Pop quiz: how many people have been killed by a cougar in Oregon? Is it (a) 126, (b) 18, or (c) none.
From all the hysteria over "managing" the cougar population (which really means needlessly killing them), you'd think the answer would be greater than zero. But it isn't.
No one has ever been killed by a cougar in Oregon. Many people have been killed by hunters. So if we're really concerned about protecting human life, there should be a thinning of the ranks of hunters, not of cougars.
As I've noted before, the Oregon cougar plan is based on fictions, not facts. Further, it's a slap in the face to voters, who passed a measure in 1994 that banned the use of dogs in hunting cougars.
Unfortunately, the ban only applies to private citizens. So the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission wriggled around the law by approving a plan that allows federal hunters to use dogs to track cougars. Which our taxes pay for.
The ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) plan has gone into effect, even though this is a solution in search of a problem. One of the goals of the Oregon Cougar Plan is to reduce complaints about cougars.
However, kitty cats have been mistaken for cougars, so it's crazy to pay federal employees to go out and deal with an excess of overfed house cats.
It's even crazier, though, for the state to pay a private hunter to do what the voters have said hunters can't do: use dogs to kill cougars. Yet this is what House Bill 2971 would allow. It's a blatant attempt to roll back the ban without going back to the voters.
HB 2971 was proposed by the Oregon Hunter's Association. Hopefully it will die a quick legislative death. The odds of being attacked by a cougar are smaller than the chances of winning the lottery, on the order of 1 in 100 million or more.
So why kill cougars that aren't causing any problems? Beats me, along with a coalition of ranchers, conservationists, and animal welfare groups that is trying to halt the ODFW plan. Some people just enjoy killing animals. That's the only answer the coalition could come up with.
"The ODFW plan is not about 'management' or 'culling' or dealing with 'problem' cougars. It is about killing, pure and simple. And deputizing hunters to do the dirty business of chasing cougars with hounds and gunning them down won't make this plan any better," said Brian Vincent, Communications Director for the newly created organization, Big Wildlife, an international wildlife protection organization.
A federal agent just killed three cougars 2.5 miles outside of the area in Jackson County that ODFW had authorized. So the cougar killing gang can't even shoot straight.
"We messed up, we're going to let people know we messed up, and we'll take steps to correct it," Wildlife Division Administrator Ron Anglin told the Mail Tribune newspaper.
Good. Hopefully ODFW also will realize that their entire cougar plan is a mistake. Nature does just fine keeping prey and predators in natural balance.
Hunters get bent out of shape when cougars kill deer and elk that they'd rather kill themselves. Tough. Cougars were here first, and they have first dibs on the deer and elk, in my opinion. And they kill few livestock compared to losses for other reasons.
If it sounds like I'm anti-hunting, that's because I am. I don't see any reason why cougars should be killed just to give hunters a better chance at killing some other animal.
If hunters enjoy the outdoors, they should go hiking. If they enjoy tracking animals and getting close to them, they should take up wildlife photography. If they like to shoot, they should join a gun club. If they need meat and can't afford it, they should apply for government assistance or go to a food bank.
So that takes care of the legitimate reasons for hunting. Killing for the joy of killing is an illegitimate reason, to my mind. If hunters like to kill for no reason, they should seek counseling and find out what's wrong with their psyche. They shouldn't be taking out their frustrations, or whatever, on animals.
Most hunting these days is virtually risk-free. So if thrills and a hint of danger is being sought, riding a motorcycle is a lot better option.
Or go on a wild boar hunt with just a knife. That takes a lot more guts than shooting a defenseless animal with a high-powered rifle.
I've always suspected that many people are obsessed with killing cougars, even though they're virtually no danger to humans, because cougars are one of the few remaining wild animals that could tear a person apart if they chose to (which, again, they do extremely rarely).
My wife and I, along with most Oregonians, like the idea of sharing our state with a powerful wild animal. We walk every day in cougar habitat. We don't appreciate the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, or the legislature, going against the will of us and other voters with the ODFW irrational cougar plan and HB 2971.
Come on. Give us and the cougars a fair shake.