We did it! Mountain lions passing though Oklahoma are safe for now.
In January 2021, Senate Bill (SB) 769 was introduced by Senator Casey Murdock (R) which proposed a lottery or draw for mountain lion hunting in the state of Oklahoma and quickly passed the state’s Senate Agricultural and Wildlife Committee. Though mountain lions once roamed the hills and forests of Oklahoma, persecution at the hands of humans drove the wild cats extinct in the state.
To date, while there have been 40 confirmed sightings since 2002, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and Conservation (ODWC) has reported that there is no evidence of a breeding population in the state. Often, these sightings are the same individual as it moves through an area, as evidenced by the Department’s confirmation data.
Allowing the killing of the rare dispersing mountain lion that happens to roam through the state would offset any conservation efforts that have been made in Oklahoma and neighboring states. The Mountain Lion Foundation, along with the Kirkpatrick Policy Group and other conservation organizations, opposed SB 769 as it jeopardized the ability of mountain lions to reclaim portions of their historic range, would undo decades of research, science, and conservation endeavors, and is not ethical wildlife management.
Thanks to the joint efforts of conservation organizations and advocates alike, SB 769 is currently “dormant for the year.” We will continue to monitor activity on this bill and others in Oklahoma and wherever mountain lions roam.