Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Ore. cougar hunting plan draws protests

Salem, Ore. (AP) – Wildlife advocates are protesting the state’s
move to expand a program to hunt cougars to reduce conflicts with
livestock, big game, people and pets.

Opponents say it will only lead to more unnecessary hunting and
killing of the big cats.

“This kind of indiscriminate killing is the wrong way to go,”
said Brian Vincent of the advocacy group Big Wildlife.

Wildlife officials have claimed some successes in the
state-sponsored three-year-old program in which it has paid for
hunting cougars in three management areas. Officials say 101
cougars have been killed since the program began.

Now, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is moving to
designate four game management areas in northeast and southeast
Oregon where cougars will be hunted to aid elk and mule deer
populations. Officials say 90 cougars a year would be killed in the
new areas.

“We’re trying to manage for a healthy population of cougars
while at the same time trying to minimize risk and conflict to the
public and to meet goals on other game species,” said Ron Anglin,
head of the department’s Wildlife Division.

Cougar numbers have increased since 1994 when Oregon voters
approved a law prohibiting sport hunters from using dogs to track
cougars – widely considered the most effective way to kill the big
cats.

The state estimates there are about 6,000 cougars in Oregon,
although wildlife activists question those figures and think
they’re too high.

In a recent report, state wildlife officials said the cougar
management plan has led to a decline in conflicts with livestock
near Ontario, in Eastern Oregon. It says killing cougars near
Heppner is increasing the ratio of calves to cows among elk.

However, wildlife officials said development, plus the mix of
public and private lands around Medford, made it difficult to hunt
cougars there.

Big Wildlife, the advocacy group, said the state’s cougar
management program is a failed policy that ought to be halted, not
expanded to the four new management areas.

It said the state should try to encourage use of non-lethal
means to control Oregon’s cougar population. More cougar-proof
livestock pens, bringing in pets at night and not leaving out pet
food would help avoid conflicts with cougars, it said.

“Instead of having a cougar killing plan, we should have an
education plan in place, especially for people who live in cougar
country,” Vincent said.

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