May 25,2007 00:00
SALEM, Ore. -- In testimony submitted to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee today, Big Wildlife, an international wildlife protection organization headquartered in Williams, Oregon, urged lawmakers to oppose legislation that would reinstate the cruel practice of using hounds to pursue cougars.
The Senate committee is expected to consider a bill passed by the House that would overturn a 1994 voter-approved ban on hounding of the big cats. The proposal could move to the full Senate for a vote shortly thereafter. The legislation would permit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to deputize trophy hunters as government agents and allow them to use hounds to chase cougars. Big Wildlife also called on Governor Kulongoski to reject the legislation should it reach his desk.
Since the ban was enacted, the Department has systematically eroded safeguards for cougars. For example, the agency has reduced cougar tag fees to a paltry $11.50, extended the cougar hunting season to ten months and in some areas year-round, and allowed hunters to kill two cougars per year. Earlier this year, the ODFW launched its Cougar Management Plan that employs aggressive lethal controls of cougars throughout the state. As a result, more cougars are being killed in Oregon than ever before.