First Season in 15 Years : 190 Cougar Hunters Are Drawn by Lot

From a Times Staff Writer

The names of the 190 hunters who will get permits to kill mountain lions this fall were drawn in a computerized lottery Monday from a field of 3,345 applicants, each of whom paid $5 for the chance.

Also Monday, eight of the 4,066 people who applied to take part in California's first bighorn sheep hunt since 1873 won permits in a similar lottery.

The hunting season on mountain lions, scheduled to begin Oct. 10 and end Dec. 27, is the first authorized by the state in 15 years. It will be limited to selected areas, primarily in Northern and Central California. Each hunter will be limited to killing one lion.

Most of Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, is excluded from the hunt, pending further study of the lion population in the area, according to Peggy Blair, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Game Department.

Blair said the department has concluded that the hunt will have no significant impact on the state's mountain lion population.

Names and Alternates

The decision to allow the hunt, however, was controversial, and some of the permits to kill the lions--also known as cougars--may have gone to enemies of hunting. Animal rights advocates had asked supporters to apply for cougar hunting permits and pocket them in order to save the animals' lives.

The state has estimated that there are about 5,100 mountain lions in California, Blair said, but only about 500 of those are in Southern California.

In Monday's drawing, Blair said, a computer drew 190 names and 67 alternates from the field. The 190 will be contacted and offered the opportunity to buy a license for $75.

Winners of bighorn permits get the right to stalk the elusive animals in two mountain ranges in San Bernardino County for 16 days beginning Dec. 5. Four of the permits are for the Marble Mountains Range near Ludlow. The other four allow hunting in the Old Dad Mountain area near Baker.

Hunting of bighorn sheep was forbidden by the Legislature in 1873 at a time when the animals were close to extinction. The ban ended in 1986 under legislation carried by Assemblyman Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia). Mountjoy's bill directed the department to administer a managed hunt for the sheep.

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