Commission Hears Comments on Proposed Changes to Cougar Hunting Regulations in Washington
OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission took public comment on proposed changes to cougar hunting regulations at a meeting Friday (July 18) conducted via videoconference in Olympia and Spokane.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is scheduled to take action on the amendments to the cougar hunting regulations during its August 8-9 meeting in Lynnwood.
During Friday’s meeting, WDFW staff outlined the proposed amendments, which are consistent with a bill approved earlier this year by the Legislature. That bill, ESHB 2438, extends a pilot project authorizing cougar hunting with the aid of dogs for another three years in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties and allows other counties to request inclusion in the project.
The proposed amendments to the pilot cougar seasons with the aid of dogs also include:
Allowing Klickitat County to be included in the pilot project.
Reducing the cougar annual bag limit from two to one animal.
Requiring all hunters to report their activity, whether successful or not, via a toll-free hotline.
Reducing the total allowable harvest for the 2008-2009 winter season by 40 percent in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to stabilize the cougar population.
Hunting cougar with dogs was banned statewide by public initiative in 1996. However, in response to concerns about public safety and livestock depredation, the Washington Legislature voted in 2004 to allow hunting cougar with hounds during specific seasons in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties where cougar densities pose potential public-safety problems.
For additional information on the commission’s schedule and activities, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/comintro.htm.