Wolf delisting, more cougar tags, a “torrent” of trout , and an extension on public comment for a mess or rule-change proposals made the news while yours truly was away at deer camp.
Here are the lowdowns from ODFW and WDFW:
Commission adopts big game regulations and plan to hire new director
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today adopted the 2015 Oregon Big Game Regulations, which includes increasing the statewide cougar quota.
Major changes include several modifications to archery season regulations as a result of the recent Archery Review Public Advisory Committee process, including:
· Adding three controlled archery deer hunts in Walla Walla, Mount Emily and Wenaha units, and removal of the requirement to have a controlled elk archery tag to deer hunt. The tag will also be valid during the general archery season.
· Adding a new November controlled archery white-tailed deer hunt in the Wenaha unit (estimate 30 tags, will be the hunters only archery deer opportunity).
· Severing the link between archery deer and elk tags in Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Maury, and Warner units, meaning an archery elk tag will no longer be required to hunt deer.
· Adding new Maury and Warner unit controlled archery elk hunts. Tags will also be valid during the general archery season.
· Returning Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, and Steens Mountain units to the general archery deer season.
Other changes include:
Increasing the statewide cougar quota from 777 to 970 to reflect increasing cougar populations, more damage and public safety issues from cougar in some areas, and deer and elk populations that are below objectives in many areas.
Adding one week to the Saddle Mountain unit late archery deer hunt and ending a long-standing closure for deer hunting in the unit north of the Burlington Northern tracks. The area was closed years ago to protect Columbian White-Tailed deer. The deer population has expanded, making the closure unnecessary.
Added the Keating unit and removed the Stott Mountain unit from areas where archery hunters and hunters with a disability permit may take an antlerless elk during bull seasons.
The Commission turned down a staff recommendation to add a new spring bear hunt in Southwest Oregon. The Siskiyou Plus hunt would have added 250 tags to the spring season.
The Commission also adopted a recruitment plan for a new agency director. The plan calls for a national search to replace Roy Elicker who recently retired to take a position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The recruitment will be open from November 3 through December 5, 2014. Finalists will be interviewed by the Commission in February. The recruitment process will begin with a public survey regarding the characteristics and qualities the new director should have. The public will also have the opportunity meet the final candidates in February. The survey and the recruitment plan will be available on the ODFW website next week.
The Commission was also briefed on potential delisting of wolves in eastern Oregon from the state Endangered Species Act. The Oregon Wolf Plan, adopted in 2005, calls for considering delisting when eastern Oregon has four breeding pairs for three consecutive years. Staff has documented at least four packs reproducing in the previous two consecutive years. If that trend continues, the delisting process would begin in April 2015. Before delisting could occur, the Commission must determine that wolf populations in eastern Oregon are not likely to become endangered, existing state and federal regulations are adequate to protect wolves, and that other criteria are met.
In other business, the Commission:
· Approved a three-year pilot program that will allow the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to make specific short-term repairs to culverts in western Oregon without having to meet all requirements for fish passage. As part of the pilot program, ODOT would improve fish passage at each site they repair, and pay $1.8 million into an ODFW-managed account that would fund high priority fish passage projects. In addition, ODOT would fund a new transportation liaison position, managed by ODFW, to coordinate implementation of the agreement. ODOT and ODFW staff described the pilot as a “win-win” that allows ODOT to make critical culvert repairs at a lower cost while protecting public safety, fish passage and watershed health.
· Held a joint meeting with the California Fish and Game Commission. Thursday’s meeting included briefings on Klamath Basin Restoration, ocean acidification and temperature changes, the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and other issues of interest to both states.
· Recognized the contributions of the Bob and Phyllis Mace family to wildlife in Oregon. The Mace family established a trust fund to benefit fish and wildlife and contributed millions of dollars to watchable wildlife efforts, including the Bob and Phyllis Mace Watchable Wildlife Center at the Jackson County Fairgrounds.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon. It usually meets monthly. The next meeting is Dec. 5 in Salem.
WDFW to release torrent of trout;
nearly four times more fish stocked this fall
OLYMPIA – With some 340,000 trout scheduled for stocking in western Washington lakes, area anglers should have an excellent chance at phenomenal fishing this fall and through the holiday season.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will stock 47 western Washington lakes with catchable-size trout. That includes 19 lakes where the catch limit will be increased to 10 trout beginning Oct. 18.
“Our fish stocking plans entail releasing nearly four times more fish than were released last fall in western Washington,” said Chris Donley, WDFW’s inland fish program manager. “Fishing at dozens of lakes throughout the region should be great over the next few months.”
Lakes stocked as of Oct. 1 include Island, Lost, Nahwatzel, and Spencer Lake in Mason County, Kitsap Lake in Kitsap County, Rattlesnake Lake in King County, and Gibbs, Leland and Teal Lakes in Jefferson County. Additional stocking efforts will focus on different regions and counties in western Washington and will continue through October and November.
A list of lakes to be stocked, those lakes offering the bonus bag limit, and the department’s recently updated stocking plan is available for viewing at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/fall-into-fishing/ .
WDFW has a higher number of fish to stock into lakes this fall because of a legal settlement last spring that prevented releasing early winter hatchery steelhead into most Puget Sound rivers in 2014.
More than 300,000 of those steelhead, an ocean going form of rainbow trout, will instead be released into western Washington lakes in the coming weeks.
“We realized these fish presented a unique opportunity for Washington’s anglers,” said Donley. The department held the steelhead over the summer and reared them to “catchable trout size” to be released into lakes in the Puget Sound area for harvest this fall.
Donley said he expects angling to be great throughout the fall and winter months at all of these lakes. “Most of the trout are 11 to 13 inches long, with a few larger ones in the mix,” he said.
The fall fish plants are in response to anglers’ requests to increase fall and winter trout fishing opportunities in western Washington, said Donley. That effort also includes stocking lakes in southwest Washington for the Nov. 28 Black Friday opener, which offers anglers the opportunity to skip the shopping malls, get outside, and enjoy fishing on the day after Thanksgiving.
For those fishing closer to the Puget Sound area, thousands of trout are available in lakes that can be pursued throughout fall and winter, said Donley. “We encourage anglers young and old, inexperienced or well-seasoned, to get out and take advantage of these great fisheries,” he added.
For up-to-date stocking information this fall, anglers should follow the department on Twitter or Facebook, accessible from http://wdfw.wa.gov , or see the department’s weekly catchable trout stocking report at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/ .
Anglers must have a current Washington freshwater fishing license valid through March 31, 2015, to participate in these events.
Licenses can be purchased online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov ; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license vendors across the state. For details on license vendor locations, visit the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/ .
Deadline extended for public comment on proposed Columbia River Basin fishing rules
OLYMPIA – The public will have more time to review proposed changes to fishing rules for the Columbia River Basin under an extended comment period announced today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Under the new timeline, WDFW will accept written comments through Nov. 13 on the proposed rules – about a month longer than previously announced.
In addition, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has postponed a public hearing on the proposals until its Dec. 12-13 meeting in Olympia. Written testimony can also be submitted during that time.
The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to take action on the proposed rule changes in a January meeting.
Fisheries managers have recommended 32 of the proposals submitted by the public in May move forward for additional review. To review and comment on the proposed rules, visit WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals. The webpage has more information about the proposals as well as those not recommended for further consideration.