OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take action on new hunting rules for this year’s big-game and waterfowl seasons at a public meeting April 6-7 in Ellensburg.
Most proposals before the commission would adjust the number of permits available to hunt deer, elk and other game animals in specific areas of the state.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will also take action on several land transactions and consider modifying the catch-reporting system for Dungeness crab in Puget Sound.
The nine-member commission is scheduled to begin its meeting at 1:30 p.m., April 6 at the Ellensburg Inn and Conference Center, 1700 Canyon Rd., in Ellensburg. The meeting will continue April 7 at 8:30 a.m.
Proposed changes in elk-hunting permits would:
- Add approximately 2,000 hunting permits for antlerless elk in the Mount St. Helens area to help reduce the size of the state’s largest herd.
- Provide more antlerless elk-hunting opportunities for bowhunters in two game management units near Mount St. Helens during the general season.
- Resume hunting of the Nooksack elk herd by approving 12 “any bull” permits.
- Increase the number of bull elk permits in the Blue Mountains.
Proposed changes in deer-hunting permits would:
- Reduce the number of permits for antlerless mule deer in the Yakima area in response to disease and high winter-mortality rates.
- Authorize 50 deer permits in the Methow Valley to reduce the size of the herd in response to rapid urban development.
- Expand the high buck hunt to all of the Henry Jackson Wilderness in the north Cascade Mountains.
- Scale back muzzleloader hunts for antlerless black-tailed deer in the Satsop and Williams Creek game management units.
Other proposed changes in hunting rules under consideration by the commission would:
- Slightly increase the number of permits available to hunt moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, in response to growing populations of those animals.
- Add participants and set this year’s season dates and permit levels for the Landowner Hunter Permit program, established last year to address elk-damage issues and increase hunter access to public lands.
- Make waterfowl-hunting hours in Grays Harbor County consistent with the rest of Goose Management Area 3.
- Add Kansas to the list of states where Washington hunters would be required to process animal carcasses before bringing them into this state. WDFW has proposed this measure as a means of guarding against the importation of Chronic Wasting Disease.
To help expedite reporting of the Puget Sound crab catch, the commission is scheduled to take action on a proposal that would allow sport crabbers to report their harvest via the Internet. In addition, sport crabbers would be required to report their catch twice each season – once after the summer fishery and again after the fall fishery – under the proposal endorsed by WDFW recreational and commercial crab advisory groups.
“A major goal of this proposal is to reduce the department’s reliance on phone surveys to monitor the catch,” said Morris Barker, WDFW marine resources manager. Reporting dates would be noted on each crabber’s catch record cards, he said.
In addition, the commission will consider proposals to purchase land to protect wildlife habitat in several areas, including 520 acres in the Chehalis Valley in Grays Harbor County, 71.6 acres on Padilla Bay in Skagit County and 30 acres on Debay Slough in Skagit County. The proposed purchase of land on Debay Slough would add to the existing Johnson/Debay Swan Reserve, a wintering area for trumpeter swans near Sedro-Woolley.
An agenda for the April 6-7 meeting in Ellensburg is available on the commission’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm.