Your action is needed today to stop SSB 5356 in the Washington State House of Representatives. This bill would grant the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) full authority to extend hound hunting of cougars to sport hunters for another five years in designated counties. Although WDFW presents SSB 5356 as a conservation bill that also protects public safety, it’s really a bill which goes directly against the will of the voters and is driven by misinformation and weak science.
The companion version of this bill (HB 1124) was successfully stopped. We now need your help to stop SSB 5356 from passing!
Please take 5 minutes today to tell your representatives you oppose SSB 5356:
- Enter your address to identify your district and representatives.
- Call/ e-mail (or both) your representatives urging them to vote NO on SSB 5356, allowing the hunting of cougars using dogs, on the full House floor.
HELPFUL HINTS: Calling is fast, easy and very impactful. Legislative staff will take your call. Follow up with a polite e-mail to thank them, and to solidify your action. To avoid forms, use the legislator e-mail directory.
You can also use the template below to assist with your phone message or e-mail. Pick 1-2 bullets to keep the message short.
SUBJECT: Your subject line should be short, on point and personal.
Dear (Representative’s Name),
As your constituent, I respectfully ask that you oppose SSB 5356 allowing the hunting of cougars with hounds. This bill would grant the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) full authority to extend hound hunting of cougars to sport hunters for another five years in designated counties.
(Please choose ONLY 1-2 bullets below to personalize your message.)
- SSB 5356 will not increase public safety. This bill would allow the use of hounds by sport hunters to tree and kill cougars. It is not designed to target cats that have had conflicts with humans. There is no clear scientific evidence to support the idea that random sport hunting reduces human/cougar conflicts. In fact, recent studies suggest that the opposite may be true.
- SSB 5356 goes against the will of the people. In 1996, voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 655 by 63%, banning the use of hounds for sport hunting of cougars. There have been repeated attempts since that time to overturn the will of the voters. Support for this ban is still strong among Washington voters. A 2008 survey sponsored by WDFW showed that only 33% of people support sport hound hunting.
- WDFW already has the ability to remove “problem cougars” with hounds when necessary—The WDFW claims they need hound hunting in their “toolbox” to effectively manage cougars. Even since the passage of I-655, this tool has always been available to the WDFW to remove cougars that pose legitimate threats to public safety. There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that extending the use of hounds to sport hunters increases public safety. Recent studies indicate that increased hunting may actually lead to an increase in human/cougar conflicts.
- Heavy hunting may actually disrupt the social order of Washington’s cougar population and lead to increased conflicts. Cougar populations are an essential part of Washington’s ecosystem. Researchers have found that heavily hunted areas have fewer adult males and a younger overall age structure. Younger, inexperienced cougars are more likely to be involved in conflicts with humans than older cats who have learned to avoid them.
Please vote NO on SSB 5356 on the full House floor! I look forward to your response and thank you for your time.
(Your name, phone number and home address)
Help us report back to key legislators—please let us know when you take action. Send a copy of your e-mail, or simply a quick note that you called, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more info?
- Review SSB 5356, establishing seasons for hunting cougars with the aid of dogs.
- Find out how your district voted on I-655 election results for 1996 [PDF].
- Read about the impact of hunting on cougar population age structure in Conservation Magazine’s article, “Troubled Teens”.
- Check out the article “Cougar-hunting bill still faces opposition” in the Olympian.
With your help, we can be a voice to conserve cougars in Washington State.