Jody Taylor, 509-697-4503
Staci Lehman, 509-710-4511
YAKIMA — Summer target shooting rules go into effect on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)-managed Wenas Wildlife Area this week to reduce the risk of wildfires. Restrictions run from May 15 through Sept. 30, including at the new shooting range at Sheep Company Road.
Because target shooting has caused previous wildfires on the Wenas, the department has restricted target shooting every summer since 2012. Those fires have damaged wildlife habitat and neighboring private land and created public safety concerns. With the particularly dry spring this year, shooters must be extra careful.
Starting May 15, target shooting will be limited to between sunrise and 10 a.m., when the risk of starting a wildfire is reduced. As of June 1, steel targets will not be allowed through the end of September. Exploding targets, tracer, or incendiary ammunition are never allowed.
"With the very dry spring and temperatures starting to go up, we want to avoid sparking a fire,” said wildlife area manager Jody Taylor. “These restrictions help protect public recreation lands, wildlife habitat, and the entire community."
Public notice of the limited hours will be posted at all entry points of the Wenas and at target shooting sites on the wildlife area. The Wenas covers over 105,000 acres between Ellensburg and Yakima. Visitors can experience a variety of recreation opportunities, including big game hunting, hiking, and the upper Wenas Valley is considered an important area for birds by the Audubon Society. Much of the wildlife area is shrubsteppe, a type of habitat that has been reduced to 20% of its original range in Washington and was significantly impacted by wildfires last year. State land managers ask that all visitors to any wildlife area check local fire danger information and take precautions to avoid igniting a wildfire.
WDFW enacted other new statewide shooting rules in January 2021 that shooters should also familiarize themselves with before visiting alternate target shooting locations.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish, wildlife, and recreational and commercial opportunities.