OLYMPIA The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has the authority to
require hunters to wear fluorescent orange clothing for safety reasons, the state Court
of Appeals ruled recently.
The hunter-orange requirement, which has been in effect since 1991, was
challenged by two hunters who contended that WDFW does not have the right to
require hunters to wear a particular type of clothing.
The state Court of Appeals ruled that the department's statutory authority to
regulate "manner of taking" game animals includes the authority to regulate hunter
safety by requiring hunters to wear fluorescent orange clothing.
"Hunter orange reduces accidents," said Mik Mikitik, WDFW hunter education
In the five years before the regulation was adopted, the rate of firearm-related
hunter injuries was 8.16 per 100,000 hunters; in the five years following adoption of the
hunter-orange requirement the injury rate dropped to 7.26 per 100,000 hunters, Mikitik
The requirement was put in place because Washington had a relatively high
number of firearm-related hunting accidents caused by poor visibility, Mikitik recalled.
The department requires that hunters in areas open to modern-firearm hunting
for deer or elk wear at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing above the
waist. Upland bird hunters hunting with modern firearms are required to follow the same