According to Washington's own best estimates, the State's cougar population has been cut in half since 2003 and little is being done to reverse the damage. In the past 25 years, people have killed more than 4,500 cougars. Sport hunting combined with losses from habitat fragmentation, roadkill, community intolerance and orphaning are putting the future of Washington's cougar in jeopardy.
But it's not too late! With your help, we can stop the hunt and put in place protections to ensure a sustainable, ecologically effective cougar population for generations to come. Please, become a cougar activist today!
Washington's current Cougar Management Plan acknowledges there are far fewer cougars in Washington than previously thought. The plan estimates cougar populations are down by half: from the maximum estimate of 4,100 reported in 2003, to somewhere between 1,800 and 2,100 in 2015.
Despite acknowledging cascading cougar population numbers, increased female cougar mortalities, reduced cougar complaints, and unbalanced and unsustainable cougar gender and age dynamics, recreational hunting of cougars is still permitted.
Washington sport hunters annually shoot around 100 to 150 lions, and the use of hounds was banned in 1996 by a citizen-sponsored initiative (Initiative-655). The public overwhelmingly supported the legislation which made it illegal for hunters to use bait to attract black bears, or to hunt a black bear, cougar, bobcat or lynx with the use of hounds. Exceptions were only granted for emergency cases when a specific threatening animal needed to be tracked and killed.
Unfortunately, legislation since that time has expanded the loophole and now allows for the use of hounds in special public safety hunts which are designed to indiscriminately kill cats to reduce the overall size of the population in the hopes this will reduce the odds of a conflict.
From the year 2000 to 2011, more than 460 cougars were killed under these misguided safety hound hunts. WDFW found this program was not achieving the desired goal of increasing public safety — it was actually making things worse — and the Department stopped issuing the special hound permits in 2011.
Houndsmen refuse to give up their pastime and virtually every year attempt to pass legislation or amend regulations to force WDFW to allow hound hunts. MLF has been effective at stopping these attempts every time because of our vocal Washington members.
When you see hound hunting proposed in your local newspapers or at WDFW meetings, we urge you to calmly and respectfully respond with the facts: