Tag Archives: fish and wildlife commission

Washington Fall Bear Hunt Will Now Start Aug. 1 Statewide; 2 Bruins Can Be Taken On Eastside

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved changes to the fall bear-hunting rules during their conference call on June 28.

WASHINGTON BLACK BEAR HUNTERS LIKE ANDY BYRD WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE TWO BRUINS STATEWIDE IN A HUNT THAT WILL NOW BEGIN AUG. 1, THANKS TO RECENT RULE CHANGES FROM THE FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION. BYRD BAGGED THIS ONE IN CHELAN COUNTY DURING A SEPTEMBER BUCK HUNT SEVERAL SEASONS AGO. (JASON BROOKS)

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), asked department staff to review and provide a recommendation for black bear season rule changes at a meeting earlier this year.

At the June meeting in Port Angeles, department staff presented two recommendations to simplify bear regulations and make them consistent statewide.

The first recommended change standardized the statewide season start date to Aug. 1. The new season start date provides more hunting days in six of the 11 hunting areas. The second change standardized a two-bear bag limit statewide. The previous rule allowed for harvest of two bears during the season, but only one could be from the east side of the state.

“Our field biologists are currently conducting new hair snare monitoring in two districts to learn more about our current black bear populations,” said Eric Gardner, WDFW wildlife program director. “We chose to bring these two changes forward because they will simplify the regulations and have little impact on our goal of maintaining sustainable black bear populations in Washington.”

The commission approved the rule changes with a 6-1 vote. The changes will take effect Aug. 1, 2019.

WDFW staff will continue hair snare monitoring for several years. This monitoring will inform WDFW’s black bear management and provide better information to assess Washington’s black bear populations.

“We’d like to remind hunters that they are required to report on their black bear season through the WILD System by Jan. 31, 2020,” said Gardner. “Also, we’d like to remind hunters to submit the bear tooth samples on or before the January date as well. Submitting these reports and samples improves our harvest data quality, which informs our black bear management decisions.”

WDFW will seek additional public comment when they consider changes to all hunting related rules during the three-year season setting process in summer 2020.

Editor’s note: According to the office of the Fish and Wildlife Commission, voting in favor of the two changes to the bear hunting rules were Chair Larry Carpenter and members Dave Graybill, Bob Kehoe, Don McIsaac, Brad Smith and Kim Thorburn, with Vice Chair Barbara Baker voting no, and Commissioner Jay Holzmiller not on the conference call.

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ODFW’s Commission Adopts Updated Wolf Management Plan

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Commission adopted a Wolf Plan at its meeting in Salem in a 6-1 vote after hearing from 44 people who came to testify and reviewing thousands of public comments.

OREGON WOLF TRACKS IN MUD. (ODFW)

Allowing controlled take (limited regulated hunting and trapping of wolves) was one of the most controversial topics in the new Wolf Plan. The original Plan adopted in 2005 allowed for controlled take only in Phase 3 (currently eastern Oregon), in instances of recurring depredations or when wolves are a major cause of ungulate populations not meeting established management objectives or herd management goals. While ODFW believed it needed to remain a tool available for wolf management, the department has not proposed any controlled take of wolves and has no plans to at this time.

Commissioners made some changes related to “controlled take” from the proposed Plan.  An addendum was added clearly stating that “Use of controlled take as a management tool requires Commission approval through a separate public rulemaking process” and the definition of controlled take was modified.

Additional minor changes were made to emphasize the importance of non-lethal tools to address wolf-livestock conflict and easy access to this information. Non-lethal measures to prevent wolf-livestock conflict continue to be emphasized in all phases of the Plan, and required before any lethal control is considered.

After some discussion, Commissioners revised the definition of chronic depredation (which can lead to lethal control of wolves if non-lethals are in use and not working) in Phase 2 and 3 from two confirmed depredations with no specific time frame to two confirmed depredations in nine months.

The Wolf Plan will be filed with the Secretary of State and posted on the ODFW Wolves webpage (www.odfw.com/wolves) within the next few business days.

In other business over the two-day meeting June 6-7, the Commission also:

  • Allocated big game auction and raffle tags for 2020.
  • Heard a briefing on the crab fishery and reducing the risk of whale entanglements.
  • Adopted harvest limits for Pacific sardine in state waters for July 2019-June 2020 based on federal regulations.
  • Approved funding for Access and Habitat projects that provide hunting access or improve wildlife habitat on private land.
  • Heard a briefing on proposed changes to 2020 big game hunting regulations as part of efforts to improve and simplify the Big Game Hunting Regulations

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon. Its next meeting is Aug. 2 in Salem.

Central Washington Pronghorn Meetings Tonight, Tuesday Evening

Tonight and tomorrow evening state wildlife managers will host a pair of listening sessions in North- and South-central Washington to hear from residents about how to manage building pronghorn herds in the two regions.

PRONGHORN RACE ACROSS A GRASSY FLAT IN THIS WDFW AERIAL IMAGE TAKEN BY BIOLOGIST MARK VEKASY. (MARK VEKASY, WDFW)

The first is Monday’s at Pioneer Hall in the tiny Douglas County town of Mansfield from 7 to 9 p.m., and Tuesday’s is at the offices of the Benton Rural Electric Association (402 7th St.) in Prosser, in the lower Yakima Valley, during the same hours.

WDFW is looking for feedback as it begins to develop a management plan for the native species being brought back to Washington by the Yakama Nation and Colville Confederated Tribes.

Transplanted to their sprawling reservations since 2011 and 2016 respectively, dozens have wandered off onto public and private lands in surrounding counties.

A February aerial count found a minimum of 248 in Benton, Klickitat and Yakima Counties, while a survey in the northern Columbia Basin early last summer turned up at least 118.

“I think they’re great to have on the landscape, and we’re working with local communities to produce an effective plan to manage them,” said WDFW’s Rich Harris in a press release last month announcing the meetings.

For those unable to make either meeting, his agency has posted a quick online survey with background on past reintroduction efforts, attitudes towards the species and suggested management approaches.

Pronghorn are listed as big game but while they’re not open for hunting, ideally the population builds enough for permits to be available someday.

One problem for pronghorns is that much of their potential range also supports livestock operations, but unlike other open-country species like mule deer, antelope don’t jump very well, meaning they don’t get along well with fences. They also are partial to alfalfa, which could create conflict with hay growers.

But besides longtime strong support from Safari Club International’s Central Washington Chapter, antelope are also receiving attention from Conservation Northwest.

“Recovering pronghorn populations in Washington is important for the landscape, because they increase biodiversity and restore a part of the shrub-steppe ecosystem,” states the Seattle-based organization, which is working to link species and habitat in the state’s core sagelands.

 

ODFW Details Hunt Change Proposals; Legalizing Blacktail Spikes Could Up Harvest

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Last year, ODFW began a multi-year effort to review and improve hunting regulations.

Many of Oregon’s controlled hunts and season structures were put in place decades ago and mostly untouched through the years. “We have undertaken a complete review of our big game hunting regulations with the goal of making them more consistent, in tune with current populations and issues, and simpler,” said Nick Myatt, ODFW Grand Ronde Watershed Manager who is leading the effort.

AN OREGON HUNTING PROPOSAL WOULD REMOVE THE FORKED-ANTLER REQUIREMENT DURING WESTERN OREGON’S GENERAL BLACKTAIL SEASON. (ODFW)

A number of changes took effect in 2019, and now ODFW has new proposals for 2020. One of the major ideas proposed will be a change in the bag limit for the hunt in Oregon with more participation than any other—the Western Oregon general rifle deer season, which more than 61,000 people hunted in 2017. ODFW is proposing to simplify the bag limit from “one buck deer having not less than a forked antler” to “one buck with visible antler.” All 600 series antlerless deer hunts in western Oregon currently with a “one antlerless or spike deer” bag limit would also change to “one antlerless deer.”

The current bag limit is different from the eastern Oregon deer bag limit, creates enforcement issues, and is not biologically relevant. It is a relic of when western Oregon offered a large number of antlerless deer tags in some wildlife management units. The proposed bag limit change is expected to increase harvest opportunities and success for general season rifle deer hunters by allowing the harvest of spike bucks. While it may result in an increase in buck harvest, there are sufficient bucks in the population to support increased harvest. All but one Western Oregon unit has met or exceeded the benchmark for observed post-hunting season buck ratio in at least two of the last three years.

The change may also help the buck deer population by allowing hunters to remove the bucks genetically inclined to remain spikes. Data shows that some yearling bucks have forked antlers while some 2-year-old or older bucks have spike antlers.

Other eastern Oregon hunts in the 600 series that allow for buck harvest will be moved to the 100 series buck hunts for consistency and to more equitably distribute hunting opportunity by giving each hunter one buck hunting opportunity every year.

General season antlerless elk damage tag pilot program

Over the last few decades, elk populations in many areas have increased on private land adjacent to row crop or irrigated agricultural lands, leading to conflict, economic damage, and reduced hunting opportunity in some units.

ODFW and landowners use a variety of tools to address this damage, including hunting through controlled antlerless elk hunting and damage tags. However, controlled hunts can be inconvenient for hunters who must know far in advance (by May 15) that they will have private land access and want this as their elk hunting opportunity. Damage tags can be cumbersome for landowners and staff to implement. In many areas, overall harvest is still inadequate and private land elk populations continue to increase.

OREGON HUNTING MANAGERS HAVE A NEW PLAN FOR ACCESSING ELK CAUSING DAMAGE ON PRIVATE LAND. (RICK SWART, ODFW)

To address these issues, ODFW is proposing a new general season elk damage tag with an antlerless bag limit for the 2020 hunting season. This tag would replace 19 controlled hunts and the need for landowner damage tags during those timeframes (Aug. 1-March 31 for elk de-emphasis areas and western Oregon, and Aug. 1-Nov. 30 in other areas). The tags would be valid in specific chronic elk damage areas mapped annually by ODFW. Hunters considering this new opportunity would still need to think ahead about permission to hunt on private land for this tag and the tag would be their only elk hunting opportunity.

ODFW also proposes changing a few general bull elk rifle seasons in eastern Oregon (in Hood, White River, and central and SE Cascades) to controlled hunts, both for consistency and because some units are not meeting bull ratio objectives under the general season structure.

Other proposed changes include:

  • Longer, later seasons for pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain goat hunts to give hunters who draw one of these prized tags a later opening and more time to hunt.
  • 127 existing hunts being consolidated into 49 hunts.
  • 91 hunt dates expanded, made simpler or made consistent with other hunts.
  • 85 hunt areas expanded to the entire unit or hunt boundaries were made simpler.
  • 57 bag limits made simpler or made consistent with other hunts.
  • Nine new controlled hunt opportunities, including three late season mule deer hunts, two mountain goat hunts, and a pronghorn hunt.

A more complete list of proposed changes is available on MyODFW.com (under Big Game Hunting). ODFW is also hosting public meetings around the state in July to present these ideas and get feedback (meeting schedule will be posted on MyODFW.com in June).

The Fish and Wildlife Commission will be briefed on these concepts at their June 6 meeting in Salem, and make a final decision at their Sept. 13 meeting in Gold Beach when they adopt 2020 Big Game Regulations. Comments on the proposals can also be emailed to odfw.commission@state.or.us

WDFW License Bills Moving Again As End Of Regular Legislative Session Nears

After hibernating for the past two months, WDFW’s fee bills have woken up and are moving again, but what will emerges from the den that is the Washington legislature remains to be seen.

Both the House and Senate versions include the 15 percent increase to fishing and hunting licenses and extend the Columbia River salmon and steelhead endorsement, but also contain sharp differences that will need to be reconciled before the end of the session.

“This is pretty intense, from zero bills moving to two bills moving,” said Raquel Crosier, WDFW’s legislative liaison, this morning.

The upper chamber’s bill would sunset the angling fee hike after six years, extends the endorsement two years instead of four like the House, and would not allow the Fish and Wildlife Commission to impose surcharges to keep up with rising costs.

That’s different from the Senate’s Operating Budget proposal, released earlier this month without any fee increase or the endorsement and which leaned on General Fund instead.

The lower chamber’s bill, which like the House Operating Budget proposal had the hike and endorsement, would limit the commission’s fee-raising authority to only cover costs lawmakers add to WDFW’s gig and no more than 3 percent in any one year.

Though the Senate version presents something of a fiscal cliff in 2025, the fee increase would produce $14.3 million every two years, the endorsement $3 million.

As for WDFW’s big hopes for a big General Fund infusion to pay for its myriad missions, improve its product and dig out of a $31 million shortfall, any new money it receives will likely be allocated for orcas instead, and that is putting the onus squarely on passing a license increase.

The sudden activity on the fee bills after February’s twin hearings comes with the scheduled Sunday, April 28 end of the session and follows a House Appropriations Committee public hearing yesterday afternoon and an executive session in the Senate’s Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee this morning.

During the House hearing on HB 1708, representatives from the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Northwest Marine Trade Association and Coastal Conservation Association along with some anglers — all still smarting from the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Columbia fishery reforms vote early last month, some at louder volumes than others — voiced opposition to the fee bill though generally said they wanted a fully funded WDFW.

NMTA’s George Harris was among those trying to “thread that needle,” saying he couldn’t support the increase because he didn’t believe the agency had followed through on the reforms or mark-selective fisheries.

SPEAKING IN OPPOSITION TO THE FEE BILL DURING THE HOUSE HEARING ON MONDAY APRIL 22 WERE JASON ZITTEL OF ZITTEL’S MARINA NEAR OLYMPIA WHO SAID THE BURDEN OF FUNDING WDFW COULDN’T CONTINUE TO BE PUSHED ONTO LICENSE HOLDERS WHEN THE PROBLEMS ARE STATEWIDE … (TVW)

… AND CARL BURKE, REPRESENTING NMTA AND NSIA, WHO SAID THAT WHILE ANGLERS PROVIDE SIGNIFICANT FUNDING TO WDFW, “THAT DOESN’T SEEM TO MATTER.” (TVW)

Speaking in favor of full funding, however, was Ron Garner, statewide president of Puget Sound Anglers, member of the WDFW budget advisory group that did a deep dive into the agency’s finances and part of the governor’s orca task force.

“This is not enough money for the agency, and one of the problems is, if we do take this $30 million hit or don’t get the $30 million, what hatcheries are going to get cut next?” Garner said.

WDFW has identified five that could be and which together produce 2.6 million salmon, steelhead and trout.

He said where other state agencies had recovered from General Fund cuts due to the Great Recession, WDFW hadn’t.

“To keep them healthy and the outdoors healthy, we really need to fund it,” Garner said.

RON GARNER OF PUGET SOUND ANGLERS VOICED SUPPORT FOR A FULLY FUNDED WDFW DURING THE HEARING … (TVW)

… AND TOM ECHOLS OF THE HUNTERS HERITAGE COUNCIL SAID IT WAS THE FIRST TIME IN HIS SEVEN YEARS WITH THE UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION THAT IT WAS SUPPORTING A FEE BILL, SPECIFICALLY THE HUNTING SIDE, SAYING THEY BELIEVED IT WAS “TIME TO SUPPORT THE DEPARTMENT’S DIRECTION.” (TVW)

Both committees ultimately gave their versions do-pass recommendations after adopting several amendments, which overall mainly dealt with fallout from the Columbia vote.

The House bill now tells the citizen panel to work with Oregon’s to recover salmon and steelhead in the watershed and WDFW to “work to maximize hatchery production throughout the Columbia River, reduce less selective gear types in the mainstem of the Columbia River and improve the effectiveness of off-channel commercial fishing areas.”

“I support fully funding WDFW so that we can restore hatchery production and restore our fisheries,” said prime sponsor Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) this morning.

And in his natural resources committee earlier today, Chair Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) substantially altered the Senate fee bill, SB 5692, to address those Columbia issues.

An effect statement says his amendments:

  • Specifies Columbia River fishery reforms including improving the selectivity of recreational and commercial fisheries, prioritizing main stem recreational fisheries, and transitioning gill net fisheries to enhanced off-channel areas.
  • Restricts main stem gill net fisheries, effective July 1, 2019, to not exceed six days per year for salmon and steelhead below the Bonneville dam.
  • Directs the DFW to establish an observer program to monitor at least 10 % of the nontribal gill net salmon and steelhead catch on the Columbia River.
  • Directs the DFW to fund activities that maintain or enhance current recreational and fishing activities with fees from recreational fishing and hunting, and expires the requirement on July 1, 2025.
  • Authorizes the DFW to approve trial fisheries for the use of alternative gear for the mark-selective harvest of hatchery-reared salmon and to establish permit fees by rule for alternative gear fisheries.
  • Authorizes the use of pound nets to harvest salmon on the Columbia River and sets the license fee at $380 per year for a resident and $765 for a nonresident

Without getting too wonky and in the weeds, the differences between the House and Senate fee bills must be concurred on, passed by the legislature and signed by the governor before any hike goes into effect. It would be the first since 2011.

WDFW’s Crosier forecasted some “tough conversations in the coming five days” as lawmakers will have to come to an agreement on outstanding policy issues including the Columbia, hatcheries, predators and more, and how to fund her agency.

“I’m feeling optimistic,” she said. “I think this is the closest we’ve gotten. There’s motivation (by legislators) to get something passed, and fees will be a big part of it.”

And without getting too high up on my stump, the end package will also need to show hunters and anglers that there is a better future ahead from the negative malaise currently gripping the state’s sportsmen as more than a century and a half of habitat loss, hatchery production reductions, increasing ESA listings and fishery restrictions, social media, and, simply put, other legislative priorities have come home to roost, most obviously in the plight of starving southern resident killer whales that might also symbolize today’s opportunities.

Brown Sends Oregon Senate List Of 5 New Commission Nominees

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has submitted a slate of Fish and Wildlife Commission candidates to the state Senate for consideration next month.

The field includes a double Purple Heart recipient/Northeast Oregon hunting guide; Willamette Valley winery owner/former Department of Fish and Wildlife staffer; Siletz guide/crabber; chair of the ODFW legislative funding task force; and a Wild Rivers Coast Alliance board of directors member/South Coast rancher.

BRIG. GEN. JAMES LUKEMAN PRESENTS 1ST LT. JIM NASH OF THE 2ND TANK BATTALION WITH ONE OF TWO PURPLE HEART MEDALS HE RECEIVED ON MARCH 6, 2013 FOR WOUNDS SUSTAINED IN A MORTAR ATTACK AND FROM AN IED WHILE DEPLOYED IN AFGHANISTAN. (CPL. AUSTIN LONG, DVIDS)

Those nominees are Capt. James Nash, Jill Zarnowitz, Robert Spelbrink, Mark Labhart, and Mary Wahl.

Nash is a member of a longtime Wallowa County cattle ranching family and served as a Marine Corps tank commander in Afghanistan. He describes his life on the ranch and his duty overseas in a compelling July 2018 video produced by Oregon optics maker Leupold.

Zarnowitz has a master’s degree from the University of Washington in fish and wildlands management and worked on water policy for ODFW, and has been the general manager and now coowner of Stag Hollow Wines outside Yamhill.

Spelbrink guides on the Siletz River and has operated the F/V Alliance fishing commercially for crab as well as salmon and albacore.

Wahl also comes from a ranching family, but in the opposite corner of Oregon, near Langlois. With a masters in public administration from Harvard, she managed toxic cleanups for the state and watershed operations in Portland before retiring “to focus on conservation efforts on Oregon’s south coast,” according to her commission application.

And Labhart worked for the Oregon Department of Forestry, served on a board looking into sudden oak death syndrome issues, retired after several years as a Tillamook County Commissioner, and chaired the state legislature’s task force that looked for ways to better fund ODFW before moving to Sisters.

They are scheduled to be considered by the Senate Rules Committee on May 8.

At full strength, Oregon’s commission has seven members, one from each of the state’s five Congressional districts, a sixth from west of the Cascades, the seventh from east of the crest.

Currently there is one open seat while the terms of Chair Michael Finley of Medford and members Holly Akenson of Enterprise and Bruce Buckmaster of Astoria all expire in the coming two months.

The nomination of Buckmaster four springs ago sparked well-founded unease amongst the sportfishing industry, though he was ultimately confirmed by the Senate. His term isn’t being extended for a second four years, but Brown has nominated him to serve on the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board — where he had been the Fish and Wildlife Commission representative since last year — in an at-large seat, according to a member of the governor’s staff.

The terms of Jim Bittle of Central Point and Greg Wolley of Portland run into next year, while that of Bob Webber of Port Orford had been extended past the end of his second term in February 2018 until new commissioners are named, when his service will end, according to the official.

Editor’s note, 9 a.m. April 22, 2019: The last two paragraphs have been tweaked to clarify that Mr. Buckmaster’s appointment to the watershed board would essentially transition from being the representative of the Fish and Wildlife Commission to a public at-large position if confirmed, and that Mr. Webber’s extended term on the commission would end in mid-May after Senate confirmation of new members.

Washington Game Commissioners Hear About Northeast Predator, Prey Issues

With the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s monthly meeting being held in Spokane, members had a chance to hear about the region’s predator and prey issues from local residents this morning.

A 197-POUND NORTHEAST WASHINGTON COUGAR SNARLS AFTER BEING TREED FOR A PREDATOR-PREY RESEARCH STUDY. (WDFW)

And from too many cougars to not enough deer to wolf management, hunters, homeowners and ranchers gave WDFW’s citizen oversight panel an earful, and then some, during public input.

In testimony that was being live-streamed, some talked about how few deer they were seeing anymore where once they would routinely see hundreds.

One hunter who had been afield for 40 years and whose family has a longtime deer camp near Sherman Pass spoke of seeing only one mature mule deer buck and a handful of does last season.

He tearfully called for a six-year deer hunting moratorium across Eastern Washington so future generations would have opportunities to see the animals.

A Colville-area man proposed a pilot Sept. 1-March 31 lion season in WDFW’s District 1, the popular game management units of Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.

His idea called for a minimum harvest of 45, but if the take fell below that the hunt would be restricted as a sign of a declining population.

RESIDENTS EXPRESS CONCERNS ABOUT NORTHEAST WASHINGTON PREDATOR AND PREY POPULATIONS BEFORE THE FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION. (WDFW)

Another talked about fearing letting his kids play in the backyard, relating a story about a cougar having been as close as 3 feet from someone.

Some called for reinstating hound hunting, and another spotlighted one tribe’s predator and prey management, essentially saying that big game is their primary priority.


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A man with a CDL volunteered to help translocate wolves out of the region.

And a livestock producer told commissioners how ranchers were poo-pooed that one wolf pack had twice as many members as state managers thought, but were vindicated when a recent aerial survey showed just that.

He also indicated he was more comfortable speaking in Spokane than Olympia, where he said he felt like he might be shot in the back by audience members.

Speaking of Olympia, several predator and prey bills that could affect Northeast Washington have been active there.

SB 2097, directing WDFW to review the status of wolves in Washington, has been amended after pushback to kill the possibility of considering regional delisting;

SB 5525 deals with whitetail deer surveys and gives the agency a goal of increasing counts to eight to nine per mile;

And HB 1516 and SB 5320 would create a program for training dogs for nonlethal pursuit of predators by vetted houndsmen to protect stock and public safety.

Meanwhile, for this hunting season, WDFW is proposing to eliminate antlerless whitetail tags and permits for youth, senior, disabled, second deer, early and late archery and early muzzleloader seasons in GMUs 101 through 121 to try and increase the herd.

Back in Spokane, the commission’s public input period was scheduled to run from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m., but didn’t wrap up until 10:48 a.m. such was the number of people who wanted to speak.

“We heard you and we’ll start discussing this internally and see what we can do,” said Chairman Larry Carpenter in closing testimony.

At the end of today’s session, Carpenter touched on predators again, as did another commissioner.

“We’re not headed on the right compass course,” said Jay Holzmiller of Anatone, who said it was a bad idea “to keep walking down the road fat, dumb and happy.”

“We’re sitting on a powder keg,” he said.

Elk Hoof Disease Confirmed In Washington’s Southeast Corner

Hoof disease in elk has turned up in Washington’s Blues, echoing confirmed cases on the Oregon side of the range and coming after Idaho earlier this month said an infected wapiti was harvested last fall across the Snake River from the mountains.

AN ELK’S HOOF AFFECTED BY THE CONDITION. (WDFW)

WDFW’s Kyle Garrison says hooves submitted by a muzzleloader hunter who killed the animal southeast of Walla Walla in mid-January came back late last week from a Washington State University lab as positive for treponeme-associated hoof disease.

The cow elk was taken on a permit in the Pikes Peak area of Game Management Unit 154.

Garrison says the initial belief is that there may not be more affected elk there, based on the high public visibility of the herd, but his agency plans to ramp up monitoring, including spending more time looking for limpers during upcoming aerial surveys.

The news was first reported by the Walla Walla Union Bulletin last night.

The disease makes it more difficult for elk to get around and there is no treatment for it, according to WDFW.


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Last year, after hoof disease was found in elk east of Washington’s Cascade Crest for the first time, the agency began euthanizing members of a Trout Lake herd, removing 12 through the end of 2018 through a combination of state staff and landowner efforts and special damage hunt permits.

Garrison says that he has two more sets of hooves from elk taken by master hunters to submit to WSU for testing.

“We’re still actively monitoring and actively removing limpers when we can” in the Trout Lake valley, he says.

Further west WDFW is conducting a four-year study of survival rates of infected cow elk, as well as the disease’s affects on fecundity and herd movement. Some 76 animals are part of the study.

To try and stop or slow the spread of hoof disease, WDFW is also proposing expanding the area where hooves must be left in the field to all of Western Washington.

That follows on recent confirmed cases just south of Olympic National Park and past years’ requirements that initially applied to just several units in the Cowlitz River basin, then all of Southwest Washington and units stretching up the I-5 corridor to Canada.

Public comment will be taken on the proposal at the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting this Friday in Spokane.

Garrison also encouraged members of the public to share their sightings of limping elk, both recent ones and any they may have seen in the past.

With this latest confirmation, hoof disease isn’t just on the radar in Eastern Washington, but a growing threat there.

Hunt Rule Changes Up For Comment At WA FWC Meeting March 1-2 In Spokane

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The public will have an opportunity to provide input on new hunting seasons proposed through 2021 for deer, elk, waterfowl, and other game species at an upcoming meeting of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in Spokane.

A PAIR OF HUNTING RULE CHANGES UP FOR PUBLIC COMMENT WOULD AFFECT WESTERN WASHINGTON ELK HUNTERS AND ARCHERS ACROSS THE STATE. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

Other issues on the agenda include an update on the Columbia River Policy Review, proposed land acquisitions, and other topics.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, will meet March 1-2 in the Inland Empire Room of the Ramada by Wyndham Spokane Airport, 8909 W. Airport Dr., Spokane. The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. both days.

A full agenda is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.

On Friday, the commission will hear a briefing and take public comments on recommended adjustments to the hunting season that include:


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  • Eliminating antlerless white-tailed deer hunts in game management units 101-121 in northeastern Washington to help conserve that area’s deer population.
  • Changing state archery rules to remove the minimum arrow weight restrictions.
  • Extending a rule requiring hunters to remove and leave behind the hooves of any elk harvested to all western Washington game management units. The requirement, aimed at reducing the spread of elk hoof disease, is currently in effect in 45 of the 61 game management units in western Washington.
  • Removing hunter orange requirements for turkey hunters except during general modern firearm deer and elk seasons.

In other business, the commission will receive a briefing and potentially give guidance on 2019 policies and regulations for Columbia Rivers salmon fisheries. The Joint Washington and Oregon Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy Review Committee is working to find common ground on ways to achieve policy goals adopted in 2013 for jointly managed fisheries.

Prior to the start of the regular commission meeting, two committee meetings will be held on Thursday. The newly formed Wolf Advisory Committee, made up of commissioners Kim Thorburn, Jay Holzmiller, and Barbara Baker, will meet at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28 in the Executive Conference Room at the Spokane International Airport. The Wildlife Committee, made up of the same commissioners, meets at 3 p.m., in the same location. These meetings are open to the public to observe.

‘Next Steps’ In Columbia Salmon Reforms Subject Of ODFW-WDFW Commissioners Meeting; Open To Public

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM THE WASHINGTON AND OREGON DEPARTMENTS OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

WDFW

The public is invited to attend a meeting scheduled this month by members of the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions to discuss next steps in reforming salmon management on the Columbia River.

GUIDE BOB REES NETS A FALL CHINOOK AT THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA. THE “NEXT STEPS” IN SALMON REFORMS ON THE BIG RIVER WILL BE DISCUSSED BY FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONERS FROM BOTH STATES IN SALEM. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The meeting is set for Jan. 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Room, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. S.E. in Salem, Ore. The public is welcome to observe the discussion, but will not have an opportunity to comment during the meeting.

The Joint-State Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy Review Committee, which includes three members of each state’s commission, was formed to renew efforts to achieve management goals for Columbia River fisheries endorsed by both states in 2013.

The three delegates to the workgroup from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission are commissioners David Graybill from Chelan County, Bob Kehoe from King County, and Don McIsaac from Clark County. The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

WDFW recently finalized its five-year performance review of the 2013 fishery reform policy, which called for reforms ranging from requirements that anglers use barbless hooks to a phase-out of commercial gillnets in the main channel of the Columbia River. While the performance review noted progress on some issues, expectations have not been met in a variety of other key areas, said Ryan Lothrop, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator.

“This new effort is designed to find common ground on strategies for improving fishery management in the Columbia River,” Lothrop said. “Having different policies in joint waters of the Columbia River makes it very difficult to manage and implement fisheries.”

Washington’s Comprehensive Evaluation of the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02029/.

Lothrop, who will staff Washington’s commissioners, said the workgroup’s first task will be to establish a schedule for future meetings. The panel will then discuss issues addressed in the policy review, focusing initially on strategies that could to be incorporated into fishing regulations for the 2019 season.

To take effect, any new proposals endorsed by the workgroup would require approval by the full fish and wildlife commissions in each state, Lothrop said.

“The group doesn’t have a lot of time to discuss changes for 2019,” Lothrop said. “The season-setting process for this year’s salmon fisheries gets underway in mid-March, so that’s the focus for the near term.”

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ODFW

A joint workgroup of commissioners from the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissions will meet to discuss policies affecting Columbia River salmon fisheries. The workgroup includes three members from each state’s commission.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Commission room at the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE, Salem. The meeting is open to attendance by the public, but no public testimony will be taken.

The workgroup meeting follows a November 2018 joint meeting of the two full Commissions to discuss differences between the current policies of each state. The workgroup’s first task will be to establish a schedule and process for future meetings. The workgroup will then begin discussion of issues, initially focusing on finding common ground for 2019 fishing seasons.

The workgroup meetings are not decision-making meetings. The workgroups will report back to their full Commissions, who will ultimately consider any changes to their respective policies.