LYNNWOOD – Waterfowl hunting opportunities will be similar to last year under seasons adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at a meeting here Aug. 8-9.
The commission also approved amendments to cougar hunting regulations, and took public input on the 2009-2015 game management plan and a proposed penalty for failing to report crab caught in the Puget Sound recreational fishery.
Under the 2008 waterfowl seasons, the statewide duck hunting season will be open from Oct. 11-15 and Oct. 18-Jan. 25. A special youth hunting weekend also is scheduled for Sept. 20-21.
As part of the hunting package, the commission closed the canvasback season this year and delayed the start of the scaup season until Nov. 1 to address population declines for those species. Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same.
Goose hunting seasons vary by management areas across the state, but most open Oct. 11 and run into January 2009.
The goose and duck hunting seasons approved by the commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), are based on state and federal waterfowl population estimates and guidelines.
In other action, the commission approved amendments to cougar hunting regulations. The amendments, consistent with a bill approved early this year by the Legislature, extend for another three years a pilot project authorizing cougar hunting with the aid of dogs in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties and allow other counties to request inclusion in the project.
The amendments also allow the limited-entry hound hunts for cougars in Klickitat County beginning this year. Other changes include reducing the annual cougar bag limit from two to one for all hound hunters, and reducing the total allowable harvest for the 2008-2009 winter season by 40 percent in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to stabilize the cougar population.
Hunting cougar with dogs was banned statewide by public initiative in 1996. However, in response to concerns about public safety and livestock depredation, the Legislature voted in 2004 to allow hunting cougar with hounds during specific seasons in five eastern Washington counties where public safety and depredation concerns were the greatest.
The commission also approved two land transactions, an interim correction to the boundary description for the Johnson/Debay Slough Game Reserve, the department’s Capital Program Action Plan and the 2009-2011 Capital and Operating budget proposals.
In other business, the commission took public comment on a proposed $10 penalty for Puget Sound sport crab fishers who fail to comply with state catch-reporting requirements. The commission is scheduled to take action on the proposed penalty during its meeting Sept. 5-6 in Olympia.
The commission also took public input on a proposed 2009-2015 game management plan, which is currently being developed by WDFW. The commission is scheduled to take action on the new six-year plan during its meeting Sept. 5-6 in Olympia. Information about the development of that plan is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00433/ on WDFW’s website.
In addition, the commission heard briefings on:
- A Fir Island snow goose management plan.
- Genetic studies on south fork Skykomish River steelhead.
- WDFW’s role in local land use planning.
- A Columbia River select area fisheries evaluation project.
- Development of wildlife surveys.
- Status of the federal Farm Bill.
- The Office of Farmland Preservation.
For information about future commission meetings, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm.