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Location: Central Washington
Joined: 10/05/2006
Posts: 27
Cougars

Just curious what everyone's perspective is on cougars. Do you think they are a major problem in reducing deer and elk herds? Should hound hunting be re-instated or is the $5 a tag; everyone can have one a better solution?

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Cougars

From what I have read, cougars kill and eat a whole lot of deer. In 2005 only 202 cougar were killed in this state (202 reported to wildlife).

If you gave every hunter in this state a free cougar tag and a 100$ reward for each cougar shot, I seriously doubt this number (202) would raise significantly. The main problem is this: Cougar are primarily nocturnal. When was the last time you hunted after sunset with night vision gear?

I have hunted this state from coast to coast, for most all species, and have only seen one cougar in the wild, in over 30 years of hunting, I hunt during the daylight hours. I do alot of winter snowshoeing, including backcountry overnight trips, and can report to you that I see alot of cougar tracks. Lots.

Personally, I am a (WSU) Cougar. I enjoy the thought of cougar roaming the wild. But, I would like to see their numbers reduced . I do not fear trouble from them in the suburbs, heaven knows we need to thin the feral cat and loose dogs in our suburbs. I wish their numbers reduced for selfish reasons. I enjoy a good hunt. I believe if more cougar were shot, that deer populations arond the state would enlarge. Same reason I coyote hunt. Coyote and cougar are hunting the same animals I wish to hunt. Naturalists/Conservationists will argue that cougar and coyote populations keep other species in check. And that would be entirely accurate if it were not for me and you keeping animal populations in check.

We were duped a few years back when this "no-hound" hunting campaign swept our state. We lost a valuable resource for maintaining cougar (and bear) populations.

Who knows what our future holds regarding this topic.

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Location: OlyWa
Joined: 04/27/2005
Posts: 472
Cougars

On another side, bears eat way more calves and fawns then anyone wants to mention. In some areas using a cow/calf elk call will bring bears running. Off the top of my head I have killed 4 or 5 bears with a cow call and have killed a couple others that had fawns in there stomach.

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Joined: 02/25/2007
Posts: 53
Cougars

I think think Iceman is right on in that they are just really difficult to hunt successfully. I have seen one in my entire life. However I do fear them the most in the wildland urban interface areas the most. This is because any cougar that is forced to live in these areas are there because of habitat encroachment by humans or because these cats are essentially the dregs of the cougar society, and have been forced out of good habitat by the stronger more dominant cats. Therefore these cats that exist in the suburbs are much more likely to attack a human than a cougar whose homerange is in the middle of the backcountry.

As for cougars eating fawns, who cares. They also eat the weak and ensure a stronger gene pool. Nature doesn't exist solely for the purpose of human recreation. We are part of the environement in which we live, not owners of it. The same goes for wolves.

I wonder what the difference in harvest rates of cougars is now versus the days when hounds were allowed. I would also wonder about the number of hunters who hunt cougars now versus then. I do not hunt cougars and probably never will hounds or no hounds. I am simply not interested. I would bet that hound hunters are still hunting them without their dogs, albeit with much less success. I would think that a good compromise would be to allow hound hunting within a certain area of population centers, but disallow it in the backcountry.

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Location: OlyWa
Joined: 04/27/2005
Posts: 472
Cougars

Harvest numbers for cougars and bears either stayed the same (cougars) or went up (bears) in the years following the bait/hound ban. But you also have to remember that cougars were by permit only until then. Once the ban was in place the cougar/bear tags were cheap or thrown in the big game package and way more hunters had tags for incidental harvest.

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Location: Washington
Joined: 03/11/2006
Posts: 80
Not so sure

Solo hunter- "As for cougars eating fawns, who cares. They also eat the weak and ensure a stronger gene pool."

I'm not so sure about the weak and old argument. Cougars kill the first animal that presents itself. I find LOTS of dead bucks in Eastern WA due to cougars. Some researchers have said that they choose bucks in because does are such a pain in the a$$ when they kill a fawn, or doe for that matter. The does will harass them the whole time they feed. I think that argument holds water.
The anti's won an important battle with regard to hound hunting...i wish they would open it up and have a quota system, like montana does.

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Joined: 02/25/2007
Posts: 53
Cougars

What researchers and study are you talking about exactly? I'd like to read it. I am sure that what you say is true to an extent. Mind you bucks can be weak animals just as fawns can be, due to adenovirus, hair loss syndrome, chronic waste disease, harsh winters etc.

Should cougar numbers be managed? Sure. But it's like I said before, we are part of nature, not owners of it. Predators are part and parcel of God's creation or evolution, whichever theory you subscribe to. At any rate these predators exist for a reason and do in fact perform a necessary function in our ecosystems.

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Location: Central Washington
Joined: 10/05/2006
Posts: 27
Cougars

I started this post for a reason just to see everyone's views on cougars...what their management should be, what people think about predation etc... It's very interesting what everyone has said so far. I dont hold all the answers but know a great deal about cougars.
I am actually involved in cougar research in Central Washington studying cougar predation. I have inspected close to 200 kill sites from cougars and respectively the young and weak/old are a part of the take, but from what i've found the biggest percentage of take is in the younger class leaving the middle age, prime breeding class alone. I'm not specifically stating that they dont kill middle aged animals, but the greater take is on the younger ones and the very old ones. I have only found 4 dead bucks that were killed by a cougar, the rest were does. There is one male cougar that we follow that kills a great deal of elk and a good chunk of the winter kills are bulls. Dont quote me on anything because one study may show one thing and another study shows the complete opposite. I know of a study done in i think Utah where cougars were strongly selecting for bucks and most were all 4 points... very interesting stuff.

Just curious... how you can determine a cougar kill from a bear or coyote kill or just a natural death with scavenging. The previous guy said that he finds bucks in Eastern WA all the time killed by cougars, just wondering what evidence you have for that statement. If you have good evidence that a cougar killed it then that's great..

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Location: Washington
Joined: 03/11/2006
Posts: 80
You're right

I agree that the predators are important and need to be managed. I'm not sure the reseachers name or where i read that. I can look around the office to try to locate it. But the logic makes sense. I have watched does chase coyotes into the next county...but bucks are not going to be harassing a predator, i think they're indifferent about herd defense. They don't care to save a friend/offspring. They get out of there.
Of course bucks can be weak, they are subject to the same diseases ect.. as does and fawns. Cougars are the paramount predator in the NW and kill whichever animal they decide to. It's not a function of the "weak and old" the coyote probably get them.
I like your idea about being part of nature, not owning it. More people need to realize that.

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Cougars

Wazzu07, you sound like the local expert on this topic.

Question for you, isn't it most likely that the Utah study (which seemed to indicate that cougar are selecting adult bucks), might indicate that adult bucks are easier targets for a cougar, since adult bucks are more or less "loners", easier to stalk a single animal than pick an animal from the periphery of a group of does with young deer? Less eyes, ears, and noses, and the cougar will not get it's azz kicked by an angry doe or two... Remember, there is nothing worse than an angry female! (Sorry lady readers....)

From what I have read, cougar will not take their kill very far. A stalk, attack, kill supposedly wipes out a cougars energy reserve, and feeding is usually done immediately at or very near the kill sight, followed by a long rest near the kill...? I would not want to kill a doe out of a group either, if I were a cougar. Seems the best bet would be to try for a lone buck, if successful; then sit back, eat up, and get my rest..., no intrusions.... Maybe the coyotes pack hunt mentality is better on a group of deer. Cougar single hunt better on Bucks and Bulls.

Now I really want the cougar population reduced.

This is why I believe that the Bucks are so wary, and do like to bed down in areas that are not boxed in, areas that all approaches are viewable from all sides. Basically in the wide open. This is how I find my sheds, this is where I look for Bucks before hunter pressure causes them to act differently. We are talking muley's here....Does and groups on the other hand, (IMHO) will bed down in tighter areas, relying on the group as protection, many eyes, ears, noses....Protection in numbers...

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Location: Central Washington
Joined: 10/05/2006
Posts: 27
Cougars

Iceman
you are right. I think in that Utah area the cougars are seeking out these bucks that are solitary. Like you said a herd of does would be harder to sneak up on because of the many eyes and ears. Where i'm studying cougar predation I seldom see a large herd of does so this could possibly be why i am seeing more females being killed than bucks.

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