OLYMPIA – Hunters will learn this week whether they were selected for one or more of nearly 22,000 special hunting permits available from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for the 2002 season.
Chosen at random from among more than 92,000 applications, successful applicants will receive special permits that allow them to hunt for various game animals at times and in areas not open during general hunting seasons.
Jim Rieck, WDFW wildlife biologist, said this year's drawing generated more applications than any time in the past 20 years.
"Hunters know that having a special permit really improves their chances of a successful hunt," Rieck said. "The increase in applications we've seen this year is likely due to both the increase in hunting opportunities available with a special permit and improvements the department has made in the permit-application process itself."
Hunters should receive post cards informing them of whether they were selected for a special permit this week, Rieck said.
For those who don't want to wait for the official notification, WDFW has posted the results of the drawing on its hunting website. Using their licensing identification number, hunters can look up their application under a link titled "Search: Special Hunt Permit Drawing Results."
Of the 21,924 special permits available this year, 13,150 are for deer; 7,108 for elk; 106 for black bear; 94 for moose; 21 for mountain goat; 20 for bighorn sheep, and 1,425 for wild turkey.
Many of the special permits for deer, elk and moose are designed to control animal populations and the property damage they can cause in certain areas of the state, Rieck said. Others, including those for mountain goat and bighorn sheep, are the sole means by which those species can be hunted, he said.
"Special hunts not only offer expanded recreational opportunities for hunters, they are also an important part of the department's overall wildlife-management strategy," Rieck said.