Hunting News

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Changes in Attitudes About Predator Management in Washington

George K. Tsukamoto, Staff Biologist
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Predator management is a controversial and sometimes contentious issue in today’s society. This is far different from the attitudes and actions of people in Washington at the dawn of the twentieth century. Back then it was a good thing to protect the desirable game species and domestic livestock from predators.

he prevailing values of the time are reflected in the first wildlife-associated bill passed by the Washington Territorial Legislature in 1871. This bill established a bounty for killing undesirable wild animals. A bounty of $2.50 was established for each cougar, panther, wolf and .50¢ for each coyote and wildcat. In 1879 the bill was amended to raise the bounty to $5 for cougar, panther, wolf, $4 for black bear, $2 for wildcat and 10¢ for muskrat.

During the last century many changes in predator management have occurred and yet the issue remains controversial. Through it all one thing is clear; people have strong feelings about wildlife whether they are hunters or not and whether they live in a rural or urban seting. The proponents of predator control feel they have a right to protect their property and the safety of their family and pets. Some hunters take the view that for every animal killed by a predator there is one less animal for the hunter's bag. The opponents of predator control feel equally strong that predators, particularly large carnivores, are a necessary component of a healthy and natural ecosystem. Our recent public opinion survey indicates predator management remains controversial but we are making progress.

In 1949 the bounty on the coyote was removed and special trappers were hired to reduce coyotes, at approximately the same cost. In 1950 Compound 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) was introduced experimentally in Okanogan County and subsequently used extensively to control coyote and other mammalian predators. In 1972, an Executive Order prohibited the use of Compound 1080 on federal lands.

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