[4/11/19] Fish and Wildlife Rules

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The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted new 2019 hunting season regulations and reviewed annual wolf population findings during their spring meeting last week in Olympia.

 The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also approved two land transactions.

 After months of public feedback, the commission approved new hunting seasons for ducks, geese, deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and other game species for 2019-20.

 Key changes approved by the commission for the upcoming season will:

 ·         Expand a requirement across western Washington that has successful hunters leave elk hoofs in place to prevent the spread of hoof disease.

·         Reduced the number of antlerless elk permits available in southeast Washington.

·         Eliminate this season’s antlerless white-tailed deer hunts to conserve deer populations in northeast Washington.

·         Let turkey hunters forgo hunter orange requirements when hunting outside of modern firearm and elk seasons.

·      Commissioners also voted to add Feb. 1, 2020 as a waterfowl hunting day set aside to honor military and veteran service members. The day aligns with one of two youth waterfowl hunting days.

 In other business, the commission reviewed the department’s annual wolf report. The report documents a growing wolf population for the tenth consecutive year, with a minimum of 126 individuals, 27 packs, and 15 breeding pairs. This includes the first documented western Washington pack – the Diobsud Creek Pack — since wolves were virtually eliminated from Washington in the 1930s.

 In addition, the commission approved two land transactions.. 3,500 acres in Yakima County and approximately 1,600 acres of forest and aquatic habitat in Kittitas County. Both properties provide critical habitat and migration corridors for elk and mule deer.