BIG WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE, FEBRUARY 7, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 7, 2008

CONTACTS:
Brian Vincent, Big Wildlife, 604-618-1030


BIG WILDLIFE URGES COMMISSION TO ABANDON STATE PLAN TO DEPUTIZE HUNTERS TO CHASE COUGARS WITH DOGS

Portland – Today, Big Wildlife urged the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to abandon the state’s plan to allow hunters to pursue cougars with hounds. The Commission meets tomorrow to finalize rules allowing hunters to use dogs to chase the wild cats. Once the regulations are adopted, the state will deputize houndsmen to kill up to 2,000 cougars in Oregon. While the Commission agreed last month to bar convicted criminals from participating in the cougar killing program, Big Wildlife said ensuring hound hunters had a clean record was not enough.

"It doesn't matter how squeaky clean these hunters are required to be. They will still be carrying out the dirty work of killing cougars for the state,” said Brian Vincent, Communications Director of Big Wildlife.

This summer, lawmakers – led by Portland Senator Brad Avakian and pushed by Governor Ted Kulongoski – overturned Measure 18, the 1994 voter-approved initiative that outlawed the barbaric practice of using hounds to hunt cougars. A year ago the state also began implementing its Cougar Management Plan (CMP), aggressively and indiscriminately killing the wild cats across Oregon.

Citing serious flaws with the cougar plan, Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) recently urged the state to halt killing cougars until it had completed a scientific review of the CMP. Rep. Buckley said he would work with his colleagues in the legislature to develop alternate solutions to replace the CMP and the new hounding law. In addition, last month a group of ranchers filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's participation in the cougar plan.

Big Wildlife said the Commission should not allow hunters to pursue cougars with hounds because the new hounding law violated the intent of Measure 18, a 1994-voter approved ban on hounding, and because cougar populations in the state were not stable. The group said a study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management in 2006 found cougar populations in the Pacific Northwest were actually declining due in part to increased human intrusion on cougar habitat and a young age structure of the cougar population caused by heavy hunting. The Journal study also recommended reduced hunting levels, particularly among adult females, throughout the region.

"The state's cougar program is an assassination plot not a management plan," said Vincent.


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FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO:
Click here to review Journal study


Click here to review Big Wildlife’s comments to the Commission