Each year, trophy hunters and trappers kill around 2,000 of Colorado’s bobcats, either for fun or to sell their furs overseas, usually in Russian and Chinese markets. The animals are hunted down with radio-collared dogs and shot at point-blank range, or they are trapped in cage traps with no protection from the weather nor food or water. Some die or are seriously injured as they try to escape.
Most Coloradans do not approve of such wanton and inhumane killing of their iconic native wildlife. As far back as 1996, Colorado voters spoke out unequivocally against trapping, by passing Amendment 14, an initiative that restricts traps and poisons on public lands. The number of Colorado residents who oppose cruel methods of killing wildlife has grown even more since and a January 2020 poll showed that two-thirds of Coloradans oppose trapping for fur, fun or cash and want the state’s wildlife agency to abide by Amendment 14. That’s why, earlier this year, we submitted a formal petition to Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife Commission to heed its residents’ wishes and end the carnage of bobcats in the state.
Unfortunately, the state last week decided it would continue to allow the trapping of bobcats by commercial trappers and by trophy hunters.
In addition to bobcats, Colorado will also continue to allow the recreational and commercial trapping on public lands of coyotes and swift foxes, a species that may be at risk of extinction in Colorado and beyond.
A day after this rash decision, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission put another iconic American wild cat, the mountain lion, under siege by voting to remove all trophy hunting quotas for mountain lions for the next two years. This gives trophy hunters the ability to kill an unlimited number of mountain lions over nearly the entire year. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game even admitted that they were allowing the killing in order to preserve elk populations that can then be targeted by hunters instead.
The agency also voted to expand trophy hunting and trapping of wolves, as well as trophy hunting of black bears.
The moves made by Colorado and Idaho smack of inhumane wildlife management. They are also scientifically unsound and highly irresponsible. Many of these animals now under attack have already seen their numbers in the wild dwindle because of habitat loss, trophy hunting and trapping. Mountain lions, for instance, today occupy just 30 percent of their historic range in the United States. Tens of thousands of bobcats are hunted and trapped every year in 39 states.
All native wild animals play essential roles in their ecosystems, and wild cats, especially, help preserve the biodiversity of the ecosystems they inhabit. If Colorado and Idaho want to preserve their wild lands for posterity, they need to ensure they do not allow these carnivores to be wiped out of existence—something their reckless decisions could definitely lead to.
Fortunately, we have seen some states refuse to consider similar attempts to appease trophy hunters and trappers on their soil. A bill in Oklahoma (SB 769) to open up a trophy hunt on mountain lions died before it could even make it to a vote on the Senate floor. This bill was especially concerning as Oklahoma does not even have an established mountain lion population, just young cats from neighboring states who wander through in search of territory to call their own.
In Oregon, we continued to fight multiple bills to once again allow hound hunting of mountain lions, a practice banned by Oregonians in the 1990’s. Our vocal opposition to these bills was heard loud and clear. None of the bills received a hearing and are effectively dead for the year.
In Illinois, we continue to support a bill (HB 1827) to ban the trophy hunting and trapping of bobcats.
We will keep up the pressure on lawmakers and wildlife management officials in Colorado and Idaho to end the unjustified trapping and hunting of native wild cats and other wild animals. Wildlife officials should not be making their decisions based on the blood lust and greed of a handful of trappers and trophy hunters. If you live in Colorado, make your voice heard by signing your name to this petition and telling your state’s wildlife officials you will not stand for this carnage. And if you live in Idaho, look up your state legislators and let them know you oppose the commission’s recent decision to expand trophy hunting of native carnivores and would like to see an end to this cruel practice in your state.