The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) invites the public to comment on a new proposed rule to oversee dog training associated with cougar incidents.

“Properly trained scent dogs are an essential tool for public safety and our work,” said WDFW Police Chief Bear. “When time counts, nothing is more effective and efficient in locating a specific animal in the wild than these dogs and their handlers.”

The department can call upon dog handlers to assist during public safety or livestock and pet depredation incidents. However, previous law did not give these handlers an opportunity to keep their dogs trained to be prepared when a call comes in for service.

“We’re seeking the public’s feedback on this rulemaking to ensure we can continue to meet the public safety needs of communities, while also outlining practices that protect and conserve wildlife,” added Chief Bear.

If the Fish and Wildlife Commission approves the new rule, WDFW enforcement staff will monitor and administer this program. A limited number of individuals would be selected and approved through extensive background checks and agency requirements.

The public may submit feedback on the proposed rules through Dec. 7 via email or mail to:

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Becky Bennett
PO Box 43200
Olympia, WA  98504

The Fish and Wildlife Commission will host a public hearing for this rule update at their December 3-5 meeting. Visit the department’s website for more information on the proposed rule.

WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.