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Sun., April 10, 2011, 9:47 a.m.

Washington Wildlife Panel approves 4-point whitetail antler restriction

HUNTING -- A controversial antler point restriction for whitetail deer, proposed by a Stevens County sportsmen's group, was approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Friday during its meeting in Olympia.

Starting this fall, only whitetail bucks with four or more antler points on one side will be legal for hunters to target in Game Management Units 117 and 121.

The split vote by the commissioners disregarded the input by game managers and wildlife biologists who advised against it.  I summarized some of the biologists' points in a column in August when the state was forced to hold hearings on this issue -- just a year before the regularly scheduled rulemaking hearings would be held across the state.

The commission's 5-2 vote -- hear an audio recording of the pre-vote debate -- also disregarded the concerns of Fish and Wildlife police over the potential for illegal kills.

It disregarded the commission's own frequent requests to the agency managers to simplify rules.

It disregarded the public meetings held around the state in which the majority of sportsmen at every meeting had concerns about the proposal.

It disregarded the concensus off the commission itself that this could not be considered an experiement that would lead to biologically significant information.

It disregarded the high pecentage of sportsmen and agency managers who expressed concern that it will be a setback for youth hunting and the family nature of hunting in the two most popular whitetail units in the state.

This vote was an embarrassment to wildlife management in this state.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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