ELLENSBURG -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a land acquisition in Okanogan County to protect wildlife habitat and heard final public input on proposed hunting rules during its March 6-7 meeting in Ellensburg.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved purchase of 423 acres of critical mule deer range south of Twisp, adjacent to the Golden Doe unit of WDFW’s Methow Wildlife Area. The acquisition, funded by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant for the appraised value of $2,490,000, will also improve recreational opportunity and access to the wildlife area.
Commission chairwoman Miranda Wecker reminded a full house of more than 150 meeting attendees that final decisions on proposed rules for the 2009 through 2011 hunting seasons won’t be made until the April 3-4 commission meeting in Olympia.
WDFW proposals on deer and elk hunting seasons and rules, and non-toxic shot requirements for small game hunting on WDFW-managed lands, drew the most comment.
The commission was briefed by WDFW wildlife program staff and heard public comment on all proposals, including: hunting seasons and rules for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, black bear, cougar, wild turkey and other small game; opportunities for terminally ill and disabled hunters; hunter education requirements; landowner hunting permits and damage prevention permit hunts; trapping seasons; auction, raffle and special incentive permits; and special closures and game management unit boundary descriptions.
Details on all proposed rules have been available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/seasonsetting/. The proposals were developed after extensive public involvement last year and are based on the 2009-15 Game Management Plan, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00433/.
After final decisions, the big game hunting rules pamphlet will be available by mid-April and the special permit application deadline will be May 20 -- a month earlier than in the past, in response to hunters’ requests.