Human encounters with cougars continue to occur far above historic levels, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials say.
In recent months, residents from areas ranging from Republic to the coastal Camano Island have reported cougar activity, including attacks on livestock and pets.
“Over the past several years, the number of cougar sightings near towns and suburban greenbelts have increased as wildlife habitat statewide has been destroyed or altered,” said Dave Brittell, department assistant director for wildlife management.
“At the same time, there has been an increase in the cougar population throughout Washington,” he said.
Evidence indicates that cougars got a boost in some regions during the late 1980s and early ‘90s from a boom in deer populations.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has responded by increasing permits for hunting cougars. In Ferry County, for example, cougar permits in the Republic area doubled from 20 in 1987 to 40 in 1995. Last year, 34 cougars were killed in the unit, the most of any unit statewide.
Another four cougars were killed near Republic for prevention of damage to livestock.
The commission is scheduled to revisit cougar management alternatives in December.