2024 Election, Featured, Mike Krause, Outdoors, Uncategorized

Conservationists call lion hunting ban contrary to science-based wildlife management

DENVER–As a citizens’ initiative to effectively ban the hunting of mountain lions and other wild cats marches its way toward the November ballot, organized opposition to the measure is growing, with a broad coalition of hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation groups calling the effort a threat to science-based wildlife management in Colorado.

The ballot measure, currently labeled as Initiative 91, purports to ban the practice of “trophy hunting,” which generally means killing an animal for sport and not for consumption or harvest. However, the initiative goes on to broadly define trophy hunting as “intentional killing, wounding, pursuing or entrapping of a mountain lion, bobcat or lynx.”

In Colorado, the hunting of mountain lions, which runs yearly from November to March (with additional hunting in April if needed) is already prohibited unless the meat of the animal is harvested for consumption. In other words, lion hunting just for the taking of a trophy is already illegal.

According to a position statement released by the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project (CWCP), Initiative 91 “would prohibit the regulated hunting of mountain lions and bobcats, and end a time-proven, successful, and highly-regulated method of wildlife management, removing decisions about wildlife management from trained wildlife experts.”

Lynx are also included under the measure’s protections, but as CWCP points out: “Lynx are already protected by both state and federal law, with hunting and trapping prohibited.”

CWCP describes itself as a united voice for hunters, anglers, and wildlife conservation “collectively representing tens-of-thousands of outdoor enthusiasts across the state.”  Member groups include the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, Colorado Outfitters Association, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Coalition, among others. The coalition contains multiple alliance partnerships that focus on specific animal species such as elk, ducks, mule deer, wild turkey, and bighorn sheep.

The group also boasts a trio of former Colorado lawmakers in its professional membership: Democratic State Rep. Jenni Arndt (currently Mayor of Fort Collins), Republican State Senator Perry Will and Republican State Rep. Jim Wilson.

“Mountain lion and bobcat populations are thriving in Colorado,” said Luke Wiedel, lead policy volunteer for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a CWCP partner group.  “Our wild cat populations are abundant today thanks to science-based management and regulated hunting, including extensive requirements for using ethical methods of harvest.”

As previously reported by Complete Colorado, there are numerous stringent rules already in place for hunting mountain lions, including:

  • Obtain a Customer Identification Number (CID) from the Division of Wildlife.
  • Requiring hunters to complete the “mountain lion education certificate” course and pass a subsequent exam with a score of 80 percent or higher.
  • A 16-page course guide outlines all the information needed for mountain lion hunting.
  • Purchase a mountain lion hunting license for $60.05 (resident) or $501.75 (nonresident).
  • During active lion hunting seasons, hunters who have a license MUST check the “available lion harvest limit report” for possible closed areas after 5 p.m. on the day prior to the hunting license.
  • After a kill, the successful hunter has 48 hours to contact CPW and report the kill. Information required includes where it was killed and the sex of the animal.
  • Within five days of harvesting the animal, hunters MUST personally bring the lion to a CPW office for inspection.
  • Lions brought to CPW without hides or heads will be confiscated by CPW.
  • CPW will keep a tooth from the animal to determine its age.
  • Hides cannot be frozen prior to inspection.

“We encourage all Coloradans who care about wildlife to unite in opposition to this hunting ban because it is not in the best interest of Colorado’s wildlife,” continues the CWCP statement.  “It threatens conservation, wildlife populations, Colorado traditions, and science-based wildlife management.”

According to a July 3 media release, proponents of the lion hunting ban have turned in around 180,000 signatures to the Secretary of State for verification.  Of those, 124,238 valid signatures are needed to place Initiative 91 on the November statewide ballot.

The measure is a statutory change, meaning it needs 50 percent plus-one of the vote to pass, and can be amended by the legislature as with any other state law.


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