Public comment sought for proposed mountain lion regulations

AUSTIN The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is seeking public comment until May 22 on proposals to prohibit canned hunting and implement trapping standards for mountain lions.

Mountain lions are relatively uncommon, secretive animals and have the widest distribution of any wildcat from Canada to South America. In Texas, mountain lions are found throughout the Trans-Pecos, the brushlands of south Texas and the western Hill Country.

Canned hunts

Currently, Texas law does not prohibit canned hunting, meaning the capture and later release of a mountain lion for the purpose of hunting. TPWD has proposed banning the act in Texas.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act, passed by Congress in December 2022, prohibits most instances of possession of mountain lions, but does not address the disposition of lions that may be released from traps.

Trapping standards

Texas does not require traps set for mountain lions to be checked. Concerns have been raised that some mountain lions are left to perish in traps, which many consider to be inhumane and potentially damaging to the reputation of trapping and hunting.

TPWD has proposed a regulation requiring trappers to ensure that lions are not kept alive in traps or snares for more than 36 hours.

Traps that cannot restrain a lion or are immediately lethal would not be subject to the regulation.

The proposal also provides a blanket exemption to the 36-hour requirement for traps that have a breakaway device allowing a cable snare to disassemble when subjected to a force of 285 pounds or less. Mountain lions are likely able to pull with 285 pounds of force or more. Conversely, coyotes typically can pull on snares with only 192-250 pounds of force.

TPWD encourages public comment on the proposed regulation changes, and input will be considered before any action is taken by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its May public meeting. Opportunities to provide comments for or against these proposals include:

  • Online: Comments on each of the changes can be provided on the TPWD public comment page until May 22.
  • Phone or email: Comments on the proposed changes may be submitted to Richard Heilbrun, TPWD Diversity Program Leader, at [email protected] or 512-389-8104.
  • In person: The TPW Commission will take public comment on the proposed changes at its meeting beginning 9 a.m. May 23 at TPWD’s Austin headquarters. Per usual practice, public testimony is limited to three minutes per person.