Legislators in Colorado introduced a bill on Wednesday, Jan. 12, that would ban all recreational hunting and trapping of bobcats, mountain lions, and lynx in the state. Although the bill allows for some exceptions to be made, it would “generally prohibit shooting, wounding, killing, or trapping a bobcat, Canada lynx, or mountain lion.”
S.B. 22-031 is being sponsored by State Senators Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D-Lafayette) and Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins), along with State Representatives Judy Amabile (D-Boulder) and Monica Duran (D-Wheat Ridge). The bill has been sent to the Senate Agriculture and Resources Committee, where Lewis serves on the committee as Vice Chair.
If passed, the recently introduced legislation would punish violators with fines of $500-$2,000 or up to one year in jail, along with the potential suspension of the violator’s hunting license for up to 5 years. The law would allow for some exceptions, and it states that a bobcat, lynx, or mountain lion could be killed or trapped if it is an immediate threat to a person and/or livestock. (There are additional exceptions made for relocating animals, and for peace officers, health officials, scientists, zoologists, etc.)
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has regulated hunting seasons for bobcats and mountain lions, both of which are currently underway. The state prohibits the hunting and trapping of Canada lynx, which are protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species. If passed, the bill would preemptively prohibit the hunting and trapping of lynx should the species be de-listed at any point.
Several pro-hunting and conservation organizations have already spoken out against the bill. They say that hunting has been and should remain an important wildlife management tool, and that the legislation would have detrimental effects on the state’s deer, elk, and other wildlife—not to mention the personal safety of citizens living in mountain lion country.
“Colorado hunters have been under attack by animal-rights activists for year. This bill isn’t just a Colorado issue, and it’s not just a predator-hunting issue,” said Brian Lynn, vice president of communications for the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Senate Bill 22-0331 is an issue for every deer and elk hunter in Colorado, and for every non-resident hunter who has dreamed, saved money for, and plans to hunt the state in the future.”