Last week we told you about state Sen. Bill Stouffer's desire to eradicate mountain lions from Missouri with his bill that would allow the animals to be shot
On Thursday Stouffer's bill moved one step closer to becoming law when it was read for a second time
and referred to committee. But not so fast...
This week Craig Lanham, a St. Louis area police officer and volunteer conservationist, fired back launching an online petition
that he hopes will derail Stouffer's legislation from ever becoming law.
"The Senate bill reeks of those unfortunate days when people shot bisons from train windows for amusement," says Lanham, who became an advocate for the Missouri's small population of mountain lions after raccoon hunters in Ray County (Stouffer's district) shot a treed cougar
last year and were not prosecuted.
In 2006 the Missouri Conservation Commission responded to reports about the growing number of cougar sightings in the state by codifying that the cats could be shot if they are attacking livestock or property or are threatening human safety. Stouffer's bill would remove those two key restrictions, allowing the carte blanche killing of the state-protected animals.
"The truth is they don't belong here," stated Stouffer this month when presenting his bill.
But the bigger truth, notes Lanham, is that the cougar was native to Missouri from time immemorial until the last known animal was shot in the Bootheel in 1927. The Missouri Department of Conservation believes the 28 confirmed sightings of mountain lions since 1994 have all been male cats that wandered in from other states. Moreover, there's no record of a cougar attacking livestock or a human dating back to settlement days.
Lanham, who has worked in the past in conjunction with the California-based Mountain Lion Foundation, says he hopes his petition will catch the eye of Stouffer's fellow legislators and the governor and encourage them to dismiss the bill.
"They need to know that the world is watching."
You can sign the petition here