OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will review the state's public safety cougar removal program at its regular monthly meeting, Aug. 2-3, in Aberdeen.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is also set to take public testimony and act on the 2002-03 migratory waterfowl seasons and regulations.
Other agenda items include:
- Accepting public input and taking action on proposed amendments to the 2002-03 elk special permits to correct an error in the boundary descriptions for the Dayton and Columbia special permit elk hunts;
- Accepting public input and taking action on classifying and controlling aquatic nuisance species rules proposals, to establish a screening and classification system to control such species;
- Accepting public input and considering adoption of ballast water discharge reporting rules;
- Accepting public input and considering adoption of amendments to marine protected areas, retail license endorsement rules, license reduction programs;
- Getting a department staff briefing on the status of new rules regulating saltwater aquaculture salmon net pens;
- Considering adoption of new rules regarding the sale of salmon eggs, the sale of salmon and other seafood by individual commercial fishers, the maximum purchase price for sea urchin and sea cucumber commercial harvest licenses and reducing the minimum size for manila clam harvesting in Quilcene Bay.
The proposed changes to the public safety cougar removal program include moving the deadline for applications for public safety cougar removal permits from Nov. 1 to Oct. 1 of each year, changing the start date of the permit season from Dec. 16 to Dec. 1 of each year and requiring all participants in a public safety cougar removal hunt to complete a brief education course.
The use of dogs to hunt cougar in Washington was banned by ballot initiative in 1996, and in 2000 the Washington State Legislature directed WDFW to develop a controlled system for removing cougars using dogs in areas where they are a safety concern for people, pets and livestock.
The number of cougar public safety removal permits issued each year is based upon the number of complaints. Sixty-seven of the 109 cougar targeted for removal in 21 Game Management Units (GMU) were taken during the 2001 public safety season. This year, with fewer complaints, the target is to remove 76 cougars from 20 GMU's.
The deadline for submitting written public comment on the proposed changes to the public safety cougar removal hunt process is July 26, and the commission will also take public testimony Aug. 2.
The commission meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Pearsall Multi-Services Center, 2109 Sumner Ave. in Aberdeen.
For the complete Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting agenda, click here.