Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission decides 2020-2021 season setting, new cougar harvest guidelines


OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted new 2020 hunting season regulations and new cougar management guidelines at their April 9-10 meeting.


The Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).


After an extended period of public feedback, the Commission approved new hunting seasons for ducks, geese, deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and other game species for 2020-2021. Most changes were consistent with the 2019-2020 season setting.


The Commission also voted 6-3 to maintain the existing goal of achieving a steady growth rate of 12 – 16 percent while increasing cougar harvest. This was the fourth presented option to manage cougar harvest in Washington.


The change is to population management units (PMUs) that have traditionally closed by Jan.1. The guideline will change based on the highest cougar harvest for those PMUs. This change only counts adult cougars, 24-months or older, toward the guideline. The harvest rate will not exceed 16 percent of the cougar population for each unit in order to maintain Washington’s cougar population.


“In addition to implementing these changes to the cougar harvest management guidelines, we have asked staff to review our existing tools around public safety and bring us some concrete steps to address the public’s concerns,” said Commission Chair, Larry Carpenter.


The Commission also heard a briefing and public testimony on the updated hydraulic permit application penalties and fees. A decision is expected during their scheduled April 24 conference call.


In addition, the Commission heard a status update on the Hatchery and Fishery Reform Policy, that followed a half-day workshop on Thursday. The Commission are scheduled to make final decisions on policy changes at their October 2020 meeting in Colville.


Recordings of the April 9 workshop and the April 10 meeting are posted at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings/2020/april-9-10-meeting-transcript. The Commission made use of new technology during their April meeting to enable remote public participation. The format shift was in response to need for the public to stay home and stay healthy to help avoid the spread of COVID-19.


WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.


Persons with disabilities who need to receive this information in an alternative format or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact Dolores Noyes by phone (360-902-2349), TTY (360-902-2207), or email (dolores.noyes@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.


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