LONGVIEW -- Mule deer hunting in some parts of eastern Washington will be
curtailed or substantially reduced this year because severe winter conditions took a
heavy toll on herds.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on Saturday voted not to issue
buck deer permits in 61 hunts. Nearly all the areas are on the eastern slopes of the
Commissioners also voted not to issue elk permits in seven hunting areas where
animals were hard hit by harsh winter weather.
Besides eliminating hunts in areas where winter mortality rates were high,
commissioners also allocated buck deer and bull elk special permits statewide among
archery, modern firearm and muzzleloader hunters.
The issue of how to fairly allocate those permits among modern firearm,
muzzleloader and archery hunters drew much public testimony.
After much debate, commissioners voted to adopt a citizen's task force
recommendation that permits be divvied up among hunters based on the number of
hunters in each user group and last year's success rates in bagging a buck deer or
branch antlered bull elk.
Complete permit information will be available statewide on Wednesday (April
23) at all Department of Fish and Wildlife offices and at hunting license dealers. The
information will also be available on the Internet at http://wdfw.wa.gov.
Applications for special permits are due May 2.
In early March, wildlife biologists reported that mule deer populations on the
eastern slopes of the Cascades had experienced large mortality rates because of deep
snow and extended periods of freezing temperatures.
As a result, the biologists said they would recommend to commissioners that no
buck or doe hunting permits be issued for many areas. The overwhelming number of
the areas are identified in the department's hunting pamphlet as the 200 and 300 series
game management units.
Biologists said that while precise mortality rates are unavailable, some herds are
believed to have lost extremely large numbers of animals. In Chelan County alone, bad
weather may have claimed up to 60 percent of the mule deer fawns.
Some elk herds that inhabit the same areas experienced significant losses,
according to biologists. However, elk are able to withstand severe winter conditions far
better than mule deer.
In other actions, commissioners set moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat
hunting permit quotas, and voted to raffle four permits for four, big game species again
This year marks the first year such a raffle has been held to provide additional
hunter opportunities and raise money for deer, elk, bighorn sheep and moose