Wyoming’s Proposed Mountain Lion Trapping Bill Contradicts Science

A mountain lion unlucky enough to be caught in a trap set for a bobcat. Photograph compliments of Nevada Department of Wildlife and Tom Knudson, author of RevealNews article, “America’s trapping boom relies on cruel and grisly tools.”

This January, a bill called HB0012 was introduced in the Wyoming legislature that, if passed, would allow any person with a valid hunting license to kill a mountain lion using a trap or snare. This bill is not based on valid science, and the negative consequences for mountain lions, other wildlife, Wyoming citizens, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are far-reaching. As a Wyoming resident and mountain lion biologist, I’m alarmed to see our legislature considering a bill that threatens the balance of nature on which our state so deeply depends.

Ostensibly, this bill was introduced to provide “additional tools” to reverse recent mule deer population declines, a valuable game species for Wyoming residents. In reality, the connection between mountain lions and mule deer population declines is tenuous at best. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has openly shared that mule deer declines are largely the result of other factors, including habitat loss and disruption to migration corridors. It is also well accepted among wildlife biologists that deer dynamics are driven primarily by weather patterns, and resulting forage availability, not predators. In fact, a recent intensive, long term study from the Idaho Department of Fish & Game emphasized that removing mountain lions and coyotes did not provide any long-term benefit to deer populations. The researchers reported: “In conclusion, benefits of predator removal appear to be marginal and short term in southeastern Idaho and likely will not appreciably change long-term dynamics of mule deer populations in the intermountain west” (Hurley et al. 2011). (Emphasis added).

Like mule deer, mountain lions are also experiencing —> Read More