DENVER (KDVR) — One measure that had some in the livestock industry up in arms is losing support at the Capitol.
A bill that would prohibit hunting big game cats lost three of its four prime sponsors. The measure would prohibit the shooting, trapping and killing of mountain lions, bobcats and lynx. It does make exceptions for killing big cats if they threaten bodily injury to humans and if there is a need to protect livestock if the big cats are on the livestock owner’s property.
With the recent wolf attacks along the Western Slope, many who work with livestock feel this measure would present another danger to cattle living there.
“If your ecosystem is based on hunting and controlling ecosystems, you take that tool away and all of a sudden you upset an ecosystem,” rancher and state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg said. “That means potentially more attacks on wildlife as well, deer and elk and antelope and other wildlife. I find those types of bills frustrating. Even though it allows hunters to protect their livestock, oftentimes it’s too late. They can protect their livestock but it’s after something has been already killed by that bobcat or whatever that animal may be.”
Kenny Rogers, with the Colorado Livestock Association, said he’s heard from ranchers about big cats impacting their herd.
“One rancher said he had to herd, a small sheep herd, but he had to herd them into carrels at night to try to keep them safe. He awoke one morning and saw a mountain lion lying on the top rail of the fence, reach calmly over and grabbed a young lamb, put it in his mouth and ran away with it before he could do anything about it, and that’s what we’re gonna be facing,” Rogers said.
The path for the bill is uncertain now that both house sponsors and one senator are no longer sponsoring the measure. Sen. Joann Ginal removed her name as a prime sponsor on the bill.
“I have long stood up for animal rights at the legislature, and I am committed to following the science and ensuring that we manage Colorado’s wildlife in a way that works for everyone, including the animals themselves,” Ginal said in a statement. “SB22-031 does not have the support from folks on the ground, career wildlife management scientists, and advocacy groups it needs, which is why I am pulling my support from the bill. The bill needs further discussion from all who would be impacted. We need to make sure that Colorado’s wildlife is managed responsibly while following the best possible science.”