WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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October 25, 2000
Contact: Sean Carrell, (360) 902-2926
Mary Carmichael, (360) 902-2935

New toll-free hotline established for reporting dangerous wildlife

OLYMPIA -- Beginning Nov. 1, the public will be able to use a toll-free telephone hotline to report dangerous cougar or bear incidents to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The hotline number will be (888) 879-6069 1-800-477-6224 for reporting cougar or bear encounters that represent a public safety concern or cougars or bears that have caused damage to property or injured or killed livestock or pets.

"Public safety is our primary concern," said WDFW Chief Bruce Bjork. "We want to do everything in our power to provide our constituents with a means to quickly report dangerous wildlife incidents. Timeliness is the most important factor in the resolution of dangerous wildlife issues; officers dispatched to the scene of an incident have better success in resolving the problem if they can evaluate the evidence while it's still fresh."

Calls coming in on the hotline will be answered by enforcement staff between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. A voice-messaging system will allow the public to leave information if enforcement staff is busy with other hotline calls during business hours.

After hours, callers should leave the details of their situation on the voice messaging system and also will be directed to contact their local Washington State Patrol office; the State Patrol will dispatch an available Fish and Wildlife Officer to respond, and WDFW staff will follow up on all complaint calls.

The new hotline is only for reporting dangerous wildlife encounters. For general information requests about wildlife or to report sightings of cougars or bears, call the main WDFW number in Olympia (360) 902-2200, or the local regional office.

Other general enforcement issues also may be referred to the local regional office or Olympia Headquarters, (360) 902-2936.