Outdoors blog

MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2011, 3:06 P.M.

Washington Fish, Wildlife Commission hears issues

HUNTING -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission heard public input on proposed 2011-12 hunting season rules during its meeting Friday and Saturday in Spokane.

No action will be taken until the panel's April  8-9 meeting in Olympia.

Proposals include:

  • Restricting hunters to shooting only whitetail bucks with four or more antler points on one side in Units 117 and 121.
  • Authorizing landowner hunting permits to increase access for deer and elk hunters on private lands in Asotin County.
  • Tightening public-conduct rules on private lands open for hunting under cooperative agreements with WDFW.
  • Increasing spring black bear hunting seasons and permits in western and northeast Washington, to help reduce timber damage and bear nuisance activity.
  • Adjustmenting moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunting permit levels, based on recent population surveys.
  • Simplifying game management unit boundary descriptions for deer and elk hunting.
  • Adjustmenting elk and deer general seasons and special-permit levels, in response to population increases or declines and/or crop and property damage problems in various parts of the state. The modifications include proposals to reduce antlerless white-tailed deer hunting in northeast units, while maintaining opportunities for youth, senior and disabled hunters.

Read on for other issues heard at the meeting:

 The six commissioners in attendance also approved modifications to 2011 Puget Sound recreational clam and oyster seasons. The changes will result in longer seasons on eight public beaches, shorter seasons on four beaches, and a shift in season timing on one beach. Click here for details.

In other business, the commission approved the following land transactions:

  • Purchase of nearly 78 acres of wetlands and flood plain in Grays Harbor County, adjacent to WDFW’s Chehalis Wildlife Area, for $175,000 from a USFWS grant and a pipeline mitigation project.
  • Acquisition of shrub-steppe habitat for sage grouse and recreational access in Moses Coulee near Jameson Lake (Douglas County), as a unit of WDFW’s Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area. That 473-acres acquisition will be funded with $120,000 from a Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grant.
  • A conservation easement on 320 acres of land in the Methow Valley, for large mammal migration corridors, mule deer winter range and shrub-steppe habitat. The land will be managed as part of the Frazer Unit of the Methow Wildlife Area. The easement will be purchased for $1,020,000 from U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and WWRP grants. Those funds are part of WDFW’s capital budget and are not available for use in operating budgets.

The commission also was briefed on proposed changes in state bald eagle management plan requirements. 

Bald eagles are no longer listed as an endangered species and are considered recovered in Washington state. The proposal would reduce current management plan requirements to require site-specific management plans only if bald eagles were again listed as a state threatened or endangered species.

Bald eagle habitat protection would continue through the USFWS under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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