Bear capture case illuminates dark side of pursuing wildlife with dogs for ‘sport’

https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2021/06/07/bear-capture-case/

Parowan man who pleaded guilty wants his hunting privileges restored, while a dog trainer is headed to trial on felony charges.

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) Utah law allows hunters to pursue black bears with dogs, but a case involving a Florida dog trainer shows how this "sport" can veer off into criminality.

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) Utah law allows hunters to pursue black bears with dogs, but a case involving a Florida dog trainer shows how this “sport” can veer off into criminality.By Brian Maffly  | June 7, 2021, 5:00 a.m.| Updated: 6:26 a.m.

They chased a bear with dogs for at least 90 minutes before it collapsed from exhaustion and cowered in fear, then they put the dehydrated animal in a cage when it became unresponsive and appeared to be dying.

According to court records, William “Bo” Wood kept the bear at his hunting camp in Grand County for two days. After the bear recovered he released the animal to pursue it again, in violation of Utah hunting regulations that prohibit capturing bears and other protected wildlife.

While using dogs to pursue bears is legal and growing in popularity in Utah, the 2018 incident in the La Sal Mountains resulted in felony charges against Wood, 31, a Florida dog trainer who has been arrested for allegedly abusing bears in his home state, and his Utah companion Clifford Stubbs of Parowan.

The incident shines a light into the little-known and ethically suspect practice of pursuing wild animals for sport. Critics say such pursuits harass wildlife, which is not legal in any other context, and could endanger anyone coming upon a bear that had been traumatized by dogs.

Such concerns were front and center in this case, according to evidence presented Thursday to the Utah Wildlife Board as it weighed the fate of Stubbs’s hunting privileges.

Stubbs told the board he knew nothing of his friend’s crimes and condemned Wood’s alleged abuses. A 48-year-old concrete contractor, Stubbs did plead guilty to reduced misdemeanor wildlife violations, but asked the board to drop the three-year suspension imposed by the Division of Wildlife Resources, known as DWR. Stubbs claimed he acted to save the bear, which had collapsed beside a road near homes in a place called Willow Basin near Moab.

“The division wants to use wildlife conservation laws to punish Cliff for conserving wildlife,” his lawyer Brent Ward told the Wildlife Board. ”He had a humane interest in preserving the bear. He did not want a dead bear on his hands. There’s nothing illegal or inappropriate in wanting to keep a bear from dying. Surely that was a greater good than letting the bear die.”(Screen shot courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
This video image depicts several dogs cornering a female black bear during a pursuit on May 19, 2018 in Grand County. The video was found on the phone of William "Bo" Wood, a Florida dog trainer now awaiting trial on felony charges stemming from the incident.

(Screen shot courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) This video image depicts several dogs cornering a female black bear during a pursuit on May 19, 2018 in Grand County. The video was found on the phone of William “Bo” Wood, a Florida dog trainer now awaiting trial on felony charges stemming from the incident.

During the three-hour hearing, some board members agreed there were mitigating factors weighing in Stubbs’s favor, but following two hours of deliberation in 4-3 vote, the board upheld Stubbs’s suspension, which doesn’t affect Stubbs’s ability to hunt animals other than bears and cougars.

The decision pleased DWR officials.

“This type of behavior is not representative of the vast majority of people and was not only unsportsmanlike, but it is also illegal,” said Justin Shirley, DWR’s chief of law enforcement. “We always encourage people to contact DWR officials rather than take matters into their own hands. Our agency is committed to enforcing and promoting legal hunting, and this did not fit that description.”

DWR lawyer Kyle Maynard argued Stubbs knowingly violated statutes intended to protect not only wildlife, but also preserve hunting.

“Mr. Stubbs and his hunting party pursued a bear to the point of exhaustion and became concerned the bear may die, something not allowed under a bear pursuit permit. In an attempt to avoid one violation, they committed another. Mr. Stubbs and his party at this point deliberated and made a choice to pick the exhausted bear up, bring it into their possession, locking in a dog box,” Maynard told the board. “He wasn’t acting to save the bear. He was acting to save himself from what he believed was a more serious violation.”(Screenshot via Zoom) Clifford Stubbs testifying before the Wildlife Board on June 3, 2021 in an effort to get his hunting privileges restored following his conviction in a bear pursuit gone bad.

(Screenshot via Zoom) Clifford Stubbs testifying before the Wildlife Board on June 3, 2021 in an effort to get his hunting privileges restored following his conviction in a bear pursuit gone bad.

Stubbs, who has pursued hundreds of bears in his 22 years in the sport, had never run afoul of wildlife rules before May 19, 2018, when he and Wood chased the female bear in circles. Video Wood shot at the chase’s conclusion shows the barely mobile bear under attack by nine baying dogs. The two-minute clip, which DWR attorneys showed the Wildlife Board, indicates the bear is so spent it can’t move its hind legs as it moans in fear, with the dogs barking and nipping at it. Yet no one is shown in the video trying to restrain the dogs, although Wood can be heard shooing the bear away from a tree it was trying to climb.

Stubbs said he immediately pulled his dogs away from the bear when he arrived on the scene as his companions discussed killing it. He knew that killing the bear would be illegal and would require a report to DWR.

But leaving the bear was not a good option either because the spot was near homes, he said. A curious passerby was liable to get injured if they startled the bear. So Stubbs reasoned the best option was to take the bear to camp, but on Thursday he acknowledged the better move would have been to call DWR for help.

The men put the bear into a box built for dogs, loaded it into a pickup and drove to camp and provided it with water and Gatorade.

Stubbs went home about an hour later while the caged bear was still unresponsive, he told the board. Wood led him to believe the animal recovered and was released later that day without incident. He claimed he didn’t learn of the bear’s prolonged incarceration and second chase until he was criminally charged the following year.(Marion County Sheriff's Office) William "Bo" Wood faces felony charges in Utah for allegedly capturing a black bear during a 2018 hunt that went bad.

(Marion County Sheriff’s Office) William “Bo” Wood faces felony charges in Utah for allegedly capturing a black bear during a 2018 hunt that went bad.

The case came to light after Florida wildlife officials began investigating Wood in response to social media posts depicting what appeared to be illegal bear hunts. They seized his phone which they discovered contained images of a bear confined in a truck registered to Stubbs, according to Utah DWR conservation officers Kody Jones and Adam Wallerstein. The officers testified the phone contain 30 videos showing the Utah bear’s chase, capture and captivity—all of which will likely be used as evidence against Wood at his trial.

Bear hunting and pursuits are two distinct activities in Utah. Hunters bagged 443 bears last year, an increase from 369 bears harvested in 2019, according to DWR data.

Bear chases are the subject of a different permit system in which permits are awarded for spring, summer and fall seasons. Statewide 557 permits were awarded in 2018 and the La Sal Mountains are a popular place in Utah to chase bears.

Under Utah’s hunting regulations, bear pursuers, known as houndsmen, are not allowed to target cubs or mothers with cubs. They may use no more than 16 dogs in a single pursuit, or eight during the summer. Once a bear is treed, it must be allowed a pathway to escape and the pursuit may not be resumed. The spring pursuit season this year ran from April 3 to May 31.

Many aspects of that first pursuit were problematic, but where it crossed the line into criminality was when they put the animal in a box and held it captive, Maynard said.

Ward argued that Stubbs could not have “captured” the bear because if was so incapacitated it could not even walk. But Stubbs had participated in the underlying chase that resulted in the animal’s collapse, and whether the bear could escape was irrelevant, Maynard said.

The agency “places an emphasis on respecting wildlife we hunt. The act of hunting is a form of appreciation for wildlife and the opportunities they provide,” he told the board. “We have rules to preserve our opportunity to hunt and enjoy wildlife. This is not what bear pursuit is about and the longevity of this sport depends on upholding the legal and ethical obligations of houndsmen.”

For his criminal conviction, Stubbs was given a one-year suspended jail sentence, paid $1,500 fine and performed 52 hours of community service.

Wood, meanwhile, faces serious legal jeopardy in Florida, where authorities have seized his dogs and filed charges of racketeering, animal abuse and wildlife violations stemming from a series of illegal bear hunts, some of which Wood allegedly celebrated on social media with video posts showing dogs assaulting prone bears.

Wood is free on bail awaiting trial in Florida, then later in Moab’s 7th District Court.

Dartmoor fox hunt: Pair deny hunting animal with hounds

Published2 days agoShare

Hound being led by hunter
image captionThe chairman of the Lamerton Hunt said the incident was ‘accidental not deliberate’

Two men have denied illegally hunting a fox with hounds on Dartmoor.

David Lewis, 50, and Gareth Frain, 25, are accused of hunting the wild animal with dogs at Lake Down in Devon on 14 December 2019.

Mr Lewis told Exeter Crown Court they were not drag hunting or hunting a fox, but were trail hunting when he lost sight of the dogs.

Prosecutors said the defendants always intended to hunt the fox, which ultimately escaped.

Mr Lewis had been employed as a huntsman with the Lamerton Hunt for 14 years, the court was told.

He said he and Mr Frain were trail hunting, which involves hunters following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds, without a fox being killed.

He said he could not see or hear the hounds as they chased a fox, which managed to escape the 20 or 30 dogs.

“I could not see them and I could not hear them,” Mr Lewis said.

Chairman of the Lamerton Hunt Roger Jennings said they had gone out trail hunting when the “hounds went wrong” and he “became aware of a commotion”.

He said he did not see a fox and said the incident was “accidental not deliberate” and the hounds had been impossible to stop.

He said within 10 minutes the whole incident was over.

Three witnesses claim they heard Mr Lewis encouraging the hounds, shouting “on, on, on”.

He told the court: “I do not use those words. I did not hear anyone shout ‘on, on, on’.”

Under the 2004 Hunting Act, foxes cannot be killed by dogs as part of a hunt.

One or two dogs can be used to “flush out” – remove from cover – a fox, which should then be shot.

The district judge said he will make a judgement on the case in March.

Conservation agent shares notes on coyote hunting season

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Conservation agent shares notes on coyote hunting season
Coyotes have always been a predator on the landscape which either generates curiosity from individuals intrigued by their mournful cries and yips in the the night, or the aggravated farmer having to deal with the loss of livestock due to coyote predation.MDC

Sarah Ettinger-Dietzel Iron County Agent Missouri Department of Conservation

The temperate days of fall have left, and the cold winter season is in full swing in Missouri. With the end of another successful Missouri deer season, many hunters change their focus from large game to the small game variety. One such critter is the coyote.

Coyotes have always been a predator on the landscape which either generates curiosity from individuals intrigued by their mournful cries and yips in the the night, or the aggravated farmer having to deal with the loss of livestock due to coyote predation.

The characteristics of coyotes are very distinctive with the upper parts being a light gray or dull yellow, with their outer hairs tipped black. The backs of the ears are often a reddish to yellowish color around the muzzle. The iris of the eye is tawny and both sexes look very much alike.

Coyotes may be taken by hunting, and pelts and carcasses may be possessed, transported, and sold in any numbers throughout the year. Except during the daylight hours from April 1 – 19.

A recent change to occur in coyote hunting regulations occurred in the fall of last year. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) revised regulations regarding coyote hunting. The change came in response to citizen requests to the Regulations Committee to use night vision, infrared, thermal imagery equipment, or artificial light to hunt coyotes and from landowners to allow their authorized representatives to use night vision, infrared, or thermal imagery equipment without prior approval from a conservation agent to address damage caused by feral hogs.Top ArticlesWatch Now: Elephants enjoy the snowfall in Arizona, andmore of today’s top videosWatch Now: Elephants enjoy the snowfall in Arizona, and more of today's top videosREAD MOREChicago bank robber nabbed after allegedly demanding $10,000, handing photo ID to tellerREAD MOREPhotos: Notable Deaths in 2021READ MOREREAD

The regulations allow properly licensed hunters to use artificial light, night vision, infrared, or thermal imagery equipment in conjunction with other legal hunting methods to pursue and take coyotes. A small game hunting permit is required for this season, unless you are a landowner of at least five contiguous acres and hunting are on your property then you are not required to have a small game permit.

This revision became effective Nov. 30. The first inaugural season will begin this coming Feb. 1 and will go through March 31. It should also be noted that property owners and their representatives can still use night vision, infrared, thermal imaging equipment, or artificial light to kill coyotes or other wildlife causing property damage at any time of the year with written authorization from a conservation agent.

The standard regulations still apply during this new season. Hunters may still use electronic calls and dogs in the pursuit of coyotes. Poisons, tranquilizers, chemicals and explosives may not be used. Motor driven transportation cannot be used to take, drive or harass wildlife and you may not take wildlife from or across a public roadway.

As always, we hope that everyone gets the opportunity to get outside and enjoys Missouri’s great outdoors. For more information on nuisance and problem species, contact your local Conservation Agent or visit us at the MDC website at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Z5L.

21 Hunting Dogs Found Dead at Virginia Kennel

 

Dog collar
Shutterstock

File photo

The owner of a Virginia kennel has been charged with animal cruelty after authorities said they discovered 21 dead hunting dogs there.

Dinwiddie County Animal Control, acting on an anonymous tip, went to the property off U.S Highway 1 and discovered the dead dogs inside the kennel. One dog was still alive, The Progress-Index of Petersburg reported.

The surviving dog is receiving treatment and is expected to recover.

21 Hunting Dogs Found Dead at Virginia Kennel

 

Activists vow to continue fight to save foxes in Warwickshire

Catherine Thompson5th Mar, 2019
Sboteurs say they have no plans to give up the fight to save foxes in Warwickshire.

Anti-hunt campaigners in the county are concerned at the number of foxes killed by ‘mistake’ during hunts up and down the country, and say they will not stop disrupting the Warwickshire Hunt until foxes were properly protected under the law.

Following the ban on fox hunting introduced in 2004, the hunt and its hounds now follow artificial trails, but saboteurs still follow the hunt closely when it takes to the Warwickshire countryside.

A spokeswoman for the West Midlands hunt saboteurs said: “It’s sad that it’s up to us to fight. The law is not enforced properly and hasn’t stopped animals being killed for blood sport. It’s barbaric.

“We do our utmost to try and save the animals.

“We will always try and stop them until the day when the law is tightened an outright ban on hunting. They can’t keep claiming killing foxes is an accident. If so many accidents are happening then it shouldn’t be allowed at all.”

But the hunt denied the accusations and said it operated within the law.

A spokesman for the hunt said: “We hunt legally to comply with the Hunting Act 2004 and our professional staff correct hounds as quickly as possible should any mistakes occur. Hunting remains a popular activity as demonstrated at many of its venues and increasing public attendance and support especially on Boxing Day and Opening Meets. People are welcome to come and see what we do.”

The hunt and saboteurs recently blamed each other when an ambulance was held up on a country lane near Shipston.

The hunt accused protesters for not pulling their car over as they followed the hunt, while saboteurs said the ambulance was delayed by the hunt ‘using the road as their own personal playground’.

One Dies, One Injured in Coyote Hunting Accident


Daviess County – One man is dead and another in a hospital.. after an accident while they were hunting this afternoon.
It happened just before three in Daviess County.
The sheriff’s office says that 40 year old Mervin Knepp of Montgomery, Indiana and 18 year Lavon Wagler of Plainville were coyote hunting.
That’s when their hunting dogs ran a coyote into an oil well pump housing.
The two men went to the machinery to retrieve the dogs when the pump started running.
Wagler was taken to the hospital for surgery on his leg.
Knepp was pronounced dead at the hospital.

 

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

https://www.opb.org/news/article/cougar-overhunting-conflict-oregon/


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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.”

‘Hunting dog’ abandoned with serious injuries after being hit by car

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2018-08-29/hunting-dog-abandoned-with-serious-injuries-after-being-hit-by-car/

A dog who was ‘left for dead’ with serious leg injuries is recovering at an RSPCA hospital.

Zach
Zach Credit: RSPCA

Five-year-old Saluki Zach was found with serious injuries on Fambridge Road in Maldon earlier this month.

“Poor Zach was being used for some sort of hunting when he was injured. Salukis and lurcher types are often used for illegal blood sports such as hare coarsing and locals tell us he was being used to chase rabbits and hares across the fields. Unfortunately, Zach seems to have chased something into the road where he was hit – according to witnesses – by a car travelling at around 50mph. He suffered severe leg injuries and his owners left the scene and simply left him for dead. Thankfully, some kind members of the public helped him and contacted us right away so we were able to get him the veterinary attention he needed.”

– CAROLINE ALLEN, RSPCA
Zach
Zach Credit: RSPCA

Zach suffered a broken leg and also had a nasty open wound. He will require surgery although vets hope to save the leg.

“Poor Zach was absolutely terrified and must have been in so much pain, it’s despicable that his owners could see him hurt so seriously in this accident and simply drive away and leave him there in agony.”

– CAROLINE ALLEN, RSPCA
Zach
Zach Credit: RSPCA

Police were also called to the scene after the driver of the car failed to stop following the accident.

Hunt saboteurs join forces with huntsmen as they come together to rescue horse stuck in a bog

Hunt saboteurs joined forces with huntsmen as they came together to rescue a horse which had become trapped in a deep bog.

Members of Surrey Hunt Monitors and Guildford Hunt Saboteurs were following a group of hunters from the Surrey Hunt Union near Hankley Common on Saturday.

They planned to track the hunt and document their activities, and intervene if any animals got hurt.

But after just 30 minutes one of the lead huntsman’s horses got stuck in a deep bog – and the saboteurs stepped in to help their adversaries rescue the distressed animal.

A member of Guildford Hunt Saboteurs, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “When I arrived, they [the hunt] had started to take the saddle off the horse to reduce weight.

“I waited until they had done that to ask if they needed help but they said ‘no’ so I observed at the side and carried on taking footage.”

Traditional enemies came together when a group of hunt saboteurs came to the aid of huntsman whose horse got tapped in a bog at the weekend
Traditional enemies came together when a group of hunt saboteurs came to the aid of huntsman whose horse got tapped in a bog at the weekend

He said more saboteurs arrived on the scene and the hunters continued to refuse assistance, but eventually relented and let them help.

“I jumped in after about five minutes and said to them ‘look, the only thing that’s important at this point in time is the horse, I don’t care about anything else’.

“At that point, I think they were quite happy for me to assist.

“At the end, the joint hunt master thanked us for our help and said we had been a great help.”

The Surrey Hunt Monitors said they decided to intervene because the horse was “well stuck, freezing cold and clearly stressed”.

A spokesman for the group added: “The horse was very lucky to have survived its ordeal and we were happy we were there with the saboteurs to offer assistance.

“It was heartening to hear the appreciation of the hunt master to all of us who helped when we all made it out of the area safely.”

Surrey Police officers were also called to the scene to help with the rescue.

A police spokesman said the hunters were “grateful to the help offered” and that the horse “appeared to have no obvious injuries”.

The Surrey Hunt Union says members hunt around the county throughout the hunting season within the restrictions set out in the Hunting Act 2004.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Jeremy Gumbley said the horse is fine and thanked the saboteurs for their help.

“In the ideal scenario, you never want this to happen,” he said.

“The horses are part of the team and we care for them just as much as anyone else. To have that happen is a potential disaster.

“All credit to our Surrey Hunt Monitors and the saboteurs. In the past, we have come to blows over different opinions on various things, but we all love animals.”

He added: “It was quite refreshing to see solidarity, with the human species coming together to help one of our friends.”

Using dogs to hunt foxes was banned by the Government in 2004 under the Hunting Act.

But there are dozens of hunt saboteur groups nationwide who claim hunters regularly flout the law and kill foxes.

Suspects in massive Wash. poaching investigation plead not guilty

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CENTRALIA, Wash. (AP) – Two of the three newest suspects in a massive poaching investigation out of southwest Washington have pleaded not guilty.

The Chronicle reports Aaron Hendricks, his father-in-law David McLeskey of Woodland and Aaron Hanson are facing charges of first-degree animal cruelty, unlawful hunting of black bear, cougar, bobcat or lynx with dogs and second-degree unlawful hunting of animals.

Hendricks and McLeskey have pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

Hanson is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

According to court documents, officials uncovered a network of poachers after investigating William Haynes and Erik Martin who are suspected of engaging in illegal hunting activities.

Law enforcement identified Hanson, Hendricks and McLeskey as suspects and co-conspirators in the illegal activities from cellphone evidence.