HB 2050/HB 2181/SB 126/SB 453 – Identical Bills that will allow individual counties to exempt themselves from Measure 18 which banned the use of dogs to hunt or pursue cougars. A two thirds majority of county voters is needed to facilitate the exemption.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on HB 2050 & HB 2181 on February 17th, 2015. Comments must be submitted 24 hours in advance of the hearing, so please make sure to send your comments before Monday, February 16th.
Click here to send an email to the House Committee telling them you oppose HB 2050 & HB 2181 (This link will open a pre-addressed email to the Representatives 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:
- Despite quota increases (the quota now stands at 970) and astronomical license sales (nearly 50,000 per year), hunter harvest has remained relatively stable in recent years (between 200-300 animals each year). This suggests that the population may not be as robust and fast-growing as some are claiming.
- Cougar complaints are declining (from a high of 1,072 in 1999 to 287 in 2012). This is in large part due to ODFW’s expanded education and outreach efforts. Increased awareness – not increased hunting – is the key to reducing conflict between humans and wildlife.
- Research in nearby Washington State found that high levels of cougar harvest resulted in increased complaints and conflict. 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, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has adapted their approach to cougar management.
- Female cougars spend nearly 75% of their lives pregnant or caring for dependent young. Any increase in hunter harvest will bring with it an increase in kitten orphaning, an outcome that neither managers, hunters, or non-consumptive users will find palatable.
- Current best-available science 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).
- The proponents of these bills have failed to provide any data that justifies hound hunting. Increased opportunity and participation have not resulted in increased harvest, and conflict has been gradually decreasing. Combined with the lack of empirical data on cougar populations, the need for hound hunting is not supported.