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Mountain lion hunting to increase in Nevada

February 18, 2009 |  1:28 pm

A bird eludes a mountain lion at the Moonridge Animal Park in Big Bear. Nevada wildlife officials are calling for some increased hunting allowances of mountain lions in an effort to help stabilize the mule deer population.

Ken Mayer, Nevada Department of Wildlife director, said the agency plans to begin a program of "intensive, sustained predator reduction" in areas where it is believed the big cats have negatively affected mule deer numbers. "It's not an effort to exterminate mountain lions," Mayer said. "It's an effort to better manage lions with the prey base."

Staff have been directed to pursue the program with the assistance of sport hunters and contract employees from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services division.

The mule deer population in the state has decreased from 240,000 to 108,000 during the previous two decades, according to department reports.

Some animal advocacy groups are opposed to the changes though.

"Basically what they're doing is applying the Sarah Palin method of wildlife management, which is to remove animals with big teeth in order to promote the animals hunters like to shoot," stated D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute. "It's an archaic form of wildlife management. Unfortunately they are making the mountain lion a scapegoat."

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A bird eludes a mountain lion at the Moonridge Animal Park in Big Bear. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times