Rugged mountains at sunrise.
 
Opinion
Text: The editorial voice of the Mountain Lion Foundation.

5/3/2010

Those Who Cannot Remember the Past

It seems that members of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission are unfamiliar with the old saying "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Just twelve years ago, angry hunters appeared before the Commission to complain about too many lions being killed. They demanded the quota be drastically cut so there would be something left for them to hunt in the future. At the time, the 1998 mountain lion hunting harvest had reached an all time high (in 108-years of record keeping) of 827--a totally unsustainable mortality number for the species in Montana.

Now it seems the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission (FWPC) has an extremely short memory. At their last meeting, the Commission approved the 2010-11 mountain lion hunting quotas. The new quotas will increase the potential number of mountain lions killed for recreational purposes in Montana from 534 to 625. To make things worse, this exceptionally high increase will not be evenly distributed across the state. A disproportionate amount of the increase--seventy-two percent--is scheduled to occur in Hunting Region 2 (One of the smallest of seven hunting regions.)

It is unclear exactly what the Commission is basing its decision on. Unlike other states, Montana has refused to develop a mountain lion management plan where their actions can be explained by scientific data. They don't even have an official guess as to how many mountain lions are in Montana. Instead they appear to rely solely upon anecdotal reports and complaints from hunters for determining how many lions they will kill each year. They might as well be using an Ouija Board to make their decisions.

This isn't the way for members of the Commission to properly discharge their duties as public representatives in charge of preserving and protecting Montana's wildlife resources. FWP biologists have been studying mountain lions in Montana for over ten-years. It is time this information was used to develop a proper management plan, and lion hunting quotas should be decreased instead of increased until such time scientific information can justify that action.

If you want to voice your opinion on Montana's 2010 Mountain Lion Hunting Quotas, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department is accepting public comments through 5:00 p.m., Friday May 14th. Final adoption of the hunting quotas will take place at the June 10, 2010 Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission meeting in Miles City.

Written comments can be sent to:

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department, Wildlife Bureau
Attn: Public Comment
POB 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701

Or you can send electronic comments to:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XJYTYKP