FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Michael Moss, Boones Farm/Siskiyou Crest Goat Dairy, 541/899 1694,
Brian Vincent, Big Wildlife, 604/876-0435, 604/618-1030,
Erin Volheim, Oregon Cougar Action Team volunteer, 541/899-5606,
Bill Would Roll Back Voter Approved Ban on Hounding of Big Cats
Jacksonville, Oregon – A coalition of ranchers, conservationists, and animal welfare groups has vowed to halt the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) plan to kill the state’s cougars. Despite public outcry over the ODFW plan, the agency has begun killing the big cats. According to the Associated Press last week, “A state wildlife agent trapped and shot two young cougars in Jackson County, the first of two dozen to be killed in that part of the state in a study of whether reducing populations of the animals improves public safety and reduces the loss of livestock.Nine cougars have already been killed in north-central Oregon as part of the study, state figures show.”
To make matters worse, opponents of the 1994 ban on hound hunting of cougars have introduced legislation (HB 2971) that would permit the ODFW to deputize trophy hunters as agents to kill cougars. The bill would also allow hunters to use hounds to chase down cougars, essentially rolling back the ban approved by voters. The pro-cougar coalition, recently formed in response to the ODFW plan, said it would aggressively campaign against what it called “the wholesale slaughter of one of Oregon’s most misunderstood animals.” The group said it was reaching out to other ranchers, faith groups, and recreation interests to save the state’s cougars.
“As a rancher in who depends on the viability of a dairy herd to generate income, I am troubled that government officials are using scare tactics to affect policy and appease special interests that have tried to roll back safeguards for cougars,” said Michael Moss, a goat rancher in southern Oregon.
But, cougars are not a threat. There has never been a verified cougar attack on humans in Oregon. And nothing in the plan would prevent an attack. Because attacks are so rare (the odds of being attacked by a cougar are less than winning the lottery), it is misguided to use lethal control that science shows is ineffective. Cougar expert, Dr. Rick Hopkins, said the ODFW’s plan "would not reduce the risk of being attacked in Oregon, as the current risk is so small as not to be reasonably measured. Those who live or recreate in cougar country expose themselves daily to many more risky activities and yet they never consider nor concern themselves with the true risk these activities pose.”
The coalition also said the ODFW’s continued emphasis on killing cougars as a “management” tool would divert resources away from techniques that are far more effective in reducing conflicts, such as appropriate land-use planning, improved animal husbandry, and public education. The groups said individuals could take simple steps, like avoiding feeding wildlife, bringing pets 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 avoid conflicts with the wild cats.
“The ODFW plan is not about ‘management’ or ‘culling’ or dealing with ‘problem’ cougars. It is about killing, pure and simple. And deputizing hunters to do the dirty business of chasing cougars with hounds and gunning them down won’t make this plan any better,” said Brian Vincent, Communications Director for the newly created organization, Big Wildlife, an international wildlife protection organization.