Discover North Puget Sound

Snow geese in agricultural field

Counties served: Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom

Director: Brendan Brokes

16018 Mill Creek Boulevard
Mill Creek, WA 98012-1541

Email: TeamMillCreek@dfw.wa.gov

Telephone: 425-775-1311

Fax: 425-338-1066

Fishing tips and news

Woman fishing with a fly rod from the shoreline.
Laura Lothrop

Skagit River steelhead

The Skagit River from the Dalles Bridge in the town of Concrete to the Cascade River in Marblemount is open for steelhead fishing through April 13. Wild steelhead must be released immediately and may not be removed from the water. Anglers can keep up to two hatchery steelhead. For more details, read the recent fishing rule change

Puget Sound cutthroat trout

Catch-and-release fishing for sea-run cutthroat picks up in March. Shoreline anglers often have success with chum fry patterns and small spinners during tidal changes near rivers and on beaches.

Lowland lakes

As spring approaches, lowland waters are warming and will provide good fishing for bass (smallmouth and largemouth), panfish (yellow perch, pumpkinseed, rock bass, bluegill), and catfish (channel and brown bullhead). Angle, Meridian, Stevens, Samish, and Cavanaugh lakes should be prime fishing spots for spring kokanee.

Prepare for the boating season

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program wants boaters to be prepared for the upcoming season by taking a safety education course. In Washington state, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15 horsepower engine or greater must be certified and carry a Boater Education Card to prove they passed an accredited boating safety education course. Boaters have three options to get certified: an instructor-led course; an online self-study; or a home study and equivalency exam for boaters who already have a lot of boating experience. More information about courses and the boater education card can be found at www.boatered.org

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

Hunting tips and news

Comment on proposed 2021-23 hunting seasons

From Feb. 11 through March 4, we will accept written public comments to help finalize proposed hunting rules and regulations for the upcoming year. To comment on the proposals, visit the hunting season setting webpage

Photo of a bow hunter standing on the roof of a pickup truck lookout out over a scenic landscape at sunset.
Daniel Ford

Multi-season tag

Deer and elk hunters have until March 31 to enter their names into the drawing for a 2021 multi-season tag, which can greatly increase the opportunity for success in the field. WDFW will hold the drawing in mid-April, randomly selecting names for 8,500 multiple-season deer tags and 1,000 multiple-season elk tags.

A multiple season application can be purchased from authorized license dealers, online or by calling 866-246-9453. The application costs $7.10 for residents and $110.50 for nonresidents.

A 2020 hunting license is not required to submit an application, but winners of the drawing must purchase one before they can purchase a multiple season tag. For more information, visit the Multi-season webpage or call the Licensing Division at 360-902-2464.

Spring turkey

Dust off your slate and start practicing your calls because spring turkey season is right around the corner. The youth spring turkey hunt weekend this year is April 3 and 4, while the opener for all other turkey hunters is April 15. If you’ve never hunted wild turkey but want to try it, this is your year. All through March until the opener, WDFW will be posting informative blog posts about spring turkey hunting and how to get started at myWDFW.com.

The relatively light winter means turkey survival was good, so it should be a productive season. And if you are hoping to hunt on private property this spring, now is the time to get started securing permission.

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

Wildlife watching

Updates on salmonellosis in wild birds

Continued reports of sick or dead birds at backyard feeders across Washington and other northwest states are prompting WDFW to recommend people continue to leave their wild bird feeders down another month, or take extra steps to maintain them.

Goldfinches gathered at bird feeder
Doug Kuehn

“You can help to stop the spread of salmonellosis by discontinuing backyard bird feeding until at least April 1, to encourage birds to disperse and forage naturally,” said WDFW veterinarian Dr. Kristin Mansfield.

The department first asked residents to remove or clean feeders in February in response to a die-off of finches, such as pine siskins, as well as other songbirds. Salmonellosis, a common and usually fatal bird disease caused by the salmonella bacteria is to blame. When birds flock together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through droppings and saliva. 

The first signs that a bird may have salmonellosis is often a seemingly tame bird on or near a feeder. Birds infected with salmonella become very lethargic, fluff out their feathers, and are easy to approach. Unfortunately, at this point there is very little people can do to treat them. The best course it to leave these birds alone and report them, and dead birds, to WDFW’s online reporting tool.

Discontinuing feeding of wild birds will not leave them without food supplies during the winter and spring months.

Keep an eye out for gray whales

The annual gray whale migration is under way and whale watchers could have several opportunities in March to spot the large marine mammals. The whales are making their annual journey north from the coast of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, where they spend the summer feeding before heading south again. While most continue on to Alaska, some gray whales linger in the waters of the Pacific Northwest during the spring and summer months, dipping into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and other areas of Puget Sound. The best way to spot a gray whale – from land or sea – is to look for "spouts" of water that can reach 10 to 12 feet in the air when the whales exhale.

Take an online class with Audubon

The Seattle Audubon is offering a variety of online classes this month, ranging from wildlife photography tips to how volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest create unique and changing habitat for birds. See the full list of offerings on the Seattle Audubon website

Join a work party to restore salmon habitat

Every spring, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) hosts work parties as part of their Stream Stewards Program. Volunteers help plant native trees and shrubs, and no previous experience is necessary. Due to COVID-19, the work parties are physically-distanced with guidelines to keep volunteers safe. Check out the full schedule of upcoming work parties on the NSEA website

Wings Over Water Birding Festival on March 19

The 2021 Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival is in its 19th annual year and will be offering a variety of online activities through live webinars, pre-recorded presentations, and field trips to inspire attendees of all ages to enhance their outdoor experience and knowledge of birding! Registration information and schedule are available on the Wings Over Water website

Look for snow geese at the Fir Island Farm Reserve Unit

About 80,000 snow geese winter in western Washington each year, and many will make their way to the region this month. Most snow geese congregate in the Skagit Valley, and can be found in the area from mid-October through early May. A great place to view the birds is at the Fir Island Farms Reserve Unit of WDFW's Skagit Wildlife Area. Thanks to Nancy Hing for sharing this video!

Educational activities for families

Looking for fun ways to engage your kids and have fun together as a family? Check out our educational resources for themed lessons and activities you can enjoy together as a family.

Wild Washington lesson plans for educators

WDFW is also offering a new service this year for educators - wildlife-themed curriculum for grades 3-12. Check out the Wild Washington curriculum and share with the parents and teachers you know. 

Waterfowl spring migration has started for birds on the Pacific Flyway

WDFW recently hosted a live virtual tour of some of the best viewing locations for ducks, swans, and geese around the state.

The virtual event included live broadcasts from the estuarine shoreline at Three Crabs, in Sequim, Silver Lake, near Spokane, to learn about conservation partnerships and contributions of hunters to wetland conservation and restoration on the channeled scablands of northeastern Washington, and to McNary National Wildlife Refuge located alongside the Columbia River, near the Tri-Cities, to hear about the waterbirds and other wildlife you can see at the refuge.

This event is available now on YouTube. Find information about the event locations, the Pacific Flyway, and conservation partnerships on WDFW’s Medium blog.

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

Recreate Responsibly 

#RecreateResponsibly to protect yourself, others, and the outdoors. Review the guidelines below before heading out on your outdoor adventure! 

  • Know before you go. Some areas can become dangerous wither winter conditions. Research your destination, as roads and facilities may be closed in winter.
  • Explore locally. Consider exploring locally, as driving and parking may be more challenging in winter. If you travel, be mindful of your impact on native and local communities. 
  • Plan ahead. Check local conditions and prepare for the elements, packing extra layers, waterproof clothing, and avalanche safety gear for the backcountry.
  • Leave no trace. Did you know that snow is our water supply? Keep our winter playgrounds clean. Pack out any human or pet waste and be respectful of the land.
  • Practice physical distancing. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth. When possible, opt to eat and rest outside. If you feel sick, stay home.
  • Play it safe. Know your limits and your gear. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. 
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Everyone deserve to experience a winter wonderland. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe, accessible, and welcoming for all identities and abilities. 

Habitat at Home

New Habitat at Home Program

Habitat at Home, formerly known as the Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program, is the department's effort to encourage Washingtonians to connect with nature where they live. We hope these resources will help you discover fun and effective ways you can help support wildlife, regardless of your expertise, how much space you have, or where you live.

Girl prepares plants for garden

By creating habitat for wildlife at home, you are helping to offset the acres of habitat that are lost to housing and urban development each year in Washington. Every little bit can help decrease habitat fragmentation, especially in highly urbanized areas. 

Starter kit

Our new Habitat at Home Starter Kit provides an introduction to the basics of gardening for pollinators, selecting native plants, and how to identify common backyard birds. Contact us to request a starter kit. 

Habitat at Home yard sign

If you already provide wildlife habitat at home (food, water, shelter, and space to raise young), you can apply for a Habitat at Home yard sign. We want to learn about your habitat and recognize your efforts to help Washington wildlife. 

Planning your garden

Are you thinking about what to plant in your garden this year? Whether you garden for the beauty of being surrounded by plants or to produce fruits and vegetables, you can help wildlife at the same time! 

Co-planting is a great way to benefit both your garden and pollinators. Consider including an herb garden close to your produce garden to attract pollinators. Include plants that pollinators love, such as thyme, lavender, rosemary, sage, and oregano. Produce such as squash, eggplant, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and other flowering plants may increase in yield because of pollination. 

If you’re looking to specifically help pollinators, look for plants that provide nectar at different times of the year to increase food availability year-round. Plants that flower around April or August and September are especially helpful for pollinators.  

Need help picking out plants? Check out this native plant finder: https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/.  

Where to buy native plants

To learn more about sustainable gardening practices, check out King County’s online gardening classes

Bird feeder hygiene

During cold months like March, birds need more energy to survive. Ordinarily, this is a great time to put out bird feeders, especially if you don’t have the space for plants. However, we are still seeing reports of salmonellosis in birds and are asking residents to keep bird feeders down.  

Feeders can pose health risks to birds if not maintained correctly and many people don’t realize that like humans, birds are susceptible to diseases, including salmonellosis, mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, avian pox, and more. Proper feeder hygiene is something you’ll need to uphold if you plan on keeping up your feeder up or have bird feeders in the future. 

Use proper feeder food 

Preventing disease at your feeders starts with the type of food you are providing. One way to help keep your feeder clean is to avoid using seed mixes, as it can encourage overcrowding and food waste. Mixes are good at attracting birds that enjoy both large and smaller seeds, but unless both types of birds visit your feeder on a regular basis, the leftover seeds - that often are pushed to the ground - can be a recipe for mold and attracting rats, mice, coyotes, bears, skunks, racoons, and other wildlife. This can lead to wildlife that become habituated to being fed and can pose future problems. For this reason, it is also best to only put out one day’s worth of food in your feeder so that it won’t spoil before it’s eaten. 

Using seeds that have already been hulled can also prevent waste, as hulls will be dropped to the ground anyways when birds are feeding. Start with smaller quantities and add more as needed. If you’d still like to offer a variety of seeds, opt for several bird feeders that are well-spaced from one another that each hold their own type of seed. If using a platform feeder, be sure to clean it daily with new seed put out. These feeders get particularly messy and can pose a greater risk to keeping birds healthy. 

Keep it clean 

Cleaning your feeders is critical to keeping your birds happy and healthy. With the current salmonellosis outbreak, we recommend cleaning feeders daily by first rinsing well with warm, soapy water. Then, soak in a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can spray the surfaces with this solution if that’s easier and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse well with cool water and let dry for at least 10 minutes to air out any fumes. 

If you also provide a birdbath, this cleaning regimen works for that, too. It’s equally important for birds to have access to clean drinking water! Just be sure to either remove or cover the birdbath while it is soaking in bleach to avoid pets, children, or animals from encountering the bleach. 

It’s also important that the areas below and around your feeder be kept free of seed and feces that can create unsanitary conditions. Placing feeders above surfaces that are easy to clean like decks or concrete will make the cleanup much quicker and easier. You can also opt to place a mesh screen or mat beneath feeders. Additionally, you can opt to attract birds that are less messy eaters, like chickadees and nuthatches. 

To learn what seeds attract different birds, check out this Audubon Guide to Birdseed

Share your backyard wildlife photos

We want to see what birds and other wildlife visit your habitat. Share your photos or videos with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category “Wildlife Viewing”. 

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Public meeting
  • Community event
  • Key date

Meet your Regional Director - Brendan Brokes

Brendon Brokes, Region Four Director

Brendan Brokes, North Puget Sound Region Director (Region 4), holds a master's degree in fisheries science from Oregon State University and has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1987. He served as the Habitat Program Manager in this region since 2015, after filling a decade-long role as the Assistant Regional Habitat Program Manager.

Before arriving at WDFW in 2001, Brokes worked at Mount Rainier National Park as a researcher and biological technician in aquatic ecology. He also worked with the National Marine Fisheries Service monitoring foreign commercial fisheries compliance.