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July 29, 2004
Contact: Dave Ware, (360) 902-2509

Workshop will provide update on key wildlife issues

OLYMPIA - Cougar, pheasants and white-tailed deer will be key topics for discussion at a public workshop on game-management issues scheduled Aug. 28 by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Designed as a progress report on WDFW's 2003-09 Game Management Plan, the workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in room 200 of the Samuelson Union Building at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

WDFW wildlife staff will present updates on key initiatives outlined in the plan, then open the floor to questions and comments from the public, said Dave Ware, WDFW wildlife manager.

"We want to hear people's thoughts about our progress on initiatives described in the six-year plan," Ware said. "This workshop really begins the process for developing the three-year cycle of hunting seasons that begins in 2006."

One of the first items on the agenda will be a discussion of new initiatives to quantify and manage cougar populations in northeast Washington, Ware said. "There are strong indications - both from field studies and complaint data - that cougar populations are declining in areas where we have focused our efforts over the past several years," he said. "That could have implications for where we go from here."

The timeline for developing new hunting regulations for white-tailed deer will also be on the agenda, as will the department's progress in opening additional private lands to hunting. Ware noted that WDFW recently selected 14 landowners in southeast Washington to receive funding to improve pheasant habitat and allow public access on their lands.

"Those contracts open up more than 9,000 acres of hunting access," Ware said. "We feel that's definitely a step in the right direction."

Other topics for discussion at the workshop include WDFW's latest research on elk and a new web-based mapping system for hunters, scheduled to go on line this fall.