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Thu Apr 13, 2017, 08:40 AM

U.S. government sued over plan to kill cougars and bears in Colorado

Wildlife conservation groups sued the U.S. government on Wednesday seeking to halt a plan to trap and kill as many as 120 mountain lions and black bears in Colorado in a bid to stem declines in populations of mule deer favored by hunters.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, accuses the Wildlife Services agency, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of violating federal law by failing to fully assess potential impacts of the predator-control plan on other native wildlife.

The same agency gained a measure of notoriety after one of its spring-loaded "cyanide bombs," used for killing coyotes and other "nuisance" animals, went off in the hands of a 14-year-old Idaho boy in March, injuring the youth and killing his pet dog.

Wednesday's lawsuit cites scientific research showing that habitat loss from oil and gas development, not natural predators, is mostly to blame for Colorado's plunging mule deer numbers. And it asserts that the plan for killing bears and mountain lions, originally devised by Colorado's own state wildlife managers, was designed to benefit hunters at public expense.


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