OLYMPIA-Additional opportunities for youth, seniors and hunters with disabilities are among the changes proposed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for the upcoming three-year package of hunting seasons and rules.
The hunt rules for 2003-05 are scheduled to be voted on by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in its meeting April 11 and 12 in Moses Lake.
The proposals were developed under the general guidance of the WDFW's six-year game management plan, and were the topic of an extensive public involvement process conducted earlier this year.
In response to recommendations from public meetings, surveys and written comments, the proposed package includes additional opportunity for disabled, youth and senior hunters. Out of a total of 13,000 permits statewide, over 125 permits are recommended for disabled hunters; 2,000 for youth and 500 for senior hunters. Three new moose permits are also recommended for hunters with disabilities.
The proposed package also includes a new approach aimed at improving allocation of hunting opportunity among modern firearm hunters, muzzleloaders and archers, said Dave Ware, WDFW game division manager.
The new criteria would allocate hunting opportunity in each of 17 districts on the basis of average statewide participation and an equitable proportion of harvest. The new approach would allow flexibility for managing opportunity within individual game management units.
"We are attempting to move to a better way of allocating hunter opportunity," Ware said.
The three-year hunt package also proposes:
- Establishing a consistent opening day for eastern Washington pheasant, chukar, gray partridge and quail hunting on the first Saturday in October.
- Adding a youth spring turkey hunt the weekend prior to the spring general season in selected game units.
- Extending the north-central Washington deer season by five days.
- Considering a three-point restriction for white-tailed deer hunting in game management units 101-124.
- Changing the late general season to permit-only hunting in game management units 127-142.
- Expanding antlerless deer opportunity for archery hunters.
- Expanding units and permits for muzzleloader deer and elk hunting.
- Modifying the antler point regulations for three-point elk.
- Shifting the early archery season to start after Labor Day.
- Banning the use of night vision equipment and laser beam projecting weapons sights, to address fair-chase hunter ethics.
- Making a variety of adjustments to local hunt seasons, based on specific game population management needs.
The proposed three-year rules package will be posted this week on the WDFW web site at http://wdfw.wa.gov or may be obtained by contacting the WDFW Wildlife Program at (360) 902-2515.