The petition for rulemaking submitted by Texans for Mountain Lions to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) urging action to conserve mountain lions in Texas has been denied. However, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will be briefed on the issue on August 25 during their regular meeting at TPWD headquarters in Austin, and will also hear about the issue during their annual public hearing on August 24.
On June 28, Texans for Mountain Lions received a letter informing the group of TPWD’s staff recommendation to deny the petition, and the organization received official word of the denial on August 9. In the letter, TPWD’s general counsel informed Texans for Mountain Lions that staff recommends that a stakeholder advisory group be formed, and TPWD staff will brief the Commission on mountain lions at the upcoming commission meeting on Thursday, August 25.
“While we are disappointed at the staff recommendation to deny the petition, we are encouraged that the Commission will be briefed on August 25, and that an official stakeholder group will be formed,” said wildlife filmmaker Ben Masters, who is a member of the Texans for Mountain Lions coalition. “The formation of a stakeholder advisory group was one of the items that we requested in our petition, and we are hopeful the group will include a variety of opinions. We also plan on attending the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s annual public hearing on August 24 to make sure our voices are heard, and we invite others who are interested in this issue to join us.”
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s annual public hearing will take place at TPWD headquarters at 4200 Smith School Rd. in Austin at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, August 24. Any citizen is invited to address the Commission on any topic under its jurisdiction. Texans for Mountain Lions plans on having several representatives attend the meeting to address the Commission.
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.
This current effort to push for mountain lion regulations is supported by a majority of Texans. In a recent survey by Texas A&M 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.
Texans for Mountain Lions launched a website in June, and also urged citizens concerned about mountain lions to send letters to state officials urging actions. More than ten thousand emails have gone out to state officials about the issue since then.
Interested citizens who support the effort to manage mountain lions in Texas can go to the “Take Action” page at TexansforMountainLions.org.
Media Contact: Susie Weller Sheppard email@example.com
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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