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,
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
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.
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
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