Texans for Mountain Lions has submitted a petition for rulemaking to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) urging action to conserve mountain lions in Texas. Organized in recent months, Texans for Mountains Lions is a coalition of landowners, biologists, and organizations that is working to improve the conservation status and scientific management of Texas’ largest wild cat.
Mountain lions are a nongame species that can be trapped and hunted year-round in Texas without any harvest limits, hunting seasons, or any requirement to report harvest. As a result, mortality rates are among the highest in the country. Of 16 U.S. states with breeding mountain lion populations, Texas is the only state without regulated management of mountain lions.
Historically found across Texas, mountain lion populations have been reduced to the harsh canyons and thick brush of South and West Texas. Research has been conducted on both populations with results that should concern all who treasure Texas’ native wildlife. During a study of 16 monitored cats in the protected landscape of Big Bend Ranch State Park, one was shot and all of the remaining 15 were killed in leghold traps when they traveled onto private lands. Another study in the Davis Mountains recorded a nearly 50% annual mortality, almost entirely due to trapping. In South Texas, a study of 22 mountain lions in the 1990s also recorded high mortality due to hunting and trapping. Further, genetic research has shown that the South Texas population has declined and is isolated from the population in West Texas. Without intervention, the South Texas population may become untenable.
“Action should be taken to ensure a future for our mountain lions in Texas,” said wildlife filmmaker Ben Masters, who is a member of the Texans for Mountain Lions coalition. “Mountain lions are an iconic wildlife species in Texas. Without any science or a management plan, mountain lion populations in some areas of the state may not be viable into the future. We strongly believe this can be done while respecting the ranching and hunting heritage that is the foundation for wildlife conservation in Texas. As our population continues to increase and our landscapes continue to subdivide, we need to make sure there is data-driven management to ensure a future for these cats.”
On June 13, 2022, Texans for Mountain Lions submitted a petition for rulemaking to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department which requests the following activities and regulations:
According to the Texas Administrative Code, TPWD can either deny the petition, or put it on an upcoming Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission agenda. The Texans for Mountain Lions coalition urges TPWD to add the petition for rulemaking to the agenda of the upcoming Commission meeting scheduled August 24-25, 2022.
This current effort to push for mountain lion regulations is supported by a majority of Texans. In a recent survey on Texan attitudes towards mountain lions, 70% of respondents agreed that efforts should be made to ensure the survival of mountain lions in Texas. Similar responses were reported in a survey published in 2002.
A review of the relevant research conducted in Texas, and TPWD’s internal communications around the subject, will be published in an upcoming article in the peer-reviewed science journal, the Wildlife Society Bulletin, a journal that caters to wildlife professionals published by The Wildlife Society, a leading international network of 11,000 wildlife professionals.
It’s Time to Manage Mountain Lions in Texas is authored by Panthera Puma Program Director Dr. Mark Elbroch and Dr. Patricia Harveson, who write, “Today, TPWD has the opportunity to address ongoing concerns about the lack of information about Texas mountain lions raised by stakeholders external and internal to TPWD, and to better meet the agency’s mandate to ensure mountain lions persist in Texas. Such action will strengthen the trust between TPWD and the public it serves.”
A recent documentary released by Fin and Fur Films is also inspiring citizen involvement. Deep in the Heart is a visually stunning celebration of Texas’ diverse landscapes and remarkable wildlife found nowhere else. The film features a segment on mountain lions which explains their status in Texas, and notes that there are no regulations protecting them.
Interested citizens who support the effort to manage mountain lions in Texas can go to the “Take Action” page at TexansforMountainLions.org.
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Let Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas state officials know that you support the sustainable management of mountain lions using the form.
The letter will be emailed to the following people/offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller, your State Senator, your State Representative, TPWD Wildlife Division, and TPWD Executive Director-Carter Smith.
P.O. Box 2484
Alpine, TX 79831