The suburbs of Seattle have historically been
home to voters who support wild animals, but as development
encroaches on what once was wilderness, new homeowners, such as
Tami Cron, feel torn. Last summer Cron opened her front door and
came face-to-face with an adult female lion.
is pretty nerve-racking to think cougars were in my garden," says
Cron, whose neighbors have lost pets to the big cats. Now, Cron can
rest easier. In response to pressure from suburban and rural
districts and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state
legislature passed a law allowing the public to track and kill
cougars with dogs.
Agency officials say the new
law gives them flexibility in dealing with a growing number of
human-cougar encounters. In 1999, there were 694 reports of
livestock predation, personal attacks or cougar sightings.
"We just don't have the number of enforcement
agents and the ability to get out to these areas," says Donny
Martorello of the Fish and Wildlife Service. "This (law) gives us
another arrow in our quiver."
hunting cougars with packs of dogs is inhumane and unsporting. They
cite instances in which dogs have ripped cougars
"The bottom line is, first and foremost,
this is unnecessary," says Lisa Wathne of the Humane Society. She
says voters have already said they were against hunting lions with
dogs, passing a voter initiative in 1996, that banned
hound-hunting; it gained more than 60 percent of the vote (HCN,
10/28/96: Should city slickers dictate to trappers?). According to
Wathne, another voter initiative may get under way to overturn the