Happy Thanksgiving! Here are a few of the top stories on mountain lions from recent news articles. For more frequent updates, visit MountainLion.org and read the news daily.
When Mountain Lions Hunt, They Prey on the Weak
Studies have shown that trophy hunters weaken wild populations because they target the biggest and healthiest animals to get the most brag-worthy trophies. Wild predators like wolves and cougars however, go after the sick and weak animals, thus strengthening wild populations. A recent study by two Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists found that compared to human hunters, cougars were more likely to prey on deer with chronic wasting disease (an illness similar to mad cow disease). Cougars appear to be immune and by consuming the sick deer could reduce the presence of chronic wasting disease in the environment.
Two hunting districts in Montana have met their cougar quotas and are now closed. However, the management agency (Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks) does not appear to be too concerned with maintaining a viable cougar population since the winter trophy season begins December 1st and these areas will reopen - this time with the use of hounds. Cougars are only given a two week reprieve before the thinning of their population will continue yet again.
Although the odds of being hit by lightening are much greater than the odds of a person being attacked by a cougar, the irrational fear of cougars is still widespread in our society. The uninformed public and embellishing media often perpetuate the myth that cougars pose a high risk to public safety. As a result, South Dakota's state policy is to kill any and every lion that wanders into an urban area. And news stories like this one don't even hint at how absurd these intolerant practices really are, nor do they show a balanced view of the situation.
Wildlife Management Will Host A Cougar Training Program
Wisconsin DNR will host a mountain lion workshop next week to discuss ecology, behavior and safety. So far their policies appear to be about increasing research and public education. Cougars are "designated a species of special concern under full protection by state law" at this time. In general, as we have seen with states like North and South Dakota, it only takes a couple years after confirming cougar presence before "research" trophy seasons begin. Voice your opinions to Wisc onsin DNR and please urge them to never open a cougar hunting season.