Colorado Court Stops Controversial Plans To Slaughter Mountain Lions And Black Bears

by : Cameron Frew on : 05 Apr 2021 14:22
Colorado Court Stops Controversial Plans To Slaughter Mountain Lions And Black BearsPixabay/Keith Williams/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A Colorado court has halted a planned cull of hundreds of mountain lions and black bears.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service previously agreed to fund several years of plans to slaughter black bears and mountain lions in the Piceance Basin and Upper Arkansas River areas, conceived by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in 2016, with hopes it would increase the mule deer population for hunters. It was the subject of intense public controversy.


However, this reasoning was not backed by the US District Court of Colorado, which ruled against the cull as the appropriate risks to both the animals’ populations and the wider environment hadn’t been fully considered.

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Laura Smythe, staff attorney with the Humane Society of the United States said: ‘Persecuting bears and mountain lions in this way is not only incredibly cruel to these highly-sentient, social beings who spend years raising their dependent young, but it is also environmentally destructive.’

She added: ‘These inhumane wildlife killing plans left cubs orphaned, who likely died from starvation, dehydration, predation or exposure. Intensive trophy hunting and killing of mountain lions leads to increased conflicts with humans, pets and livestock. The federal government had no business funding this completely unnecessary state-sponsored slaughter.’


Unfortunately, plans for the Piceance Basin had already concluded prior to the court’s order. However, the cull around the Upper Arkansas River has been brought to a halt five years into operation.

Intended to last nine years, if completed it would see more than 50% of the mountain lion population in the area killed. Culling 234 mountain lions would reportedly cost nearly $4 million, the bulk of which would be funded by taxpayers.

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Conservation biologists are widely opposed to the plans, citing the importance of mountain lions and black bears to their respective ecosystems. For example, black bears have a diverse diet of fruits that results in broad dispersion seeds. Also, scientific evidence has previously shown killing off carnivores doesn’t help ‘boost’ prey populations.


Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians, said: ‘On behalf of the majority of Coloradans who support coexistence with native carnivores, WildEarth Guardians applauds the court for recognising the substantial environmental impact that these killing ‘studies’ impose on native wildlife in the state.’

She added: ‘These studies threatened local ecosystems by the extermination of entire populations of bears and lions in these regions, a fact that the Service completely ignored. We hope this ruling ensures that the Service will carefully consider all funding requests for wildlife ‘studies’ long into the future.’

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, bears, Colorado, Now, US, wildlife


Humane Society of the United States
  1. Humane Society of the United States

    Court halts funding of unwarranted Colorado mountain lion and black bear cull