A mountain lion lounges in a cottonwood tree on Rooney Road, south of Golden. (Justin Shoemaker via USFWS/CC BY 2.0)
Colorado state representatives introduced a bill last week to ban trophy hunting of certain wildcats.
If passed, Senate Bill 22-31 would prohibit shooting, wounding, killing or trapping a bobcat, Canada lynx or mountain lion. The bill was sponsored by Democratic state Sens. Sonya Jaquez Lewis and Joann Ginal and state Reps. Judy Amabile and Monica Duran.
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Mountain lions, bobcats and lynxes are Colorado’s three native feline species, according to the Colorado Virtual Library website.
The Colorado Farm Bureau, which protects, promotes and enhances agriculture and rural communities, according to its website, opposes the bill.
“It is a rancher’s first priority to care for their livestock and Colorado Farm Bureau opposes any new threat to the wellbeing of those animals such as SB22-031,” says a statement emailed to Newsline and attributed to Austin Vincent, the director of public policy and state affairs for the Colorado Farm Bureau. “Ranchers know firsthand how difficult and complex predator management is as well as protecting livestock from stress and harassment by predators. Limiting wildlife management via unwavering legislation leaves wildlife biologists on the sidelines as they manage healthy wildlife populations. Legislators taking away options to control predator populations only endangers the health of livestock and Colorado’s diverse wildlife ecosystem.”
The Humane Society of the United States supports the bill.
“Even though fur sales are plummeting across the world, trappers still target Colorado’s bobcats for their soft belly fur, which is sold on international markets,” the Humane Society of the United States’ website says. “Canada lynx, who are very similar in appearance to bobcats, could soon lose their protections under the federal Endangered Species Act, putting their small population in Colorado at risk to trophy hunting.”
The bill would allow a person to shoot, wound, kill or trap a bobcat, Canada lynx, or mountain lion in certain circumstances, including if it is immediately necessary to protect the person from bodily harm and if it’s by a peace officer or veterinarian who is acting within the scope of their duties. A person who shoots, wounds or kills one of the animals to prevent bodily harm is not allowed to move the animal and is required to notify the Colorado Parks and Wildlife within 24 hours.
Violators of the Prohibit Hunting Bobcat, Lynx And Mountain Lion bill would face a fine of up to $2,000 or up to one year in jail, an assessment of 20 hunting license suspension points and a civil restitution fee of $700 for a bobcat or mountain lion and $1,000 for a Canada lynx, according to the proposed legislation. If passed, violating the bill would be a misdemeanor.
Selling or buying a mountain lion or soliciting another person to illegally hunt a mountain lion is a class 5 felony.
Felines in Colorado
Colorado Parks and Wildlife established the lynx reintroduction program in the late 1990s, with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining population of lynxes in Colorado, according to a status report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Lynxes were considered endangered animals in Colorado in the 1970s, though theories for why the animal disappeared from the state vary. In 1999, 41 lynxes were released in Colorado. A total of 218 lynxes were reintroduced in the state as a result of the program, which lasted until 2006.
Trophy hunters kill about 500 mountain lions and about 2,000 bobcats a year in Colorado, according to a report from the Humane Society of the United States. Hunters who kill bobcats often use live traps — bobcats are drawn into the trap by bait set by hunters, who then return to kill the animal.
Bobcats and mountain lions in Colorado tend to live in areas with canyons and foothills, whereas lynxes tend to live in subalpine forest areas along mountain streams and avalanche chutes, according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.
Between 3,000 and 7,000 mountain lions are estimated to live in Colorado, according to Breckenridge’s website.
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