OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will release pheasants this fall at the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Samish Unit rather than the Headquarters Unit, where a substantial portion of land is no longer suitable for pheasant hunting.
WDFW is temporarily moving its pheasant release program to the Samish Unit because an estuary restoration project has returned portions of recreational land on the Headquarters Unit to intertidal habitat for fish and wildlife. In the past, pheasants were released on the Headquarters Unit during the general hunting season.
“This is a stopgap solution for this year to address the loss of suitable pheasant release sites at Headquarters,” said Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager for WDFW. “We will continue to work toward securing alternative sites in the region where we can permanently relocate our pheasant release operations.”
Pheasants will be released several days a week on the Samish Unit from Sept. 25 to Nov. 7.
Hunters who plan to hunt the Samish Unit during the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the weekends must choose to hunt on odd- or even-numbered weekend days when purchasing a license. All pheasant hunters may hunt the unit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday during the hunting season.
The general westside pheasant hunting season runs from Oct. 3 through Nov. 30. For more information on upland bird hunting seasons, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/waterfowl.
Meanwhile, delays in an estuary restoration project on the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Leque Island Unit will likely allow WDFW to release pheasants there this fall. For updates on pheasant releases at the Leque Island Unit, hunters can check WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit/unit.php?searchby=unit&search=Leque%20Island.
Restoration projects on the Skagit Wildlife Area are intended to restore important habitat for wildlife and fish, particularly salmon, Leschner said. 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.