State of Washington
66th Legislature
2019 Regular Session
BySenators Sheldon and Schoesler
Prefiled 01/08/19.Read first time 01/14/19.Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks.
AN ACT Relating to a pilot program for cougar control; adding new sections to chapter 77.12 RCW; and providing expiration dates.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1. (1)(a) The department, in cooperation and collaboration with the county legislative authorities of Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Chelan, Okanogan, Mason, and Klickitat counties, shall recommend rules to establish a five-year pilot program within select game management units of these counties, to pursue or kill cougars with the aid of dogs.
(b) Dangerous wildlife task teams must be developed in each county comprised of representatives from the county and the department. A pursuit season and a kill season with the aid of dogs must be established through the commission's rule-making process, utilizing local dangerous wildlife task teams. The dangerous wildlife task teams shall also develop a more effective and accurate dangerous wildlife reporting system to ensure a timely response.
(c) The pilot program's primary goals are to provide for public safety, to protect property, and to assess, conserve, and manage cougar populations.
(2) Rules adopted by the commission to establish a pilot project allowing for the pursuit or hunting of cougars with the aid of dogs under this section must ensure that all pursuits or hunts are:
(a) Designed to protect public safety or property;
(b) Reflective of the most current cougar population data;
(c) Designed to generate data that is necessary for the department to satisfy the reporting requirements of section 3 of this act; and
(d) Consistent with any applicable recommendations emerging from research on cougar population dynamics in a multiprey environment funded in whole or in part by the department.
(3) The department may authorize five seasons in which cougars may be pursued or killed with dogs, subject to the other conditions of the pilot program. The seasons are authorized to aid the department in the gathering of information necessary to formulate a recommendation to the legislature regarding whether a permanent program is warranted and, if so, what constraints, goals, and objectives should be included in a permanent program.
(4) This section expires July 1, 2024.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2. (1) A county legislative authority may request inclusion in the pilot project authorized by section 1 of this act after taking the following actions:
(a) Adopting a resolution that requests inclusion in the pilot project;
(b) Documenting the need to participate in the pilot program by identifying the number of cougar/human encounters and livestock and pet depredations;
(c) Developing and agreeing to the implementation of an education program designed to disseminate to landowners and other citizens information about predator exclusion techniques and devices and other nonlethal methods of cougar management; and
(d) Demonstrating that existing cougar depredation permits, public safety cougar hunts, or other existing wildlife management tools have not been sufficient to deal with cougar incidents in the county.
(2) This section expires July 1, 2024.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3. (1) By September 1, 2023, the department must deliver to the legislature, consistent with RCW 43.01.036, a progress report summarizing the pilot program authorized in section 1 of this act. The report must include information relating to how the program has been used to assess cougar population levels and protect public safety and property. The report may also include any recommendations as to how cougar management policies may be changed in the future to achieve more effective or efficient management.
(2) This section expires July 1, 2024.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4. Sections 1 through 3 of this act are each added to chapter 77.12 RCW.
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