Regulations & Seasons
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2009-2011 Hunting Season Setting Process

We are in the process of developing the 2009-2011 hunting seasons. Major hunting objectives and season structures are set on a three-year cycle with minor adjustments during the off years. The process for developing a three-year hunting season package is an expanded version of the annual season-setting process. The exception is the major migratory bird hunting seasons, which are all set on an annual cycle to coincide with federal season-setting processes. Establishment of all hunting seasons is guided by goals, objectives, and strategies contained in the 2009-2015 Game Management Plan.

Last June, the Department asked for your help to determine the major issues that are important to you for the next three-year hunting season cycle. Thank you for such a great response. We had nearly 4,000 people respond to the scoping survey. The results are posted below under 1. Issue Scoping.

After the initial scoping phase, we refined the issues and developed preferred alternatives for addressing those issues. The alternatives were discussed at several public meetings held throughout the state in August and September. In addition, a survey was available as an avenue for providing comments. Nearly 5,000 people commented using this survey. See 2. Refining Alternatives below for the results.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted statewide hunting new seasons, during a public meeting on April 3-4. The new rules establish hunting rules for deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, black bear, cougar and small game in 2009-11. The commission adopted the new three-year hunting package after nearly eight months of public comment and review.  As part of that process, WDFW wildlife managers conducted public meetings around the state and contacted more than 50,000 licensed hunters by e-mail to solicit their ideas on various management options under consideration.

Within the framework of state conservation goals, we try to accommodate the public as much as we can in designing state hunting seasons. These seasons reflect the ideas of thousands of Washingtonians, both hunters and non-hunters alike.

Under one new policy approved by the commission, WDFW will phase in an expansion of state restrictions on the use of lead shot, which are toxic to birds and other wildlife that ingest it.  Toxic shot has been banned in hunting waterfowl since 1991; WDFW has been expanding that prohibition to other hunts around the state. New this year, hunters will be required to use non-toxic shot when hunting upland game birds or mourning doves in three units of the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area, where ingestion of lead shot by wildlife is of particular concern.  In 2011, the non-toxic shot requirement will be expanded to all established WDFW pheasant-release sites.

The commission also approved a number of other changes in hunting rules and seasons in the following areas:

  • Deer and elk seasons:  Starting this year, hunting opportunities for muzzleloaders will be expanded in several ways and special-permit hunts with modern firearms will be added when mature bucks and bulls are most available.  Hunting seasons for archers, who currently have the longest seasons of any user group, were modified to accommodate these changes.
  • Cougar hunting:  The commission approved a statewide archery-only season Sept. 1-25 and a muzzleloader-only season Sept. 26-Oct. 16 to make hunting options for cougar consistent with deer and elk seasons during those periods.
  • Bear seasons:  Most seasons will remain the same for 2009, but regulations for 2010-11 were deferred pending further study of bear populations that show signs of decline in some areas of the state.  Management units that formerly opened the day after Labor Day will open Sept. 1, consistent with the opening day of archery season.
  • Hunting equipment:  Hunters using muzzleloaders or archery equipment will be allowed to carry a handgun for personal protection if they have a concealed pistol permit.  Hunters may also use black powder pistols to hunt during muzzleloader seasons.

The new hunting rules and seasons will also be incorporated into the 2009 Big Game Hunting pamphlet, which will be available by April 20.

The Concise Explanatory Statement outlines the differences between what was filed on the CR-102 and what was adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

New for 2009: Hunting Pamphlets Available Earlier (mid-April) & Special Permit Applications Due Sooner (May 20)

Starting in 2009, the Department will publish the hunting pamphlets in-house. This will allow for the pamphlet to be available nearly one month earlier. Since the pamphlets will be available sooner special permit applications can be submitted beginning April 20 and will be due by midnight on May 20. Drawing results will be available before the end of June instead of July.

Timeline for Developing 2009-2011 Seasons:

1. Issue Scoping: April 2008 – July 2008

Completed

Public Comment Period Over: July 13

2. Refining Alternatives: July 2008 – November 2008

Completed

Public Comment Period Over: August 13, 2008 – September 30, 2008

Public meetings were conducted:

  • Bellingham – August 25, 2008 
  • Aberdeen – August 26, 2008 
  • Tacoma – August 27, 2008
  • Vancouver – August 28, 2008 
  • Wenatchee – September 2, 2008 
  • Spokane – September 3, 2008 
  • Pasco – September 4, 2008

3. 2009-2011 Hunting Season Recommendations:

Public Comment Period Over: January 21 - February 20, 2009

Final 2009-2011 Hunting Season Recommendations
[All files in Adobe PDF Format]

- Summary of Final Recommended Adjustments
    This document contains changes made to the WACs since the March 6-7 Commission Meeting in Ellensburg.

- Special Season & Hunting Restrictions

- Hunting Opportunity for Hunters with Disabilities & the Terminally Ill

- Trapping Seasons & Regulation Restrictions

- Big Game & Wild Turkey Auction, Raffle, and Special Incentive Permits

- Spring Black Bear Seasons & Regulations

- Moose, Bighorn Sheep, and Mountain Goat Seasons and Permit Quotas

- Black Bear & Cougar Hunting Regulations

- Hunting Equipment Restrictions

- Special Closures & Boundary Regulations

- Deer General Seasons & Special Permit Regulations

- Elk General Seasons & Special Permit Regulations

- Small Game Seasons

- Landowner Hunting Permits

- Damage Prevention Permit Hunts

- Non-Toxic Shot Requirements

- Hunter Education Training Program Requirements