OLYMPIA - Beginning next year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will start selling tickets to drawings for lifetime fishing and hunting privileges in Washington state.
The program was approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which met Dec. 5-6 meeting in Port Townsend. At that meeting, the commission also voted to establish a new "watchable wildlife" decal program that will give wildlife-viewing patrons the opportunity to contribute to WDFW.
The commission also heard testimony from approximately 50 people who were testifying on several of the more than 140 proposed sport fishing rule changes for the 2004-05 sport fishing seasons.
Frank Hawley, WDFW Licensing Division manager, said the drawings for lifetime privileges are intended to promote Washington's excellent fishing and hunting opportunities. He said there will be four drawings each year, with the first one slated for June 2004 and additional drawings every three months thereafter. Two to four fishing and hunting combination licenses will likely be available at each drawing.
Tickets will be good for 12 months' worth of drawings from the date of ticket purchase and will cost $6.50 for residents, $12.50 for non-residents. Tickets for the drawings will be available beginning Jan. 1 online through WDFW's licensing website, via phone at 1-866-246-9453, and at the hundreds of retail outlets where fishing and hunting licenses are sold.
Hawley said wildlife-viewing patrons can purchase the special decal beginning next year. The decal will come with wildlife-viewing educational material and a vehicle use permit that provides access to WDFW-managed lands throughout the state. The decal is expected to cost $30 and would be available online through the department's license sales website, at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ on the Internet, via phone at 1-866-246-9453 and wherever fishing and hunting licenses are sold.
The commission heard from more than 50 citizens on sport fishing rules proposed for 2004-05. Public comment focused on wild steelhead release, a proposal to ban fishing from motorized boats on portions of the Satsop and Wynoochee rivers, a ban on treble hooks while fishing for salmon in marine areas 5 through 13 and a proposed rule that would require anglers to keep non-retainable salmon in the water.
The final rules package is scheduled for adoption at the commission's Feb. 6-7 meeting in Olympia.
In other business, the commission:
- Adopted amendments to the nuisance wildlife control operator (NWCO) rules. The new rules give WDFW the ability to suspend and revoke nuisance wildlife control operators under due process of the law, establish requirements for a special trapping permit for NWCOs and require NWCOs to submit a quarterly report to WDFW.
- Approved a rule that would change the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Act fund application acceptance period from four times a year to once a year. The move streamlines the process and saves WDFW funds.
- Heard an update on Columbia River spring chinook fishery policy. The commission is expected to establish management objectives and a recreational - commercial allocation option at its January workshop.
- Received a status report from the Puget Sound Recreational Fisheries Oversight Committee. The eight-member committee advises the department on all aspects of the Puget Sound Recreational Fisheries Enhancement Program.
Commissioners also received input from recreational crab fishers who want longer fishing seasons and a larger portion of the non-treaty share.