Cougar Management Removal Permit Program

Cougar in tree in winter
Brad Whitcher

If warranted a cougar management removal will be conducted annually between December 1 and March 31 in selected areas of game management units designated by the director.

  • To participate in a public safety cougar removal, an individual must request that his/her name be placed on a list of available participants (participant list) by registering on the department's authorized website or faxing a request to (360) 902-2162, Attention - Public Safety Cougar Removal. The request must include the individual's name, Wild ID, phone number, and email address. An individual's request to be placed on a participant list for a removal period must be submitted on the department's website or received at the department's Olympia office no later than October 31 of each year.
  • To be eligible for a cougar management removal permit (permit), the participant must be a Washington resident dog hunter (i.e., owns and hunts with dogs capable of detecting, tracking, and treeing a cougar). The permit holder must use dogs while participating in a cougar management removal.
  • Individuals eligible for participation in a cougar management removal will be randomly selected from the participant list.
  • Individuals on the participant list will be contacted on an as-needed basis to conduct removals in portions of GMUs. Not all individuals on the participant list will be contacted in a given year.
  • A valid big game hunting license which includes cougar as a species option is required to hunt cougar.
  • It is unlawful to kill or possess spotted cougar kittens or adult cougars accompanied by spotted kittens. Individuals selected for a public safety cougar removal permit may take one cougar per permit.
  • Any person who takes a cougar must notify the department within twenty-four hours of kill (excluding legal state holidays) and provide the hunter's name, the date and location of kill, and the sex of animal. The raw pelt of a cougar must be sealed by an authorized department employee within seventy-two hours of the notification of kill. Any person who takes a cougar must present the cougar skull, in such a manner that teeth and biological samples can be extracted, to an authorized department employee at the time of sealing.

Season, quotas, and participation

  • Cougar management removal(s) will be conducted between December 1 and March 31 in selected areas of game management units designated by the Director to address a confirmed human-cougar safety incident or confirmed livestock or pet depredation.
  • Public safety cougar removals will be based on a harvest guideline system established in WAC 220-440-030, where permit holders may hunt cougar until the hunt area harvest guideline has been met and the Director has closed the cougar late hunting season or March 31, whichever is first.
  • It is each cougar hunter's responsibility to verify if the cougar hunting season is open or closed in hunt areas with a harvest guideline. Cougar hunters can verify if the season is open or closed by calling the toll free cougar hunting hotline (1-866-364-4868) or visiting wdfw.wa.gov. The hotline and website will be updated weekly beginning Jan. 1.
  • No more than four total individuals may participate per public safety cougar removal, including the permit holder(s). Only the permit holder, whose name appears on the permit, may take a cougar. For more information contact: Wildlife Program – Wildlife Conflict Section, PO Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504, or (360) 902-2515, or by e-mailing at wildthing@dfw.wa.gov

Disclosure Notice: Any information you submit to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is subject to public disclosure under Washington's Public Records law, RCW 42.56.