HUNTING – Eastern Washington deer check stations results indicate that hunters have been filling their tags at a higher rate than last year.
And the last buck of the general season checked last Sunday afternoon in the Methow area sported the largest set of antlers measured at the Winthrop station in 17 years, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.
The Deer Park station on Oct. 20 and last Sunday checked 196 hunters with 53 deer. That count included 44 whitetails, 24 of which were antlerless deer harvested by seniors, disabled or youth hunters. The overall whitetail-mule deer success rate was 27 percent, up from 16 percent on the same weekend last year.
Nineteen more hunters were checked this year than last year at Deer Park. The difference may be last year’s initial negative reaction to new four-point minimum in Units 117 and 121, “and possible misunderstanding about antlerless hunting still being available to seniors, disabled, youth hunters,” said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman in Spokane.
The Chattaroy station saw 67 hunters with seven deer for a success rate of only 12 percent. The station wasn’t operated last year, so no comparison can be made.
Winthrop check station reported hunters had a success rate of about 20 percent during the general rifle season that ended Sunday.
“The last deer we checked for the season was a very large 9x10 point mule deer with a 33-plus-inch antler width,” said Scott Fitkin, district wildlife biologist. “This is likely the largest set of antlers seen at the check station in at least the last 17 years. The lucky hunter harvested the estimated 4 1/2-year-old animal in the Tripod Burn area which appears to be producing excellent summer deer forage six years after the fire.”
Hunting for white-tailed deer ended Friday in Units 101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 121 and 124.
No more check stations are scheduled in northeastern Washington until the last weekend of the late whitetail buck hunt, which runs Nov. 10-19.
Discover Pass sales disappoint parks officials
PARKS – An expected surge in Discover Pass sales this summer came up short, so the state Parks and Recreation Commission may ask state lawmakers for more money from the general fund.
Parks spokeswoman Virginia Painter told The Wenatchee World revenues were nearly $5 million short of expectations from June through September. She says the commission may ask the Legislature for $27 million for 2013-2015.
The Legislature decided two years ago to make state parks largely self-sufficient, depending on the annual Discover Pass and camping and boat launch fees. Painter says no other states have park systems that rely solely on user revenues.
State Parks is launching a new campaign urging people to support Washington parks by buying the $30 Discover Pass.
Idaho Wool Growers file lawsuit over grazing
BIG GAME –Sheep ranchers in Idaho and other states are suing the U.S. Forest Service over a bighorn sheep protection plan that reduces domestic grazing in the Payette National Forest.
The Idaho Wool Growers Association, joined by individual ranchers and industry groups from other Western states, filed the lawsuit in Boise’s U.S. District Court. The lawsuit targets the 2010 grazing reduction plan, which is predicated on the idea that bighorn sheep contract pneumonia when they come into contact with domestic sheep.