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


July 15, 1998
Contact: Margaret Ainscough, (360) 902-2408

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Hunter safety rule upheld by Court of Appeals

OLYMPIA The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has the authority to require hunters to wear fluorescent orange clothing for safety reasons, the state Court of Appeals ruled recently.

The hunter-orange requirement, which has been in effect since 1991, was challenged by two hunters who contended that WDFW does not have the right to require hunters to wear a particular type of clothing.

The state Court of Appeals ruled that the department's statutory authority to regulate "manner of taking" game animals includes the authority to regulate hunter safety by requiring hunters to wear fluorescent orange clothing.

"Hunter orange reduces accidents," said Mik Mikitik, WDFW hunter education coordinator.

In the five years before the regulation was adopted, the rate of firearm-related hunter injuries was 8.16 per 100,000 hunters; in the five years following adoption of the hunter-orange requirement the injury rate dropped to 7.26 per 100,000 hunters, Mikitik said.

The requirement was put in place because Washington had a relatively high number of firearm-related hunting accidents caused by poor visibility, Mikitik recalled. The department requires that hunters in areas open to modern-firearm hunting for deer or elk wear at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing above the waist. Upland bird hunters hunting with modern firearms are required to follow the same clothing rule.