A new bill may allow mountain lion hunting in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s Senate Agricultural and Wildlife Committee just passed Senate bill 769. The bill would allow for a mountain lion hunting season in Oklahoma. Although the season is not off the ground yet, this approval brings the state one step closer.
Senator Casey Murdock (R-Felt) introduced the bill which proposes a lottery or drawing for mountain lion hunting with a season quota of five animals. However, because the cats are so elusive, no one knows if this limit would sustain the animal’s population. Currently, no one is sure exactly how many of the animals there are in Oklahoma.
Corey Jager, a legislative liaison for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said that the bill is meant to start a conversation about the animal and hunting season.
“A bill is one way to bring (state wildlife officials) to the table and have a discussion. 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,” said Jager.
Previous laws prohibited hunting mountain lions. However, in 2007, the law was modified to allow for shooting the animal if threatened or protecting livestock and pets.
Are There That Many Mountain Lions In Oklahoma?
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation started tracking mountain lion data in 2002. Since then, the State wildlife officials verified more sightings of mountain lions in Oklahoma in 2020 than any other year. There were seven sightings last year and 40 since 2002.
Jerrod Davis, the Wildlife Department’s biologist, and mountain lion coordinator said that the increase in sighting last year may be due to the pandemic. This makes sense as people had more time at home and outdoors. Some conspiracy theorists believe the Wildlife Department releases the cats into the wild to control the deer population. Regardless of the animal’s origin, sightings of the cats have been confirmed in Oklahoma. So, we’ll just have to wait and see if a new hunting season will be enacted.