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Governor Rejects Increased Cougar Hunting Quotas


Wednesday, October 21, 2015   

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Cougar hunting quotas are not going up. Gov. Jay Inslee has overturned a state wildlife panel's decision to increase the percentage of cougars that can in hunted in areas also inhabited by wolves.

Dan Paul, Washington state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said they asked Inslee to intervene because the quotas were increased without first hearing from the public.

"It's really nice to see the appreciation of the public process, which was clearly in violation here," Paul said, "as well as really using science to manage our wildlife and not fear mongering."

The governor's decision on Monday reverses the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission's decision to increase the quotas 17 percent to 21 percent. Paul said the lower quota of 12 percent to 16 percent satisfies hunters without doing permanent damage to the cougar population.

Killing more cougars goes against the state's own research about balancing the cougar population to minimize conflict with people and livestock, Paul said.

"We did about 13 years of study at Washington State University to come up with these numbers," he said. "It was recommended by the department's own biologists to keep the numbers at 12 to 16 percent, which would be the most effective in keeping the population stable and also avoiding conflict."

Paul said killing more of the larger, "trophy" cats will disrupt the cougar population.

"That allows younger males to move in, but then they'll have conflict over the area," he said. "And so that'll boot out the weaker of the two cougars and they'll typically then run into conflicts either going into cities and towns or they'll have to switch to a prey base like livestock."

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission decided this spring to increase the quotas to provide relief to communities bothered by wolves and other predators.

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