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Author Topic: Cougar population in WA state over time?  (Read 1541 times)

Offline smithkl42

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Cougar population in WA state over time?
« on: May 29, 2018, 08:57:56 AM »
Does anybody have any official or at least plausible numbers on how the cougar population in WA state has varied over time? I've read both that there are twice as many cougars now as there was back in the 60's, and also that there are only half as many as there used to be. But I haven't been able to find authoritative sources for either of those numbers. Any insight?

I'm asking because I've got three trail cameras out in the woods, and all three have caught cougars in the last couple months. More cougars than bears, in fact. Seems like the population is doing just fine, but I'd like more than anecdotal evidence...

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2018, 09:08:39 AM »
Any official numbers would be hard to verify for dates before radio collars, gps trackers, trail cameras, etc.  The bios determining the official numbers now have said their numbers really only reflect what they believe to be adults based off territory size, and don't include cubs/juveniles.

Offline boneaddict

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2018, 09:09:55 AM »
very difficult numbers to compile Id imagine.  All I have for you is anecdotal.  The population is through the roof.  Id suspect way more than double than in the 60s

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2018, 09:13:03 AM »
I donít have the data that youíre looking for but when I first started getting on this forum a bit over 7 years ago some of the forum membersí trail camera footage would rarely catch a cougar. Now this past year, thatís pretty much all I see anymore. Plus a good majority of the discussions on here are usually predator related anymore. Pretty sad really.
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Offline AL WORRELLS KID

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2018, 10:38:05 AM »
In 1996, Washington voters passed an initiative, 655, to prohibit the use of hounds in hunting cougars.......... No Hounds = more Cougars.
 Got to be some hungry Cats out there with more competition for food.
 If they wont let us take them out, you may have to start Mountain Biking out of their reach!
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2018, 10:46:37 AM »
I can say in the 15 years or so that I have been running trail cameras I have been getting more and more each year. I used to get really excited to have a "cat pic" as I would only get a few between all my cameras. Last couple years it is more common to have a least one cat pic on each soak versus not having one. I barely stop to look at them as I scan through my pics.

Not scientific by any stretch but just my observation.
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Offline jasnt

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2018, 07:57:40 PM »
More than double in my opinion
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2018, 08:22:02 PM »
There is no way for the WDFW to know how many cats are in Washington. If they give you any amount of numbers, you know they're lying. It will ruin theirs and Conservation Northwests agenda to keep hound hunting banned.
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2018, 12:48:02 AM »
More than double in my opinion
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2018, 01:07:43 AM »
In 1996, Washington voters passed an initiative, 655, to prohibit the use of hounds in hunting cougars.......... No Hounds = more Cougars.
 Got to be some hungry Cats out there with more competition for food.
 If they wont let us take them out, you may have to start Mountain Biking out of their reach!
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 Let us not forget the decision by WDFW, to implement the current program based off of a bogus study, conducted (concocted) by their ideological, money grubbing lap dog at WSU. :twocents:
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2018, 05:59:49 AM »
I can say in the 15 years or so that I have been running trail cameras I have been getting more and more each year. I used to get really excited to have a "cat pic" as I would only get a few between all my cameras. Last couple years it is more common to have a least one cat pic on each soak versus not having one. I barely stop to look at them as I scan through my pics.

Not scientific by any stretch but just my observation.

I have 9 cameras out year round, and this is my experience as well.  Also, I run other cameras in Idaho, and find far fewer cats there. 

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2018, 06:21:43 AM »
Was there another dead cougar east bound I90 near north bend exit 34 this morning

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2018, 08:10:34 AM »
This isn't exact science but it is a fair comparison over time. I keep track of cougar density by the number of tracks I find per day when cougar hunting. When I first started cougar hunting in the 70's we would hunt 1 week to find an adult cougar for a hunter. If there was no snow we would look in mud for tracks if we had a hunter who couldn't change their hunt dates. If there was snow we usually did not see a cougar track at all. If there was good snow, we might find a few old tracks and maybe a couple young cat tracks, but it usually took several days to find one good cat to go after.

Cougar numbers have steadily increased over time. By the early 90's I was offering guaranteed 3 day cougar hunts, we would average seeing a little over 5 tracks per day and would pick only the largest to go after each day. The last full year of cougar hunting we caught 58 cougar and our 23 hunters harvested 23 cougar, we left all the others in the tree. The best day I had that year was 15 fresh tracks in one day, all in different areas, if we thought the same cat crossed the road 4 times we only counted it as 1 cat.

In the early 2000's when we had the public safety cougar removal season the cougar population seemed just as strong if not stronger. I can't say for exact sure because we only got a few of those tags to hunt for. It wasn't like i spent every day cougar hunting for two months like it used to be.

I have not done a full day of counting cougar tracks in WA for several years. But in the last 10 years it seems the population has increased further because now we count how many cougar we see while hunting other animals. It used to be about 1 cougar seen in 3 to 5 years during hunting seasons before they outlawed cougar hunting with dogs. Three years ago we saw 10 cougar, so far this year we've seen 2 cougar and a wolf, every year now we will see multiple cougar while out hunting other animals.

If I spend a day out bear hunting in WA I will see cougar tracks in the dust or mud about every day, it used to be unlikely to see cougar tracks in the dust or mud for a week. I also hunt in several other states and I can tell you there is some other states with good cougar hunting, Idaho seems to be the best, but nothing I've seen compares with the cougar hunting we had in NE Washington.

The one other place I've seen with an equivalent cougar population is California. I spent a few weeks guiding bear hunters in CA, I would see cougar tracks in the dust just about every day there too. I have heard Vancouver Island has a high cougar density but I've never spent time there looking for tracks to get a comparison. I've also heard that Oregon now has a similar population as California and WA, all three of these states have outlawed cougar hunting with hounds.
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Offline bigmacc

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2018, 04:04:34 PM »


I must agree with those that are saying the population has more than doubled :bash: I seen 2 more this weekend in the Methow, a big collared cat up Boulder Creek and one up towards Ramsey Creek, hardly any deer except the ones that were hanging around peoples porches and gardens, just a real shame :'( I think that is around 25 that 4 of us have seen in the Methow over the last 5 years while either hiking, fishing, scouting or hunting. Sickening :bash:

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2018, 06:35:21 PM »


I must agree with those that are saying the population has more than doubled :bash: I seen 2 more this weekend in the Methow, a big collared cat up Boulder Creek and one up towards Ramsey Creek, hardly any deer except the ones that were hanging around peoples porches and gardens, just a real shame :'( I think that is around 25 that 4 of us have seen in the Methow over the last 5 years while either hiking, fishing, scouting or hunting. Sickening :bash:

Last year a friend of mine got pics. of if I remember right 5 different cougar in one mile long drainage within three miles of Twisp, one of those cats showed to have kittens.

So far this year in the same drainage one very skinny cougar.

Growing up in the Methow we very seldom seen a cougar, now just like wolf sightings, it's no big deal.

My wife and I talk to one of Winthrop's vets, he said last winter he had a mamma cougar and three kittens winter in near his house all winter, he said he had a stuffed reindeer on his front porch decorated up, he said the cougar drug it off the porch and tore it all up.

The not so smart wolf-lovers etc. come up with the idea that the cougars were here first etc. etc., until fluffy gets ate off the front porch everything is cool. Fools.

How times have changed..

Offline bigmacc

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2018, 08:04:09 PM »


In the Methow its just a matter of time before what happened in North Bend starts happening in the Methow, only with more frequency I,m afraid. With more and more people moving there, more people using the valley for all kinds of recreation(cross country skiing, hiking, biking, birdwatching etc.) its going to happen and with less and less deer being available its a perfect storm for some horrible encounters with humans, they have to do something to reduce the cougar numbers in that valley. I have to agree with Wolfbait, its really not a big deal seeing them anymore, 20 years ago and more it was a real rarity and kind of neat to see one, if you were lucky you might see one every few years or even more, maybe every 5 years or so. Now they are common, about 50 deer per year are killed by each cat folks,  50 deer per year :bash: :bash:

Offline Special T

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2018, 09:58:11 PM »
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Offline HighlandLofts

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2018, 08:17:25 PM »
I just googled Washington state cougar population, two of the sites that I clicked on said there are between 1,900 and 2,100 adult cougars in the state.

I've seen trail cam pics of female cougars with three kittens.
So how old does a cougar need to be to be considered an adult?

I'd day two years old, that's when mama kicks them out and gets knocked up again.
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Offline bigmacc

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2018, 09:30:34 PM »
I just googled Washington state cougar population, two of the sites that I clicked on said there are between 1,900 and 2,100 adult cougars in the state.

I've seen trail cam pics of female cougars with three kittens.
So how old does a cougar need to be to be considered an adult?

I'd day two years old, that's when mama kicks them out and gets knocked up again.

I think 2000 cougars is way way low, for crying out loud I have friends that live in Snohomish and they are seeing them around town, Lots of security cam pics have been posted, I have relatives that live in Darrington who are seeing them, I have a friend who was just up Robinson creek over in the Methow and they seen what you described(4 cats traveling together). Its just my opinion but I think those estimates are conveniently(for the state) about 1000 to low.. :twocents:

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2018, 10:09:21 PM »
Probably 2k 2 year old adult males.

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Offline Gringo31

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2018, 10:13:32 PM »
Good questions...

When I was a aspiring to get a degree in Wildlife at WSU I thought I recalled a guesstimated population of 4K.  I was in school when they changed the hound laws.  I recall them talking about harvest rates and (trying to remember correctly) but it was just over 200/year.  The odd/interesting part was that harvest rates stayed the same after hounds were removed.  I'm curious if anyone knows total harvest numbers over the years.  I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find. 

I would venture to guess that the age of cougar harvested has decreased dramatically. 
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2018, 10:23:50 PM »
Iím pretty sure the harvest increased since the outlawed hounds.
Iíve seen claims stating itís because the population increased.

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #22 on: Yesterday at 05:09:07 AM »
If boot hunters can harvest as many cats as the hounds man did the population is quite high
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 06:18:38 AM »
Quote
If boot hunters can harvest as many cats as the hounds man did the population is quite high

I've thought that, but why didn't the hound guys get more?  How many hound hunters really were there?  Here are the numbers best I can find starting with 1997.  I seem to recall 208 being used and I'm guessing 1996.  I also recall it being within a couple cats different from the year prior when they had hounds. 

I'm a little confused with some of these numbers they have categories like depredation and other take so....?

Anyway, I tried to put these on a sheet...

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Offline Gringo31

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #24 on: Yesterday at 06:20:20 AM »



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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #25 on: Yesterday at 06:22:56 AM »
Been running a pile of trail cameras for over 10 years and had one cougar on camera up until 2 years ago. Now we're seeing multiple cats in several areas. I have a pair on camera 400yds from my back door. I know that's not scientific facts, but it is my first hand observation.

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #26 on: Yesterday at 07:56:46 AM »
Depredation and public safety are usually hound hunts. Its the hunts conducted with wdfw authorization to deal with some of the problem cats.
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #27 on: Yesterday at 10:11:47 AM »
Canít really go by the numbers harvested to get an idea how many cats there are because of quotas.  Most cats are taken in the snow which many areas donít get till just before late season. Quotas are so low that those areas close right when the cat hunting is getting good.

This is just my opinion but I bet if the department dropped the quotas completely we would harvest 5x the quotas the first year.
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #28 on: Yesterday at 10:27:43 AM »
I just googled Washington state cougar population, two of the sites that I clicked on said there are between 1,900 and 2,100 adult cougars in the state.

I've seen trail cam pics of female cougars with three kittens.
So how old does a cougar need to be to be considered an adult?

I'd day two years old, that's when mama kicks them out and gets knocked up again.

I think 2000 cougars is way way low, for crying out loud I have friends that live in Snohomish and they are seeing them around town, Lots of security cam pics have been posted, I have relatives that live in Darrington who are seeing them, I have a friend who was just up Robinson creek over in the Methow and they seen what you described(4 cats traveling together). Its just my opinion but I think those estimates are conveniently(for the state) about 1000 to low.. :twocents:

They don't really know what the population is, all they can do is estimate based on age and harvest data. The last estimate I heard from a WDFW manager was between 3000 to 4000, I don't know what their current estimate is, they may not have a current estimate? With the new director and current commission I have to wonder if quotas will be reduced further.  :dunno:
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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #29 on: Yesterday at 11:04:03 AM »
I just googled Washington state cougar population, two of the sites that I clicked on said there are between 1,900 and 2,100 adult cougars in the state.

I've seen trail cam pics of female cougars with three kittens.
So how old does a cougar need to be to be considered an adult?

I'd day two years old, that's when mama kicks them out and gets knocked up again.

I think 2000 cougars is way way low, for crying out loud I have friends that live in Snohomish and they are seeing them around town, Lots of security cam pics have been posted, I have relatives that live in Darrington who are seeing them, I have a friend who was just up Robinson creek over in the Methow and they seen what you described(4 cats traveling together). Its just my opinion but I think those estimates are conveniently(for the state) about 1000 to low.. :twocents:

They don't really know what the population is, all they can do is estimate based on age and harvest data. The last estimate I heard from a WDFW manager was between 3000 to 4000, I don't know what their current estimate is, they may not have a current estimate? With the new director and current commission I have to wonder if quotas will be reduced further.  :dunno:

Like the wolves, the public will more then likely have to manage cougars, leave WDF&wolves completely out of the picture. :twocents:

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #30 on: Yesterday at 11:56:18 AM »
I just googled Washington state cougar population, two of the sites that I clicked on said there are between 1,900 and 2,100 adult cougars in the state.

I've seen trail cam pics of female cougars with three kittens.
So how old does a cougar need to be to be considered an adult?

I'd day two years old, that's when mama kicks them out and gets knocked up again.



I think 2000 cougars is way way low, for crying out loud I have friends that live in Snohomish and they are seeing them around town, Lots of security cam pics have been posted, I have relatives that live in Darrington who are seeing them, I have a friend who was just up Robinson creek over in the Methow and they seen what you described(4 cats traveling together). Its just my opinion but I think those estimates are conveniently(for the state) about 1000 to low.. :twocents:

They don't really know what the population is, all they can do is estimate based on age and harvest data. The last estimate I heard from a WDFW manager was between 3000 to 4000, I don't know what their current estimate is, they may not have a current estimate? With the new director and current commission I have to wonder if quotas will be reduced further.  :dunno:

I think your absolutely right bearpaw, I don't think they have any idea of how many there really are, I don't even think they are close, they could literally be off by thousands. An old friend of the family that is retired (from the Game Dept of old) said cougars are very hard to get  even ballpark counts of, usually they are solitary, shy and evasive animals until they overpopulate and thats when the average person will start seeing them in places they usually are not seen, he said all these sightings that have been going on over the last few years should be sending a message that the population is booming and prey numbers are declining...He said that just like any animal, when they are hungry, starving or being pushed out of areas by other cats they will become desperate and act differently and show themselves in places they normally wouldn't. He even said that these encounters are just the tip of the iceberg as far as cougars go. He also says that all the reports, pictures, encounters, sightings etc. should be a signal to the powers to be that steps need to be taken to drastically reduce cougar numbers...Yes, he said drastically!

Offline Gringo31

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #31 on: Yesterday at 06:18:34 PM »
I would be a tough job to reduce numbers without hounds.  Quota needs to go.....they travel so much I'm not sure it would matter if an area was light one year due to "over harvest".
We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.
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Offline Humptulips

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #32 on: Yesterday at 06:33:31 PM »
I would be a tough job to reduce numbers without hounds.  Quota needs to go.....they travel so much I'm not sure it would matter if an area was light one year due to "over harvest".

Good point!
I don't understand why we even have all these cougar management areas with quotas. No other animal in the State is managed this way. They are plentiful throughout the State so if one area goes over a couple they in-migrate from adjacent units. Seems overly complicated for no reason.
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Offline bigmacc

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Re: Cougar population in WA state over time?
« Reply #33 on: Yesterday at 07:28:53 PM »
I would be a tough job to reduce numbers without hounds.  Quota needs to go.....they travel so much I'm not sure it would matter if an area was light one year due to "over harvest".

Good point!
I don't understand why we even have all these cougar management areas with quotas. No other animal in the State is managed this way. They are plentiful throughout the State so if one area goes over a couple they in-migrate from adjacent units. Seems overly complicated for no reason.

Yep, when he said drastic measures he referred to eliminating quotas and going to a year round seasons, he said in areas close to more populated recreation areas etc. that the possibility of bountys should be considered. I said this in another thread but it really makes a person wonder why these predators and others are being so watched over?

 

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