PROMO Animal - Mountain Lion - USFWS - public domain

Supporters of Colorado mountain lion hunting ban submit petition signatures

USFWS - public domain
Sara Wilson

(Colorado Newsline) Organizers of a proposed ballot initiative to ban large cat hunting in Colorado said they delivered over 180,000 signatures to the secretary of state Wednesday, getting them one step closer to posing the question to voters in November.

“Today we submit signatures to give Colorado voters an opportunity to stop the inhumane, unsporting killing of mountain lions and bobcats for their heads and their beautiful coats,” Samantha Miller, campaign manager for Cats Aren’t Trophies, said in a statement.

To qualify for the ballot, initiative supporters must gather 124,238 valid signatures of registered voters across the state. Cats Aren’t Trophies, which is endorsing Initiative 91, had until July 5 to submit those signatures.

PROMO Animal - Mountain Lion Tank - USFWS - public domain

USFWS - public domain

The initiative would declare that trophy hunting — meaning it is not a defensive act — is inhumane. It would outlaw hunting of mountain lions, and hunting and trapping of bobcats and lynx. That type of hunting would be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor and punishable by a five-year wildlife license suspension. Multiple offenses would result in a lifetime license revocation.

It would still allow the killing of mountain lions and bobcats if they are deemed a threat to human life, livestock and property.

Currently, there is a hunting season for mountain lions that runs from November to May. Hunters killed 502 mountain lions during the 2022-2023 season, according to a report from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

In Colorado, hunters are required to prepare big game, such as lions, for human consumption. It is a felony to take a “trophy” from the animal such as the head or hide and then abandon the carcass.

There are also hunting and trapping seasons for bobcats. Lynx are federally protected and can’t be hunted or trapped, but hunters sometimes mistake them for bobcats.

Initiative backers say that trophy hunters hire professional guides to guarantee a mountain lion kill. The killing of female lions creates orphaned kittens, which typically stay with their mothers for 18 months.

CPW asks hunters to voluntarily reduce killing female lions.

Opponents of the initiative include the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project, a coalition of hunting organizations. That organization contends that harvest limits and hunter reporting and inspection requirements are strong regulations that ensure a healthy mountain lion population.

“The future of Colorado’s wildlife management is at a crossroads. The underpinnings of science-based wildlife management administered by wildlife professionals may be on the ballot this November, and the stakes couldn’t be higher,” Gaspar Perricone, chair of CWCP, said in a June statement.

A 2022 bill to ban mountain lion hunting died in its first legislative hearing.

The secretary of state’s office has 30 days to review signatures. There are two citizen-led initiatives that already have a place on November’s ballot. One would recognize the right to abortion in the state Constitution and another would set a 4 percent cap on yearly growth in statewide property tax revenue collection.

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