Thursday, January 26th, 2023
Thursday, January 26th, 2023

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Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approves new hunting rules

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission
approved new hunting rules for deer, elk and other game animals
during a public meeting here April 8-9.

The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department
of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), adopted the new rules for the 2011-12
hunting season after a 60-day public comment period and a public
hearing in Spokane.

None of those proposals drew more public comments – both pro and
con – than one that adds a four-point antler restriction for
hunting white-tailed deer in game management units (GMU) 117 and
121 in Stevens County. In years past, hunters have been allowed to
take any buck in those two GMUs, where white-tailed deer
populations are considered depressed.

Commissioners approved the new four-point antler rule by a vote
of 5 to 2 after an extensive public review process.

“The commission carefully considered the science surrounding
white-tailed deer management,” said Commission Chair Miranda
Wecker. “Based on those considerations, it was clear that a
four-point restriction would not create a conservation issue or
adversely affect the area deer population. After reviewing the
broad range of public input received over the past nine months, the
commission found the input received from area residents and local
governments favoring this proposal to be compelling in making this
decision.” Another measure approved by the commission will reduce
antlerless deer hunting in northeast Washington to help those deer
populations recover from past hard winters.

In addition, the commission approved new rules that will:

Increase permit hunting for antlerless elk in the Yakima area
and for bulls and antlerless elk in the Mount St. Helens area,
where elk populations are exceeding management objectives.

Increase spring black bear hunting seasons and permits in western
and northeast Washington to help reduce timber damage, address bear
nuisance activity and expand hunting opportunities within
population management guidelines.

Authorize certain landowners in Asotin County to issue hunting
permits to increase access to deer and elk hunting on private
lands. Hunting permits for those properties also would be available
to the public through WDFW’s special permit drawing.

Clarify public-conduct rules on private lands open for hunting
under cooperative agreements with WDFW.

All of those new rules will be incorporated into the state’s
2011-12 Big Game Hunting Seasons rule pamphlet, which will be
available at sporting goods stores and other licensing outlets
later this month. The new pamphlet will also be available on WDFW’s
website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.

In a separate action, the commission voted to relax current
state requirements for site-specific management plans for bald
eagles, which were removed from the federal Endangered Species Act
in 2007 and are considered recovered in Washington state.

Habitat protection for bald eagles will continue under the
federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, but site-specific
state management plans will no longer be required unless bald
eagles are again listed as a state threatened or endangered
species.

The commission also approved acquisition of land for fish and
wildlife habitat and public recreation in Wahkiakum, Okanogan,
Whatcom and Chelan counties. The 56-acre property in Wahkiakum
County includes a popular boat ramp on Deep River.

Dan Budd, WDFW real estate manager, said 25 percent of the
private boat trips for sturgeon in the estuary originate at the
Deep River ramp. He also noted that funds used to acquire
properties in all four counties will be included in the state’s
capital budget, and are not available to meet WDFW’s operating
costs.

For more information on the commission’s April 8-9 meeting and
future meetings, see the commission’s website at
http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

 

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