OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled a public meeting May 20 in Mount Vernon to discuss potential pheasant release sites in Skagit and northern Snohomish counties.
The public meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Senior Center, 1401 Cleveland St. During the meeting, WDFW staff will give a presentation on public and private lands identified by the department as possible sites to release pheasants for recreational hunting.
WDFW is seeking new areas to release the birds because restoration projects on the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Headquarters and Leque Island units will soon return those areas to estuaries, said Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager for WDFW. Both restoration projects are scheduled to be completed later this summer.
“Once the restoration projects are complete, those sites on the wildlife area will no longer be suitable for pheasant releases,” said Leschner. “But we are looking at several alternative sites where we might be able to relocate our pheasant release operations.”
Restoration projects on the Skagit Wildlife Area are intended to restore important habitat for wildlife and fish, particularly salmon. WDFW owns and manages the entire 16,700-acre Skagit Wildlife Area to preserve habitat for fish and wildlife, and provide a site for outdoor recreation.
On Leque Island, about 110 acres of the Stillaguamish estuary is being restored. At the Headquarters Unit, the Wiley Slough project is designed to restore 160 acres of estuarine salmon habitat that was diked and drained to create farmland.
To address concerns about lands lost to hunting, WDFW has been working with a coalition of hunters, recreationists, farmers and other landowners to secure hunter access to private lands in the area.
For more information on the Skagit Wildlife Area, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit/.