What will the future of Colorado mountain lion hunting look like? A new petition filed with the Colorado Supreme Court is asking for a proposed ballot to be blocked that would request voters to approve a “statewide ban on hunting mountain lions, bobcats and Canada lynx.” Opponents say that the measure is “misleading” and multiple mistakes were made by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Title Board prior to getting the measure approved for the November 2024 ballot, according to The Colorado Sun.
However, last week, a second initiative, Initiative 101, was filed that requests a limit (not ban) to hunting mountain lions, bobcats and lynx in an effort to curb trophy hunting. If approved, this limit would require “every carcass – excluding usable meat – to be turned over” to prevent “mounting, displaying or preserving wildcats as ‘souvenirs of their hunts.’”
Initiative 101 does allow a two-week mountain lion and bobcat season at the end of December. Both measures ask for the complete ban of Canada lynx hunting; however, the lynx is not legal to hunt and retains federal protections under the Endangered Species Act.
Initiative 101 “still honors the intent of the original initiative by calling out trophy hunting as a problem,” said Samantha Bruegger, the manager of the Cats Aren’t Trophies campaign. “Both initiatives really get at banning trophy hunting of mountain lions and bobcats.”
This isn’t the first time mountain lion, bobcat and Canada lynx hunting has been in the crosshairs of anti-hunting groups. However, two years ago, a bill to ban this type of hunting didn’t even pass its first committee hearing, according to The Colorado Sun.
Mountain lion hunting has been carefully regulated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) for decades. In fact, in order to obtain a license, hunters must complete a specific mountain lion education course. Every year, CPW adjusts harvest caps to maintain a healthy population with the 2023-24 hunting season cap set at 674 animals. Last year, hunters killed 386 mountain lions, according to The Colorado Sun. Further, each harvest must be reported within 48 hours with an additional five days to bring the carcass into a CPW office for inspection and an official seal that allows the hunter to keep the hide.
“There are 350 certified biologists and scientists who are in their position at Colorado Parks and Wildlife to create science-based wildlife decisions that benefit wildlife, species and the people as well,” said Dan Gates, a hunting policy consultant who serves as executive director for Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management. “Most people agree that they don’t want the pool boy doing brain surgery just because he has an opinion.”
Regardless, the plan, according to Bruegger, is to keep both ballot initiative active to gather enough signatures to put both on the 2024 ballot.
The current mountain lion season runs April 1 to 30, and from December through March.
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