Washington Fish And Wildlife Commission Set To Meet March 14-16

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet in Olympia March 14-16 for committee meetings, to discuss proposed land transaction(s), wildlife area planning, and species status reviews; to hold open public input opportunities, and to consider four public petitions about a variety of fish and wildlife topics. The meeting will be held at the Natural Resources Building and will also be live streamed online.


The meeting begins Thurs., March 14 with committee meetings. The Big Tent Committee will discuss Washington’s results from the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Associated Wildlife Recreation and the Commission’s Best Available Science policy, and hear an update on the Commission’s draft Conservation Policy. The Habitat Committee is scheduled to hear an update from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff about the Growth Management Act and discuss how WDFW works with local governments in land use conservation and policy. The Fish Committee will discuss shellfish monitoring and management, crab fishery policy, and shrimp fishery policy in Puget Sound. Finally, the Wildlife Committee will hear a WDFW presentation about the Department’s cougar management framework, followed by a discussion.

Friday’s agenda begins with an open public input opportunity followed by the WDFW director’s report. Later in the morning, the Commission will hear from WDFW about a proposed acquisition of 90 acres at the Violet Prairie Unit of the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Thurston County. This acquisition represents the third and final phase of a larger acquisition effort; The Conservation Fund purchased the property in 2021, allowing WDFW to do a phased acquisition as funds became available. The Violet Prairie Unit supports conservation of important habitat for several federally listed species and is not currently open for public access, but potential future recreation opportunities include hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing. Staff will also brief the Commission on a new 10-year management plan for the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area.

On Friday afternoon, the Commission will hear briefings and make decisions on four public petitions. First, the Commission will decide whether to change regulations that will ban the use of bait in all rivers and tributaries in the Puget Sound and delay the opening of fishing season until mid-June in Puget Sound rivers. The second petition asks the Commission to change the limit for yellow perch on Fish Lake from 25 to unlimited. Third, the Commission will consider a petition to expand Wildlife Control Operator’s (WCO)’s authority to operate and respond to wildlife conflicts involving ungulates and carnivores. Finally, the Commission will decide whether to begin rule making to create Eastside and Westside deer tags.

After voting on the petitions, the Commission will hear a briefing and accept public comment about the Department’s recent killer whale periodic status review, followed by a decision by the Commission on WDFW’s recommendation to maintain killer whale as a Washington endangered species. Then, the Commission will hold a science and policy discussion with WDFW staff about cougar rule making.

The Commission reconvenes Sat., March 16 and begins the meeting with another open public input opportunity. Then, the Commission will hear a briefing from WDFW about the gray wolf periodic status review and accept public comment on the Department’s recommendation to reclassify the gray wolf as a Washington sensitive species. The Commission will have a meeting debrief and discuss future meeting planning before moving to executive session at the end of the day’s agenda.

Those interested in providing verbal public comment during the meeting, either in-person in Olympia or remotely via webinar or phone, need to register in advance. All members of the public are invited to share their perspectives and participate in WDFW public feedback opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, language proficiency, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, status as a veteran, or basis of disability.

The full meeting agenda, including information about submitting public comment and accessing the hybrid meeting online or by phone, is available on the WDFW website. The meeting will be recorded and published on the Commission webpage so the public can watch afterward at their convenience.