Let’s start with a few facts. I’m from the rural south. I love to hunt, mostly birds, and I eat what I kill. In fact, I don’t duck hunt much because I don’t like the way ducks taste. I shoot skeet or sporting clays every chance I get. I drive a pickup truck. I have a beard, etc. So even though I’d probably disagree with the typical good ol’ boy on a lot of social and political issues, I’ve been mistaken for a good ol’ boy more than a few times. I am not some animal rights extremist. I have crapped all over PETA here and on Twitter for years for being so absurdly extremist that it has completely lost the power to convince.
Oh, and one last fact: the next to last fistfight I got in was after I called some guy a [synonym for kitty] for going to Africa and shooting lions and elephants and whatnot. It was a long time ago after a few beers and one too many great white hunter story. I proved to be a little tougher adversary than some oblivious lion a hundred or so yards away.
So, while I generally identify with the hunter/camper/outdoorsman culture, I draw a very bright line between those animals that are OK to hunt and those that are not. Dove, ducks and deer are one one side of that line. Lions, elephants and bears are on the other. So it really bummed me out today when I saw some dude on a hunting blog I read proudly retelling how some other dudes killed a mountain lion in central Texas. If I saw a mountain lion that wasn’t about to eat me or my family, I would be really excited. Honored, actually. What I wouldn’t be is inclined to shoot it.
I understand the argument that mountain lions adversely affect the deer population. Well, guess what- so do humans, and I imagine there are a lot more humans out there killing deer than there are mountain lions. I love deer meat and eat it all the time, but I certainly wouldn’t kill a mountain lion just to ensure a few more pounds of deer sausage in my refrigerator. And let’s not overlook the fact that the only reason most of these folks want to keep the deer from being killed by a mountain lion is so they can kill them themselves.
I have heard- and rejected- the argument that mountain lions are dangerous. The fact is that mountain lion attacks are rare. Dogs kill far more people annually than mountain lions do in a century.
And I understand, even if I don’t completely believe, the argument that the mountain lion population is growing, with the decline of pesticides and goat and sheep farming. What I also understand is that in Texas mountain lions are not classified as a game animal, which means anyone can kill as many of them as they can find, any time and without limit. That’s messed up. There are only 30,000 mountain lions in the western United States. There are 30 million deer in the United States, with deer population control becoming a major concern in numerous states. So I’m not buying the argument that there aren’t enough deer to feed a few mountain lions.
So unless there is evidence that this mountain lion was an immediate danger to persons or expensive property and could not be trapped and relocated despite diligent attempts to do so, those dudes should have let that cat go.
If you are interested in learning about mountain lions- as opposed to just killing them, here’s an informative article on their population, age distribution and mortality rates.