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Texas gets first-ever mountain lion rules

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the state's first regulations on mountain lion hunting on May 23, 2024. Adobe Stock image

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is imposing its first-ever regulations on mountain lion hunting in the state. The new rules, unanimously approved on May 23, ban canned hunts and place a time restriction on live cats in traps.

Mountain lions are still considered a non-game species, meaning they can be hunted, trapped, and killed year-round with little regulation on means or methods. 

Prior to the May 23 vote, Texas was the only state of the 16 in the country with breeding mountain lion populations that had no regulations for trapping and hunting the animals. 

Texas residents were asked to give their opinions on new rules during a public comment period that lasted until May 22. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received 7,531 public comments with 91 percent in favor of regulations, according to Texans for Mountain Lions, a nonprofit coalition founded to improve the status and conservation of the state’s largest cat.

“It was inspiring to see ranchers, trappers, hunters, hippies, outfitters, biologists, and wildlife advocates from across the state all converge to support more respectful management of our cats,” Texans for Mountain Lions member and wildlife filmmaker Ben Masters said in a media release. “We are grateful for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s leadership on this issue and for the thousands of people who chimed in supporting these changes.”

The term “canned hunt” refers to the practice of trapping an animal and later releasing it for an easier, almost guaranteed kill. The new trap limit would make it illegal to keep a live mountain lion trapped or snared for longer than 36 hours. 

Although the Highland Lakes area is not known for its mountain lion population, sporadic sightings have been reported in the past. No encounters have been confirmed.

dakota@thepicayune.com

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