Tag Archives: hunting

Sign Up For Washington Hunter Ed

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reminds prospective hunters to complete their hunter education class before hunting season.

“It’s a great time to enroll in hunter education to ensure you can participate in fall hunting seasons,” said David Whipple, WDFW hunter education division manager.

LONGTIME HUNTER EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR RANDALL ABSOLON WALKS A PROSPECTIVE SPORTSMAN THROUGH FIRING A BOLT-ACTION RIFLE. (WDFW)

WDFW offers both traditional and online options to complete the hunter education requirement.

“The traditional classroom experience includes direct instruction from certified volunteer instructors, which can be important for younger students,” Whipple said. “The online course offers the same content, but on the student’s schedule. If you take the online course, you must still complete an in-person field skills evaluation.”

All hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 must complete a hunter education course to buy a hunting license. To find a course and learn about hunter education requirements, new hunters should visit the WDFW hunter education webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/requirements/education/basic.

HUNTER ED STUDENTS LISTEN TO AN INSTRUCTOR. ALL PROSPECTIVE HUNTERS BORN AFTER JAN. 1, 1972 MUST TAKE THE COURSE BEFORE GETTING THEIR LICENSE, THOUGH ONE-YEAR DEFERRALS ARE AVAILABLE IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES. (WDFW)

Those who are unable to complete a hunter education course before the fall hunting seasons may qualify for a hunter education deferral. For more information on the deferral, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/requirements/education/deferral-program.

 

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Oregon Deer/Elk Pee Hunting Scent Ban Starts In 2020

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

The 2019 Oregon State Legislature has passed a bill that bans the possession and use of deer and elk urine scent lures that contain or are derived from any cervid urine beginning Jan. 1, 2020. HB 2294 was sponsored by Rep. Witt (D-Clatskanie) and Rep. Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) and is meant to reduce the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) to the state’s deer, elk and moose populations.

TO REDUCE THE RISK OF DEER CONTRACTING CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE, THE OREGON LEGISLATURE BANNED URINE SCENT LURES THAT SOME HUNTERS USE TO TRY AND ATTRACT BUCKS DURING THE RUT. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

These urine scent lures are used by some hunters. The typical scent lure mimics a female during breeding season and can attract a bull or buck to a hunter’s position.

Oregon’s ban is in keeping with a recommendation from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), urging states to ban cervid based urine products to limit the spread of CWD. These products are also banned in several other states including Alaska and Louisiana.

Hunters or businesses who have these products should safely dispose of them by bringing them to an ODFW district office. ODFW staff will arrange for any scents collected to be incinerated in an 1800 degree oven, a temperature known to kill the prion that causes CWD.

“It’s important that these products are not poured down a drain or on the ground when they are discarded,” said Colin Gillin, ODFW wildlife veterinarian. “We want to limit the prion that causes the disease from being deposited on the landscape.”

About Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

CWD has never been detected in Oregon’s wildlife but has been found in free-ranging deer and elk in 26 other states including several western states. The disease is caused by a protein called a prion that damages the brain of infected animals, causing progressive neurological disease and loss of body condition. CWD is untreatable and always fatal.

The prions can spread through the animal’s body fluids (including urine, feces and saliva) and through nose-to-nose contact between infected animals. Prions shed through bodily fluids can bind to soil minerals and remain infectious for long periods in the environment, spreading to new animals for years as deer and elk come into contact with infected soil and possibly plants containing the prions.

Urine sold commercially as a scent lure is collected from captive cervid facilities. Nationally, CWD continues to be found in captive cervid facilities and animals from these facilities are considered to be at higher risk for CWD for several reasons: Captive cervids are often moved extensively among facilities between and within states including states that have CWD; they are artificially concentrated behind fences which can more easily spread prions; the testing of captive animals may be limited; some high fence shooter buck herds are not tested at all; and equipment that may be contaminated with the prion when shared between herds and farms provides a risk factor for moving CWD without moving animals.

ODFW has been monitoring the state’s deer and elk for CWD for years by testing harvested animals at checkpoints during hunting seasons and roadkill carcasses, but has never detected CWD within Oregon. The few captive deer and elk facilities in Oregon also test for CWD and have never detected it. The state has also banned the import of any deer, elk, caribou or moose part containing central nervous system tissue where the prions exist (such as whole heads or spinal columns) into Oregon.

For more information about CWD, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/health_program/chronic_wasting/

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24 Free Youth Pheasant Hunts Coming Up In Oregon; Sign-ups Open

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

Youth hunters (age 17 and under) can sign up now for ODFW’s free pheasant hunts happening around the state in September.

MEAGAN JANSEN OF TIGARD WITH A PHEASANT SHE BAGGED AT AN E.E. WILSON WILDLIFE AREA YOUTH PHEASANT HUNT PUT ON BY ODFW. (ODFW)

The events are being held in Central Point, Corvallis, Eugene, Irrigon/Umatilla, John Day, Klamath Falls, La Grande, Madras, Ontario, Portland/Sauvie Island and The Dalles (Tygh Valley). New this year, ODFW has also added a youth pheasant hunt at the new Coquille Valley Wildlife Area in Coquille.

See dates below and register online (see Register for a Class/Youth Upland Hunts) or at an ODFW office that sells licenses. (Registration is not available at license sale agents.) The youth hunter or their parent will need to be logged in to the youth’s account to register online. The deadline to register is the Thursday before the hunt.

ODFW and partners stock pheasants at these special hunts that give youth a head start on regular pheasant seasons, which don’t begin until October. Quail and dove also can be hunted. Volunteers often bring their trained hunting dogs to some events and hunt with participants. Some events begin with a shotgun skills clinic, so participants can practice clay target shooting before hunting.

These events are open only to youth who have passed hunter education. (ODFW has hunter education classes and field days available before the events.) An adult 21 years of age or older must accompany the youth to supervise but may not hunt.

“Youth pheasant hunts are a great chance for young hunters to find early success and put the lessons learned in hunter education classes to work in the field,” says Brandon Harper, ODFW hunter education coordinator.

ODFW stresses safety during the hunts. Both hunter and supervisor must wear a hunter orange hat, eye protection and a hunter orange vest—equipment provided at the clinics by ODFW to anyone who doesn’t have it. Hunters also need to check in and out of the hunt.

RINGNECK PHEASANTS ARE STOCKED BY ODFW AND OTHERS TO ENSURE THE KIDDOS HAVE A CHANCE AT BAGGING A BIRD DURING THE FREE EVENTS. (ODFW)

The hunts are free, though participants need a valid hunting license ($10 for youth 12 and older, free for age 11 and under) to hunt. Youth hunters age 12-17 also need an upland game bird validation ($4). Purchase online  or at a license sales agent or ODFW office that sells licenses. Licenses and validations will not be sold at the events.

While most areas have a hunt both Saturday and Sunday, youth hunters may sign up for only one hunt. They are welcome to hunt stand by on the other day.

See page 26-27 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations for more information, or see myodfw.com/workshops-and-events for the local contact for each hunt. For help signing up, contact Myrna Britton, (503) 947-6028, Myrna.B.Britton@state.or.us

·       Central Point, Denman Wildlife Area, Sept. 14 and Sept. 15.

·       Coquille, Coquille Valley Wildlife Area, Sept. 7 and Sept. 8.

·        Corvallis (near Camp Adair), EE Wilson Wildlife Area, Sept. 21 and Sept. 22.

·        Eugene, Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, Sept. 7 and Sept. 8. Registration not necessary but appreciated.

·        Irrigon Wildlife Area (between Irrigon and Umatilla), Sept. 21 and Sept. 22. Sign up for morning or evening hunt (morning only on Sunday).

·        Klamath Falls, Klamath Wildlife Area, Sept. 14 and Sept. 15. Additional hunt on Oct. 19 when Miller Island Unit open to youth hunters only on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning at 10 a.m. Call 541-883-5732 from more information.

·        John Day Valley, Sept. 14 and Sept. 15.

·        La Grande, Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, Sept. 14 and Sept. 15. Registration not necessary but appreciated.

·        Madras, private lands, Sept. 14 and Sept. 15.

·        Ontario, Oct. 12 and Oct. 13

·        Portland, Sauvie Island Wildlife Area, Sept. 14 and Sept. 15.

·        Tygh Valley/The Dalles, White River Wildlife Area, Sept. 14 and Sept. 15.

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$1,000 On Offer For North Sound Island Land Owners To Allow Hunting

Washington wildlife managers are offering landowners in San Juan and Island Counties up to $1,000 to allow hunters onto their property this fall, part of a bid to also reduce North Sound islands’ large blacktail population and help out other native flora and fauna.

HUNTERS WITHOUT LAND, RELATIVES OR INS WITH LOCAL PROPERTIES OWNERS HAVE A HARD TIME FINDING ACCESS TO HUNT BLACKTAIL DEER IN SAN JUAN AND ISLAND COUNTIES, BUT A WDFW OFFER OF UP TO $1,000 FOR LANDOWNERS WITH 5 ACRES OR MORE AIMS TO MAKE MORE AVAILABLE. JD LUNDQUIST TOOK THIS BUCK ON THE FAMILY HOMESTEAD ON ORCAS ISLAND A COUPLE SEASONS BACK. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

With no predators outside of the occasional one that swims over, little public land and few local hunters, “deer are overbrowsing native vegetation, which means less habitat for other species,” according to district wildlife biologist Ruth Milner.

Of particular concern is the Island marble butterfly, once believed to be extinct but which depend on mustard flowers for key parts of its lifecycle. According to WDFW, deer also like to munch on the plant when other browse is unavailable.

A WDFW-PROVIDED IMAGE SHOWS AN ISLAND MARBLE BUTTERFLY ON A YELLOW MUSTARD PLANT, WHICH THE INSECT LAYS ITS EGGS ON AND THE LARVAE FEED ON AFTER HATCHING. (WDFW)

So the state agency is calling on people with at least 5 acres to get in touch with state private lands access manager Rob Wingard (360-466-4345, ext. 240; Robert.Wingard@dfw.wa.gov) to learn if their land might qualify.

The offer includes Whidbey, Camano, Orcas, San Juan, Lopez, Shaw, Blakely and the rest of the islands in the two counties.

A BLACKTAIL DOE STOPS BY THE WALGAMOTT-ECKSTEIN CAMP AT SPRAWLING MORAN STATE PARK ON ORCAS ISLAND, THE SINGLE LARGEST LANDHOLDING IN THE ARCHIPELAGO WHERE DEER ARE ALSO SMALLER THAN THEIR MAINLAND COUSINS . (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Unless you own land or have an in with someone who does, there are only very scattered parcels of public or semi-public land to hunt here.

Unfortunately, when nearly 1,800 acres on Orcas Island’s Turtleback Mountain were acquired more than 10 years ago, organizations involved in the purchase decided to bar hunting there.

Funds for WDFW’s offer come from the U.S. Farm Bill and are unfortunately only available for this fall’s season.

A HIKER LOOKS OVER A BALD, PART OF A PRESERVE IN THE SAN JUANS THAT ALLOWS HUNTING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The agency says that owners can specify the number of hunters who can access their property, as well as when and where, but wouldn’t be able to pick and choose who could or couldn’t come on.

They would be protected from liability and be able to coordinate with the agency to get the best fit between their land and hunters.

“It is a win-win-win for the islands,” said Wingard in a press release. “If a property meets the criteria for a safe and productive hunt, we can work together with landowners to help native species, reduce islanders’ problems with deer and traffic hazards, and provide a unique experience for hunters seeking new places to find plentiful deer.”

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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 Leftover Tag Sales Delayed Till Aug. 1; Will Be Online Only

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

The sale of about 200 leftover controlled big game hunt tags will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 1.

AMONG THE 217 LEFTOVER TAGS THAT WILL BECOME AVAILABLE AUG. 1 ON A FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVE BASIS ARE THREE FOR ANTLERLESS ELK ON THE ZUMWALT PRAIRIE OF NORTHEAST OREGON IN MID-DECEMBER. MELISSA LITTLE BAGGED THIS COW THERE DURING A SLIGHTLY LATER HUNT SEVERAL YEARS AGO. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

The process for these tags is changing this year due to ODFW’s new electronic licensing system, with leftover tags being sold exclusively online, rather than at license sale agents/vendors.

ODFW is delaying the date of the sale (from July 1 to Aug. 1 at 10 a.m.) to allow more time for staff to complete User Acceptance Testing of the new process before the sale takes place.

The delay also provides additional time for hunters who want to try for a leftover tag to get ready for the new process. Hunters will need to have an active and verified MyODFW online licensing account, including a username and password, to purchase a leftover tag this year. (If you don’t have an online account yet, visit MyODFW.com and click “Buy a License” and then follow the steps to verify your account.)

See below for tips on purchasing a leftover tag, and the MyODFW.com website for a step-by-step guide.

·        Check the list of tags available first. Note some of the hunts are on private land, and permission from the landowner is required to hunt with the tag. See the 2019 Big Game Regulations for more information about each hunt.

·        Be logged in by 10 a.m. on Aug. 1. Leftover tags sell out in minutes and in the past, hunters needed to be first or second in line at a vendor at 10 a.m. for a reasonable chance of purchasing one. ODFW anticipates leftover tags will sell out quickly online, too.

·        Get a 2019 annual hunting license before Aug. 1. Hunters need to have an annual hunting license to be eligible to buy a leftover tag.

·        Youth must purchase leftover tags from their own account. Parents can create an online account for their children and the purchase must be completed from the child’s account.  

Leftover tags provide an additional hunting opportunity for hunters, as they can be purchased in addition to a regular controlled or general season big game tag.

ODFW To Hold 20 Meetings Around Oregon On 2020 Hunt Reg Proposals

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

Join ODFW district staff at one of 20 meetings happening around the state in July.

A BLACK-TAILED BUCK IN WESTERN OREGON. (KEITH KOHL)

The meetings will focus on big game regulations and are a great chance to come and hear about changes proposed for the 2020 seasons, comment on those changes and ask questions of district wildlife biologists.

As part of a multi-year process to review, simplify and improve the Big Game Hunting Regulations, ODFW is proposing some major changes for 2020, including changing the Western Oregon centerfire bag limit to a buck with a visible antler and offering a new general season antlerless elk damage tag. Get more details on these proposals at the meetings or look for an online summary next week.

Public comment about the proposals and other issues related to big game regulations will be taken at these meetings, or email comments to odfw.commission@state.or.us. Final 2019 Big Game Hunting Regulations will be adopted at the Sept. 13 Commission meeting in Gold Beach.

2019 Big Game Public Meeting Schedule

City

Date

Time

Location

 

Burns July 2 7:00 pm Harney County Community Center

484 N Broadway, Burns OR

Pendleton July 2 4:00-7:00 pm Pendleton Convention Center

1601 Westgate, Pendleton OR

Lakeview July 8 8:00 am – 5:00 pm ODFW Lakeview

18560 Roberta Rd., Lakeview OR

Newport July 8 6:00 pm ODFW Newport

2040 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport OR

Clackamas July 9 5:00-8:00 pm ODFW Clackamas District Office, Large Conference Rm

17330 SE Evelyn St., Bldg. 16

Clackamas OR

Charleston July 9 6:00 – 8:00 pm OIMB Boathouse

63466 Boat Basin Rd., Charleston OR

Gold Beach July 9 6:00 pm Gold Beach Library

94341 3rd St., Gold Beach OR

John Day July 9 5:30 – 7:00 pm Grant County Extension Service Office

116 NW Bridge St. Ste. 1

John Day OR

Redmond July 9 6:00 – 8:00 pm Redmond High School

675 SW Rimrock Way, Redmond OR

Roseburg July 9 6:00 – 7:30 pm Backside Brewing

1640 NE Odell Ave., Roseburg OR

Heppner July 10 6:00 – 9:00 pm ODFW Heppner

54173 Hwy 74, Heppner OR

Springfield July 10 7:00 – 8:00 pm Gateway Sizzler

1010 Postal Way, Springfield OR

Albany July 11 7:00 – 8:30 pm Old Armory Building

104 4th Ave SW, Albany OR

Central Point July 11 7:00 pm ODFW Central Point

1495 East Gregory Rd., Central Point OR

Klamath Falls July 11 6:00 pm Shasta Grange Hall

5831 Shasta Way, Klamath Falls OR

La Grande July 12 6:00 – 9:00 pm La Grande City Library, Community Rm

2006 Fourth St., La Grande OR

Grants Pass July 18 7:00 pm Elmer’s Restaurant

175 NE Agness Ave., Grants Pass OR

Ontario July 18 7:00 pm (MDT) OSU Extension

710 SW 5th Ave., Ontario OR

Seaside July 18 4:00 – 7:00 pm Seaside Convention Center

415 First St., Seaside  OR

The Dalles July 18 6:00 pm The Dalles Screen Shop

3561 Klindt Dr. , The Dalles OR

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

IDFG Working On Access To 867K Acres Of Private Timber In Panhandle, Clearwater

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

A new partnership between Idaho Fish and Game and PotlatchDeltic will provide and preserve public access for hunting, fishing and trapping on 567,002 acres of private land in Benewah, Clearwater, Idaho, Latah and Shoshone counties through a lease agreement.

IDAHO HUNTING MANAGERS ARE CLOSE TO SECURING MORE THAN 1,300 SQUARE MILES OF ACCESS TO PRIVATE TIMBERLANDS IN NORTHERN IDAHO. TRASK APPLEGATE BAGGED THIS GREAT DWORSHAK RESERVOIR-AREA BUCK IN THE 2014 SEASON. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

A second agreement expected to be finalized by early June is with a group of forestland owners and managers, including Stimson Lumber Co., Hancock Forest Management and Molpus Woodlands Group, to allow public access to more than 300,000 acres in Bonner, Boundary, Benewah, Shoshone and Kootenai counties.

Fish and Game will pay $1 per acre annually for the access, which includes hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing, hiking and recreational travel limited to motor vehicle travel on roads open to full-sized vehicles. Restrictions on camping and ATV use may apply depending on the landowner’s rules.

“These agreements demonstrate Fish and Game’s continued commitment to putting money from the access/depredation fee to good use and provide hunters, anglers and trappers with access to private lands while compensating landowners for their support of those activities,” said Sal Palazzolo, F&G’s Private Lands/ Farm Bill Program Coordinator.

“PotlatchDeltic is pleased to partner with Idaho Fish and Game on this public access agreement. As the largest private timberland owner in Idaho, we recognize the importance of public access for recreational activities and the benefits for sportspersons and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Darin Ball, Vice President Resource, PotlatchDeltic.

The agreements came through Fish and Game’s new “large tracts” land lease program that targets multi-year access to parcels 50,000 acres or larger.

Lease agreements with all the companies will automatically renew for at least three years. Money for the leases comes from House Bill 230, which in 2017 established Fish and Game’s access/depredation fee that requires a $5 surcharge for residents and a $10 surcharge for nonresidents when they buy their first annual license of the year.

The access/depredation fund also pays for continued public access to 2.3 million acres of Idaho Department of Lands state endowment lands for hunting, fish, trapping and other recreation, which includes about $300,000 annually to the Department of Lands and Fish and Game providing law-enforcement services on endowment lands.

Fish and Game’s sportsman’s access programs also includes Access Yes!, which pays landowners to allow the public on, or through, their lands, and parcels accepted into that program go through an annual competitive bid process.

WDFW Shortfall Grows; Leaders Take Questions During Livestream

Washington fish and wildlife managers are now projecting they will have a $20 million budget shortfall over the coming two years — and it could more than double in the following two.

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind broke the news earlier this week during a 2.5-hour-long livestreamed virtual open house.

WDFW HONCHOS LINE A TABLE DURING MONDAY NIGHT’S LIVE-STREAMED DIGITAL OPEN HOUSE. (WDFW)

“We ended up with less than we needed to get through the biennium, which means we’re not going to be able to provide the services we had hoped to,” he said about the recently concluded legislative session.

Lawmakers did give WDFW a one-time $24 million General Fund bump to fill a preexisting $31 million hole instead of raising fishing and hunting license fees and extending the Columbia River salmon and steelhead endorsement.

But Susewind said that the shortfall also grew from that new initial $7 million difference to $20 million after legislators also “passed a lot of provisions that further increased our costs. Those increased costs came without additional revenue.”

WDFW DIRECTOR KELLY SUSEWIND. (WDFW)

This afternoon his budget and policy director Nate Pamplin said the $13 million ballooning was due to increased salaries for staffers and “other central service costs” that weren’t matched with new revenues; lower than expected disbursements from both the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts; and one-time hits from things like the Skagit catch-and-release wild steelhead fishery and Fish Washington app that would have been funded through the fee bill but now must be another way or get cut.

“We’re still reviewing what has been identified as at risk and trying to balance the budget,” Pamplin said.

Back on Monday’s live stream, Susewind acknowledged that legislators had “front loaded” the agency’s General Fund contribution towards the first year of the two-year budget “to come as close as we can to staying whole” in anticipation of working on it again when state senators and representatives return to Olympia next January .

But he also projected that the shortfall could grow to $46 million during the 2021-23 biennium if nothing’s done.

SUSEWIND HAS BEEN MAKING MORE USE of new ways to talk to WDFW’s constituents than past directors, and in this latest virtual town meeting he brought in a bevy of department heads and managers to talk about their programs and expertises.

But it also included about an hour’s worth of questions sent in by the public as they watched, and as you can imagine many inquiries dealt with the hot-button topics of the day — wolves, North of Falcon, Columbia fisheries.

One of the first questions was from a gentleman by the name of Bill who felt that over the past three years there’s been a lot of lost fishing opportunity and he wanted to know how WDFW was supporting sport anglers.

“We’re trying to maximize the opportunities within the constraints we have,” Susewind stated.

Those restrictions include all the Endangered Species Act listings on fish stocks that often swim alongside healthier ones, fisheries that require extensive and not-cheap monitoring for the state to receive federal permits to hold them.

DRIFT BOAT ANGLERS MAKE THEIR WAY DOWN THE SAUK RIVER DURING APRIL 2018’S 12-DAY FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Susewind said the agency was looking at ways to increase hatchery production, and he pointed to spill down the Columbia system to aid outmigrating smolts as well as habitat work to increase wild returns which would mean higher allowable impact rates on listed stocks

“This is an area I want to be direct with folks,” Susewind said. “I know there’s a ton of frustration around lack of opportunity at the same time we asked for an increase. I’d just ask folks to think through the situation. In these times of incredible constraints, declining runs, it costs more to actually provide the opportunity. The declining opportunity, the effort it takes to provide what opportunity is available is more.

“You all can make your own choice whether it’s a good investment if fees are worth it or not, but those fees are what are going to allow us to continue to manage, to allow us to hopefully turn around this run return and allow us to provide more opportunities,” he said, adding, “That’s what we’re trying to do. Time will tell if we’re successful.”

Asked whether WDFW was considering any early retirements to reduce the budget hole, Susewind said he couldn’t do that without a change in state law, but that staff cuts and not filling vacancies were being looked at.

A woman named Carol asked about a “conservation license,” and Susewind expressed some interest in it as a funding source though also for more durable, across the board funding. Pamplin added that the Reclaiming America’s Wildlife Act now in Congress was a “potential game changer … for us to invest in areas that need support.”

WDFW’s twin mandate tears it between providing harvest opportunities which raise money to pour back into providing more while also having to protect imperiled species that suck money the other way.

TWO WOLVES ROAM ACROSS A SNOWY EASTERN WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE. (UW)

THIS AND RECENT YEARS HAVE SEEN A LOT OF ANGER about the results from North of Falcon salmon-season-setting negotiations and the pruning of opportunities in inland saltwaters, and during the livestream, a question from Chad asked why there couldn’t be open meetings between WDFW and all Western Washington tribes.

Susewind, who just emerged from his first iteration of the annual set-to, called the idea unwieldy and said that the agency had a responsibility to represent its stakeholders during the talks but that that didn’t allow for them to behind those closed doors.

Salmon policy lead Kyle Adicks was more blunt.

“The tribes are sovereign governments. They don’t have to meet with us if they don’t want to. They don’t have to meet with members of our public if they don’t want to,” he said. “Ultimately it’s the tribes’ decision: If they want to have a government-to-government meeting, then that’s what we have.”

RON GARNER, PUGET SOUND ANGLERS PRESIDENT, SPEAKS AT AN ANGLERS RALLY IN LACEY, WASH., IN MAY 2016 AS STATE-TRIBAL NORTH OF FALCON NEGOTIATIONS WERE AT AN IMPASSE AFFECTING THE STATE OF THAT YEAR’S SEASONS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW piggybacks on the tribes’ federal nexus to get sport salmon seasons approved faster than they otherwise might be.

While Adicks also pointed back to a January 2017 Fish and Wildlife Commission briefing on the Open Public Meetings and Administrative Procedures Acts, in recent days a long-threatened legal challenge has been filed that contends that how WDFW sets salmon seasons with the tribes violates those two state laws.

Filed by Twin Harbors Fish and Wildlife Advocacy of McCleary, the petition asks a Thurston County Superior Court judge to throw out the state’s adopted 2019-20 salmon seasons.

WDFW had no comment when I asked about the matter earlier this week — “As you probably know, we don’t comment on ongoing litigation” — but did pass along their efforts to increase transparency:

WDFW values and works hard to provide transparency in the development of fishing seasons. The development of fishing seasons also includes work with tribal co-managers, and those meetings involve highly sensitive government-to-government negotiations with 20 individual treaty tribes during the North of Falcon process.

In 2019, the department held more than a dozen public meetings to discuss potential salmon seasons in various locations around the state. Three of the meetings were live-streamed on WDFW’s website and made available for the public to watch later. WDFW also provided the public with the option to submit comments electronically through the department’s website. During the closing portion of North of Falcon negotiations, which took place during the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in California, the department had daily conference calls with advisors and constituents to discuss the latest developments.

ANOTHER QUESTION FOCUSED ON WHY the Fish and Wildlife Commission had allowed gillnets back into the Columbia this year, gear that had been schedule to be phased out by 2017 under fishery reforms.

Susewind called that policy an adaptive one that aimed to keep commercial fisheries viable on the big river too but that replacement gear hasn’t been figured out, so the citizen panel decided to extend gillnetting “while we figure out how to implement the rest of the policy.”

With spring Chinook now coming in far below forecast and summer Chinook not even opening, gillnetting this year will be limited to a handful of days targeting fall Chinook near Vancouver at the end of summer.

A GUIDE BOAT RUNS UP THE LOWER COLUMBIA DURING 2014’S BUOY 10 FALL SALMON FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Dozens more questions were asked and they covered the gamut:

* What WDFW was doing to increase branch-antler bull elk opportunities;

* How much  it costs to investigate wolf depredations;

* Whether WDFW plans to dispute the status of perennially fishery constraining mid-Hood Canal Chinook as a distinct stock (they’re essentially locally adapted Green/Duwamish strays released into the Skokomish);

* Reducing commercial bycatch;

* If WDFW was considering opening a spring bear general season;

  • What the agency was doing to increase access to salmon and steelhead, boosting mule deer and elk populations, and upping steelhead production;

* If WDFW can fine people who create repeat predator issues;

  • If Westside- and Eastside-only deer tags were possible;

* Instead of bag limits, if tags for salmon were possible;

* The latest on Southwest Washington hoof rot.

* And why weren’t WDFW staffers required to be hunters and anglers.

To see WDFW’s responses, skip to about the 1:23:00-mark of the digital open house.

A SOUTHEAST WASHINGTON MULE DEER BUCK PUTS DISTANCE BETWEEN ITSELF AND PHOTOGRAPHER-HUNTER CHAD ZOLLER. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

“I hope we have your continued support as we try to turn this around and provide more opportunity in this state for hunting and fishing,” Susewind said in wrapping it up.

As he stated earlier, time will tell if WDFW is successful.