Save Cougars 2004

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Saving Cougars in the Wild

Big Cat Rescue is saving cougars. We post the latest in cougar news here and in our newsletter Cat Tales. We gather news from around the world DAILY and forward it to The Global Federation of Sanctuaries and the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, of which we are a part, who are actively involved in saving cougars and all exotic animals. See what you can do to help save these exotic cats in captivity and in the wild. Big cats are in peril around the world and need people like you, who care about cougars cats and other exotic cats to help save them from the brink of extinction. Big Cat Rescue is working to make it illegal to sell cougars as pets and is diligently striving to improve conditions for big cats in zoos and circuses.

This writer has an accurate perspective on the problem and would be an ally in your attempt to persuade the government to set aside protected areas for “ Arizona ‘s coolest cat.” About all you can do for the cats is raise a huge fuss over them being killed to the media and the government. The Fish and Game Departments are funded through the sales of hunting permits, so this is a great revenue opportunity for them to make the cougars appear dangerous. States need to completely revamp the funding for Fish and Game Departments so that we don’t have the foxes guarding the hen houses. More here:

No big cats in Arizona fit to roar for the lions

Mar. 18, 2004 12:00 AM

I came face to face with my first mountain lion as a 17-year-old steelworker’s son who had never been camping, never been hunting and had never seen anything in the wild that was more ferocious than a squirrel.

I was tentative about approaching the big cat, of course, with its muscular shoulders, paws like fists and dark, unblinking eyes. But I pulled myself together and managed to get close enough to actually run my index finger along the lion’s tawny back.

Perhaps because it was stuffed. And the security guard wasn’t looking.

In those days I had managed through luck and lax academic standards to be granted admission to Pennsylvania State University , which is in the mountainous center of the state. The school mascot is the N ittany Lion. The first part of its name is taken from an Algonquian word for “single mountain,” a place where cougars once roamed.

The last of the Pennsylvania mountain lions was killed in 1856. It then was stuffed, mounted and put on display at the university, where it served as a magnificent embodiment of strength, independence and beauty. Apparently, the exhibit was meant to inspire students to adopt the lion’s noble characteristics or, failing that, eradicate the filthy animals.

Which is what we’re about to do in Arizona .

At Sabino Canyon near Tucson , a group of mountain lions is soon to be eradicated for the offense of attempting to live wild and free in proximity to SUVs, swimming pools, putting greens, barbecue pits, toy poodles and pasty-faced humans wearing expensive hiking boots.

“Our first concern is public safety,” said Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner Joe Carter, part of a board that is unanimous in its belief that some of the Sabino Canyon mountain lions must be killed.

Game and Fish officials are worried that the lions may attack a person. They say that the cats are being seen during daylight hours and actually have stalked people. There are homes and schools in the area.

Gov. Jane t N apolitano and others have asked the commission to find other ways of dealing with the problem. But it’s too late for that. Game and Fish commissioners aren’t responsible for the unchecked statewide growth that is transforming wild Arizona into an enormous suburb. And, unfortunately, the lions appear incapable of distinguishing between otherwise innocent intruders in their territory and local politicians, who would benefit from a well-placed paw to the behind.

On the Game and Fish Web site, the department describes why it believes that nothing short of killing some lions will do. The animals can’t be relocated, they say, because they’re too territorial. N o zoo wants them, since captive breeding fulfills that need. Aversion techniques are expensive and don’t work. And, they say, fencing is not an option.

Ugly stucco walls apparently are an option, however. Driveways are an option. Jogging trails are an option. Schools and parks and shopping centers are an option. Given all that, mountain lions are not an option.

The argument ultimately isn’t over lions anyway. The Game and Fish Department says that lions are not endangered in Arizona . They say there are approximately 2,500 throughout the state.

This fight isn’t over cats; it’s over the West. It has to do with how long it will take before Arizona goes from an untamed and natural place to something that only looks that way. A movie backdrop. A landscape that no longer is Arizona but could play it on TV.

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell,” said the writer Edward Abbey, who lived, died and is buried in Arizona . Abbey isn’t around to fight this fight, however. N either are any of the personified lions who once roamed the state. N o Barry Goldwaters. N o Mo Udalls.

Some environmental activists are trying to help the animals in Sabino Canyon . Even if they fail, there will be mountain lions here, at least for a while. But in a state being overrun by bulldozers and red tile roofs, the ruggedly territorial, fiercely independent individuals who made this state – our coolest cats – are in danger of becoming extinct.

Reach Montini at or (602) 444-8978.

Alert * Alert * Alert

Help Conserve Colorado’s Mountain Lions

Shooting blind Once again, state sets lion hunting quota sans data

November 17, 2003

At its Thursday meeting in Grand Junction, the Colorado Wildlife Commission refused to reduce the hunting quota for mountain lions from 790 to 651.

In defending the decision to ignore the advice of the Division of Wildlife’s own experts, a DOW spokesman said: “What they’re saying is that if they receive, or when they receive, new information, then they will change that quota.”

But here’s the bizarre catch: The commission made its decision in the absence of any solid information, new or old, regarding the population of mountain lions in Colorado. The best guess is between 3,000 and 7,000 animals, but that was made mostly by comparing density estimates from other states. The Division of Wildlife has not done its own solid survey.

Bottom line: We really don’t know how many pumas live in the state. Given that, it seems highly irresponsible to set a quota that could, based on mushy guesses, allow for the killing of a quarter of the entire population (though hunters typically kill just around half of the quota).

In light of that gaping hole in our knowledge, even the staff’s suggested quota of 651 is too high. Sinapu, a Boulder-based group dedicated to the protection of native carnivores in the southern Rocky Mountains, has asked the commission for two years running to reduce the quota to 300 until we have a better handle on lion numbers.

That figure squares with the recommendations of biologists that no more than 11 percent of a lion population should be “taken” (an arid word, considering that lions are treed by dogs, then shot by “hunters” at point-blank range) to maintain genetic diversity and health.

But the commission’s ruling comes as no surprise, since it routinely follows the dictates of politics – particularly the demands of livestock growers and eager hunters – rather than solid science.

That was disturbingly apparent leading up to Thursday’s meeting. Commissioner Brad Phelps, a trapper who has openly derided the Division of Wildlife he supposedly serves, told another commissioner that he planned to pack Thursday’s meeting with livestock interests, who indeed showed up in droves (Phelps’ scheme comes from e-mails obtained through the Colorado Open Records Act). Worse, Phelps told staff that they must upwardly revise their initial quota (in the 400s), or he would “turn out the cavalry” of hunters and livestock concerns, according to a Sinapu staffer who spoke to him. The staff buckled, and then were ignored, anyway.

So despite the bland rhetoric of DOW’s spokesman, this isn’t about anything but politics.

Lions get an unfair rap. In all of Colorado’s recorded history, there are but two documented cases of lion attacks on humans (plus some suspected cases). And in 2000, they were deemed responsible for just $219,738 worth of damage to livestock, pocket change to a billion-dollar industry (and the state paid those bills).

Even some allegedly “objective” sources turn out to have powerful biases. In his new book, “The Beast in the Garden,” writer David Boren makes the sensational case that Boulder’s coddling of its deer population led to one of the state’s two confirmed lion kills on a human.

One problem: The lion killed a jogger in Idaho Springs, 40 miles away. Since deer – lions’ main food source – are so plentiful in Boulder, why would one roam so far to kill a jogger? Boren doesn’t bother to explain, nor does he provide evidence that the lion even came from Boulder.

But our state’s wildlife officials have a duty to make their decisions on data, not myths, overweening fears or the prejudices of ranchers and hunters. Is that so much to ask?


In August, Sinapu submitted a formal petition to the Colorado Wildlife Commission that seeks relief for the state’s mountain lion populations (available at: Because the state-wide hunting quota stands at nearly 800, because the number of lions killed has increased four-fold since 1980 (peaking at 439 in 2001), and because the state has no credible scientific data to justify this high kill rate, Sinapu requested that the state take better care of the mountain lion population—as required by law.

A top carnivore, mountain lions (also known as pumas, cougars, and panthers) evolved in the absence of hunting pressures; they do not reproduce rapidly. To illustrate, females produce about three kittens every two years; yet, many of those young fail to reach adulthood. Pumas also die in great numbers from natural causes—from hunting accidents (i.e. being crushed by large prey like elk), to fatal fights between themselves over territorial infractions.

Dwindling habitat and significantly increased human-hunting pressures in the past two decades only add to the perils faced by mountain lions. The present level of lion hunting will have long-term negative consequences—not only for fragile puma populations but also for overall environmental health, if the trend is not arrested.

This culmination of events led Sinapu to request that the Colorado Wildlife Commission immediately give pumas special protections. We have asked the Commission to:

Significantly reduce the puma-hunting quota. The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) must more accurately estimate puma densities, habitat quality and quantity, and the prey base in each game unit before it recommends next year’s hunting quota. If the DOW cannot derive those numbers by November 2003 Wildlife Commission hearing, Sinapu requests the state to lower the puma-hunting quota from 790 to 316;

Give special protection to mother cats by setting nominal subquotas for females. Existing regulations do little to protect dependent kittens, which are only a few weeks or months old during the hunting season. Thus, if hunters kill a mother puma, her kittens are orphaned and will die of either starvation or predation;

Create refuges where puma hunting is not allowed. Refuges can ensure long-term genetic diversity; and

Drastically curtail lion hunting the five game units. Sinapu identified five game management units where hunters, ranchers, and poachers too heavily exploit puma populations. That pressure puts those subpopulations at significant risk and is unsustainable.

Pumas are an umbrella species requiring expansive habitats. If we protect pumas, we also safeguard a whole host of species vital to healthy ecosystems. While protecting pumas seems appropriate to many, unfortunately, politics plays a big role in decision-making and policy setting. We are expecting lots of opposition to our petition to conserve pumas. Please help Colorado’s wild cats!

Pointers for your Letter:

1) BE POLITE: use logic and persuasion, not inflammatory language.

2) Ask the Wildlife Commission to set nominal subquotas on female pumas, and request closures in those units when the subquota has been filled to reduce the number of orphaned kittens.

3) Ask that the statewide puma quota be reduced from 790 to 316 and reduce hunting in the game management units 7, 8, 11, 16, and 22.

4) Ask for hunting-free refuges for pumas.

Send to:

The Colorado Wildlife Commission
6060 Broadway
Denver, CO 80216
Fax: 303.294.0874

Last year, emails were not forwarded to the Wildlife Commission, so please send hard copy correspondence only. Please also send a copy of your letter to:

Wendy Keefover-Ring, Sinapu, 4990 Pearl East Circle, Ste. 301, Boulder, CO 80301 Fax: 303.447.8612 or Email:

Oregon The Fund for Animals

Help stop Oregon’s cougar killing “study.”

The State of Oregon is proceeding with a plan to conduct a study that would kill up to 32 mountain lions in two study areas to determine if reducing mountain lions would affect declining elk populations. This is despite an overwhelming number of public comments against such an outrageous proposal. This so-called study is a thinly veiled ruse to artificially manipulate game populations for the benefit of human hunters.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a finding of No Significant Impact under the National Environmental Policy Act for the study. Money for the program is expected to be comprised of 75% federal Wildlife Restoration Program funds. The news release from USF&W can be found here.

A group of concerned conservation groups – Save Our Forest And Ranchlands, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Predator Conservation Alliance, Mountain Lion Foundation, Animal Protection Institute, and The Fund for Animals – has banded together to actively oppose this atrocity

What you can do:

Please write letters immediately to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Gordon Smith expressing your outrage and asking that they actively oppose this waste of tax dollars for a murderous and unnecessary “study.” Time is of the essence!

Volunteer, Christy Anderson, wrote this compelling sample letter that you can copy and fax or mail to each of the people below:

I have recently learned of your plan to proceed with conducting a study that would kill up to 32 mountain lions in 2 study areas to determine if reducing these cats would affect declining elk populations. This is despite the public’s overwhelming cries against it. This is a thinly veiled attempt to manipulate game populations for the benefit of human hunters. If  you and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are there to protect all life, then you will surely see that the brutal killing of these cats would be unsportsmanlike and out of the bounds of what we expect of a leader in your role. The big cats deserve the same protection as the elk. Who will speak for the cats as they suffer for the hunters to benefit with more elk?

Please reconsider this cruel project. It would be an atrocity to proceed. Nature will truly take care of itself, but we can’t impose our selfishness on it in such a horrific sweep of killing…just to manipulate the elk numbers for hunters. I implore you to show the compassion and reason that would be a mark of a leader in this instance.


Your Name Here

Bruce Johnson
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
1401 Gekeler Lane
La Grande, OR 97850
Phone: 541/962-6556
Fax: 541/962-6504

Department of the Interior
US Fish and Wildlife Service
911 NE 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232-4181
Phone: 503/231-6121
Fax: 503/231-2122
Contact: Verlyn Ebert, Federal Aid Office
Phone: 503/231-6128

Governor John Kitzhaber
State Capitol
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503/378-5482
Fax: 503/378-4863

Senator Ron Wyden
516 Hart Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202/224-5244
Fax: 202/228-2717

Senator Gordon Smith
404 Russell Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202/224-3753
Fax: 202/228-3997

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