BIG WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE, JANUARY 4, 2008


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 4, 2008




CONTACTS:

State Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), xxx-xxx-xxxx
Spencer Lennard, Big Wildlife, 541-941-9242
Don Tipping, Seven Seeds Farm, xxx-xxx-xxxx
Tom Powell, Wolf Gulch Farm, xxx-xxx-xxxx
Joseph Vaile, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center xxx-xxx-xxxx

REP. PETER BUCKLEY, FARMERS, RANCHERS, WILDLIFE ADVOCATES CALL FOR ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS TO MANAGING COUGARS

Medford – Today, state Representative Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), along with a coalition of ranchers, farmers, and wildlife advocates, urged Oregon to abandon its plan to allow hunters to pursue cougars with hounds. Rep. Buckley also urged the state to subject its Cougar Management Plan – which calls for expansive killing of cougars – to independent scientific review. He said the state should halt any killing of cougars until such a review is completed. Their plea comes before the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meets January 11 to draft 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. 

"We need to get back to relying on both common sense and sound science, as well as listening to what the voters of Oregon have to say about wildlife issues. Unfortunately, the Cougar Management Plan and the new hounding law do not meet that standard. I urge my colleagues to join me in developing a plan that relies on proven non-lethal measures to prevent conflicts with these magnificent animals,” said Rep. Buckley at a luncheon with media, ranchers, farmers, and wildlife advocates.

This summer, lawmakers 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. Rep. Buckley vowed to work with his colleagues in the legislature to develop alternate solutions to replace the CMP and the new hounding law. The coalition praised Rep. Buckley for his commitment to protecting Oregon’s wildlife and urged other lawmakers to support his efforts. 

“Rep. Buckley is leading the way to safeguard our state’s wildlife. Oregon should abandon its plan to kill thousands of cougars and instead work with Rep Buckley to develop a credible plan that protects both communities and cougars,” said Spencer Lennard, Program Director of Big Wildlife.

Though agriculture interests have typically been staunch opponents of protecting cougars, a growing number of ranchers and farmers in the state are coming to the defense of the big cats. They said that rather than killing cougars, Oregon should educate ranchers and farmers, as well as the general public, about how to avoid conflicts with wildlife. The pro-cougar ranchers and farmers said individuals can take simple steps – like avoiding feeding wildlife, bringing companion animals in at night, sheltering domestic farm and ranch animals, installing motion lighting around their property, recreating with others while in cougar country, and educating their families about cougars, without instilling undue fear – to prevent encounters with cougars and other wildlife.

“We have raised sheep for the past seven years in an area of high cougar activity. We sell wool, lamb, and sheepskins, so keeping our flock safe is important to our family farm. We have always assumed it was our responsibility to protect our animals. The most logical method we’ve found is to simply keep our sheep enclosed at night when the vast majority of attacks would occur. We also use electric fencing during the day which helps to avert daytime predation. This has been 100% effective so far,” said Don Tipping, a rancher in southern Oregon.

“We run a farm and raise children in cougar territory. We mitigate the threat of cougars to poultry and humans using fencing and common sense. The state already has a mechanism to deal with problem cougars; indiscriminate killing of cougars is unnecessary and will do nothing to make people or livestock safer. Around our farm, deer are the biggest threat to our production. Cougars benefit us by controlling the deer population,” said Tom Powell, a southern Oregon farmer.

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