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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


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August 11, 1998
Contact: Tim Waters (360) 902-2262

Fish and Wildlife Commission sets 1998-99 waterfowl seasons; approves youth hunts for waterfowl and upland birds

OLYMPIA -- Amid predictions by biologists that waterfowl hunting conditions should be extremely good this year, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on Saturday approved the 1998-99 seasons. Waterfowl season runs from October 3, 1998 through January 17, 1999.

Excellent bird breeding populations and habitat conditions have combined to make the outlook good for hunters in all parts of the state, according to Don Kraege, who oversees migratory waterfowl programs for the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department. This is the second year in a row such favorable conditions have existed, Kraege said.

In setting the seasons, commissioners increased Canada goose bag limits in southwest Washington and northern Puget Sound. The season for Canada geese hunting in northern Puget Sound was also extended by commissioners for two weeks.

Commissioners also closed Monday, Oct. 12 to duck and goose hunting so the seasons could remain open on Sunday, Jan. 17. Under federal law, there can only be 107 waterfowl hunting days. By eliminating a hunting day early in the season, commissioners hoped to extend hunting later when conditions are generally better for hunters.

In an attempt to expose more youngsters to hunting and conservation stewardship, commissioners also approved a special youth hunt day for waterfowl hunters on Sept. 26. They also approved a youth season for Sept. 26-27 in eastern Washington for pheasant and quail hunters. During previous actions the Commission established a western Washington youth/senior hunt for pheasants from Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 1998.

Recreationists should consult WDFW's Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet for details on these and other hunts and general season information. The publication will be available by Labor Day.

After listening to testimony from Quilcene Bay homeowners concerned about hunting too close to their residences, commissioners voted to close the bay this year to Canada goose hunting during the Sept. 8-14 season only. The one-year closure is meant as a stop-gap measure to allow homeowners time to work out a permanent solution with WDFW and county officials.

Commissioners also approved a proposal that would allow hunters only one mountain goat permit in their lifetime beginning in 1999. Previously, hunters were eligible to draw a special permit every year to hunt the species. The change will not impact hunters who have drawn a mountain goat permit in previous years.

WDFW staff told commissioners the change, which is consistent with the so- called once-in-a-lifetime hunts already in existence for other species such as moose and bighorn sheep, was necessary because of the decline in the state's mountain goat population.

The commission also discussed how to make the transition to hunting and fishing license periods that are synchronized with recreational seasons. The Department's current calendar-year licensing cycle does not coincide well with seasons.

After listening to several options, the commission approved in concept a plan to sell a three-month, combination hunting and fishing license that would bridge the January to April gap next year. After that, the Department would sell 12-month hunting and fishing licenses that would be sold on an April 1 through March 31 cycle.

The commission is scheduled to vote on the plan in late October following public comment.