Rep. Kretz urges citizen input on wildlife commission’s proposed cougar management rules

The state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission has directed the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to draft new rules for cougar management. These rules would be more stringent, reducing both the cougar hunting season and the number of cougars taken. They would also, according to state Rep. Joel Kretz, endanger livestock, pets, and, most importantly, people.

“I’m continually amazed at the deaf ear that’s turned toward those of us who live in rural areas when it comes to the commission’s responsibilities of managing our state’s wildlife,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “Extreme, urban and liberal ideology has permeated the commission at the detriment of those of us who live with cougars, wolves, and bears. It’s sad, but it won’t change until the governor is no longer able to appoint members. That’s something that needs to be addressed.”

The department will hold a public hearing during its next meeting in Vancouver on June 21 and 22. They will take public comment electronically at https://publicinput.com/2024cougarseasonsetting. They will also accept comments by email at 2024cougarseasonsetting@publicinput.com or concerned citizens can leave a voicemail message at 855-925-2801 and enter project code 1261.

“The commission continues to ignore the science presented to them by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. They continue to ignore the facts and the input given to them by wildlife enforcement officers – the boots on the ground folks who have to deal with problem cougars. Unless people make their voices heard, the commission’s shortsighted and offensive new cougar management rules will become a reality,” said Kretz.

Kretz wrote an op-ed to The Spokesman-Review in 2020 applauding the department’s decision at that time to increase opportunities to hunt cougars in Washington state. When he asked the department for the number of cougars lethally removed by fish and wildlife officers in 2015, that number was 26. For 2019, that number grew to 105.

“Our state has plenty of cougars. They are not endangered. They are not in decline. They are not going away,” said Kretz. “When there is another cougar attack, like the one that maimed three children in my legislative district over a decade ago, I hope the commissioners who are pushing for this rule can look themselves in the face and admit their error.”

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov