Lion bill killed, shines a spotlight on rural urban divide
The rural and urban divide was in the spotlight during testimony before the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources on SB22-031, a bill to prohibit mountain lion and bobcat hunting. The sole sponsor of the bill, Sonya Jaquez Lewis, a Boulder Democrat, brought forth no amendments following the conclusion of testimony. She was the single vote in support of the bill. It was delayed indefinitely by reverse roll call.
Committee Chair Sen. Kerry Donovan said she appreciated Jaquez Lewis’ follow through on the bill and ability to have candid conversations about the emotional topic.
“While advancing the concern over the treatment of wildlife, that in the same bill you have to address the consequences of those changes,” Donovan said.
Donovan, who operates a small ranch, said she received over 1,000 emails about the bill, unique because there were a large number of personal emails rather than just form letters.
“There needs to be an acknowledgment that ag right now is feeling a lot of pressure just to stay afloat — not thrive, not make a lot of money, not to be able to afford to send your kids to college — but ag is struggling right now just to stay afloat,” Donovan said. “And we’re not making a lot of decisions in this capitol that are making it easier or supporting ag so I think you’re seeing a response to this bill of what it feels like to be piled on. I think anytime a community of folks feels piled on, that also creates enormous opportunities of how to go forward.”
A number of supporters who testified about the bill referenced a poll that claims 72% of Coloradans oppose the “trophy” hunting of mountain lions. Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, asked about the poll, which was conducted by Remington Research Group.
Remington Research Group’s polls are referenced frequently by the Humane Society of the United States in multiple efforts undergone by the animal activism group. In 2015, HSUS cited a Remington Research Group poll during the group’s opposition to trophy hunting after Cecil the lion was killed by an American hunter; in 2016 to support their opposition of the delisting and hunting of grizzly bears in Wyoming; in 2018 in the group’s opposition of Alaskan bear, wolf and caribou hunting on National Preserve Lands; in 2019 in the group’s opposition to Missouri black bear hunting; again in 2019 in their opposition of elephant hunting in Botswana; in 2021 in the group’s opposition to Wisconsin wolf hunting; in 2021 in the group’s opposition to toxicity testing on dogs in California; and again in 2021 to support the group’s opposition to wolf hunting in Wisconsin, among others.
The poll asks questions including, “Each year, trophy hunters kill more than 400 mountain lions in Colorado, typically by chasing them with packs of hounds. Their primary motivation is not for food but rather to obtain a trophy and pose with the dead animal for a photo and bragging rights. Do you believe that mountain lions should be trophy hunted in Colorado?” Other questions ask voters their opinion on hunting black bears, the “trophy” hunting of bobcats “to obtain a trophy, sell their furs on international markets, and for bragging rights.”
The poll goes on to state that “Colorado wildlife officials claim that trophy hunting mountain lions is necessary to prevent conflicts with people” though “scientific research shows that the random killing of mountain lions” leads to increased conflicts with people.
In closing, Jaquez Lewis said she did not invite Colorado Parks and Wildlife. She said the 132-page 2020 Mountain Lion Plan data is not relevant because it includes only portions of the Western Slope, illustrating the lack of data from CPW.
Sonnenberg, who was referencing the plan, said it does include all of the state, broken into four quadrants.
“It is frustrating that we appear to be ignoring the biologists who spend their entire lives with species, restoring species, managing species, that do that in Parks and Wildlife and yes, it’s frustrating that they’re not here,” Sonnenberg said.
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