WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

December 13, 1997
Contact: Madonna Luers, 509-456-4073

  Digg it!  StumbleUpon  Reddit

Commission takes final input on sportfishing rule proposals, reduces bear and cougar tag fees, adopts trapping rules

SPOKANE -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission heard the last of public comment on 1998-99 proposed sportfishing rules at their meeting here today, including pleas to consider impacts of restrictions on youth fishing and business.

The commission will decide sportfishing rules, without further public input, at their next scheduled meeting Jan. 23-24 in LaConner. The rules will take effect May 1, 1998.

The commission, which meets at various locations across the state throughout the year, is the nine-member board appointed by the governor to oversee the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The sportfishing proposal that drew the most comment at the Spokane meeting, both pro and con, was a statewide barbless hook requirement for all fishing to improve chances of successfully releasing protected fish. Fishers asked the commission to avoid making overly simple rules without gaining fish conservation.

Other proposals addressed were dropping a catch-and-release requirement on sea-run cutthroat trout in some marine areas; closing portions of some waters and restricting fishing gear in response to recent Endangered Species Act listings of steelhead in the upper Columbia and Snake river systems; closing some marine areas to address over-harvest from urban beaches and popular dive spots; and an allowance for filleting warmwater fish and marine bottomfish in the field.

In other business, the commission reduced tag fees for hunting black bears, from $18 to $15, and cougars, from $24 to $5. The reduction was made to stimulate hunter purchase of the tags to be able to harvest bears and cougars while hunting for other species. The move is meant to offset the anticipated decrease in bear and cougar harvest since baiting and hunting with hounds were banned by voter initiative last year. The state legislature gave the commission authority to make tag fee changes earlier this year.

The commission adopted rules for trapping seasons including equipment requirements for humane trapping of game animals and protection of domestic animals and people, and a requirement to check non-killing traps more frequently (every 48 instead of 72 hours.)

The commission also:

  • approved the sale of surplus salmon carcasses and eggs produced in volunteer cooperative projects by the volunteers, (if WDFW cannot sell them), to cover project expenses;
  • streamlined the wildlife rehabilitation permit system, required that wildlife under treatment be kept separate from other animals, and updated disease reporting rules;
  • changed the special hunting permit application deadline from early May to mid- June to coincide with season dates being set in April 1998 rather than December 1997;
  • set Private Lands Wildlife Management Area hunting season rules, which currently apply to three areas (Champion's Kapowsin Tree Farm in Pierce County, Wilson Creek in Grant County, and Merrill and Ring's Pysht Tree Farm in Clallam County);
  • approved the acquisition of less than an acre of land at Bush Point on Whidbey Island in Island County to complete a Puget Sound fishing and boating facilities project.