WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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March 30, 2000
Contact: Madonna Luers, (509) 456-4073

Commission to discuss hunting changes, loon protection, Snake River dams, cougars at Yakima meeting April 7-8

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adoption of three- year hunting season rules, protection of the common loon as a state sensitive species, and other proposals at their meeting in Yakima April 7-8.

The commission also will be briefed on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Lower Snake River dams, a rule-making process for hound- hunting of cougar and other topics.

The commission, a nine-member, governor-appointed board that oversees the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, will meet in Room C of the Yakima Convention Center, 10 N. 8th St. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 7; recess at 6 p.m., and reconvene at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 8.

Public comment is welcome, scheduled by agenda items and during open public- input periods at the beginning and end of each day.

On Friday afternoon the Commission will consider imposing non-toxic shot requirements at about a dozen additional pheasant release areas on both sides of the mountains. The change is due to concerns over lead poisoning of waterfowl and other wildlife at these areas.

Adoption of 2000-2002 hunting seasons and rules for black bear, cougar and small game; landowner damage hunts; 2000 permit seasons and quotas for moose, big horn sheep and mountain goat, along with hunting equipment rules, are scheduled for Friday afternoon.

On Saturday morning the Commission will consider adoption of 2000-2002 deer and elk hunting seasons and rules and 2000 deer and elk permit seasons and quotas. Those proposals include a reduction in northeast late-season whitetail buck deer hunting because numbers of mature bucks are declining. Under that proposal, modern firearm hunting would drop from 12 to nine days, and bowhunting and muzzleloader hunting would drop from 25 days to 17 in the late season.

Other deer and elk hunting changes proposed include:

  • Restrictions on blacktail deer hunting in southwest Washington, where populations are declining due to reductions in timber harvest and impacts from deer hair-loss syndrome
  • Elimination of antlerless deer permits in some parts of western Washington for modern firearm and muzzleloader hunters, and restriction to buck-only hunts for archers
  • Reduction of South Rainier antlerless elk hunting due to declining elk numbers
  • Increase of branched antler bull elk permits in part of Yakima area, and reduction in another; branched antler bull elk hunting would be eliminated entirely in Colockum herd
  • Expanded muzzleloader deer hunting in 20 game management units statewide
  • Simplification of elk tag areas from five to two, eastern or western Washington, to allow hunters more opportunity
The commission will also consider approval of the modified preferred alternative in the Coastal Dungeness Crab Even Flow Harvest Management Plan, and amendments to licensing rules to implement an automated system.

On Saturday afternoon the commission will hear a report from WDFW Director Jeff Koenings on the status of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Lower Snake River dam DEIS. A recommendation decision is expected later this year on the DEIS options, which include breaching dams to restore flows and aid recovery of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead.

The commission also will be briefed by WDFW staff Saturday morning on legislation regarding hound hunting of cougar and a tentative schedule for adoption of rules to authorize use of hound hunting for public safety needs. The status of a WDFW supplemental budget request to pay for additional staff to address problem cougar situations will be included in that report.

Other agenda items include:

  • A report on a strategic plan to increase youth fishing participation and create more youth fishing opportunities.
  • A report on the feasibility of crab abundance surveys in northwest Washington.
  • A presentation of the 1999 Volunteer of the Year Award to Marian and Russell Frobe of Spokane.