Just as I expected a few weeks ago, the cougar hunting bill has died in the legislature even after the House had approved it by a strong vote of 40-19 on April 23.
When the bill got to the Senate, it was assigned to the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, headed by Portland Democrat Jackie Dingfelder. The committee held a hearing, but that was all. No further action is expected.
In the House the bill had been sponsored by Democrat Brian Clem of Salem and Republican Sherrie Sprenger of Scio. It would allow counties to call elections to exempt themselves from the ban on hunting cougars and black bears with hounds, and on using bait to hunt bears. The numbers alone were against the bill, even if urban Democrats in the Senate had been willing to consider it. The number of cougars killed now is about as high as when dogs were allowed.
But by killing the bill, the opponents didn't do cougars any favors. When paid contract hunters are called in now to eliminate cougars around schools or livestock, they often use snares. Slowly dying with your paw caught in a painful snare seems far worse than being treed by a bunch of baying hounds and then brought down with a clean shot. But once again, Senate Democrats ignored the harsh facts of life when they killed this bill. (hh)