OLYMPIA--New restrictions on late-season whitetail deer hunting in Eastern Washington are among the changes being proposed for the 2000-2002 hunting season package being developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The department is continuing to take written public comments until April 5 on the proposed package, which is scheduled to be adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in a meeting April 7 and 8 in Yakima.
The new hunting regulations were unveiled in a series of statewide public meetings in January.
The new regulations would reduce Eastern Washington late-season whitetail deer hunts to nine days for modern firearm hunters. Last fall's late season was 12 days long; over the past several years the late season has averaged 16 days.
For archers and muzzleloaders, the late whitetail deer season would go from 25 days to 17, under the proposed rules.
"A reduction in late-season hunting is needed because the mature bucks are most vulnerable then, and their numbers are declining," said WDFW Game Program Manager Dave Ware. "We're choosing to share the reduction of opportunity for all three weapon types. The shared reduction concept is something that came out of a January public meeting and comment period regarding hunting season alternatives."
Restrictions also are being proposed for blacktail deer hunts in some parts of southwest Washington, due to concerns over declining populations which biologists attribute to reductions in timber harvest and impacts from deer hair-loss syndrome in some areas.
The new regulations would curtail antlerless deer harvest in parts of western Washington by eliminating antlerless permits for modern firearm and muzzleloader hunters and restricting archers to buck hunts in some game management units.
In other proposed changes:
Besides the restrictions, the new package includes some expanded or redistributed opportunities requested by hunters including:
- Non-toxic shot would be required in about a dozen additional game bird hunting areas on both sides of the state, due to concerns over lead poisoning among waterfowl in the hunting areas.
- Antlerless elk hunting on the South Rainier herd would be reduced for all weapon types, due to concerns over declining elk numbers.
- Branched bull permits would be increased in part of the Yakima herd area, and reduced in another part of the Yakima herd. Branched bull hunting would be eliminated entirely in the Colockum herd, where bull numbers are not meeting escapement objectives.
The complete proposed rules package will be mailed to all participants who attended previous public meetings on the regulations. Others may request copies of the package from the Department by calling (360) 902-2515, or may be viewed on the WDFW website.
- Expanded muzzleloader deer hunting opportunity in 20 game management units statewide.
- Simplification of Eastern Washington elk tags to reduce the number of tag areas from five to two.
Comments on the proposed hunting package should be mailed to Dave Ware, Wildlife Program, WDFW, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.