Texans Urged to Comment on TPWD Proposed Canned Hunting Ban and 36-Hour Trap Check for Mountain Lions

Texas mountain lion

TPWD makes progress toward first-ever management action for mountain lions in Texas

Media Contact: Susie Weller Sheppard, media@texansformountainlions.org, 347-446-9904

Austin, Texas – In a historic moment for mountain lions, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has taken the first step to actively manage the state’s mountain lion population and is requesting that Texans provide public comment on a new proposal to prohibit canned hunting of mountain lions, and implement trapping standards for the species. Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the proposal at their meeting in Austin on May 23.

Texans for Mountain Lions – a coalition of landowners, biologists, and organizations supporting the status and scientific management of Texas’ largest wild cat – is urging Texans to visit the comments page on the TPWD website and select “Agree completely” with TPWD’s proposed rules. 

Out of the 16 states that are home to populations of breeding mountain lions, Texas is currently the only one that does not regulate the hunting and trapping of the species.

In calling for public comment, TPWD is providing citizens with the first opportunity in Texas' history to determine whether the species should be managed — as are other native species. 

Texans for Mountain Lions coalition member and wildlife filmmaker Ben Masters is encouraged by the upcoming Commission vote:  

“Mountain lions are important to the culture of Texas and belong in the future of our state. That’s one thing that almost all trappers, hippies, hunters, houndsmen, ranchers, environmentalists, and Texans across the spectrum can agree on. They’re a symbol of our remaining wild places,” said Masters, whose award-winning film Deep in the Heart featured a segment on mountain lions. “I’m encouraged that the TPWD Commissioners have decided to vote on these important proposals to more respectfully manage Texas’ big cat.”  

The first action point being proposed would end canned hunting for mountain lions – the capture and subsequent release of a mountain lion to be pursued and killed. Although rare, this practice is currently legal in Texas despite being widely condemned. It is antithetical to the fair chase guidelines of hunting organizations as well as to the North American Model of Conservation. The latter affirms that individuals may own the land where wildlife resides, but that an individual does not own wildlife – wildlife is owned by all citizens.

The second action point being proposed would require trappers to ensure that mountain lions are not kept alive in traps or snares for more than 36 hours. Texas does not presently have trap check requirements for mountain lions, which leaves animals potentially trapped for days or weeks until they succumb to dehydration or exposure.

The trap check proposal would only apply to mountain lions and would not prevent landowners from trapping for predator management, as long as they comply with the 36-hour track check requirement. If passed, this regulation would update the state’s mountain lion policies to be consistent with current Texas furbearer regulations and standard trapping ethics. Requiring regular checking of mountain lion traps would also likely reduce fatalities and injuries for non-target species, such as the state-protected black bear and other domestic animals.  

A 2022 Texas A&M University survey showed that 75% of the more than 700 citizens surveyed support trap check periods for mountain lions of 36 hours or less. Livestock owners and hunters were as supportive of this measure as nonhunters and people who did not own livestock.

Mountain lions can be trapped and hunted year-round in Texas without any harvest limits, hunting seasons, or any requirement to report a lion kill. As a result, research studies in Texas have reported mortality rates that are among the highest in the country.

Texans for Mountain Lions coalition member Dr. Patricia Harveson is a wildlife researcher who spent most of her career studying mountain lions:

“It is heartening to see the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department genuinely and thoughtfully move the needle on behalf of a species that so many Texans value as part of our natural heritage, and that gives back in supporting the health of our ecosystems,” said Harveson. “We are grateful to TPWD Commissioners for creating a diverse stakeholder group to discuss this issue, and all who participated – from livestock owners to scientists – for listening to one another and engaging in difficult conversations to ensure all were represented.”

Texans can provide comment on 31 TAC §65.950 until 5:00pm on May 22, after which the TPW Commission will vote on the proposal during the May 23, 2024 meeting in Austin, Texas. 

Background on Texas’ Recent Mountain Lion Management Progress

Texans for Mountain Lions submitted a petition to TPWD in 2022 to better manage Texas mountain lions. While TPWD denied that petition, it did create a stakeholder advisory group made up of cattle ranchers, sheep raisers, hunters, trappers, landowners, scientists, and conservationists to explore the status of mountain lions and where consensus could be found. After much lively discussion, the group found consensus outlined here that: 1.) Texas needs more data on mountain lion distribution, numbers, mortality and other metrics; 2.) Texas needs an official mountain lion management plan; and 3.) Canned hunting of mountain lions should be prohibited. The group was split on the necessity of mandatory reporting for harvest and of a 36-hour trap check standard. TPWD Commissioners subsequently requested a public comment period on the proposal at hand.

About Texans for Mountain Lions
Texans for Mountain Lions is a coalition of landowners, biologists, conservationists, and organizations that is working to improve the status and conservation of our state’s largest wild cat, the mountain lion. Our purpose is to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, and other stakeholders to implement a science-based management strategy to ensure the long-term survival of healthy mountain lion populations in Texas. Visit TexansforMountainLions.org for more information about mountain lions in Texas.

Panthera is a coalition member of Texans for Mountain Lions.