In 1994, Oregon's voters passed Measure 18 by an overwhelming majority. This citizen placed initiative banned the use of hounds for hunting lions and bears except in cases of public safety. Ever since its passage, legislative bills have chipped away at its minimal protection with a series of preemptive eradication programs supposedly to help keep Oregonians safe*.
The most recent was enacted as part of the 2007 Cougar Management Plan and allowed the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to contract with private citizens to use hounds to hunt lions for purposes of public safety, in cases of livestock depredation or for purposes of wildlife management. That provision, which was scheduled to sunset on January 1, 2014, now looks like it might become a permanent fixture as a result of HB 2390.
Earlier this week, HB 2390, which eliminates the private citizen/houndsman sunset clause, passed unanimously out of the Oregon House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and moved to the statehouse floor with a do-pass recommendation.
If passed as expected, HB 2390 will once again violate the spirit of Measure 18 and continue the forbidden (under Measure 18) use of hounds for hunting lions. Despite how it's presented to the public, HB 2390 essentially allows houndsmen to engage in their sport under the guise of wildlife management and should be rejected **.
* Out of the 5,854 lions reported killed in Oregon since the year 2000, 45 percent (2,619) died as a result of "special" programs.
** In just the last three years more lions have been killed in Oregon by houndsmen under preemptive eradication programs than by legitimate lion hunters (824 to 764).