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Colorado lawmakers reject push to ban mountain lion, bobcat hunting

 Lawmakers are gearing up for another debate over health care this session.
Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage
Lawmakers are gearing up for another debate over health care this session.

Colorado lawmakers have rejected a bill that aimed to ban the hunting and trapping of mountain lions and bobcats.

Sponsor Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder County, said the restrictions were needed because bobcat deaths were “out of control” in recent years.

“In 2019 we lost nearly 2,000 bobcats,” she testified Thursday. “We already have so many threats to our wildlife in Colorado.”

But even Lewis’ fellow Democrats on the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee sided with hunters who said the hunting restrictions were unnecessary.

Former Colorado Parks and Wildlife commissioner John Howard testified that the state wildlife agency had been lobbied before on the issue and that supporters of the lion hunting ban did not support their argument with science.

He added Colorado already has rigorous laws in place to ensure mountain lions are not overhunted.

“Disruption of lion ecology is not a risk (from hunting),” he said. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife has a rigorous process for mandatory education, strict quota limits on lions.”

Howard said limited lion hunting also benefits some birds and other species.

The bill would have outlawed hunts except those conducted for science or personal protection.

The committee rejected the bill 4-1, making it one of the first Democratic-sponsored bills to fail in a chamber controlled by the party.

The legislation initially had a group of other Democratic sponsors mostly from Northern Colorado, but the names were dropped before the first hearing.

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Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.