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July 07, 2007


Touchy subject to post on, so getting flame-retardant suit on ahead of time. Here goes:

The killing of top predators makes me sick to my stomach, I'll say that first off. On a very fundamental (albeit emotional) level I don't like it one bit.

Despite this, I have to say that a controlled public hunt where hunters pay to hunt cougars under the supervision of wildlife managers makes a hell of a lot more sense than managing them by paying professional hunters to do the same dam thing.

No one has yet said that cougar populations should be let go completely. They, like all other large wild animal populations in this state, are managed. It makes more sense to me to let folks pay permit and license fees and do the managing than paying big bucks for professional hunters to do the same.

The use of dogs is the most effective way of hunting cougars. Almost no cougars are killed by any other method. So, whomever is going to manage the cougar populations effectively is going to use dogs. This, again, I really don't like on a emotional level, but it's the truth.

I see ridiculous arguments being hoisted on both sides of this issue. The "human danger" argument holds almost no water, and is at its core an emotional one. If you want to see cougars become a danger to humans, don't control them at all -- let the populations rise to the point where they deplete their natural food, and watch em come closer and closer to human populations out of desperation. THAT would be a problem.

The "hunt no large gorgeous animals" argument also holds no water and is at its core an emotional one. No wildlife manager in their right mind is going to let the cougar population rise to the point where it's prey species limits it. This would (temporarily) nuke big-game populations in much of the state. Yes, nature would regain a balance, and game/prey relationships would start to oscillate. This would take dozens of years, and in the meanwhile large game populations would completely hit the skids. It's the natural circumstance and eventually nature would balance itself, but it would take a long time. On our state forests we aren't talking natural circumstances, they are managed for multi-use and one of these uses is hunting. Hunters would lose out big, and there would be hell to pay for that.

Unless wildlife managers come up with a viable model that suggests no control whatsoever needs to be exerted on cougar populations, I have to support this move. As much as it makes me ill at ease.

I'm not talking completely out of my rear end either, I'm studying biology and ecology at PSU right now, and have been an environmentalist all of my adult life. I don't support this lightly.


Just realized my "human danger" paragraph has the wrong introduction -- it's late and my thoughts are wiggly I need sleep. I do make a reasonable prediction in that paragraph despite totally buggering up the introduction.


Bpaul, thanks for the thoughtful comment. It's refreshing to have someone use reason, rather than emotionality, in debating what to do about cougars.

I'd still question the wisdom of trying to "manage" (meaning, kill) cougars just to assure enough big game (deer, elk) for human hunters to kill.

If it doesn't matter whether state/federal employees or volunteer hired guns control cougars, then doesn't it also not matter whether cougars control the deer/elk population or hunters do?

Very few people hunt for food. They hunt for the joy of killing. At least cougars hunt for a good reason -- to stay alive. I'd much rather have a cougar killing deer and elk than human hunters, who are a lot more dangerous to someone walking in the woods.

Cougar killing advocates like to pretend this is about human safety. Actually, it's about keeping the population of game animals higher. And also slightly increasing the profit margin of cattle ranchers (slightly, because of all the reasons for cattle losses, cougars are way down the list).

You might find we have gotten more complaints about cougars approaching people or being threatening because more people are moving into the woods. Statistics are easy to misuse. I see the need in nature for balance. To me, killing no cougars makes no more sense than trying to kill them all.

Sure you might find most Oregonians would vote to not have them hunted as part of the Bambi mentality. The farther we get from survival skills, the less we know about nature and how it works. Living where someone can occasionally sight one can seem thrilling unless you become their prey. There is no logical reason why nobody has been killed by one as of yet in Oregon (it's not like they have a moral reason against killing us here vs say Washington). Children are, of course, the logical targets being smaller.

Although I have lived all of my life on the edge of cougar country, I don't fear them, but did teach my children about their hunting methods. I am not naive enough to take them for granted. Cougar attacks have always been infrequent; and if I had to be killed by a wild creature, cougar are probably the best choice given it'd break my neck with the goal being to do it before I knew it was there.

Thanks for the response. I'm trying to be reasonable here, trying to take into account folks with very different views than my own. In reality, the argument that cougars are hunting for survival and humans are hunting for fun is very cogent and leads to bigger, more difficult discussion.

In the interest of "being realistic" I can hold to my comments above, but I can say that in an ideal world I'd have a much less anthro-centric stance. Just trying to pick my battles is all.

Good discussion, good post.


Thanks for alerting me to this story. I wasn't aware of this bill, and I'm a news junkie, too.

I'm continually amazed by the double standards of the anti-environmental Right here in Oregon. They howl about the proposed fix for M37, whining that it "subverts the will of the voters" (how voters subvert their own will is beyond me). But this behind-the-scenes gutting of M18 is hunky dory. Very consistent.

The public safety argument is clearly a canard, an intentional diversion away from the real agenda, which is obviously to increase deer numbers for hunters, and to provide yet another subsidy to welfare ranchers. Plus letting some good ol' boys and their dogs have some fun. But we voters haven't found those to be sufficient reasons, so they gotta lie to us about public safety.

I'll be waiting for Oregonians in Action and their supporters to pipe up about how this law subverts the will of the voters. But I'm not going to hold my breath.

Governor Kulongoski, as well as Democrats Senator Brad Avakian and Alan Bates, are waging war on Oregon's wildlife. By passing HB 2971 -- which permits the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to "deputize" hound hunters to kill cougars -- they have turned their backs on Oregon voters who voted to ban hounding of cougars in 1994. In addition, they have demonstrated they are more loyal to a small, but vocal, minority of trophy hunters than they are to most Oregonians. Governor Kulongoski, Bates, and Avakian are a disgrace to the Democratic party. As some of you may know, Senator Bates is weighing a bid to run for the US Senate. I can assure you the environmental and animal welfare communities will "hound" Bates during his campaign. We will work relentless to end his political career. As for the Gov, well, his legacy will be one of massive slaughter of one of our state's most majestic animals.

To learn more about the cougar bill and the Governor's decision to roll back the hounding of cougars ban, go to http://bigwildlife.weebly.com/

That group has lots of information about the sorry state of affairs in Oregon. With Democrats like Governor Kulongoski, who needs Republicans. He is an embarrassment. Instead of protecting wildlife, he has crafted policies that show how trigger happy he is. His wildlife "management" policies are based on a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality.

Cats and all of our game need to be managed in a way that is equal for everyone. It is 2008, and not the days when all game were on equal status. The Cat, and Bear popualation it out of control for the managed leval for the area's the live in. They have really hurt the Cattle, Deer, Sheep, and Elk numbers. How about equal protection for all. The people who should have a real say in this are the people who are in Eastern Oregon, not the Flat landers from this side of the Mt's, they have to deal with what is decided by people who do not live in the area it all effects. Let the Game Managers keep all numbers at a leval for all game.

I would like to say that being an avid hunter in the pacific northwest, primarily out of the Valsetz area for 25 years the decline in deer (especially since the 90's) has me very concerned. Talking with people the cougar sightings have gone up significantly, while the deer population in the higher areas (outside city limits) have decreased to an almost extinct level. I spent the last week elk hunting and did not see a single deer outside of the city limits. However I did see cat scat on nearly every closed road I walked out. And this year alone I heard of 4 cougars being seen, and 3 of which were duing daylight hours. Something really needs to be looked at much closer.

Good post BP.

I take issue with one thought, however. Cougars will not deplete their prey and therefore come closer to humans. By depleting their prey, they deplete themselves. It's the same the world over where nature is allowed to take its course. The prey/predator balance is just that...a balance.

I am against all hunting of all predators anywhere. I live and work in Kentucky but have a cabin in Washington's Cascade Mountains where the locals say cougars are "thick as ticks". I've seen tracks, and I'm sure they've seen me, but I am not their prey and they know it. We take common sense measures, especially when the grandchildren are with us, to avoid attacks (which are so infrequent as to fall into the zero zone of things that may kill you). Those measures include walking loudly and carrying a big stick. Don't use pepper spray...cougars are fast enough to dodge it...and if the wind is wrong you are now disabled and nicely seasoned.

By living in Kentucky I know first hand what the lack of predators can do to a deer population. You're lucky in Oregon to have them.

This proposed law in Oregon sounds like an excuse for entertainment and nothing else. It's all about those tourist dollars, licenses, and fees.

who ever posted the long story on how cougars shouldnt be hunted with dogs is a total liberal flamer. He has no idea on what he is saying and is a total idoit. People like him shouldnt be able to live in america and his kind of people are the reason this county has problems he probably hasnt ever even been hunting.People like him shoundt talk inless they know what they are talking about. Cougars are way over populated in oregon and are hurting the over populatoin of most big game animals like elk, deer, big horn sheep, and other animals in the forest. this man has never lived in a rural area where the cougars come down and are in your back yard i cant stand people like him.

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