Washington Deer Hunters Can also Take Cougar When Season Opens Around State

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With the state’s most popular deer-hunting season set to start Saturday (Oct. 15), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding hunters that cougars are also fair game anywhere in the state.

Under this year’s rules, deer hunters with a valid cougar license and transport tag can take a cougar during the modern-firearms deer season in all 39 counties - including Okanogan, Chelan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Klickitat.

That’s a change from recent years, when general cougar-hunting seasons in those six counties were delayed to accommodate a pilot program that allowed hunters with special permits to track cougars using dogs.

In August, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission restored full general hunting seasons for those counties after the pilot program, in effect since 2004, expired.

"In those six counties, we’re back to relying on general hunts to manage cougar populations," said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. "We can make that work, but it does present some different management challenges."

Ware said permit hunters using dogs generally took male cougars, while those who encounter cougar during general hunts - without dogs - are less likely to discriminate between the sexes. Under state law, it is illegal to kill spotted cougar kittens or adult cougars tending kittens.

Using dogs to hunt cougars was banned by a citizens’ initiative in 1996, but later allowed by the Legislature under a pilot program in counties reporting increasing conflicts with the big cats.

More than 100,000 hunters are expected to take to the field this month for the modern-firearms deer season that runs through various dates around the state. Cougar hunting is open through the end of the year, although few are taken outside of the major deer and elk hunting seasons, Ware said.


Retired2hunt's picture

  A great opportunity for the


A great opportunity for the deer hunters of the state of Washington.  It would be great for the hunting public to generate the controll that is expected from this change in regs.  To be able to know a mother cougar if the situation presented itself would be challenging without seeing kittens immediately prior to the shot.  Overall I feel this is a great move foreward for the state of Washington and would like to see other neighboring states to eventually adopt a similar program.


numbnutz's picture

It's about time WA retored

It's about time WA retored the full season again. Down in OR cougar season is year round and state wide. Most cats are taken this time of year from hunters out hunting other game like deer and elk. I don't think the amount of hunter just for cats won't increase until the dog and bait banned is lifted in either state. I alway have a cat tag and bear tag on me just in case I get a chance at kitty. Cat numbers are pretty low in my general deer hunt area but I did get one a trail cam earlier this spring. I'm hoping it's still in the area when my deer season starts up again. Good luck to all the Hunters in WA out hunting this weekend and hopefully a few cats will be thinned ouut as well.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very nice!  I can see the

Very nice!  I can see the concern that they would have, that the hunters in the woods hunting cougars with dogs, may start chasing and shooting deer, or at the very least, disrupt the other hunters.  But, that takes away from the opportunity of the deer hunters that may come across a cougar in the woods, and have a legal tag.  They wouldn't have been able to shoot it in past years.

Good deal for Washington hunters.  I hope to see some successful cougar and deer hunts there this fall!

SGM's picture

This good news but wonder how

This good news but wonder how many folks will buy the tags and see a big cat. Now add that you can take a cat as long as you have an unfilled deer tag and still take a deer and you will see more taken. Seems there is a growing problem across the west with cats, bears and wolves. These so called "citizens’ initiative" are bad news as it is a bunch of anti's and animal rights folks who get these going and ban hunting base on false indo and emotions. Happened in Colorado for spring bear hunting too. State wildlife biologists need to make the rules based on sound wildlife managment practices not emotions. Glad to see that at least in Washington they saw the need to over ride the initiative in some areas. Funny when you hear they want the hunting stopped until Fluffy is eaten in the backyard. Hope you folks in Washington have a good year.