The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved an update to its Cougar Management Plan. The updated plan includes some good things, such as allowing cougar populations to grow above an old target level of 3,000 and an emphasis on education and non-lethal methods to resolve conflicts. However, we think the plan still overemphasizes killing cougars as a way to resolve conflict, in part by allowing designation of so-called "target zones" of perceived excessive conflict in which cougars could be killed by government agencies using snares and packs of dogs, which voters outlawed for sport hunting in 1994. (The dogs chase the cougar up a tree and the "hunter" shoots it at point-blank range.)
This is an important issue for us us because of frequent pressure to kill cougars with inhumane methods - such as snares and hunting with dogs - in response to perceived risks to people, pets and farm animals. Our position, which we expressed in comments and testimony to the commission, is that cougars should be killed to resolve conflict only after exhausting non-lethal efforts, and only if there is a clear risk to people, pets or farm animals. (Recognizing that sport hunting of cougars will continue to occur.) If killing cougars is nevertheless necessary, it should be done humanely, without use of wire snares or hunting with packs of dogs.
Oregon adopted its first cougar management plan in 1987 and updated the plan in 1993 and 2006. The plan is supposed to be considered for update every five years. We will continue to express our views on this important topic and encourage you to do the same.