With mountain lion attacks are on the rise in rural Washington, and many residents feel the answer is more hunting.
New legislation signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire allows just that — but a new study finds that hunting actually makes attacks more likely.
The Seattle Times reports that a research team from Washington State University working in the northeastern part of the state, where most of the attacks have taken place, have found that the problem was not that hunters weren’t killing enough lions, but that they were killing the wrong ones.
Hunters looking for an impressive trophy kill older adult males, leaving behind the smaller but more aggressive and unpredictable adolescents.
The younger lions are the ones who get dangerously close to humans, mostly because they don’t know any better.
“You don’t get to be an old cougar by doing stupid stuff like hanging out in backyards and eating cats,” researcher Robert Wielgus told the newspaper.
The study found that mountain lion populations were collapsing in the same areas where attacks were up, and that in another area a boost in hunting merely cleared room for young male lions from surrounding areas to move in.
— Will Crain/Newsdesk.org
“Is cougar hunting breeding chaos?”
Seattle Times, March 16, 2008