Missoula, Mont. (April 14, 2015) – An unlikely alliance between the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association, Footloose Montana, and In Defense of Animals is calling on Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) for more accountability in the management of mountain lions in the Big Sky State after the gruesome and horrific discovery of a severed mountain lions limb in a foothold trap. The alliance is seeking a reduction in the overall quota of mountain lions in the Bitterroot Valley, by counting trap-related injuries and deaths toward the overall hunting quota, and by holding trappers accountable.
The severed mountain lion foot was discovered around March 24 by a resident in the Bitterroot Valley. He reported deep claw marks on a nearby tree, indicating that the estimated four-year-old male lion was desperately trying to seek shelter and escape the source of pain – a foothold trap set for wolves. Thanks to recreational and commercial trapping, this mountain lion is likely dead now, either succumbing to starvation, attack by other carnivores, shock, or a painful infection of the severed limb.
The illegally set trap had no identification tag attached to it, and was placed outside the official wolf trapping season, which ended on February 28.
According to Anja Heister with In Defense of Animals, “At least 15 mountain lions have been reported to FWP as caught in traps specifically set for wolves in addition to other species over the course of two trapping seasons, between 2012 and 2014. Yet, these tragic trapping-related injuries and mortalities do not count toward the overall quota for mountain lions. They are also considered merely “incidental” and go unpunished.”
The FWP Commission meets this Wednesday, April 15 to deliberate the quota for the 2015 mountain lion hunting season and we strongly encourage them to adopt the inclusion of incidental mortalities. “There is no question that the mortality of mountain lions exceeds what the Commission allows,” said Cal Ruark, former president of the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association. “It is time to reconcile the two numbers and reduce the quota, as well as acknowledging so-called “non-target incidents” as what they are – deaths of animals, which, at a very minimum, need to be recognized and counted.”
The Commission must be empowered and do the right thing as a result of this recent disturbing discovery. The maiming and likely subsequent death of this mountain lion is not an isolated incident and the time has come to make bold changes and offer dynamic solutions in order to prevent further animals from suffering the same horrific fate.
Chewed-off Canadian lynx foot–another trapping victim. Photo by Jim Robertson