Washington state Senators Brian Dansel and Don Benton have coauthored a bill that would force the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to allow trophy hunters to use hounds to kill cougars for fun.
Senate Bill 6287 states special “dangerous wildlife task teams must be developed in each county [...] and a kill season with the aid of dogs must be established,” ultimately claiming they will hunt lions to protect the public and increase research on the species. WDFW and the findings of numerous research projects have shown these hunting programs don’t work, and they can actually increase cougar-human conflicts.
WDFW already has the authority to initiate special public safety hunts with the use of hounds, if needed (WAC 232-12-243). But the agency has found that teaching the public about coexistence and only killing the cats who cause problems has proven to be a more successful policy.
Allowing groups of hound hunters to kill random cougars in rural areas has not yielded any positive results and is just an excuse for hunters who want to chase cougars with a pack of dogs.
Washington sport hunters (without dogs) already shoot more than 100 lions each year. As a result, the cougar population is declining and the mean age of the cats is lower. Young cats are more likely to come into conflict with people, pets, and livestock.
How to help:
Please contact your Senator NOW (before February 18th) and urge him or her to vote against this bill!
Write a short letter or email stating why you oppose Senate Bill 6287. Even a phone call will help. You can use this contact form if you’re short on time (but personal letters are best). If possible, please also send MLF a copy of your letter and cc emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Senate Bill 6287 is a redundant authorization of public safety hound hunts — WDFW already has this tool at its discretion if they think it’s necessary to use hounds to help kill cougars.
- Senate Bill 6287 would force the Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement a wildlife killing program that they know is unsuccessful and potentially dangerous. The legislation is not backed by the Department, scientific research, or the majority of citizens in Washington.
- Washington residents have repeatedly shown we do not support the use of hounds to track, tree, and kill wildlife for fun. It’s a cruel and outdated unsportsmanlike hobby that needs to remain illegal.
- This bill would allow hound hunters to kill cougars that have posed no threat to people, which may actually increase the percentage of problem cougars in our state.
Thank for taking the time to help protect Washington’s cougars!