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Anti-Hunting Laws Have Deadly Consequences 

Apex predators do not care about the feelings of animal rights activists.

On March 23rd, California brothers, and avid Columbian blacktail deer hunters Taylen and Wyatt Brooks, 21, and 18, respectively, were shed hunting (bucks shed their antlers, typically in February) near Georgetown when they were attacked by a 90 pound male mountain lion. Since no game animals were in season at the time, both brothers were unarmed. The cat charged Wyatt first, knocking him to the ground and biting his face, at that point Taylen began to fight the lion in order to free his brother. Despite saving Wyatt from certain death, Taylen was bitten in the throat and killed by the predator.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks for the outpouring of support and prayers from family, friends and the community,” the Brooks/Welsh Family said in a press release obtained by outdoors/conservation based outlet MeatEater. “We are all devastated by the tragic loss of Taylen yet thankful Wyatt is still with us and are well-aware the outcome could have been even worse.” You can read a detailed report of the events from MeatEater here.

Mountain lion hunting was banned via ballot initiative of the California Wildlife Protection Act in 1990, and while the tragic death of Taylen Brooks was the first deadly lion attack in the state since 2004, there have been numerous attacks by lions including a 2022 instance of a lion breaking into a family’s home and attacking their dog, and a mother’s heroic 2021 fight with a lion in order to save her 5 year old son. Over 100 lions are legally killed annually in the state due to reports of attacks on pets and/or livestock depredation.

New Jersey was recently forced to re-open their black bear hunting season after skyrocketing numbers of bear encounters. Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order banning bear hunting on state land in 2018, eventually rescinding the order in 2022. “I feel awful,” said the governor, “but I can’t violate what are obvious facts that are potentially undermining public safety, particularly among kids. I just can’t in good conscience go on in this direction.” Four bear attacks have occurred in the state since 2013, one fatal, including a young woman mauled in 2021 while checking her mail, along with hundreds of encounters by bears with pets and property.

Other elected officials seem determined to learn this lesson for themselves. Colorado Governor Jared Polis’s administration, spearheaded by the governor’s husband, vegan anti-hunting activist Marlon Reis, is currently waging a war on the state’s hunting community. If the administration is successful via ballot initiative, it will ban the hunting of mountain lions and bobcats. “The onslaught has now escalated with the Proposed Initiative 91, which aims to strip away the very foundation of Science-Based Wildlife Management. By doing so, it seeks to deprive Colorado’s Wildlife Managers and the sporting community of their rights to manage, pursue, and harvest these well-regulated species” says Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management. There have been numerous recent encounters with mountain lions in the Centennial State, including an attack on a man’s front porch in 2022. Colorado has, by far, the largest elk herd in the nation, along with healthy populations of mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, and black bear, all of which would be negatively affected by the banning of big cat hunting.

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation has been extraordinarily successful compared to conservation efforts anywhere else on Earth, but the work of men like Aldo Leopold and President Theodore Roosevelt is now under attack by adversarial politicians and their strategy of employing direct democracy via uninformed urban voters. Not only do hunting bans undermine the heritage of outdoorsmanship fundamental to the history of the nation, they also put people in danger. Whether it is a symptom of the fact that most Americans now live in major cities and are blissfully unaware of where their sustenance comes from, or the decades of anthropomorphism by Hollywood, anti-hunting legislation must be fought tooth and nail in order to preserve our customs and protect the vulnerable.

Brady Leonard is a musician, political strategist, and podcaster based in Toledo, Ohio. The No Gimmicks Podcast airs Mondays and Wednesdays at 1pm EST, wherever podcasts are found.
Catalyst articles by Brady Leonard