MOSES LAKE - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted 2003-05 hunting seasons at its meeting here this weekend, including expanded opportunity for hunters with disabilities, youth, and seniors.
The commission, comprised of nine governor-appointed citizens statewide, oversees the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Out of a total of 13,000 special hunting permits issued statewide, the commission approved 125 new permits for hunters with disabilities, 2,000 for youth under 16, and 400 for seniors over 65. The commission also clarified language regarding hunters with disabilities and those who accompany them.
In the three-year hunting rules package it adopted, the commission also:
- Improved allocation of deer hunting opportunity among modern firearm, muzzleloader, and archery hunters statewide;
- Adjusted 2003 season deer and elk special hunt permits in response to population changes and damage complaints;
- Provided second deer special permit opportunity for antlerless animals in three eastern region units and two northern Puget Sound region units where doe populations are high;
- Increased the number of landowner elk damage permits statewide;
- Shifted the early archery elk season to Sept. 8-21 each year;
- Increased the number of fall wild turkey hunting permits in northeast Washington where turkey populations have increased;
- Increased the number of moose hunting permits in northeast Washington where populations continue to increase; and
- Opened eastern Washington pheasant hunting season two weeks later than other upland game bird seasons to address landowner concerns and deer-pheasant hunting season opening conflicts.
Most of the hunting rules adopted by the Commission will be detailed in Washington's Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules 2003 pamphlet, effective May 15, 2003 through May 14, 2004 and available at WDFW offices and license vendors in mid May. Hunters seeking special permits will have until June 22 to apply.
Pheasant, quail, and partridge hunting season rules adopted will be detailed in Washington's Upland Game and Migratory Bird Hunting Seasons and Rules 2003 pamphlet, effective Sept. 1, 2003 through March 31, 2004 and available in late August after waterfowl rules are set. The commission can't consider new waterfowl seasons and rules until federal guidelines are set for those interstate migratory species.
During its two-day meeting, the commission also:
Adopted rules prohibiting the sale of salmon eggs without the salmon carcass, except for troll fisheries;
Adopted rules providing greater protection to wild and cultivated oyster stocks;
Set 2003-05 furbearer trapping seasons; and
Heard a report on the Douglas County Foster Creek Habitat Conservation Plan.