BIG WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE, JUNE 8, 2007


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2007
 



CONTACTS:
Brian Vincent, Big Wildlife, 604/618-1030, big_wildlife@shaw.ca
Spencer Lennard, Big Wildlife, 541/941-9242, bigwildlife@gmail.com


SENATE PASSES BILL TO REINSTATE BARBARIC PRACTICE OF HOUNDING COUGARS
Big Wildlife Slams Lawmakers for Overturning Voter-Approved Ban on Hounding
 

Salem – Big Wildlife, an international wildlife protection organization headquartered in Williams, Oregon, slammed state lawmakers today for passing legislation that would reinstate the cruel practice of using hounds to pursue cougars. In May, the Oregon House passed the bill, HB 2971, that would essentially overturn the 1994 voter-approved ban on hounding of the big cats. This morning, the state Senate approved the same bill by 19-8 vote. The legislation would permit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to deputize trophy hunters as government agents and allow them to use hounds to chase cougars. The bill now goes to Governor Ted Kulongoski for his consideration. Big Wildlife urged the Governor to reject HB 2971. The wildlife advocacy group had particularly harsh words for Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Brad Avakian (D-NE Washington and NW Multnomah Counties), who rushed the bill through his committee, paving the way for today’s disappointing Senate vote.

“By pushing this cruel bill through his committee and forcing it to the Senate floor, Senator Avakian turned his back on the many Oregonians who voted to end the barbaric practice of chasing cougars with a pack of radio-collared dogs,” said Brian Vincent, Communications Director for Big Wildlife.

Big Wildlife noted that voters passed the hounding ban not only because they believe hounding is inhumane but because they support conserving a diversity of wildlife in Oregon. The group said the pro-hounding bill was yet another attempt by lawmakers and the ODFW to accommodate trophy hunters still disgruntled with the ban. Since the ban was enacted, the Department has systematically eroded safeguards for cougars. For example, the agency has reduced cougar tag fees to a paltry $11.50, extended the cougar hunting season to ten months and in some areas year-round, and allowed hunters to kill two cougars per year. Earlier this year, the ODFW launched its Cougar Management Plan that employs aggressive lethal controls of cougars throughout the state. As a result, more cougars are being killed in Oregon than ever before.
 

“Now the only thing standing between cougars and a pack of howling dogs and a shotgun is the Governor. We urge him to kill this bill when it reaches his desk,” said Vincent.

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