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.
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.
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;
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.