HB 2337 -- a bill that would bring back the hunting of cougars with hounds in Oregon -- died on Monday in the state Senate. The highly controversial bill passed the Oregon House in April, despite outrage from the public that HB 2337 would overturn their voter-approved 17-year ban on hound hunting cougars (see 1994's Measure 18). HB 2337 was not only another attack on the state's cougars, but it would have removed the citizens' right to vote to protect natural resources and wildlife. Thankfully on Monday, the Oregon Senate let the bill die without further discussion.
Surely the hound hunters will be back next legislative session with a new bill -- as they have tried every year since Measure 18 passed -- and we will once again have to fight to protect Oregon's cougars. Although the hounds have been called off, the main problem continues to escalate: too many cougars are being killed. Nearly 500 cats are shot in Oregon each year, just for the fun of the kill. The adults are wiped out, along with their dependent kittens, leaving a small population of "teenage" cougars in chaos. These cats are unable to establish effective home-ranges and they end up wandering farther distances, sometimes into our cities. To protect not only the cougars, but people and our pets and livestock, the hunt needs to be stopped.