Washington – Comments Needed by 2/18/15

WASHINGTON

SB 5940 – Concerning a pilot program for cougar control

New year, same bill: SB 5940 is nearly identical to bills that have been introduced (and failed) in recent legislatures. SB 5940 seeks to establish a “five-year pilot program” to pursue and kill cougars with hounds in Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Chelan, Okanogan, and Klickitat counties. In 1996, Washington voters approved Initiative 655 by a 67% to 33% margin, outlawing hound hunting statewide. SB 5940 is an attempt to subvert the will of the majority of Washington State citizens.

The Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee is holding a public hearing on SB 5940 on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015.

Click here to send an email to the Senate Committee telling them you oppose SB 5940 (This link will open a pre-addressed email to the Senators in your default mail client. If it does not open properly, make sure you have selected a default mail client on your computer or device. Please contact us if it still does not work). Be sure to include your name and where you are from in the body of the email. Please be polite and courteous. Also consider including some or all of these talking points in your message:

  • The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) already has an effective response plan to deal with conflict and depredation incidents, which includes the lethal removal of “problem” cougars by trained department personnel.
  • Researchers at Washington State University found that high levels of cougar harvest resulted in increased complaints and conflict. These findings are being supported by research in other states, too. As hunters remove older, trophy-sized cougars from the population, these “well behaved” adults are often replaced by inexperienced juveniles who are more prone to conflict with humans. In response to these findings, WDFW has adapted their approach to cougar management. SB 5940 would undermine current best science and the expertise of Washington wildlife managers.
  • Current best-available science also indicates that even extremely high harvest of predators has little long-term benefit for declining ungulate populations (the major culprit remains habitat loss or degradation).
  • WDFW has devoted a great amount of time and resources to educating the public and livestock producers on how to coexist with predators. These programs have been very successful, proving that increased awareness – not increased hunting – is the key to reducing conflict between humans and wildlife.

Be sure to submit your comments on this bill before Wednesday, February 18th. To read the full text of the bill and watch the Committee hearing, click here.