The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is hard at work spending taxpayer money on a nonexistent problem. Contract employees using hounds will be used to kill 66 cougars in three areas.
In its idiocy, the Fish and Wildlife Commission came up with a cougar management plan that doesn’t seek to control problem cougars, but rather kills the animals en masse in areas where cougar complaints and purported cougar predation exceed 1994 levels.
Gosh, what a great concept. Let’s apply it to traffic in Salem, where I live. I often complain that there are a lot more cars on the road now compared to when I moved here in 1977. So let’s thin the herd of automobiles so I can drive around as freely as I used to.
I recommend starting with any car that either has an out-of-state plate or a “Bush-Cheney” bumper sticker. They may not be causing any problem when the tow truck comes to take them away, but I feel like they might. And besides, I’ve got a right to keep Salem traffic jams at 1977 levels.
Another obvious problem with the cougar plan is that many reported sightings of “cougars” are mistaken. But if you call in a sighting to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, it counts as a complaint. Even if the animal was really a kitty cat. I wouldn’t be surprised if some ranchers already have the complaint number on their speed dial and are phoning in phony sightings while they watch Fox News.
Cougar phobic Oregonians in the red counties, don’t you feel a bit funny calling on big government to save you from a problem? Especially when the solution you’re getting isn’t much of a solution. And the problem isn’t much of a problem.
If you’re losing livestock regularly to a problem cougar, that’s a problem. However, killing cougars indiscriminately likely isn’t going to help much. Men commit most of the crimes in this country. But if government starts randomly killing men the crime rate won’t go down much.
You see, it’s certain types of men who commit crimes. Most men are law abiding, just as most cougars don’t kill livestock, and most pit bulls don’t bite people. Profiling entire groups that are considered dangerous just to deal with a few problem individuals doesn’t work.
Malcolm Gladwell talks about this in his The New Yorker article, “Troublemakers: what pit bulls can teach us about profiling.” The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission must not have read it. Or if they did, ignored it.
Gladwell points out that, as a breed, pit bulls aren’t a problem. Particular pit bulls do become problems, however, just as particular German Shepherds, Dobermans, and dogs of any other breed do. He says that it possible to figure out what combination of dog, owner, and environmental (like being chained up) factors leads to a dog attack.
“But,” Gladwell says, “it’s always easier just to ban the breed.” Or, the species.
I think it’s time for a voter initiative that would ban the indiscriminate hunting of cougars with hounds by government bounty hunters. Oregonians have already made their wishes clear (see “Oregon cougar plan a slap in the face to voters”). Unnecessary cougar thinning wasn’t one of those wishes.
As several commenters to a Salem Statesman-Journal story about the cougar killing plan observed, it’s crazy that the government is now paying contract employees to kill cougars in a manner that was banned by the voters in 1994. What is it about “don’t use hounds to hunt cougars” that the Fish and Wildlife Commission doesn’t understand?
For another perspective on this issue, check out Loaded Orygun’s “Is ‘Cougar Madness’ Leading to Unnecessary Kills?”
Short answer: yes.