks Fahy, an anti-hunting advocate, told Seattle’s local NBC affiliate. “What we’ve learned is with wolves, cougars, and coyotes is actually killing them…throws them in what scientists refer to as social chaos.” He went on to explain that trophy hunting of older male mountain lions can artificially skew the population younger. “Stereotypically, these are the animals that tend to let themselves be seen, and in quite a few of the attacks that have happened, it’s been younger animals,” he said.

I asked Morgan, the ecologist, if this theory held water. “While social chaos does occur in cougar populations, it’s a function of their natural behavior,” he says. Male cougars compete with each other to hold territory, causing young males to disperse to new areas, where they may have less success hunting.

WDFW records back up Morgan’s assertion. No cougars have been killed in Game Management Unit 460 (which covers the North Bend area) since the 2013-2014 season. Harvest guidelines dictate that five to seven cougars may be taken annually in the area. That the cougar involved in this attack was a young male could have been a factor in the attack. But the fact that a young male was present in the area likely doesn’t have anything to do with hunters removing older, adult cougars.

(As an interesting aside, this dispersal of young males is what’s fueling the return of cougars to states east of the Rockies.)

Theory #6: The Attack Is Part of a Broader Trend 

While cougar populations across the country are growing, with the species returning to more of its historic range, Washington has actually seen its big cat population nearly halve since 2003. Conflicts with cougars remain an exceptionally rare event: this is only the second human fatality caused by a cougar in Washington in the last 94 years.

Each of the experts I interviewed emphasized this fact. While they all stated that people should remain on guard for the animals while recreating outdoors, there is no pressing danger and the vast majority of us should continue to count ourselves lucky if we ever get to see a mountain lion in the wild.

Morgan was particularly adamant about putting this attack in perspective. “Washington residents I’ve surveyed have all agreed that we are fortunate to have cougars in our forests, and that it’s the responsibility of people living and recreating near them to minimize conflicts.”

“Risk is part of the beauty and majesty of the outdoors,” he says.

Interested in learning more about staying safe in cougar country? The Mountain Lion Foundation has put together an excellent guide

Camera ‘trapper’ hits jackpot with stunning video of 4 mountain lions near L.A.

A mother mountain lion with her three cubs are caught on a camera trapper’s motion sensor camera. Photo courtesy of © Robert Martinez of Parliament of Owls.

Robert Martinez, who is among a so-called group of camera trappers, has been searching for mountain lions in the wild since 2012, or ever since capturing “crystal clear” video of a mountain lion walking past his motion sensor video camera.

Hooked by this new hobby, Martinez sets several camera traps in likely areas visited by mountain lions in the Angeles National Forest above Glendora, some 27 miles west of Los Angeles.

He’s become quite good at it and recently hit the camera trapper jackpot when one of his cameras captured stunning video of a mountain lion mother quietly calling out to its three cubs on Sunset Ridge at sunset.

Martinez shared the video on his YouTube channel called Parliament of Owls, urging the volume be turned up to catch the mother’s callout:

“This video is definitely one of my favorites,” Martinez told USA Today.

“What you’re seeing is Limpy and her 10-month-old kittens returning to an area where I hadn’t seen them since November. So when she showed up on my video, and the sun was setting, I was really excited! I was waiting for her eventual return with her new litter.”

The video was featured in LA Observed and was subsequently shown on several Southern California television news outlets over the weekend.

Also on BNQT Outdoors: Fur coat saves sloth bear in rare and ‘severe’ fight with tiger; video

Martinez explained to USA Today that he nicknamed the mountain lion Limpy because of a limp in her rear right leg that he first noticed in 2013.

“Most of the lions I see on camera—over a dozen—I can’t identify because they don’t have any distinct characteristics, like a limp, a nick or a scar on their face,” Martinez said.

The camera trapper calls Limpy a “treasure” of the Angeles National forest for producing five healthy cougars in the last few years.

“Despite her limp, she is a symbol of survival and perseverance, able to hunt, feed and raise two litters of kittens,” Martinez wrote on Facebook. “I’m looking forward to seeing more of her and the family all throughout 2018.”

So are we.

Animal-rights group wants Arizona voters to ban hunting of mountain lions, bobcats


  • By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services
  • Updated 
Mountain lions
The hunting of mountain lions and other big cats is largely considered trophy hunting.

George Andrejko / Game And Fish Department

PHOENIX — Saying there’s no reason for “trophy hunting” of mountain lions, the Humane Society of the United States is moving to get Arizona voters to outlaw the practice.

The group’s proposal for the 2018 ballot would make it illegal to pursue, shoot, snare, net or capture any “wild cat.” That specifically means bobcats and mountain lions.

As written, the ban also technically would apply to jaguars, lynx and ocelot. But those already are protected as endangered species.

“People no longer really tolerate trophy hunting,” said Kellye Pinkleton, the Humane Society’s state director. “People are not shooting them, hounding them, trapping them for subsistence.”

But Kurt Davis, a member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, said the number of mountain lions killed each year — about 360 in 2015, the most recent number available — simply keeps the population in check and ensures that prey species, including bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope, are not decimated.

Davis said he sees the proposed initiative as part of an effort to ban hunting entirely.

Pinkleton responded: “We do not have any blanket opposition to hunting.”

Backers of the ban on hunting big cats have until next July to gather 150,642 valid signatures on petitions to get the issue on the ballot.

The Humane Society and its local affiliate have a track record with voters. In 1994 they succeeded in getting Arizona voters to approve a ban on the use of leg-hold traps on public lands by a margin of close to 3-2.

Pinkleton noted that initiative laws have since been tightened by the Republican-controlled Legislature, with a ban on paying circulators on a per-signature basis and a requirement that petition papers be in “strict compliance” with all election laws.

But she said her organization and other allies should be able to raise the $3 million to $5 million it will take to force a public vote.

If it gets that far, it could be difficult to defeat. Davis said Arizona has a higher percentage of urban residents than any other “inland” state, meaning people less likely to go hunting.

That means the Game and Fish Commission and hunters will need to make their case that the practice should not be outlawed.

Davis said it comes down to science.

He estimated there about about 2,500 mountain lions in Arizona.

Each year the state issues more than 10,000 tags to hunt mountain lions. Davis said the commission’s experience is that, given the difficulty to actually kill one, that keeps the population in the 2,000 to 3,000 range, which he said is ideal.

Pinkleton disagreed. “The science doesn’t back up their claims,” she said.

She said the initiative would still allow killing of mountain lions in cases where they were endangering humans or killing other animals, whether a rancher’s cattle or the bighorn sheep that have been reintroduced into the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area near Tucson.

The difference, she said, is that only the actual lions causing the problem could be hunted, versus simply telling hunters they can go out and shoot them in the area to cut down on the population.

Davis said such an approach makes little sense.

He said a 1990 initiative banning the killing of mountain lions in California now results in more of the big cats being killed by state officials to protect other species than were taken by hunters.

Pinkleton said there’s a good reason why the Arizona initiative would outlaw only the killing of wild cats.

“These essentially are killed for trophies or for fur,” she said, and for “bragging rights” about killing a lion.

“This is not deer or elk where communities are using the whole animal, whether for the meat or whatever,” she continued. “This is not a subsistence animal.”

Davis takes exception to pushing the initiative as a ban on hunting “trophy” animals.

“The notion of ‘trophy’ is a political notion that they’ve tested and polled,” with no actual legal basis, he said.

If the test of “trophy hunting” is whether hunters actually eat what they kill, that would include the hunting of coyotes, Davis said.

Beyond that, he said the initiative ignores that hunting is “a tool used by our state’s biologists … to manage our state’s wildlife.”

“Thank god … that you have hunters, both men and women sportsmen, that are willing to go out and be part of the management tools to maintain healthy populations of all of our species,” he said.

Bobcats, which Davis said number “in the thousands” in Arizona, are a different situation. They are classified the same as coyotes, raccoons and skunks, which can be hunted at all times without a special permit.

According to the Game and Fish Department, 1,300 bobcats are killed each year, on average.

Part of the debate is likely to involve methods used by some hunters.

“If a pack of dogs chases a mountain lion into a tree, and they are shot, that is not a fair chase,” Pinkleton said.

Davis countered, “That’s one of those issues that you see and hear, and it creates an emotional response.” But he said that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong.

“The traditions of using hounds to pursue lions is something that existed in our country since its foundation,” he said. Anyway, Davis said, only a “small number” of people have the ability to use dogs. “I don’t,” he said.

The numbers from the Game and Fish Department suggest that the use of dogs does make a big difference, however: Out of 324 mountain lions killed in 2015 by hunters, 247 of those were with the use of dogs.

Take Action to Save Oregon Cougars from Hound Hunting

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 3.17.20 PM


Oregon has introduced four threatening bills that not only promote cruel and unethical hunting methods, they strike at the very heart of the democratic process. Send a message to your Oregon state representative and state senator urging them to oppose bills H.B.2107, H.B.2589, S.B.371 and S.B.458.


      • H.B. 2107, H.B. 2589 and S.B. 371: These three bills would allow counties to opt out of Measure 18 via a county-wide vote. Measure 18 is a statewide law banning use of hounds to trophy hunt cougars and was passed by a wide majority of voters throughout Oregon in 1994. These bills would set a dangerous precedent.
      • H.B. 458: Perhaps the most frightening bill, would mandate the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department to set up a controlled hound hunting program for cougars, bypassing the citizen majority who has repeatedly said no to the sport hunting of cougars with hounds.


Hound hunting allows a pack of dogs to run down a cougar until the animal is cornered in a tree or on a rock ledge. The hounds are GPS radio-collared and send a signal to the hounder when they have ‘treed’ an animal and the hounder is then able to shoot the exhausted and terrified cougar at point blank range. There is no fair chase and many hunters don’t approve of the use of hounds for sport hunting.


    Letters from Oregon residents will be sent forward via US mail to your legislator. Letters sent from outside of Oregon will be held and sent to the Governor and other decision makers if necessary.

      Send an electronic letter above and we will forward a paper copy to your representative and send a copy to the Governor of Oregon


Please be sure to use your own voice and experiences when adding your comments and feel free to use and expand on the talking points below:

      • These bills would undo Measure 18, the statewide initiative that passed in 1994 by a majority vote to ban cougar trophy hunting with hounds.
      • The passage of these bills would give counties authority to override state law and set a dangerous precedent by rendering majority votes on statewide ballot measure initiatives meaningless.
      • These bills would put Oregon’s cougar population and other wildlife in grave danger from indiscriminate chase by hounds.
      • Hounders should know where their hounds are at all times because of the radio collars they wear, but hounds can range miles from hounders, crossing private land and attacking, injuring and killing non-target game and even pets.
      • Dependent cougar kittens fall victim to hound packs as well, as they are attacked and killed during the chase.
      • Hounds are injured and killed on the hunt as they face large male lions and mother lions who are trying to protect their kittens.
      • Hunting with hounds is not fair chase and many ethical hunters do not approve of hounding.
      • Cougars are ‘treed’ by hounds and must wait with no escape until the hunter arrives to shoot and kill the terrified and exhausted animal at close range.



      If you live outside of Oregon we will forward a paper copy of your letter to the Governor of Oregon. Let’s let them know that MOUNTAIN LIONS SHOULD NOT BE HUNTED BY DOGS!


    1. You can SIGN UP FOR EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS for these four bills at: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/list/ by searching for the bill numbers, clicking on them and signing up in the upper right screen for “e-subscribe Email”. You will be notified of legislative actions and hearings on the bills you subscribe to.



Hunt endangers cougars’ young: study

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 3.17.20 PM

Katherine Dedyna <http://www.timescolonist.com/authors?author=Katherine%20Dedyna> / Times Colonist

November 6, 2016 06:00 AM

A cougar shot by a hunter. A new study links hunters who kill adult cougars with unwittingly putting people and younger cats at greater risk. Raincoast Conservation Foundation Photograph By Raincoast Conservation Foundatio

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A cougar shot by a hunter. A new study links hunters who kill adult cougars with unwittingly putting people and younger cats at greater risk. Raincoast Conservation Foundation Photograph By Raincoast Conservation Foundatio

Cougar hunters in B.C. who target and kill big adult cats are linked with increasing subsequent dangerous interactions with people, says the University of Victoria co-author of a new study.

The death of mature, mainly male, cougars provides inroads for immature “teenage” cougars to get in trouble with risky behaviour, and that includes contact with humans, said Chris Darimont, the Hakai-Raincoast professor at UVic.

It’s not a cause-and-effect relationship, but an association based on 30 years of B.C. data studied by three researchers, including ones at the University of B.C. and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Ecology.

“When the larger males are removed, younger males fill the void left by the killed cats,” said Darimont, scientific director for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

“And younger cats are most likely to get into conflict.”

The finding held up across the province, including Vancouver Island, which is widely described as the world’s “hotspot” for cougars.

The “strong but not universal pattern” adds to the growing weight of evidence that killing large predator mammals causes many more problems than it solves, he said. That’s because the data show that for both male and female cougars, it’s always the younger and smaller animals that come into conflict with humans.

The finding is significant in contradicting the notion popular among proponents of carnivore-hunting that culling cougars by hunting makes conflict with people less likely.

“It confronts and demolishes the idea that hunting cougars can decrease conflict,” Darimont said. Most hunters in B.C. eat what they kill, but not cougar hunters, he said.

“I believe they hunt cougars not to feed their families but to feed their egos,” he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said provincial wildlife staff have not had the opportunity to review the study in enough detail to comment, although they were apprised of it more than two weeks ago.

“However, staff advise that hunting does not link to conflict between young cougars and people,” the ministry said in a statement. “High/robust cougar populations do, as young cats search for their own new home ranges/territories. The lack of cougars and high prey base in and around urban areas attracts these dispersing young cats, which often leads to conflict.”

Jesse Zeman, a spokesman for the B.C. Wildlife Federation, said there are “definitely some challenges with the study’s design” and disputed Darimont’s contention that cougar meat is not eaten.

Zeman, 36, learned to hunt as a child with his father and grandfather. He has never shot a cougar, but has eaten cougar meat. At annual wildlife buffets, “sweet and sour cougar is one of the favourites in the Okanagan,” where he is based, but it’s served all over the province, he said.

Darimont criticized the federation for “blindly supporting” all hunting of carnivores.

“They fail to see that most people support the hunting of herbivores like deer, elk and moose because it feeds families. But only a tiny minority thinks it’s OK to feed egos via trophy hunting of carnivores.”

Zeman rejected that characterization of the federation and cougar hunting.

“It’s more about spending time with family and friends, and getting outdoors and getting meat,” he said. Those are the three main motivations, with trophy hunting far down the list.

The province said there are no legal requirements for hunters to remove edible portions of harvested cougar, provided the hide is removed.

“However, cougar meat is considered to be excellent table fare and most, if not all, cougar hunters retrieve the edible portions of harvested cougar,” a ministry official said.

Lesley Fox, executive director of Vancouver-based The Fur-Bearers, a non-profit society dedicated to protecting fur-bearing animals, defends the study.

“This peer-reviewed, published study does what good science should do: Test new ideas with evidence. It is obvious to us that in addition to a growing mountain of reliable research, the government of British Columbia is not listening to the scientific community in regard to wildlife policy, but to those who may be influential come election time,” she said in an email.

Hunting is a big business in B.C. A provincial government analysis of hunting expenditures by B.C. residents in 2012 showed they spent $229.7 million — “a mean annual amount of $2,900 per hunter.” That included everything from fuel to ammunition, licences, lodging, equipment and food and drink.

The website of one up-Island hunting outfit describes how a guided hunter comes in for a cougar kill:

“Once road access has ended and the cougar track enters heavy cover, the hounds are released and begin trailing the cat until treed. The actual trailing can vary from a short five-minute ‘pop up’ to an all-day marathon. Once the cat is treed, every effort will be made to get as close as possible to the area by accessing one of the many logging roads that wind their way through our area. The final push to the tree will be made on foot in a variety of terrain. We can tailor your Vancouver Island cougar hunt to your physical condition.”

Darimont said that if the province is interested in reducing cougar-human conflict, it would re-evaluate cougar-hunting policy.

“My prediction is that if hunting was reduced or banned, there would be fewer human lives at risk, and if that is not compelling for a re-evaluation of policy, I’m not sure what is.

“Why jeopardize human safety to appease a minority of hunters who kill carnivores for trophy?” he asked. “California banned cougar-hunting after a referendum won easily. Romania just announced last week the end of hunting for wolves, lynx and grizzly bears — all similarly inedible carnivores killed for sport and trophy. B.C. policy still operates according to a 1950s mentality.”

Darimont said that in the 1970s, hunters killed roughly 175 cougars a year in B.C., including 25 on the Island. That peaked in about 1995 with 450 per year and 110 on the Island. The 2015 figure is 337 kills by hunters, 220 of them males.

Based on an analysis of habitat able to support deer and on estimated cougar densities, the province said the B.C. cougar population is between 5,100 and 7,000, with 800 to 1,100 cougars on Vancouver Island.

“Cougar populations are cyclical, responding primarily to changes in deer density,” the province said.

“Estimating cougar populations is challenging because cougars are secretive, and populations can be estimated only indirectly using other indices.”

Bryce Casavant, a former B.C. Conservation Service officer suspended and transferred for refusing to kill two bear cubs after their mother was put down in Port Hardy, said the province doesn’t really have firm predator numbers.

“Often our population estimates rely on ‘expert’ opinion and are really nothing more than a best-guess method. The problem is we often get it wrong. History shows us that we have hunted species to extinction by guessing. The basking shark in B.C. is a perfect example,” said Casavant, who is studying wildlife-conflict issues as a doctoral candidate in Royal Roads University Social Science program. He plans to run for the NDP in the 2017 B.C. election.

Hunting and killing the big cats does not damage the gene pool of cougars for coming generation, the ministry said. “In most cases, big cats would have already contributed to the gene pool by the time they get big, and their offspring are likely around.”

Casavant said there is a major difference between managing wildlife to extract hunter kills in perpetuity and true conservation of wildlife for co-existence and species sustainability.

“I’m not saying whether it’s right or wrong,” he said, but he is advocating changes in “false terminology” about conservation principles in B.C. policy and legislation.

The province said wildlife is managed on the principle of conservation first.

“Hunting opportunities are only provided where such activities are biologically sustainable. Under no circumstances does the province of British Columbia allow hunting that threatens the conservation of any species,” the ministry said.

There has been a huge increase in hunters in B.C., says the B.C. Wildlife Federation.

“After years of decline, the number of people taking up hunting has skyrocketed — increasing from 86,000 in 2005 to 112,000 in 2015,” with growth led by youth and women.

“People are becoming far more concerned about where their food comes from and just reconnecting with nature,” Zeman said.

The downside, Zeman said, is that “B.C. is one of the most under-funded jurisdictions in North America for fish and wildlife management,” as evidenced by declines in everything from Mountain caribou to Thompson steelhead.

Unlike most of North America, B.C. does not have a dedicated funding arrangement to support wildlife populations, the federation said. Less than 20 per cent of hunting licence fees is dedicated to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, which provides funding for fish and wildlife conservation projects in B.C.


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Too Many Deer on the Road? Let Cougars Return, Study Says


Cougars can kill hundreds of deer over the course of their lives, leading some scientists to argue that restoring them to 19 states with large populations of deer could prevent automobile-deer collisions.
JULY 18, 2016
What large mammal regularly kills humans in the Eastern United States?

And what other large mammal might significantly reduce those deaths?

The answer to the first question is the white-tailed deer. Deer do not set out to murder people, as far as anyone knows, but they do jump out in front of vehicles so often that they cause more than a million collisions a year, resulting in more than 200 deaths.

The answer to the second question, according to a new scientific study, is the cougar.
Show Full Article:


men injured in helicopter crash – shooting coyotes


Blue Mountain Eagle

UPDATE: Monument, Pilot Rock men injured in Ritter helicopter crash

Published:January 13, 2016 10:19AM
Last changed:January 13, 2016 6:49PM

Photo courtesy of Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer
The wreckage of a 1988 Enstrom helicopter was found near Ritter Butte Lookout in northern Grant County. The crash was reported at 10:06 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Photo courtesy of Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer

Photo courtesy of Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer
The wreckage of a 1988 Enstrom helicopter was found near Ritter Butte Lookout in northern Grant County.

Photos courtesy of Sheriff Glenn Palmer
The wreckage of a 1988 Enstrom helicopter was found near Ritter Butte Lookout in northern Grant County.
The Eagle/Angel Carpenter

RITTER — A helicopter pilot and his passenger were injured in a crash near Ritter Butte Wednesday morning.

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said a helicopter being used to hunt coyotes ran out of fuel and crashed into several juniper trees on a rock outcropping on property owned by Paul Walton, Ritter, about a half-mile southwest of the Ritter Butte Lookout and one-and-a-half miles west of Highway 395 in northern Grant County.

The crash was reported at about 10:06 a.m. Jan. 13, and the sheriff’s office, along with ambulances from Long Creek and John Day, were dispatched to the scene.

Palmer said, when he arrived on the scene, members of the Long Creek Fire Department were packing the helicopter pilot, Cliff A. Hoeft, 60, Pilot Rock, several hundred yards to an awaiting ambulance.

The single passenger, Cody J. Cole, 34, Monument, walked away from the crash, Palmer said, but both men were transported to Blue Mountain Hospital in John Day. Hoeft was later transferred by aircraft to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.

Palmer, who conducted the initial investigation, said the men were “lucky to be alive.” He said the 1988 Enstrom helicopter, registered to BRD Equipment in Adams, was heavily damaged and is considered a total loss.

Palmer said the helicopter and pilot were hired by a number of people who were hunting coyotes on adjoining properties in the area. He said different passengers were taking turns shooting from the helicopter, and the crash occurred within about 1,000 yards of where the aircraft had been landing near the group of hunters.