Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission met in Olympia April 18-20


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News release

Commission office, 360-902-2267

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission held committee meetings, made decisions on land transactions, hydraulic permit approval (HPA), and proposed cougar rule making, and heard briefings on managing public comments and the 2023 wolf report during a meeting in Olympia April 18-20.

The meeting began Thursday, April 18 with committee meetings. The Fish Committee discussed the North of Falcon salmon season setting process, non-native trout policy, and heard updates on the 2024 supplemental budget and appropriations affecting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Fish Program. The Habitat Committee met to discuss a proposed land transaction, hear updates on how its 2024 supplemental budget affected the Department’s Habitat Program, and plan future committee meetings through 2024.

Finally, the Big Tent committee heard an update on the draft Conservation Policy and discussed not adopting the Best Available Science Policy until a formal solicitation for public comments has occurred. The committee also endorsed a public meeting code-of-conduct, and discussed ideas for managing public input when the commission hearings receive significant numbers of commenters.  

Friday’s agenda began with open public input opportunity followed by the WDFW director’s report. The Commission then delegated five public petition decisions to the Director.

The Commission approved a proposed land acquisition of 1,166 acres for Springwood Ranch in Kittitas County as part of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. The Yakima Basin Integrated Plan is a coalition of state and federal agencies, tribes, and partners, working together to conserve habitat and Endangered Species Act-listed species. The Commission approved a proposed timber sale as part of a forest restoration project at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Thurston County.

The Commission approved a rule making proposal related to an HPA for dock flotation. The Commission also received an update on the best practices for soliciting, inventorying, and summarizing public comments.

Late last year, the Commission accepted a public petition to initiate rule making for cougar seasons. On Friday afternoon, the Commission directed staff to develop a proposed rule that would set the season from Sept. 1 to March 31, set a cap of 13% of each population management unit (PMU) using a specific density, and includes all known human-caused cougar mortalities in determining when to close a PMU during the season. WDFW will announce the rule making public comment opportunity on the draft rule that will be developed using this guidance in a future news release.

On Saturday, the Commission heard public comment followed by a briefing on the 2023 annual status report for gray wolves in Washington. The population increased by 20% since the 2022 estimate and had 23 confirmed or probable livestock depredations, with 21% of packs involved in those depredations. More information on the 2023 gray wolf annual report is available on WDFW’s website.

The meeting was recorded and is available on the Commission webpage for the public to watch afterward at their convenience.

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.

Request this information in an alternative format or language at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation, 833-885-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.