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Washington approves hunting rules, special hunt permit applications

From the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

-- General hunting seasons and special-hunt permit drawings for the state of Washington were established at a public hearing April 9 and 10.  

The Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also approved several land transactions and heard public comments on proposed new rules designed to address property damage and other conflicts between landowners and wildlife.  

New hunting rules approved by the commission reflect changes in game populations since the current three-year plan was adopted last year.  These include

        --Reducing antlerless elk hunting in the Yakima area
        --Reducing antlerless deer hunting in northeast Washington and the Olympic Peninsula
        --Providing additional permits for spring black bear hunting and delaying start dates for fall black bear hunting in            some areas
        --Increasing permit hunting for cougar in southeast Washington
        --Changing the fall turkey hunt in southeast Washington from a limited permit-only hunt to a general hunt

The commission also approved a new application system for special hunt permits that will give hunters more options by allowing them to apply for deer and elk permits in several different categories.  The system applies points accrued by unsuccessful permit applicants from previous years to each of the new permit categories.

Another change allows hunters who use archery or muzzleloader equipment to carry hand guns for personal protection.

The amended hunting rules take effect May 1, and will be included in the new Big Game Hunting pamphlet available by late April at license dealers, WDFW offices and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regs_seasons.html .  

The commission also received public comments on new rules proposed to address property damage and other conflicts between landowners and wildlife. As directed by the 2009 Washington Legislature (SHB 1778), the proposal includes specific requirements for both lethal and non-lethal control, and identifies new sources of technical assistance for property owners. Claims for crop damage would be paid only after an assessment by a professional crop insurance adjustor.  

The commission, which originally heard public comments the proposed wildlife interactions rules at a March 12-13 meeting in Olympia, will be briefed by WDFW staff on adjustments to the proposal during a May 7 conference call.

The commission directed staff to make additional landowner outreach efforts regarding the proposal before final action is taken at a June 4-5 public meeting in Spokane.  The proposed Wildlife Interaction Rules are posted on the commission’s website at http://bit.ly/db1aCT .

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