Oregon Commision OKs Plan to Control Cougars
SALEM, Ore. With worries about Oregon's growing cougar population on the rise, the state Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a plan to reduce the cats' numbers in places where they conflict with people and livestock.
The number of cougars in the state, estimated at 5,100, has steadily increased since voters in 1994 adopted a ban on hound hunting, widely considered the most effective means of killing cougars.
The plan calls for holding Oregon's cougar population at or above the 1994 estimate of 3,000 animals. It gives the department authority to kill cougars as long as livestock kills and complaints from people exceed 1994 levels, and in 66 wildlife management areas where deer, elk and bighorn sheep herds are struggling.
The commission took the action Thursday after hearing several hours of testimony on the plan, nearly all of it in opposition. One animal-rights activist called the plan an unnecessary "slaughter" that is based on poor science.
Hunters called for the hound-hunting restriction to be scrapped, and landowners testified that the plan doesn't go far enough to protect livestock from the cougars.
"Doing nothing is not an option," said Marla Rae, the commission chairwoman. "We have increased populations of both cougars and humans. That causes increased conflict."
Source: Associated Press