Commission decides 2020-21 season setting, new cougar harvest guidelines

  • Fri Apr 24th, 2020 1:25pm
  • Sports

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 2020-21. Most changes were consistent with the 2019-20 season setting.

The Commission also voted 6-3 to remain consistent with the stated objective of the Cougar Chapter of the State’s Game Management Plan, which is to maintain a stable cougar population while allowing for additional cougar harvest in 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 of those units.

“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 in a press release.

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.

Find recordings of the April 9 workshop and the April 10 meeting. 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.