BIG WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE, MAY 31, 2007


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 31, 2007


 


CONTACTS:

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

SENATOR AVAKIAN FACILITATES BILL TO REINSTATE BARBARIC PRACTICE OF HOUNDING COUGARS
Group Says Senator Turned Back on Constituents by Rolling Back Voter-Approved Ban on Hounding 

Salem – Big Wildlife, an international wildlife protection organization headquartered in Williams, Oregon, sharply criticized Senator Brad Avakian (D-NE Washington and NW Multnomah Counties) today for facilitating an effort to reinstate the cruel practice of using hounds to pursue cougars. This afternoon, Senator Avakian, who chairs the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, pushed a proposal through his committee that would overturn a 1994 voter-approved ban on hounding of the big cats. 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. Big Wildlife said that despite opposition from constituents in his district, Senator Avakian chose to turn his back on Oregonians who care deeply about protecting the state’s wildlife. The proposal will likely move to the full Senate for a vote. In addition, Big Wildlife said it was deeply disappointed in Senator Alan Bates who also voted in favor of the bill. With today’s committee action in mind, the wildlife group called on Governor Kulongoski  to reject the legislation should it reach his desk.
 
“It boggles the mind that Senator Avakian, whose constituents overwhelmingly supported the hounding ban in 1994, would turn his back on voters, the state’s wildlife, and the environment. Last time I checked, his district was not brimming with hound hunters itching for a chance to chase, corner, and kill cougars. Most, if not all, of his supporters think hound hunting is a barbaric legacy of the dark ages,” said Brian Vincent, Communications Director with 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.
 
“This bill is an end round around the hounding ban and a gift to trophy hunters,” said Spencer Lennard, Big Wildlife’s Program Director.
 
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