Inslee reverses panel's decision to increase cougar hunts

SEATTLE (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee has reversed a state wildlife panel's decision to expand cougar hunting in areas of Washington occupied by wolves.

Inslee sided with The Humane Society of the United States and other conservation groups, which appealed a decision by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to raise cougar quotas in known wolf territories.

Inslee wrote in a letter Monday that the panel improperly applied state law when it increased the cougar harvests through a last-minute amendment. He said that rule was different from one it had proposed and didn't allow the public an opportunity to comment.

In April, the commission increased the cougar harvest rate in 14 areas of the state as a way to ease tensions in communities dealing with wolves.

The governor says he's directing the commission to get public comment before putting the higher quotas in place.