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Mountain Lion Mothers & Kittens a Little Safer Today

Date
November 11, 2011
Contact
Wendy Keefover (303) 573-4898 x 1162
In This Release
Wildlife

Friday, November 11, 2011
Mountain Lion Mothers & Kittens a Little Safer Today

Group Called for End to Predator Call Devices to Hunt Lions
Contact: Wendy Keefover (303) 573-4898 x 1162

Denver, CO. Yesterday, WildEarth Guardians secured aconservation victory when the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously voted to disallow a lionhunter’s proposal to use electronic “predator calls” as a means to lure in andshoot mountain lions.

“Using electronic predator call devices to lure in mountainlions so they could be shot not only frustrated our goals to protect breedingfemales and their dependent kittens in Colorado, it represented a breach inhunting ethics,” stated Wendy Keefover, Director of Carnivore Protection forWildEarth Guardians.

Predator calls come in many forms, and some simulate deerfawn, elk calves, or other prey species in distress in order to lure in anative carnivore in the range of a human hunter.

Hunters that use predator call devices cannot differentiate thesex of a mountain lion before they shoot. As a result, almost 80% of mountain lions killed in Colorado withnon-electronic predator calls have been females, which could result in orphanedkittens that starve and die.

“Protecting breeding female mountain lions and theirdependent kittens from sport hunting represents a paramount conservation andethical concern to WildEarth Guardians, said Keefover. “With the help of houndsmen, we saw a mountainlion hunter education program come to fruition in Colorado and that resulted ina marked decline in the number of females in the hunter kill,” remarkedKeefover.

The Colorado lion hunter education program marked the firstsuch program any where when it was enacted in 2005 – because of Guardians’sustained campaign. Since then, Guardians has also secured mandatory hunter educationprograms in the States of New Mexico and Montana.

Yesterday, Guardians also argued before the Commission that theuse of predator calls is unsporting and unethical. “We do notbelieve that hunters that use electronic predator calls to hunt mountain lions conducttheir hunts using the principle of fair chase, an important ethic most huntersembrace,” Keefover added.

In September, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commissionvoted to allow the predator call device to go to a “second step” in Colorado’sregulatory review process, before it quashed the petition yesterday afterGuardians and another hunting organization raised concerns.

“Not only iconic and beautiful, lions represent a vitalpiece of Colorado’s natural heritage,” commented Keefover. “Lions modulate deer populations in Coloradoso they don’t overbrowse – they even select for diseased animals. Mountain lions make their ecologicalsystems vibrant, diverse, and healthy,” she added.

BackgroundInformation

The Mandatory HunterEducation Program & Conserving Female Cats

In 2005, theWildlife Commission adopted a voluntary hunter education program, and in 2007, theCommission instituted a mandatoryhunter education program, which is designed to protect breeding females and dependentkittens. Available online, theprogram requires that hunters and outfitters take the test and pass with ascore of 80% before receiving a hunting license for mountain lions. Colorado, the first state to institutesuch a program provided the model to other states including New Mexico andMontana, which have subsequently instituted the program.

The result of the Colorado lion hunter educationprogram: a dramatic decrease in the percentage of femaleskilled in Colorado relative to males. Data from the Colorado Parks and Wildlifeshow that from 1991 to 2004, the average percent of females in the hunter killwas 43%; from 2005 to 2011, the average percent of females in the hunter killequals 36%.

On the other hand, the lion kill data in Colorado show thatof the 22 lions killed by hunters from 2005 to 2010 using hand held “predatorcallers”, 17 were female. In other words, 77% of the total lion killby predator callers involved the take of females. “Clearly, these devices do not allow for the hunters topractice selectivity,” said Keefover. “It may be that female cats are more susceptible to calls as they arecontinually trying to provision for their kittens,” she said.

RegulatoryBackground:

WildEarth Guardians has campaigned for the conservation ofColorado’s mountain lions since 2002. As a result, mountain lion conservation has increased in the state. Some notable achievements:

vIn 2004, the Division Wildlife produced itsfirst biologically defensible mountain lion management plan for Colorado;

vIn 2004, the Wildlife Commission ordered thehire of a carnivore biologist to study mountain lions. In 2005, the Divisionemployed Ken Logan, PhD, a highly credited lion biologist and coauthor of Desert Puma. Dr. Logan is conducting a10-year study of lions on the Uncompaghre Plateau; and

vIn 2004 the Commission ordered a substantialreduction in the lion-hunting quota to a more sustainable level.

Other Contact
“Using electronic predator call devices to lure in mountain lions so they could be shot not only frustrated our goals to protect breeding females and their dependent kittens in Colorado, it represented a breach in hunting ethics,” stated Wendy Keefover, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians.
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