Never before in the history of our country have mountain lions been more heavily persecuted. Even at its worst, far fewer lions were killed and turned in for a bounty each year than are now being killed in the name of "recreational fun," or because some won't feel safe until every last lion has been killed.
For many years, MLF and other main-stream conservation leaders have called for sound wildlife management decisions based on scientific facts. And most state game agencies seemed to comply to this demand with "management plans" and hunting quotas which, they claimed,were designed to maintain sustainable lion populations. It didn't matter that MLF and some of the best lion researchers in the country questioned many of their proposals and the so-called science they were based on. As far as the general public was concerned, decisions affecting America's lion population were being made by "The Experts," and all the squabbling was just a difference in opinion.
What MLF has long suspected apparently is true. All of those "reasonable" sounding plans and promises were just another form of maskirovka *-- a deception.
Many of the state game agencies' top lion authorities recently met to exchange information and report on the status of lions under their jurisdictions. Expert after expert stood up and told their colleagues that there was a huge disconnect between politics and science. Biologists were being shut out of the decision process and all those high-minded management plans were based on emotion and the outdated premise that cougar populations need to be reduced. One even came right out and admitted that the game commissioners in his state were doing whatever they want and the biologists had no input, even when they strongly objected to new projects. Another dismissed the so called Zone Management Approach his state was espousing claiming that the Source, Sink hypothesis (the latest trend in lion management) is essentially meaningless if the entire state is a lion mortality sink.
The problem is that whether it started out that way or not, the entire system of wildlife management has affectively been shaped to fool the American public.
What the public sees are hard working, dedicated state game agency personnel--biologists, game wardens, rangers, etc.--doing their best to manage, maintain, and protect the creatures placed under their care. This is the public face of these institutions. Hidden in the shadows are the true decision makers--the commissioners.
State game commissioners are a small body of individuals (usually around five) appointed by each Governor. More often than not these commissioners are from rural communities and are active members, if not the elected officials, of large hunting organizations. Some commissions give a token nod to non-hunting interests by stipulating that one of the commissioners must represent the public at large, but usually this post goes to one of the Governor's cronies or contributor who does not have a "direct" connection to any particular hunting group already represented on the commission
So these five people--who aren't even elected--get to decide how their state's lion population is "managed." They are the ones who tell their various state game agencies how many lions they want killed each year. They are responsible for implementing most of the pro-active lion eradication programs that theoretically protect deer herds, so their buddies will have a better chance at killing one on opening day. They are the perpetrators of one of the longest running "Good Old Boy" networks in existence today, foisting their self-interest based decisions on the rest of American society.
Because of this small handful of individuals, almost 15 lions are killed on average every single day--animals which belong to all Americans; creatures which are a national resource--to be treasured and protected for future generations. They are not the private possessions of a privileged few who get their kicks from killing living creatures and then later bragging about their hunt.
No matter what they are called locally, mountain lion, cougar, puma, catamount, panther, etc., these magnificent creatures are the American Lion. It is time they claimed their place in the pantheon of creatures worthy of mankind's benevolence, not treated as a pestilence to be removed at all cost.
* Noun (military, especially regarding Soviet warfare) A set of procedures designed to confuse, mislead, and camouflage oneself from the enemy.
Help MLF Stop the Killing -- NOW!
Please join MLF in its new campaign to stop the killing of mountain lions in America, by clicking on the link below, signing the petition and passing it on to your friends and colleagues.
MLF's petition is calling for the following actions:
* Ban the recreational hunting of lions on all federally owned or controlled lands!
* Halt the use of federal funds or agencies to conduct lion eradication or removal programs!
* Demand that the Governors of states with existing lion hunting policies emplace a moratorium on all hunts until that state's lion population model and management plans have undergone a rigorous scientific peer review process!