On Wednesday, May 22, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 2624, which would allow counties to opt out of an 18-year-old ban on hunting cougars with dogs. The bill requires that voters in a county approve either an initiative petition or a referral to voters by county commissioners. Supporters cite the need for local control by rural counties which face rising cougar problems. They say the 1994 Measure 18 vote allowed the nine most populous counties to decide cougar management for all of Oregon’s 36 counties.
ODFW estimates that Oregon’s cougar population is nearing 6,000 animals (5,850), which is almost double from when Measure 18 was passed. In Oregon, total cougar deaths increased from 204 (1994) to 524 as of 2012.
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