For immediate release
Date April 26, 2021
Debra Chase, CEO, Mountain Lion Foundation
916-442-2666 ext. 103
The Washington Legislature Passed SB 5092 – Operating Budget
Will help to Protect Washington’s Cougars
Olympia, WA – SB 5092, making the 2021-2023 fiscal biennium operating appropriations, passed the Legislature Sunday, April 25 and will soon be signed into law by Governor Inslee. The budget includes a directive on cougar management in the State.
SB 5092 will require the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), in coordination with statewide law enforcement agencies, to provide a report to the legislature by January 2022, on the number of cougars reported to WDFW as killed by local government law enforcement agencies, cougar pursuit training opportunities provided to local law enforcement agencies, and how cougar removals by local enforcement agencies impact WDFW’s cougar management strategies.
In addition, appropriations will be provided solely for WDFW to assist local jurisdictions in responding to cougar related public safety concerns. The funding is available to a local jurisdiction only if they have a signed agreement with WDFW recognizing cougar management authority is vested with WDFW. The agreement provides criteria to determine if a cougar creates an actionable public safety risk deemed eligible for financial assistance. The approved language within the budget notes that the mere presence of a cougar on private property alone does not create an actionable public safety risk.
The National Non Profit Mountain Lion Foundation is pleased with the outcome of this operating budget. “We want to thank the Budget Leaders Christine Rolfes and Kevin Van De Wege. This is great news for cougars in Washington state,” stated Mountain Lion Foundation CEO, Debra Chase. “Cougars are overhunted in Washington and this budget will help to ensure they are not killed just for existing and living their lives.”
Chris Bachman, the Foundation’s Regional Conservation Advocate commented, “This directive to the Department will bring accountability, transparency and makes clear that the mere presence of a cougar on private property does not create an actionable public safety risk.”
Cougars are a keystone species in the U.S. and are found only in western states and Florida. Hunted to extinction in the east they have an ecological impact that is greater than their numbers suggest.
Founded in 1986, the Mountain Lion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to ensure that America’s lion survives and flourishes in the wild.