August 8, 2006

Killing pumas doesn’t lessen attacks on man

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Sport hunting of mountain lions
in the American West does not reduce the number of attacks by
the animals, also called cougars and pumas, against man and
livestock, said a study released on Tuesday

"Sport hunting is nothing more than the random shooting of
mountain lions for fun, it does not reduce attacks on people or
livestock, as far as we can tell from any of the evidence,"
said Lynn Sadler, president of the Sacramento, California-based
Mountain Lion Foundation which initiated the study.

"What we would like to see is that states manage them
according to science, and not just some, you know, idea that
you can somehow randomly shoot them for fun and cause anybody
or anything to be any safer," she said in an interview.

About a dozen Western U.S. states have thousands of
mountain lions living in the wild, Sadler said. All except
California allow controlled hunting of lions, with some
agencies citing the protection of man and livestock as a reason
for the practice.

The new study by Christopher Papouchis compared the number
of attacks in California with states allowing hunting, and said
it took into account the human population and size of the
mountain lion habitat. It is posted online at

Many Western wildlife management experts say species such
as bears, mountain lions and deer show more caution around
humans if they are hunted and more aggressiveness if they are

"Hunting of lions is one way to regulate lion populations
so you minimize those types of conflicts," said Larry Peterman,
chief of field operations at the Montana Department of Fish,
Wildlife & Parks.

"We get occasional conflicts with livestock; we have very
few conflicts with people," he said. "We certainly think it's
an effective management tool."

But Papouchis' study disagreed. "If sport hunting actually
reduced attacks, then states with sport hunting should have had
relatively fewer attacks than California," Papouchis said in a
statement. "That was not the case."