Commission votes on rule proposal for free fishing weekend, decides on sequencing spring black bear policy process, votes to increase the cougar bag limit in the Blue Mountains, and more

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Commission office, 360-902-2267

OLYMPIA – Washington Fish and Wildlife commissioners met virtually today to vote on several hunting and fish management topics.

Commissioners agreed to correct a clerical error by amending the special hunt for hunters with disabilities in Game Management Unit (GMU) 485 to be “buck only” instead of “antlerless.”

They also voted to adopt a rule to limit the waiver of licensure requirements on free fishing weekend only to fish species that do not require a catch record card. In addition, commissioners voted to adopt a new rule that increases flexibility to commercial fishing license holders that buy licenses for their crew. 

They also voted to prioritize Commission consideration of spring black bear policy and amend their previously adopted approach. The vote means the agency’s spring bear hunting policy will be updated first, prior to scheduling rule making meetings that would establish future seasons. This will provide commissioners the opportunity to have detailed discussions and receive public input on the future of spring bear hunting in Washington. The timeline for developing a policy has yet to be established and will be discussed at a future commission meeting.

Today’s procedural action supersedes a previous motion adopted by the Commission in January. It does not impact the 2022 fall black bear general season, which occurs Aug. 1 to Nov. 15 in accordance with WAC 220-415-090.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission also voted to increase the cougar bag limit to two animals in areas within the Blue Mountains, where elk herd populations are far below the management objective and monitoring has shown a high level of cougar predation on elk calves.

Commissioners closed the meeting with a discussion on upcoming meeting agendas.

To view a recording of the meeting and other meeting materials, as well as information about upcoming Commission meetings, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the WDFW. WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email (Title6@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.