Lion hunting bill undermines management as human-lion interactions increase

Introducing SB22-031 Ban Hunting Bobcat Lynx and Mountain Lion, sponsored by Colorado Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder, Senator Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder and Rep. Monica Duran, D-Wheatridge, reportedly sparked an outcry from opponents in the hunting and conservation communities.

A mountain lion sported by dogs in Colorado. Photo by Christine McGee

Dan Gates, Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management, said the bill’s sponsors and members of the Senate Agriculture Committee have heard significant opposition to the bill from hunting, fishing, and fishing communities. line and tiered storage.

“Legislators who sponsor bills like this on the whims of agenda-driven organizations to stop all forms of management by lethal means or consumption, I don’t think they are considering the facts , I don’t think they care about any of that,” Gates said. “It’s not in their equation. lost, how much recreation or outdoor or tourism opportunities are lost.

A bobcat in western Colorado. Photo by Garrett Gillespie

If passed, cougars and bobcats would be removed from big game status and all management removed, depredation and loss of livestock would not be compensated. Since 2019, nearly 400 cases of reports of damage to mountain lion food sources have been submitted to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Notably, the lynx is a federally protected species and is not hunted in the state.

A bill would ban lion hunting at a time of increasing human-lion interactions. Photo by Christine McGee

“The 960 species, excluding wolves, that CPW manages all need a management plan, they all need to be monitored, they all need some sort of action plan to ensure their habitat, their sustainability, their ability to thrive and thrive, but what I would like to consider the efforts of the opposition to derail this program and this process is currently looking at it from the perspective of the cougar, the bobcat and the lynx “Gates said. “A year and a half ago, they looked at it from the wolf’s perspective. Next time it will be coyotes and foxes. They always look at it from the perspective of one or two species, they don’t look at it from the perspective of the whole ecosystem, which they often talk about, but they don’t look at it from that perspective. They go down a list and try to take things off that list and make that list smaller and less relevant to try not to justify the need for human involvement when we have humans on the landscape and wildlife on the countryside.

Gates, who also holds an appointed position on the Stakeholder Advisory Group for Wolf Introductions, said he bases his participation in all conversations related to wildlife management on facts and personal experiences related to to the scientific decisions of an agency that he says seeks in the best interests of every person and species in the state, rather than a specific group of people or species.

“I want bona fide experts, boots on the ground, experts on the ground deciding the fate of our wildlife and our natural resources,” he said. “I want highways and overpasses, roads, bridges and transportation experts to work on our transportation infrastructure. I want health care experts — I don’t want lawmakers or special interest groups making decisions on anything, wildlife-related or otherwise.

Dogs are used to track and sport cougars. Photo by Christine McGee


Gates said the story of wildlife management, especially through the North American model of wildlife conservation, should be at the table where decisions are made because it is both relevant and justified.

“People who oppose wildlife management decision-making processes unlike the CPW or other wildlife agencies across the country only mention the North American model when they try to misinterpret and misinterpret it. degrade and erode it,” he said. “It’s the best model in the world that other countries and continents are trying to adhere to and our own people here who want to stop the hunt and stop the advocacy are trying to degrade and erode the North American model and have legislators and administrators and elected officials convinced that this is a bad thing. I’ll tell you what, they couldn’t find anything better.

A lion seen through the scope of a hunting dog in western Colorado. Photo by Garrett Gillespie

Gates said avoiding misinformation is key for wildlife management advocates as this fight moves through the process.

“We were put on this planet to support ourselves – some of us carrots, some of us oxen and some of us elk – and come together and realize the importance of agricultural production and working farms and ranches, habitat conservation, what’s important to wildlife management, water resources and natural resources, everything we do plays into that, and we don’t shouldn’t degrade those conversations ourselves,” he said.

CPW director Dan Prinzlow said there are 3,800 to 4,400 independent adult lions in the state, excluding their cubs, bringing the total to around 6,000 to 7,000. lions have been managed as big game since 1965 and the population is stable and increasing due to management efforts. More than 40% of Colorado’s highest quality lion habitat, he said, has no lion mortality and consists of open spaces with no hunting. The annual harvest is about 11 to 13% of the population annually.

In 2019, 726 cases of human/lion incidences were reported, including 868 in 2020 and 763 in 2021, which he says is relatively stable and generally does not have positive interactions. Among the most notable interactions include a September poolside sighting in a Jefferson County neighborhood, a March 2020 incident of a lion attacking a Larimer County sheriff’s deputy and a civilian, a lion eating a elk on a porch in Glenwood Springs on Jan. 4, 2022, a lion euthanized after entering a condo lobby in Vail, another lion spotted near a Fort Collins elementary school, and numerous attacks on hunters and trail runners.

A tom mountain lion sported by dogs in Colorado. Photo by Christine McGee

According to the CPW, mountain lion management is in accordance with state law: “It is the policy of the State of Colorado that wildlife and their environment shall be protected, preserved, enhanced, and managed for the use, profit and pleasure”. of the inhabitants of this State and its visitors. It is further stated that it is the policy of this State to provide a comprehensive program designed to provide the widest possible variety of wildlife-related recreational opportunities for the residents of this State and its visitors…”

Carefully regulated mountain lion hunting is a form of “wildlife-related recreational opportunity,” as the law mentions. The state law goes on to state that “The State shall use hunting, trapping, and fishing as the primary methods of effecting necessary harvests of wildlife.” We cannot foresee a time when lethal culling of mountain lions will no longer be necessary. From time to time, ensuring public safety will require that dangerous lions be removed, either by agency staff/contractors, licensed and trained hunters, or both.


The North American model of wildlife conservation

Wildlife is a public resource. In the United States, wildlife is considered a public resource, independent of the land or water where wildlife can live. Government at various levels has a role to play in managing this resource on behalf of all citizens and ensuring the long-term sustainability of wildlife populations.

Game markets are eliminated. Before the enactment of wildlife protection laws, commercial operations decimated the populations of many species. Making the buying and selling of meat and parts of game and non-game species illegal has removed a huge threat to the survival of these species. A fur trade continues to be a highly regulated activity, often to manage invasive wildlife.

Distribution of wildlife by law. Wildlife is a public resource managed by the government. Accordingly, access to wildlife for hunting is through legal mechanisms such as fixed hunting seasons, bag limits, permit requirements, etc.

Wildlife can only be killed for a legitimate purpose. Wildlife is a shared resource that should not be wasted. The law prohibits the killing of wild animals for frivolous reasons.

Wild species are considered an international resource. Some species, such as migratory birds, cross national borders. Treaties such as the Migratory Birds Treaty and CITES recognize a shared responsibility in the management of these species across national borders.

Science is the appropriate tool for the discharge of wildlife policy. In order to manage wildlife as a shared resource in an equitable, objective and informed manner, decisions must be based on sound science such as annual surveys of waterfowl populations and the work of professional wildlife biologists.

The democracy of hunting. In accordance with democratic principles, the government allocates access to wildlife without regard to wealth, prestige or land ownership.

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