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Sports Brief

Deadline is Sept. 16 for pilot cougar hunt applications

Sept. 16 is the application deadline for hunters who want to participate in the third year of a three-year pilot, or trial, cougar-hunting season with the aid of dogs.

The hunt, organized by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is scheduled to begin Dec. 1 in five northeastern counties.

Hunting cougar with dogs was banned statewide by public initiative in 1996.

However, the Washington Legislature voted in 2004 to allow hunting cougar with hounds during specific seasons in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties in response to concerns about public safety and livestock losses believed to be caused by cougar.

The special cougar hunt is by permit only. The hunt is limited to Washington residents who own hunting dogs that are capable of tracking and treeing cougar. Hunters may only hunt with dogs they own and must report any cougar they kill to WDFW.

Hunters can apply using the same application process as deer or elk permit hunts. Cougar permit applications can be purchased for $5.48 at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov or by calling 1-866-246-9453.

A total of 145 cougar-hunt permits will be issued at random from among the applications received.

Hunters whose applications are drawn for a cougar permit will be notified by Sept. 30. They must contact the WDFW's wildlife program in Olympia at (360) 902-2515 and accept the cougar permit within 15 days of being selected.

Individuals selected for a permit will be required to have a veterinarian sign an affidavit verifying they own the dogs participating in the hunt. Failure to contact the department or return the signed affidavit will result in forfeit of the permit. Permits may not be sold or reassigned by the hunter.

At the conclusion of this year's hunt, WDFW will submit a report to the state legislature evaluating the three-year pilot project.

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