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Game & Fish Dept wants more cougars killed
Contact the Game Commission and your local newspaper
When managing New Mexico’s wild species, particularly wild cats, it is crucial to apply cautious, conservative methods. Mountain lion populations are very difficult to measure, so biologists can only estimate how many live in our state. When the species is already relatively rare, such as with the cougar, the approach referred to as the "precautionary principle" should guide all management actions.

The increased quotas seem to be based on an arbitrary and unsubstantiated need
to “kill more cougars.”

For this reason, APNM collaborated with New Mexico Game & Fish Dept. (NMDGF) in the past decade to implement cougar management based on “total sustainable mortality,” which involves counting all cougar deaths from hunting, predation, road accidents and other causes. These measures, in conjunction with population estimates, would help protect against uncertainty in population numbers, and the state’s management of cougars would reflect more realistic circumstances that affect their survival and provide a buffer against overhunting. 
Unfortunately, for the last few years, New Mexico Game & Fish and the Game Commission have not been abiding by this essential precautionary approach, and they are continuing on their persecution of these cats in 2012.
This year, NMDGF is attempting to reverse prior progressive management and are returning to the days of reckless exploitation of cougars.
In their recent proposals to the Game Commission, the Dept. has completely stripped the “total sustainability mortality” measurement from the criteria for management zone closures. Hunting—or “harvest limits” in NMDGF’s euphemistic terms—would be the only measure used for cougar management, should these amendments be enacted.
Despite NMDGF’s increases in cougar hunting in 2010, which APNM opposed due to arbitrariness and lack of scientific justification, the increased annual quotas have never been met by hunters, even before the increase. The increased quotas seem to be based on an arbitrary and unsubstantiated need to “kill more cougars”.

Also troubling in the proposed amendments:
  • An increase in “bag limits” (kill limits) from one cougar to two per hunter, which could effectively double cougar mortality in sensitive winter months when cougars are easiest to track, and diminish local populations faster than game wardens can respond.
  • A lift of the ban on lawful trapping of cougars, which would then be possible at the discretion of the Director of NMDGF (a trapper himself).
The New Mexico Game Commission heard these proposed amendments at their April meeting but have not issued a final vote. Please contact the Commissioners and respectfully make the following points:
  • Cougar populations are difficult to determine and only a conservative management is justified.
  • When managing species, it only makes sense to track total mortality.
  • With hunting quotas never attained, and given the fact that cougars regulate their own populations in the wild, there is no justification for increasing the already too high quotas.
  • The majority of New Mexicans (63% in a 2005 poll) is opposed to trapping on public lands and to allow trapping of cougars is unconscionable.
Please also write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper with the above points so that more media attention is devoted to this looming issue for New Mexico’s cougars.
For more information on cougar management in New Mexico and the Cougar Smart New Mexico program that teaches people how to stay safe when living and recreating in New Mexico’s “cougar country,” please contact APNM’s Wildlife Campaign Manager.

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