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.

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