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More Mountain Lions Could Be In The Crosshairs Next Year

CRAIG, Colo. (CBS4)- Colorado Parks and Wildlife is considering a controversial plan to allow more hunting of mountain lions in Colorado. Commissioners met in Craig on Thursday to vote on a proposal to allow the killing of 11 additional mountain lions next year.

The plan specifically targets the Upper Arkansas region that includes Fremont, Chaffee and Lake Counties.

Lion Hunting map
(credit: CBS)

The proposal was prompted by the decreasing mule deer population in Colorado. CPW believes the main cause of the decrease is mountain lions.

"We do have evidence that there has been extensive predation in this area that's why biologists and researchers selected this as our proposal," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Matt Robbins.

Critics believe the studies conducted by the state show other factors are to blame and that killing more mountain lions will only make things worse.

"It's not necessarily not going to magically grow mule deer if you're killing all the mountain lions," said Humane Society of the U.S. spokeswoman Wendy Keefover. "Colorado Parks and Wildlife's own studies show that mule deer need is adequate nutrition and whacking the mountain lion population won't bring back mule deer."

Mountain Lion In Morrison
(credit: CBS)

Keefover says drought and drilling have hurt the mule deer habitat.

"When you change the stability of the mountain lion population if you remove the dominent male you get an influx of adult males and they will come in and kill the kittens from the previous male and sometimes they kill the females too so there's sort of a domino effect of lots of mountain lions dying when there is trophy hunting," said Keefover.

"We have an obligation as stewards of wildlife for the entire state to manage all species and in this particular case we have evidence that we've had a significant decline of our deer population," said Robbins.

No one knows exactly how many mountain lions live in Colorado but each year the state allows hunters to kill hundreds of them. The quota last year was 656.

The Parks and Wildlife commission agreed to hold off on a final decision so it can solicit more public input. The next hearing is scheduled for November in Yuma County.

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