September 20, 2020

Divide And Conquer – The Claws Come Out in Oregon's Cougar Debate

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Each day I wake up to another group who is waging war in the battle of the Oregon Draft Cougar Management Plan. One of the dangers I see in what is happening in Oregon is the worse possible entity that could win this battle, the anti-hunting groups, may notch another victory if the rest aren’t careful. There is serious opposition to many aspects of the cougar management plan and it’s coming from several sources.

Predator Defense is one of the major anti-hunting groups involved in this battle and have threatened a law suit against the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for inflating cougar conflict reports as a basis for the management plan. Other groups are the Humane Society of the United States and the Sierra Club.

Generally I give animal rights groups very little attention in these issues because hunters and conservationists know they have one agenda and one agenda only and will say and do most anything to achieve their goals. The Predator Defense is no different. They make no bones about the fact that their main objective is to stop hunting period.

In conclusion, Predator Defense will continue to work towards a total ban on cougar hunting,
and the establishment of a new conservation ethic by the ODFW.

It was comical in a way to read the response submitted to the ODFW by Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense. It is full of so many contradictions. It is professionally written and it reads like they knew what they were talking about.

There is one thing I learned a long time ago. It slips my mind who the author of this little quip was that says, “Statistics prove that statistics can prove anything.” It was George Canning who said, “I can prove anything with statistics except the truth.” We are all guilty to some degree of manipulating statistics to support our claims.

I want to only speak briefly about one aspect of the Predator Defense’s major claim again the ODFW about inflating statistics. PD claims that the ODFW began using all reports that came to them about cougar sightings in Oregon as a report of a human encounter, whether the sighting was substantiated or not. PD feels that the department should sort through such reports and take only those that are completely valid. They even go to great lengths with figures and statistics to show what percentages of sightings are valid and which ones aren’t. It’s quite impressive.

What PD fails to tell us is the ODFW is using the same method of tracking and recording cougar complaints that they have for years. One thing I did learn in science class when I wasn’t getting into trouble, was to establish change in a testing, the methods used have to remain constant. Whether ODFW’s methods are the best ones or not is certainly debatable but what is trying to be determined is if the number of cougar reports have increased because of an increase in cougar population.

If the ODFW is using the same method of testing and are factoring in human population increases, encroachment into cougar habitat and loss of habitat, then I take no issue in their data. On the other hand, unless Mr. Fahy at the PD can show that human nature has changed over the years, his argument is baseless.

So, in dealing with anti-hunting groups, which is what animal rights groups are essentially, we need to realize their one main goal – stop hunters from hunting. PD has said they are considering a new ballot initiative to stop hunting cougars completely.

There’s a new group on the block arguing their case. This is a citizen’s initiative started by Wil Clow of Grants Pass. They are called Oregon Rural Citizens Against Subterfuge (ORCAS). There aim is simple. Take back Oregon. He wants to take Oregon back from the cougar lovers, as he calls them.

ORCAS has been raising money to challenge the ballot measure (BM18) of 1994 that banned hunting cougars with dogs. He says that the measure was unconstitutional and his lawsuit would overturn that ruling. This is based on the fact as he claims, that urban voters passed the measure without means of compensating those left with losses as a result of cougar damages.

Clow isn’t out for monetary damages, only to overturn BM18, cover the cost of legal council and get back to life the way it used to be. He says he doesn’t want this effort to take long and hopes it is resolved by April Fool’s Day.

At the web site of the Oregon Hunters Association, the home page clearly spells out what it’s stance is on the cougar management plan.

The Oregon Hunters Association has serious concerns about what we consider a dangerous precedent in using hunter dollars to hire agents to kill game mammals. However, because an irresponsible ballot initiative crafted by animal rights extremists has stripped Oregon’s wildlife managers of the option of using sportsman hound hunters to manage the state’s cougar populations, we must reluctantly support provisions of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Cougar Plan intended to control cougar populations and provide much-needed and long-awaited relief for our big game herds. We consider this approach a temporary correction and remain committed to changing state law to once again allow Oregon’s wildlife managers the flexibility to use sportsman hound hunters to manage the state’s cougar populations.

I would have to ask why? Why reluctantly submit to the plan? Why not fight it if it’s wrong? This may be the official stance of the Oregon Hunters Association but other groups say that the vast majority of hunters do not favor the plan at all. If the 2,266 comments collected so far by the ODFW concerning the cougar management plan is an indication as to how people feel about the plan, it clearly shows by a margin greater than 2 to 1, who generally do not favor the plan. 328 people stated they did not favor the plan while 156 said they did.

Oregon is not unlike many other states being attacked by the anti-hunting groups. Hunters, fishermen, wildlife enthusiests, and outdoor people have to ban together to protect these activities as being our heritage. This is something that most of us have learn to grow up with and love and we can’t continue to sit idly by and allow small minority groups to take this away.

These groups condemn that we hunt. They criticize fish and game professionals for allowing hunting as part of the management plans. They speak of the inhumane methods hunters use in bagging their game and the list goes on and on. I don’t need to apologize to anyone for my heritage. Whether the antis think hunting is unnecessary or not, I don’t care. It is a part of my life and what I choose to do. Hunters don’t destroy. We are the biggest conservation group in America and I’m proud of what I contribute to that cause.

I think what Oregon needs to do is mount a campaign now to overturn BM18. The bear season is approaching again and we’re all looking down the barrel at the same issues. Be proud that your dollars are going to the ODFW and let them know you want your money spent wisely. Without your license fees, many of them would be without a job. This is nothing to apologize for to anyone.

I agree with many when they say that if you allow these groups to take a little piece of it away, pretty soon there isn’t much left to take apart. Fight it and take it back.

Previous posts on this subject here and here.

Tom Remington

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