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May 07, 1999
Contact: Lora Leschner (425) 775-1311, ext. 121 or Margaret Ainscough, (360) 902-2408

Padilla Bay brant management to be discussed

MOUNT VERNON--People with an interest in Padilla Bay brant management practices are invited to a May 18 public meeting here to raise their questions and concerns for consideration next month by a scientific panel.

The public session will be held downtown from 7 to 10 p.m. in Room B of the Skagit County Courthouse, 700 S. Second St.

Questions raised in the public session will be forwarded to a panel of university scientists which will convene in June to review Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's brant management practices.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife invited the Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, located at the University of Washington, to conduct the independent scientific review. The review panel is expected to include waterfowl scientists and representatives of hunting and environmental organizations.

The scientific panel meeting will be followed by another public meeting in July to discuss the panel's recommendations, the state brant management plan and the proposed 1999-2000 waterfowl hunting seasons.

Recent WDFW brant management actions, including the decision to maintain game reserves at Padilla Bay, have been questioned by some members of the public who want more opportunity to hunt the small, black waterfowl, also known as sea goose.

Brant population declines prompted WDFW to restrict hunting seasons in recent years. Brant, which pass through and winter in this state, breed from the Canadian Arctic to western Alaska, according to WDFW Waterfowl Section Manager Don Kraege.

Last year, brant hunting was limited to five days. Brant populations appear to have recovered sufficiently to allow a longer season this year, Kraege said.