Advocates to ban mountain lion hunting in Colorado filed a notice to put on next year’s ballot a measure that would outlaw mountain lion and bobcat hunting in the state.

The ballot proposal, which was filed yesterday, requires backers to gather signatures in order to qualify for next year’s general election. It has been filed under the title “Prohibit Trophy Hunting.” The draft was accepted by the state’s legislative council staff at about noon on Friday. Draft language indicates that the ballot measure will declare that “any trophy hunting of mountain lions, bobcats, or lynx is inhumane, serves no socially acceptable or ecologically beneficial purpose, and fails to further public safety.”

Backers further note in the draft that “trophy hunting is practiced primarily for the display of an animal’s head, fur, or other body parts, rather than the utilization of the meat.”

Colorado’s big-game regulations require mountain lion hunters to utilize meat from harvested lions. Regulations further allow for the use of hounds to both pursue lions.

The proposed ballot initiative would ban hound hunting for lions and bobcats. The draft language states that lion hunting is “almost always conducted by unsporting means, including, but not limited to, using packs of dogs with electronic devices to pursue and entrap affected animals in places from which they cannot escape in order to achieve the kill.”

In the 2023-24 season, Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife division authorized about 500 lion tags for seasons that run from the end of November through the end of March and again for the month of April in some hunting units. The state estimates the lion population of Colorado between 3,000 and 7,000 animals.

The notice to run a ballot initiative to ban mountain lion hunting has been widely anticipated in Colorado, and follows the appointments this summer of three “animal welfare” advocates to the state’s Wildlife and Parks Commission. Sportsmen’s groups expect another ballot initiative to ban all furbearer trapping in the state.

“I think what we’re seeing is the proverbial death by a thousand cuts,” said one Colorado hunting advocate who asked to speak off the record. “Mountain lion hunting is an easy target. There aren’t that many lion hunters, relatively speaking, and it’s easy to dismiss the activity as somehow out of the mainstream. But it’s an activity that’s heavily regulated. Quotas are conservatively managed, and we have a long history of successfully managing the species. I think opponents have to explain how a ban might affect depredating lions, especially in human communities.”

Once the Colorado Secretary of State approves the petition form, petitions may be circulated throughout the state to obtain the required number of signatures, which in 2024 is 124,238 qualified signatures.
You can read the entire text of the mountain lion hunting ban here.

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