The Oregonian’s call to reinstate the hunting of cougars with dogs is entirely out of touch with scientific principles and the evolving ideals of a compassionate electorate.
The editorial board states that Oregon’s cougar population is on the rise, even though cougar biologists resoundingly reject ODFW’s population modeling techniques. Even if the population estimates were accurate, characterizing the population as “booming” is a misnomer. From 2006 to 2014, ODFW estimates that the cougar population only grew at an average annual rate of about one and half percent.
This supposed population increase has not been coupled with an associated increase in conflicts or nuisance complaints. In fact, in 2014, complaints were at a 20 year low. Healthy, stable cougar populations are needed to keep unskilled, conflict-prone subadults in check.
While Oregon has historically had an antagonistic relationship with carnivores, a more enlightened view has captured its citizens in recent years. While the editorial board, again, correctly notes that Measure 18 would have failed without the support of urban voters from Multnomah County, the board fails to note that voters from outside of Multnomah County joined in the majority rejecting a repeal of the hound-hunting ban (1996’s Measure 34).
Hunting cougars with dogs is barbaric. Dogs can kill non-target animals like cougar kittens and cougars can reciprocally injure dogs. It certainly isn’t a practice that is needed to promote strong and thriving rural areas. The Oregonian’s support for this antiquated practice is an anchor on the wrong side of history.