Of Dogs, Wolves, Cougars, and Hypocrisy

Once bitten twice shy? Not so for Shelby, a husky-wolf hybrid who lives outside of Twisp, Wash. She's survived two attacks in the last year, which are indicative of Washington state's loose definition of "management" when it comes to apex predators.

Last March, Shelby was sleeping on her porch when a wolf attacked. The dog was saved, albeit torn up, when her owner and another dog jumped into the fray. About two weeks ago, Shelby was attacked by a mountain lion in her yard.

She survived and a depredation permit was issued for a houndsman to track and kill the cougar. Much like California, since hound hunting for cougars was made illegal in Washington, conflicts have become more common - especially this year.

According to the Wenatchee World, "So far this winter, cougars in the Methow Valley have killed goats, sheep, chickens and a calf. Shelby was the second dog to be attacked. Then […]an 11-year-old girl shot a cougar 10 feet from their Twisp residence as it followed her brother to the door.

Five of the big cats have been tracked and killed with help from Wildlife officials, and six others have been killed by hunters, including some deemed problem animals."

What these two incidences have in common: 1) legislation backed by animal rights groups; 2) obstructionist court challenges; 3) an out-of-touch metropolitan-voting base far removed from the issues.

In the case of wolves, state officials are hampered by the Endangered Species Act and state "goals" - those being 15 documented breeding pairs in designated zones across the state (there are currently only at three pairs).

In 2012, Washington state spent more than $750,000 on wolves, including nearly $77,000 to kill an entire wolf pack in the northeast corner of the state. In 2013, the state spent a little more than $500,000. In 2014, they've already spent money to spay a radio-collared female wolf that was impregnated by an escaped dog.

I'm not against wolves. I do believe they can have a place in modern America, but not without management. We manage everything in this country from the amount of land in wilderness vs. agriculture vs. populated areas to the ecosystem of prey species and lesser predator species. So why would we turn an apex predator - one with no other natural enemies except man - loose in a vacuum?

In the case of the cougars, it's wholly a matter of reactive management due to the ballot-box-stuffing and emotional pleas of the Humane Society of the United States and the highly populated Seattle area on the west side of the Cascade mountains.

Cougar hunting with hounds has been outlawed, but the first person they call to take care of problem cougars is a houndsman. If it's a good enough tactic for the state to use when conflicts arise, and even designate special permits for in specific problem areas, why isn't it good enough for the public to use in the first place, which would resolve those problems before they ever arise?