Cecil’s cousins under attack here in the U.S.

By on April 24, 2017 with 39 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Imagine the terror. Without warning, a lion hears chaotic barking from a pack of dogs. The barking gets louder as the dogs close in on her. She runs in the opposite direction. The barking continues. Winded, she uses her extraordinary muscles and claws to climb a tree as nimbly and effortlessly as a squirrel, and rests on a tree limb 50 feet off the ground.

The dogs follow the scent, tracking her to her location, looking up to the canopy, and baying at the tree. She’s nervous, but seemingly safe, with the dogs unable to scale the tree.

Yet, little does she know that humans are following her too, tracking the hounds’ location with a directional antenna that is synced with radio collars around the dogs’ necks.

The hunter arrives, led there by a guide with tracking equipment. The guide gives the go-ahead. The hunter takes aim with his rifle, and the crack of the shot can be heard for miles around. The lion holds on even though a bullet has pierced her side. Her pursuer assumes a shooting stance for a second time, and this time his shot knocks her out of the tree. She falls 50 feet with a thud, and the dogs pounce on her, squeezing out any little life that remains.

It’s an American trophy hunt. And it happens with unnerving regularity in a majority of Western states and even some Midwestern states.

According to an HSUS report released today, American trophy hunters over the last three decades have shot and killed more than 78,000 mountain lions.

The report, created with support from the Summerlee Foundation, provides an extensive review of the status of mountain lions in America, including their natural history, current plans for state management, population size, and the major threats these animals face, like poisoning, disease, vehicle collisions, and starvation. The overwhelming threat to the survival of these animals, however, comes from trophy hunting and habitat loss.

Hunting groups like Safari Club International have, in recent years, promoted the killing of mountain lions for trophies, by offering awards, certificates, and killing contests to reward and encourage trophy hunters. SCI’s award categories like the “North American 29,” “Cats of the World” and “Trophy Animals of North America” include mountain lions.

The HSUS report finds that trophy hunters often flout laws, regulations, and quotas in states that permit hunting them. The methods used to kill are among the cruelest: most mountain lions are killed either with the aid of hounds or by trapping with cruel steel-jawed leghold traps and wire neck or leg snares. Of the 14 states that allow the trophy hunting of mountain lions, 12 permit “hounding,” which involves chasing the animal by packs of trailing dogs, enabling the trophy hunter to shoot the cat at close range.

Research shows that the magnitude of the killing is unsustainable. Three long-term studies of trophy hunting of mountain lions in the West and Midwest have recommended a hunting quota between eight and 14 percent, but in most states the quotas far exceed those numbers. For instance, Colorado, ignoring its own long-term study of the effects of trophy hunting on a mountain lion population, permits trophy hunters to kill up to 28 percent of the population in some management units. In 2015, Utah approved a management plan permitting 20 to 30 percent offtake of its estimated entire statewide lion population despite biologists’ suggestion to use a more “conservative” approach, and in 2016 it actually proposed to increase offtake further. In 2015, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks suggested that over 32 percent of its mountain lion population could be hunted.

There is also no reliable data detailing the size and trends of mountain lion populations within the states where mountain lions reside. Understanding the size of a state’s mountain lion population is essential for wildlife managers to properly conserve the species and prevent mountain lions from being overhunted and exploited. On the other hand, unreliable data can lead to wildlife agencies permitting the over-hunting of mountain lions, by setting annual hunting quotas that are too high to conserve the species.

The report advances key strategies for addressing the challenges faced by mountain lions, including protected species designation for the lions, state wildlife agency reforms, and improved habitat protection. The HSUS has worked to outlaw any trophy hunting of lions in California, and banned hounding in Oregon and Washington. We have also initiated a litigation campaign challenging New Mexico’s decision to open the state – including public lands – to recreational mountain-lion trapping using steel-jawed leghold traps and snares.

Mountain lions pose a minimal risk to humans and, in fact, coexist well with human communities. Recent research indicates that the majority of Americans hold positive attitudes toward mountain lions, and a variety of studies suggest that Americans oppose the trophy hunting of America’s big cats.

Killing mountain lions benefits no one except a handful of trophy hunters eager to display animal body parts in their living rooms. Nobody eats the cats, so it’s trophy hunting in its purest form.

We were all rightly outraged about the killing of Cecil in 2015 by an American trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. We should be just as outraged about American trophy hunters doing the same thing here, mainly on our public lands in the United States.

Click here to read the full report State of the Mountain Lion: A Call to End Trophy Hunting of America’s Lion.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Solveig Fägerstam says:

    Hunt for fun? Despicable!

  2. Diana says:

    Thank you for bringing this information to a wider audience. I support groups such as the MLF that specifically work to protect this iconic animal.
    I have always wondered why Americans are quick to rail against the slaughter of the world’s “big cats” while ignoring the plight of our own lions.

    • LorRaine Partusch says:


      I refer to them as hypocrites.

      Thank YOU for supporting our only indigenous big cat, the majestic Mountain lion!

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    Safari Club International and all other groups and individuals responsible for the killing of 78,000 mountain lions over the course of 3 decades have a stain on their collective heart and soul. How can anyone regard the killing of the beautiful creatures a sport. What kind of mess have we got ourselves in? What kind of demented society do we have that this is allowed? I think anyone who shoots a mountain lion is cruel and doesn’t care about life. Killing contests. Wrap your head around that image. Thank God for HSUS and the others fighting this inexcusable and cruel killing. A final word to the “hunters”: Grow up, boys. Go for a hike and leave the gun home.

    • David says:

      Dream on sweet checks. Humt them. And the lie that nobody eats them is completely wrong. I myself have eaten a Mountain Lion. They taste great. And as for the dogs, having been a houndsman for most of my life. You just simply would have to try it to understand it.

      • Darwinlhemmingson says:

        I think in our country we all have an opinion as well as a……,! Those who haven’t hunted don’t have the final say about this issue. And they certainly don’t know what I think or feel. I’ve hunted most anything that one can eat in this state of Oregon,including cougars,and they are great eating. Respectable hunters eat what they kill. Where as those who criticize hunters are either hypocrites,or bad hunters.see vegetarians. I don’t tell you what to eat so don’t tread on me.

      • LorRaine Partusch says:

        The atrocity of Americans consuming the flesh of the Mountain lion is no different than the Chinese consuming the flesh of the tiger.
        Repulsive and SHAME…on both ethnicity’s.
        Your dogs were not meant to hunt big cats, they don’t go for the throat, killing in a manner in which was designed by the big cats, rather they repeatedly bite, ripping the flesh out of the cats resulting in a prolonged horrific death. Hound hunting IS barbaric and must STOP!

        • Hunter Robertson says:

          Actually, there is a large difference between the eating of the tiger (an illegally killed and endangered animal) and the eating of a mountain lion, a legally hunted and humanely killed (more on that later) animal which needs conservation by hunting to prevent overpopulation and die offs. By the way, mountain lion is very similar to pork, and DOES make quite the meal.
          Now, our dogs actually ARE meant to hunt cats, and, contrary to popular to popular belief, are not forced to hunt. Hunting, especially for bobcats and lions, is our dogs’ favorite thing to do. You should see them come alive the moment they hear the phrase “Load up!”, the pure happiness when they catch a whiff of lion scent, and the dogged (no pun intended) determination to keep the cat up the tree when they finally find it. As for the argument of the “terror of the cat”, the large majority of cats caught are not, in fact even bothered past an inconvenience — many even are asleep in the tree by the time the we get there. Not, lets not forget that the lion or bobcat, raccoon or bear, — everything we hunt with hounds — are in a tree. Let us also remember that dogs don’t climb particularly well (although our dogs have a habit of trying), and that when we DO choose to take an animal, it is done with a carefully placed shot to minimize the pain of the animal and to ensure it is instantly killed. As hunters, it is our duty to ensure that we can successfully take an animal quickly and painlessly. It is bad hunting practice and a shame when an animal is wounded, dies slowly due to a badly placed shot, or worst of all, is never recovered by the hunter. The cat is dead by the time it hits the ground. The hounds do not “rip the flesh out of the cats” while they are living, nor do they when it is dead. Now, while lion hunting is primarily considered a trophy hunt, the meat is almost never wasted. I mentioned that we choose to take an animal, and this is true. I have never shot a female mountain lion, nor has anyone who I or my family (and our dogs) helped. We also do not shoot young cats, including those still in their prime. Please stop spreading misinformation about hunting. I personally invite you to come out to my small town in Arizona, to see the ranches, the cattle, the ranchers, the cowboys and the wildlife, to go on a pursuit with my hounds, to see the mountain lion in real life and to see us let it go.

          • Jake says:

            Well said..

          • LorRaine Partusch says:

            Hunter Robinson, don’t flatter yourself by giving me the “publics” excuse for your savagery. This is a cat used for your non-stop training of your ..dogs. Savage Outfitters, such as yourself chase the cat relentlessly, from sunrise to deep into the night. You do this to him for years, until you decide he is too beaten up and maimed for the dogs, then you kill him. I HAVE THE VIDEO. https://www.facebook.com/AmursOfTheRussianFarEast/photos/a.1881643355391341.1073741918.1382798001942548/1914557788766564/?type=3&theater
            Savage Outfitters, such as yourself do not “take” an animal quickly and painlessly, rather shoot the cat in each leg until it falls out of the tree, and then it’s the hounds treat to rip it up..while still ALIVE. I HAVE THE VIDEO. It is pure blood-sport. Your lies fall on deaf ears, I know better, I know the truth and I cab prove it.

        • Mike says:

          Aww, but LorRaine, I’m guessing you completely agree that it is okay for the dogs much bigger cousin which was transplanted from the Yukon to Yellowstone to decimate the deer moose and elk populations with the exact type of killing method as the dogs. Where your wrong however is that the hunters kill the cats quickly and humanely where as a wolf kill is much more gruesome and slow. I’ve seen pictures, many of them of wolves eating the fetus out of pregnant cow elk and doe deer and leaving the mom’s to slowly bleed to death or die of peritonitis, a horrible way to go. Look it up if you don’t know what that is.

    • Darwinlhemmingson says:

      I hunt and eat what I kill. Cats are very good eating. The way you describe how the lion feels while being chased makes me think you aren’t aware or just don’t care about the animals that the cougar feeds on each week, at least until the supply runs out,then they come after domestic animals ,even dogs and cats. How does the fawn feel while the cat rips its throat out and crushes the windpipe,until the prey sucombs the the cat. Then how does the mother feel watching the death and consumption of its own baby. There has been a hundred fold increase in the cats population here in Oregon since the anti’s fooled the voters into outlawing the use of dogs to hunt with. The same is true for the bear population. One never heard of people being attached by cats before since the population was controlled by hunters, willing to pay for the chance to bag one of these magnificent creatures. Now the taxpayers pay to have state and federal trappers go in and trap them. Don’t forget the cost to the economy by this shift.Hunting guides ,put out of work,the dog breaders and trainers livelihood taken away. As far as your comment about leaving the gun home ,I’d like to watch you fight off a pretty kitty while it takes you down. You obviously don’t have a clue as to what you speak .the population of the wildlife has to be managed not just left to there own devices.

      • Marion says:

        Don’t try to make it sound like the cougar is other animals biggest problem…..hunters, bow and gun hunters, leave literally millions of animals wounded every year. The ‘crippling rate’ in waterfowl hunting alone is said to be 20-25% by Field and Stream. Also the trapping. Humans don’t have to hunt to survive; cougars do.

        • J.C. says:

          No, Marion, some of us choose to utilize methods passed down by past generations and will continue to pass down to future generations to kill and eat meat that isn’t industrially processed. Just as you most likely drive an automobile instead of riding a horse to get you to and fro.

          Many animals are hit and injured/killed by automobiles each year as well, but we certainly won’t see you curbing your vehicle for the sake of them will we. Maybe you could take up riding a horse and save more animals from being killed each year by an automobile.

    • LorRaine Partusch says:



      Thank YOU for supporting our only indigenous big cat, the majestic Mountain lion!

  4. Lisa says:

    Stop killing!

  5. Jack olds says:

    Mountain lions are great to eat ,delicious. Don’t think people only trophy hunt these animals. I shot one this year just ten minutes from my house. Just a week ago I read an article about a lion that went into somebody’s house and got a puppy out of one of their rooms. Now I agree they are beautiful creatures and I do love to see them but that does not mean they are not a threat to people they are killing machines that’s all they do is kill eat and poop. I’d much rather have one in a frying pan than on my back

    • LorRaine Partusch says:

      Jack olds,
      Do you obtain a valid hunting license and did you legally tag that Mountain lion that you shot this year, ten minutes from your house? I will inquire with your states Fish and Wildlife Department referencing your comment.
      Also,it was not officially confirmed that a Mountain lion took the dog.
      Additionally, with the atrocity of Americans consuming the flesh of the Mountain lion, is no different than the atrocity of the Chinese consuming the flesh of the tiger. SHAME….on both ethnicity’s.

  6. Chai says:

    When did we become a nation that thinks the only way to achieve anything is through lies, misinformation, playing on emotions and fear mongering?
    Please seek the facts above all else. Some things need emotions removed in order to make the best decision.

  7. David Englen says:

    How about the 52 Bambi ‘ s that these lions kill each year? How about the rancher who loses calves each year to lions. These animals are dangerous and need to be held in check.

    • LorRaine Partusch says:

      David Englen,
      The 52 deer, (you referenced as Bambi’s) are prey food needed for these majestic cats to survive.
      In reference to your comment regarding ranchers loss to livestock. The time is long overdue for ranchers/farmers to be held accountable and to protect their livestock, this is easily done by securing them in fenced enclosures and/or barns.
      Another resolution that is very successful in other countries, is for the United States Government along with the National Fish & Wildlife Service to compensate the rancher/farmer to any loss of livestock that is proven to be the loss due to the Mountain lion.

      • J.C. says:

        LorRaine…Have you ever heard of “Free Range”? That’s the method many cattle farmers utilize, especially when trying to use an approach to organic cattle farming…Utilize some common sense before attempting to scrutinize responsible cattle farming practices.

        And really…compensate farmers due to livestock loss due to Cougars/Mountain Lions…Do you have any idea of what it takes to raise cattle and the amount of time and energy spent doing so? It’s like telling you that we’ll pay some miniscual amount of money once one of your beloved mountain lions eats one of your own pets. “Another eye roll”…

        • LorRaine Partusch says:

          J.C. that is exactly what I am saying. However, if it were to happen to my dog, I get no compensation. The farmer can and in some states does receive compensation. Aside from that, farmers need to move on…like I would.

  8. LorRaine Partusch says:

    Finally…thank god!

    PLEASE do everything possible to end the horrific nightmare to the North American Mountain lions by trophy hunters and especially Outfitters.

    They target pregnant females, invading dens of mothers and their kittens.

    Existing videos of Outfitters hounds forcing a mother out of her den, upon her death they return and shoot the newborn kittens in the den, it is horrendous and MUST be STOPPED.

    No other big cat in the world facing the atrocities committed to the Mountain lions by Americans.

    Thank YOU so much!

    Is there a petition to sign?

    • Andrew Arbes says:

      link to the video?

    • Adam Bilek says:

      That is not only untrue, it is also 100% illegal!

    • Heather says:

      Lorraine, very few if any lion hunters will hunt and harvest a female. We all know if you kill the females there are not enough left to keep the population up. To low of a population means no hunting of that species. If we enjoy hunting and eating this animal why would we remove the source of more lions?

    • J.C. says:

      Dear God…I’m almost out of “eye rolls” for your comments…Where in the world do you come up with the menagerie of ridiculousness utilized for your “arguments”? Please send us all of the links to the videos you’re talking about.

  9. Randy says:

    Hounds are used to track and collar lions for research all the time. Without some of this tracking information lions would be worse off.

    Same terror, same human with a gun but it’s a dart gun. WHY is this OK???

  10. Diane says:

    Maybe some of you people that live in your highrise apartments should move out here in the country and find out what life is about. Those big Kitty’s come right into our yards and barnyards and kill our cats,dogs,goats,calves,pigs and our fowl. I wish we could dump them in the city with you. Go walk in the park,they like human flesh too.

    • Diana says:

      Keep your cats indoors, your dogs leashed and cougar proof your barnyard fencing (yes you know it can be done)
      It is no different than people who use unsecured garbage bins in bear country and then complain when the animals are drawn to their yards.
      And I don’t live in a city.

  11. Fred Sell says:

    Let’s not forget the fact that hunters are the worlds NUMBER 1 conservationists!!
    We hunters put more money back into species and habitat preservation than anyone else TEN FOLD!
    Also, the claim that lion hunting quotas are too liberal and set at an “unsustainable” number is completely false. The harvest quotas per hunt unit are based upon total population in said unit and has been conducted this way for years. Lion populations are still thriving in ALL states!
    As far as lion meat consumption, many states require that all edible portions of the harvested animal must be taken and used. The claim that lions are hunted only as trophy animals is completely false. Many hunters enjoy lion meat and find it the best wild game meat in the west.
    I wonder why it’s viewed by some as ok to eat meat from a grocery but not to harvest and consume wild game? Is an angus steers life worth less than a mountain lion? Does a steer feel any less fear when faced with death?
    If fact and logic are not applied when making decisions the outcome will certainly be wrong.

  12. Bob says:

    Jeffrey Dahmer ate those that he killed, but it didn’t make him a conservationist, did it?

    Apex predators, as any conservationist would know, did not evolve with hunting pressure on their adult populations. Accordingly, they do not generally need human management. The wolf/moose system of Isle Royale seems to run contrary to the assertions that top-tier carnivores will destroy their prey base. A look at Figure 1 might indicate that that rural residents are not the only people that live with lions. In fact, Los Angeles residents seem to manage. Perhaps, because rural residents believe that knowledge springs from the loins of their fathers, they have an unreasonable fear of the big cats. Were they to read some current science based on decades of peer-reviewed research, they might learn that cats along the Wildland-Urban Interface spend about 17% of their time on the urban side. They would also learn that hunting pressures increase human-cougar interactions. They would learn that comments stating that Oregon has a 100-fold increase in cats are the appeals that rely on emotion, rather than facts. Lyme disease, hoof rot, chronic wasting, and other disease associated with cervids have increased because of a lack of predators. But of course, we can always deny the impacts of our predator mismanagement.

    HSUS has listed its sources, and provided a huge bibliography. One might learn something by reading some of the primary research. I would suppose that each person posting here would like to leave their grandchildren an Earth with clean air, clean water, nutritious food, and a healthy biosphere. I don’t believe we’ll get there looking backwards to compare who paid the most.


  13. Rob says:

    Won’t happen, AZGFD will put a stop to this bill. The population of mountain lion would get out of control and devastate the herd population of large game they rely on to pay their bills.

  14. Anthony says:

    You people need to wake up! How could you possibly think that is how it really is? Yes that’s how you hunt them. No I do not and yes it is okay. Have you ever tried to hunt one without a dog? You can’t, it is absolutely necessary to keep them under control. Other wise all your little biking and hiking trails would not be safe. They have natural predators other them us. Most of you probably live in the foothills where their food (deer and elk) once lived. And now you do. So look at the whole picture, like the herd number and how much they have dropped and how we have had to make room for the wolf’s as well. This is a very inaccurate article about north American lions.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.