Wolf advocates outraged over plan to kill E. Wash. wolf pack

Gray wolf (File photo)


SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Some wolf advocates are outraged that the state is preparing for the second time to exterminate an entire wolf pack for preying on livestock in northeastern Washington state.

This is the second time in four years that a pack of endangered wolves has received the death penalty because of the grazing of privately owned cattle on publicly owned lands, the Center for Biological Diversity said.

Washington is home to about 90 wolves, and killing the 11 members of the Profanity Peak pack would amount to 12 percent of the population.

“By no stretch of the imagination can killing 12 percent of the state’s tiny population of 90 wolves be consistent with recovery,” said Amaroq Weiss, of the Center for Biological Diversity, on Thursday.

“We can’t keep placing wolves in harm’s way by repeatedly dumping livestock onto public lands with indefensible terrain, then killing the wolves when conflicts arise,” she said.

Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced it would exterminate the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County. Since mid-July, the agency has confirmed that wolves have killed or injured six cattle and probably five others, based on staff investigations.

Jim Unsworth, director of the agency, authorized the wolf hunts between the towns of Republic and Kettle Falls.

Wildlife officials shot two pack members Aug. 5, but temporarily ended wolf-removal efforts after two weeks passed without finding any more evidence of wolf predation on cattle.

“At that time, we said we would restart this operation if there was another wolf attack, and now we have three,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf policy lead. “The department is committed to wolf recovery, but we also have a shared responsibility to protect livestock from repeated depredation by wolves.”

Since 2008, the state’s wolf population has grown from two wolves in one pack to at least 90 wolves and 19 packs.

Wolves were hunted to extinction in Washington at the beginning of the last century. Since the early 2000s, they’ve moved back into the state from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia.

That has set off alarm bells from people in rural areas, especially in northeastern Washington where the animals are concentrated.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has walked a fine line between environmental groups, who support wolf recovery, and ranchers who want to protect their herds. The issue has become a dividing line between urban and rural residents.

In 2012, hunters hired by the state killed members of the Wedge pack of wolves, in the same general area, for killing livestock.

Conservation groups say the livestock is the problem, not wolves.

“Cows grazing in thick forest and downed trees in the Colville National Forest are in an indefensible situation,” said Tim Coleman, executive director for Kettle Range Conservation Group. “We believe the wildest areas of our national forests should be a place where wolves can roam free.”

Under Washington’s wolf plan, livestock owners are eligible for taxpayer-funded compensation for losses. Taxpayers have also funded the radio collars placed on wolves.

Those collars are now being used to locate and kill the wolves. This practice is referred to as the use of “Judas wolves,” because the collared wolves unknowingly betray the location of their family members, Weiss said.

Some conservation groups do not oppose the hunt. Wolf Haven International, the Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, and Conservation Northwest said they are focused on long-term goals.

“We remain steadfast that our important goals remain the long-term recovery and public acceptance of wolves in our state alongside thriving rural communities,” the groups said in a press release. “We believe that ultimately we can create conditions where everyone’s values are respected and the needs of wildlife, wildlife advocates, and rural communities are met.”

WA Gov. Blames Climate Change for Wildfires

A major fire in the forests at Ahirikot in Srinagar, Uttarakhand state, India, Monday, May 2, 2016. Massive wildfires that have killed at least seven people in recent weeks were burning through pine forests in the mountains of northern India on Monday, including parts of two tiger reserves.(Press Trust of India via AP) INDIA OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO ARCHIVE

Inslee declares state of emergency, blames climate change as E. Wash. wildfires rage

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Several wildfires continued to burn in Eastern Washington Tuesday and Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for 20 counties.

Firefighters appeared to be gaining the upper hand against wildfires burning in the Spokane region, although heavy smoke blanketed the state’s second-largest city.

Inslee visited a fire command center on the Spokane County Fairgrounds on Tuesday morning, and blamed tree diseases and rising temperatures caused by climate change for the state’s recent spate of record wildfire seasons.

Inslee says diseased trees and climate change have created “explosive conditions” in forests.

“Our forests and wild lands are under attack from climate change,” Inslee said.

More: http://komonews.com/news/local/eastern-wash-wildfires-keep-growing-gov-inslee-heads-to-area

Death Toll Update


Peace for Geese Project

AUG 16, 2016 — Wildlife Services killed 578 geese in King County and 287 on Lake Washington in 2015. Shooting has become their preferred method of killing, but they also conducted two round-ups on Lake Washington where they gassed to death geese and their goslings. The numbers for 2016 will not be available until next year.

In a report to members of the Interlocal Agreement, Wildlife Services stated that they hazed and harassed 3,892 geese in King County. The techniques used included “working dogs, boats, paintballs, and firearms.”

In a decreasing trend, egg addling dropped to just 292 eggs. Clearly, egg addling is not a priority. It is obviously much easier to shoot geese or round them up and gas them instead of addling eggs to prevent their development.

Exact details concerning Wildlife Services killing in the Puget Sound area and Washington State Parks continues to be either non-existent or sketchy at best.

The report also stated “2015 represented the 29th year of Urban Waterfowl Management efforts in the greater Seattle area.” In a vicious cycle of killing, year after year, geese continue to be killed in our parks. And of course, few if any members of the Interlocal Agreement will take any responsibility for the killing. They seem to think that they are not responsible for the killing even though they have all collectively paid for it under the agreement.

Members of the 2015 agreement included: Washington State Parks, Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Kirkland, Mountlake Terrace, Renton, SeaTac, Woodinville, Port of Seattle – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Tacoma MetroParks, Tukwila, and the University of Washington.

Data released by the United States Department of Agriculture shows that Wildlife Services destroyed over 2.7 million animals in 2014. It is time to stop the war on wildlife!


Shooters reduce Profanity Peak Pack by two wolves, so far


ENDANGERED SPECIES — Two gray wolves in Ferry County have been killed by helicopter gunners after the Profanity Peak Pack was linked to killing livestock, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

Staff has been in the field every day since Aug. 4 after agency Director Jim Unsworth authorized killing a portion of the pack as a last resort after failed attempts to deter the attacks.  More wolves in the pack of about 11 animals are being targeted.

Gray wolves are protected by Washington state endangered species rules but allowances are made for removing wolves that can’t be thwarted from attacking livestock.

Two adult female wolves were shot on Friday, Aug. 5, said Donny Martorello, department wolf program manager.

“One of the wolves was this year’s breeding female,” he said.  “We were not targeting the breeding pair in this pack, but there is no way to identify the breeding animals during a removal operation, so there is always a chance a breeding animal may be killed.

“Given the age of the pups, we know that they are weaned, so the removal of the breeding female is not likely to impact their survival.  Typically, at this time of year, all of the remaining adults will provide food for the pups.”

The agency has not disclosed how many wolves will be killed.

As lethal removal efforts continue, the Diamond M Ranch livestock producers are continuing efforts to prevent wolf attacks on their cattle by using range riders to monitor activity around the herds, Martorello said.

No wolf depredation reports have been received since the lethal removal operation began, he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Department is posting updates on the effort on its Profanity Peak Pack webpage.

This is the third time the state agency has approved lethal removal operations since wolves were confirmed making a comeback in the state more than a decade ago.

Killing of Coyotes in Laurelhurst‏


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Coyote Challenge

To my readers,

I was extremely disappointed to learn that three coyotes were killed last week, near Union Bay, in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Seattle. Historically, humanity’s fear and ignorance of wild creatures has often led to killing and extermination. My fear is, if we do not learn to coexist with wild creatures then future generations will live in a dismal world of crows, concrete and mechanical contraptions. 
My personal goal is to promote harmony between nature and humanity, specifically around Union Bay which includes the Laurelhurst area. My blog about nature-in-the-city is called, Union Bay Watch. I believe that if we pay attention to wildlife, and treat wild creatures intelligently, we can find ways to coexist. 
A few weeks ago, I met one of the adult coyotes on the trail in the Union Bay Natural Area. Given the time of the year and because the coyote was out and about at mid-day, I suspect it was looking for food for its young. The coyote turned and fled into the brush as I approached. A perfectly acceptable response from a truly wild creature.
Because of my blog and my local interactions, I have talked with many different people who have seen the coyotes. No one who I spoke with mentioned any aggressive behavior. I truly believe the majority of the local people have been excited and happy to have coyotes as neighbors. I hope we can all agree that killing wild creatures should be a last resort.
The information I have read and the reaction from the neighbors causes me to seriously question whether extermination was warranted. The only justification I can find for the killing is, as reported on King5 NewsWildlife services received a request to assist in the management of several coyotes near the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Seattle. The coyotes had become increasingly aggressive towards people and pets in the area.
This statement leaves a lot to the imagination. I admit I do not know the details. I can however make a couple of logical assumptions given the information provided.
a) Since no injuries to humans were reported, I suspect the coyotes did not injure anyone.
b) Since no injuries to pets were noted, I suspect the coyotes did not injure any pets, either.
If the coyotes did not injure any humans or their pets then I wonder, What exactly did they do? What does “increasingly aggressive” really mean? 
Does it mean that in the Spring, with young to feed, the coyotes were being seen more often during the day, because their normal nocturnal hunting was not sufficient? Does it mean that the coyotes chased someone’s cat up a tree? Does it mean that they growled at an off-leash dog that came near their den? Does it mean that the coyotes came into to someone’s yard because the owner left pet food or open garbage outside? All of these fictional examples could be resolved with human education. It makes me wonder if the actual situation could have also been resolved with community guidance and instruction.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides an extensive online resource entitled, Living with Wildlife. The highlighted link goes directly to the specific portion of the site related to coyotes. The site lists many non-lethal options.
Our Canadian friends propose a simple three-step process for learning to deal with coyotes. The Stanley Park Ecological Society says, “1) Be Big, Brave and Loud. 2) Never Feed. 3) Spread the Word.” They have additional links and information on their site, Co-existing with Coyotes. Please note that they even have an educational program for K-7 students. If our northern neighbors can teach their kindergarten students how to safely encounter coyotes I suspect we should be able to do the same. 
Was education given a fair chance? I have read nothing which implies that the folks in Laurelhurst were provided instruction on how to co-exist with coyotes. The next time your organization is contacted to resolved an issue with coyotes, I sincerely hope you will ensure that the community as a whole gets to participate in the process and that the educational alternatives are fully exhausted.
Thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration of this issue.
Larry Hubbell

Update to Readers:

Does anyone happen to have a photo of the coyotes they would be willing to share?

Thank you to Doug Parrott for sharing his coyote photo taken on June 26th at the Union Bay Natural Area.

More Updates:

From the folks at The Laurelhurst Blog.

Here is the post the Laurelhurst Blog did on Friday about the killings:

Thousands of cormorants abandon their nests

By Cassandra Profita

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Published on May 20, 2016 11:33AM

Last changed on May 23, 2016 10:03AM

A month-old double-crested cormorant at the Wildlife Center of the North Coast.

Joshua Bessex/The Daily Astorian

A month-old double-crested cormorant at the Wildlife Center of the North Coast.

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A double-crested cormorant rests atop of nest of eggs in the colony on East Sand Island.

The Daily Astorian/File Photo

A double-crested cormorant rests atop of nest of eggs in the colony on East Sand Island.

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Officials say thousands of cormorants abandoned their nests on East Sand Island in the Columbia River and they don’t know why. Reports indicate as many as 16,000 adult birds in the colony left their eggs behind to be eaten by predators including eagles, seagulls and crows.

The birds’ mysterious departure comes after the latest wave of government-sanctioned cormorant shooting. It’s part of a campaign to reduce the population of birds that are eating imperiled Columbia River salmon.

Amy Echols, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the contractors who monitor the birds for the Corps reported May 16 that the East Sand Island colony had been significantly disturbed.

“The disturbance resulted in nest abandonment and the loss of all the cormorants’ eggs by avian predators like seagulls, eagles and crows,” she said. “We don’t know yet what the cause of the disturbance was.”

Officials didn’t see any evidence of a coyote or any other four-legged predator, but they did see 16 bald eagles on the island.

“Bald eagles are known to significantly startle and disperse nesting colonies,” Echols said. “We don’t know if that magnitude of bald eagles could have done this.”
Eagles may not be responsible
Bald eagles have been blamed for decimating Caspian tern and cormorant colonies on the island in the past. But Dan Roby, a researcher with Oregon State University who has studied the tern and cormorant colonies for decades, said he doesn’t think eagles could have flushed so many cormorants off their nests.

“I’m pretty confident that’s not what caused the cormorants to abandon the colony,” he said. “We’ve seen that number of eagles out there before. We’ve seen them killing cormorants on their nests, and it doesn’t cause that kind of abandonment.”

Roby said researchers on his team did an aerial survey of the island on Tuesday and saw a large group of cormorants on another part of the island. But the nesting area was completely abandoned.

“There were absolutely no cormorants anywhere in the colony,” he said. “It’s a real mystery for us. It actually amazes me that any kind of disturbance — even people going on the island if that’s what happened — could cause all the birds to leave their nests with eggs and then gather on the shoreline as if they were afraid to go back to their nests. It’s certainly unprecedented in all the years we were out there working on that cormorant colony.”
Biologists investigating
Echols said about 4,000 birds have returned to the island, but not the nesting area. A team of biologists is investigating what caused the birds to flee their nests.

Federal agents have been shooting cormorants in the area and oiling cormorant eggs on the island as part of a long-term plan to shrink the cormorant colony and reduce how many threatened and endangered salmon the birds are eating. They reported killing 209 cormorants between May 12 and Wednesday.

Officials haven’t attributed the disturbance of the cormorant colony to any shooting or egg oiling activity. Echols said the last time the agents were oiling eggs on the island was May 11. Agents were on the water shooting cormorants on May 16, she said, but they have now stopped all culling activities because the number of cormorants in the colony has dropped below the level where they’re required to stop.
Vocal critic
Bob Sallinger with the Portland Audubon Society has been a vocal critic of the Corps’ cormorant management plan. He said colony failure has been one of his chief concerns as federal agencies shrink the size of the cormorant population.

“When you do that, you make a population extremely vulnerable,” he said. “Regardless of whether this abandonment was caused by eagles or their own activities, the fact is they’ve gone in there and deliberately decimated the population. Federal agencies have deliberately put the western population of cormorants at direct risk, and it needs to stop.”

Echols said federal officials are monitoring the Columbia River estuary to see where all the cormorants have gone.

Roby said it’s still early enough in their breeding season that the birds could still return to their nests and lay more eggs to avoid complete colony failure for the year.

Beavers may be part of answer to climate change

Beavers may be part of answer to climate change

by on • 8:59 pm No Comments

Photo courtesy of Methow Beaver Project Methow Beaver Project team members release a beaver in a high mountain meadow that has since become a new beaver colony site that holds millions of gallons of water.

Photo courtesy of Methow Beaver Project

Methow Beaver Project team members release a beaver in a high mountain meadow that has since become a new beaver colony site that holds millions of gallons of water.

Local relocation project returns animals to natural habitat

By Ann McCreary

Can a rodent species native to the Methow Valley help solve problems created by climate change?

Absolutely, according to a local biologist who leads the Methow Beaver Project.

Beavers, the animal kingdom’s version of the Army Corps of Engineers, build dams that store water in mountain streams. And that could help mitigate the impacts of diminishing winter snowpacks and warmer temperatures that are anticipated as a result of climate change, said Kent Woodruff.

beaver-quoteThe Methow Beaver Project, now in its ninth year, relocates beavers to tributaries in the upper reaches of the Methow watershed. The goal is to restore beavers to their historical habitat and allow them to do what comes naturally — build dams and create ponds that store water both above and below ground.

Water held in those storage basins is released gradually throughout the warm months when it is needed for fish, wildlife and irrigation. That slow release has the added benefit of keeping water in tributaries cooler, which enhances habitat for fish and other creatures, said Woodruff, a biologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Climate change models predict dramatically lower snowpacks in the future. As humans consider ways to adapt to the changes resulting from a warming climate, beavers have some lessons to offer, according to Woodruff.

“One of the things I’m excited about is the Beaver Project provides an example and inspiration for climate adaptation,” he said.

Woodruff provided an overview of the Methow Beaver Project last Thursday (Jan. 14) in a presentation at the North Cascades Basecamp near Mazama.

With predictions of diminishing mountain snowpacks as a result of climate change, it is important to find ways to hold water high in the watershed. That’s precisely what beavers do when they build dams in streams, Woodruff said.

The ponds created by beavers support a complex and diverse ecosystem, and help restore the function of the mountain watersheds, he said.

Well adapted

Beavers are well adapted to areas like the Methow Valley that experience wildfires, because their favorite food  — Aspen trees  — thrive in riparian areas that have been burned, Woodruff said. And dams built by beavers may help reduce damage from post-fire flooding, he said.

Since the Methow Beaver Project began in 2007, team members used satellite imagery and computer modeling to survey hundreds of tributary drainages in the Methow Valley and identified 161 sites that would provide a good home to beavers, and where beavers could improve the surrounding watershed.

About 240 beavers have been relocated at 51 sites within the watershed. Despite the project team’s efforts to select locations that provide excellent habitat, some beavers choose not to stay at their release site.

The animals that have remained at or near their release sites, however, are responsible for creating 176 ponds, Woodruff said.

“I like the fact that we’re putting little tiny reservoirs all over this watershed,” he said.

A biologist last year measured the amount of water stored at 62 of the ponds created by beavers released into the watershed. She found they stored 5 million gallons of water, which she calculated as enough for an average Twisp household for five years, Woodruff said.

Woodruff estimated that as much as 65 million gallons of water is stored behind the beaver dams annually. That’s enough water to serve an average household in Twisp for 24 years, Woodruff said.

Studying impacts

Beaver Project team members are studying the impacts that beavers have on water storage and temperature, water quality, and overall impacts on the ecosystem.

Beavers that are relocated through the program are often trapped and removed from private property, where their industrious tree cutting may not appreciated by homeowners, and occasionally results in trees falling on rooftops and vehicles, Woodruff said.

They are taken to the National Fish Hatchery in Winthrop where they are temporarily housed in ponds until they are relocated to a chosen site.

The team prepares the relocation site by building a shelter of logs, branches and mud to simulate a beaver lodge, giving the beavers a place to escape predators when they are released.

A PIT (passive integrated transponder) tag is implanted in the beavers’ tails before release, which allows biologists to track the animals’ movements. Team members have been surprised by how far beavers travel, Woodruff said.

“Beavers are much more mobile than we thought,” he said. For instance, a beaver that was released in the upper part of the Methow Valley swam to the mouth of the Methow River, then up the Okanogan River almost to the Canadian border. Records show that some beavers have traveled almost 100 kilometers in a four-month period.

“We don’t know for sure why” they travel so far, Woodruff said. “We want them to stay” at the release site.

Beavers were nearly exterminated by the early 1900s in the Methow Valley as a result of fur trapping, and Woodruff said there is still a legal trapping season in Washington. A beaver pelt is worth about $20 he said.

Woodruff said the project is working to re-establish a beaver population in the Methow Valley “that will be able to take care of itself.”

Biologists have tried to estimate the value of habitat restoration that beavers provide by storing water, and have put the number at about $3,000 per beaver, Woodruff said.

The Methow Beaver Project has generated interest from many agencies and organizations around the country, he said. Team members have provided information to help launch similar projects in the Yakima and Skykomish river drainages, in Idaho, Colorado, Utah and northern California.

Washington’s Governor Nixes Radical Cougar-Killing Plan

Washington’s Governor Nixes Radical Cougar-Killing Plan

By on October 21, 2015 with 3 Comments

Gov. Inslee agreed with our position that the difference between the final quotas and the proposed quotas was substantial enough to have triggered public process requirements. He also took note of the fact that the science supporting the prior quotas appears to contradict the agency’s decision to raise them.

It was 19 years ago that voters in Washington outlawed the practice of trophy hunters using packs of hounds to chase and tree cougars. This was an altogether unsporting set-up for a hunter, who can then walk to the base of the tree and shoot the animal at point-blank range. The vote on I-655 was a landslide, with 63 percent of voters favoring the initiative, including voters throughout eastern Washington (the more rural and conservative side of the state).

Yet, since that time, a gaggle of state lawmakers has been working to unwind the ballot measure. They’ve sought to introduce experimental hound-hunting seasons. And the Fish and Wildlife Commission has tried repeatedly to expand quotas and liberalize other elements of the hunting season. We’ve done our best to hold the line, fending off an outright repeal of this portion of the ballot measure. This latest maneuver from the Commission also went too far, and that’s when we appealed directly to Gov. Inslee to intervene.

Let’s be clear: nobody eats cougars. It is the purest form of trophy hunting in the United States outside of a captive hunting facility. And despite the hype and the fear-mongering, cougars are elusive and furtive, doing their best to stay away from people. In some communities, cougars co-exist very well in close proximity to people. In Washington, there has only been one attack on a person in the last 100 years.

It’s also important to note that wildlife scientists at Washington State University in Pullman have determined that the random shooting of cougars does nothing to minimize the already remote risk of a human encounter with a cougar. In fact, science shows that random killing of trophy animals may actually contribute to the prospect of an encounter, by shifting the age profile of the population from stable adults to younger, more inexperienced cougars who are more likely to have negative encounters with people or livestock.

At the same time that we passed the anti-hounding ballot measure in Washington nearly 20 years ago, we defended California’s ban on any trophy hunting of lions. Trophy-hunting groups got the issue on the ballot just six years after voters approved a measure there, and voters sent a second and consistent measure rebuffing them. California has more people and perhaps as many cougars as any state in the West, but hardly any adverse encounters.

Unfortunately, Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission recently approved a ramped-up scheme to slaughter cougars in four so-called “target zones” covering 6,200 square miles, despite overwhelming opposition from the public, state lawmakers, and a broad array of humane and conservation organizations.

Today, especially after the high-profile killing of Cecil, an African lion in Zimbabwe, the public has less of an appetite for trophy hunting than ever. We expect better of our lawmakers and wildlife commissioners than to set loose these trophy hunters.

We can end the era of hate and fear-mongering targeting North American carnivores, and accept their rightful place in their ecosystems. There’s so much negative mythology in circulation about them. Science tells us the animals contribute to ecosystem health and the data show they keep their distance from us. We humans can choose to live with cougars and other predators, without adverse consequences for us.

More Cougars Fair Game? Groups Protest WA Hunting Quota


Public News Service – WA | September 2015

September 28, 2015OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gov. Jay Inslee is being asked to intervene in a dispute between the state Fish and Wildlife Commission and eight groups advocating for Washington’s cougar population. The commission decided this spring to increase the percentage of cougars that can be hunted in some areas. The groups contend that defies the state’s own research about balancing the cougar population to minimize conflict with people and livestock.

Bob McCoy, a Washington volunteer with the Mountain Lion Foundation, explains cougars stake out wide-ranging territories and killing more of them creates conflict among the remaining males, and leaves cougar kittens without mothers. “It’s increasing the hunting to a point that it will end up with a younger population of cats,” McCoy says. “They’re the ones that are usually looking for territories, so they’re the ones we suspect are most likely to be causing problems.” The groups say the state spent about $5 million and more than a decade on research that found a hunting quota of 12 to 16 percent satisfies hunters without doing permanent damage to the cougar population. The Fish and Wildlife Commission has raised the quota to 17 to 21 percent, primarily in northeastern Washington. The groups say the commission got pressure from ranchers concerned about predators.

The ranchers aren’t allowed under Washington law to kill wolves, but Tim Coleman, director of the Kettle Range Conservation Group, says that shouldn’t be a justification for killing more cougars. “The two predators will keep each other in check, and we know that from experience, and we also know that their habitat is based on prey availability,” says Coleman. “Nature achieves a balance between the two species. But what the commission’s plan is, is unnatural.” The groups also contend the hunting quotas were increased without sufficient chance for public comment. The governor has about a month to rule on the appeal. Chris Thomas, Public News Service – WA – See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2015-09-28/animal-welfare/more-cougars-fair-game-groups-protest-wa-hunting-quota/a48310-1#sthash.xZ508T69.dpuf

Cougar Advocates File Appeal to Reverse Undemocratic, Arbitrary Quota Increase by Wildlife Commission


In response to dramatic increases in cougar hunting quotas, eight organizations and a wildlife research scientist have submitted an administrative appeal to Gov. Jay Inslee to return cougar hunting quotas to scientifically justifiable levels. The petitioners include The Humane Society of the United States, Center for Biological Diversity, Mountain Lion Foundation, Wolf Haven International, The Cougar Fund, The Lands Council, Predator Defense, Kettle Range Conservation Group and Gary Koehler, Ph.D., a former research scientist with the WA Dept. of Fish and Game.

At their April meeting, in a two-minute exchange and without prior notice to the public, members of the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to raise the cougar quota by 50 to 100 percent in areas of Washington also inhabited by wolves.

On June 30, the parties filed a formal petition asking the Commission to reverse its controversial decision. On Aug. 21, the Commission voted 7 to 1 to keep its decision in place, ignoring public outcry and a 13 year Washington-based scientific study that cost taxpayers approximately $5 million dollars. The study shows such quotas will harm cougar populations and increase mortality of cougar mothers and their dependent cougar kittens.

Washington-based cougar studies also show that killing cougars may exacerbate conflicts with people and livestock and does nothing to prevent future cougar attacks or make people safer. Furthermore, a 2010 poll of Washingtonians found that more than 90 percent of residents appreciate and value cougars.

Dan Paul, Washington state director for The HSUS, said: “Washingtonians care deeply about cougars and the role that these iconic animals play in maintaining healthy wild lands in our state. We urge Governor Inslee to reverse this misguided and arbitrary decision that is biologically unsound, has wasted millions of tax dollars and left stakeholders out of the public rulemaking process.”

In 1996, Washington voters approved I-655 with 63 percent of the statewide vote, to protect cougars and other wildlife species from inhumane and unsporting methods of trophy hunting. This expansion of cougar killing is contrary to the wishes of Washington voters for cougar protections.

Gov. Inslee has 45 days to respond to the filing.