Cat Casualties

Mountain Lion

Bobcat

Lynx

Photo credit: peavineCat2

Mountain Lions​

The No. 1 source of mortality for Colorado’s mountain lions has been trophy hunting.

Raw Facts Told by Numbers

0
mountain lions are killed every year in Colorado by trophy hunters.
0
or more mountain lions exist in Colorado. (These are only estimates.)

what outfitters charge trophy hunters for a “record book” mountain lion in Colorado 100% guaranteed, to gut the cat, hang and skin the cat and hand over the hide and head.

$50

what trophy hunters in Colorado pay for a license to kill a mountain lion; nonresidents pay around $350.

what trophy hunting mountain lions adds to our state wildlife operations budget.

Photo credit: John Niewoonder, Michigan Dept of Natural Resources

Bobcats

The No. 1 source of mortality for Colorado’s bobcats is trophy hunting and trapping, primarily for their fur.

Raw Facts Told by Numbers

0
bobcats are killed by trophy hunters and trappers every year for their fur

Unknown

is the bobcat population in Colorado

4,000

Traps set out to catch bobcats in Colorado in one year.

30 bobcats

The body count required to make one fur coat.

$33.96

The cost of a small game or furbearera license that allows a bobcat hunter to kill as many bobcats as they want.

Unlimited

How many bobcats hunters and trappers may kill in Colorado during the season that runs from December 1 until the end of February every year.

Photo credit: Idaho Fish and Game 

Lynx

in Colorado disappeared in our state in large part due to trapping. Reintroduction by CPW in the 1990s brought them back. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces a 2024 deadline to draft the new protection plan for lynx. Scientists are concerned about climate affecting their success. Traps set indiscriminately in the wild for bobcats put lynx in peril.

Raw Facts Told by Numbers

150 to 250

Is how many individual lynx may exist in Colorado

Accidentally trapped

Lynx have been accidentally trapped in Idaho and Minnesota. CPW data shows a Colorado lynx traveled to Canada and was killed in a trapping line neck snare. There was another lynx who was shot and killed by a person who thought it was a bobcat. Between 1998-2008, at least 15 lynx were inadvertently caught in Montana traplines set for other species.

Read about how Lynx mortalities are related to being shot and trapped.

Trophy Hunting and Trapping FAQs

Hunters created this term and continue to use it going back 150 years. Trophy hunting and mountain lions go hand-in-hand industry wide: Hunting guides offer a guaranteed kill of a mountain lion in Colorado, while hunting magazines writing about mountain lion hunting saturate the market with the term. Colorado Mountain Lion Outfitters offer a 100% success rate.

The accepted definition of trophy hunting is hunting of animals for pleasure with the hallmark being killing the largest males of the species.

Trophy hunters use packs of dogs — up to eight — and high-tech gadgets to find elusive wild cats of Colorado. Colorado allows baiting with electronic calls (e-calls) that are recordings of distressed prey to lure them into the area. Dogs are fitted with GPS radio collars and trained to chase a mountain lion until the cat is trapped high in a tree. At that time the hunter, waiting in a vehicle or off-site for the outfitter’s call, walks up to shoot the mountain lion (or bobcat), who falls to his or her death. Videos also show dogs being injured from attacking cats on the ground.

For trophies. According to hunters, the trophy refers to the part of the animal such as the head, or hide. It also includes a collection of photos on the wall or at the kill site. Trophy hunters routinely pose with dead animals while smiling on social media for personal show and for outfitter testimonials. 

They routinely call it a dream hunt,  or a bucket list item.

Another reason people cite for hunting mountain lions is because mountain lions kill deer, their logic being mountain lions take deer hunting opportunities away from them. There is no science to suggest this is true. But it is true mountain lions eat deer. They have to. To survive.

Trappers kill bobcats for pleasure, and so they can sell the fur on the foreign market for personal profit. 

Not at all. This is just an attempt to say the end always justifies the means, and to cover up the truth. Coloradans are smart and know better.

Eating mountain lions is just not part of our American culture today. We don’t find mountain lions in our grocery store, and because we only have a few thousand mountain lions in existence, it would never be a good way to feed a family. We also have laws against eating cats as well as dogs in our country.

In terms of the word trophy, this is a term that was created by trophy hunters and is still used broadly today by mountain lion hunting outfitters, guides, hunting magazines and trophy hunters themselves. Anyone who shies away from calling it what it truly is, is just trying to make trophy hunting of mountain lions more palatable to Coloradans. This would be a disingenuous act.

Because the more Coloradans learn about what trophy hunting mountain lions truly is, the more Colorado will see how far it strays from true conservation, which by definition means: “thoughtful management, and not exploitation.”

Outfitters will often tell clients in Colorado that they can guarantee a kill, 100%, which is nothing any ethical hunter should accept, but common commercial practice in African trophy hunt businesses. From one Colorado mountain lion trophy hunting website: 100% Success … most of your travel will be on an atv or utv  … You have a great chance at a book (record Trophy) Lion.

No, it has been long understood that mountain lion populations are dependent upon prey (deer and elk) and having space to live. If either of these requirements decline, so will mountain lion populations. It is foolhardy to think that trophy hunting is a management tool for populations. It doesn’t work. See our science page for more.

In California, where mountain lions haven’t been hunted for a half-century, and bobcats for 3 years, the populations are stable. In other states where bobcats are not trapped, such as Connecticut and New Jersey overpopulation is not an issue of concern.

A sighting isn’t an attack or a conflict. With the increase in the use of technology that allows us to capture footage of wildlife when humans are not present, that doesn’t mean that there are any more mountain lions than before. Populations are dependent upon prey and room. If we build in their habitat, as we are, there will be less lions around. It has always been the case that mountain lions are among us, whether we go hiking in lion country or build a home in their backyard. Trophy hunting won’t change a thing, but it could increase risk for our pets and  animals we may have like goats and sheep.

“Most people don’t see them,” said Rachael Gonzalez, a public information officer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Obviously with technology, we see them more because they’re captured on Ring Doorbells and stuff like that. But the reality is mountain lions, they don’t want to be seen.”

No. Trophy hunting does nothing to protect ranch animals. Peer-reviewed studies among top academic universities and leading mountain lion researchers today — including in a study this year — show that trophy hunting mountain lions increases risk to livestock and increases complaints from ranchers. 

Trophy hunting is just a game with only one side knowing it’s playing. 

And as science clearly shows, trophy hunting is not a tool to solve or prevent any conflict. We have professionally trained individuals at the state and federal levels who already are equipped for conflict management work that includes relocating or killing an offending animal.

Stopping trophy hunting and trapping of wild cats won’t affect Colorado’s existing and separate program to help prevent and handle conflicts.

Watch this 60-minute science presentation by Panthera, explaining how and why randomly killing trophy cats does nothing to protect livestock, and in fact puts animals at higher risk. Puma | Panthera

Yes, in fact mountain lion attacks are extremely rare. If public safety is a concern, wild animals should be far down on the list of what we should fear. For example, automobiles caused 745 deaths in 2022 alone in Colorado. Meanwhile, mountain lions have killed just three people since 1990, in a state with a population of nearly 6 million.

Consider that 92% of Colorado residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. Rock climbing, hiking, skiing backcountry terrain, mountain biking, hunting and jogging on trails are all part of the Colorado lifestyle, where mountain lions thrive in these spaces, too.

Think about that. If lions were out to get us, we would have many more encounters and deaths. The fact is, you actually have a greater risk just driving and walking to a trailhead, than you do being touched by a mountain lion in Colorado.

In 2022 alone, there have been nine deaths from climbing 14ers; According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the death rate for rock climbing in Colorado is 12.5 per 100,000 population. This rate is higher than the national average of 10.4 per 100,000 population. According to records, more than 70 people have died climbing Longs Peak.

In 2022, Colorado recorded 46,751 deaths, with 15% from accidental drug overdoses. Most other major causes of death were illness, traffic accidents. Zero were from mountain lions.

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on the citizens' initiative to ban trophy-hunting of mountain lions and trapping of bobcats on the 2024 Colorado ballot

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