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Last chance to comment on game management plan

A whitetail buck is photographed by a remote trail cam put out by a hunter over a salt lick as he scouts for the lake buck deer hunting season. (Nate Krohn)
A whitetail buck is photographed by a remote trail cam put out by a hunter over a salt lick as he scouts for the lake buck deer hunting season. (Nate Krohn)

HUNTING -- Trends in controversial issues such as big-game baiting, lead shot restrictions and wolf management are mapped out in Washington's draft 2015-21 Game Management Plan that was revised in October.

The plan is online and available for public comment through Monday,  Nov. 17.

The plan, which must be approved by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, will guide the Washington’s game-management policy over the next six years.

Dave Ware, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife game manager, said the revised plan includes a number of changes proposed by the public during the initial comment period.  Key issues addressed by those changes include predator/prey relationships, deer and elk predation, and wolf, cougar and bear management, he said.

“These changes were significant enough that we wanted to give the public another chance to comment on the plan before we recommend it to the commission,” Ware said.  The commission is scheduled to consider adoption of the plan during a public meeting in December.

The main issues identified by the public were categorized into several key areas:
• Scientific/professional management of hunted wildlife
• Public support for hunting as a management tool
• Hunter ethics and fair chase
• Private lands programs and hunter access
• Tribal hunting
• Predator management
• Hunting season regulations
• Game damage and nuisance
• Species-specific management issues

New issues or emphasis areas that surfaced during the initial comment period and meetings include:

• Wildlife Conflict Management
• Recruitment & Retention of Hunters
• Disease Impacts
• Non-toxic Ammunition
• Re-introduction of pronghorn
• Wolf Management

Note: The Game Management Plan is separate at this point from the three-year package of hunting regulations proposals for  2015-17. The deadline for comment on the initial proposals ended earlier this fall.

However, the hunting regulations proposals touch on some of the same topics, including possible restrictions on baiting for big game.

Other issues under consideration by the department for upcoming seasons include:

  • Setting spring and fall black bear seasons.
  • Early archery elk seasons.
  • Modern firearm mule deer seasons.
  • Hunting equipment, including non-toxic ammunition, expandable broadheads and crossbows.
  • Special permit drawings.

Specific recommendations for 2015-17 hunting seasons will be drafted and available for further review in January. 

Final recommendations will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for adoption next spring.


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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