Study prompts Washington to revamp cougar hunting

Over-harvesting increases confrontations between wild cats and humans

A Washington cougar. Photo courtesy Rich Beausoleil/Washington Dept. of Fish and Game.

 By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a study that could have implications for predator management on a broader scale, biologists with Washington State University say that the state’s current cougar management scheme wasn’t working as intended.

Whether hunters killed 10 percent or 35 percent of cougars, the population remained the same. The old paradigm of wildlife management would explain this by saying the remaining population increased reproduction to make up for hunting. But this was not the case, the researchers said, explaining that an over-harvest of cougars can increase negative encounters between the predator and humans, livestock and game.

Based on the the 13-year study, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is implementing a new cougar management plan based on equilibrium management. Hunters will remove no more than the surplus of animals that would be generated through natural reproduction. Continue reading

Feds reinstate critical habitat for western snow plovers

Western snowy plover. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

Settlement may partially protect breeding plovers from encroaching sea level rise

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Slowly but surely, federal biologists are undoing some of the most egregious decisions by the Bush administration with regard to endangered species.

In a settlement announced this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated about 38 square miles of critical habitat for western snowy plovers in Washington, Oregon and California.

Snowy plovers were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1993, when the coastal population dropped to 1,500 birds. The listing enabled the population to recover to more than 3,600 adults by 2010. Continue reading

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