Every day produces ample evidence that those involved with harming and killing animals don’t take a break, even during a national emergency. And neither do we. The latest example involves a proposal to expand trophy hunting of cougars in Washington State. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently introduced proposals to increase the kill quotas for cougars, and the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will vote on them this Friday at 10am PT.
According to the agency, there are just 2,000 adult cougars left in Washington, but that hasn’t stopped trophy hunting advocates from making misguided and baseless claims that the cougar population is growing out of control and that restrictions on hunting them must be lifted.
In eastern Washington, unfortunately, community leaders have fed or even organized harmful fear campaigns that only result in increased and unnecessary public anxiety about cougars rather than producing effective solutions for preventing human-wildlife conflict.
The large majority of Washingtonians do not support the trophy hunting of cougars or other native carnivores. In a new poll conducted by Remington Research Group, 65 percent of voters across the state are opposed to the trophy hunting of cougars. Moreover, a majority of voters oppose trophy hunting of cougars even to prevent conflicts with livestock and humans.
Trophy hunting of cougars doesn’t just harm the targeted adult individuals; it frequently kills their kittens, who die of starvation, predation or exposure to the elements when their mothers are killed. Extensive research in Washington by large carnivore experts has shown that it can cause problems for people as well. The death of a resident male cougar typically results in younger males coming into the area looking to claim his territory. These younger males are more likely to be involved in conflicts with humans, pets and livestock. In areas with low to no trophy hunting of cougars, conflicts are quite rare compared to areas with higher trophy hunting.
If you live in Washington, we encourage you to speak out against these proposals and tell the Commission you do not support trophy hunting of the state’s rare wild cats. You can speak in support of cougars right from your home by submitting comments to the Commission through its website as well as virtually attending the Commission meeting. The virtual public comment period begins at 8:30am PT. You can pre-register for the webinar here. I’m proud to report that HSUS wildlife and state affairs staff are actively engaged in the fight to halt this cruel and needless killing before it starts. In this and other situations, I want you to know that you can count on us to keep working for animals, even in the midst of adversity. And all of us at the HSUS and its affiliates know that we can count on you, too.