Report on Cougar attacks

from Joel Kretz


The following article aired on KOMW on 7/18/03 and was written by Becki Andrist and does an excellent job of summing up the situation.

The message I want to get across is that the system is broken and desperately needs to be fixed.

A bizarre twist to all this is that I have the capability to kill cougars. I own hounds and have removed mountain lions under the states depredation system for years.

My problem in this case is that I have followed the law, I have operated within the existing system. I have done this for two reasons. One is that I don't wish to break the law and the penalties are quite substancial. But the main reason is that I want to make a point- the system is broke. It has been a expensive point. Part of my justification is that while I may be able to solve my personal situation, it will do nothing for all the other people in similar situations. And there are a lot of them.

For years we had a system that worked, at no cost to the state. That system was an open hound hunting season and it kept lion populations stable and provided behavior modification with the lions. It worked for people, livestock, pets and for the lions and other wildlife. It is time for the legislature to face the fact that the present system is not working and step up to the plate and make some changes. It is time for the Fish and Wildlife Commission to make some bold changes in how the WDFW deals with large predators. In the coming months I intend to work to see that changes are made.

If you have a weak stomach don't scroll down, the pictures are graphic. The other side of the colt is much worse, the leg is half severed.

On the other hand, I have been looking at these kind of sights since 1999, maybe it's time to share the carnage. For those of you who want to help I would suggest doing two things. First, forward this on to as many people as possible. For any change to come about we need to make sure the public knows whats going on. Two, encourage people to report any lion attacks or incidents to the F+W Dept. It is extremely important that all attacks are documented to show just how widespread the problem is. While the "shoot, shovel and shutup" approach may solve an individual problem it does nothing to bring about meaningful solutions in the big picture.

As I said, I will be working on this issue. If you have solutions please feel free to contact me.
Joel Kretz
(509) 779-4105

Cougar Attacks Colt – Twentieth Attack on Kretz Property

by Becki Andrist

July 18, 2003

Last Saturday night, a cougar attacked a colt belonging to Joel Kretz on his property in the Toroda Creek Area. Cougar attacks are nothing new for Kretz, as this is the twentieth attack on his property in recent years.

Kretz said the problems started about three years after hound hunting was outlawed by voter initiative. “I think the big difference, you know they have always been up there, there’s always been a pretty good population, but we had not had any problems. Then they made hound hunting illegal in 1996, and I think that is pretty clear, that is what changed it.”

Kretz said the trouble for him really began in 1999. “We didn’t have any trouble until ’99, and we had a couple of colts killed and another one torn up in ’99, and I think we lost two dogs in ’99. My boys little Jack Russell got killed right in the back yard.”

Kretz said it has been kind of non-stop ever since. In 1999-2001 Kretz lost two colts each year, and others torn up like this last one, and the family lost dogs, along with a number of mares torn up trying to save their colts. Kretz estimates the economic damage very conservatively at $ 20,000 and now, even though he had 1300 acres of grassland, he cannot pasture his horses on his own land because they are not safe from the cougars.

Sgt. Jim Brown and Rich Beausoleil a wildlife biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife went to Kretz’s property and confirmed that this last incident was indeed a cougar attack. Kretz said Sgt. Brown had done everything he can do, and defended Brown’s actions so far. “There’s been a lot of heat on them, and I really don’t think it is justified. Jim has been, he’s really pushed the envelope on the whole deal, and they are right up against what the law says they can do. And he has been 100% cooperative.”

Kretz says the problem with the cougar situation is really in Olympia. “The problem is in Olympia. The initiative banning the hound hunting is the biggest problem. The game commission has been hesitant to act, they always err on the side of caution, with their safety, not mine. They are operating under fear that the Humane Society will sue them.”

Kretz says the cautious approach by the Game Commission is causing delays in action. The actions that have been taken he feels are band-aid solutions that are reactive and not proactive.
Since the initiative banning hound hunting went into place, it has changed the behavior of the cougars in the wild. The animals no longer have a fear of people or dogs…they have made it to the top of the food chain. Kretz said their behavior has noticeably changed in recent years. “Now they associate a barking dog with dinner, instead of being chased. I used to see their tracks and they would come right by the house and they would get to the house and make a little loop around and keep going, no problem. No they come to the house and make a loop right in and take something off the porch, or a colt in the yard.”

We asked Kretz if he thought it would take somebody being killed by a cougar before the people in Olympia, who have the power to change the situation do any thing about it…and his response was… “Frankly, yeah, that’s what it is going to take, and I don’t know if that will do it.”

One argument that has been made by the animal rights groups is that man is encroaching on the animal’s territory. Kretz said that is not the case in the area where he lives. “This is the least amount of people that have been there, since the turn of the century.”

So, with the increase in the cougar population it would appear that the cougars are beginning to “encroach” man. “Absolutely. Right at the bottom of my drive way was the old town of Boady had 400 people in it. Cougar Creek, Toroda, they had 400 there, Molson was 4000. There was a homesteader on almost every 160 acre piece up there, and it has gone the other way completely.”

Kretz has received two depredation permits to hunt the cougars that made the most recent attack on his colt. They probably won’t be the last ones.


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