OLYMPIA - Washington hunters interested in assisting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) with public-safety cougar removals have until Oct. 15 to apply for special permits.
The requests are being taken in accordance with rules adopted Aug. 1 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission that allow the use of dogs to remove cougars in limited areas where cougars have been judged to be a threat to human safety, based on past complaints.
The use of dogs to hunt cougars was banned in Washington in 1996 by ballot initiative. Since then, hunting cougars without dogs has been allowed annually from Aug. 1 to March 15. But following increasing cougar-related complaints over the last few years, the Legislature in 2000 directed the commission to develop rules allowing the use of dogs to remove cougars in selected areas of the state.
WDFW staff determined that up to 61 cougars should be removed from 16 game management units (GMUs) that had the highest levels of public safety cougar- related complaints in 2002 and 2003. The units are primarily in north-central and northeast Washington.
Permit applicants must have a valid state big game hunting license, with cougar as a species option, and must own cougar-tracking dogs.
The permit applications, which must be in writing, must be submitted by Oct. 15 to WDFW Enforcement Program, Attn: Sean Carrell, 600 Capital Way N, Olympia WA 98501-1091. Application forms are available on the WDFW website. Permit requests must include the applicant's name, address, phone number and the WDFW administrative region in which the applicant would like to participate.
Cougar removal permits, which will be valid for use from Dec. 1 to March 15, will be drawn at random. Individuals selected for permits will be notified by mail. The notice will include the GMU and the boundaries in which the permit is to be used.