Those silly cougars. They sure have a bad sense of timing, at least when it comes to state politics. Before each legislative session, we’re told that there’s a cougar problem in Oregon. Suddenly, a swarm of cougars are prowling our neighborhoods, schoolyards and farms. It’s like clockwork. The same fear-based stories magically appear just before lawmakers return to Salem; legislation is drafted to repeal Measure 18 and turn packs of howling dogs loose once again on our state’s wildlife (Jan. 12, “Oregon Cougar Population Booming”).
Oregonians approved Measure 18 in 1994 to end the cruel and unsporting practice of hounding cougars. Two years later, by an even larger majority, voters re-affirmed Measure 18 by rejecting a measure to repeal it. Measure 18 allows wildlife managers to use hounds to control individual cougars who pose some threat to property or public safety, and that system has worked well in addressing cougar complaints. But some wildlife officials continue to claim there are too many cougars, and advocate a method of hunting that Oregon voters have declared unacceptable.