Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oregon bill could help protect cougars

Bill would require ODFW to play bigger role in wildlife protection

By Amy Sienicki

March 9, 2009

MEDFORD, Ore. -- State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop and implement a program to help farmers and ranchers reduce conflict between people and wildlife through non-deadly means.

The bill follows the shooting of a cougar in Ashland last month. At the time, ODFW advised Ashland and Oregon State police not to tranquilize the animal due to safety concerns.

ODFW says it typically doesn't take positions on bills, but the agency says it already provides advice to landowners about how they can protect their animals from predators. ODFW says they are still studying the bill to determine its effect, if any. They say it could increase workload and costs.

Bill supporters say more preventable measures need to be taken. Critics say the bill is simply unnecessary, noting that there needs to be a distinction between cougars and other wildlife because non-lethal means don't work with cougars.

"They don't work, because cougars are territorial, and all you're doing is taking an animal that's killed livestock. If you do tranquilize it or trap it and transplant it someplace else, all you've done is taken the problem elsewhere. You've turned him loose to kill someone else's livestock or pets," says Predator Control Agent Perry Allen.

ODFW says there have been no confirmed cases of a cougar attacking a human in the state of Oregon.


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