Following a unanimous vote held during last week’s regular session of the state Wildlife Commission, Colorado has become the first state to mandate a hunter sex education program. Yep, you read right.

Beginning in July, hunters purchasing cougar tags will be required to pass a written or on-line test to determine whether they understand the basic physical differences (besides the obvious ones having to do with plumbing) between male and female mountain lions.Lionexam

The concept for a lion hunter education was first brought to the Wildlife Commission through a citizen petition process in late 2005. The effort was supported by a Boulder-based non-hunting cougar preservation group as well as the Colorado Outfitters Association.

The intended purpose of the new requirement is to reduce the number of nursing female cougars taken by hunters—without the implementation of strict male-only quotas.

In addition to the hunters themselves, outfitters, guides and houndsmen who may accompany them will also be required to pass the identification course.

Education material from the Division of Wildlife notes that cougar gender identification is most easily performed on a treed cat (again, for obvious reasons). In addition, the material notes that males have a conspicuous black spot below the base of the tail. Also, males are generally larger, have bigger paws and longer strides than females.

For the most part, I’m not a big fan of such requirements that tend to be little more than “feel good” regulations addressing something most ethical hunters should already be well-versed in. However, I found the educational material an interesting read.

Mandated cougar sex ed? What do you think?