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Great News: Court Halts Colorado Plan to Kill Mountain Lions and Black Bears

Great News: Court Halts Colorado Plan to Kill Mountain Lions and Black Bears

We’re so thrilled to share this terrific news out of Colorado.The U.S. District Court of Colorado has ruled against a Colorado Parks and Wildlife plan to kill hundreds of mountain lions and dozens of black bears over the coming years!

The killings were ostensibly part of a $4 million “experiment” Colorado Parks and Wildlife designed to determine if the predators were responsible for declining mule deer populations. This reason is absurd on the face of it. In nature, predator and prey populations are beautifully calibrated to each other. If predators kill too many prey and the prey population declines, predators will begin to die of starvation and the populations will remain in proportion. 

In fact, as is so often the case with decreasing animal populations, the real cause of the decline is human overpopulation, and the resulting sprawl, as well as  damage to ecosystems by oil and gas leasing. In short, reduction of habitat is to blame, not the mule deer’s native predators. 

And, unsurprisingly, the real motivation behind this mass killing was the desire to artificially increase the mule deer population for the convenience of hunters. 

The plan to kill hundreds of mountain lions and dozens of black bears was maliciously created in Colorado in 2016, but due to intense local opposition it could not be funded locally. Enter the Trump administration. In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) agreed to fund 75% of the killings with taxpayer money. Its plans were rejected in court due to the fact that the USFWS failed to do even a basic review of the impact these killings would have on the animals’ populations and habitats. “Kill first and ask questions later" seems to have been its philosophy. 

The judge was right to be concerned. Conservation biologists, universally opposed to Colorado’s plans, have been vocal that black bears and mountain lions are both keystone species, meaning they are absolutely essential to their native ecosystems. Mountain lion predation provides food for many other scavenger species, and helps keep the mule deer population in check. Black bears’ fruit-based diet results in a broad dispersion of seeds. 

The lawsuit was filed against the Fish and Wildlife by the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, and the Humane Society of the United States. We are  grateful for their work on this crucial issue. Learn more here.

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