AUSTIN Texans’ mountain lion regulation application to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, calling for action to protect mountain lions in Texas, was denied.
However, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will be briefed on the issue on August 25 during their regular meeting at TPWD headquarters in Austin, and will also be briefed on the issue during their annual public hearing on August 24.
On June 28, Texans for Mountain Lions received a letter informing the group of the recommendation by TPWD staff to deny the petition, and the organization received official notice of the denial on August 9. In the letter, TPWD General Counsel informed Texans for Mountain Lions about these employees, recommends the formation of a stakeholder advisory group, and TPWD employees will brief the commission on mountain lions at the upcoming August 25 commission meeting.
“While we are disappointed with the staff’s recommendation that the petition be denied, we are encouraged that the commission will be informed on August 25 and that an official advocacy group will be formed,” said wildlife filmmaker Ben Masters, who is a member of the shared the Texans for Mountain Lions coalition in a press release. “The formation of a stakeholder advisory group was one of the items we called for in our petition and we hope the group will include a variety of views. We also plan to attend the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s annual public hearing on August 24 to ensure our voices are heard, and we invite others interested in this topic to join us.”
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s annual public hearing is held at TPWD’s headquarters at 4200 Smith School Rd. in Austin at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24. Every citizen is invited to contact the Commission on any issue that falls within its remit. Texans for Mountain Lions plans to have several representatives attend the meeting to speak before the commission.
Formed in recent months, Texans for Mountains Lions is a coalition of landowners, biologists and organizations working to improve the conservation status and scientific stewardship of Texas’ largest wild cat.
Mountain lions are not a game species that can be caught and hunted year-round in Texas with no harvest restrictions, hunting season, or the need to report the harvest. As a result, death rates are among the highest in the country. Of 16 U.S. states with breeding mountain lion populations, Texas is the only state with no regulated management of mountain lions.
Mountain lion populations, historically found throughout Texas, have been reduced to the rugged canyons and dense scrub of south and west Texas. Studies have been conducted on both populations, the results of which should pertain to anyone who appreciates Texas’ native wildlife. During an investigation of 16 monitored cats on the protected landscape of Big Bend Ranch State Park, one was shot and all of the remaining 15 were killed in leghold traps while traveling onto private land. Another study in the Davis Mountains recorded an annual mortality rate of almost 50%, almost entirely due to trapping. In South Texas, a study of 22 mountain lions in the 1990s also recorded high mortality from hunting and trapping. In addition, genetic research has shown that the South Texas population has declined and is isolated from the West Texas population. Without intervention, the population of South Texas can become unsustainable.
These current efforts to push for mountain lion regulations have the support of a majority of Texans. In a recent Texas A&M survey of Texan attitudes towards mountain lions, 70% of respondents agreed that efforts should be made to ensure the survival of Texas mountain lions. Similar responses were reported in a survey published in 2002.
Texans for Mountain Lions launched a website in June asking citizens concerned about mountain lions to send letters to state officials urging action. Since then, more than ten thousand emails have been sent to state officials on the subject.
Interested citizens who want to support Texas mountain lion management efforts can visit the Take Action page at TexansforMountainLions.org.
Visit TexansforMountainLions.org for more information and resources.