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

5/13/2015

Bend, Oregon trying to create a Urban Cougar Plan: Just political cover to kill more cougars?

In response to a series of recent lethal (for the lion) cougar incidents, the Bend City Council is asking for assistance from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and the U.S. Wildlife Service in crafting a Urban Cougar Response Plan.

This action appears to be a logical step in proactively addressing the fact that mountain lions live nearby and that they occasionally come into human space. However, it also brings into question as to exactly what type of plan will eventually be crafted: one that promotes the use of non-lethal responses, or a "license to kill."

After all, ODFW, as demonstrated by their actions in Bend last January, have a "zero tolerance" policy towards wayward lions. What type of procedure would they create that doesn't contradict the status quo?

What's more, Bend Police Chief, Jim Porter, the man who would have to implement any plan, doesn't believe that his Department's actions were wrong last March when they killed the non-aggressive cougar in Pilot Butte State Park.

In a recent interview, Chief Porter justified that killing by using the outdated myth (also known as excuse) that because of its location the lion had obviously lost its fear of mankind, and trotted out the most over-used justification of all: a nearby school.

That one might have worked better if the incident hadn't taken place on a Saturday.

Chief Porter also spouted ODFW's party line about "exploding cougar populations" in Oregon; despite the fact that no respectable biologist (who isn't on ODFW's payroll) agree with that claim.

We know from the inquiries MLF received at the time, that a lot of Bend's citizenry are upset over the killing of those two cougars. That anger is probably what is forcing the Bend City Council to take this action. So how are those concerned and very vocal citizens going to react when the Urban Cougar Response Plan that is developed turns out to be nothing more than justification for killing more cougars?