Salem, Ore. – ODFW is closing cougar hunting through the end of this year in the Coast/North Cascades region, after reaching the zone's quota of 120 cougars.
Since Jan. 1, 2011, 120 cougars have been killed by sporthunters or in response to damage or public safety concerns in Zone A (Coast/North Cascade). ODFW closes sport hunting if a zone's quota is reached.
The closure only applies to sport hunting. Cougars may still be killed if they are threatening livestock, pets or human safety.
This is only the third year that cougar sport hunting has been closed in Oregon. Previous closures occurred in 2001, with one zone closed, and 2002, when two zones closed.
Most of the increased take of cougars in Zone A this year is from "non-hunter" kill, or cougars taken due to damage, public safety concerns, roadkill or other reasons. So far, 59 cougars were killed in this category in 2011, compared to 48 in 2010 and 38 in 2009. Sporthunter harvest of cougars was 61 in 2011, 55 in 2010 and 61 in 2009.
ODFW closely tracks the take of cougars. Sporthunters and any landowner that kills a cougar due to damage or public safety issues must check in the cougar's skull and hide (with proof of sex) at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest. During the check-in, ODFW collects data to estimate the cougar's age.
The data is used to estimate the overall cougar population in Oregon, which is about 5,700 cougars today. To keep the cougar population healthy, ODFW closes sporthunting zones when a certain quota is reached as it was today in the Coast/North Cascades.
Cougar sport hunting in the Coast/North Cascade region will resume on Jan. 1, 2012, when the 2012 season begins with the same quota for the new year.