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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


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April 16, 2018
Contact: Commission Office, (360) 902-2267

Commission sets new hunting seasons,
approves land purchase in Chelan County

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted new hunting regulations through 2020 for deer, elk, waterfowl, and other game species at a public meeting April 12-14 in Olympia.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also authorized the department to purchase 1,275 acres in Chelan County's Stemilt Basin to protect critical wildlife habitat.

Key changes in hunting rules approved by the commission for the upcoming season include:

  • Waterfowl: The limit for pintail ducks was increased to two birds a day in all general waterfowl seasons, due to improved conditions in their breeding areas. In addition, special seasons for hunters under age 16 will be staggered to allow an individual hunter to participate in youth hunts on both sides of the state. The special youth hunt is set for Sept. 22-23 in western Washington, followed by a youth hunt Sept. 29-30 in eastern Washington.
  • White-tailed deer: Hunters will be allowed to take antlerless white-tailed deer in game management units 101-121 in northeast Washington. Special permits will be available to seniors and hunters using modern firearms, while other hunters can take antlerless deer during general hunting seasons.
  • Elk: The early general bowhunting season for antlerless elk in the Yakima and Colockum elk herds has been reduced to six days from 13. This change, as with previous permit reductions for hunts with modern firearms and muzzleloaders, is designed to meet and sustain population objectives for those herds. The season for bull elk is not affected by this change.

The commission also approved a proposal to allow hunters to use primers designed for use in modern cartridges during muzzleloader seasons, but explicitly banned the use of "unmanned aircraft" – also known as drones – while hunting.

These and other new hunting rules will be incorporated into the 2018-19 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet, which will be available online April 19 at https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/, and at WDFW offices and hunting license vendors across the state starting the last week of this month.

The purchase of the Stemilt Basin property, approved earlier in the meeting, will allow the department to complete a land exchange initiated with the Washington Department of Natural Resources in 2007. WDFW secured federal funding to purchase two parcels, appraised at $1,778,000, to protect the basin's habitat for northern spotted owls, wolves, elk, deer, and other wildlife species.

The land exchange received strong support from the Stemilt Partnership, a broad community-based coalition established by Chelan County of agriculture, wildlife, recreation, conservation, and economic development interests. The state Board of Natural Resources is scheduled to take action on the land transfer today.

In other business, the commission directed WDFW to begin developing new rules for suction dredge mining to provide additional protection for fish. The department currently regulates suction dredge mining in and near state waters the same way it regulates gold panning and other small-scale prospecting and mining activities.

Jeff Davis, assistant director of WDFW's Habitat Program, said the department plans to meet with interested parties to discuss potential changes starting next month.

The commission also heard public comments on several new rules proposed by WDFW to meet the objective of the American with Disabilities Act, reviewed the department's role in killer whale recovery, and discussed progress in recruiting a new director for the department.