Editor’s note: Also see Eli Francovich’s coverage for the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Governor Inslee is asking Washingtonians to once again restrict some activities and gatherings, but his recently announced Covid-19 restrictions aren’t believed to have the same effect as this spring’s draconian six-week fishing and hunting closure.
“Our take is that the new orders don’t have impacts that would impact fishing, hunting, or outdoor recreationists outside of previous guidance,” said WDFW spokeswoman Carrie McCausland today.
Most of the state’s primary fishing and hunting seasons have actually wrapped up or will soon, while coastal razor clam digging has been paused due to marine toxin levels.
Inslee made the announcement this past Sunday morning as coronavirus cases have risen to levels above spring’s and summer’s peaks and the virus is setting daily record highs across the nation. The aim is to reduce or prevent its spread in enclosed locations where people gather for longer periods with those not of their immediate household, now recognized as a key transmission vector.
The restrictions largely focus on bars, restaurants, retail stores, groceries, gyms, religious services, bowling alleys and other indoor venues.
McCausland called heading afield or out on the water with members of your own household “a good way to take care of ourselves through the holidays – we just ask people to continue remembering to recreate responsibly.”
Those last two words are also the name of a website with advice on checking site status before trips, practicing social distancing, exploring locally and not leaving any trash behind.
With high usage, public areas have unfortunately seen a lot of “wreckreation,” as it has been dubbed.
Meant to reduce movement and interactions around the state to slow the spread of Covid-19, Washington’s late March through early May fishing and hunting shutdown and closures of wildlife areas and water access sites was controversial and sparked on-the-water rallies as sportsmen contended they could safely pursue their activities.
While those closures were lifted in midspring, ocean openers were delayed several more weeks to several months and charters and fishing guides were subject to some operational tweaks.
“Because the Governor does not specially call out charter services as one of the industries that he’s further restricting, we believe they will be able to continue operating as they have been per the state’s business guidance,” McCausland said.
Interest in fishing and hunting surged this year, but many fishing derbies were cancelled due to gathering limits, and this fall WDFW didn’t run its usual game check stations over the first two weekends of the general rifle deer season, nor this month’s late hunt. The Seattle Boat Show also recently announced its January 2021 event would be digital.