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COMMENT: Conservation officers oblivious to cougar numbers

The buzz in the media is that because of a rapidly increasing cougar population 117 cougar were killed by the conservation service last year.

The reality is that the cougar population is not increasing, a fact every veteran cougar hunter will quickly validate. Cougar sightings and complaints have increased dramatically because the population of their primary prey species, the deer have declined significantly and what few deer are alive are close to human habitation.

Contrary to the many media stories of urban deer problems both the whitetail and mule deer on their historic range are in serious population decline. Credible hunters will tell you we cannot justify hunting the mule deer in southern BC and the whitetail populations, thanks to four years of whitetail doe seasons have declined precipitously.

Wildlife managers have consistently used statistical arguments to ignore the legions of complaints from credible hunters demanding a reduction in hunting opportunity. Former director of wildlife, Ian Hatter in a paper titled “Mule deer and whitetail deer population review for the Kootenay Region of BC Sept. 2009” states the obvious “No perfect index appears to exist to measure population change so all indices discussed must be viewed with some skepticism”.

How is it possible for conservation officers to be oblivious of the dramatic decline in wildlife populations? After all, talking to hunters and traveling logging roads in fresh snow looking for tracks tells the true story.

Like wildlife managers the conservation service has become corrupt because their terms of employment demand they defend government policy which is described on page two of the current provincial hunting regulations; “Encouraging more people to hunt will generate even more jobs”.