OLYMPIA – Waterfowl seasons and hunter reporting will head the agenda when the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Friday, Aug. 5, in Spokane. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at Mirabeau Park Hotel & Convention Center, 1100 North Sullivan Road.
On Thursday, Aug. 4, the commissioners will join Gov. Christine Gregoire and other state and local officials at a scheduled 1:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony for the department’s new regional office.
The commission, a nine-member citizens panel that sets policy for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, is expected to adopt rules for 2005 migratory waterfowl hunting seasons.
Under the proposal, the general duck season of 107 days would stay the same as in 2004. The canvasback season would remain 60 days long, but would occur at the end of the 107 days instead of being split like last year. Because of declining populations, the cackling goose bag limit would be reduced from four per day and eight in possession to two per day and four in possession and the Pacific brant season shortened from 10 days to five. Hunting days would be added to the dusky Canada goose season in southwest Washington as the result of increased funding.
The commission also will consider establishing a $10 penalty for failing to report hunting activity for deer, elk, bear and turkey by Jan. 31. Hunters would be required to pay the fine before renewing their hunting licenses.
The rule is aimed at encouraging timely reporting, which helps the department accurately estimate harvests and recommend the next year’s permit levels and season adjustments. Fewer than 65 percent of hunters now report, said Dave Ware, WDFW game division manager. The department needs 90 percent compliance to make good estimates at the game management unit level.
In other action, the commission is scheduled to consider changes to a year-old pilot project that allows the use of hounds to hunt cougar in five northeastern Washington counties. The three-year program seeks to improve public safety and better control the cougar population.
The changes would assure that only certifed dog owners participate and that handlers don’t release hounds without the permit hunter on site.
Commissioners will be briefed on a collaborative effort to limit crop damage caused by elk in Kittitas County while not reducing the number of animals available to hunters. They’ll also hear about discussions with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on cormorant and other bird/fish depredation issues.
Click here to view the full agenda.