OLYMPIA - Cougar-hunting seasons in five northeastern Washington counties have been changed following the creation of a pilot cougar program, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
General cougar season without the aid of dogs closes Nov. 19 in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties. However, from November 20-30 archery and muzzleloader hunters going after deer or elk can hunt for cougar during their respective season and with equipment that is consistent with their deer or elk tag.
A new pilot cougar-hunting season with the aid of dogs opens Dec. 1. The cougar hunt is by permit only and is limited to Washington resident hound owners. Hunters can apply using the same application process as deer or elk permit hunts. Cougar permit applications can be purchased for $5.48 at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov or by calling 1-866-246-9453. Hunters will be selected at random.
Applications can also be submitted online at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov or by calling 1-877-645-3492. Applications are available now and must be submitted by midnight, Nov. 7. Hunters selected for a cougar permit will be notified by Nov. 19. Season rules, hunt choice numbers and more information are available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/, and at all WDFW offices.
Hunters participating in the public safety cougar removal program are eligible to participate in the new pilot cougar hunt program.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission 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.