The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to maintain the use of “target zones” to kill large numbers of Oregon’s cougars during their October meeting, despite more than 1,000 public comments in opposition.

The Humane Society of the United States has opposed target zone killing since their inception by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2006, as they allow for the cruel and needless killing of hundreds of Oregon’s cougars without justification. Hunters in “target zones” are permitted to use unsporting trophy hunting methods, including with the use of hounds. Oregon voters have twice rejected hounding as cruel and unsporting in statewide ballot initiatives.

ODFW permits the killing of cougars in target zones to reduce population numbers for human and livestock conflict reduction, despite the best available science showing that such actions only increase the potential for conflicts. Moreover, target zone killings came with an extraordinarily high price tag, costing the agency more than half a million dollars between 2006 and 2014. This amounts to an average cost of $1,482, with ranges of $461 to $3,796, per cougar killed.

Scott Beckstead, Oregon senior state director and rural outreach director for the HSUS, issued the following statement in response:

“Once again, Oregon’s wildlife managers and decision-makers have ignored overwhelming public opinion. Target zone killing is an affront to Oregon’s humane values and to two votes against the use of hounds to hunt cougars. Cougar population density is grossly overstated in certain areas, a flaw that could result in unwarranted trophy hunting pressure on our state’s cougars. We call on ODFW to embrace a management approach that focuses on conserving and protecting cougars, expanding public education and awareness efforts to reduce conflicts, and using a conservative, case-by-case approach to address verified threats to public safety or property.”

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