OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to conduct a public hearing and take action on proposed 2012-13 migratory waterfowl hunting seasons during a public meeting in Olympia Aug. 3-4.
The commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will also receive briefings on a variety of management issues.
The commission will convene for its regular meeting in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. both days. An agenda for the meeting is available on the commission’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.
Under waterfowl seasons proposed by WDFW, most hunting opportunities in Washington would be similar to last year.
The general duck season would be open for 107 days – from Oct. 13-17 and from Oct. 20-Jan. 27. A special youth hunting weekend also would be scheduled for Sept. 22-23. According to aerial surveys, a record number of ducks, approximately 48.6 million, were on the breeding grounds in Canada and the United States this spring.
As in previous years, goose hunting seasons would vary by management areas across the state, but most would open in mid-October and run through late January.
One change this year would remove bag limits and an early season closure for scaup, which have significantly increased in numbers throughout North America, including Washington.
Another change would establish a $10 penalty for failing to report harvest of specific waterfowl species. Under the proposal, hunters who fail to report their harvest of brant, sea ducks in western Washington and snow goose in Goose Management Area 1 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2013 special migratory bird hunting authorization.
In other action, the commission will consider amending the boundary of the Toppenish Creek Game Reserve. The proposal would remove the western portion – known as Toppenish Creek Game Reserve #2 – from the reserve to allow upland bird hunting on 140 acres of the 1,000-acre area.
The other 860 acres, which are within the boundary of the Yakama Nation reservation, would remain in reserve status under regulations established by the tribe and hunting would continue to be prohibited.
Established in 1960, the Toppenish Creek Game Reserve was created to improve waterfowl distribution during the winter in the Yakima Valley. Since then, however, waterfowl rarely use the western portion of the reserve because of the loss of quality wetlands due to habitat changes in the area.
In other business, the commission is scheduled to consider several land transactions, including the purchase of property along the Methow River – four miles west of Pateros – to develop a fishing access site. Other transactions include the purchase of an easement in Skagit County, and two land purchases to protect fish and wildlife habitat in Okanogan County.
The commission also will receive briefings on the department’s proposed 2013-2015 operating and capital budget requests, and WDFW’s legislative proposals for 2013.
Other topics the commission will receive briefings on include the Lower Columbia River estuary and habitat restoration efforts in that area; auction, raffle and special incentive hunting permits; the schedule and process for updating the Puget Sound shrimp policy; fisheries enforcement on the upper Columbia River; and a scientific review of southern resident killer whales.