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The Oregon legislature recently passed a controversial bill that will facilitate the killing of several thousand cougars in the state. In what seems like a throw back to the last century, the state is set to kill more than a third of its cougars. The new law would permit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to “deputize” hunters so they can use hounds in order to ramp up the killing of cougars (euphemistically called “harvest”). This new law was crafted to circumvent a twice-passed citizen imitative that bans use of hounds for “sport” hunting of cougars. Oregon never outlawed cougar hunting—just the killing of cougars with the aid of hounds. In 2006 the state’s total hunter and “management” kill was 442 animals. However, in the eyes of the ODFW not enough cougars were being killed. Hunting with hounds is more effective, and since ODFW newly adopted cougar plan calls for slaughtering up to 2000 of the secretive animals, the agency wanted a more efficient means of killing the big cats, hence its strong support for the new legislation.

Oregon’s Cougar Slaughter—A Return to the Dark Ages

The Oregon legislature recently passed a controversial bill that will facilitate the killing of several thousand cougars in the state. In what seems like a throw back to the last century, the state is set to kill more than a third of its cougars.

The new law would permit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to “deputize” hunters so they can use hounds in order to ramp up the killing of cougars (euphemistically called “harvest”). This new law was crafted to circumvent a twice-passed citizen imitative that bans use of hounds for “sport” hunting of cougars. Oregon never outlawed cougar hunting—just the killing of cougars with the aid of hounds. In 2006 the state’s total hunter and “management” kill was 442 animals. However, in the eyes of the ODFW not enough cougars were being killed. Hunting with hounds is more effective, and since ODFW newly adopted cougar plan calls for slaughtering up to 2000 of the secretive animals, the agency wanted a more efficient means of killing the big cats, hence its strong support for the new legislation.

Most people are outraged by the thought of some cretin, whom I will not glorify with the term hunter, following a pack of radio collared hounds to a treed cat, and then blasting the cougar from its perch. The killing of animals like cougars, wolves, prairie dogs, and other animals that are not providing meat on the table is seen as bloodthirty and unnecessary by a growing majority of Americans—including Oregon residents—which is why they have twice banned the practice. Finding little public support for such practices, ODFW tries to hide its real predator persecution motives behind a veneer of public safety concerns by suggesting it has to kill more than a third of the state’s cougar population to reduce public anxiety over potential cougar attacks. Never mind that ODFW has been beating the drums about a “growing” threat from cougars in order to create a public mandate for predator control.

If the department were genuinely interested in reducing human-cougar conflicts it would be arguing against any cougar hunting at all. Most top predators, including cougars, are territorial social animals. Research has demonstrated that it is primarily young, inexperienced animals that are responsible for the majority of human-cougar conflicts and incidences. There is good reason for this, since young animals tend to be inexperienced hunters, they are more likely to attack domestic livestock or even humans. Plus younger animals are more mobile, thus likely to set up a territory in or near human settlements—the kind of marginal habitat that older, more experienced cougars avoid. Thus indiscriminate hunting of cougars (as well as other predators like wolves) will invariably skew the population towards younger age classes. This creates more human/predator conflicts and by happy coincidence sets up a self reinforcing feedback for ever more “control.” Any competent biologist knows about these social interactions, yet we never hear the ODFW explaining to the public how cougar persecution might exacerbate, rather than decrease, risk for human/cougar conflicts.

Furthermore, the threat to human life from cougars is greatly exaggerated. There has never been a single human death as a result of cougar attack in Oregon, and the likelihood of any lethal attacks is extremely small. In the past hundred years in North America there has been about 100 documented attacks on humans, with only 18 fatal. By contrast in 2006 there were 26 fatal attacks on people by dogs alone. And 219 people died as a result of horse-related accidents. A department that was genuinely interested in addressing public concerns would be launching a massive educational campaign to reduce public anxiety. But instead the ODFW has reinforced public apprehension by suggesting that “yes, we had better reduce cougar populations before someone dies.”

California makes a good contrast to Oregon’s approach to cougar management. In California all sport hunting for cougars has been banned since 1972. Though the state has 34 million people and five times the livestock as Oregon, only 120 California cougars are killed each year to deal with public concerns about livestock or human threats.

ODFW suggests that some elk and deer herds are not growing, and may even be declining—and conveniently placing the blame upon the “growing” cougar population. However, they fail to acknowledge that in nearly all circumstances that such ungulate declines are due to degraded habitat quality and/or loss—for instance increased road densities from logging that facilities higher hunter success, changes in vegetation due to fire suppression, competition with domestic livestock for forage, new subdivisions (increasingly built in cougar habitat), and so on. Instead of addressing these issues, the department hides behind the predator scapegoat.

Where predators are reducing ungulate populations, something that they can do on occasion, an intelligent response would be to ask, “what ecological benefit might be the consequence?” In the case of predator induced declines in ungulate numbers, an intelligent department that was professional would point out how vegetative communities benefit from a reduction in heavy exploitation by herbivores, which in turn benefits both plant communities and ungulates in the long term. But ODFW is silent when it comes to good ecological science. Nor does the department talk about other positive ecological effects of predators including the tendency of deer and elk to spread themselves out on the landscape or how they kill different age classes of prey animals from hunters—both of which have significant ecological consequences.

I want to acknowledge that there are many very fine biologists who do work for ODFW as well as other state Fish and Wildlife agencies. I know many of them first hand, and they work hard to promote good ecological care of the land and its wildlife. Many of them are uncomfortable with the increasingly hostile attitudes that their own agencies are displaying towards predators. There are also hunters, such as myself, who are opposed to predator control for a host of ethical and biological reasons. Unfortunately you would never know any countervailing perspective exists amongst the hunting community.

Whether it is Wyoming’s plan to kill wolves as “predators” , a designation that offers no limits on numbers killed or closed season, or Idaho’s goal to reduce wolves by up to 2/3, or Oregon’s proposed cougar slaughter, what we are seeing is a throwback back to the good old days when predators were seen as nothing more than an obstacle to “better” hunting. I predict if hunters are not careful, and don’t start speaking out against predator persecution and the 19th century practices of state wildlife agencies, they will find that a growing number of Americans will just vote to ban all hunting, not just that directed at killing predators.

George Wuerthner is a former Montana hunting guide, a wildlife biologist, and author of 34 books on natural history and environmental issues who still kills (as opposed to harvest), on occasion, elk and deer. He finds the best hunting is where there are dense populations of wolves and cougars since other hunters avoid these areas, convinced predators have discriminated elk and deer herds.

About George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner has published 36 books, including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy

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  1. George, I’m not sure where you get your 2000 figure. See:

    Looks like 777 is tops if all quotas are filled. Did the law change this?

    Regarding the methodology of hound hunting. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have hunted game birds with dogs and found it very sporting. I don’t hunt mountain lions but I know others who do. The meat is delicious that I have tried. I don’t know why anyone would waste this game meat or any game meat. If you don’t eat it, don’t shoot it is the motto I live by. I think the game laws in most states reflect this ethic.

  2. George Wuerthner


    The Oregon Cougar plan currently estimates the state’s cougar population at more than 5,000 animals. I won’t get into how these population estimates may be nothing more than a number pulled from the sky, but suffice to say that they believe there to be at least that many animals in the state. There may well be fewer cougar, and it’s possible there’s more.

    In any event, the plan calls for reducing cougars to no less than 3000 animals–which is the estimate they have made for the population when the current ban on hound hunting was first initiated. Take 3000 from 5000 and you get 2000.

    Why is 3000 chosen? It’s not based on anything biological either. Just a number essentially pulled from a hat.

    As for eating cougars, yes I’ve heard it’s not bad tasting, however, be honest about it–most people who shoot a cougar do not eat the meat. It’s about the “trophy.”

    As for everyone is entitled to their opinion–that’s my point. The opinion of the majority of people in Oregon is that use of hounds to kill cougars is not acceptable. Twice the voters of Oregon passed laws against hound hunting of cougars. I feel safe in suggesting that most people do not support this kind of activity.

    When hunters continue to support what might be called marginal activites that are unpopular with the general public like prairie dog shooting, chasing cougars with hounds to blast them from trees, slaughter of wolves, shooting elk at game farms, and so forth, they turn more and more people away from support of hunting in general. Given that the number of individuals who hunt continues to drop, hunters can ill afford to lose public support. It could be the hunter’s worse enemy isn’t PETA or any other animal rights group as often potrtayed, but its own community unwilling to censure practices that do not have significant public support.

  3. George, I saw the 3000 number as a loose target because, as you suggest, the ability to estimate cat numbers is less than accurate. My point about the quotas from the ODFW is that there is an attempt to regulate all mountain lions deaths by district from both hunting and non-hunting means. Hunting seems to make up less than half of the 777 targeted for 2007. Putting aside the use of dogs it seems the hunting rules and quotas per the ODFW site seem to be a fairly responsible attempt to regulate the game animal. Who pushed the bill that had bi-partisan support?

  4. George Wuerthner


    The ODFW is trying to manage cougars because it wants to increase elk and other species hunters like to shoot, but it hides behind the pubilc safety justification. In its cougar plan the first few pages are nothing but reports of studies about people liking cougars, but also wanting them to be killed if they are near their homes, etc. etc. etc. But instead of suggesting that these concerns can be taken care of by judical and surgical control of individual cougars, the ODFW uses this generalized public concern for safety as the main rationale for its cougar plan which will kill cougars across the landscape–not just those that might be venturing into the edges of communities.

    Furthermore, ODFW is ignoring that top predators are different from other wildlife like elk and deer. First they have a significant ecological influence on wildlife and plant communities. And these top predators are very social and you can’t just “manage” them as if they are numbers–which wildlife agencies tend to do. There’s a ton of evidence that top predators have social interactions that greatly affects their distribution as well as their potential impacts on humans. By ignoring this social component, ODFW and other state agencies doing the same thing with predators, are enacting self serving regulations that create social inbalances that begets more management.

  5. George, I just can’t get past the ODFW website with the info on mountain lion quotas and allowed methodologies. I just don’t see a conspiracy there or a lack of professional game management. I also don’t follow your distinction between game animals whether they be predator or non-predator. Both are edible and a trophy depending on a hunter’s personal values. I understand your revulsion for hound hunting but I can’t make a distintion in my mind for hunting upland game birds with pointers and setters. To each his own and according to the law. What is important to me is that WE hunters stick together in promoting our field sport interest. Nothing protects a species more than making it a prized game animal as everyone who has a stake in the resource works to protect and ensure its health. Just my opinion.

  6. George Wuerthner

    The problem is that you are assuming the ODFW practiced good biologically sound techniques to arrive at its quotes and plan. This is not the place for an indepth debate on the agency, but suffice to say outside peer reviewers of the cougar plan, including some of the top cougar and population biologists in the country, had many problems with the underlying assumptions and questionable data, techniques and methods used by the agency to arrive at their conclusions. I’ll leave it at that.

  7. Treeing Walkers

    George Wuerthner,

    I think what you are promoting is not the truth. From what I read about what you have said you don’t seem like you know much of what you speak. From what you say sounds like you really don’t know much about the sport of hound hunting. Hound hunters have one of the most skilled and dedicated hunting sports out there. It takes alot of hard work, time, effort and patience to get a dog trained. Unlike most other sport hunting done with dogs, big game hound hunting takes a very skilled trainer to get results. Not just any body can go buy a hound puppy and raise and train that pupy to become a hunting dog. And for you saying “whom I will not glorify with the term hunter, following a pack of radio collared hounds to a treed cat, and then blasting the cougar from its perch.” There is very little truth in that statement. The radio collars are for when the hounds are lost or can not be located. They are a human tool. The collars are to bring our beloved hounds back home safe and not be lost out in the wilderness for days till they get found. If you had every hound hunted you would know this. When the hounds take a track you can listen to them bay the whole time and know where they are going by their voice, not collar. Then for your statement about blasting it from its perch, is it not the same as when you are out deer/elk hunting and you see your “TROPHY” and you shoot it from its dinner table ?? That is why it is called hunting. Hound hunters are very cautious and knowledgeable on what they choose to harvest. They don’t just shoot everything that trees, 98% of hound hunters out there today don’t harvest 5% of the game they tree. We conserve game not slaughter it. It’s a sport not a slaughter fest. Most of all hound hunters are law abiding citizens that are hard working have families and a life too. We as hound hunters believe in old time fashions of life, respect and always give a helping hand to someone in need.

    As far as eating cougar. Every hunter that can still hunt cougar legally with hounds, does eat every piece of meat on it. Its the same as deer/elk hunters of course there is some sort of trophy as you would say but just because of that fact does not mean you don’t eat it. If you where a real true guide you would have known this fact of hunting and would not of said that.

    ODFW suggests that some elk and deer herds are not growing, and may even be declining—and conveniently placing the blame upon the “growing” cougar population.

    That is more than likely true. A mature cougar will eat 2-3 deer or 1-2 elk a week to stay alive. A cougar only eats what it has killed and will not eat any spoiling meat. So if you add up those numbers you will see where the ODFW is coming from with their statement.

    Your estimated 2000 cougar slaughter number is also found to be false. Their quota for 2007 is in dead 777. They say they would like to get the cougar numbers down by 2000 in years not in one but several.

    “I predict if hunters are not careful, and don’t start speaking out against predator persecution and the 19th century practices of state wildlife agencies, they will find that a growing number of Americans will just vote to ban all hunting, not just that directed at killing predators.”

    That is also a false assumption you have made. Just because people predator hunt does not mean that the American people will ban all of hunting because of the predators. The predators need to have a population control on them as well. If nobody predator hunted then all your deer/elk numbers would not be there. Predators have nothing in the wild that controls them except for age. They need to be controlled as with all game to help preserve all of our hunting sports.

    I think before you try and brain wash the public any more than you have you should do a little more research on the subject and tell the truth !! Don’t just throw out numbers and ideas that have no proof to back them up with. Its a sport and their is a lot of people that enjoy it. We are not killers, we are not inhuman at what we do. We are just normal American citizens that believe in good old fashion values and ethnic hunting practices. We are not monsters like you want the public to believe. We are a group of American citizens that had our hunting privileges striped away from us with no real reason except a bunch of lies and incorrect information. One day the public will realize they made a huge mistake by being forced to vote on something that striped hundreds of thousands of hard working American citizens rights away for mis lead information.

  8. George, just because you don’t like something does not mean it is bad. I am very alarmed at the lengths soem will go to to try to impose their wishes and predjudices on other people. It becomes more alarming when erroneous facts are presented as fact. As in your numbers. This seems to be rather common among those with a heavy environmental agenda.
    A lot of folks do a lot of things I don’t care for, but I do not have the right to try to force them not to, in fact I don’t hunt, but I do eat the meat my family brings home. Everyone of us is a unique individual and we have different standards for everything, forcing others to fit our own personal agenda just won’t work.

  9. conservationalist


    I’m fairly alarmed that you claim to be a hunter. First I don’t believe you are who you say you are. Did you drop out of Hunter Education? Perhaps you should re-take that class.. Pay special attention to the Conservation topics. Hunters Pay and play more of a Positive Role in conservation than anyone else. It seams that you have forgotten this cougars are no different. I challenge you to find a wildlife division that disagree’s with this.

    I’m sure you can give us the “top Cougar bioligist” that the HSUS, and Seirra. Perhaps you forgot they have an agenda and perhaps the $$ has play a role into

    IMO Your views and the way you write comes directly from extreme animal activist. Your words are not words of a hunter. Please don’t pretend to be one of us to make your point, You are merely a wolf dressed as a sheep.

    Hunters In oregon, (not anti hunters) protected the cougar by classify them as a big game animal from bounty.

    We fought to have them correctly managed as a game animal for sound managment, The #1 tool in every wildlife department has help manage wildlife is Hunters.

    I urge you to find one instance, were Sport hunting has caused harm to a wildlife population in the united states?

    You don’t understand the concept of conservation and a hunters in proper conservation. I’ve tought students who know more about conservation than you do.

    I urge you to re-take hunter education. Perhaps you should stay out of the woods if you truely are “a hunter”..Your definately not a good example of a Hunter with good conservation ethics.

    Suffice to say your “killing” talk and lack of conservation would certainly not be welcome at my campfire.

  10. Conservationalist, I found George’s rhetorical hyperbole way over the top and well beyond factual support. However, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I find it helpful to use a campfire, a little whiskey, and calm talk as a means to change opinions, not harden them. George, is welcome at my camp any time for some warmth, lubrication, and friendly persuasion so long as the night is long, the whiskey flows and the embers glow.

  11. conservationalist


    I see your point, Over the top is a bit of an understatement in my opinion.

    for someone who has the resume to really know and understand wildlife, He still thinks and speaks with emotion, rather than logic.

    Speaking of and isolating other hunters is exactly what the Anti Hunters would like. That’s why I find this article coming from a Self claimed “hunter” so appalling.

    Secondly, after researching him, for someone who has such close ties to environmentalist clubs such as the sierra club, you would think he would have more respect for the animals He claims to hunt and protect the image of sportsmen. Ironically He refers to other hunters as cretins, because they sport hunt? However these “CRETINS” as he calls them were the same cretins, that lobbied fought and protected the Cougar population from bounty conditions in Oregon back when the numbers were not good!

    I know many many hunters, Good people, and this guy leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I don’t think he is a hunter. I definately don’t agree with this guy portraying that all hunters think this way. It is not so.

  12. All this talk about hunting got my juices flowing and my appetite aroused. Luckily I still had a little whitetail left from last fall. Marinated in teriyaki and BBQ’ed. Gosh it was good!

  13. Sir, Very well wrote and persuasive article. It truly does put my nose to the air. So I ask why does a fellow from Montana have such interest in Oregon’s Cougar Plan. I see that you have studied the plan quite a bit, and truly do make some correct points.

    Let me start by saying that Oregon does have a issue with the current population of cougars. I do agree that the ODFW’s numbers are speculations. They even admitted it at public hearings I attended. The numbers are entirely based on population models which were made in other states. Then they subtract the known mortality from the estimated population guess and WHAMO they have a State population “estimation”.The magic number 3000 you talk about ,yet claim to not know why they use, is the estimated cougar population prior to the banning of the use of DOGS to pursue or aide in killing of lions and bears. Dogs is what they state not hounds. If it was’nt so sad it would sound funny. But truth is, that lions are appearing everywhere. And eating everything from fluffy poodles to tame deer and Horses and cattle.They are showing up on school grounds and in cities. It makes me very angry when well minded individuals who reside in cushy digs downtown speak to Me and other rural folk about living with lions. Or bears, wolves, skunks or tourist from town for that matter. When you cannot let your children walk a half mile home from the bus because of predators on your land , then call me.

    The new law you are talking about is not a law to kill cougars. The management plan set forth by ODFW is what is going to kill all these cougars. The law you are talking about is a way to allow the ODFW to use agents to kill for them. Ballot measure 18 is the law banning dogs for use on lions and bears. It was wrote by the Anti hunting groups and thanks to hunters like you who feel you are better than every other hunter it was passed by a majority vote.This BM 18 said the state could use agents to do exactly what the ” Oregon cougar plan” says. Problem being the law does not say they can appoint agents. The agents need to be department employees. That would cost the state a lot of greenbacks that the treasury does not have. SO, house bill 2971 introduced by the Oregon Hunters Association. And backed by ODFW was introduced to allow the state to use volunteers to kill the lions and bears for them. And not cost a dime.

    Well then, that should bring everyone up to speed. But wait theres more! You so brashly state that since this Bm 18 was voted on twice, thats it.The people of Oregon want it. What you do not know is that the second vote on it was very close. And it was only a short time after the initial passing of the law.( note that the majority vote in Oregon lives in the Urban North west corner of the state). Populations and conflict were still relatively low. Since then other bills introduced to stop trapping have failed in our state. TWICE ! And a recent poll by KATU television showed that 75 percent would vote to revoke Ballot measure 18.Public hearings were overwhelmingly against the ODFW’s cougar plan. But why did it pass. Youd have to ask Gov. Kulungoski.

    Now that opens a whole can of worms. Ballot measure 18 created this problem.Prior to its passing. Cougar populations were at an all time high. Damage complaint levels were nil and seasons and bag limits were in enforcement to protect this wonderful Big Game Species. Ohh and it was all funded by hunter dollars. Now populations are at a level we have never seen.Complaints and cases of damage are at a peak. The state is killing as many cougars as it can. People are willing to do something to correct the problem. But what. Fix the mistake of Bm 18? That would take about 2 million dollars to get back on the ballot. Funny thing is that BM 18 is not a constitutional law so it can be changed by a house and senate vote and signing by the Governor. So why have we not gone this route. Ask Gov. Teddy.

    It would seem ,that in a time when we have gone from traveling by wagons to space flight and internet all in one generation, that we could identify and correct a problem created by government gone amuck? Ballot Measure 18 and eco terrorist groups have created the debachary we now call wildlife management in the state of Oregon! Why would we not return to what was correct? Is it because men like George who look down there nose at other hunters and deem them unsporting are allowed to make the rules? A man who calls a houndsmen less than a hunter. What of the prostitution of wildlife by men such as yourself. Killing for money. Leading around individuals who are not capable of killing game themselves So they can take home horns to brag in the office? Are they sporting enough for you Goerge?

    Sadly this plan and agent selection will move forward. Lions and bears will die. Lots of them. The state will lose future dollars which would come from the next generation of Hound Hunters. Next will come higher tag and license fees for other big game. Then less tags will be available. And eventually public hunting will cease. The wildlife will still be killed to a manageable level but it will be done by elitist and Government agents.

    Thats just my simple take on this fine state of Oregon. But what do I know. Im just a man in the woods almost every day. I am a Father. A conservationist. A lover of wildlife, big and small. I am a cowboy. Yep a real cowboy. I am also a Houndsmen who loves to hunt his hounds and leave the game I pursue in the trees and woods alive. Catch and Release. I am a man that feeds my family with wild meat. Cougar included. I am a man whos heart is sick over what my state has done.

  14. I believe I read that man first worked with dogs 40,000 years ago. To deny that relationship today, and then add some subjective sportsmanship value to it is to deny the history of man. I have to wonder what the real motive is all about. And what does “sporting” have to do with subsistence hunting?

    The real meaning of cougars in town is that mature, breeding toms have the most favorable habitat tied up, and are sharing it with more than 3 females per tom. Those old toms keep their territories and breeding rights by simply killing any and all males that trespass. Therefore, the out migrating young toms have to establish new territory. It appears that in Oregon, all the suitable and available habitat is taken, and the young toms are in town to make a living without fear of being killed by an older tom. And, harrassed game, in constant movement due to a saturation of cougars, bears and coyotes, is also moving to town for security reasons.

    I would suppose the end of clear cutting on the public domain has also produced results that put cougars near or in town. The whole of the timber industry now operates on private land, and that land is often closer to town than pubic land. So the edge effects that draw animals is most pronounced nearer to town than it is to the now overgrown pubic lands. Cougars are moving with the game.

    Never in my life did I see elk living in the heart of Willamette Valley farm land. Now that no logging and rampant growth of planted trees has transformed the Siuslaw NF to a monoculture of conifers, with all the fens, prairies, savannahs, open woodlands, and Indian fired meadows lost to doug fir weed taking over the landscape, elk moved east to where the groceries are on the valley floor. The Siuslaw is no longer good habitat for cougar prey, the animals moved east, and the cougars have followed. Unintended consequences of no logging, and no Indian set fires for a century or more.

    The law that allows ODFW to use agents to address cougar mortality, was passed by the last legislature, a liberal Democrat majority body. The Governor, whose entire staff is union pols on loan, signed the bill. The Governor fancies himself as a super green guy environmentalist. I would have to say, then, that the cougar agent plan has green credentials, and support of the ODFW union represented workers and management. They know that less game means less income from licenses and tags, and fewer jobs and staff cuts. They (chuckle) have a dog in the fight. The money that went to hire hounds to track and tag cougars, and to kill problem cats, will now have a solution that does not cost money, is gourd green, gives houndsmen a chance to work dogs, and gives the ODFW a means to manage the population in a professional manner. That George does not like the plan does not make it a bad plan. George just has a problem with humans who don’t march to his drum. He has a problem with hounds, probably from some nightmare suffered as a child. But the professionals wanted and got a management tool they sorely needed. If it does not work, the law can be changed.

  15. It will work. Cougars will die and ODFW will not have to pay for it. Conflicts will decrease and the unknowing envirominded and idle Oregonians will forget all about the problems caused by maurading cats. “As long as I dont see it its not happening” will return to the land.
    This will be the final nail in the coffin of any chance for public utilization of their big game species ,the lion. Once numbers are dropped to what the ODFW considers appropriate. Which is not actually a population number. It is in fact the amount of damage complaints received.(this was explained at the public hearings) Then killing will continue only to keep them in check.
    And once again all will be well for Oregon.
    Oregon Hunters Association will have more deer and elk to kill.
    Sub Urban citizens will have less of there pooches plundered.
    ODFW and Teddy will be out of hot water.
    Hunters who chose to use hounds will still not have their rights.
    And Lions will be few and far between.

  16. There is some great talk above.

    I live in Idaho… is hard to say if Wolf reintroduction has been a flop or not.

    I certainly do not want to get off on that topic.

    I live in Boise where we have a relatively new Cabelas store. It has been a real boom to the economy, and the hunting and fishing community.

    Certainly a different customer base than say REI.

    Anyway as I look at Cabelas or any other modern day outfitter, it is just amazing the firepower and toys that are available to hunters and fishermen.

    In some ways the technological advances in these fields are no different that most other viable economic industries.

    For example, the ability to plug an animal is far easier than it was 100 years ago. A rifle, scope, and shell are much more advanced. I use the word advanced somewhat losely.

    Years ago hunting was for subsistence, at least in the lower 48. Now it is primarily for sport.

    Using hounds, much less hounds with radio collars to track a cat? Come on this is not subsistence or even wildlife management. Actually there is not much difference between the testosterone that drives this interest versus dog fighting.

    My family lived in Africa in Tangyanika in the 40’s and 50’s. My father’s job was there. My family lived off game, as his work took him into the bush.

    But he was also a quasi big game hunter. Bagging an elephant, croc, cheetah, leopard and lion.

    He is now dead, God rest his soul, and years ago, in the 70’s I suppose he regretted every animal he killed for so called sport.

    We live in strange times. While I would not call myself an animal activist. I would implore, primarily men, to consider their motivations for plugging animals.

    Our society has created a broad spread group (hunters) of Rambo want to be’s. Maybe that is just part of the gene pool for men.

    Big cats are not a problem in Oregon…..nature will thin the heard out just fine.

    Just some excellent thoughts for your ponderance.

  17. You are correct. Oregons cougars are not a problem.Ballot measure 18 is the problem. The current cougar population is a surplus of a natural resource. It is unfortunate the public cannot utilize this parishable natural resource.

    Unfortunatly I cannot tell you about the wolves in Idaho as I do not live there. But I would love for you to go more in depth on your opinion of wolves in Idaho. Please do.

  18. Robb 'southwestwalkers'


    Getting things straight and a little ‘FYI’ . I’m not going to take the time to debate on this but wanted to help put the record straight. First, a growing population of hound hunters find the sport of hound hunting in the training of the dogs which is almost a art that you seems to know little about. Second, as for being seen as bloodthirsty and unnecessary its funny how you fail to mention the huge amount of hound hunters that don’t even shoot ‘harvest’ the animal that the dogs have treed.

    I find it strange the you leave this out in your above article. This only leads me to believe that your above comments may only be made to infuriate people or bring down another one of our countries national past times.

    If your going to bring up any negatives in a sport such as hound hunting please make sure you also get all your info on the subject covered and correct. Not just the ones that put it in a negative light or may support some hidden agenda.


  19. snip: “120 California cougars are killed each year to deal with public concerns about livestock or human threats.”

    bad idea – let’s not eliminate fair and equitable opportunities for public hunting by wasting money subsidizing government sharpshooters to kill problem lions. By using the public to manage wildlife populations we generating millions of dollars for rural communities and state fish and wildlife agencies instead of wasting taxpayer dollars.

    Like it or not, wildlife populations are a resource that must be managed within a level of public acceptance. That means we have to harvest cats. I have no desire to shoot a lion, but I’m able to put my emotions aside and realize that it must be done.

    Further, by hound hunting, lion hunters are able to discriminate between age and sex of animals – leaving the potential for a more responsible removal of individual cats.

  20. conversationalist

    George?? where did you go.. You seamed so confident in your article and the points you were making?

    I can only assum that it appears that more true sportsmen and conversationalist don’t agree with you then you originally thought?

    To set the record straight, I don’t agree with what oregon is doing either. However I believe they would be better off to fix the problem as matt said in his response. The Oregon Cougar Plan and this new Bill, Is simply a band-aid that trys to cover up the mess started with Ballot measure 18.

    Many Valid Points of Views in your comments. I’m sure glad some people still think with their head and not with their emotions and propaganda.

  21. I am very glad that the legislature is loosening the restrictions on using dogs to hunt cougars, now we need to eliminate the restriction entirely. Cougars are dangerous predators and the cougar population in Oregon has been growing dramatically over the past few years. Cougars have expanding into new territory and unless their numbers are dramatically reduced it is only a matter of time before we start having fatal cougar attacks like the recent ones in California. The number of cougar attacks has increased dramatically in recent years: we have had as many cougar attackes in the last ten years as occured in the previous ninety years. I personally am quite concerned because just this past summer there were two cougar sightings within two miles of my home. I am scared for the safety of my younger brothers and sisters. Yet I am not allowed use dogs to hunt down and kill a cougar which might choose to attack one of my siblings at any time. I am sorry, but urban voters who don’t live next to cougars, have no right to pass laws which put the lives of my brothers and sisters in danger just so they can advance their extreme animal rights agenda.

  22. George Wuerthner


    Your chances of dying by cougar attack is about as good as dying from a meteorite from space landing on you.

    The fact that cougar encounters and sightings is partially due to higher cougar populations. I do believe there are likely more cougar in Oregon. However, increased sightings has a little bit to do with the fact that there are far more people today in Oregon (as well as in California) than even a few decades ago. Plus more and more people are chosing–unwisely–to move into cougar habitat. So the odds that someone would see a cougar has increased accordingly. That still doesn’t mean you are under any threat from cougars.

    As I have suggested in my original essay, killing cougars indiscriminately as is proposed by the Oregon Cougar Plan and ODFW will INCREASE the likelyhood of conflicts. To repeat, most cougar attacks on livestock and/or people are done by young cougars. If you reduce the population, you change the age structure and favor a population that has a much larger component of young cougars–the very cougars that are most likely to attack a person or livestock. So the idea that killing up to 2000 cougars will increase public safety is completely bogus.

    A much preferred way to handle cougars is to have professional wildlife agents kill individual cougars that are known to be a danger to the public.

  23. George, I take issue with your characterization that the ODFW plan is indiscriminate. Everything I have read points to a very discriminating outcome.

    Also, that lightning comparison is a bit misleading. Like lightning, being close to the storm or the animal significantly increases the chance of danger. The stats tend to mush together people who are not close to either lightning or a predatory animal. Also, an animal attacks with full intention while lightning only follows a path of least resistance. Apples and oranges.

  24. More on the “discriminating” Oregon cougar managmen plan.,%20Final%20Draft%20Filed,%2030%20May%2006.pdf

    ODFW statement:

    Key facts about cougars in Oregon and the cougar management plan

    Cougars are an Oregon success story. After being nearly eliminated by the mid-1960s, today they have a healthy population. The current cougar population in Oregon is estimated to be 5,100.

    As both the cougar and human populations have grown, so have the number of conflicts and damage complaints. This management plan is designed to address the conflicts between the growing numbers of cougars and humans.

    This plan establishes a minimum desirable cougar population of at least 3,000. It does not set a targeted cougar population level or a ceiling. The number of cougars in Oregon may exceed 3,000 as they do today, but the draft plan calls for managing no fewer than 3,000 cougars.

    ODFW works within the framework of the law. Oregonians have twice said through initiative petition that hounds may not be used to hunt cougars, and the Legislature and Governor have agreed with that stance. This plan abides by that determination.

    However, existing law does allow federal and state employees to use the full range of management tools, including hounds and snares but not including poison, to deal with cougars that are causing human, pet or livestock conflicts. ODFW will continue to respond to safety and damage complaints. Problem cougars that pose a risk to humans, pets or livestock will be humanely euthanized.

    This plan follows the same prescription as other management plans by incorporating specific actions to deal with conflict while maintaining recreational – hunting and viewing – opportunities.

    As is the case with all similar wildlife management plans, the costs of cougar management are funded by the sales of hunting licenses and tags.

  25. George Wuerthner


    In most statistics of risk assessment, groups are lumped together. You’re more likely to be in a car accident if you commute in urban traffic than if you are driving around dirt roads in rural eastern Oregon too–but all drivers are typically lumped together in traffic risk statistics.

    But your point is taken-if you one were to do a statistical analysis of risk of cougar attack among only those people who walked in the woods, it still doesn’t change the main point that your chances of being attacked by a cougar is very, very, very, small. Really small. You’re lucky if you see a cougar once in a lifetime–even if you spend a ton of time outdoors.

    I spend an average of six months a year outdoors, and I used to spend nearly all my time outdoors in various field jobs I held in the past–and I have never seen a cougar. I look for wildlife and I’m very good at spotting animals–much better than most people–and I’ve never seen a cougar. The point being that even someone such as myself who spends far more than the average outdoors person in the wild–is unlikely to see, much less, be attacked by a cougar.

    I used to work in the Alaskan bush and most of the time I never even carried a rifle but I heard all the time from the genuine Alaskan tough guys sitting in the bars (real experts on the dangers of the Bush–which is why they stayed in the bars) about how I was going to get eaten by a grizzly. Fact was sitting in the bar was more dangerous than spending all day tramping through grizzly country–especially if you had your wits about you. Risk of attack by any wild animal is very small.

    In fact there is far more danger from things we accept all the time like dogs which attack 5 million people a year with 800,000 needing medical attention and accounting for 26 deaths a year. Even though dogs kill more people a year than cougars have ever killed in a hundred years in all of North America (including Canada) no one talks about going around to kill dogs to make life safe for humans.

    The ODFW is indiscriminate in that it allows killing of sufficient number of cougars as to skew the population towards younger animals. That will happen if you take the hundreds of animals proposed for killing annually. And younger animals are definitely more a problem for all of us. Bottom line. If you are using public safety as your excuse for cougar control, you are either demonstrating a lack of professional knowledge of cougar behavior and biology or you are not mentioning this because it doesn’t support your real goal of predator control. I tend to believe that ODFW biologists are sufficiently knowledgeable to have heard about cougar social biology, so I suspect the real reason for the cougar hound hunting is to reduce cougar predation on game animals so they can effectively raise elk and deer populations.

  26. George Wuerthner

    I take exception to your key facts–some of which is pure speculation, and others selected figures.

    First, the number of reports of conflicts has risen, in part, because ODFW began to solicit reports of conflicts. Not surprisingly the number of reports increased. But ODFW did not have time or money to determine whether the increased report of cougars is real or imaginery. Most cougar reports when invested turn out to be false–domestic cats, deer, and other animals that people see and THINK are cougars.

    If ODFW had started to collect and solicit reports of bigfoot, I am certain they would find a lot of people are seeing Saquatch in the state. In other words if you want to hear about cougars and go out to get as many reports as possible, you can show an increase in cougar sightings.

    That said, I have no doubt that there are more cougar in Oregon today than say twenty or thirty years ago. But I don’t think hunters can take credit for this. After all cougar don’t “need” to be hunted to survive or reproduce.

    I also think it’s disingenious for you to suggest that ODFW is only responding to human/livestock complaints. If they were shooting cougars that posed a problem, the number killed annually would be something less than a hundred animals if that. There would be no talk about killing up to 2000 animals or even the 700 plus that they target for annual kill. In California where cougars are only killed for management purposes related to human conflicts, only 120 animals are killed annually–and there’s more people in California thus more potential for conflicts.

    Cougars are a success story in part because the people of Oregon voted TWICE to eliminate hunting with hounds. Not thanks to hunters as you suggest. Top predators are self regulating in the sense that they are food and territorial (social) limited. They do not grow indefinitely. And if not persecuted, they do fine without any help from us at all.

    Its self serving for hunters to claim some how they are responsible for cougar recovery. Given that the people of Oregon have twice voted to eliminate hound hunting, all that is needed is ensure a good healthy cougar populations is to leave them alone.

  27. George, I have not made any excuses or defenses of the ODFW plan for whatever reason. I leave it to the ODFW to make its own defense. What I do question are your comments regarding it such as the use of the term “indiscriminate.” Also, the plan does NOT set as a goal of reducing 5000 animals down to 3000 as you have asserted. As I quoted above from the ODFW: “This plan establishes a minimum desirable cougar population of at least 3,000. It does not set a targeted cougar population level or a ceiling. The number of cougars in Oregon may exceed 3,000 as they do today, but the draft plan calls for managing no fewer than 3,000 cougars.” The mortality will be controlled through the quota process by district for both hunting and non-hunting deaths.

    I take the ODFW at their word to keep a health cougar population while minimizing human conflict situations and achieving healthy ungulate populations in balance with the cats. This is a bit like spinning several plates on sticks. It’s not perfect but at least there is a commendable effort. Ultimately, the defense of the plan and the faith of the governor, the legislature, and the ODFW in that plan will be in the results that are achieved towards the desired ends. Let’s see what the report card is in a few years.

  28. George, those facts you take exception to are not mine. Those facts come from the ODFW that have done the leg work. See the website that I linked above.

  29. George Wuerthner


    I read the plan–several times–and my article was addressing the flaws in the plan as well as the biological logic used to justify increased hunting. It’s a matter of bait and switch. If the ODFW wanted to minimize human risk, they would not kill any cougars except for a very few that are a direct threat.

    As for indiscriminate kill–when you are planning to kill hundreds of animals a year, particularly when you are advocating sport hunting of those animals, that is indisciminate killing. It is not anything else. There’s nothing targeted about hunting except in a very gross manner–i.e. you might only kill big bucks or only does.

    Again using California as my example, there are 35 million people in CAlifornia and given its great climate, I’m willing to assert that there are more “contact” hours between humans and cougars in California than any other western state. Yet the state only kills about 120 cougar a year, and more than 90% of them are for livestock conflicts. So the number of animals that may be needed to be killed to provide for human safety is something less than 25 animals a year.

    If Oregon were suggesting that they would kill 25-50 animals a year, they would not be getting any complains from me. The truth is that they want to kill many hundreds, likely in excess of 500-600 animals a year and this has nothing to do with managing for human safety. It being done to reduce predator losses in the hopes that some deer and elk populations will increase.

  30. george,

    I though you where a hunter ?? I quote you saying – “when you are planning to kill hundreds of animals a year, particularly when you are advocating sport hunting of those animals, that is indisciminate killing. It is not anything else. There’s nothing targeted about hunting except in a very gross manner–i.e. you might only kill big bucks or only does.” You ain’t no hunter of any kind in my mind George. You are a fraud and nothing more.
    You are entitled to your own thoughts and beliefs, but you have no right to push it on people like it’s life or death. All your numbers and information is false and made up to make you sound better. I have searched and searched to find any of your numbers or information and guess what…….it must just be on your computer and no one else’s.

  31. George, I take issue with your overstating the situation. The ODFW management plan does discriminate– no spotted kittens, no females with spotted kittens, limiting mortality (both hunting and non-hunting) by district, limiting access through permit, regulated professional hound hunting consistent with the previous initiatives. The difference here is that the level of discrimination is not as specific as you would like, but that does not mean that the management plan is pure indiscriminate caos as you seem to suggest. Again, overstating the matter is where I have a problem. You just wrote that “…they want to kill many hundreds, likely in excess of 500-600 animals a year …” See again the ODFW website where the quotas are listed. Mortality through non-hunting means far exceed hunting and the combined number is what the ODFW works against to properly manage the cougar population.

  32. George Wuerthner


    You seem to get lost in details, and miss the main point. I’ll try one more time.

    The main point is that top predators have social-biological relationships that should be considered in all management decisions. One can not kill any significant numbers of any top predator–whether cougar, bears, wolves, coyotes, and so forth– without having significant unintended and unacknowledged consequences (by agencies) on other wildlife as well as humans.

    If your goal is to reduce human conflicts with top predators than you must acknowledge and consider these socio-biological aspects of their biology in any management plan.

    If you kill any significant number of the animals, you wind up skewing the age composition to younger age classes, disrupting territorial relationships, and creating a self perpetuating need for more management.

    Younger animals are more likely to engage in “risky behavior” –i.e. attacking livestock and people. Removing, for example, a dominant male who may be living perfectly well with people and livestock without creating any problems, will create a vacant territory that may be filled with a young male that is less experienced at hunting, and more likely to attack livestock or people. If ODFW wanted to reduce people/cougar conflicts, particularly those related to public safety issues, it would focus all management kills only on specific animals that have shown repeated risky behavior. Because it plans to kill far more cougars than merely the ones that are known and documented threats to public safety and/or known livestock killers, the plan will disrupt socio-bio relationships.

    Since one of the chief reasons ODFW gives for adopting its managment plan is to reduce human/cougar conflicts, particularly using the public safety trump card to garner public support for what is really a predator persecution program, I find this both disingenuious and deceptive, as well as in the end bad wildlife policy. Instead of trying to dismantle public fears engendered by predators with good information on real and relative risk, ODFW perpetuates those fears. Why does it do this? Because it really wants to kill a lot of cougars. It doesn’t want people to have a rational and factual view of the relative risks of cougar attack. It doesn’t promote policies that would reduce human/conflicts such as advocating livestock producers to use lambing or calving sheds, and other mechanisms that would reduce livestock conflicts.

    Instead it promotes fears, considers no other non-lethal means of reducing conflicts, and only advocates hunting, particularly sport hunting, as the answer to nearly all problems.

    In this case, “deputizing” hunters is an end run around the voter passed iniative that bans sport hunting of cougars with hounds. It is a semantics change designed to circumvent public desires much like calling prisoners of war “enemy combatants ” so you don’t have to follow the Genvena Convention and keep people locked up indifinitely in Cuba. It’s side stepping the intent of the law (in this case the decision by Oregon voters to ban hound hunting).

    Advocating the killing of a significant number of animals annually will disrupt socio-biological relationships in a way that will INCREASE not decrease human conflicts and the fact that in it the many pages of the cougar plan this is not even acknowledged, much less discussed in any detail, suggests that public safety, nor biology, are the real reasons for adoption of the plan.

  33. George,

    I see your argument about Hunting creating a younger cougar population. However, I don’t think it would have the effect that you claim. A lot of the reason that young cougars are involved in attacks is that they are pushed into more populated areas to escape territory already controlled by dominant adult cougars. If these adult male cougars are killed by Hunters their territory would be opened up and the young cougars would not continue to be forced into ever more urban areas.

    As to the statistical rarity of cougar attacks, I would simply say that people who live in rural areas are much more likely to be attacked than urban dwellers and remind you that the number of attacks has increased dramatically in recent years – especially in California. As the cougar population is expanding we are starting to see cougars in many populated areas in which they have not been seen for many years. Including near a school in Mollalla and in the Willamette Mission State Park near my family’s farm. I know that cougars rarely decide to attack humans but when they do attack there is little warning and usually the person attacked is killed or seriously injured. I am not willing to trust my little sisters safety to the inclinations of a cougar – I want the hunting laws liberalized so that I can eliminate such a potential threat.

  34. George Wuerthner


    I share your concern about safety–which is why again I have to say if you are concerned about human safety you should be opposed to any cougar hunting.

    The biology of cougars is a bit more complicated than the situation you outlined. While it’s true that dominant males can push some cougars into marginal habitat–like being close to people–they also kill a lot of young male lions. In addition, research also shows that when a predator population is near carrying capacity, many fewer young animals survive into adulthood for a variety of reasons–poor nutrient, more disease, as well as conflicts with other cougars. Cougar populatons near carrying capacity are older and have far fewer young animals as a percentage of the population.

    When the population is held at less than carrying capacitiy it creates more opportunities for young animals to survive.

    Furthermore, if the population is highly exploited, females breed at a younger age.

    Overall you have a much higher percentage of the population consisting of younger individuals who also tend to be less agile and experienced hunters. As a consequence they are more tempted to attack easy prey including livestock and humans.

    The best way to ensure public safety is to allow predator populations to reach their carrying capacity, and to stategically remove any individuals who are considered a threat–i.e. if a cougar were hanging out in your backyard, obviously that would be a reason to call for removal. But the best way to ensure minimum safety for all people is to advocate for cougar protection, not persecution.

  35. I love the statement “predator persecution program”. Nothing like trying to impose human qualities on an animal.
    George, you shine a light on your values all of the time, you don’t like ranchers or their cattle, you don’t like hunters. The world is made up of all kinds of values, and it is not right to impose ones on others whether by force or rearranging facts. You can hike in the hills all you want and let ranchers graze their cows and sheep, and let hunters hunt legal prey. And we’ll all be happy.
    By the way I saw one lion from my front porch in Arizona and 3 in the Tetons, and I’ve never had time off enough to hike a lot.

  36. George Wuerthner


    I don’t want to ignore you, but I have to move on to other things today, but I’ll answer briefly. I am not sure exactly what you want as a response. Do I think Texas should stop killing its cougars as varmint? Yes indeed. Do I think they are mismanaging them? Yes.

    The other point I might emphasize from the article is the remark by the researcher who claims very little is known about mountain lion populations in Texas–which is the same thing that could be said for other states as well. With the exception of a few species like elk and deer, there is little research specific to most states that is available to justify and/or inform management policies. Most population estimates are crude and not very precise. They typically are based upon comments like “we’re still killing them, so they must be OK” kind of attitude. I will say that I am glad to see that Texas has at least considered the genetic diversity of their cougar populations, and it appears to be OK.

  37. George Wuerthner


    The only problem is that we are talking about public lands, and public wildlife. The lands ranchers are grazing–at least the ones I have the most problem with–are those using our public lands for their private profit, while degrading public values like clean water, wildlife habitat, and so forth.

    Ditto for wildlife. Wildlife is a public “resource” and it does not belong exclusively to hunters. Of course far too many hunters act otherwise, however, as a public resource wildlife agencies must manage them for public benefit, not the benefit of hunters or any other subgroup.

  38. George, I thought you might have seen the comparison of Texas, which treats cougars as varmints, with Oregon, which treats cougars as an important game animal, and see that the cats are thriving in both places. For that to happen there must be something in common in terms of habitat, food sources, and water because in both states hunting is allowed. the indiscriminate Texas seem to have no more detrimental affect than Oregon’s managed approach. Hunting does not seem to be the anathema to the cougars survival as some may believe. Then add in the California experience where hunting is not allowed for sport and the cats are thriving there as well. Hunting does not seem to be much of a factor where habitat, food, and water are available. Therefore, I am unable to follow your alarm over the Oregon management plan as being justified given that the cats seem to be thriving in all three situations– no hunting in California, wide-open hunting in Texas, and managed hunting in Oregon.

  39. Actually George, I have some photos of that public land being grazed, land with knee deep gras and wildflowers in abundance. I will also run across the road to some public land that has never ever been grazed as neear as I can find out. It is weeds and scrub sage brush.

  40. George Wuerthner

    Oh god Craig, I’m not suggesting that cougars in Oregon are threatened by the plan in the sense that cougars would disappear.

    I see four major things wrong with Oregon’s current cougar plan and mangement proposals.

    The first is the clear breech of trust. The voters of Oregon have twice said they don’t want hound hunting. But ODFW is trying to do an end run around the voter approved initiative that ban hound hunting for sport. This is clearly an effort to circumvent that voter desire–and in the long run isn’t going to help endear the hunting crowd with the rest of the population.

    The second is that this end run is fueled by purposeful propanganda and misinformation ploy by ODFW to heighten public fear about cougars instead of providing information (good scientific information) that would reduce and perhaps allieviate those fears. They have also ignored current biological literature that suggests that killing significant numbers of predators have other consequences which they are not acknowledging or presenting to policy makers, the public, or legislature.

    Third, if ODFW were more interested in balance wildlife management, not merely selling tags to hunters, they would spend a lot time and effort publicizing the many benefits conferred on prey populations as well as the landscape when top predators are permitted to thrive.

    Fourth, ODFW has demonstrated that its chief goal is increase populations of deer and elk, but uses public safety as its way to “sell” a predator control program. This is deceptive and unethical-not unlike the “mushroom” cloud that Bush adminstration used to discourage public opposition to the invasion of Irag and through such fear tactics gain support for a pre-determined policy.

  41. George, you have leveled very serious charges against the ODFW. Were the Governor and the legislature in on it too? Would you please specify the proof for your claims? Heads should roll if they are true. But if they are false…..

  42. George’s public trust is lip stick on the tyranny of the urban majority pig. He got the folks in the inner city high rises buy his anthropomorphic description of the trials of being a meat eating cougar in town. Because it is an in-town problem. The prey, deer mostly, moved to town because they feel safer there, and the home landscaping provides great diversity in their diet. Town has moved into the fringes of prior logged forest land, and the edge effect is working well for critters. Deer, turkeys, quail, feral cats, ‘possum, squirrels native and exotic, rabbits, all do quite well in the urban-rural interface lands which are growing expotentially. The big cats are following the food to town. And, in an uncontrolled cat population where the dominant males kill young toms in their territory and make babies with the young females, town is all that is left when wildland or corporate tree farms are at their cougar carrying capacity, and George’s own argument shows that young, inexperienced males find that town all that is left for them. This whole argument is about town cats, and not wilderness area cats. It is about prevention of tragic consequences, if only for a beloved family pet, a 4H lamb, or a jogger enjoying the vaunted open spaces in town or around them.

    George really hates people. He prefers critters to people any day, and that is his opinion. I feel he is wrong. He does not. Needless to say, the political ramifications of having a kid killed by a cougar in or near town would be great, and politicians are hip to that kind of unintended consequence: their getting the blame.

    In Oregon, where all public employees have union dues taken from each and every check, at all levels of government, and that money goes 90% to environmentalist/union backed Democrats (just announced today—the State is hiring 1770 new employees with the tax surplus–more political money to the in-control Democrats), there has to be a very good political reason for the Governor to support a limited cougar take of problem animals. His staff is entirely made up of union pros on leave, so this must be a pro-union decision to kill cougars. ODFW is providing biological support and management skills (and union dues), and the sitting Democrat governor is backing it. George is protesting too much. His problem is with people. His people.

  43. George and Craig. You are both liars!!! Telling half truths to try and support your agendas.
    George you are a anti hunter and enviro idiot. I have read your other Crap.
    Craig I bet you are a ODFW employee or Oregon Hunters Association member.
    The truth is clear if one takes the time to learn it. I urge the public to seek it out. Please read my posts above.

  44. Matt, you seem slightly hysterical. You lost your bet. What is YOUR truth? What are the facts that support YOUR truth? What statements of fact have I made that you consider erroneous and how are they erroneous? Supporting facts and data please rather than mere accusations.

  45. all this talk of cougar hunting is forcing me to go out and go hunting for one this weekend near sisters. Now i myself dont agree with hound hunting a cougar as i know from a few old timers that used to hound hunt how “easy” it is. in one instance took a gentelmen 5 minutes from time he got out of truck and grabbed the hounds. no sport to me in that. however, i myself feel alot more sportsman like when i get out there at 4 am and sit and wait for day break, start calling, and watch that big ole tom step into view. now im not just a sport hunter, ill admit it ive sat there and watched a cat for approx an hour and didnt shoot just because it was more fascinating to watch him than it was going to be to shoot a medium sized cat. ill admit it i want to get a very large cat this weekend and i probably will not shoot just any.
    now, as far as the gent that was talking about the cougars attacking people, you must not be an avid hunter. as any truly avid hunter would know that more times than i can count on my hand i have been stalked by a cat. i belive its more of the cats curiosity and not aggresiveness that is making it want to. deer hunting i was walking along down a trail lookin for a buck, when i started back tracking back to camp there were plenty of cougar prints right over the top of my foot prints. was i attacked, no. where i live in oregon there is a huge booming population growth, they ran out of room in the city for houses. so when our contracters start a freakin sub development 5 miles out of town and in the mountains because thats what the yuppies will buy, why the hell do they even wonder why there is wildlife on there doorstep? you are in cougar country people. why do we have to erradicate them like its there fault and they are in the wrong for doing what comes natural? now im not choosing sides, im just stating what i feel. we will all go on with our lives, i will go shoot a “trophy” cat this weekend and some tree hugger will read this while at starbucks drinking there latte and tell me how wrong i am. have a good day 🙂

  46. I’ll try to make this short.

    I think that cougars are beautiful animals. They serve a purpose in the wild just like any other animal. I don’t think that they should be hunted to extinction. But here in eastern oregon, studies are showing that deer and elk are dissappearing at an alarming rate due to the high increase of cougars. I think that people need to try to think about this issue with an open mind and try to use some common sense. Too much of something can be a bad thing. If the population of these animals is not kept in check or within a reasonable amount they will continue to increase in numbers and become an even bigger problem than they already are.
    Over the last several years I have heard numerous stories of cougars stalking hunters while they were trying to hunt deer and elk. I personally have seen many cougars in the wild over the last several years when I had only seen two in my life prior to this. In fact my brother and I had a cougar come to our preditor calls one time. I never saw the cat, but my brother said that it was heading my way and about fifty feet from me when he yelled to me that a cougar was coming. I never saw or heard a thing.
    I think that the use of dogs to control the numbers of cougar in a given area or the state is a good idea, but this should be something that is monitored very closely to make sure that the populations don’t get too low. Maybe they should only be able to use dogs for one or two years, and after the populations are down to a reasonable amount maybe dogs should be used ever second or third year to keep the population controlled. It’s hard to say. Some people may consider this to be cruel or inhumane, but most of them don’t live where the problem is like I do. It’s bad enough that the animals have to live with a cougar population that is getting out of hand, but now there are a significant number of people seeing wolves here too. That will be another issue very shortly I’m sure.

  47. Craig:

    You’re missing one of the major points. Indiscriminate killing of cougars (as well as other social predators like wolves) will INCREASE the conflicts with humans. It will INCREASE the potential for a human/cougar interaction and/or livestock/cougar interaction, creating the opposite outcome than the management agencies suggest is their goal.

    So why are they advocating such control? I think because the ODFG as well as many other wildlife agencies are motivated more by appeasing hunters and ranchers than being advocates for all wildlife and ecological integrity. When managing predators are the subject, most state and federal agencies throw professionalism out of the door.

    The reason indiscriminate hunting creates more conflicts is that when you kill a significant number cougars, you reduce the number of older animals, and skew the population towards younger animals. Younger animals are both inefficient hunters (hence more likely to be tempted to attack a cow or person) and also more bold (like teenagers everywhere).

    Of course this creates a feedback mechanism that leads to demands for even more control–something that agencies are all too happy to do because in the end it does reduce predation on elk and deer–their only real concern. And they can always blame “too many” cougars for any attacks on people or livestock–when in fact they are culpable for the attacks that occur due to their management practices.

    The second issue has to do with predator effects on elk and deer. Cougars, elk and deer have co existed for thousands of years and cougars as well as other predators can never wipe out their prey–at some point they will be spending more effort to find and kill a prey animal than the energy they get back–and as a consequence predator numbers will drop–even go locally extinct.

    If predators are having a significant impact, it usually means there is some problem in habitat that can typically be attributed to human manipulation of the environment. Maybe poor range quality because livestock are overgrazing the land–and leaving less for elk to eat or maybe fire suppression which has reduced the creation of browse after a burn. Maybe hunters are taking too many big bulls and affecting reproduction–and populations are in decline for that reason. Maybe a series of droughts or harsh winters have increased mortality as well as vulnerability to predators that are seeking to balance elk and deer populations with carrying capacity. Whatever it is, we need to ask why are elk and deer suddenly so vulnerable and seek to correct those habitat issues instead of making predators the scapegoat for our collective failures.

    Killing predators like building fish hatcheries to booster fish runs–it masks the real habitat quality problems and gives an illusion that all is well with habitat. Too many hunters and anglers, unfortunately, are willing to be duped by such half way measures instead of demanding that agencies deal with the real problems of habitat quality decline.

  48. George, the Texas experience, compared to other states with regulated hunting, that treats cougars as ‘varmints’ seems to disprove your point.

    By the way, there is nothing indiscriminate about Oregon’s regulated lion hunts. See:

  49. I’d like to say that all of you have spoken fairly genuinely. I live in Canada and I love animals(all of them). I appreciate life in all its forms. We all view the world differently but I view everything as living, the cougar is living. We have to remember we took its territory! Now were deciding what to do with its life! For me that doesn’t make to much sense. I study animal behaviour aswell and the complaints by many people about the persecution of older adults does carry some steam(actually, it makes very good sense). These animals have lived their for years and have no reason to wander out of their home ranges. By killing these animals we are severely distorting nature and the balance in oregens wild. I will say this much, I would love to have cougars where I live, even if i knew I’d have to watch my own back everytime I was outside. You guys are very lucky to have such a beautiful animal where you live, don’t forget that. If your scared of the possiblity of an attack, you can always move. However, the cougar doesn’t quite have that option now does it.

    The guy who spoke of his dad and the fact he had killed those animals in africa. Thanks for your story. Your dad realised what he did was take a life, and he probably felt pretty bad looking back. Once that life is taken, it doesn’t comeback, and you took it when you kill an animal you can clearly live without killing. I love animals, some of you kill animals. I’ve been fair and haven’t said anything bad although I truly have no idea why you guys do what you do. I don’t see any sport in it. Sports is combining intellectual ability with athletic prowess. Taking dogs, a gun, and shooting a stationary target is not only not a sport, its just plain wrong. These animals are in their natural habitat, what gives any of us the right to go kill them when they have simply lived their lives? All I ask of you all is to realise that these animals are living, they are beautiful, they feel pain and a range of emotions(if you’ve even seen a mother with her cubs, this should tell the story in a nutshell), and they have just as much a right to live in their homes as we do to live in ours.

    I truly think the time we humans realize the preciousness of life, we will have solved the greatest mystery(cause as a species we surely don’t seem to realise it right now). We are lucky to be humans, cougars should be lucky to be cougars, tigers should be lucky to be tigers etc etc. Everything that is living should be lucky to be living. Cougars kill cause they have to eat to survive, we kill for…… Why is it that we are lucky to be humans, but animals are not lucky to be animals, are not allowed to enjoy life, get killed in such cruel, inhumane ways? That I will never understand but if we someday(hopefully soon before all these amazing creatures vanish at our hands, we won’t be able to hide behind the curtains then) can live side by side with these amazing creatures and realise that the value of an animal alive is higher then the value of it dead(for material reasons or power trips, I’m not to sure). That is what I hope to see from our race.

  50. I live in Douglas Co. We have had sightings on our mountain by numerous people. In the middle of the day. We’ve contact many departments with nothing being done, no traps, ect… We have children that play from daylight to dark. I’m afraid nothing will be done until a child is severly hurt or killed. Even my doberman pincher went missing out of no where in the middle of the day. We’ve seen full grown cougars and 2 youngsters running around our mountain. Any Suggestions!!!

  51. George Wuerthner


    The majority of cougar attacks are by young animals. If you have animals that do not appear to be a threat to people, you are better off keeping them around because if you remove them, that will open up habitat for a new lion–which could be a young, less experienced animal–the very kind that might attack someone.

    If the animals are actually coming into people’s yards and so forth than you probably need to get it removed. That is too bold. My only advice there is to contact the Oregon Fish and Game or you could call Predator Defense in Eugene. They might have some ideas.

  52. Keeping a diversity of wildlife in our forests requires predator control and management. Nature does not simply balance itself contrary to the belief of many folks. A rising cougar population can completely wipe out herds of deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, etc. Then, they can easily switch food sources to porcupines, hares, mice and other small game animals. I know the wrath they can bring about because I have seen it firsthand on both deer and sheep herds in eastern Oregon. Hunting with hounds has been around for hundreds of years for very good reason. It is the ONLY effective means of controlling burgeoning cougar populations. As cougar populations grow, so does their range, specifically that of young males, who must find their own territories. They wander out of the hills and into neighborhoods. I have had a dog ripped up by a lion who entered my property. Others in the area lost cats, dogs and a horse. In another instance, a lion came into the city and was roaming a playground area when my neices’ were at the school and on recess. When police shot the animal it was full of neighborhood animals. My cousin was stalked by one while hunting in the woods and had to shoot at it to scare it away. I know of another man who was knocked off his horse by a lion near Burns, hit his head on a rock and drowned in the river, as a result of the attack. Yes, there is a concern for public safety, as these animals are the ultimate predator, and there will be increasing conflicts with humans as their population expands and they become more accustomed to the presence of humans. However, wolves will pose a much greater problems as their population continues to expand in Oregon.