California Desert Moonrise
 
The status of mountain lions is very much in question. Every day, our remaining lions are threatened by population growth, poaching, hunting, development, pollution, and habitat loss. The true health of populations in the United States, Mexico, Central and South America is virtually unknown.
Photo of hound hunters and cougar carcass in snow.

When is enough... enough?


Mountain lions live a short 13 years in the wild — if they make it to old age. Today, few lions live a full natural lifespan.

It's a difficult life, full of potentially lethal challenges: even when the lion avoids humans.

They are shot for recreation, for sport, and for trophies. They are shot when a rancher's livestock is lost, and when pets disappear. They are shot when people are afraid.

Sport hunting predators is a sick blood sport.

Individual lions, and individual people, are diminished whenever we kill a lion unnecessarily. We lose not just a member of the species, but mother lions that might train their kittens to avoid people, large and well-established males that have proved themselves able to survive entirely in the wild, and lions that feel, think, experience and behave in the world as individuals.

And each time we kill a lion, we lose a little bit of what distinguishes us as humans: our capacity for compassion, for making rational decisions that benefit the common good, for overcoming the urge to demonstrate power and dominance at the expense of our neighbors and our environment.

If we lose our big cats, we will mourn a species that we barely understood. Only a few of us will have encountered an individual wild lion.

And this will be the greatest loss: That we knew just enough to save them, enough to change our behavior, enough to make a difference, and that we chose not to act.



                MOUNTAIN LIONS KILLED BY PEOPLE IN THE AMERICAN WEST 1902-2010
Graph of human-caused mountain lion mortality in the US from 1902-2010.
More than twice as many mountain lions were killed from 1971 to 2010 than were killed during the previous seven decades by bounty hunters.

Who We Are Fighting

Recently a Colorado resident wrote an opinion piece for his local newspaper lamenting the loss of Colorado's "great western outdoor culture," and warned the public about the infiltration of that state's wildlife agency by "agenda-driven environmentalists, masquerading as biologists.

Inspiration for this familiar rant was news of the arrest of three Boulder, Colorado men for felony animal abuse after they killed a trash can raiding raccoon. Claiming that this action was his "breaking point," and that raccoons are not even on the endangered species list, the opinionist went on to complain that Colorado was "feeding our precious resources [deer] ...

Nebraska Senator Introduces
Bill to Trophy Hunt Lions

01/11/2012 - Last month, one of Nebraska's rare mountain lions had to be euthanized after sustaining severe injuries from being caught in a steel-jawed leg hold trap. She was one of only a handful of female lions believed to live in the state.

In a population of just twenty cats, breeding-aged females play a crucial role.

Residents saw this loss as a huge setback in the species' recovery, with many wanting a statewide ban on the traps and an increase in protection laws for mountain lions. State Senator LeRoy Louden, however, has continued his push to kill off the cats.

Who Owns the Wildlife?

12/21/11 GUEST COMMENTARY: John W. Laundré, Cougar Biologist
State University of New York at Oswego

A cougar biologist takes a strong stand on the real value of wildlife. In this important opinion piece, John Laundré considers the public cost of wildlife mismanagement, and the consequences of bureaucratic decisions that fail to consider the public good and the intrinsic value of wild predators.

Lion lying on rock, blue sky and golden grasses.

ON AIR: Gary Koehler on Applying Science to Attitudes

01/21/12 An Audio Interview with Julie West, MLF Broadcaster

In this edition of ON AIR, MLF Volunteer Julie West interviews cougar biologist Gary Koehler about his experience with mountain lion and human populations in Washington. Koehler sheds light on the difficulty of applying scientific research about lion behavior to human attitudes and management.

ON AIR: Deborah Jansen on Florida Panthers

04/30/10 An Audio Interview with Julie West, MLF Broadcaster

Florida Panthers face inbreeding, habitat loss, and record-high roadkills. Hear about Wildlife Bilogist Deborah Jansen's work tracking and collaring the big cats in southwest Florida, and what the future may hold for Puma concolor coryi.

Double Cross

06/05/11 GUEST COMMENTARY: Constantine Chuchla

The pursuit of game as trophies is a pursuit of vanity. It is a self-indulgence that amounts to a bravura by those with a predilection to kill wildlife. For those with a trigger itch, trophy hunting fulfills that enigmatic urge to connect with nature. Obliterating nature while claiming a respect for it is the ultimate double-cross.

The Day the Safety Net Failed

04/20/10 Amy Rodrigues, MLF Outreach Coordinator

Two mountain lion kittens have exposed a gaping hole in mountain lion protection policies. California still has much work to do before lions will truly be "specially protected." The ban on recreational hunting was only a first step. Remaining on the "to-do" list: clarifying policies and facilitating communication between the state Department of Fish & Game, wildlife rescue groups, and the public.