Washington Cougar Hunting Season Threatened by Proposed Changes

At their April meeting, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to change cougar hunting seasons and regulations that reduce hunting opportunities and unfairly burden sportsmen with resolving cougar conflict issues.

The public comment period is open until June 21st and we need sportsmen and women in Washington and beyond to voice their opposition to these changes, which are available on WDFW’s website

Summary of proposed changes:

The WFWC has decided against recommendations from Fish and Wildlife scientists and administrative staff to seek targeted, scientifically-backed solutions, proposing instead:

  • Cutting the month of April from the season (September 1 to March 31)
  • Implementing a 13% cap on take in each PMU, using a statewide density estimate of 2.3 cats per 100 square kilometers (currently capped at 16% after December 31st)
  • Including all known human-caused cougar mortalities (conflict, roadkill, etc.) in the 13% cap
  • Increasing the cap to 20% in PMUs that reach or surpass the 13% cap prior to the cougar hunting season (sunsetting at the end of the 2024-2025 season)

Not only would these changes remove the current split season and require hunters to verify unit openings starting September 1st, but this could result in multiple PMUs not opening at the beginning of the season, drastically reducing opportunities in units with moderate to high conflict take. 

Not only is there no scientific basis for altering the current management regulations, but the proposed changes fail to consider regional nuances, and overgeneralize population density estimates, which contradict the agency's desired direction for cougar management. 

Voice your opinion:

We need to make it clear to the WFW Commission that they must:

  • Follow proper process to guarantee focused and effective management.
  • Call on their own specialist to take a focused examination of PMUs instead of solely operating and advising at a state level.
  • Abide by the department's mandate to maximize recreational opportunity without impairing the resource. Removal of opportunity should not be the first solution, when it is not the problem.
  • Utilize objective science and data from their own subject matter experts, instead of cherry-picking theories from outside, biased sources.
  • Consider ways to mobilize hunters to solve conflict issues and ensure more cats are respectfully utilized, instead of wasted in a landfill when removal is completed by hired guns.




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