State commission approves final mountain lion quotas for Bitterroot Valley

2014-06-12T22:15:00Z 2014-07-23T18:46:27Z State commission approves final mountain lion quotas for Bitterroot ValleyBy TOM KUGLIN Independent Record
June 12, 2014 10:15 pm  • 

HELENA – Mountain lion quotas adopted by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission on Thursday were applauded by several commenters and commissioners, while the decision irked some hunters concerned that the quotas do not do enough to protect elk and deer from the big cats in the Bitterroot Valley.

After a contentious April commission meeting in which houndsmen testified in force that lion populations had fallen and that proposals called for harvesting too many females, the commission on Thursday adopted the recommendations of the Region 2 Montana Lion Work Group calling for an increase in male and decrease in female harvest throughout most of Region 2. The current quotas call for a region-wide harvest of 79 males and 85 females for a total of 164 mountain lions. The new quotas for next year shifted to 96 males and 65 females for a 161 total.

The 12-member working group included outfitters, houndsmen and deer and elk hunters. The resulting quota recommendations, which the commission adopted, resulted from compromising between lion hunters, deer and elk hunters, non-hunters and those living in the wildland-urban interface, said working group member Toby Walrath.

Commissioner Gary Wolfe commended the working group for the successful compromise.

“I think it’s important to note that nobody got exactly what they wanted to have, but this was a proposal all 12 members said they could accept,” he said.

Working group member Rod Bullis estimated the combined efforts of the members and FWP staff required more than 1,300 hours to reach an agreement.

The change in female harvest favored by lion hunters would result in more lions, which would hurt struggling ungulate populations in the Bitterroot, echoed several commenters that made the trip from Ravalli County.

“I applaud the work of the lion working group and I’d like to see that much effort put into elk and deer,” said Hamilton resident Robert Wood of the Montana Sportsmen Alliance. “We’re strong advocates for science-based management, but it seems we’re leaning more and more and more to social concerns and throwing the data and the science away.”

Deer populations in the Bitterroot are the lowest he has ever seen, and while FWP addressed bear and wolf predations, lions also needed attention, Wood said.

Science was the underpinning of the working group recommendations, Wolfe countered.

"Throughout the entire four-day process, science was in the forefront," he said. "Hardly 30 minutes went by without the members asking a question or seeking clarification about the science."

The commission voted unanimously to approve the working group recommended quotas.

The working group also recommended that FWP develop a statewide lion management plan and require a gender ID test for lion hunters, but the commission did not address those recommendations at Thursday's meeting.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Running Bear
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    Running Bear - June 15, 2014 1:05 pm
    oldcowgirl, I successfully hunted deer and elk for 10 years and worked in the forests for 37 years as a forester. Personally I enjoy seeing cougars, bears and other wildlife and I embrace the competition that predators provide. In those 37 years I've seen what damage a overpopulation of deer and elk can do to the landscape. .

    The article discussed the Bitterroot Valley which is one of the fastest growing areas (per capita) of development in Montana.

    I know that "managed" livestock grazing is beneficial to the land and if a particular predator(s) is preying on livestock, it must be killed. I've raised cattle and worked on farms so don't lecture me on where meat comes from. I also know that most ranchers are hard working, responsible individuals and are learning how to live with predators as livestock losses continue to decline in Montana.

    Here is some "science" on predators:

    You will also see that 80% of elk herds in Montana (including all areas where wolves live) are stable and for those that are below expectations, most are very close to meeting expectations.

    Here is a study done on elk herds in the Bitterroot Valley indicating that mountain lions are the main cause of elk calf mortality.

    I used "science" on my job everyday. I've seen what us humans have done to this beautiful country and know its time to change our ways. If you have information that refutes the links I provided, please let me know.
  2. Objective observer
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    Objective observer - June 15, 2014 5:49 am
    A look out to my back yard and garden tell me that deer, in particular, are doing just fine with human encroachment.
  3. oldcowgirl
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    oldcowgirl - June 14, 2014 11:20 pm
    Where did you get your Science degree from? How long have you been hunting ungulates? Ever hunt predators? Loss of Habitat from Human development? Where do you live? Where do you get your Meat and Veggies from? Store maybe? We humans are part of this landscape also and predators will be mananaged by us humans and us humans will hunt for ungulates for our Meat.. NOT Just the Grocery Store...... Plus us Ranchers will eliminate any predator messing with our livestockm its Our bread and butter.....Period.....Please remove yourself from the landscape so your so called predators can roam free. I will NOT Remove Myself because I belong here also.......The only ecosystem restored is in your false little mind.....And hit the "Donate Button" now for "Predator Pimps".......and Lawyers......$$$$......... NOT....!
  4. Running Bear
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    Running Bear - June 14, 2014 8:30 pm
    Science was in the forefront really! Science tells us that habitat is the single greatest factor regarding ungulate populations. The steady and continual loss of habitat due to human development, successional change from forbs/grass to forest habitat, and an increase of invasive species is the primary reason for the decline of deer and elk.

    Science tells us that predators are self regulating (if given the opportunity) as cougars kill other cougars, coyotes and wolves; wolves kill other wolves, cougars and coyotes and so forth.

    Science tells us that wolves tend to (not always) prey on the sick, old, lame and unprotected young, thus allowing the most healthy animals in the herd to reproduce and keeping the populations in balance. Keeping the animals at a more natural carrying capacity results in less severe fluctuations of mortality.

    Science tells us that indiscriminate killing of mountain lions increases livestock predation as older lions that are killed are displaced by younger subadults looking for new territory.

    MFWP can think they can increase deer populations by killing more predators. Only when the broad scale problem of habitat degradation and loss is addressed will healthy ungulate populations return. Science tells us that when top predators can roam the landscape without the threat from humans, ecosystems are restored.
  5. Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria
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    Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria - June 13, 2014 2:34 pm
    So if you don't eat lion that means nobody else does either?
    Did you miss the 3/4 of the article that discussed that the quotas were set based on science, to keep mountain lions and elk from being 'decimated?'. I'm still waiting for you to tell me why you were surprised someone got attacked by a grizzly so 'far south', ya know, toward Yellowstone. You're full of it Walter.
  6. Objective observer
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    Objective observer - June 13, 2014 9:19 am
    Walter, mountain lion hunting has been going on for a long time and apparently you missed the results of the recent study in the southern Bitterroot in which they documented way more lions being present than they expected.
  7. BJackson
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    BJackson - June 13, 2014 8:31 am
    Walter how can you have misgivings about a subject you so obviously know very little about? Lots of hunters eat lion meat, it is not killing just for the sake of killing, you need to learn about things before you make comments.
  8. walter12
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    walter12 - June 13, 2014 7:58 am
    I believe strongly in the right to hunt big game animals in most cases, am an ardent 2nd Amendment supporter, but I have misgivings about hunting big animals that you do not eat, just for sake of killing. Mountain lions do not readily produce and can easily be decimated by hunting.
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