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Eastern Washington cougar hunts liberalized

Cougar hunting seasons have been liberalized in Eastern Washington for the 2012 season as the Department of Fish and Wildlife reacts to an apparent increase in cougar populations.

“The changes stem from our research and partly to what we’re hearing from local hunters,” said Kevin Robinette, regional wildlife manager in Spokane. “They just didn’t think they were making a dent in the cougar population.”

Idaho has liberalized cougar hunting this year, too.

“The tradeoff is that cougar hunting regulations are more complicated,” Robinette said. “Hunters will have to read the rules to know the zones.”

Instead of quotas on the number of cougars that can be killed in a zone, the state has set “targets” that can be changed up or down depending on how many males or females are taken.