A new anti-hunting attack appears to have reached a milestone: The Colorado Ballot Initiative 91 has gathered the signatures needed to go on the state’s ballot this fall. According to a press release, Cats Aren’t Trophies has submitted 188,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State; if at least 124,238 are validated, the initiative will be on the fall ballot.  

The results could have a stark impact on the state’s sportsmen. Initiative 91 would impose an outright ban on mountain lion hunting, as well as the trapping and hunting of bobcats. It would also make violations a class 1 misdemeanor, which would include a 5-year hunting license ban for anyone convicted of killing a lion or bobcat. The proposed law would include exceptions for self-defense and allow non-lethal management actions to protect livestock.

“We submit signatures to give Colorado voters an opportunity to stop the inhumane, unsporting killing of mountain lions and bobcats for their heads and their beautiful coats,” said Samantha Miller, Cats Aren’t Trophies campaign manager, in a press release. “This is commercial killing, with lion-hunting guides charging an $8,000 fee to guarantee a ‘trophy’ and trappers selling bobcat pelts to China.” 

However, Miller left out that under Colorado’s existing regulations, hunters are required to take the meat off of big game animals, including mountain lions. If passed, the initiative stands to have serious repercussions not just for mountain lion hunters and bobcat trappers, but also for the state’s elk and deer herds. Despite the popularity of Colorado’s hunting opportunity, the state has become a hotspot for anti-hunting attacks, particularly involving charismatic megafauna like mountain lions.

“In recent years, Colorado has become the battleground for a movement threatening not just the hunting tradition, but the very essence of wildlife management,” explained Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management, a conservation organization leading the campaign opposing the initiative. “The onslaught has now escalated with the Proposed Initiative 91, which aims to strip away the very foundation of Science-Based Wildlife Management. By doing so, it seeks to deprive Colorado’s Wildlife Managers and the sporting community of their rights to manage, pursue, and harvest these well-regulated species.”

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If enough signatures are verified, the initiative will be left in the hands of Colorado residents this November. Key conservation groups such as Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership are fighting the hunting ban.

“The future of Colorado’s wildlife management is at a crossroads,” said Gaspar Perricone, Chair of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project, in a recent statement. “The underpinnings of science-based wildlife management administered by wildlife professionals may be on the ballot this November, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”