Big Wildlife Slams Lawmakers for Overturning Voter-Approved Ban on
SALEM, OR – Big Wildlife, an international wildlife
protection organization headquartered in Williams, Oregon, slammed state lawmakers today for
passing legislation that would reinstate the cruel practice of using hounds to
pursue cougars. In May, the Oregon House passed the bill, HB 2971, that would
essentially overturn the 1994 voter-approved ban on hounding of the big cats.
This morning, the state Senate approved the same bill by 19-8 vote. 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. The bill now goes to Governor Ted Kulongoski for his
consideration. Big Wildlife urged the Governor to reject HB 2971. The wildlife
advocacy group had particularly harsh words for Senate Environment and Natural
Resources Committee Chairman, Brad Avakian (D-NE Washington and NW
Multnomah Counties), who rushed the bill through his committee, paving the way
for today’s disappointing Senate vote.
“By pushing this cruel bill through his committee and forcing it
to the Senate floor, Senator Avakian turned his back on the many Oregonians who
voted to end the barbaric practice of chasing cougars with a pack of
radio-collared dogs,” said Brian Vincent, Communications Director for Big
Big Wildlife noted that voters passed the hounding ban not only
because they believe hounding is inhumane but because they support conserving a
diversity of wildlife in Oregon.
The group said the pro-hounding bill was yet another attempt by lawmakers and
the ODFW to accommodate trophy hunters still disgruntled with the ban. 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.
“Now the only thing standing between cougars and a pack of howling
dogs and a shotgun is the Governor. We urge him to kill this bill when it
reaches his desk,” said Vincent.