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'Going After the Big Cats'

February 15, 1987

I commend the common sense you expressed in your editorial. However, your conclusion that we do not know enough about the lion population in California to permit 210 "sportsmen" to kill one lion each, though well-based in fact, misses the real point.

Why should licensed "sportsmen" or anyone else for that matter, be allowed to kill animals for fun? Deer hunters, bird hunters and fishermen eat what they kill. Who's going to eat a mountain lion?

I showed your editorial, and the news report from Sacramento, to several people in my workplace to get their reaction to the Department of Fish and Game's proposal to end the moratorium on killing mountain lions. Most wondered what he big deal was. One co-worker, a man with considerable outdoors experience, said that killing mountain lions would be justified if they had suddenly developed the nasty habit of charging into our state and national parks to attack sleeping campers. This is hardly the case.

Actually, what we're seeing here is the Department of Fish and Game once again kowtowing to the hunter's darkest wishes and desires. Trophy hunting is the most blatantly arrogant and vicious type of animal killing; it's done for the pure blood-lust fun of it all.

In an age when so many people are trying to salvage what we can of our fragile wilderness, as in the case of the California condors, how can the actions of these so-called sportsmen be condoned?

Their rationalizations are always the same, but the most asinine of them has to be the deer hunters' belief that mountain lions pose a threat to several California deer herds. Well, no kidding! That's what mountain lions are supposed to do! They're supposed to be a danger to deer herds. They've been a danger to deer herds since before the first Ice Age. Those are just code words for, "Those lions are killing deer that I would rather kill myself because I'd have more fun doing it." What a bunch of crybabies!

If ranchers are having lion problems with livestock, then let the ranchers handle it in their own way. We don't need to recruit a bunch of latter-day Rambos, in camouflage, huffing and puffing over hill and dale to shoot some terrified animal in its natural environment.

My last point is with those state officials who unveiled this plan, insisting that killing 210 lions a year would have little or no effect on the statewide cougar population. Animals are always thought of in terms of populations, humans get to enjoy personal consideration. There will soon be 5 billion humans on planet Earth. Can we justify culling out 1 billion or so a year because it will have no effect on our population?

DAN PEARSON

Port Hueneme

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