February 6, 2023

Oregon Cougar Management Talking Points

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I received an e-mail the other day from a concern citizen about the Oregon Cougar Management Plan Draft that has garnered so much heated discussion of late in that state. The email contained a list of talking points that were assembled from a series of meetings, answers to questions asked of biologists, the governor, and other activists groups involved in the debate.

If you have missed out on the discussions you can scroll down to find links to previous posts on this subject. In short, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has come up with a draft proposal on the management of cougars. It also appears that nobody likes the plan, from the hunters on down to the animal rights groups. Several activist groups have gotten involved, even one that has filed or is planning to file a lawsuit to have the bill overturned that banned hunting with dogs back in 1994.

As with many issues this passionate, it is not always easy to get the facts out to the readers, sometimes because the facts are being hidden or overstated. Whatever the case, people need to take a close look at what is real and what is not.

I do not have the resources available to me to verify these talking points as the gospel truth. I can say that from what research I have done, much of the contents of these talking points is rooted in truth. It should be obvious to you when opinions are being stated.

Proposed “Cougar Plan” Points to Ponder

In several months of interaction with the public, both hunters and non-hunters, one thing is clear no one likes this plan!! Long term, your best interests are served if this plan goes away. The buzz words that seem to effect people the most are: “Bounty Hunter”, “Public Money”, “Slaughter”, “Waste”, “Kick them in the Ditch”, “Governor does not care”, HSUS and other animal rights groups are responsible”, “Your Money”, “Your/Our Wildlife”, and “Up to 2000 dead cougars”.

This plan will use up to $600,000 of your (public) money to pay government BOUNTY HUNTERS to kill and waste your wildlife.

This plan will use sportsmen’s license and tag money to pay government BOUNTY HUNTERS to kill and waste your wildlife.

This plan cites an “ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY”… Definition: We (ODFW) can do whatever we want, whenever we feel like it, or not. Without solid and certain results oriented goals (set out beforehand), this will be the practical definition of “adaptive management”.

The ODFW commission has often said “We serve at the pleasure of the Governor”. This should not equate to serving to please the Governor, especially when that service requires actions and policies that are contradictory to the intent , if not the letter of the law.

“It is always possible to make a deal, if you are willing to give enough away.”

Character/Ethics is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. There is always much discussion about ethics, how important it is for hunters to always act in an ethical manner, and to pass those ethics on to the next generation. ODFW maintains “this is a social issue, not a biological one”. Therefore it will be decided on the principles, the ethics of the people involved. We would suggest/assert that if you give up the principles of “wildlife management” for on Big Game species, you lose it for all species. Everyone is watching!

The cougar plan has been promoted as the “only option” available. It is not. In the 12 years since the passage of Ballot Measure #18, no fewer than 30 bills have been introduced in the Legislature to mitigate some or all of the bad policy BM#18 embodies. Anything that has gotten past the original cop-out of “overturning the will of the people” has hit a wall at the Governors office. Therefore, this plan must please the Governor.

When the Governor was asked recently (at the Sportsmen’ s Show, no less). He stated that he supported this Plan. When asked if he supported the use of license and tag fees to pay government agents to kill and waste cougar, he said he did. When asked if hunters did not pay for it, would he support using “general fund money”, he said he would. When asked if Oregon had a “cougar problem”, he stated that it was an “issue” not a “problem”.

Keep in mind, BM#18 passed in 9 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Governor Kulongowski was elected in 8 of those 9 counties. His complete disregard for rural Oregon, and wildlife management, and the small minority of the population that is comprised of hunters should not be a surprise to anyone.

During the entire campaign to defeat BM#18 the total money raised, at the State and National level was maybe $750,000. This Plan proposes that we spend almost that much on a yearly basis, every year. (Assuming it comes in on budget.) Not to achieve management, but to maybe, hopefully, facilitate “conflict resolution”.

We have been promised that next year we are going to revise the “bear plan”. What do you suppose the aggregate total will be?

Sub Sec (2) of ORS 498.164: “Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall prohibit the use of bait or one or more dogs by employees or agents of county, State, or federal agencies while acting in their official capacities”

The instigators of BM#18 wrote this language into the original ballot measure. This is the law that enables the proposed plan… Government agents killing and wasting our wildlife, while denying the citizens the full use and enjoyment of the resource.

The Humane Society of the US, as the largest contributor, along with other animal rights groups, is/are responsible for Ballot Measure #18 and in turn the proposed cougar plan. They should be ashamed!! If this plan is allowed to go forward, we should all be ashamed!!

Obviously Ballot Measure #18 was not about “protecting” bears and cougars.

If this plan is the answer, what was the question? BM#18 and the resulting “plan” are another step in an ongoing effort to undermine the concept of wildlife management for public benefit. Why do they hate us??

At every previous attempt to relieve this problem, the animal rights groups have said: “give BM#18 time to work”. After 12 years, this “plan” is the result. This “plan” must be what they had in mind – ?Do you think this is what the urban voters (that passed BM#18) had in mind?

Even now, most of the animal rights zealots are challenging ODFW’s models for counting cougars, but not the disgusting concept of paying someone to kill cougars, by whatever means. They (HSUS et al) never did care about bears and cougars.

Brooks Fayhey, with the Oregon based Predator Defense Institute is threatening another ballot measure to end all cougar hunting. I don’t know if he intends to include publicly funded slaughter or not? That is what has gotten us to this point already.

On a footnote. Comment cards were collected at the Oregon Sportsman’s Show earlier this year. Those filling them out were asked if they supported the draft Cougar Management Plan. Here are the results of that survey as they were given to me.

1065 total comments collected

2 were in favor of the cougar plan

1024 were not in favor of the cougar plan

21 were opposed at using hounds for hunting

Previous posts about the cougar plan here, here and here.

Tom Remington