From Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
-- New hunting rules approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission for the 2012-14 seasons expands hunting opportunities for elk and cougar.
The nine-member citizen commission that sets policy for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, made changes during its March 13 and 14 meeting.
With most of the state's 10 elk herds increasing in size, the commission increased the number of bull-elk permits for the Nooksack, Blue Mountain and Yakima herds. Permits for antlerless elk were also increased in the Blue Mountain, Yakima and Colockum areas.
In addition, a day was added to the general season for elk hunters using modern firearms in western Washington, giving those hunters a total of 12 days in the field this year.
"The health of our elk herds has shown real improvement since 2001, when the department started developing management plans specific to each herd," said Miranda Wecker, chairman. "Most of our elk herds are now at or near the population goals established under those plans."
The commission also expanded hunting seasons for cougar, reflecting changes in laws and management models for the species. Starting Sept. 1, the general hunting season will run through March 31 statewide, as harvest guidelines are not exceeded.
In addition, the commission added two landowners to the state's Landowner Hunting Permit Program, which sets terms for special hunts on participants' property. With the new additions in Spokane and Walla Walla counties, nine landowners are now enrolled in the program, all of them in eastern Washington.