Mountain Lion Ban Sparks a Local Call For Legislative War

County Commissioners Brace for a Slew of New Proposed Laws

Trevor Phipps

T’s the season they say!

And no, local leaders aren’t referring to the dreaded holiday, instead they are getting prepared to pull out their political guns for this year’s state legislative session.


Even though 2024 is still young, Colorado lawmakers have already filled their legislative sessions with nearly 200 intended laws. Out of this hefty and exhaustive lineup, the Teller County Commissioners say they are already monitoring more than 90 of these bills. .

According to the commissioners, some of these proposals are good bipartisan bills, but others are measures they can’t support in order to keep their stance on fighting against new laws that could be detrimental to rural Colorado.


With all of the new laws being proposed by lawmakers this year, one of the most talked about issues locally has been a ban on mountain lion hunting. This plan was rejected from during last year’s legislative session, but is expected to be on the ballot in November. The issue has become yet another bill that local leaders say sounds good for  city folks who live in the metros of the Front Range, but could have major impacts for 75 percent of Colorado counties that incorporate rural parts of the state.


For decades the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division (CPW) has strictly regulated mountain lion hunting, including only allowing certain methods and establishing a hunting season that runs from late November to early March. The amount of tags given equal less than 20 percent of the mountain lions that exist in a region ,and the law requires that all meat from the hunted animals must be harvested.


But after wildlife officials legalized electronic call devices for wildcat hunting in 2021, animal rights groups like Can’t Aren’t Trophies (CAT) started launching a statewide campaign against trophy hunting. And to add fuel to the fire of their campaign this year, headlines have circulated that in the first month of the ’23-’24 mountain lion hunting season, nearly 200 wildcats were killed in the state.


“Trophy hunting of mountain lions is cruel, unsporting, and serves absolutely no management purpose,” Samantha Miller, Campaign Manager for CAT told Yellowscene Magazine. “Contrary to fair-chase hunting ethics, mountain lion trophy hunting stacks the odds in the trophy hunter’s favor. Lions are hunted down using high-tech gadgetry and packs of radio-collared dogs that corner them in trees with nowhere to go. Many of these shooters paid hunting guides upwards of $8,000 to guarantee a head and a hide.”

However, after a group asked the Colorado Supreme Court to block an outright ban on mountain lion hunting on the ballot, supporters of the initiative filed a new one that wouldn’t ban hunting of wildcats, but ban the use of certain methods.


The new proposed initiative for the ballot in December would ban hunting wild animals, including mountain lions, bobcats and lynx , by using traps, dogs and electronic calling devices. If passed, the ballot measure would also require that the animal carcasses be turned over, excluding the usable meat, and the hunting season would be limited to two weeks at the end of December.


Other Bills Impacting Teller County


Another issue that has seen much discussion locally is the Construction Defects Law that was passed back in 2001. The law basically changed the nature of construction by placing a high amount of liability on contractors and developers, which has put a drastic halt to condominium construction statewide.


According to County Commissioner Erik Stone, he has been working with state lawmakers for the past eight months to come up with ways to amend the law and create a more friendly landscape for developers to build condos. He cites these structures as an ideal tool to facilitate affordable housing. He said that the bill has not yet been introduced to the legislative session, but that the reform to the law has already received bipartisan support.


“There are several things that need to be fixed with the law,” Stone said. “One of them is to essentially create a warranty period to where there is a certain period of time for the homeowners to discover the construction defect. And then once discovered, the builder or responsible party should have the opportunity to fix it.”


During their Jan. 23 regular meeting, County Commission Vice-Chairman Dan Williams mentioned that the commissioners were tracking about 90 bills. The commissioners want to inform lawmakers that  many of these proposed measures could negatively affect rural Colorado.


“We as commissioners always try to make sure that we don’t break something,” Williams said. “The thing that we always ask is, ‘what are we trying to fix?’”


He mentioned bills that seem to be aimed more towards those living in the city, such as measures requiring restrictions on septic systems, water usage and the control of “obnoxious leaks.” Williams said that many of these proposed bills require action that may be good for those who reside in metropolitan areas. At the same time, these laws could cause unnecessary consequences for those living in rural communities.


The 2024 legislative session is still very new, and many expect a huge lineup of proposed laws  put on the table, prior to the official end the current session in May. Last year, there were approximately 600 new laws proposed. If the current trends continue, it appears as if 2024 could see even more proposed legislation, according to the commissioners.