OLYMPIA - Proposed 2005 hunting season revisions that affect Hanford elk management, eastern Washington pheasant hunts and other seasons will be considered by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during its meeting April 8-9 in Moses Lake.
The meeting will take place at Best Western Lake Inn and Conference Center, 3000 Marina Drive, in Moses Lake.
The WDFW staff recommendation to the Commission includes dividing Game Management Unit 372 (Kiona) into two units. The northern unit would be separated into two elk areas to provide both general hunting seasons and permit-only hunts.
Most permits would be limited to hunters who have passed WDFW's Advanced Hunter Education program, while additional Landowner Access Permits would be allocated to hunters by local landowners.
The changes have been proposed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wildlife managers who are working to address increased crop damage by a growing elk herd on farmlands adjacent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-managed Hanford National Monument/Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge/Arid Lands Ecology Reserve, where hunting is not currently allowed.
"We have been meeting with every one involved to develop solutions to intense hunter pressure in the area," said Dave Ware, WDFW game division manager.
"We hope that these actions, combined with steps taken to reduce the elk population on federally managed lands, will improve the situation," Ware said.
WDFW is also recommending that the eastern Washington pheasant-hunting season be extended to Jan. 16, 2006, the same date that other upland game bird seasons end, to make up for the two weeks lost in the beginning of the season.
Two years ago the Commission delayed the start of the season to reduce conflicts between hunters and farmers, and between pheasant hunters and deer hunters in areas where seasons overlap.
Other hunt season changes that will be recommended to the Commission include:
- Opening all units to youth hunters during the spring 2006 turkey season; the first youth season last year was only in select units to avoid conflicts with the general season, but few conflicts were identified.
- Expanding mule deer antlerless hunting opportunity in parts of Chelan and Okanogan counties.
- Adjusting deer and elk special permit levels annually, based on damage concerns or for meeting population objectives.
"We want hunters and landowners to be aware of our recommendations to the Commission so they can provide input now or at the meeting next month," Ware said.
Copies of the proposals, including annual minor permit adjustments, may be obtained by contacting the WDFW Wildlife Program, at (360) 902-2515, or in writing at 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
Written comments should be submitted to the Wildlife Program no later than April 6. Comments can also be provided at the Commission meeting on April 8 or 9.
The Commission is expected to address most of the hunting season proposals during the morning of April 9. The Commission is also scheduled to receive briefings from WDFW staff on Puget Sound recreational crab management and the 2005-2006 public safety cougar removal program .
A complete agenda with specific times will be available later this month at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm.