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CA mountain lions

Discussion in 'Land Use' started by Bubba Ray Boudreaux, Dec 24, 2002.

  1. Bubba Ray Boudreaux

    Bubba Ray Boudreaux 1 ton status

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    Mountain lion attacks raise questions about protection

    By JOEL HOOD
    December 23, 2002

    They are the ghosts of California's wilderness. Mountain lions seemingly
    come and go without
    recognition, moving silently through the brush in search of food. Most
    casual hunters and day
    hikers can go years between mountain lion sightings, and even then it
    may only be for a brief
    moment.

    But as humans encroach on the mountain lion's habitat, the threat of
    confrontation increases.

    Two Turlock, Calif., residents found that out in November while hunting
    in the Diablo Range
    foothills of southwestern Stanislaus County.

    Russell Souza, 35, sustained a claw wound on his left elbow and
    scratches on his chest and
    shoulder before freeing himself from the lion. Souza then shot and
    killed the enraged animal
    before turning it over to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) officials
    for examination.

    Because Souza was acting in self-defense, the DFG did not charge him
    with poaching. But it's
    illegal to kill a mountain lion in almost every other circumstance in
    California, a law that makes
    some uneasy and others frustrated.

    Attacks on humans still might be rare, but DFG research suggests they
    are on the rise,
    prompting some to question whether California should continue its
    blanket protection of the
    state's top predator.

    "Like any resource, you have to manage them," says Craig Hueter, a
    Modesto, Calif., hunting
    outfitter. "The way it's going is a bad deal. And it's only going to get
    worse unless something is
    done about it."

    There always has been a romanticism associated with the mountain lion,
    due in no small part to
    its stealth behavior.

    But they haven't always been protected. The cats were hunted for bounty
    in California between
    1900 and 1969, when records indicate fewer than 3,000 lived in the wild.

    A statewide moratorium was imposed in 1972 to increase their numbers. It
    worked, and by
    1988 between 4,000 and 6,000 mountain lions roamed California's
    foothills.

    In 1990, California voters took it a step further and passed Proposition
    117, a law that
    designated the mountain lion a "specially protected mammal," the only
    species in the state to
    receive that label.

    Lynn Sadler, executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, an
    off-shoot of the
    organization that drafted Prop. 117, said the initiative was designed to
    protect the mountain
    lion's status as the top predator in the wild.

    "It's the keystone of the ecosystem," Sadler said. "Mountain lions do a
    good job of regulating
    their own population levels. But because (the DFG) has never really
    known what the levels are,
    combined with the fact that 100 percent of mountain lion hunting was for
    sport, there was a
    belief among voters that it needed protection."

    But Prop. 117 meant that mountain lions were afforded the same level of
    protection given to
    threatened or endangered species, which it was not. The designation also
    took away the DFG's
    power to manage mountain lions, as it does other animals that outgrow
    their shrinking habitat.

    Previously, the DFG could kill mountain lions to reduce the threat to
    sheep or deer, to keep
    resources plentiful or to limit contact with humans.

    No longer. With the protection of Prop. 117, mountain lions in
    California have been given a
    free pass, Hueter said.

    It would take an act of Congress to give power back to the DFG to
    control them, wildlife
    biologist and Ceres resident Holman King said.

    "The mountain lion can no longer be managed," King said. "All we can do
    is abide by the
    proposition, which is completely reactionary. We cannot take
    preventative measures when it
    comes to mountain lions.

    "It's strictly about politics. It's no longer under the constraints of
    biological law."

    According to the most recent DFG statistics, released in 1995, there
    have been 12 attacks on
    humans in California since 1890. Seven of those have occurred since
    1992, not including
    Souza's frightening incident in November.

    Adult males may be more than eight feet long, from nose to end of tail,
    and weigh between 130
    and 150 pounds. Adult females can be 7 feet long and weigh between 65
    and 90 pounds.

    Dr. Pam Swift, the DFG veterinarian who examined the lion that attacked
    Souza, determined
    the animal was significantly underweight and probably attacked out of
    starvation.

    Swift's findings speak to the larger question of whether mountain lions
    in some regions have
    exhausted their resources and what effect that might have on the
    unfortunate hunter who
    wanders by.

    Chris Patin, the assistant chief of law enforcement in the DFG's San
    Joaquin Valley Region,
    said the DFG is in a tough situation.

    "The frustrating part is that (mountain lion) populations are dynamic,
    they're rapidly changing,"
    Patin said. "The DFG's position is that they would like to have the
    ability to manage (them) at
    the appropriate time. As it is now, if a mountain lion possesses a
    specific threat, we can
    respond. But you have to know the mountain lion is there."

    Most western states, including Montana, Nevada and Colorado, allow
    hunting of mountain
    lions. Their respective fish and game departments regulate the hunts as
    it would deer, waterfowl
    or big game. That is a big reason why those states have been able to
    safely maintain their lion
    populations, said Chris Healy, the public information officer with
    Nevada Division of Wildlife.

    "We estimate there are about 4,000 mountain lions (in Nevada) and that
    number has stayed
    about the same even though we've always been allowed to hunt them,"
    Healy said. "What we
    have discovered is that during the fall when yearlings are born, there
    is a substantial increase in
    lions in that area. What happens then is that they will take each other
    on.

    "If not for the harvest program we have, there is no question they would
    be more aggressive
    and more dangerous."

    Hueter said it's time to do what's best for hunters and mountain lions.

    "The problem is that in California their habitat is slowly
    disappearing," Hueter said. "The
    number of lions is going up while their acres are going down. Something
    has to be done to
    protect them and us. So many of those who voted (for Prop. 117) live in
    the city and never see
    mountains lions.

    "They don't understand the threat."

    E-mail Joel Hood at jhood(at)modbee.com.
     
  2. chevyfumes

    chevyfumes Court jester

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    Watch for the muzzleflash!
    This would be why I spend the extra 5 bucks for the tag when I hunt, after being charged by a bear... Oh hell yeah..... /forums/images/graemlins/deal.gif
     
  3. Bubba Ray Boudreaux

    Bubba Ray Boudreaux 1 ton status

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    A mountain lion would be one of the wilderness' residents I wouldn't want to go rounds with. /forums/images/graemlins/deal.gif
     
  4. Sandman

    Sandman 3/4 ton status Author

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    Or a moose. Those things come into town now and then and those things are huge!
     
  5. chevyfumes

    chevyfumes Court jester

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    Watch for the muzzleflash!
    Can you hunt moose in Idaho....MMMM moose burger....Never had it but I heard it's the stuff....
     
  6. Bubba Ray Boudreaux

    Bubba Ray Boudreaux 1 ton status

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    I had some moose from Alaska once, it was pretty tasty.

    And I have had some CA moose, and boy she was a freak in bed. /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif
     
  7. chevyfumes

    chevyfumes Court jester

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    Watch for the muzzleflash!
    </font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
    And I have had some CA moose

    [/ QUOTE ]
    I hear they taste like clams... /forums/images/graemlins/eek.gif /forums/images/graemlins/eek.gif /forums/images/graemlins/eek.gif
     
  8. Sandman

    Sandman 3/4 ton status Author

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    Yes you can. You have to put your name in and every year there is a drawing and you hope you get it. I've never put in as I wouldnt know what the hell to do with it. You also only see them when you dont expect them. I had one standing in front of me on a four wheeler trail last summer once and it didnt look happy. Had my 2 year old with me also. I ended up riding out another way. /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif
     

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