A hundred years ago Oregon, like other western states, took a harsh and draconian attitude towards wildlife. If it wasn't beneficial or it inconvenienced special interest groups steps were taken to eradicate the nuisance wildlife. This was accepted by society at that time as a proper and necessary action. But times have changed and mankind's understanding of ecological balance and the wildlife that coexist with us has grown. While it's unfortunate that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) still clings to outdated and erroneous policies, it is unforgivable that they justify their actions with falsehoods designed to mislead the public they are supposed to answer to.
A recent news article has an agency flunky touting the party line about an ever-increasing mountain lion population and the need to kill more of them. He rationalizes his comments with the fact that hunting mountain lions without hounds is "not very effective," and that the Department's outlandishly high cougar mortality quota isn't being reached. He also went on to blame a supposed increase in human/lion conflicts on Oregon's 1994 passage of Measure 18 which banned the use of hounds while hunting mountain lions or bears.
His statements were published as facts and no acknowledgment was given to the point that just about every credible mountain lion biologist (who isn't in the employ of ODFW) disagrees with the Department's conclusions and cougar policies.
Take the statement that 6,000 cougars is a vastly underestimated "minimum population estimate." Washington for example has the same hunting restrictions, comparable habitat, and a lower cougar mortality rate than Oregon yet their cougar population isn't increasing. It has remained at approximately the same population level of 1,500 animals since 1996. So how has Oregon's cougar population managed to double from its 1994 estimate of 3,000? ODFW claims that it is because they can't kill enough cougars. Others contend that most of Oregon's 6,000 cougars are figments of the Department's imagination and used to support its cougar eradication programs to benefit deer hunters.
The real problems are a state game agency that still resents the minor hunting restrictions placed on them by Oregon's citizenry in 1994, a biased cougar management plan written to support a hunting agenda rather than protect the species, and a flawed population model that defies all credibility amongst the scientific community in order to spit out the numbers ODFW needs to justify their actions.
When ODFW published its original Cougar Management Plan in 2006, Dr. Robert Wielgus, Director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University was asked to review the document and publicly stated that the plan lacked any scientific credibility and that the authors should go back to the drawing board and begin again. Nothing has changed since then. ODFW still refuses to consider any opinion except their own, and through their actions have proven that Oregon's wildlife policies are based on politics to the detriment of science, and only benefit a select few-no matter how many lies they have to tell to convince the public otherwise.
IF YOU ARE TIRED OF STATE GAME AGENCIES LYING TO YOU:
Governor John Kitzhaber
State Capitol Building
900 Court Street NE, 160
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: (503) 378-4582
* A "real" peer reviewed cougar management plan.
* End cougar eradication programs.
* Stop counting unverified complaints as evidence of cougar conflicts.
* Stop trying to circumvent Measure 18.
Or better yet:
SAVE TIME AND MONEY BY STOPPING OREGON'S COUGAR HUNT COMPLETELY!