Cougar Season in Northeast Closes Nov. 15

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The Blue Mountains cougar hunt zone in northeast Oregon will close to cougar hunting a half hour after sunset Friday, Nov.15, because the 2002 cougar harvest quota will be met, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced November 7th.

No other 2002 cougar hunt zones are expected to close before the end of the calendar year. Hunters with an unfilled general season cougar tag may hunt in any of the other five cougar zones in the state. "Blue Mountain Additional" cougar tags are not valid elsewhere in the state. The 2003 general cougar season begins in all six zones Jan. 1, 2003, for those hunters with a 2003 cougar tag and a 2003 hunting license.

The cougar quota system was adopted by ODFW to more evenly distribute cougar harvest throughout the state. The Blue Mountains Zone has accounted for more than 50 percent of the total state harvest this year. Quota levels are set to manage population levels and distribute hunters.

The Blue Mountains cougar hunt zone, also called Zone E, has a 2002 quota of 98 cougars. As of Nov. 7, 94 cougars had been checked at ODFW offices. Most cougars are harvested during deer or elk hunting seasons.

Statewide, the total allowed sport harvest in the 2002 calendar year is 408 cougars. As of Nov. 7, hunters have taken 177 cougars. For 2003, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a 20 percent increase in the allowed harvest to 510 animals to provide additional hunting opportunities. The decision was based on a re-evaluation of current cougar population trends. The Blue Mountains Zone harvest quota for 2003 will increase to 123 cougars.

Hunters may check if the season is open in other zones by calling a local ODFW office, calling the general information line at (503) 872-5268 or clicking on www.dfw.state.or.us/ODFWhtml/Regulations/2002_reg_changes.htm#biggame and scrolling down to the cougar quota information.