OLYMPIA - Modifications to fall 2005 hunting rules, and briefings on new methods aimed at verifying recreational crab catch information will be among the items facing the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission when it meets April 8-9 in Moses Lake.
The commission meeting will get under way at 9 a.m., Friday, April 8 at the Best Western Inn, 3000 W. Marina Drive, Moses Lake. The meeting is scheduled to reconvene in the same location at 8:30 a.m., April 9.
The proposed hunting rule modifications, which are scheduled to be heard on the second day of the meeting, include a rule establishing damage permit types and levels to enable private landowners and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to achieve elk harvest objectives in the Hanford area.
In addition, the Commission will consider Proposed 2005 hunting season revisions that would:
- Divide Game Management Unit 372 (Kiona) into two units to improve elk management in Benton County. The northern unit would be separated into two elk areas to provide both general hunting seasons and permit-only hunts. The change has been proposed as a way of addressing crop damage by a growing elk herd on farmlands adjacent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-managed Hanford National Monument/Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge/Arid Lands Ecology Reserve, where hunting is not currently allowed.
- Extend the eastern Washington pheasant-hunting season to Jan. 16, 2006, the same date that other upland game bird seasons end, to make up for two weeks lost in the beginning of the season. The Commission decided two years ago to delay the start of the pheasant season to reduce conflicts between hunters and farmers, and between pheasant hunters and deer hunters in areas where seasons overlap.
- Open all units to youth hunters during the spring 2006 turkey season.
- Expand antlerless mule deer hunting opportunity in parts of Chelan and Okanogan counties.
- Adjust deer and elk special permit levels, based on damage concerns or for meeting population objectives.
The Commission is also scheduled to hear a briefing during the April 8 portion of the meeting from WDFW staff on a proposed field-based study aimed at evaluating the validity of telephone surveys currently used to estimate the Puget Sound recreational crab catch. The field-based study method is intended to address constituent concerns about the accuracy and timeliness of current recreational crab catch methods. In addition to this briefing, the commission is scheduled to hold a special meeting May 14 in Tumwater to consider adoption of 2005-06 recreational crab-fishery rules.
In other scheduled business, the Commission is expected to consider approving a 25-year lease for operation of nine wind turbines on WDFW's Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area in Kittitas County, and to be briefed on the status of negotiations for transfer of the Klickitat Hatchery to the Yakama Nation.
A complete preliminary agenda for the April 8-9 meeting can be found on the WDFW website.