Austin/ Parks & Nature
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Published on April 22, 2024
TPWD Seeks Public Feedback on Banning Canned Hunts, Proposes Humane Mountain Lion Trap Checks in TexasSource: International Fund for Animal Welfare, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is calling for input from the hoi polloi on a couple of wild ideas: axing canned hunting and implementing trap standards for mountain lions, per a recent release. It seems the pasture police want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about their idea by May 22, as they mull over putting a stop to a practice that currently isn't illegal in Texas: trapping a mountain lion, only to let it loose for a so-called sportsman to track and kill.

For those who ain't in the know, "canned hunting" is when a critter is caged and then set free in a controlled area to give some hunter an easy shot – yeah, not exactly a fair chase. TPWD's proposal aims to outlaw this kind of 'hunt' in the Texas State. Even though the big cats have a rep for being reclusive and roam from Canada to South America, they have a little fan club of conservationists looking out for them, as per the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This move comes after Congress put the kibosh on most mountain lion possession instances with the Big Cat Public Safety Act back in December 2022.

But wait, there's more. Texas currently shows a big ol' shrug when it comes to the rules on checking traps set for these felines. TPWD isn't too keen on that, given the chatter about the cruelty of leaving an animal to perish if they get caught up in one of them. They're pushing for a rule that says trappers have to check the traps within no more than a "Jeopardy!" episode span, or 36 hours, to be a bit more humane about it. However, the grim reaper traps that do the job on the spot or the ones that can't hold a lion down won't see this new rule apply.

To make the deal sweeter for the survival of coyotes who tend to get caught in lion traps, the new traps are expected to have a get-out-of-jail-free card—a breakaway device that falls apart if a beastie with less than 285 pounds of pulling power tugs at it. According to TPWD, that's within the coyote's weight room limit, but over the mountain lion's bench press average. Those wishing to speak their minds about these proposals can do so online, on the TPWD public comment page, or by ringing up or emailing Richard Heilbrun, the TPWD's bigwig of biodiversity. The agency's going to hold court and take in all this chatter tape at a meeting set for 9 a.m. May 23 at its Austin HQ. If you're aiming to testify, you'd best be ready to talk turkey in three minutes or less.