Two Southern Oregon cougars killed for study

 


February 23, 2007

 


The Associated Press 

Original story website address/URL: http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2007/0223/local/stories/odfwcougarskilled.htm 

To submit a Letter to the Editor: tellus@mailtribune.com


Medford, Oregon - A state wildlife agent trapped and shot two young cougars in Jackson County, the first of two dozen to be killed in that part of the state in a study of whether reducing populations of the animals improves public safety and reduces the loss of livestock.

Nine cougars have already been killed in north-central Oregon as part of the study, state figures show.

In Southern Oregon, the "administrative removal" plan aims to reduce up to 20 percent of cougars in a 963-square-mile area and then determine what effect the lower population has on livestock, big game, and humans and their pets.

Dan Jenkins of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife trapped the cougars on a ranch Tuesday and shot them, said Mark Vargas, a department wildlife biologist.

Vargas said the animals were "sub-adults," one male, one female.

Steve Denney, the department's southwest regional supervisor, said Jenkins will continue working half-time to trap cougars in the study area until all 24 are killed.

A critic said the killing is more a way of trying to allay human fears of cougars than a scientific study.

Sally Mackler, wildlife chair of the Sierra Club chapter of Oregon, said randomly targeting cougars could exacerbate conflicts by helping create short-term spikes in the numbers of young cougars, which statistically are responsible for more livestock and pet losses.

"It just confirms my concerns regarding the plan," Mackler said. "We have embarked on indiscriminate killing of cougars in this state."

Two other areas in Oregon are in the study, part of a cougar management plan adopted in April by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

One is 1,000 square miles in Malheur County, where a maximum of 12 cougars are to be killed, although none have so far, according to department statistics. The other is 1,189 square miles near Heppner in north-central Oregon, where the statistics show that nine out of as many as 30 cougars have been killed.

 

Information from: Medford Mail Tribune, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, Oregon 07501 541-776-4411; Fax: 541-776-4376: http://www.mailtribune.com (article by Mark Freeman mfreeman@mailtribune.com or 541-776-4470)


Copyright 2007, OregonLive.com.

http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-18/1172250581203540.xml&storylist=orlocal 

 

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Cougar plan critic Sally Mackler, wildlife chair of the Sierra Club chapter of Oregon, condemned the actions, saying randomly targeting cougars to be killed ... http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2007/0223/local/stories/odfwcougarskilled.htm 

 

Thinning study leads to first cougar kills - Critic calls effort 'political' attempt to calm fears

 

February 23, 2007

 

By Mark Freeman mfreeman@mailtribune.com or 541-776-4470

 

Medford Mail Tribune

P.O. Box Medford, Oregon 07501

541-776-4411

Fax: 541-776-4376

http://www.mailtribune.com 

To submit a Letter to the Edtior: tellus@mailtribune.com

 

 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has begun killing cougars in Jackson County as part of its study into whether curbing cougar numbers can improve public safety and reduce livestock loss.

An ODFW technician Tuesday killed the first two of the 24 cougars that will be removed here as part of this study, which is outlined in the state's new cougar plan that has been widely criticized by animal-rights activists.

Dan Jenkins, from the ODFW's Roseburg office, trapped the cougars on a Lake Creek area ranch and shot them, said Mark Vargas, the ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist in Central Point.

They were young "sub-adults," a male and a female, which were taken to the department's Roseburg office late Tuesday, Vargas said.

These were the first so-called "administrative removal" of up to 20 percent of cougars in the "Jackson County Target Area," which encompasses 963 square miles around the Bear Creek corridor, the Lake Creek and Applegate areas and the upper Rogue River from Trail down to the Josephine County border.

Steve Denney, the ODFW's Southwest regional supervisor, said the technician will continue working half-time each week looking to trap cougars throughout the target area until all 24 are killed. Denney gave no timetable for it, and the cost won't be known until the technician's work is completed, he said.

Once all 24 animals are killed, the agency will then measure its effectiveness using a series of criteria laid out in its cougar plan, mainly by tracking the numbers of cougars killed other than by sport hunters in the ensuing year and other statistics.

The target area here is to study the impacts that reduced cougar numbers have on livestock damage, big-game loss and human-pet safety conflicts.

"It's part of the plan that we're trying to implement and we're moving forward," Denney said.

Cougar plan critic Sally Mackler, wildlife chair of the Sierra Club chapter of Oregon, condemned the actions, saying randomly targeting cougars to be killed is wrong. She said it could even exacerbate conflicts by helping create short-term spikes in the numbers of young cougars, which statistically are responsible for more livestock and pet losses.

Mackler called it less scientific but more "political" way to address Oregonians' fears of cougars by killing them.

"I'm certainly no fan of this," Mackler said. "It just confirms my concerns regarding the plan. We have embarked on indiscriminate killing of cougars in this state."

Two other areas in Oregon also are part of the overall study, which was a key component of the Cougar Management Plan adopted in April by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The East Beulah Livestock Target Area comprises 1,000 square miles in Malheur County, where a maximum 12 cougars will be killed to help reduce livestock damage. The Heppner Target Area encompasses 1,189 square miles, where up to 30 cougars will be killed to reduce loss of big-game animals, according to ODFW documents.

To date, no cougars have been killed in the East Beulah Target Area for the study, while nine have been killed in the Heppner Target Area, ODFW statistics show.

The cougar plan initially called for the federal Wildlife Services - the so-called "government trappers" hired by counties to hunt cougars causing damage - to kill the cougars for the study.

But the federal National Environmental Policy Act precluded Wildlife Services from taking part in the study until an environmental assessment of the study's impact was complete.

That environmental assessment is not yet complete, but it is expected to go out for public comment some time soon.

State agencies, however, are not bound by the so-called NEPA rules, ODFW administrators chose to begin the project by doing the cougar-killing itself.

 

Copyright 2007, Medford Mail Tribune.

http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2007/0223/local/stories/odfwcougarskilled.htm