OLYMPIA - Proposals that would significantly alter the way big and small are hunted in Washington state will be discussed this month when the state Department of Fish and Wildlife holds a series of public meetings to review fall hunting seasons.
The six meetings, which will be held in eastern and western Washington, are part of the agency's efforts to solicit public input in the development of a new package of hunting seasons and rules for the next three years.
The package, which will become effective in the fall of 1997, will be voted on by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in December.
\"This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in wildlife to get involved and have a hand in helping wildlife biologists and the commission set hunting seasons and rules,\" said Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Bern Shanks. \"We're encouraging hunters and non-hunters alike to participate in the meetings and share their ideas with one another.\"
Earlier this year, a number of Washington citizens submitted written recommendations to the department on the proposed seasons and rules. These recommendations, as well as the results of a telephone survey of about 700 hunters conducted by the agency, were used by wildlife biologists to draft the proposals that will be discussed at the public meetings.
Dave Brittell, who oversees the agency's Wildlife Management Program, said many of the proposals are aimed at enhancing recreational opportunities and simplifying regulations.
\"We're hoping that these proposed changes will be easily understood by everyone,\" he said.
Some of the major proposals that will be discussed at the public meetings include:
Establishing statewide spike bull only seasons for elk. Branched bull hunting would be limited by permit draw.
Consolidation of modern firearm deer seasons from 11 to 2 with a western Washington 18-day general buck season and an eastern Washington 9-day mule deer season.
Establishing a landowner damage hunt for landowners with a history of deer or elk damage that has been verified by the department. The department would enter into a cooperative agreement with the landowner and regulate the hunt.
Replacing permit-only cougar hunts and general season cougar hunting with a statewide quota system. Cougar tags would be available to all hunters for use in any game management unit where cougar hunting is allowed. Separate cougar quotas would be adopted for each unit.
Expanding the Canada goose season.
All six public meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and last three hours.
Following are the meeting locations:
Sept. 11 (Wednesday), Everett Community College, Tower Street, Everett
Sept. 12 (Thursday), Grays Harbor College, 1620 Edward Smith Drive, Aberdeen
Sept. 13 (Friday), Clark College, Foster Auditorium, 1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd. Vancouver
Sept. 16 (Monday), Days Inn, 2408 Rudkin Road, Union Gap
Sept. 17 (Tuesday), Ephrata City Hall, Council Room, Alder Street, Ephrata
Sept. 18 (Wednesday), Spokane Falls Community College, Student Union Lounge Rooms A & B, W 3410 Fort George Wright Dr., Spokane