Create a Livestock Protection Team

Last week, I had a visit from a resident who came to me to ask what could be done about two problems.
One problem was a cougar near her home that killed one of her animals; the second problem was the lack of response of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The agency had done nothing about the first problem and stopped her from doing something about it herself.
County folks have a variety of animals. They have cattle, horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, chickens and others. They raise some to sell, some to eat, some to enjoy and some just to love.
In this situation, the cougar killed a miniature donkey not far from the house.
When the resident became aware of it, the resident called Fish and Wildlife and reported the loss. In a few hours, an officer showed up, looked at the uneaten carcass and confirmed it was killed by a mountain lion.
When asked what was going to be done about the lion, the agent came up with a list of reasons why nothing would be done. He hinted that it was their own fault for not putting all animals in a lion-proof building, suggested they lured the lion in by having cat food outside and said the lion may have mistaken the donkey for a deer.
The agent finally took the uneaten carcass to prevent the folks from killing the lion themselves when it came back to feed on the kill and prevented them from burying their animal.
They asked me what could be done.
This prompted one of my deputies, Will Ferguson, to search the statutes for an answer for what could be done in the face of an agency who seems to do very little to address the problem these people faced.
He came up with an answer: Revised Code of Washington 77.15.245 (2)(a) allows the hunting (with dogs) of certain predators by agents or employees of counties when acting in their official capacities for the purpose of protecting livestock, domestic animals, private property or public safety. (The statute does not apply to wolves.)
I believe the county should form a Livestock Protection Team. The team would comprise residents from across a broad spectrum of our county.
They could develop a protocol and an agent could be authorized to hunt problem predators using dogs. They could take care of a problem predator when the state will not.
Mr. Ferguson inquired of the state and the Assistant Attorney General advising it if they could provide a reason why Stevens County could not do this. They did not have a reply. I believe the law allows a county to do this and I think we should.
Our residents deserve better than they are getting.
As the old saying goes, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
— Tim Rasmussen is the Stevens County prosecuting attorney.