A group of Montana mountain lion hunters are criticizing the move to increase harvest quotas in the state.
Under the proposed shift, cougar quotas would be increased in a total of 37 hunting districts, including all of Region 7 in southeastern Montana, which would allow for an additional 37 lions to be killed. In hunting districts HD 121 and 122 in northwestern Montana, the quota be decreased by four.
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The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ proposal to change the quotas came on the heels of an estimate of the number of mountain lions in Bitterroot Valley, according to The Missoulian.
The Bitterroot controversy has received scrutiny after hunters claimed the FWP’s final numbers were far too high. Despite lowered elk populations, hunters do not agree with the study that determined mountain lions killed more elk than other predators (bear and wolves) combined.
That led to an increased quota and the allowance of any hunter with a cougar tag to visit Bitterroot in the hopes of shooting a mountain lion. Naturally that brought swathes of hunters to the area, leading to unwanted pressure from the mountain lion hunters who know the area well, and know it to be home to fewer cougars than the FWP thinks.
In fact, one hunter interviewed for The Missoulian piece referred to the numbers as “keyboard cougars and paper pumas.”
The Montana FWP says their study is under peer review and further testing.
This is no new ordeal, and the mountain lion debate in Montana continues on as it has for decades. As mountain lion (and other predator) hunting continues to be used as both a game management tool and an enjoyable hobby for outdoorsmen and women, the regulations revolving around it will require collaboration, trusted testing processes and a seamless legislation procedure.
What do you think about the possibility of hunting for more mountain lions in Montana? Leave your thoughts below.