Almost forty years ago, I co-founded the Mountain Lion Foundation and became its first acting Director. I was part of a small team that helped lead the effort to ban the trophy hunting of mountain lions in California in 1990. The ballot measure was the first of its kind, and I am proud of what we accomplished alongside thousands of Mountain Lion Foundation supporters like yourself who understood what was at stake and took action.
My commitment to protecting mountain lions is as strong as ever, and I am extremely concerned about the long-term prospects of mountain lion populations in the United States. Threats to their survival, especially across the American West, have grown at an alarming rate. In nearly every state, agencies are loosening restrictions, leading to increased hunting and cruel practices. While disregarding basic ecology and their own scientific research, these agencies continue to ignore their responsibilities to protect wildlife for all citizens.
Below are a handful of examples of disturbing policies that threaten mountain lion populations. Many more could be highlighted, each resulting in the needless death of mountain lions.
- In Idaho and Utah, almost all meaningful limits on cougar hunting have been eliminated in the last two years.
- Since 2019 in Washington, the state’s wildlife agency has thrown science out the window and steadily increased hunting quotas beyond sustainable levels.
- In Washington and California especially, key populations of mountain lions have become genetically isolated by expanding suburbs, highways, and other developments, putting those populations at risk.
- In Nebraska earlier this year, hunting limits were increased dramatically even though the state’s entire population is likely less than 50 lions.
Sadly, these egregious actions contradict the growing consensus among scientists and elected officials who recognize that mountain lions are critical to increasing biodiversity, helping species better adapt to rapidly changing weather conditions, and allowing governments to meet their regional, state, and national climate goals.
I am incredibly grateful that the Mountain Lion Foundation continues to tackle these threats head-on. Under the stellar leadership of Executive Director Brent Lyles and his professional and caring staff, the Mountain Lion Foundation is the only nationwide organization that takes a comprehensive approach to advancing protections, addressing some of the most challenging threats facing mountain lions. Their work encompasses outreach and education, legal and administrative challenges to illegal and excessive hunting, working with top national biologists to promote the best available science, and debunking misinformation via webinars and social media. The organization’s efforts raise awareness about the importance of America’s lion on the landscape and in our lives.
The Mountain Lion Foundation’s agenda for 2024 is impressive. As just a few examples, they will continue to pursue their lawsuit to stop Utah’s illegal opening of year-round mountain lion hunting; they’re creating a state-by-state assessment on lions in the U.S. for media use; and they’ll be expanding two new coexistence programs that equip individual advocates and communities with the tools they need to fight for the protection of lions across the country.
Will you join me in helping the Mountain Lion Foundation carry out its vital programs in 2024?
Their ability to successfully carry out their critically needed conservation programs depends entirely on donations from people like you and me. I realize many of you receive requests at this time of the year. Please know your donation of any size — $50, $100, $250, $500, or
more — is welcome and deeply appreciated.
Thank you for joining me at this critical time. Together we can make a difference.
Cofounder and past Director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, and
Founding Director of WildFutures