Bill Allowing Hounds To Chase Mountain Lions Gets OK From Wyoming House

A bill that would allow houndsmen to run their dogs after mountain lions outside of regular hunting season passed its first reading before the Wyoming House on Thursday.

Mark Heinz

February 17, 20233 min read

Treed mountain lion 2 17 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

An age-old cliché about cats and dogs holds true when it comes to hunting hounds and mountain lions, a 

Wyoming lawmaker said during debate over a bill that would allow off-season pursuit. 

“Are we sure the dogs just aren’t sick of chasing cats?” asked Wyoming House Minority Whip Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie. 

“I can’t let that one go,” Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, responded jovially. “Dogs never get tired of chasing cats. It’s as natural as peas and carrots.”

The exchange took place during a Thursday House floor discussion over Senate File 178, which would allow houndsmen to pursue mountain lions outside of regular hunting season. They wouldn’t be allowed to kill mountain lions during that “pursuit season.” 

The House approved the bill during its committee of the whole, or first reading, Thursday. It must go through two more readings before passing the House. The Wyoming Senate passed SF 178 on Jan. 30.

Training Time

SF 178 would allow mountain lion hunters to pursue the big cats with their hounds during the offseason, said Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland. 

During the pursuit-only season, hunters would be allowed to tree the cats, and then call off their dogs and leave, allowing the mountain lions to escape. That would help keep the dogs regularly trained, he said.

Some argued that could amount to harassing mountain lions, while others said it would also “train” the cats to be more wary of humans. 

Will It Make Them Too Smart?

Nieman is an avid mountain lion hunter and said his home territory in the Black Hills is rife with the cats. 

He noted that mountain lions can become “craftier” each time they’re pursued by dogs. So, he said he had mixed feeling about the bill, because it could have the unintended consequence of making mountain lions better at evading hound packs and hunters during regular hunting seasons. 

Need To Kill More Cats

Mountain lions are prolific throughout Wyoming, and they’ve taken a toll on livestock and big game animals, particularly mule deer, Haroldson said. 

Moreover, some houndsmen will deliberately refrain from killing mountain lions during the regular hunting season because they’re trying to “hold the quotas open” and allow themselves more time to run and train their dogs. 

That could ultimately reduce the number of mountain lions being killed, when their numbers need culling, Haroldson said. 

Once the kill quota is filled in any particular mountain lion hunting area, hunting shuts down there. And under current regulations, hounds can no longer be run once the hunting season shuts down. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter