Olympia - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reminds hunters that the general cougar season without the aid of dogs closes Nov. 19 in Chelan, Ferry, Okanogan, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.
The general statewide cougar season was originally scheduled to run through March 15, 2005, and will do so in all but the five northeastern Washington counties, where a new pilot cougar-hunting season with the aid of dogs opens Dec. 1.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which establishes policy for WDFW, voted Oct. 1 to establish a new three-year pilot program that allows the use of hounds in the five northeastern Washington counties.
The new program is the outgrowth of state legislation passed earlier this year in response to public safety and livestock depredation concerns.
Hunting cougar with hounds was banned statewide by public initiative in 1996. However, recent legislation allows hounds to be used during specific seasons in the five counties for the next three years under the program. WDFW and the counties are required to submit a report on the program to the Washington State Legislature at the end of the three-year period.
Archery and muzzleloader hunters going after deer or elk in the five counties can hunt for cougar from Nov. 20-30 during their respective season and with equipment that is consistent with their deer or elk tag.