Game management planning

Portrait of a blacktail deer buck and autumn foliage
Photo by Larry James

Navigate to the "Game management plan development process and timeline" webpage for updates about development of the latest Game Management Plan.

The Game Management Plan (GMP) is a planning document that provides guidance for managing hunted species in Washington. The GMP is not a regulatory document, and its development is not a rule making process. It does, however, provide guidance to conserve game species and provides sideboards for the Department to establish hunting seasons. The plan helps wildlife managers identify research, monitoring, and funding needs and identify factors affecting game populations. Further, the GMP identifies other wildlife management objectives, such as those related to habitat needs and wildlife watching opportunities. The game management planning process provides an opportunity for public involvement in game management during the document’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review process.

The GMP serves as guidance for a three-year season setting cycle and any annual adjustment in hunting seasons. These timeframes are adopted so that hunters have consistent hunting seasons and managers can see how wildlife populations respond to the hunting framework.  Seasons are adjusted annually to address local conditions (such as in response to winter conditions). 

The issues and objectives in the Game Management Plan are based on current management information. As new information becomes available, options may be modified, or new ones developed. The overall goals of the GMP are to protect, sustain, and manage hunted wildlife; provide stable, regulated recreational hunting opportunities to all participants; protect and enhance wildlife habitat; and minimize adverse impacts to residents, other wildlife, and the environment.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted WDFW’s first Game Management Plan in 2002. The plan was revised/supplemented in 2009 and again in 2015. These plans were in effect for six years. In 2020, the Department elected to extend the timeline of the existing GMP by two years, ending June 30, 2023, to align the GMP process with the three-year season setting process. 

In June 2023, the Commission asked Department staff to draft a new Game Management Plan which will undergo a new and separate SEPA review process.  Until the new GMP is completed, the old GMP will serve as guidance for season setting. The new GMP will not have a set revision schedule and will be revised as needed when new information is available.

WDFW currently anticipates completing the new GMP in December 2024. This timeline is subject to change.

2022 Responsive Management Surveys