Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants to Legalize Mountain Lion Hunting in the State
More and more mountain lions are being spotted in the state and one representative wants to open a hunting season on the animal.
State Senator Casey Murdock out of Felt, Oklahoma has proposed Senate Bill 769. The bill proposes a lottery or draw for mountain lion hunting with a limit of five cougars that could be taken. Why would it be a lottery or a draw? No one really knows how many mountain lions are in Oklahoma. However, mountain lion sightings are up in the state.
State wildlife officials have been keeping track of sightings since 2002. In 2020, more sightings for mountain lions happened more than any other year. Still, no one knows if the population of mountain lions in the state actually warrants a hunting season.
The bill did pass last week out of the Senate Agricultural and Wildlife Committee, but it still has a long way to go. "A bill is one way to bring (state wildlife officials) to the table and have a discussion," said Corey Jager, legislative liaison for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.. "We are talking about it internally. Is it something we can and would do? I don't know the answer to that. One purpose of a bill is to get that conversation going and keep it going."
It is currently illegal to actively hunt mountain lions in Oklahoma, but since 2007 it has been legal to shoot the animal if a person feels threatened or is protecting livestock or pets. The law requires the carcass to be examined by a Wildlife Department employee, such as a game warden or biologist, but no Oklahoman has ever brought a dead mountain lion to the agency under those circumstances.