BEND, Ore. (AP) — More cougars are prowling around Oregon, prompting state officials to raise its kill quota for the animals for the first time since 2006.

The state is allowing 193 more cougars to be killed this year, the Bend Bulletin reported. Salem-based Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says the state is responding to population growth.

“Our population modeling shows that we are over 6,200 (cougars) now,” she said.

The Oregon cougar population grew 9 percent from 2006 to 2013. From 1994 to 2013, the increase is at 96 percent.

“We are just responding to the number of cats,” said Craig Foster, the state’s district wildlife biologist in Lakeview.

State data shows the number of cougars killed in Southeast Cascades has fallen far short of the quota, which is a limit rather than a goal. The department says these areas are being targeted to reduce safety concerns and livestock conflicts as well as improve populations of big game.

Wildlife officials do have kill goals for four cougar target areas next year.

Carnivore advocate Sally Mackler with Eugene-based nonprofit group Predator Defense said she questions raising quotas when they are not being reached.

“I don’t think there is any real, scientific backing that there is a need to hunt cougars or other large predators,” she said.


Information from: The Bulletin,