MOUNTAIN LION FOUNDATION:
A Timeline of Bounty and Sport Hunting of Mountain Lions in the U.S.
The status of mountain lions is very much in question. Every day, our remaining lions are threatened by human 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. Listed below is a brief timeline of mankind's lethal interaction with the species within the continental United States.
Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca observes a
mountain lion in
perhaps the first European in
North America to see
offer a bounty of one bull to Native Americans for every
mountain lion killed.
Connecticut offers a
bounty of twenty shillings apiece for the killing of
Massachusetts enacts a
bounty on mountain lions.
Pennsylvania enacts a
bounty on mountain lions.
Oregon Territory Legislature classifies cougars as a "predator"
and enacts a bounty. For the next ninety years, an
annual bounty on 200 or more cougars was not uncommon.
Crowell kills the last known catamount in
mountain lions as a "predator"
with a bounty offered for every mountain lion killed.
The Utah Territorial Legislature classifies
mountain lions as an "obnoxious
last mountain lion in
is reported killed.
- Except for a small population in
Florida, mountain lions
are effectively extirpated in states east of the
mountain lions as a "bountied
Idaho enacts a bounty on
ends its mountain lion bounty program.
Colorado enacts a bounty
on mountain lions.
- Congress passes the Animal Damage Control Act,
giving the Secretary of Agriculture broad authority to
expand "the destruction of mountain lions, wolves,
coyotes, bobcats, prairie dogs, gophers, ground
squirrels, jackrabbits, and other animals injurious to
agriculture, horticulture, forestry, husbandry, game, or
domestic animals, or that carried disease."
Between 1915 and 1941, hunters employed
cooperatively by the State, livestock associations, and
the Federal Government killed 251 mountain lions in
part of a program to protect livestock in that state.
The number of mountain lions killed by private
individuals is not known.
1918, 2,400 mountain lions have been killed as "undesirable
predators." In an effort to accelerate the
extirpation of the species,
enacts a bounty on mountain lions varying from $50 to
$100 per lion. By 1969, an additional 5,400 cougars will
have been killed and turned in for the bounty.
classifies panthers as "game
passes legislation to protect its panther population.
The Idaho State Legislature stops its lion bounty
program and allows the unregulated hunting of mountain
lions. Since 1918 (first year records are available) an
incomplete record shows that at least 1,479 mountain
lions were killed and turned in for the bounty.
its bounty program on mountain lions. Since 1913 (first
year records are available) 3,895 mountain lions were
killed and turned in for the bounty.
It is estimated that
cougar population has dropped to only 200 animals.
While still listed as an official program,
stops offering a bounty on cougars.
The last 28 cougars are turned in for the bounty
Oregon before the state discontinues that
program for lack of cougars. Since 1918 (first year
records are available) 6,762 cougars were killed and
turned in for the bounty.
ends its bounty program on mountain lions and
reclassifies them as "predator" with no bounty offered.
During the bounty program's 61-year history, at least
1,897 mountain lions were reported killed and turned in
to government agents for the reward.
ends its bounty program on mountain lions and
reclassifies them as a "non-protected
mammal." During its 57-year history,
mountain lion bounty program accounted for a record
12,461 mountain lions killed and turned in for the
bounty. (For more information see
California Mountain Lion Bounty Timeline)
discontinues its mountain lion bounty program and
reclassifies the animal as a "big
game species." Between 1917 (the
records are available) and 1965, 1,754 mountain
lions were killed and turned in to government agents for
reclassifies mountain lions as a "game
animal." Unlike most western states,
never placed a statewide bounty on mountain lions. They
were considered "unprotected
predators" until their classification as game
reclassifies cougars as "game
The Florida Panther is placed on the State
Endangered Species List
reclassifies mountain lions as a "game
animal" and hunting regulations were established
that allowed the taking of any number of mountain lions
at any time. At the time, residents did not need a
permit to hunt mountain lions.
reclassifies mountain lions as "big
game animals," but maintains its bounty law as a
non-funded program until its repeal in 1990.
first mountain lion hunting season occurs with 35
mountain lions reported killed.
- Between 1937 and 1970, federal employees of Animal
Damage Control (ADC), derisively branded "All Dead
Critters" by some of their critics, are credited with
killing 7,255 cougars.
- Congress passes the Federal Endangered Species Act,
designed to protect critically imperiled species from
extinction as a "consequence
of economic growth and development untendered by
adequate concern and conservation."
- Eastern cougars (felis
concolor couguar) are listed as a federally
endangered subspecies under the Endangered Species Act
on June 4, 1973.
reclassifies mountain lions as a "trophy
lists mountain lions as a
lion hunting moratorium, started on March 1, 1972, is
discontinued when it is unable to achieve its annual
reauthorization in the state legislature. At this time,
the regulated hunting of mountain lions in
California was once again authorized. Despite
this authorization, political pressure from individual
citizens and conservation organizations such as the
Mountain Lion Foundation kept lions from being hunted
for sport in
until the passage of Proposition 117, and the permanent
banning of sport hunting of mountain lions occurred in
Since the recommendation of a 1970
presidential commission that "the
predator policies should be eliminated or reduced on
public lands," the role of the Animal Damage Control
had been greatly reduced. Finally, western members of
Congress, under the prodding of disgruntled stockmen,
succeeded in getting ADC transferred from the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture and the program rebounded.
A coalition of conservation organizations, led by
the Mountain Lion Foundation, placed Proposition
Lion Initiative on the statewide ballot. This
proposition, the first to have been placed solely with
signatures collected by volunteers in
California, passed on June 5, 1990 with 52.42
percent of the vote. Officially known as the
Wildlife Protection Act, Proposition 117
reclassified mountain lions in California as a "specially
protected mammal," permanently banned the sport
hunting of lions in the state, and allocated $30 million
to be spent annually for 30 years on the acquisition of
critical habitat for mountain lions, deer, oak
woodlands, endangered species, riparian habitat, and
Though reclassified as a "big
game animals" in 1970,
mountain lion bounty law remained on the books as a
non-funded program until its repeal in 1990. During the
mountain lion bounty was in effect, 7,723 mountain lions
were killed and turned in to the government for the
bounty, and more than a third-of-a-million dollars
($386,150) was paid in an attempt to eliminate mountain
lions from the state.
voters approved Measure 18, which partially banned the
use of hounds to hunt cougars. For three years, sport
hunting related cougar mortalities declined dramatically
statewide. To offset these hunting declines, Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife lengthened the hunting
season to 10 months (in some areas year-round),
significantly reduced the cost of a hunting tag,
increased hunting quotas, increased the bag limit in one
hunt zone to two animals per year, and issued unlimited
hunting tags - more than 32,000 tags were sold in 2002. As
a result, sport hunting related cougar mortalities
increased to record highs despite the ban on using
First verified sighting of a mountain lion in
since their extirpation in 1927.
With a 63 percent majority vote,
voters passed the citizen-placed statewide ballot
initiative, I-655, which partially banned the use of
hounds while hunting cougars. It was
thought that I-655 would significantly reduce the number
of mountain lions killed in
Washington. However following its passage,
the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
compensated for an expected drop in mountain lion
mortalities by replacing the permit-only season with a
general season, lengthening the hunting season from six
weeks to 7 1/2 months, increasing the bag limit to two
lions per year, and reducing the price of mountain lion
tags. As a result, the number of mountain lion tags sold
has increased from 1,000 in 1997 to over 58,000 in 2008.
Backed by special interest groups such as the
Safari Club, Proposition 197 is placed by the
legislature on the
ballot in an attempt to repeal the ban on hunting
mountain lions in
for sport. Proposition 197 was
overwhelmingly rejected by 58.12 percent of
The Utah Legislature reduces the crime of
poaching a mountain lion from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Seeing a steady increase in mortality numbers
since classifying mountain lions as a "Big
Game Species" and establishing a "regulated" hunting
season in 1972,
Idaho experiences a peak in the annual number
of mountain lions killed for recreational purposes with
798. Despite "liberalizing" future lion hunting seasons,
the annual number of mountain lions killed in
continually declined since the 1997 hunting season.
removes mountain lions from the state's threatened
species list and reclassifies them as a
"big game animal."
first mountain lion hunting season opened on September
2, 2005. The season closed early, five months later, on
January 15, 2006 when a 4 to 6 month old, 39-lb. female
was reported killed in
The mortality total for this first hunt was 5 mountain
The Mountain Lion Foundation files an
unsuccessful lawsuit against the South Dakota Game, Fish
& Parks Department in an attempt to block the start of
first mountain lion hunting season.
first mountain lion hunting season opened on Saturday,
October 1, 2005. The season closed early, fifteen days
later, when the quota was reached for female deaths. In
all, 13 lions were harvested - six males and seven
females. At the time, the "official" mountain lion
population estimate for
South Dakota was 165 animals.
The first verified sighting of mountain lions in
Wisconsin since their extirpation in 1908.
Chicago Police kill the first wild cougar seen in
Illinois since 1855.
On December 14, 2009, while hunting deer, Raymond
Goebels Jr., from
Iowa, came across and killed the first verified mountain
lion to be found in
the species was extirpated in 1867. Declaring "It
was going to die anyway," Mr. Goebels' was
unapologetic for his actions. Since lions are not
officially recognized as even existing in
was no law at the time preventing the killing.
In May, 2010 Indiana
Department of Natural Resources' motion-activated
cameras officially record the first verified mountain
lion in the state since they were extirpated sometime
between 1850 and 1865.
After confirmation of the first mountain lion to
be seen in
Kansas since their
extirpation in 1904, Representative Mitch Holmes, a
Republican from west-central
Kansas cattle country,
introduces a bill to allow people to hunt mountain lions
Kansas without a license. The legislation
fails to pass.
Mountain lion supporters celebrate the 20th anniversary of the passage of California's Proposition 117 -- The Mountain Lion Initiative
Despite predictions by biologists that there's only enough suitable habitat in North Dakota to support a few dozen lions at most, the North Dakota Game & Fish Department decides to increase the annual mountain lion hunting quota as well as establishing a unlimited hunting zone for the majority of the state.
A wayward lion is killed for public safety reasons late at night after it wanders into downtown Berkeley, California.
The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) are caught trying to bypass Proposition 117 protections by contracting out lion removal activities near Bighorn sheep herds to the USDA's Wildlife Services. Because CDFG felt that the "feds" were not subject to state law, they directed Wildlife Services employees to use inhumane traps, poison, and snares to catch and kill lions at random, to shoot-on-sight, and even to kill mother lions without regard for their dependent kittens.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks confirms the fifth documented sighting of a mountain lion in that state since the last known cat was shot by a hunter in 1904.
A young, dispersing male mountain lion (only the 12th confirmed sighting since Missouri's last native mountain lion was killed in 1927) was spooked by nearby deer hunters and took refuge up a tree. Claiming that there was an immediate threat to people or livestock the landowner showed up and killed it.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the eastern cougar is now officially extinct.
The California Department of Fish and Game opens an investigation into reports of an ongoing illegal mountain lion hunting operation at Tejon Ranch in California. The 270,000 acre ranch, located in the Tehachapi mountain range just north of Los Angeles, is a high-priced hunting farm.
HB 2337 -- a bill that would have overturned the 17-year old, voter-approved ban on hunting lions with hounds -- died in the Oregon state Senate.
DNA samples prove that the young, male mountain lion hit and killed by a vehicle in Milford, Connecticut, originated thousands of miles away in the Black Hills region of South Dakota.
California Department of Fish and Game Commission President, Dan Richards, comes under public condemnation after posting a photograph of him holding up his freshly killed mountain lion trophy. Though the lion was killed on a legal hunt in Idaho, the action brought into question the issue of Mr. Richards' qualifications to sit on the commission, as well as the validity of many of the committee's tenets and practices. As a result several reform bills were submitted in the legislature.
South Dakota closed its seventh season of mountain lion hunting with a record 73 lions killed. Many of those killed were kittens or non-breeding subadults. Because of the state's lion hunting policies, scientists are now questioning the sustainability of the lion population in the Black Hills -- a critical spawning ground for the recolonization of the species throughout the Midwest.
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signs into law LB 928 authorizing the issuance of lion hunting permits. The state's first hunt is expected to start in January of 2013, and take place in that section of the Black Hills that reside within Nebraska's borders.
WildEarth Guardians files a lawsuit against USDA's Wildlife Services asking a federal judge to shut down the agency that is "outdated, illegal and a waste of federal money." For eighty years, and at an annual cost of approximately $125 million dollars of taxpayer money, Wildlife Services has used poison, aerial gunning, traps, and often other illegal methods to kill millions of animals for the benefit of the agricultural community.
In an attempt to appease disgruntled ranchers, Wyoming proposes to create a special "unlimited quota" hunting zone for that portion of the Black Hills that is located within the state.
In May, Missouri Senate Bill 738 -- authorization for anyone to kill a mountain lion on sight --officially died in committee.
Reminiscent of the previous year's incident in Berkeley, a young, wayward mountain lion is shot and killed in a downtown Santa Monica, California mall courtyard.
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