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Populations hold the course

Thu., Sept. 15, 2011

Waterfowl among 2011 highlights

Eastern Washington hunters heading into the field this fall shouldn’t expect dramatic changes from last year’s game populations.

Here’s the general trend from state survey information, some of which is still being gathered.

Deer: Preliminary survey results indicate slightly higher deer numbers in the Spokane area, but slightly lower numbers in the northeast corner of the state.

Biologists say the season looks promising in most of the state’s East Side, but the warm weather stretching into September has them crossing their fingers that the deer don’t have to endure any disease outbreaks.

Hot, dry weather played a role in late-summer EHD outbreaks that reduced deer numbers in previous years.

Elk: Populations are roughly the same or growing slightly in the Spokane region and northeastern counties.

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge hunts last year boosted hunter success on and off the refuge (see related story, Page 6).

Waterfowl: A bright spot for the season, waterfowl populations are at record levels owing to the wet spring and runoff that filled ponds and lakes. Duck and goose production throughout the region’s flyways was excellent, surveys show.

Upland birds: The jury’s still out. The first hatch of pheasants in much of the region was hammered by the cool, wet weather that was a boon for waterfowl. But quail and partridge seemed to have better luck with their hatches, which are later.

And quail were pulling off second and third hatches into August.

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