It Could Soon Be Illegal To Hunt Mountain Lions In Colorado — Here's Why
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It Could Soon Be Illegal To Hunt Mountain Lions In Colorado — Here's Why

The battle for hunting in Colorado is reaching a fever peak this year. Anti-hunting groups and hunting organizations are clashing over a potential ban on mountain lions in the state. Anti-hunting groups are trying to petition residents to sign a petition for Initiative #91 before the July 5 deadline. It would put it on the general election ballot in November.

If passed, the proposition would ban hunting and trapping of mountain lions in Colorado. The anti-hunting group Cats Aren't Trophies is pushing for the ban. The organization argues that mountain lion hunting throws off a natural balance in the state. They also see it as unnecessary trophy hunting since the cats aren't used as food.

However, hunting groups are opposing the ban. They are actively trying to discourage residents from signing the petition. If the petition doesn't get enough signatures, then it won't end up on the ballot.

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"The future of Colorado's wildlife management is at a crossroads," says Gaspar Perricone, chair of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project. "The underpinnings of science-based wildlife management administered by wildlife professionals may be on the ballot this November, and the stakes couldn't be higher."

To oppose the ballot petition, the organization launched a "Decline to Sign" campaign. The petition has to garner 124,238 signatures to make the November ballot. Dan Gates, who is with Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management, believes that they're close to that number.

Fight Over Mountain Lion Ban

"I'd call it a coin flip. It's going to be that close, and we won't know the results until after the July 5 deadline," says Gates. "If the proponents collect the number of qualified signatures, then we will look ahead to defeating this initiative in November. But because of what this movement represents — an anti-hunting agenda that is morphing into a nationwide ban on all hunting — it's important to halt the advance before it transcends the borders of Colorado."

Meanwhile, Perricone asks Colorado residents not to make a snap decision by signing the petition. "It's important to realize what this initiative is really seeking," says Perricone. "It's asking for wildlife to be managed not by science but by emotion."

Currently, there's an estimated between 3,800 and 4,400 mountain lions in the state. Every year, hunters kill about 500 mountain lions with the population closely monitored.

"This issue isn't new to Colorado," Perricone says. "It was rejected three times at the [Parks and Wildlife] commission level as a solution in search of a problem. The data didn't support the notion that a prohibition on lion harvest was warranted in light of a booming population. So proponents transitioned to the legislature, and they failed there as well. The initiative process is an avenue of last resort."