Sometimes people just don't want to confuse the issue with facts. Such is the case with this week's rogue, Rep. Jeff Kropf (R-Sublimity), who has let a personal connection cloud his judgment on the question of cougar hunting.
Last year, a friend's 3-year-old son was attacked by one of the big cats in Washington. The boy survived; the cougar was killed.
That attack helped persuade Kropf to lead the latest attempt to overturn a 1994 ballot measure that banned hunting cougars with dogs. "Is a life of a child worth abrogating the unintended consequences of the voters?" asks a Marion County mint farmer. "My conclusion is yes."
Unfortunately, Kropf's effort to let the dogs out is built almost purely on anecdote.
More people are killed by deer, bees, spiders and even dogs than by cougars, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. In fact, there is no evidence of any cougar attack since the 1994 ban.
"I haven't seen any data," admits Kropf, who's best known for his attempts to establish an Elvis Day in Oregon.
The ban doesn't seem to have hobbled hunters, who have been killing more cougars than the 145 they bagged in 1994, when the ban went into effect. (To be fair, the number of hunters has also risen.)
Kropf argues for his cause by claiming state wildlife managers testified before a House committee that cougar sightings are up and that some areas show more deaths among elk
and deer. But even this line of argument is dubious, because there's no proof that cougars are to blame.
Animal-rights advocates are steamed that Kropf introduced the bill. "Oregonians have twice decisively said they don't want this," says Alan Tressider, a lobbyist for the Oregon Humane Society. "There's no evidence that there's a problem."
If Kropf really wants to grapple with a growing menace, why not a bill to allow the use of dogs to hunt down Elvis impersonators?