Handirifle, I’m just so used to being on the defense automatically when predator hunting is brought up. I forgot how great of a group of people we have here.
I contacted a friend of mine who has just completed a cougar study in northern CA over the past 4 years. He brought up a few interesting points.
First, his take on depredations is that the problem cat is an individual with a specialization of some kind of prey (like previously mentioned with the bighorn sheep), and if you remove that cat you remove the problem. However, most of the recent attacks on people in CA have been juvenile cougars, and he couldn’t explain that. He did mention that over the past few years there have been 7 cats killed for depredation on one family’s ranch near Santa Cruz. This family has done nothing to help deter the cats (like putting their goats in an enclosure at night) and would like it if Wildlife Services just killed all the cougars. Which brings us to the next point.
If cougars are opened for hunting, then they will (should be) managed as all game species are. Simply put, the principles behind this are to keep the population below the carrying capacity of the land, so that there is an abundance of food and thus lots of offspring. In his words, “But if it was actually “managed” with maximum sustainable yield or something the population would actually increase. That is why there are more lions in Idaho or Washington than in CA.”
So the question I would ask you guys is, do you want a cougar hunting season specifically to reduce the number of cats? Or do you want them to be managed, by hunting, with a healthy population for the long term? And how do you think hunting will solve the problem of depredations or attacks?