THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
Today, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission considered two petitions to amend rules regarding fishing in the upper portion of the Chelan River and to prohibit baiting deer and elk during hunting seasons.
The first petition, to amend Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 220-312-050- Freshwater exceptions to statewide rules- was accepted by the Commission. The petition requested that the Department initiate rule making to open the currently closed upper section of the Chelan River for catch and release fishing for all species.
The upriver section was open to fishing prior to 2015 under Statewide General Rules. It was closed to accommodate a multi-year evaluation of resident game fish restoration efforts by the Chelan PUD. With the evaluation complete, the Commission agreed to initiate rule making separate from, but concurrent with, the 2022 North of Falcon rule making process. If adopted this rule change is expected to take effect July 1, 2022.
A second petition to amend WAC 220-414-030 to make it unlawful to hunt deer and elk while using any type of bait, scents, or attractants, either natural or artificial. This petition was intended to reduce the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) throughout Washington. During the meeting, the Commission stressed the importance of preventing the spread of CWD and also noted that outlawing the use of baiting cervids is a sensitive topic with hunters and many other groups, thus they denied the petition. The Department committed to conducting additional work to increase public awareness and understanding of the topic before pursuing changes to this and other CWD related rules.
The Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan includes plans to amend the WAC in question, as well as other hunting rules to minimize the spread of CWD. The CWD plan also includes human dimensions work to build public support for the proposed actions in the plan, prior to initiating further rule making.
This Commission meeting was recorded so members of the public who missed it can watch at their convenience. To see information about past and future Commission meetings, as well as ways to participate, please visit WDFW’s website.