Senate Bill 6287 failed to pass the Senate by today's deadline. The bill is now effectively dead and Washington's cougars and hounds can sleep a little safer. To everyone who shared this alert and contacted legislators: THANK YOU!
This afternoon the Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee passed the bill onward, despite demonstrated opposition at last week's hearing. The bill is moving toward the Senate floor where it will be voted upon sometime in the next two weeks (February 18th is the last day).
We are extremely short on time! Please contact your Senator NOW and urge him or her to vote against this terrible bill! For tips on what to say, please scroll down below the video and see the bullet points.
Washington state Senators Brian Dansel and Don Benton have coauthored a bill as part of the latest attempt to force the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to allow trophy hunters to use hounds to kill cougars for fun. The bill states special "dangerous wildlife task teams must be developed in each county [...] and a kill season with the aid of dogs must be established," ultimately claiming they will hunt lions to protect the public and increase research on the species. WDFW and the findings of numerous research projects have shown these hunting programs don't work, and they can actually increase cougar-human conflicts.
The program is merely a feel-good title for a group of hunters who will use a pack of hounds to track and chase a cougar until it climbs a tree out of exhaustion, and then shoot the cat at close range off a tree branch.
Moreover, WDFW already has the authority to initiate special public safety hunts with the use of hounds, if needed (WAC 232-12-243). But the agency has found instead, by utilizing the latest peer-reviewed science into management decisions, "Cougar conflicts have declined substantially in recent years as the Department continues to emphasize cougar awareness coupled with our agency kill authority of problem cougars at the time of an incident."
Teaching the public about coexistence and only killing the individual cats causing problems has proven to be a more successful policy.
Allowing groups of hound hunters to kill random cougars in rural areas has not yielded any positive results.
Washington sport hunters (without dogs) currently shoot more than 100 lions each year, and WDFW has found this mortality level may already be too high. The cougar population is declining and the excessive killing of adult lions has caused an age shift to younger cats which are more likely to come into conflict with people, pets, and livestock.
The agency has been using published research from Washington State University to revise and lower the state's annual sport hunting quotas so that the cougar population may grow and mature. The last thing we need is a new program to track and kill more cougars, especially cats that have never come into conflict with people.
Senate Bill 6287 is a redundant authorization of public safety hound hunts — WDFW already has this tool at its discretion anytime they determine it appropriate and necessary to use hounds to help kill cougars.
Senate Bill 6287 would also force WDFW to implement a wildlife killing program they know is unsuccessful and potentially dangerous. The legislation is not backed by the Department, scientific research, or the majority of citizens in Washington.
In short: this is a BAD BILL.
If you live outside Washington, please forward this page to your Washington friends and consider sharing it on Facebook.
If you live in Washington state you can help by writing a short letter to your legislative representatives telling them why you oppose Senate Bill 6287. These letters will be used to demonstrate opposition to the bill and encourage the legislature to kill it.
A few minutes of your time could make a big difference and help Washington's cougars.
If you live in Washington, please contact your legislators and urge them to oppose SB 6287.
Please also send MLF a copy of your letter and cc emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
In your letter or telephone call, please point out:
Personalized, hard-copy letters (snail mail) have a larger impact than emails or opinions submitted through online comment forms.
But every effort helps.
So if you only have a few minutes to help, please use this form to submit your thoughts on SB 6287:
Thank you so very much for taking the time to help protect Washington's cougars!
The Mountain Lion Foundation, founded in 1986, is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habitat. The mountain lion is also known as cougar, puma, panther, and catamount.
We believe that mountain lions are in peril. Our nation is on the verge of destroying this apex species upon which whole ecosystems depend. Hunting mountain lions is morally unjustified, and killing lions to prevent conflicts is ineffective and dangerous. There is a critical need to know more about the biology, behavior, and ecology of mountain lions, and governments should base decisions upon truthful science, valid data, and the highest common good. Conserving critical lion habitat is essential.
Together, we can save America's lion.
Join us today!No minimum gift is required to become a member of the Mountain Lion Foundation. Just make the donation you can afford using any of the following methods. Click HERE to make a gift through PayPal, or mail your contribution to Mountain Lion Foundation, P.O. Box 1896, Sacramento, California 95812.
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