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PostTue Sep 19, 2017 7:18 pm 
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Tuesday September 19, 2017 16:04 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

State seeks public feedback Sept. 26 on preliminary Manastash Ridge trail designs


ELLENSBURG -- Mountain bikers, hikers, and other recreation enthusiasts will have the opportunity to review preliminary designs for improving the Manastash Ridge trail system near Ellensburg at a public meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The meeting, sponsored by the Washington state departments of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Natural Resources (DNR), is scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Hal Holmes Center, 209 Ruby St. The meeting will begin with a brief progress report on the planning process, followed by opportunities for attendees to ask questions and discuss the trail designs.

A stakeholder advisory group representing hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and other interests began meeting with the two agencies in December 2016 to identify future priorities for the Manastash Ridge trails. The group's work will help to guide long-term maintenance, design improvements, trail expansion, conservation, habitat restoration, and volunteer projects. Planning is scheduled to be complete by June 2018.

"Manastash Ridge is located less than a three-hour drive from both Seattle and Spokane, so it's critical that trail users and managers resolve how existing trails are used and maintained, and where new trails should be located," said Cindi Confer Morris, manager of the WDFW Wenas Wildlife area, which includes many of the trails.

"Over the years, we've seen more and more people use and care for these trails," said Stephanie Margheim, DNR volunteer specialist. "With the community's input and support, this process will create expectations for stewardship and ongoing management of these trails so they'll serve generations of visitors well into the future."

The Manastash Ridge stakeholder committee meets from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month at DNR's Southeast Regional office, 713 Bowers Road, Ellensburg. Each meeting includes a brief opportunity for public comment. For more information, and to see a schedule of upcoming meetings, visit the project webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/manastash-ridge-trails/. Questions on the project and committee can be emailed to Manastashtrails@dfw.wa.gov

The planning work is funded by a $60,000 Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant to WDFW. The funds are intended to help the agencies to abandon unauthorized trails, relocate trails, or improve trails in accordance with habitat and wildlife needs. Additionally, WDFW, DNR and local volunteers are providing $15,500 in match funding to support the work.

-WDFW-

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Tuesday September 19, 2017 16:13 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW plans to conduct controlled burns on two wildlife areas if conditions allow


EPHRATA – If conditions allow, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to conduct controlled burns on two eastern Washington wildlife areas this fall to reduce wildfire risks and enhance wildlife habitat.

Those burns could begin as early as Oct. 9 on 300-plus acres of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County and 200-plus acres of the Oak Creek Wildlife area in Yakima County.

However, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will not issue the necessary permits until fall rain and cooler temperatures allow the agency to lift the current burn ban.

Jim Brown, WDFW northcentral regional director, said this year's wildfires demonstrate the need for controlled burning once those conditions are met.

"We need to reduce fuel loads in some of these areas to lower the risk of catastrophic uncontrolled wildfire," Brown said. 'It's not a question of whether we'll have fires on these lands, but rather the degree to which we can reduce the damage they cause."

After all the smoky air from this summer's wildfires, Brown acknowledged that controlled burns may not be welcome, especially by hunters participating in the many seasons opening in October.

"This is really short-term pain for long-term gain," he said. "There are larger considerations here than the inconvenience of smoky air."

Logging and tree thinning are also part of the process for managing wildlife areas to benefit wildlife habitat, he said.

"Deer hunting conditions improve as understory vegetation grows following a controlled, low-intensity fire," he said. "Deer love that new growth and will thrive on it for years to come."

WDFW Prescribed Fire Manager Matt Eberlein said the burn areas range from grasslands to ponderosa pine stands that have been thinned and currently contain logging debris and slash. The department posts signs to alert the public of burns and monitors those fires until they are extinguished.

No roads will be closed during the proposed burns, although there could be some short-term congestion on some primitive roads during burn operations, Eberlein said.

"We will be working to minimize smoke impacts," Eberlein said. 'Smoke could make its way down the valleys into town areas or temporarily cut visibility on roadways at night or early morning. Motorists should use caution and watch for personnel, fire equipment, and smoke on roads in the vicinity of the burns."

WDFW is coordinating with other agencies to provide assistance with the burns, and is using private contractors and equipment from local communities.

Maps showing the vicinity of the proposed burns are available at:

Sinlahekin: http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/sep1917a_01.pdf
Oak Creek: http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/sep1917a_02.pdf

-WDFW-

=========================================================

Tuesday September 19, 2017 16:41 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW proposes simplified freshwater fishing regulations, seeks public comment


OLYMPIA – State fishery managers are seeking public comment on a proposed package of simplified recreational fishing regulations for freshwater species, such as steelhead, trout and warmwater fish.

As part of that effort, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled six workshops to discuss the proposed changes with the public.

To review and comment on the proposed rules, visit WDFW's webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/. Comments will be accepted through Nov. 30. For a hard copy of the proposed rules, please call 360-902-2700.

Since last summer, state fishery managers have been working to simplify Washington's fishing regulations for freshwater species, including steelhead, trout, warmwater fish, sturgeon, shad and carp, said WDFW Director Jim Unsworth.

"For years, we've heard from people about how our regulations are complex – even for some of the most seasoned anglers – and act as a barrier to people trying to take up the sport," Unsworth said. "So we've been developing a set of regulations that will be easier for all anglers to understand."

This is the first year of a three-year effort to simplify sportfishing regulations throughout the state. Next year, fishery managers are scheduled to work on salmon fisheries in marine and freshwater, while fisheries for shellfish and other marine fish will be addressed in 2019.

"We're excited about this effort and look forward to discussing our first year of proposals at upcoming meetings with the public," Burley said. "This is a great opportunity for anglers and others to help us make our recreational fishing regulations more user-friendly."

The public workshops are scheduled for:

Spokane: 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 26, Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.
Ephrata: 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 27, Grant County Public Works, 124 Enterprise St. SE, Ephrata.
Selah: 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 28, Selah Civic Center, 216 S. First St. Selah.
Mill Creek: 6 to 8 p.m., Oct. 3, WDFW Region 4 headquarters, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek.
Ridgefield: 6 to 8 p.m., Oct. 4, WDFW Region 5 headquarters, 5525 S. 11th St., Ridgefield.
Montesano: 6 to 8 p.m., Oct. 5, Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St., Montesano.
Changes proposed this year would apply to freshwater throughout the state, with some exceptions. Some of the changes include:

Standardizing the statewide season for rivers, streams and beaver ponds to the Saturday before Memorial Day through Oct. 31.
Eliminating mandatory steelhead retention in most waters.
Reducing the complexity of regulations – such as daily limits, size limits and seasons – in lakes and ponds.
Standardizing regulations in rivers and streams for bass, channel catfish, and walleye. Under the proposal there would be no daily limit or minimum size for those fish.
The public will also have the opportunity to provide testimony on the proposals during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission's meeting Dec. 8 and 9 in Olympia. Check the commission's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html for details on the meeting.The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to vote on the proposals during a meeting in January.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostWed Sep 20, 2017 6:28 pm 
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Wednesday September 20, 2017 16:03 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

British Columbia fires delay fisher restoration in Washington's North Cascades


Olympia – Biologists have temporarily halted plans to reintroduce fishers to forests in Washington's North Cascades using animals from British Columbia.

The fishers--housecat-sized mammals related to otters and wolverines--typically come to Washington compliments of Canadian trappers operating in regions in British Columbia that have recently suffered dramatic habitat loss from fires.

"Before proceeding with restoration of fishers to the North Cascades, we must be sure that the source population in Canada remains robust and sustainable," said Hannah Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) listing and recovery manager. "Conservation of the species as a whole remains our highest priority."

Project partners emphasize that this is a delay, not an end to the project. WDFW, the US National Park Service and Conservation Northwest have been leading an effort to reintroduce fishers since 2008.

"We've made great progress restoring fishers to the Olympics and south Cascades, and we anticipate resuming reintroductions into the North Cascades as soon as possible," said Dave Werntz, science and conservation director for Conservation Northwest.

The project team has also begun seeking other stable, healthy populations of fishers outside of central British Columbia that could serve as a source of animals for the ongoing effort.

Project partners released nearly 160 fishers on the Olympic Peninsula and in the South Cascades over the past decade, with growing evidence of survival, reproduction and population increases among the animals.

"Introduction of 80 additional fishers in the North Cascades is the third stage of the project and was scheduled to begin this winter," said Dr. Jason Ransom, a wildlife biologist with the National Park Service.

Fisher project partners continue to document ongoing expansion of the fishers' range, reproduction and survival that will one day take them off Washington's endangered species list, adds Anderson.

"We are doing all we can to bring fishers back," she said. "The timetable has changed, but the goal remains the same."

-WDFW-

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PostTue Oct 03, 2017 9:38 am 
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Tuesday October 03, 2017 09:23 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Most popular hunting seasons of the year open Oct. 14


OLYMPIA – Some of Washington's most popular hunting seasons will get underway Oct. 14, when modern firearm deer hunters and waterfowl hunters take to the field.

The harsh winter of 2016-17 appears to have taken a toll on some elk and deer populations—especially in parts of eastern Washington, said Jerry Nelson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) deer and elk section manager.

Still, hunting prospects in many areas look promising as hunts get underway this fall, he added.

"Winter conditions in recent years, wildfires, fall green-up and weather during the hunting season are just some of the factors that can influence deer numbers and distribution," said Nelson. "That is why we are encouraging hunters to review the Hunting Prospects on WDFW's website to find location-specific forecasts."

WDFW's 2017 Hunting Prospects reports (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/) include local information on what upcoming seasons may hold.

Hunters will also take to the field for waterfowl. Last season, nearly 550,000 waterfowl were harvested in Washington. Duck, goose, coot and snipe seasons open Oct. 14.

The exceptions include dusky Canada goose hunting, which is closed in Goose Management Area 2. Brant season, determined by the midwinter waterfowl survey, is also currently closed, but may open on selected dates in January. Scaup season is also currently closed, but opens on Nov. 4.

"Washington can anticipate a strong fall flight," said WDFW waterfowl manager Kyle Spragens. "With exceptional habitat conditions in Washington this past spring, and strong numbers of birds spotted during surveys in Alaska and Canada, things are looking fantastic."

WDFW has already received reports of early arriving cackling, white-fronted, and snow geese, he added.

Information on access to more than 1 million acres of private land can be found at the Private Lands Hunting Access page (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/hunting_access/private_lands/).

Hunters can also find information on public or private lands open to hunting by visiting GoHunt, WDFW's interactive mapping program (http://apps.wdfw.wa.gov/gohunt/).

Hunters can purchase their licenses at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, at any WDFW license dealer (http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/) or by calling WDFW's licensing customer service number at (360) 902-2464.

-WDFW-

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PostWed Oct 04, 2017 10:39 am 
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Wednesday October 4, 2017 09:42 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks volunteers for Puget Sound sportfishing advisory group


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking volunteers to serve on its Puget Sound sportfishing advisory group.

People interested in serving on the advisory group have through Oct. 31 to apply.

About 10 qualified individuals will be chosen to serve on the advisory group for 2018 and 2019. Those selected will provide guidance to WDFW on issues affecting recreational fisheries in Puget Sound for salmon, rockfish and other marine fish species.

The advisory group meets five or six times a year, with most meetings scheduled February through April during the annual salmon season-setting process, known as North of Falcon. Members also are expected to communicate fishery information and policy decisions to sportfishing groups in their areas, said Ryan Lothrop, a WDFW fishery manager.

"Advisors are an important link between the department and the sportfishing community," Lothrop said. "We're looking for people who have first-hand knowledge of marine and freshwater recreational fisheries and the ability to communicate their ideas to fishery managers and fellow anglers."

Appointments become effective in January 2018. Advisors do not receive direct compensation for their work.

Interested individuals do not have to be affiliated with an organized group, and current members of the advisory group may be reappointed. Any group or individual also can nominate a candidate.

Letters of interest or nominations must include the following information:

Name, address, telephone number and email address of the person to be considered.
Relevant experience and reasons for wanting to serve as a member of the advisory group.
Effectiveness in communication.
Name and contact information for any individual or organization submitting a nomination.
Applications must be received by Oct. 31, and may be submitted at PugetSoundRecFishingGroup@dfw.wa.gov or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Attn: Ryan Lothrop, P.O. Box 43150, Olympia WA, 98504-3150. For more information, contact Lothrop at (360) 902-2808.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Oct 20, 2017 3:59 pm 
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Monday October 16, 2017 16:43 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks input on management of salmon, steelhead fishing guide industry


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on management of the state's salmon and steelhead fishing guide industry.

In response to legislative direction, WDFW is evaluating whether the current approach to managing the guide industry ensures the conservation of wild steelhead and salmon while providing a high quality angling experience for both guided and non-guided anglers.

The Legislature directed WDFW to hold public meetings on the Olympic Peninsula and in the Klickitat River area. At these meetings, WDFW will discuss current management and take suggestions for potential regulatory changes for the fishing guide industry.

Those meetings are scheduled for:

Forks: 6 to 8 p.m., Oct. 25, Rainforest Arts Center, 35 N. Forks Ave., Forks.
Lyle: 6 to 8 p.m., Nov. 8, Lyle Activities Center, Hwy. 14 and Third St., Lyle.
WDFW also is working with an outside contractor to develop and conduct a survey to capture feedback from those who cannot attend a meeting in person.

The department will provide a summary of its findings to the Legislature by the end of the year.

-WDFW-

* see also post immediately below *

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Oct 20, 2017 5:49 pm 
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* see also post immediately above *

Friday October 20, 2017 16:45 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW announces additional meetings on management of salmon, steelhead fishing guide industry


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled additional public meetings on management of the state's salmon and steelhead fishing guide industry.

In addition to previously scheduled meetings in Forks and in Lyle, the department has scheduled four more meetings to provide the public with more opportunities to participate.

All meetings are scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. and include the following dates and locations:

Forks: Oct. 25, Rainforest Arts Center, 35 N. Forks Ave., Forks.
Lyle: Nov. 8, Lyle Activities Center, Highway 14 and Third Street, Lyle.
Ridgefield: Nov. 9, WDFW Region 5 office, 5525 S. 11th St., Ridgefield.
Mill Creek: Nov. 13, WDFW Region 4 office,16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek.
East Wenatchee: Nov. 20, Douglas County PUD Offices, Main Auditorium, 1151 Valley Mall Pkwy, East Wenatchee.
Clarkston: Nov. 21, Walla Walla Community College in the multi-purpose room, 1470 Bridge St., Clarkston.
During the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature directed WDFW to hold meetings to explore alternative structures for guide licensing, with the objectives of:

Improving the fishing experience and ensuring equitable opportunity for both guided and non-guided river anglers,
Managing fishing pressure to protect wild steelhead and other species; and
Ensuring that recreational fish guiding remains a sustainable economic contributor to rural economies.
The Legislature directed WDFW to hold public meetings on the Olympic Peninsula and in the Klickitat River area. However, the department has scheduled four additional meetings, based on feedback from the public.

At the scheduled meetings, WDFW will discuss current management and take suggestions for potential regulatory changes for the fishing guide industry.

WDFW also is working with a contractor to develop and conduct a survey to capture feedback from those who cannot attend a meeting in person.

The department will provide a summary of its findings to the Legislature by the end of the year.

-WDFW-

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PostTue Oct 31, 2017 10:53 am 
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Monday October 30, 2017 15:25 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Commission adds 1,300 acres of wildlife land east of Cascades


OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the purchase of approximately 1,300 acres of land to protect wildlife habitat and support outdoor recreation east of the Cascade crest at a public meeting here Oct. 27-28.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also took action on issues ranging from a land transfer at Wells Hatchery to new rules for commercially caught seafood.

The Simcoe Mountains property, the largest of two land acquisitions approved at the meeting, includes 1,150 acres off Highway 97 near Goldendale in Klickitat County. Reaching an elevation of 3,500 feet, the property includes stands of Oregon white oak and ponderosa pine, and supports a variety of species including mule deer, burrowing owls, and threatened western gray squirrels.

WDFW will pay Western Pacific Timber, LLC the assessed market value of $851,000 for the property, which is part of a multi-phased plan to acquire 18,745 acres from the company in the Simcoe Mountains area.

"This addition to the Klickitat Wildlife Area will permanently protect prime wildlife habitat and provide public access to hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities for the people of our state," said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW land manager.

Wilkerson said the department is also working with area conservation districts to ensure that the land will continue to include compatible timber and grazing activities that benefit the local community.

Farther north, the commission also approved the purchase of 142 acres in Kittitas County as part of the "Heart of the Cascades" project, a partnership formed in 2007 by WDFW and the Nature Conservancy to restore timberlands in central Washington for wildlife and outdoor recreation.

The department will pay the private owner $142,000 for the wooded parcel, which is part of a migration corridor for elk and includes a forest road that provides public access to thousands of acres previously acquired through the partnership.

In other action, the commission authorized WDFW to:

Transfer two acres of land, including three employee housing units, at Wells Fish Hatchery to Douglas County PUD in transitioning to a new management structure at the facility.

Align WDFW rules for buying and selling seafood with new state legislation scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Move forward on a forest restoration plan at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Thurston County, where a wildfire burned across 345 acres in August.

In addition, commissioners received an update on state and tribal efforts to control the spread of invasive northern pike into the upper Columbia Basin. They also received a briefing on the results of a two-year study by the Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) on the operation of an experimental fish trap in the lower Columbia near Cathlamet.

Banned in Washington state since 1934, fish traps can play an important role in future fisheries, said Adrian Tuohy, a WFC biologist involved in the study. Preliminary results presented to the commission showed that the experimental trap was highly effective in catching fall-run salmon and steelhead and releasing them unharmed.

Commissioners expressed a high degree of interest in the study, but agreed that additional feasibility studies – and policy deliberations – would be needed before they could consider supporting the return of fish traps to Washington waters.

"There's a lot to think about," said Commission Chair Brad Smith.

Minutes and audio recordings of the meeting are available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/minutes.html.

-WDFW-

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PostMon Dec 11, 2017 10:00 pm 
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Friday December 8, 2017 10:11 PST

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW to test drone for wildlife research in northeast Washington moose study


SPOKANE – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is working with University of Montana wildlife researchers to test the use of a drone this month to document the presence of moose calves in northeast Washington.

A contractor for the university will fly an "unmanned aerial system" equipped with a video camera during the week of Dec. 11-15 over radio-collared cow moose on public and private lands in Stevens, Pend Oreille and Spokane counties. Researchers from the university's cooperative wildlife research unit began the study in 2014 in cooperation with WDFW and other partners to learn more about moose populations, movement, reproduction, and survival.

Rich Harris, a WDFW wildlife scientist, said the goal of the drone project is to document the presence of moose calves more safely, more efficiently, and less expensively than is possible with traditional wildlife surveying methods.

The craft will be flown over U.S. Forest Service lands and timberlands owned by Hancock Forest Management, Stimson Lumber Company, and Inland Empire Paper Company. All have given permission for the drone to fly over their lands.

By flying the drone over 35 collared moose cows, researchers expect to be able to document the presence of nearby calves. Harris said the only other ways to conduct such research – through close-up approaches on foot or from a helicopter – are less safe, require more time, and are more expensive than using a drone.

Harris said the drone would be flown only during daylight hours, at a maximum height of 400 feet. It will not be flown over people or buildings.

Harris said the flight schedule was chosen to avoid weekends and most major hunting seasons, which will minimize disturbance to recreationists.

The drone to be used in the test is white, slightly larger than one square foot, and looks like a four-legged helicopter with a rotor blade on each corner. It will be flown when a ground crew is within about 700 feet of a radio-collared cow moose and will record video only of wildlife and their habitat.

Harris said researchers expect the drone will be less stressful to moose than traditional ground monitoring, because moose have no overhead predation threats. If researchers conclude the moose are not substantially disturbed by the drone and calves are successfully documented, drones may be used for other wildlife research in Washington.

A 2016 update on the moose research is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01859/

-WDFW-

=========================================================

Monday December 11, 2017 16:30 PST

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

CORRECTION: This release corrects the spelling of the defendant's name.

Westport crabber sentenced for stealing commercial pots

OLYMPIA – A Grays Harbor County judge has sentenced a commercial crab fisherman to 90 days of electronic home monitoring and fined him $5,000 for stealing crab pots offshore of Westport, concluding a case that began with an investigation last year by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Larrin Breitsprecher, 57, of Westport, was sentenced Dec. 1 by Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge Mark McCauley after a jury found him guilty of possessing stolen property and related charges. Beginning May 1, Breitsprecher will be required to remain at home for three months unless he requires medical attention.

WDFW Police Captain Dan Chadwick said the department began its investigation after a deckhand on Breitsprecher's crab boat told officers that his boss directed him to steal crab pots while fishing near Westport.

After obtaining a search warrant, police officers from WDFW and the Quinault Indian Nation seized 32 commercial crab pots from Breitsprecher's gear stack at the Port of Westport and determined that at least 24 of them belonged to other crabbers, Chadwick said.

"A commercial crab pot fully rigged can run $200 to $250, so the loss of multiple pots can really add up," he said. "We appreciate that the Grays Harbor prosecutor's office pursued this case, because it demonstrates that the law extends to ocean waters." Chadwick said the department also appreciated the assistance of the Quinault tribal police.

WDFW currently licenses 223 coastal crab vessels, which landed 16.4 million pounds of Dungeness crab with a dockside value of $52 million during the 2016-17 season.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostMon Jan 08, 2018 7:38 am 
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Another abuse by WDFW
http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20171221/wdfw-pens-425000-contract-extension-with-wolf-consultant
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PostWed Jan 31, 2018 11:57 am 
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Monday January 29, 2018 14:38 PST

(edited for brevity)

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Helicopter crash in eastern Washington kills 1, injures 2 during deer research


SPOKANE – A private helicopter flying under contract with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for a mule deer study crashed Saturday, Jan. 27, in Garfield County, killing one member of the crew and injuring two others.

The Washington State Patrol confirmed today that the crash took the life of Benjamin M. Poirier, 19, Berthoud, Colo., a crew member in the helicopter. The pilot, Blake Malo, 33, Clarkston, and the third crew member, Garrett Bradshaw, 30, Eagle Point Ore., were taken from the crash site to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.

All three men were employed by Hells Canyon Helicopters, which operated the aircraft.

"This is a tragic accident that will be deeply felt not only by the families but by members of our own staff who have worked with this dedicated crew," said WDFW Director Jim Unsworth.

Kevin Robinette, regional WDFW wildlife manager, said the accident occurred about 20 miles northwest of Pomeroy, where the helicopter crew was working with ground-based state biologists to capture and attach radio collars to mule deer to study the animals' movement and survival.

Robinette said Saturday marked the first day of fieldwork in the Blue Mountains, where biologists plan to eventually collar up to 50 deer, said. WDFW staff monitored the operation from the ground and drove a fuel truck to support the flights.

On Saturday afternoon, a WDFW biologist alerted law enforcement officials when a smartphone app tracking the flight showed the aircraft had stopped moving, Robinette said.

The crash is being investigated by state and local law enforcement agencies and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Robinette said the contractor recently completed similar work in the Okanogan region of north-central Washington, where the crew attached collars to about 80 does during several days of flying.

-WDFW-

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PostWed Jan 31, 2018 1:29 pm 
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Wednesday January 24, 2018 17:14 PST

(edited for brevity)

NEWS RELEASE

WDFW director resigns to pursue other personal and professional goals


OLYMPIA — After three years as director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Dr. Jim Unsworth today informed the state Fish and Wildlife Commission that he will resign his position effective Feb. 7.

"This has been a challenging, educational, and often rewarding experience," Unsworth said in a letter to Commission Chairman Brad Smith. "It is now time for me to pursue other professional and personal goals in wildlife and natural resources management."

Smith said the Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, will name an interim director as soon as possible and will initiate a national search for Unsworth's replacement.

"Over the last three years, Jim has done an outstanding job of guiding the department through the complex challenges that come with managing natural resources in Washington," said Smith. "We greatly appreciate his contributions to the department and wish him well in his future endeavors."

Shortly after becoming WDFW director, Unsworth initiated a multi-year initiative to strengthen the department's relationships with communities, increase support for conservation and outdoor recreation, and help ensure WDFW programs and services meet the public's needs.

Those discussions helped launch several efforts to improve the department's customer service and responsiveness, including the simplification of fishing rules, the development of a more user-friendly website, and creation of a fishing regulation application for smartphones and other mobile devices.

Unsworth expressed his appreciation to WDFW staff members in an email message. "I have had some great experiences as director," he told them, "but by far the best part of the job has been getting to know many of you. I appreciate your professionalism, work ethic, and passion for fish and wildlife."

Unsworth joined WDFW in February 2015 after serving more than 30 years in wildlife management with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, including several years as the agency's deputy director. He previously held several management positions for the Idaho department, including wildlife bureau chief and state big game manager.

-WDFW-

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PostFri Feb 02, 2018 8:24 pm 
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Friday February 02, 2018 15:12 PDT

NEWS RELEASE

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission

Joe Stohr named acting director of Fish and Wildlife


OLYMPIA – Joe Stohr, who has served as deputy director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for more than a decade, has been named the agency's acting director.

During a conference call today, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission selected Stohr, 61, to serve in the post beginning Feb. 8. He will replace Dr. Jim Unsworth, who announced his resignation last week after serving three years as director of the department.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, will soon initiate a national search for a permanent director, said Brad Smith, chair of the commission.

"In the meantime, we know we are leaving the agency in very capable hands by placing Joe in charge," Smith said. "His leadership and extensive experience will be very helpful as we begin the search for a new director." 

A longtime resident of Olympia, Stohr joined WDFW as deputy director in 2007. In that role, Stohr oversees department operations, including budget and finance, capital project management, performance and accountability, risk management and human resources.

Before joining WDFW, he spent 21 years at the state Department of Ecology managing various programs, including water resources, oil spill prevention and response, and hazardous waste management. Prior to that, Stohr served four years with the state Department of Health.

Stohr said he has appointed Amy Windrope, WDFW's regional director for northern Puget Sound, to fill the deputy director role while he serves as acting director. 

A photo of Stohr is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/director/graphics/joe_stohr.jpg

-WDFW-

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PostTue Feb 06, 2018 1:04 pm 
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Tuesday February 06, 2018 09:21 PST

WDFW FISH PROGRAM

WDFW seeks beta testers for its free mobile fishing app


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking the public's help in beta testing its free mobile fishing application prior to the app's official release in April 2018. The Fish Washington app is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state and is available for download now at Google Play and Apple's App store.

Download on the App Store:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fish-washington/id1329839426?mt=8

Get it on Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.wa.dfw.fishwashington

The application contains many great features, including:

Interactive mapping to help anglers find fishing near them.
Details on harvest limits and allowable gear for fishable species in each body of water.
Access to the Fish Washington website and instructional videos designed to convey when, where and how to fish in Washington.
Locations of boat launches and other fishing access points.
Ability to add waypoints on maps, and report poaching in progress.
Downloadable updates and offline capacity designed for those who may not have cell service in remote areas or on the water.
The agency is sharing this early release to gain anglers' help working out any unanticipated bugs. The testing effort is also meant to encourage scrutiny of how the rules will display for every water body in Washington. Some inconsistencies and errors may pop up given that the rules associated with every stream, lake and river in Washington have never been displayed on an app like this before.

WDFW encourages everyone to download the Fish Washington app by visiting Apple's App store or Google's Play store. Please use the commenting features in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to provide feedback, which will help the department make improvements prior to the app's official launch this spring. App testers can also leave comments at MobileAppDev@dfw.wa.gov (be sure to indicate which device you are using).

-WDFW-

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PostTue Feb 06, 2018 3:14 pm 
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Tuesday February 06, 2018 13:23 PST

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks comment on draft status reviews for sea otters, pygmy rabbits, and grizzly bears


OLYMPIA – State wildlife managers are seeking public input on their recommendations to keep the pygmy rabbit and grizzly bear on the state's endangered species list, and to downlist the sea otter from endangered to threatened.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state. The public can comment on the listing recommendations through May 9, 2018.

The draft reviews on the sea otter, pygmy rabbit, and grizzly bear are available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review

WDFW staff members are tentatively scheduled to discuss the reviews and recommendations with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its June 2018 meeting. The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW. For meeting dates and times, check the commission webpage at https:// wdfw.wa.gov/commission

After the fur trade eliminated sea otters from Washington in the early 20th century, the otters were reintroduced to the state in 1969 and 1970, and listed as an endangered species by the state in 1981. Though the species has not fully recovered throughout its historical range, the state population has shown strong growth and, in 2017, exceeded the population criterion for downlisting laid out in a 2004 recovery plan.

The state sea otter population remains at risk from disease, toxins, the effects of climate change, and the possibility of a catastrophic event -- such as a large oil spill -- along Washington's coast. However, given the steady and substantial increase in numbers, WDFW recommends the sea otter be reclassified to state threatened in Washington.

The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is listed as endangered by both the state and federal government. Large-scale loss and degradation of native shrub-steppe habitat likely played a major role in the long-term decline of the population. By 2001, only one known population remained in Washington, found at WDFW's Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area in Douglas County.

Today, WDFW works with partners to oversee a strategy of breeding pygmy rabbits in enclosures, followed by capture and release of suitable numbers of kits into the wild. Disease has been a significant threat to pygmy rabbits in the captive and semi-wild population, and predation is the main cause of pygmy rabbit mortality in the wild. The population remains small and its distribution in the wild is extremely limited. WDFW recommends that the pygmy rabbit remain a state endangered species in Washington.

The grizzly bear once occupied much of the Cascade Range and eastern Washington, but was nearly eliminated in the state through human-caused mortality and loss of habitat. Grizzlies currently occupy the Selkirk Range in the northeast corner of the state, where the population is classified by the state as endangered and listed federally as threatened.

Human-caused mortality, small population size, human disturbance in core grizzly habitats, and population isolation all continue to hinder grizzly bear recovery in the state. WDFW recommends that the grizzly bear retain its state listing as endangered.

Submit written comments on the reviews and recommendations via email to TandEpubliccom@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Hannah Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.

Forty-four species of fish and wildlife are listed for protection as state endangered, threatened or sensitive species.

-WDFW-

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PostWed Feb 14, 2018 5:13 pm 
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Thursday February 08, 2018 17:19 PST

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW to seek public input for 5-year review of Columbia River salmon policy


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will provide an initial briefing to two advisory committees as it begins a review of the 5-year-old policy that guides the management of commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River.

Members of Washington's Fish and Wildlife Commission last week directed the WDFW staff to conduct a thorough and transparent review of the policy, which was originally adopted in 2013 in collaboration with the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Bill Tweit, a WDFW special assistant, said the Washington commission members want to ensure the policy review includes multiple opportunities for the public to participate.

The policy, adjusted by both states in 2017, is designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing in the lower Columbia River, and shift gillnet fisheries away from the river's main channel. The current Washington policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in the lower Columbia, expanding the use of alternative fishing gear by commercial fishers, and implementing strategies to reduce the number of Columbia River gillnet permits.

The first opportunities for public engagement will take place March 14 at the WDFW southwest Washington regional office, 5525 South 11th St., Ridgefield. The department's Columbia River Commercial Fishing Advisory Group will meet from 1 p.m.-3 p.m., and the Columbia River Recreational Fishing Advisory Group will meet from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.

The advisory committee meetings will take place one day before the Washington commission's March 15-17 meeting in Wenatchee. All three meetings will be open to the public and will provide information on the results of Columbia River fisheries since 2013.

The commission plans to consider the policy at two other meetings later this year. Members tentatively plan to have a joint meeting with the Oregon commission in September, with the goal of concluding the review and possibly revising the policy in November. Again, these meetings will be open to the public.

"Columbia River salmon fisheries are part of Washington's economic, cultural, and recreational lifeblood, so we want to keep the public informed and involved as we review and revise this important policy," said Commission Chairman Brad Smith.

The policy, as revised by the Washington commission in January 2017, is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/policies/c3620.pdf.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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