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Urge Wyoming to decrease hunting quotas and allow the state's lion population to recover.

Residents of Wyoming, now is your chance to speak up about wildlife!

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) needs to hear your opinion on wildlife management and which direction you believe the state should take with future management practices. This may come in the form of public meetings, human dimensions research, public opinion surveys, and focus groups. WGFD has already created a website and forum for such purposes, which can be found here, and is open to comments until June 2018.

  • Return to the portal page for Wyoming.

  • The status of puma concolor in Wyoming.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in Wyoming.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in Wyoming.

  • Cougar science and research in Wyoming.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

Victory over HB0012!

Mountain lions in Wyoming celebrated a victory on February 9, 2016. HB0012, which would have placed many more of Wyoming's mountain lions in lethal traps, failed to pass.

The bill was purportedly introduced to provide "additional tools" to combat recent mule deer population declines. It would have allowed any person in the state with a valid hunting license to kill a mountain lion using a trap or snare. The kind of indiscriminate trapping proposed anything from bobcats to bears at risk of wandering into a trap and suffering from serious injuries - breaking or severing limbs and tearing skin - while delivering a slow, painful death.

In addition, allowing carnivore trapping wouldn't actually solve the problem. Information from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department itself says that mule deer declines are largely the result of other factors, such as habitat loss and disruption to migration corridors. Recent intensive research by Idaho Department of Fish and Game found that winter severity played a substantial role in determining deer population size and that removing mountain lions and coyotes did not improve mule deer numbers.

Reducing Hunting Quotas, the Next Challenge

Since 2007, Wyoming Game and Fish has been successfully reducing the state's mountain lion population in an attempt to bolster mule deer numbers. The number of mountain lions killed by hunters increased from 180 in 2006 to 306 in 2013, and has leveled off or decreased slightly since 2013. During this same time period, the proportion of older trophy male mountain lions killed by hunters each year has decreased, while the proportion of females and younger males killed has increased.

This change in harvest proportions points towards one hard truth: a population in decline. Hunters prefer large, prime-aged male mountain lions. When there are fewer mature male mountain lions in the population, hunters shift to killing the demographic groups that remain, namely younger animals and females. The demographic shifts in hunter-caught individuals are likely reflective of changes in the population structure as a whole. Fewer mature resident males, heavier harvest pressure on other age groups, and higher female mortality all lead to declining mountain lion numbers. Further compounding the influence of overharvest, hunting females is particularly problematic to maintaining a viable population because they are the ones who raise the kittens.

Exactly how hunting influences the population trajectory is no mystery. Local research led by the Teton Cougar Project shed new light on the influence hunting has on the state's mountain lion population. They found that the study area's mountain lion population declined by nearly fifty percent over the last decade, and that reducing the hunting limit in the unit from five to three animals could halt that decline.

This research provided the fodder for local citizens to speak out and put pressure on wildlife managers. A record number of people commented on proposed changes to wildlife regulations and were rewarded for their efforts. Directly motivated by the research conducted by the Teton Cougar Project, the public successfully pressured the state into reducing the study area's mountain lion quota by 75 percent. Unfortunately, that attention didn't spread to other parts of the state. While the quota in study area's hunting unit was greatly reduced, statewide hunting limits increased by 44 percent.

Once again, citizens need to join together to let the Game Commission know that they've made the first step in protecting the lion population, and now they need to see it through to the rest of the state. The Commission needs to ensure that mountain lions can persist in healthy numbers by reducing harvest quotas throughout Wyoming. Write a letter, send an email, or make a call to the Game Commission and tell them what you think!

Graph of human-caused lion mortality in wy.

ON AIR: Phil Carter - One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

03/19/13 An Audio Interview with Julie West, MLF Broadcaster

In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, MLF Volunteer Julie West interviews mountain lion program manager Phil Carter of Animal Protection of Wyoming. Carter discusses the often ridiculous lengths the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish will go to to disregard the public, bury scientific research, and ignore all common sense. Trying to protect mountain lions in Wyoming and incorporate the best science into management has turned into a game of one step forward, two steps back.

Click here to view our Activist Guide...

Becoming a Mountain Lion Activist

There are lots of opportunities to take action!

Are you new to mountain lion activism? You want to change your local environment to improve it for cougars... but you don't know how to start. You may feel like you are all alone... but it takes just one person to change the attitudes and lifestyles of hundreds of others. You don't need to belong to a group. It doesn't take special skills or superhuman abilities. You just need to care enough about cougars to want to help them survive. You've already done the hard part, now let us help you with the next step.

Click here to open a new window and visit the agency's website...

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Commonly abbreviated as: WGFD

Scott Talbott, Director

Main Office:
5400 Bishop Blvd
Cheyenne, WY 82006
(307) 777-4600

Large Carnivore Management

Dan Thompson
Lander Regional Office
260 Buena Vista Dr.
Lander, WY, 82520
(307) 332-3688

Please write to the director and express your concern for lions in Wyoming.

Thank the agency when they take steps to protect our state's mountain lions. When they fall short of expectations, politely ask for policy reform.