Thank you to the thousands of people who cared enough to leave their identifying information and a comment on Wyoming's plan to trap its mountain lions!
On February 9, 2016, every mountain lion in Wyoming barely stepped past a trap. The trap was Wyoming's legislation to allow trappers to kill lions. It was intended to improve mule deer numbers, but there is no science to support the idea that killing lions improves other kinds of hunting. Wyoming House Bill 12 failed to receive enough votes to pass the House on February 9. We are thrilled to see it defeated! There is a small chance the language could be reintroduced in the guise of a different bill number in the Wyoming Senate so please sign our petition if you haven't done so already. No matter where you live on our precious planet, your voice matters. Wyoming's lions belong to the World!
Wyoming House Bill 0012 (HB0012) has been introduced by Republican Representatives Jim Allen and Hans Hunt and Senators Eli Bebout and Larry Hicks.
The bill would allow "Any person holding a valid mountain lion license to take a mountain lion by use of a trap or snare." It lacks scientific credibility and if passed, would have far-reaching negative consequences for mountain lions, other wildlife, Wyoming citizens, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Ostensibly, this bill was introduced to provide "additional tools" to reverse recent mule deer population declines, a valuable game species for Wyoming residents.
In reality, the connection between mountain lions and mule deer population declines is tenuous at best. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has openly shared that mule deer declines are largely the result of other factors, including habitat loss and disruption to migration corridors.
The number of mountain lions killed in Wyoming would certainly increase with trapping as an option, as would the pain and suffering of the big cats.
The number of lions killed in Wyoming has risen steadily over the years. Lions face pressures such as high hunting quotas, habitat loss, competition with newly established wolf packs, orphaning, poisons, being killed on roads, and increasing numbers of people who are intolerant of the big cats, as well as more pets and livestock that might come into conflict with lions. It's extremely difficult to understand how these trends can continue without serious repercussions to populations of mountain lions.
Traps are nonspecific, and may catch lions less than one year old and females with kittens, which are currently prohibited in the hunt. Millions of "non-target" animals are also trapped, including dogs and cats and other pets, hawks and eagles, and even endangered or threatened species.
Despite being listed for 38 years as a game mammal, and decades of publicly funded research, the State of Wyoming refuses to openly announce a population estimate on the number of lions existing within its borders.
Maybe policy makers are using this bill to avoid having to justify the trophy hunt. These decisions to kill more and more lions every year just enrich a few ranchers and hound hunting outfitters at the expense of the species.
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The Mountain Lion Foundation, founded in 1986, is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habitat.
We believe that mountain lions are in peril.
Our nation is on the verge of destroying this apex species upon which whole ecosystems depend. Hunting mountain lions is morally unjustified, and killing lions to prevent conflicts is ineffective and dangerous.
There is a critical need to know more about the biology, behavior, and ecology of mountain lions, and governments should base decisions upon truthful science, valid data, and the highest common good. Conserving critical lion habitat is essential.
Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to the conservation of wild cats and their landscapes, which sustain people and biodiversity. Panthera's team of preeminent cat biologists develop and implement science-based conservation strategies for cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers.
Based in the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Wyoming, Panthera's Teton Cougar Project is focused on collecting comprehensive data about the behavior and ecology of pumas. Launched in 2001, the program has collared and monitored more than 130 individual pumas and is one of very few long-term puma projects ever conducted. Using satellite-GPS collars, motion-triggered cameras, and other novel research methods, our scientists are tracking puma movements, recording new behaviors in the wild, identifying dens, and monitoring kittens from an early age. The project's current focus includes population dynamics, habitat selection, foraging ecology, interactions with other carnivores, and the social behaviors and organization of pumas.
For more information, visit Panthera.org