General Question

RareDenver's avatar

What do you think to introducing Lions to the plains of the western United States in order to control the wild horse population?

Asked by RareDenver (13163points) March 8th, 2011

In Florida panthers have been released near to Naples and are helping to control the hog population so would you like to see Lions roaming the western plains?

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39 Answers

PhiNotPi's avatar

The problem is that the lions will probably eat more than just the wild horses. Quite a few things will spontaneously find themselves no longer at the top of the food chain.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

The difference would be panthers are native to Florida and lions are not native to the plains of western United States. However, there are probably other feline species which are native to the plains. Introducing lions would change the ecology of the area drastically.

WestRiverrat's avatar

It would make more sense to let people hunt the wild horses instead of introducing lions. Most of the rest of the world eats horsemeat, it could be a viable alternative to beef or pork in the US.

Jeruba's avatar

as i recall this sort of measure has always backfired – introducing a nonnative species that has no natural enemies

i think the idea is crazy

marinelife's avatar

It does not make any sense.

RareDenver's avatar

@optimisticpessimist I believe horses are not native to the Americas either they were introduced by the first Europeans

DominicX's avatar

Then what happens to the lions? Are we going to become overrun with lions then? Reminds me of this dialogue from The Simpsons:

Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
  Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
  Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.
  Lisa: But aren’t the snakes even worse?
  Skinner: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
  Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
  Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

What kind of situation do people predict would happen with the lions?

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TexasDude's avatar

Introducing non-native species to an ecosystem to control other often nonnative species is almost always a bad idea and hardly ends well for anyone.

Coloma's avatar

Nope. And that’s Mountain Lion territory as well. African Lions would wipe out the cougars…not a good idea.

A better idea is to try birth control introduction, capture as many foals as possible and have them gelded and adopted out.

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Coloma's avatar

I don’t really get it, after all..there already ARE lions populating much of the western states as it is.
What kind of ‘Panthers’ are you talking about anyway?
Introducing Florida panthers out west?

Maybe we should stop hunting Cougars in those states where they are still legal to hunt short of depredation reasons.

Cougars rarely attack full grown horses, only the sick and the young.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@RareDenver True. Horses were brought by the Spanish but they have been here for hundreds of years now. Kind of late to do anything about that. Besides they were/are quite useful.

RareDenver's avatar

@optimisticpessimist and lions were in the Americas thousands of years ago, we could go on forever lol

Brian1946's avatar

As much as I love lions, introducing them to a nonnative area would be disastrous.

E.g. per Wiki:

“When humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and Crab-eating Macaques, which plundered the dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes….”

Besides, AFAIK, there isn’t any overpopulation of wild horses, although it could be that some ranchers claim that there is.


“Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.”


“Introduce lions to control the redneck population. Lions, tigers, and especially grizzly bears.”


crisw's avatar

Let the native “lions”- the cougars- do the job. Studies have shown that they love ‘em some horsemeat.

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hobbitsubculture's avatar

What’s wrong with our native mountain lions?

And why does the wild horse population need controlling? (I don’t mean that sarcastically or anything, I really want to know what’s going on.)

WestRiverrat's avatar

@hobbitsubculture The wild horse population has no natural predators in the US. It is illegal to hunt or harass them in any way. The population of wild horses in many areas has grown so much that they are stripping the food sources that the horses and native species like deer and elk need to sustain themselves.

If some viable way is not found to keep the wild horse population at sustainable levels, there probably will be a catastrophic ecosystem collapse in much of their range.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Wild life is “wild” because it is uncontrolled.

jballzz's avatar

I just learned about this type of thing in biology. It’s a bad idea to introduce anything to a location that is not it’s natural habitat because it will just get worse. The lions won’t only feed on horses, but on other organisms too, and will upset the entire ecosystem. While I do think it would be cool to see lions in America in the plains, it’s still a bad idea and shouldn’t be done.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@RareDenver…and horses were native to North America until about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. As you said, this could go on and on.

Mountain lions would potentially be a viable natural predator which is native to the area.

syz's avatar

Why not reintroduce or allow the re-population of the native predators that were systematically slaughtered by humans? The wolves, bears, cougars, and jaguars would bring a healthier balance to all of the prey species, including horses.

Answerbagger's avatar

Lions?!?! That sounds like a REALLY BAD idea!!! What are they going to add to control the lions after all the wild horses are eaten and the lions start eating people???

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WasCy's avatar

I think it’s a fine idea. Maybe we can introduce crocodiles and hippos to the waterways, too, in order to control the jet-skiers.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

@Answerbagger Introducing some of this to the plains region might help with the lion problem.

Actually, he’d probably be a better solution than lions if the horses weren’t illegal to hunt, as @WestRiverrat pointed out.

LostInParadise's avatar

I just listened to a radio interview with the makers of the film The Last Lions When I saw your question, my first thought was that it might be a good way of preserving lions in the wild, but I have to go along with those who are concerned about what would happen to our ecology if we let them loose here.

6rant6's avatar

I imagine releasing lions in the cities would help alleviate the homeless problem. Not sure that’s a good idea anyway.

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bobesherman's avatar

There may be a dummer idea, but I can’t think of it.

RareDenver's avatar

Just to let you all know this is actually an idea that is having some serious consideration at the moment. I didn’t just dream it up out of nowhere.

crisw's avatar


Yeah, I know- I’ve usually seen it called Pleistocene rewilding.

vore's avatar

i think it it is a really good idea because it wil get there numbers up, if not lions they should use another big cat

but we dont even know if thay will be able to catch horse they are faster bigger and stronger than zebras and they struggle to get them down
i say leapod or loads of cheetahs

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