From the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission
-- Hunters got a preview of changes proposed in special-hunt permit drawings and new hunting regulations for the fall 2010 season at a public meeting held here March 12-13 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
State wildlife managers also briefed the commission which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and others in attendance on new proposals for addressing public concerns about property damage and other conflicts related to Washington's wildlife.
The commission allotted time for public comments on all three issues prior to public meetings scheduled over the next two months.
In recent years, some hunters have expressed dissatisfaction with the selection process used to issue special-hunt permits, which give successful applicants hunting options beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.
Many of those frustrations stem from the fact that all special-hunt permits are randomly drawn from the same pool of applications, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. As a result, applicants often face a choice between applying for popular deer and elk hunts or settling for less-popular hunts with better odds of being drawn, he said.
Among items discussed:
Special Hunt Drawings
Under a new special-hunt permit drawings plan, WDFW would create separate applications for seven different categories of popular deer and elk permits, ranging from buck or bull hunts to senior permits. Hunters could apply in as many categories as they choose. Points accrued by hunters toward special permits in previous years would be applied to each of the new permit categories created under the new plan. All funds raised by the sale of additional permit applications would be used to expand hunter access to private lands.
The commission is scheduled to take action on WDFW's proposal at a meeting set April 9-10 in Leavenworth. The proposed rule changes are contained in WAC 232-28-291 on the department's website at http://bit.ly/d3a41n .
Hunting Regulation Changes
Proposed are new hunting rules for the upcoming season, based on changes in state game populations observed since the current three-year hunting plan was adopted in 2009. Proposed changes include new conservation measures and hunting opportunities for deer, elk, black bear, cougar and small game. Key actions include:
Deer: Significant reductions are proposed in the harvest of antlerless white-tailed deer in the Selkirk region, hard-hit by two harsh winters, and on the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula, where the herd continues to have low reproduction rates.
Elk: General hunting opportunities for antlerless elk would be reduced on the Yakima herd, although new hunting opportunities would be allowed in Game Management Unit 346.
Black bear: Fall hunting seasons would be delayed in parts of northeast Washington, south central Washington and the Okanogan region to reduce harvest and conserve female bears. Spring hunting opportunities would be expanded in northeastern Washington and in private timberlands west of Centralia to allow the harvest of more males.
Hunting equipment: Archers and muzzleloaders would no longer be required to possess a concealed weapons license to carry a handgun for personal protection in the field.
Specific proposals are posted on the commission's website at http://bit.ly/d3a41n under March 5 revisions. The commission is scheduled to take action on WDFW's proposals for the 2010 hunting season at its April 9-10 meeting in Leavenworth.
In a related issue, the commission denied a petition to amend existing white-tailed buck deer seasons in northeastern Washington by adopting special antler restrictions for hunts in Game Management Units 117 and 121. The commission did, however, commit to a public review process and consideration of the proposal for the 2011-12 hunting seasons.