OLYMPIA – The public will have an opportunity to comment on proposed changes to cougar hunting regulations during a Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, conducted via videoconference, scheduled for 6 p.m. July 18.
The public can listen to the commission’s discussion and provide comment in room 172 on the 1st floor of the Natural Resources Building in Olympia, 1111 Washington St. S.E., and at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Region 1 office in Spokane, 2315 North Discovery Place.
Earlier that day, the commission also will discuss items of general interest during a conference call scheduled for 8:30 a.m. No public input will be taken during the morning meeting, but the public can listen via speakerphone in the commission office on the 5th floor of the Natural Resources Building.
During the afternoon meeting, WDFW staff will brief the commission on the proposed amendments to cougar hunting regulations, 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 five eastern Washington counties and allows other counties to request inclusion in the project.
The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, will consider adopting amendments to the cougar hunting regulations during its August 8-9 meeting in Lynnwood.
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 more information on the meeting and conference call, see the commission’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/jul1808.htm or call the commission office at (360) 902-2267.