OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting 2014-15 hunting seasons for migratory waterfowl and discuss a disease that affects the hooves of elk in the southwest portion of the state during a public meeting Aug. 8-9 in Olympia.
The commission also will consider a proposed regulation that would require hunters to leave the hooves of any elk taken in the affected areas of southwest Washington on site to help minimize the spread of the disease.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene 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, which includes public hearings on the 2015-2021 Game Management Plan and proposed updates to the state Hydraulic Code, is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.
State waterfowl seasons proposed by WDFW are similar to those adopted last year. The general duck season would be open for 107 days – from Oct. 11-15 and from Oct. 18-Jan. 25. A special youth hunting weekend is also proposed for Sept. 20-21.
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.
In other business, the commission will receive a briefing on a scientific panel’s determination that a disease that leaves elk in the St. Helens and Willapa Hills areas with misshapen hooves most likely involves a type of bacterial infection.
Members of the panel, composed of veterinarians and researchers throughout the state, agreed that the disease closely resembles contagious ovine digital dermatitis in sheep. The panel's diagnosis is consistent with the findings of the USDA National Animal Disease Center and four other independent diagnostic laboratories that have tested samples of elk hooves submitted by WDFW since last year.
For more information on elk hoof disease, see WDFW’s recent news release at http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/jun2314a/ and the department’s wildlife health webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/.