SPOKANE - Increased opportunity for fall wild turkey and white-tailed antlerless deer in northeast Washington were among the hunting rules adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in Spokane April 3.
The Commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also adjusted deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, black bear, cougar, upland game bird, and other small game hunting seasons and permit levels.
Many of the adjustments in deer and elk hunting rules are due to damage problems that are increasing along with Washington's human population, said WDFW game manager Dave Ware. Northcentral Washington mule deer hunting permits and seasons, on the other hand, were reduced to address population declines due to drought and higher than expected antlerless harvest last year.
The fall wild turkey hunting season, which has been by permit only in the past, will now include seven game management units in northeast Washington's Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties which will be open to all hunters with valid turkey tags. Open turkey hunting in the Kelly Hill (105), Douglas (108), Aladdin (111), Selkirk (113), 49 Degrees North (117), Huckleberry (121) and Mount Spokane (124) units will help address nuisance problems that have increased with the turkey population. Fall turkey permit hunting will continue in other northeast, southeast, and southwest units of the state, including 50 additional permits in the Sherman (101) unit.
Four hundred white-tailed antlerless deer hunting tags, for use in portions of the Kelly Hill (105) unit in "the wedge" of Stevens County between the Columbia and Kettle rivers, will be available for purchase as second tags by hunters drawn for permits in that special hunt. The new opportunity is designed to lower whitetail populations to aid cougar and mule deer research in the area.
The Commission also:
- approved crossbow use by qualifying archery hunters with disabilities;
- increased big game auction and raffle tags;
- reclassified rock doves (pigeons) to allow them to be used for bird dog training; and
- clarified game management unit boundaries.
Details of all hunting seasons will be available in the 2004 pamphlet edition of Washington's Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules in WDFW offices, at hunting license dealers, and on the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) by early May. The special hunting permit application period is May 15 - June 20, with all applicants (successful or not) notified by July 31.
Earlier in the Commission's two-day meeting in Spokane, several land transactions were approved, including purchase of additional acreage in WDFW's Asotin Unit of the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area in Asotin County, sale of approximately 41 acres of surplus property in Stevens County to Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and transfer of five small parcels at Sequim Bay in Clallam County to the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.
WDFW staff also briefed the Commission on:
- possible future recreational steelhead and trout fishing on the Entiat and Wenatchee rivers in northcentral Washington;
- Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grant proposals; and
- the new Wildlife Viewing Activities in Washington Strategic Plan directed by the Washington State Legislature.