OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adoption of a final environmental impact statement and six-year game management plan for all hunted species in Washington state when it meets Dec. 6-7 in Mount Vernon.
The plan is being developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to define management actions for state game species, including deer, elk, moose, black bear, cougar, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, furbearing animals, migratory and upland birds and unclassified animals.
"The focus of this plan is on scientific management of hunted species populations, harvest management and other significant factors affecting game populations," said Dave Ware, WDFW Game Division Manager.
"We have received excellent public comments on the two drafts, and I think most people will appreciate the effort to address and incorporate their ideas," Ware said.
The plan can be viewed online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hab/sepa/sepa.htm on the Internet. Printed copies are available from WDFW's Wildlife Program, (360) 902-2515, or through any WDFW regional office.
The commission is also expected to consider removing the annual limit for hatchery steelhead retention. The current regulation, adopted in 2001, allows an annual limit of 30 fish per year, no more than five of which can be wild steelhead. Hatchery steelhead can easily be identified from wild fish by the lack of an adipose fin, which is clipped before juvenile fish are released from hatchery facilities.
Marine finfish aquaculture rules are also up for adoption by the commission. The rules were generated as a result of legislation in 2001 that gave WDFW new authority over marine finfish aquaculture. The U.S. Department of Commerce has proposed doubling the nation's aquaculture capacity, increasing the likelihood that Washington could have proposals for new saltwater aquaculture facilities.
Additional agenda items before the commission include:
- Rule proposals regulating advanced hunter education, livestock grazing on WDFW lands, and lower Columbia River sturgeon fishing;
- Amendments to rules governing big game and wild turkey auctions, raffles and special incentive permits;
- Establishing 2003 private lands wildlife area management hunting seasons, rules and boundary descriptions for deer and elk; and
- A briefing and public comment on 2003-04 sportfish rule proposal highlights. This is for discussion and public input purposes only, and commissioners are expected to table consideration of adopting rules until the Feb. 7-8 meeting.
The complete agenda can be found on the commission portion of the WDFW web page, at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm on the Internet.
The meeting will be at Skagit County Public Utility District Headquarters, 1415 Freeway Drive. The Friday session is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday's meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.