Rugged mountains at sunrise.
 
Opinion
Text: The editorial voice of the Mountain Lion Foundation.

3/30/2015

Oregon's lethal lion management policy: Intolerance disguised as public safety

Once again Oregon authorities have killed a mountain lion near Bend, Oregon. However, this time the killers were members of the Bend Police Department.

Saturday afternoon, Bend police officers evacuated the public from the area near Pilot Butte - a 500-foot-tall extinct cinder cone volcano - shortly after a mountain lion was discovered, within its own habitat, but near a popular hiking trail.

But apparently evacuating the public wasn't sufficient to overcome the fear of lions many Oregon officials seem to have, nor was the option of tranquilizing and relocating the animal seriously considered. So the non-aggressive lion was shot and killed.

Officials from the Bend Police Department excused their lethal action by claiming that tranquilizing the lion would have created a dangerous situation since a dart might take up to 15 minutes to work.

Tranquilizing and relocating mountain lions have now become fairly common with Oregon's neighbors, California and Washington, as well in several other western states. And the "15-minute" window before the tranqed lion becomes fully comatose doesn't appear to worry them. However, Oregon's wildlife authorities, and the local law enforcement departments that follow their lead, seem to prefer a much more poignant display to showcase their efforts to protect the public: no matter whether it actually makes the public safer or not.

Since 1994, when the concerned citizens of Oregon banned the hounding of mountain lions and bears in Measure 18, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with those state legislators with vocal hunting constituents, have done everything in their power to negate what little protections mountain lions have in Oregon and to prove to Oregon's environmental community that it can't dictate what, when or how Oregon's wildlife resources can be killed.

Maybe it's time for Oregon's citizens to once more take wildlife management decisions away from Oregon's so-called "experts" and back into the hands of the public.

After all, America's wildlife is held in trust for all of its citizens not just the hunters or those officials that pander to them.

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