Sheriff who previously flouted mask rules and gun laws is now violating state wildlife laws
August 13, 2021, Kennewick, WA — The Klickitat County Sheriff’s rampage against wildlife violates state law and must immediately be stopped by courts, according to new filings in a Washington State court. The filing is the latest in the Mountain Lion Foundation’s lawsuit against Sheriff Bob Songer, calls for an immediate order halting the illegal hunts and his illegal deputization of a posse to assist in the culling. Just this year, Songer has pursued several cougars, illegally using packs of hounds to chase mountain lions that posed no threat to public safety.
“Sheriff Songer’s conduct endangers the people of Klickitat County, devastates wildlife, and contradicts everything science and experience teaches us about how to protect livestock and communities,” explains Debra Chase, CEO of the Mountain Lion Foundation. “Sheriffs are supposed to follow the law, not undercut the will of Washington voters and legislators, and the laws established to protect wildlife from being cruelly and capriciously chased by dogs. It’s a shame he wouldn’t abide by the law, or meet us and other concerned citizens to find a better solution, and especially bad that we need the courts to compel him to stop breaking the laws he swore to uphold.”
The Mountain Lion Foundation’s petition to the Benton County Superior Court asks for a Peremptory Writ of Prohibition, an order blocking further implementation of Songer’s so-called Dangerous Wildlife Policy and Procedures. In 1996, 63% of Washington voters approved Initiative 655, which prohibits the use of hound packs to hunt cougars, with very limited exceptions that do not apply to Sheriff Songer.
Chase explains: “Sheriff Songer’s policy allows him and people he claims to have deputized — without any background checks or training — to chase cougars simply seen walking through agricultural areas, or feeding on deer they caught in the wild. Rather than killing lions just for being themselves, Songer should work with state wildlife agencies, his own citizens, and groups like ours to develop safe paths to coexistence in Klickitat County.”
In a 2010 survey by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washingtonians statewide overwhelmingly agreed “it is the responsibility of people to help prevent cougar conflicts when living in or near cougar habitat.” Only 10% agreed with the statement “Cougars spotted in or near towns should be killed.” In the last 100 years, cougars in Washington have only killed two people (in 1924 and 2018). There has never been a fatal attack in Klickitat County.
A hearing on the legal case is scheduled for August 27. Filings can be found online at http://www.facebook.com/groups/springvsonger
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. The Foundation’s website is http://mountainlion.org.
Adam P. Karp, JD, MS is a regional animal law litigator residing in Bellingham, Washington with licenses in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. He has practiced animal law for 23 years. His website is http://animal-lawyer.com.
Contact: Josh Rosenau, Conservation Advocate, Mountain Lion Foundation
916-442-2666 ext. 107
Adam Karp, Esq.