Speak out against Reckless Wildlife Bill

Oklahoma Residents: Your Help Still Needed to Speak out against Reckless Wildlife Bill

Please Contact Your Representatives

TODAY Your help is urgently needed to oppose legislation that would legalize river otter trapping and authorize the trophy hunting of mountain lions and black bears in the state of Oklahoma. Please contact your State Representative today and urge him or her to oppose SB 1296, introduced by Senator Frank Shurden. River otters were trapped nearly to extinction in Oklahoma by the 1950s. In an attempt to bring back this native species, river otters were reintroduced into the southeastern and central portions of the state beginning in 1984. This proposed bill would allow river otters once again to be trapped and killed in Oklahoma by using leghold and Conibear traps. These trapping devices are inherently indiscriminate and will trap any unsuspecting animal that steps into the trap, including companion animals, threatened and endangered species, and even humans. In addition this bill has been amended to authorize the trophy hunting season of mountain lions and black bears in Oklahoma. For more information on the history of these species in the state of Oklahoma, please see the background information below. What You Can DoUpdated: This bill has passed the Senate and has now been referred to the House of Representatives. If you live in Oklahoma please contact your state Representative and politely urge him or her to oppose SB 1296. See talking points and background information below for more information. If you can, it’s best to call, fax, or email on this issue because time is of the essence. NOTE: Since this bill will be heard in the near future it is especially important to contact your state Representative if he or she is one of the following:

Mike Jackson
405-557-7317 mikejackson@okhouse.gov

Brian Bingman
405-557-7414 brianbingman@okhouse.gov

Lance Cargill
405-557-7400 lancecargill@okhouse.gov

Jerry Ellis
405-557-7363 jerryellis@okhouse.gov

Chris Hastings
405-557-7330 chrishastings@okhouse.gov

Fred Morgan
405-557-7409 fredmorgan@okhouse.gov

Jerry Shoemake
405-557-7373 jerryshoemake@okhouse.gov

Glen Bud Smithson
405-557-7315 glensmithson@okhouse.gov

Faxes and letters can be addressed to: The Honorable [Full Name of Representative] 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd State Capitol Building Oklahoma City, OK 73105 If you do not know the name of your state Representative, go to http://www.capitolconnect.com/oklahoma/default.aspx and enter your address. Then scroll down to State Representative. You can mention the following points (in addition to the points above): River otters already have been trapped to extinction in Oklahoma. Their numbers have not rebounded to a stable level as they are still listed as a Species of Special Concern. Leghold traps and Conibear traps can trap any unsuspecting animal that steps into the trap jaws, including companion animals, threatened and endangered species, and even humans. Proposing a trophy hunting season on black bears and mountain lions when their statewide population status is unknown is biologically reckless. This legislation specifically targets predators. Predator species are considered keystone species and help to maintain the health, stability, and integrity of ecosystems. Because populations of predators are regulated naturally by available food sources and the availability of habitat, there is no need to implement a killing season on these species. For further information, contact Barbara Schmitz at bschmitz@api4animals.org or 916-447-3085 x208. For more information on API’s work to expose the dangers of trapping, please visit http://www.BanCruelTraps.com.

Thank you for helping protect Oklahoma’s wildlife! Background InformationRiver otters: River otters were trapped nearly to extinction in Oklahoma by the 1950s. In an attempt to bring back a native species that once was a part of Oklahoma’s heritage and thereby maintain the health and diversity of the ecosystem, river otters were reintroduced into the southeastern and central portions of the state beginning in 1984. Even now, river otters are listed by the state as a Species of Special Concern, which is a native species identified by technical experts as possibly threatened or vulnerable to extinction but for which little data exist to document the population level, range, and other factors pertinent to its status.

Mountain lions: SB 1296 would authorize a trophy hunting season of mountain lions when it is unknown if lion populations even exist in the state. According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, there have been no population surveys or habitat assessments in more than fifty years that could confirm a breeding population in Oklahoma. Furthermore, the Department of Wildlife Conservation lists the mountain lion as an Oklahoma Species of Greatest Conservation Need. A 1997 report, The Mountain Lion in Oklahoma and Surrounding States, written by Oklahoma State University researchers, concluded: “Mountain lions are significant predators in North American ecosystems, and it is of great ecological importance to allow this carnivore the opportunity to immigrate back to its original domain. Biodiversity is a priority of many natural resource state agencies, and the mountain lion in Oklahoma could serve as a keystone species for sound management and protection of the state’s native fauna.” Black bears: Like river otters and mountain lions, black bears are not a common species in Oklahoma. Proposing a sport hunting season on them is not only ethically indefensible, it is biologically and ecologically reckless. According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, “Black bears, like other Oklahoma wildlife are a part of or natural heritage. It is remarkable that a few rugged and remote areas still exist within the state that are capable of supporting them. Bears were once common in Oklahoma — with a little help from us, they can again become an integral part of Oklahoma’s wildlife resources.”

Posted 03/27/06 - Okay to Forward/CrosspostAPI Newsletter & Action Alerts. Copyright ©2006 Animal Protection Institute, PO Box 22505, Sacramento, CA 95822. All rights reserved.


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