OLYMPIA – Applications are available for prospective hunters who want to participate in a pilot cougar-hunting season with the aid of dogs that begins Dec. 1 in five northeastern Washington counties.
The deadline to submit the applications to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is Sept. 19.
Hunting cougar with dogs was banned statewide by public initiative in 1996. However, in response to public safety and livestock depredation concerns, 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.
The 2007 legislature approved an extension of the cougar hunt for 2007-08. WDFW will recommend the Fish and Wildlife Commission adopt that measure into rule in November. The only expected changes are calendar date adjustments.
The special cougar hunt is by permit only and limited to Washington residents who own hunting dogs capable of tracking and treeing cougar.
Hunters can follow the same application process used for deer or elk permit hunts and must submit their applications by midnight, Sept. 19. Hunters will be chosen at random and notified by Oct. 4. Cougar permit applications can be purchased for $5.48 at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov or by calling 1-877-945-3492.
Hunt choices and permit levels are: Okanogan (hunt choice 9001) — 35 permits; Chelan (hunt choice 9002) — 20 permits; Okanogan-Ferry (hunt choice 9003) — 30 permits; and Stevens-Pend Oreille (hunt choice 9004) — 50 permits. Area descriptions, season rules and more information are available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/bear_cougar/ and at all WDFW offices.