1998 Game Harvest Report
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1998 Game Harvest Report

Category: Hunting - Game Harvest, Status and Trends

Date Published:  1999

Number of Pages: 110

Publication Number: WDFW 612

Author(s): Jim Rieck, editor in chief

See: http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/harvest/ for Game Harvest Reports after 1998.


Game harvest estimates are derived using a combination of information from mailed questionnaires, successful hunter report cards, pelt tagging records, a trapper report of catch, and field check reports. The technique used to estimate harvest varies depending on the species.

Hunter Questionnaire

A mailed questionnaire is sent to a minimum of twelve percent of the people that purchase hunting licenses in order to achieve responses from ten percent of the hunters. Their answers on the questionnaire form the basis upon which harvest estimates are made for deer, elk, black bear, upland birds, waterfowl, and hunted fur-bearers. Hunters are asked if they actually hunted, how many days they spent hunting, and where it was done. They are also asked to record if they bagged anything. If they did, they are asked what it was, where it was taken, and how many they got. The 1998 deer and elk harvest tables reflect only the “General” hunting season harvest. The special deer and elk permit hunting seasons are tabulated separately and are presented before the general season harvest.

A "three wave" mailer is used to make sure that a true cross section is represented in the sample of hunters. It is fairly common for hunters not to respond if they were unsuccessful or did not get a chance to hunt during the previous season. Consequently, those who respond to the "wave one" questionnaire are proportionately the more successful hunters. Subsequent mailings to those not returning the first questionnaire encourage those hunters, who represent a more true sample, to respond.

The 1998 Hunter Questionnaire was sent to 30,512 hunters (12.9% of the 237,085 people who bought hunting licenses in 1998). Hunters completed 15,390 questionnaires and returned them on time for the analysis. The respondents were 6.5% of the 1998 hunting license buyers. The return rate was 50%.

Harvest estimates are made at different resolutions, depending on the sample size of the species or user group. For example, modern firearm deer estimates are made at the PMU (population management unit) level, which is a group of game management units. Muzzleloader deer estimates are made only at the regional level. This is because there are significantly fewer muzzleloader hunters than there are modern firearm hunters. More of the hunters in the smaller user groups are sent questionnaires to compensate for the size of their group. For deer and elk the harvest estimate is then divided proportionately to the smaller geographic areas using returned harvest report cards. The harvest tables can be misleading if the game management units are closely compared. It is most useful to make comparisons at the level the estimate is made, particularly when looking at figures generated in previous years. The following table shows sampling rates and at what resolution the actual harvest estimate is made.

Deer, Elk, and Black Bear Final Sampling

Percent User Group
By Species
User Group Species
Modern Firearm Deer 7,367 5.7 % PMU
Archery Deer 1,737 10.1 % Region
Muzzleloader Deer 819 12.0 % Region
Modern Firearm Elk 3,649 7.2 % PMU
Archery Elk 1,510 11.9 % Region
Muzzleloader Elk 1,011 9.6 % Region
All Types Black Bear 1,266 5.3 % State
All Types Small Game 5,757 County

The estimates of days per kill and hunter success can be compared to previous years estimates as a relative index to population density. However, it may not be appropriate to compare among different small geographical units because of differences in access, habitat, special permit numbers, or special hunting restrictions. All affect the vulnerability of an animal to be taken during the hunting season.

Black Bear Harvest

A “mandatory” report card was introduced for the 1998 black bear and cougar season. The report card was attached to each bear or cougar transport tag and was to be completed and returned whether or not the hunter was successful in bagging his/her animal. The return rate of the black bear mandatory report cards was 15.9% (3,786 report cards returned of 23,775 bear tags sold). Because of the low return rate of the report cards, bear was included in the 1998 hunter questionnaire in order to sample those who did not return report cards. The harvest reported on the report cards was added to the harvest estimate generated from the hunter questionnaire to form the 1998 black bear harvest estimate.

Special Permit Hunting Questionnaires

In addition to the deer and elk general hunting seasons, there are special permit hunts which make it possible to hunt antlerless deer or elk, special areas, or during special times. Mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and moose hunting are available only by special permit. All permit hunters are sent a special permit hunting activity questionnaire. All hunters, both successful and unsuccessful, are required to complete and return this report at the close of the season. The 1998 permit hunter questionnaire return rates for deer, elk, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and moose were 78%, 80%, 93%, 100%, and 100% respectively. Harvest for these species was tabulated and based solely upon the reports returned by the hunters. Harvest was not estimated to include hunters who did not return a completed report.

Trapper Report of Catch

All trappers of fur-bearing animals are required to complete and return a trapper report of catch. Of the 608 trappers licensed in 1998, 80% (488) returned a report. Harvest is calculated directly from the reports and not expanded to include trappers that did not return a completed report.

CITES Pelt Sealing Reports

Bobcat and river otter pelts must be sealed within ten days of the close of the trapping or hunting season. This is done to gather harvest information and to comply with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The harvest figures are drawn directly from the pelt sealing records.

Cougar Pelt Sealing Records

Each successful cougar hunter is required to have his/her cougar inspected by an agent of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, have it’s pelt sealed, submit a cougar tooth sample, and return a report card. Other cougar are taken due to livestock depredation or other dangerous situations and reported internally. All of these records are used to compile cougar harvest for the 1998 season.

Suggested Citation:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 1999. 1998 Game Harvest Report. Wildl. Manage. Prog., Wash. Dept. Fish and Wildl., Olympia. 110pp.