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The Arizona Game and Fish Department says the state’s estimated population of 25-hundred to three-thousand mountain lions is not endangered or scarce. (Corinna Stoeffl/Pixabay)

Report: Trophy Hunters Kill Thousands of Rare Mountain Lions

PHOENIX – Thousands of rare mountain lions have been killed in the past decade by trophy hunters, according to a new report. The Humane Society of the United States lists Arizona among the top five states where the big cats, also known as cougars, have been hunted and killed.

Wendy Keefover, carnivore protection manager with the group, says the majority of mountain lions are killed so they can be mounted for display, or their pelts used for rugs. “Twenty-nine thousand mountain lions killed over the past decade, which is a jaw-dropping number given how rare these cats are on the landscape because they require really big home ranges,” says Keefover.

The plight of big-game animals was publicized last year when “Cecil,” an iconic African lion, was killed in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter, setting off a firestorm of controversy. The Humane Society report says of the total number of mountain lions killed between 2005 and 2014, almost 2,900 were in Arizona, fifth among the states behind Idaho, Montana, Colorado and Utah.

Keefover says trophy hunters or their guides often use packs of radio-collared dogs to corner or tree the cougar, making for an easy kill shot. Her group believes most states that allow big-cat hunts, mostly in the western U.S., do not properly monitor their mountain lion populations.

“The states are doing a really poor job of managing this very iconic, rare species,” says Keefover. “Arizona allows just basically unlimited persecution in some of the game-management units, a year-round season, multiple bag limits and things like that.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Department says the state’s estimated population of 2,500 to 3,000 mountain lions is not endangered or scarce, and that their only known threat is human encroachment.

Big-game hunting is a multi-billion-dollar business worldwide, and many hunters believe that their sport contributes to conserving the species.

Mark Richardson/Judy Steffes, Public News Service

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2 comments

  1. coyotejs1@powerc.net'

    This information in this report is badly skewed and in some cases an out and out lie. Cougars are not “rare” in any way. As stated Arizona is estimated to have a very healthy population of 3,000 cougars and growing…not shrinking. Cougar hunting is very very hard and this report makes it sound like a walk in the park. It is not. A single quality cougar hound will cost as much and $5,000 or more. The radio collars are also thousands of dollars and are not used to catch the cougar but to keep track of the expensive hounds location so it is not left behind or lost in the rough Arizona mountains. The author should tell the truth that she is against all hunting and is only trying to single this one method out and lie about it.

    It has been proven that a big cat needs a range of about 50 square miles to survive. As the cougar population increases that required area shrinks and the competition for food forces the big cats to kill live stock and even move into town. Tucson is well known to have a large cougar population that comes into town often to feed on deer, javelina, and house pets. Joggers have been attacked by cougars in Tucson in the past due to the over population of cougars. It is a well know fact. Look it up.

    The sited group here does not really care about cougars as shown by the lies claiming them to be rare. If they really cared they would not have to lie about it. NO they are against hunting in general and need to stir things up to raise money. The facts of Cecil the Lion are that no rules or laws were broken and the lion was 4 miles outside the park when killed. It was hardly “lured” out as claimed. I know of no game call that reaches 4 miles. Groups like this ruin people and families lives with their lies and care nothing about their fellow citizens. They lie to raise money for their narrow selfish beliefs, their wages, health insurance, and retirement.

  2. heyserphoto@gmail.com'

    Well, I was relieved to find at the end that you talked to your Arizona experts, but disappointed that you left that information at the end, and that their facts didn’t keep you from using the unfounded word “rare” in your headline and lead. I know, attribution is supposed to CYA … but it doesn’t in terms of impact on readers’ understanding of a situation.

    This is the problem with writing stories off of press releases and making minimal effort to verify the information. That HSUS/HSI report is pure propaganda, and you fell for it. In future stories, consider learning about the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The short version of the relevant tenet here is that hunting limits are based on what game species populations can withstand – in other words, hunting is, by law, sustainable. Organizations like HSUS/HSI use loaded terminology to warp public opinion, but if lions were that rare in states where they’re hunted, you would see much more limited hunting, if any at all.

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