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Cougar quotas now available on Web site

Two weeks ago I promised that as soon as information was available on how to learn the status of cougar hunting quotas, I'd have information here. Weeks ago the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) began telling the public that such information was on their Web site. Unfortunately that was not true.
   But I knew that hunters needed a way of learning the status of the harvest quota, so they could stay on the right side of the law. I decided to be a squeaky wheel.
   Over a period of many days I made phone calls to the ODFW main office in Salem. Each time I was transferred to several different people, and to each person I pointed out that their Web site had nothing on it about the cougar quotas - as their news releases kept stating.
   Then last week I was transferred around yet again and ended up talking with a very pleasant young lady named Tracy Hulett, and she said she'd do something about it.
   I hate to be skeptical, but since I've dealt with government agencies for decades, and too frequently have been given the run-around, I dropped her promise in my mental "we'll see" file, and went on to other things.
   The very next day Tracy phoned and told me to look on that ODFW Web site again. I looked and found that vital information on the status of cougar harvest quotas. Thank you Tracy Hulett!
   To get the current status of the cougar harvest quotas, by zone, go to the Web site http://www.dfw.state.or.us/ ODFWhtml/Regulations/2004_reg_changes.htm#biggame and scroll down to, and click on "2004 COUGAR HARVEST QUOTAS."
   This is the only way to learn the status of the cougar quotas during those days and hours when ODFW offices are closed. During office hours (8:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday), try phoning the Bend office (388-6363) or the Salem office (1-800-720-6339). If you happen to get Tracy in Salem, thank her for finally being the grease for this squeaky wheel.
   As I said in this column two weeks ago, hunters are nearing the quota in the Columbia Basin Zone (which includes the Grizzly Unit north of Prineville), and anyone with a valid cougar tag should definitely check before going afield.
    I found the cougar harvest chart on that ODFW Web site to be quite interesting. The chart is by zones and years, from 1999 to right now. Over those years the total state quota has risen from 380 to 562. The kill has ranged from a low of 136 in 2000, to a high of 241 in 2003. The statewide kill is 231 so far for 2004.
   Most years, in most zones, the harvest was well below the quota, and in only three cases has the kill equaled or exceeded the quota. In 2001, in the Blue Mountains Zone (which includes the Ochoco Unit), the quota of 96 was exceeded by two. In 2002 the Blue Mountains Zone quota of 98 was exceeded by four, while that same year the Columbia Basin Zone quota of 13 was exceeded by one.
   This year, only the Columbia Basin Zone is nearing the quota. Statewide the kill is only 41% of the total quota.
   Ed Park wrote his first magazine article while working as the lookout on Black Butte, near Sisters, in 1948, and sent it to Outdoor Life Magazine. He still has that rejection slip.