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Evaluation of key scientific issues in the report, “State of the mountain lion—A call to end trophy hunting of America’s lion”

Open-File Report 2018-1128

By:
https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181128

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Abstract

In their recently published report, State of the Mountain Lion: A Call to End Trophy Hunting of America’s Lion, the Humane Society of the United States suggested that mountain lion (Puma concolor) hunting should be abolished in the United States. The report claims this recommendation is based on scientific arguments that demonstrate the overharvest of mountain lions throughout much of their current range in the United States. We reviewed the science presented by the Humane Society to support their call for the cessation of mountain lion hunting. Rather than provide a rigorous assessment of the peer-reviewed scientific literature and available data on mountain lion ecology, population dynamics and management, the report uses a fundamentally unscientific approach that starts with an a priori assumption that hunting is detrimental to the long-term persistence of mountain lion populations, then attempts to use scientific arguments to support this value-based position. The report frequently ignores or selectively interprets relevant peer-reviewed literature, weakening the scientific credibility of the report. The report relies on imprecise and inadequate demographic measures, questionable data, and simplistic methodologies to derive dubious estimates of potential lion densities; it compares these estimates to various measures produced by State agencies (which themselves vary in reliability as estimates of abundance) to purportedly illustrate the detrimental effects of hunting. The approach used in the report to support the predetermined supposition that mountain lion populations are over-hunted fails to serve as a scientifically defensible foundation for management recommendations range-wide or at the State level.

Suggested Citation

Cain, J.W., III, and Mitchell, M.S., 2018, Evaluation of key scientific issues in the report, “State of the mountain lion—A call to end trophy hunting of America’s lion”: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018-1128, 14 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181128.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Presumption That Hunting Limits Mountain Lion Populations
  • Selectively Cited and Interpreted Literature
  • Imprecise and Inadequate Demographic Measures
  • Inadequate Estimate of Potential Lion Densities
  • Management Implications
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Evaluation of key scientific issues in the report, “State of the mountain lion—A call to end trophy hunting of America’s lion”
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
2018-1128
DOI:
10.3133/ofr20181128
Year Published:
2018
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description:
iv, 14 p.
Online Only (Y/N):
Y