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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington taking comment on hunting season proposals

From staff reports

From staff reports

The proposals for the next three years of hunting seasons are out.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking public comment on its three-year season setting process, which proposes changes to hunting regulations for the 2024 to 2026 hunting seasons.

WDFW’s proposals would set season dates and tweak a wide array of regulations, affecting hunters who chase everything from deer and elk to small game.

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind will have the final say on the rules, as the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission decided last year to delegate the authority to his office. Susewind will issue a decision after a virtual public hearing in March.

In parts of Eastern Washington, the agency is proposing eliminating the killing of antlerless deer during archery and muzzleloader seasons. The rule would require hunters in several districts to target only deer with a “3 point minimum,” focusing the harvest on male deer.

The change is meant to aid the stability and recovery of deer populations in the Blue Mountains, the Okanagan Highlands, the east slope of the Cascades and on the Columbia Plateau, according to WDFW’s proposal.

Deer in those areas have struggled with disease and poor environmental conditions.

WDFW is also proposing changes to elk rules to reduce the harvest of cow elk in the Blue Mountains to promote population growth.

Other proposals include allowing crossbows during the muzzleloader hunting season and requiring bear and cougar hunters to wear orange

Hunters and others who are interested can read the proposals and comment on them online at publicinput.com/3yearseasonsetting#tab-48565. Comments can also be submitted by emailing 3yearseasonsetting@publicinput.com; by calling 1-855-925-2802 and entering project code 1378; or by mail to P.O. Box 43200, Olympia, Wash., 98504.

Comments will be accepted through those methods until March 25.

The virtual public hearing will be held on March 26 and will include oral public comment.

The hearing begins at 1 p.m., and those interested in commenting must register by 8 a.m. on the day of the hearing.

Washington setting salmon seasons

Fisheries managers are looking for public input on Washington’s salmon seasons for 2024 and 2025.

WDFW announced in a news release that it will hold a statewide salmon forecast meeting on Friday to kick off the season setting process. The meeting will be one of more than a dozen meetings over the next two months to discuss salmon fisheries across Washington.

It’s part of the state’s North of Falcon season setting process, which refers to waters north of Oregon’s Cape Falcon – the southern border for the management of Washington’s salmon.

It includes Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Columbia River and coastal areas.

The release said WDFW will take input from recreational and commercial anglers while officials work with tribal co-managers to design the 2024-2025 seasons.

Forecasters use data from different watersheds and the ocean along with return numbers from previous years to estimate the number of salmon and steelhead that will move upstream, and to determine how many can be killed by anglers.

On Friday, biologists will present initial salmon forecasts. The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Olympia, and will be streamed via Zoom.

More comment opportunities will follow, and as the negotiations near their end, officials will hold daily virtual briefings.

Reel Rock 18 coming to Spokane

A suite of climbing films will be shown next Sunday as part of the Bower Climbing Coalition’s annual fundraiser.

Reel Rock 18, the latest iteration of an annual climbing film showcase, will be shown at the Washington Cracker Company building at 304 W. Pacific Ave.

Money raised supports the coalition, which is a local climbing group that maintains bolts on popular routes and replaces unsafe hardware.

The event begins at 4 p.m., and the films will start at 5:30 .

Tickets cost $20 and are available at reelrocktour.com/pages/tour-calendar.