Listen to the Science And Don’t Needlessly Kill Blue Mountain Cougars!

Cougars are a crucial part of our wild ecosystems. Killing these iconic animals is not the way to protect deer and elk populations.

In the Blue Mountains of eastern Washington, elk populations have declined — likely as a result of recent forest fires and droughts, which have impacted the animal's protective cover and diminished their water and food sources.

However, instead of addressing changes to the habitat, some people are encouraging the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to kill cougars and other carnivores.

Extensive research throughout the West has shown that cougar predation is self-limiting and does not cause dangerous reduction in otherwise healthy prey populations. Furthermore, hunting cougars — which has already increased in the Blue Mountains — has not proven to be an effective or necessary tool for managing cougar populations. Research in Washington and elsewhere has found that hunting can actually increase unwanted predation.

Killing more cougars would be cruel, harmful to the ecosystem, and in the near term is unlikely to provide any benefit to the elk population.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, and other wildlife managers, must listen to the science.

Sign and tell the Commission to not needlessly kill cougars and instead focus on restoring the Blue Mountain elk herd's habitat quality, which will increase mating, births, and provide sustainable increases in the elk population.
Dear WDFW Commissioners and Director Susewind,

I write to urge you to stand up for science and wildlife and against needless killing of cougars in the Blue Mountains.

Elk populations in the Blue Mountains have been declining for several years, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering options to ensure that hunters can continue killing those elk. Department scientists are not certain that predation is the cause for the population decline. The scientists have said that declining habitat quality is more likely to be the major challenge than predation, especially given recent major fires and the increasing effects of climate change and drought on the landscape. Nevertheless, the department has not proposed an end to hunting by humans, only allowing humans to hunt cougars.

This response is doomed to fail. Decades of research shows that cougars do not drive otherwise healthy prey populations to extinction, and that hunting cougars is not effective at significantly reducing cougar populations. Indeed, cougar hunting in the Blue Mountains has been allowed to increase in recent years, yet the elk population has continued to decline! The proposal to use increased cougar killing to address elk population decline ignores the science and is the very definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different result.

Cougars are valuable parts of our wilderness and our landscape. Whether or not we cheer for the WSU Cougars, wild cougars are an important part of what makes Washington wild and wonderful. Listen to the science and the public, and restore Blue Mountain elk without destroying Blue Mountain cougars.

[Your Name]
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