CHELAN – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved one-time hunter-education requirement deferrals, extended hound-hunting of cougars for one year and heard public input on proposed sportfishing rules at its Nov. 2-3 meeting in Chelan.
The nine-member commission sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The commission adopted a permanent rule to allow first-time hunters to apply for one-time, one-year deferrals of state-required hunter education training, as directed by legislative action earlier this year. WDFW had previously implemented the deferral program on an interim basis for the current hunting season.
To qualify for the deferral program, beginning hunters must be at least 10 years old and hunt with an adult who has been licensed to hunt in Washington state for at least three years. Participation is limited to general hunts and, where applicable, youth seasons. Prospective hunters who have taken and failed hunter education training within the last year are not eligible for the deferral program.
Also at the direction of the Legislature, the commission extended a pilot project authorizing cougar hunting with the aid of dogs in five eastern Washington counties for one additional season. The special-permit season will run from Dec. 1 through March 2008, depending on hunter success, in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.
In addition, the commission heard public comments on new fishing rules proposed by WDFW and the public for the fishing season that begins May 1, 2008. The proposals – ranging from a statewide anti-snagging rule to restrictions on a portion of Lake Roosevelt – are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/index.htm. The commission is scheduled to vote on a final rules package in February 2008.
The commission also approved:
- Acquisition of 150 acres within WDFW’s Methow Wildlife Area in Okanogan County to extend protection of migratory mule deer habitat, and 3.8 acres along the Naches River adjacent to WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area in Yakima County to extend protection of elk and deer habitat;
- Extension of the application period for Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account grants to allow more time for review and notification to applicants;
- Elimination of a requirement – previously suspended by WDFW -- that recreational shellfish and seaweed fishers wear their license on their outer clothing;
- Improvement of quick reporting duties of commercial purchasers and receivers of salmon and sturgeon through permanent rules; and
- Clarification of and compliance with federal regulations for commercial bottomfish and highly migratory fish species.
The commission also continued discussion of proposed rules for public conduct on WDFW lands, scheduled for rule action at its next meeting, Dec.7-8 in Port Angeles.