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A stuffed cougar is seen on display at REI in Olympia on Tuesday, April 23. 

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials are considering potential changes to the 2020 fall cougar hunting season, a department release stated last week.

The potential for changes comes after residents voiced concerns during a March Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, according to the release, which led the department to assemble a working group of WDFW biologists and enforcement officers to come up with recommendations.

“Our group has met five times over the last six months to discuss changes to the hunt structure,” WDFW Game Division Manager Anis Aoude said in the release. “After completing our internal process, we will begin a public engagement process to receive feedback from our stakeholders.”

For the next several months, the WDFW will give updates on the work group at commission meetings while seeking input from key stakeholders, accepting public comment, providing information on social media and hosting a digital open house, according to the release. The commission will also have a public hearing for comment in March prior to making a decision on any changes in April.

“Public safety remains one of our highest concerns,” Aoude said in the release. “This internal cougar working group continues to work at finding the balance between maintaining sustainable cougar populations while also addressing public safety.”

In March, the department filed a document that advertises the intent of possible rule making, the release stated. That document and any future filings related to this process can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/about/regulations

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