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PostWed Feb 14, 2018 4:17 pm 
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Monday February 12, 2018 16:19 PST

NEWS RELEASE

Commission approves final land purchase for 20,000-acre wildlife area near Coulee Dam


OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved the final phase of a 20,000-acre land acquisition to conserve critical wildlife habitat and support public recreation in Douglas County seven miles downstream from Grand Coulee Dam.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved the land purchase during a public meeting Feb. 8-10 in Olympia.

Also at that meeting, the commission heard staff briefings and public testimony on other issues ranging from salmon fisheries to mineral prospecting.

Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager, said the purchase of the 7,217-acre Grand Coulee Ranch LLC property completes the third and final phase of the larger acquisition by the department to protect sharp-tailed grouse and secure quality recreation access through the Mid-Columbia/Grand Coulee project.

Comprised mostly of native shrubsteppe, the property provides critical habitat for the once-common inland bird now listed by the state as a threatened species.

"This property has special importance, because it connects sharp-tailed grouse populations in Douglas County with those in Okanogan and Lincoln counties," Wilkerson said. "Securing this habitat could make a real difference in the effort to recover this species."

Wilkerson noted that WDFW's acquisition of the property will also provide public access to hunting and fishing. Anglers will gain access to four more miles of river frontage on the Columbia River. Plans also call for opening thousands of acres to hunting for mule deer, upland birds and waterfowl.

Julie Sandberg, real estate services manager, said WDFW will pay the appraised value of $3.1 million for the Grand Coulee parcel, financed through grants from the state Recreation and Conservation Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Once the purchase is finalized, WDFW plans to combine the entire 20,000-acre acquisition to form the Big Bend Wildlife Area – the 33rd wildlife area owned and managed by the department in the state.

Other issues addressed by the commission include:

Sturgeon fishing: The commission encouraged the department's acting director to begin discussions with Oregon fishery managers to develop a limited retention fishery in the lower Columbia River, similar to that in 2017. A presentation by WDFW staff showed that the number of adult sturgeon has increased in recent years, while the number of juvenile sturgeon has continued to decline in those waters.

Salmon fisheries: Commissioners received staff briefings and heard public comments on salmon management in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. At the request of WDFW staff, they agreed to clarify the intent of a 2015 policy that established priorities for recreational and commercial salmon fisheries in Willapa Bay. That decision is scheduled during a conference call Feb. 16.

Mineral prospecting: The commission heard from prospectors, anglers, environmentalists, and others about their views on state regulations on small-scale suction dredging for gold and other minerals. The commission will consider the information presented at the hearing in future deliberations about the issue.

Director search: Commissioners discussed plans for recruiting and hiring a new WDFW director to replace Jim Unsworth, who resigned from the position Feb. 8. Joe Stohr, who has served as deputy director for more than a decade, has since been named the agency's acting director.

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

-WDFW-

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PostWed Feb 21, 2018 10:15 am 
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Wednesday February 21, 2018 09:33 PST

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW to discuss Wenas target shooting recommendations at March 6 meeting in Selah


YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will meet with the Wenas Wildlife Area Target Shooting Advisory Committee on March 6 in Selah to discuss the group's recent recommendations for recreational target shooting on the Wenas Wildlife Area.

The Wenas Wildlife Area Target Shooting Advisory Committee, a representative group of stakeholders, worked for several months in 2017 to develop recommendations designed to protect public safety, preserve wildlife habitat, reduce fire risk, and reflect public needs and interests on the 115,000-acre wildlife area.

In December, the advisory committee submitted a report (https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01956/wdfw01956.pdf) to WDFW that included 17 recommendations to improve education and outreach, clarify regulations for shooting on public lands, and enhance selected sites for concentrated shooting.

WDFW will summarize the report and a draft implementation timeline at the next advisory committee meeting, scheduled for 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at the Selah Civic Center, 216 S 1st St. The meeting will be open to the public with designated time for public comment.

The wildlife area, located in Yakima and Kittitas counties, includes Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management, and WDFW lands, and is primarily managed by WDFW. Increased public use in recent years has created management challenges in target shooting areas including wildfires, complaints about public safety, littering, and damage to private property and wildlife habitat.

The 17 advisory committee members represent diverse recreational and conservation interests, including affected landowners, hunters, target shooters, horseback riders, mountain-bike riders, hikers, wildlife watchers, bird-dog trainers, and users of motorized vehicles.

Meeting materials and a roster of committee members are available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wtsc/

More information about the wildlife area is available on the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/wenas/

-WDFW-

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PostMon Feb 26, 2018 6:14 pm 
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Monday February 26, 2018 16:50 PST

NEWS RELEASE Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission

Recruitment underway for new WDFW director


OLYMPIA – The search is officially underway for a new director to lead the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, will choose the agency's new director later this summer.

A job announcement and application instructions are posted on WDFW's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/. The position is open until filled. To be considered for the first round of interviews, applicants must submit an application by 5 p.m. Friday, March 30, 2018, to Personnel@dfw.wa.gov. The new director is expected to begin work in August.

Dr. Brad Smith, chair of the commission, said the public can recommend candidates and provide input on the qualities the new director should have to be successful. Comments and recommendations can be submitted at commission@dfw.wa.gov.

Commissioners determined the search process and developed the job description during public discussions in January and February.

"The director of WDFW is certainly a challenging job," Smith said. "Successfully carrying out a dual mission of preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife while at the same time providing sustainable recreational and commercial opportunities is no easy task – especially in a diverse and unique state such as Washington."

Former WDFW Director Dr. Jim Unsworth resigned in January after heading the department for three years. The commission appointed the department's deputy director, Joe Stohr, as acting director.

The WDFW director oversees a 1,800-person staff and a biennial operating budget of $437 million. The position pays up to $170,352 annually.

-WDFW-

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PostWed Mar 28, 2018 11:57 am 
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Friday March 16, 2018 16:16 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Washington's wolf population increases for 9th straight year


OLYMPIA – Washington's wolf population continued to grow in 2017 for the ninth straight year, according to the results of an annual survey conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The state was home to at least 122 wolves, 22 packs, and 14 successful breeding pairs, based on field surveys conducted over the winter by state, tribal, and federal wildlife managers.

Survey findings reflect information from aerial surveys, remote cameras, wolf tracks, and signals from radio-collared wolves.

Ben Maletzke, WDFW statewide wolf specialist, said today that all of those totals were the highest recorded since the department began conducting the surveys in 2008. Last year's survey documented 115 wolves, 20 packs, and 10 breeding pairs.

Maletzke emphasized the surveys represent "minimum counts" of wolves in Washington state, due to the difficulty of accounting for every animal – especially lone wolves without a pack.

"Here and in other states, wolf demographics are highly dynamic from year to year," Maletzke said. "The real value of these surveys is the information they provide about long-term trends, which show that our state's wolf population has grown by an annual average of 31 percent over the past decade."

Maletzke said the study documented four new packs – the Frosty, Grouse Flats, Leadpoint, and Togo packs – all located east of the Cascade Mountains. Two previously identified packs – the Skookum and Sherman packs – were not included in the pack totals for last year because the first could not be located and the second now appears to have only one member.

Wildlife managers have also been tracking the movements of a wolf in the North Cascades in Skagit County that was captured and fitted with a radio-collar last June, but so far no other wolves have been confirmed in the area, Maletzke said.

All but eliminated from western states in the last century, Washington's wolf population has rebounded since 2008, when wildlife managers documented a resident pack in Okanogan County. According the 2017 survey, 15 of the 22 known packs are located in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties in the northeast corner of the state.

Since 1980, gray wolves have been listed under state law as endangered throughout Washington. In the western two-thirds of the state, they are also listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

As the state's wolf population has continued to grow, WDFW has expanded its efforts to collaborate with livestock producers, conservation groups, and local residents to prevent conflict between wolves and domestic animals, Maletzke said.

WDFW employed an array of non-lethal strategies last year to reduce conflicts, including cost-sharing agreements with 37 ranchers who took proactive steps to protect their livestock. State assistance included range riders to check on livestock, guard dogs, lighting, flagging for fences, and data on certain packs' movements.

Maletzke said five of the 22 known packs that existed in Washington at some point during 2017 were involved in at least one livestock mortality. After conducting investigations, WDFW confirmed that wolves killed at least eight cattle and injured five others last year. WDFW processed two claims totaling $3,700 to compensate livestock producers for their losses in 2017.

"We know that some level of conflict is inevitable between wolves and livestock sharing the landscape," Maletzke said. "Our goal is to minimize that conflict as the gray wolf population continues to recover."

State management of wolves is guided by the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan of 2011, along with a protocol approved by WDFW to reduce those conflicts.

Consistent with the management plan and protocol, the department used lethal action to address repeated predation on livestock by two wolf packs after non-lethal measures failed. WDFW euthanized one member of the Sherman pack, which killed four cattle and injured another during last year's summer grazing season. The department also removed two wolves from the Smackout pack, which had a history of preying on livestock in 2016 and killed two cattle and injured another during the 2017 grazing season.

The survey also documented 11 wolf mortalities in 2017 attributed to legal tribal harvest (3), legal "caught-in-the-act" shootings (2), vehicle collisions (2), and four (4) other incidents involving humans that are still under investigation.

Contributors to WDFW's annual survey include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program, the Confederated Colville Tribes and the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

The results will be reviewed with the State Fish and Wildlife Commission on March 17 in Wenatchee. Complete survey results will be posted on WDFW's website by March 30 at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/.

-WDFW-

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Wednesday March 21, 2018 14:28 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW plans controlled burns on wildlife areas in NE Washington


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is starting to conduct controlled burns this week on department lands in Okanogan, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties to reduce wildfire risks and enhance wildlife habitat.

A controlled burn is underway this week on the Carter unit of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area south of Tonasket in northcentral Okanogan County. At least 600 acres on the Sinlahekin overall may be burned, depending on weather conditions.

If weather and smoke-management restrictions allow, controlled burns are also planned later this month on at least 200 acres of the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in Ferry County, along with 200 acres of the Rustlers Gulch Wildlife Area and 150 acres of the Le Clerc Creek Wildlife Area in Pend Oreille County.

The burn areas range from grasslands to Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands that have been thinned and currently contain logging debris and slash. WDFW may conduct other burns on department lands in Eastern Washington later this spring.

WDFW Prescribed Fire Manager Matt Eberlein said controlled burns are monitored constantly until they are out, and signs are posted to alert recreationists about them.

"We work to minimize smoke impacts," said Eberlein, noting that smoke could nonetheless make its way down the valleys into town areas, or temporarily reduce 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."

Eberlein said recent wildfires demonstrate the importance of conducting controlled burns.

"By burning off accumulations of natural vegetation and logging debris, we can reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfires that can destroy wildlife habitat," he said. "It's not a question of whether we'll have fires on these lands in the future, but rather the degree to which we can reduce the damage they cause."

Eberlein said WDFW is coordinating with other agencies in the area to provide assistance with the burns along with private contractors using personnel, bulldozers and other equipment from the local communities.

Maps showing the vicinity of the proposed burns:

Carter Unit of Sinlahekin: https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/mar2118a_02.pdf
Sinlahekin: https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/mar2118a_03.pdf
Sherman Creek: https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/mar2118a_04.pdf
Rustlers Gulch: https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/mar2118a_05.pdf
Le Clerc: https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/mar2118a_01.pdf

-WDFW-

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Monday March 26, 2018 17:20 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Tribal fisherman sentenced for selling sturgeon and salmon


RIDGEFIELD – A Klickitat County Superior Court judge has sentenced a Columbia River tribal fisherman to four months in jail and fined him $1,050 for illegally selling sturgeon and chinook salmon, concluding a case sparked by a tip to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Donnell Frank, 46, of Portland, Ore., pleaded guilty to three felony counts of unlawful fish trafficking and was sentenced March 19 by Judge Randall Krog.

WDFW Capt. Paul Golden, who heads the department's statewide investigative unit, said the case began in the spring of 2015, when officers received a tip that one of Frank's associates was illegally trafficking fish and wildlife.

WDFW Capt. Jeff Wickersham, who heads the department's southwest Washington enforcement office, said the investigation revealed that Frank illegally sold two wild chinook salmon and five sturgeon, including one that was less than legal size.

Wickersham said Frank caught all of the fish during tribal subsistence fisheries, when commercial sales were prohibited. He said Frank made multiple sales of up to $500 per transaction during 2015 and 2016, primarily out of the back of his vehicle in Goldendale.

Columbia River fisheries are highly regulated to ensure conservation and resource sharing objectives are met, Wickersham said. Populations of harvestable-size sturgeon between Bonneville and McNary dams – the stretch of river where Frank caught the fish – have generally declined in recent years, and both hatchery and federally protected salmon and steelhead are present in that area.

"Salmon and sturgeon have significant economic and cultural importance to people and communities throughout the state," Wickersham said. "Black-market activities like these tend to increase poaching and undermine efforts to recover endangered stocks."

-WDFW-

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostWed Mar 28, 2018 12:59 pm 
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That's encouraging news
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PostWed Mar 28, 2018 2:02 pm 
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This map kinda makes me snort.
https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/graphics/t_pack_map_032017.jpg

There's a very obvious GIANT gap in the Cascade mountains, particularly to the south, and given how far wolves travel...  I'd assume they were already there, just not official yet.

Having said that, I think the only thing that might change would be if I was hiking with a dog, in which case I'd be just keeping even closer track of Fido.

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PostThu Mar 29, 2018 4:03 am 
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Along with packing some self defense.
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PostThu Apr 12, 2018 2:48 pm 
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Thursday April 05, 2018 11:49 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

State seeks input on recreation options in the Teanaway Community Forest


OLYMPIA – A community meeting is scheduled Thursday, April 12 in Cle Elum for the public to review and comment on recreation options being considered for the Teanaway Community Forest.

The Washington departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have been working with a 20-member advisory committee for the past 15 months to develop a recreation plan for the forest, which the state acquired in 2013.

The meeting will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Putnam Centennial Center in Cle Elum. It will begin with a 45-minute presentation on planning efforts to date, followed by opportunities to provide feedback to staff at listening stations.

"In collaboration with the Teanaway Community Forest Advisory Committee, the agencies have been hard at work developing a vision for recreation in this landscape that reflects our land stewardship goals and creates opportunities for visitors to enjoy this outdoor destination for years to come," said Doug McClelland, DNR planner. "With this upcoming meeting, we want to confirm with the community that we're headed in the right direction."

"The community forest was established primarily to protect the Yakima Basin water supply," said Mike Livingston, WDFW's south-central Washington regional director. "The recreation planning process is designed to complement that value while enhancing opportunities for public recreation."

The advisory committee represents the interests of a wide range of recreation groups, local communities, conservation partners, and Teanaway-area residents. Members have met regularly with agency staff to evaluate possible recreation concepts, priorities, strategies and tactics.

Located in the Yakima River Basin headwaters, the Teanaway Community Forest is managed through a partnership between DNR and WDFW. The 50,241-acre community forest is an important source of water and wildlife habitat, as well as a statewide recreation destination in the heart of the Cascade Mountains.

The Teanaway Community Forest's 2013 acquisition was the largest single Washington state land transaction in the last 45 years and reflected more than a decade of collaboration.

The property is Washington's first state-managed community forest under the terms of legislation enacted in 2011. That law empowers communities to partner with DNR to preserve working forestland in danger of conversion, and to support local economies and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Acquisition of the Teanaway was a key step in implementing the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, a coalition of public and private organizations developed to safeguard the basin's water supply, restore fisheries, conserve habitat, preserve working lands and enhance recreational opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostFri Apr 27, 2018 6:38 pm 
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Friday April 27, 2018 16:55 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW finds elk hoof disease in eastern Washington, plans to euthanize elk to contain its spread


OLYMPIA – For the first time, state wildlife managers have found elk on the east side of the Cascade Range infected with a crippling hoof disease that has spread to 11 counties in western Washington over the past decade.

Lab results from a deformed hoof and direct observations of elk walking with a profound limp in the Trout Lake Valley of Klickitat County provide clear evidence that the disease has spread to that area, said Eric Gardner, head of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wildlife program.

"This is a huge concern for us and a lot of other people," Gardner said. "This is a terrible disease and there's no vaccine to prevent it and no proven options for treating free-ranging elk in the field."

In response, state wildlife managers are preparing to euthanize any elk showing signs of the disease near the small town of Trout Lake, about 60 miles northeast of Vancouver. The goal is to stop it from spreading farther into eastern Washington, Gardner said.

"This is the first time the department has tried to stop the advance of the disease by removing affected elk," said Kyle Garrison, WDFW hoof disease coordinator. "There's no guarantee of success, but we believe a rapid response might contain this outbreak given the isolation of Trout Lake and the low prevalence of elk showing symptoms of the disease."

He said the department plans to remove up to 20 symptomatic elk from the area in May. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which supports the proposed action, has pledged $2,000 to help defray the department's costs.

Garrison and other WDFW wildlife managers will discuss the department's plans at a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at the WDFW regional office at 5525 S. 11th St. in Ridgefield.

The first sign that the infectious disease had spread so far east came April 4, when a resident of Trout Lake sent the department a deformed hoof from an elk killed in a vehicle collision near his home, Garrison said.

On April 17, a WDFW staff team searched the area for other elk that might have been infected. They observed at least seven elk walking with a pronounced limp – a common symptom of the disease – and shot one limping animal to obtain hoof samples for testing.

Tests at Colorado State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the USDA National Animal Disease Center confirmed both elk had hoof disease, Gardner said.

"We need to act quickly if we hope to get ahead of this situation," Garrison said. "Elk in lowland areas begin to disperse into summer grazing areas by the end of May."

WDFW staff met this week with local landowners to discuss the upcoming action and to gain permission to enter their property, Garrison said. The department plans to contract with USDA Wildlife Services to euthanize symptomatic elk, and Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine will test tissue samples.

"The college is cooperating with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies in accordance with direction from the Washington Legislature to research elk hoof disease," said Dean Bryan Slinker. WSU pathologists will conduct post-mortem examinations of the euthanized elk and will collect as many tissue samples as possible, he said.

For the past decade, WDFW has worked with scientists, veterinarians, outdoor organizations, tribal governments and others to diagnose and manage the disease.
Key findings include:

Wildlife managers believe elk carry the disease on their hooves and transport it to other areas. Once the disease becomes established in an elk population, it is extremely difficult to manage.
The disease appears to be highly infectious among elk, but there is no evidence that it affects humans. The disease can affect any hoof in any elk, young or old, male or female.
Tests show the disease is limited to animals' hooves, and does not affect their meat or organs. If the meat looks normal and if hunters harvest, process and cook it practicing good hygiene, it is probably safe to eat.
For more information about treponeme-associated hoof disease in Washington state, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/

-WDFW-

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PostFri May 04, 2018 3:39 pm 
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Friday May 04, 2018 12:40 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Final mountain goat management plan for Olympic National Park released


PORT ANGELES, Wash. -- The National Park Service (NPS), the USDA Forest Service (USFS), and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have released the Mountain Goat Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for managing non-native mountain goats in the Olympic Mountains. The NPS preferred alternative involves the relocation of the majority of mountain goats to USFS lands in the North Cascades forests and the lethal removal of the remaining mountain goats in the park.

The FEIS is available for public viewing at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/OLYMgoat. The plan's purpose is to allow Olympic National Park to reduce or eliminate the environmental damage created by non-native mountain goats and the public safety risks associated with their presence in the park.

"We are very pleased to collaborate with our partners the USDA Forest Service and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop the FEIS," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "Federal and state agencies are poised to begin the effort that will help grow a depleted population of mountain goats in the Cascades; and eliminate their impact on the Olympic Peninsula."

A 2016 population survey of mountain goats in the Olympic Mountains showed that the population increased an average of eight percent annually from 2004-2016. It has more than doubled since 2004 to about 625. The population is expected to grow by another 100 in just 2018. By 2023, the population could be nearly 1,000 goats. At the same time, mountain goats are native to the North Cascades Mountains, but exist in low numbers in many areas. Both the USFS and the WDFW have long been interested in restoring mountain goats to these depleted areas.

Public meetings to review the draft EIS were held in August 2017.

Approximately 2,300 comments were received on the draft EIS and were used to develop the FEIS, which includes modified versions of alternatives C and D (the preferred alternative), other minor revisions, and the agencies' responses to public comments.

For the NPS, publication of the FEIS begins a 30-day wait period which is required before making a final decision on a proposed action. After the wait period, the NPS will sign a Record of Decision (ROD) documenting the final decision and course of action. At that time, the NPS will move forward to coordinate implementation of the plan and the selected alternative for summer 2018.

Following the publication of the FEIS, the USFS will issue a draft decision document (ROD), subject to the Agency's objection process, before making a final decision. Legal notices to initiate the objection period will be published in the newspapers of record for the three national forests involved in the plan: Olympic National Forest, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Paper copies of the FEIS will be available at public libraries in Darrington, Enumclaw, Granite Falls, North Bend, Sedro-Woolley, Skykomish, Sultan, Aberdeen, Amanda Park, Hoquiam, Hoodsport, Forks, Port Angeles, and Port Townsend.

-WDFW-

see also Olympic National Park Mountain Goat Management Plan thread here

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PostFri May 04, 2018 5:54 pm 
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Friday May 04, 2018 17:04 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Public can comment on Columbia River policy review at advisory group meetings


Contact: Ryan Lothrop, 360-902-2808 or 360-906-6737

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is inviting people to share their views at four upcoming meetings in Ridgefield on a draft assessment of a state policy that guides the management of salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River.

The policy, adopted in 2013 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, is designed to promote orderly fisheries, advance the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead, and support the economic well-being of the Columbia River fishing industry.

WDFW has initiated a review of that policy at the request of the commission, a nine-member a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the department.

"Once completed, this review will provide a foundation for the commission's assessment of the policy," said Bill Tweit, a WDFW special assistant. "Commissioners have emphasized that the department's review must be detailed, comprehensive, and open to public involvement."

To encourage engagement, the department invites the public to join in discussions with two WDFW advisory groups at any or all of four meetings designed to inform the department's policy review. All of those meetings will be held at WDFW's regional office at 5525 S. 11th St. in Ridgefield:

The Columbia River Commercial Fishing Advisory Group: Meetings scheduled May 15 and July 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Columbia River Recreational Fishing Advisory Group: Meetings scheduled May 15 and July 12 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
An initial draft of the Comprehensive Review of the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy is posted on WDFW's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/comp_review_columbia_river_basin_salmon-C-3620.pdf.

WDFW staff briefed the commission on an initial draft of its policy review March 17 at a public meeting in Wenatchee. Commissioners will receive regular updates from staff through mid-September, when they will meet to discuss WDFW's final review of the Columbia River policy.

The Washington and Oregon commissions may also meet jointly in November to discuss the policy.

All of these meetings are open to the public.

Information about the upcoming meetings can be found on the advisory group websites (https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/) and the commission website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/).

The Columbia River Basin Salmon Management 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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PostWed May 16, 2018 4:17 pm 
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Wednesday May 16, 2018 14:46 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Emergency permits available to protect property threatened by high water in eastern Washington


OLYMPIA – Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials said today that emergency permits are available to public and private landowners who need to conduct in-stream work to protect their properties from high water throughout eastern Washington.

Higher-than-normal snow pack last winter and unseasonably warm weather this spring have caused flooding and the need for in-stream work to protect or repair houses, barns, fences, roads, bridges, culverts, and other property.

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on May 11 across eastern Washington, including three counties – Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens – that are experiencing active flooding and another 17 counties he said are threatened with flooding in the near future.

State law requires WDFW to review all planned work that could disturb the bed or natural flow of streams and rivers before the department issues a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permit, designed to ensure the work doesn't harm fish or fish habitat.

The HPA review process can take up to 45 days. During flood emergencies, however, the permits can be issued as quickly as the same day if there is an immediate threat to people, property, or the environment.

"We have begun issuing emergency permits in locations threatened by high water flows, and we will continue to work quickly with anyone who needs help in these conditions," said Margen Carlson, WDFW Habitat Program deputy assistant director. "Our goal is to enable people to protect their properties while also safeguarding fish and their habitat."

Those who need an HPA can contact a local WDFW habitat biologist or WDFW regional office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, excluding holidays. Contact information is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/hpa/. People who need help outside of normal business hours may call the emergency HPA hotline at 360-902-2537.

-WDFW-

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PostWed May 16, 2018 4:18 pm 
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Wednesday May 16, 2018 15:31 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW's 2018 'Citizen Awards' honor commitments to science, partnership and education


Olympia – An association of charter boat skippers is playing a vital role in helping the department monitor salmon fisheries, while a volunteer from Pend Oreille County has helped the department manage species ranging from moose to mountain lions.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recognized the contributions of these and other top volunteers during its 2018 citizen awards ceremony today in Olympia.

The Westport Charterboat Association (http://charterwestport.com) took home an Organization of the Year award for its work to monitor salmon, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the salmon encounter data provided by volunteers coast-wide this past year.

These data are used to determine overall impacts on salmon populations in mark-selective ocean salmon fisheries.

Mark-selective fisheries target salmon produced and marked at hatcheries to provide fish for harvest while supporting conservation of naturally spawning populations, said Wendy Beeghley, a WDFW fish biologist.

Data provided by the skippers and crews on both marked and non-marked fish have increased the department’s knowledge about salmon mark rates among all the salmon caught, including impacts of mark-selective salmon fisheries on unmarked populations.

“Over the past three years the Westport Charterboat Association skippers have really stepped up to help gather the data we need, supporting our science and management objectives in ways that are both economically efficient and effective,” said Beeghley.

The Lummi Nation was recognized with a Director’s Award for its swift response to Cooke Aquaculture’s accidental release of Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound last year.

“They were the first eyes on the water, providing the critical information Washington agencies needed to respond to this emergency,” said Joe Stohr, WDFW director. “Their fishers were on the scene immediately, working to contain the spill. We are grateful for their clarity of vision and expertise.”

Hank Jones, a land manager with the Calispel Duck Club, was recognized with a Volunteer of the Year award. Jones volunteers with the department to monitor wildlife–including moose, white-tailed deer and mountain lions by placing cameras and ground blinds to assist researchers.

“Hank’s willingness to volunteer his time, labor and considerable outdoor knowledge has benefited wildlife research on dozens of occasions,” said Jared Oyster, a WDFW wildlife biologist. “He has even helped moose researchers weather snow emergencies in the field, including freeing a stuck snowmobile and housing our moose technician when the power went down.”

Hank’s support for both our research and the people on our research team means that we understand predator-prey relationships better in Washington, Oyster said.

Other citizen awards announced by WDFW recognize volunteer educators, including the following:

Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award: John Malek received the Terry Hoffer award for his contributions as a hunter education instructor. Malek’s work with teams of instructors in 21 separate hunter education classes from across the state resulted in certification of more than 500 students.

“John is a workhorse that goes the extra mile,” said Steve Dazey, a hunter education and volunteer coordinator with WDFW. From training new hunter education instructors, to conducting spring turkey hunting clinics, to assisting at our largest National Hunting and Fishing Day event, John is always there preparing the next generation of safe and ethical hunters.”

The award honors Wildlife Agent Terry Hoffer, who was fatally wounded by a hunter accidentally discharging his firearm in 1984.
WDFW also recognized Educator of the Year, Marty Kotzke for his work to certify 227 new hunters in 15 classes, recruit new instructors, and train more than 400 young hunters through state and national Youth Hunter Education Challenge competitions (https://yhec.nra.org/).

“Marty’s passion to teach youth is paralleled by his willingness to assist the department. He volunteers a tremendous amount of time not only to hunter education, but also to the department’s wildlife program. Marty is always there for us when we need a hand,” said Dave Whipple, hunter education division manager.
Citizen volunteers around the state logged nearly 60,000 hours on WDFW projects in 2017. WDFW welcomes volunteer help to benefit fish, wildlife and habitat. For more information, visit the agency volunteer page at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/.

-WDFW-

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PostThu May 17, 2018 12:53 pm 
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Thursday May 17, 2018 13:34 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW invites public comments on conservation of river and stream banks


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comment on its recommendations for the management of "riparian ecosystems" along the banks of rivers and streams throughout the state.

Terra Rentz, the department's ecosystem services manager, said WDFW will accept written comments through mid-July on the recommendations contained in Riparian Ecosystems, Volume 2: Management Recommendations, available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01988.

WDFW also recently completed the first volume of the set, which summarizes current science and was reviewed before publication by the Washington State Academy of Sciences. It also appears online, at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01987.

Volume 2 builds on the science summarized in the first volume to help local governments, farmers, and other land managers most effectively protect the areas along streams and rivers that support salmon and other fish and wildlife species.

The 60-day comment period began today and will end on Tuesday, July 17, Rentz said.

The new document updates and expands recommendations initially published in 1997 (https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00029/) and reflects input from WDFW stakeholders and tribal natural resource agencies, she said.

"The department plays an important role in supporting conservation efforts by property owners, conservation groups, local governments, and tribes throughout the state," Rentz said. "The updated Riparian Ecosystems documents reflect our ongoing commitment to science-based management and conservation."

Individuals and groups can submit written comments online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/phs/mgmt_recommendations/comments.html or by mail to Terra Rentz, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98501.

-WDFW-

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PostFri Jun 01, 2018 7:29 pm 
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Friday June 01, 2018 17:05 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Invasive mussels found on boat at state border east of Spokane


SPOKANE – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) yesterday found invasive, non-native zebra mussels on a boat stopped for inspection at the Washington-Idaho border on Interstate 90 just east of Spokane.

The WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) crew discovered three mussels on a pontoon boat, which was being transported from Michigan to Alaska.

"Fortunately the mussels were dead and the boat had been out of the water since last fall," said Pam Taylor, WDFW's AIS sergeant in charge of the inspection station. "But the boat made it through several other states with these mussels aboard without detection."

Taylor said the boat received a "high risk" inspection from top to bottom to make sure it was clean, drained, and dry before it was released.

Zebra mussels are native to the Caspian Sea, introduced into the Great Lakes in the mid 1980s in ships' ballast water. The fingernail-size mussels have since spread to more than 20 states and two Canadian provinces where they threaten native fish and wildlife by consuming available food and smothering native species. They also clog water intakes at power plants and other facilities, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Like quagga mussels, a related species, zebra mussels can live out of water for up to a month and are easily transported on boats.

Yesterday, the AIS crew also inspected another vessel that had been on a Minnesota lake had standing water aboard, Taylor said. Her crew didn't find mussels in that boat, they took a water sample for environmental DNA analysis to determine if mussels had been present. They then drained and dried the boat before releasing it.

The two-month-old inspection station near Spokane operates full-time under a cooperative use agreement on Spokane County Parks property. It replaces the inspection effort conducted since 2016 at the Washington State Patrol commercial truck weigh station on Interstate 90.

The new facility is funded by fees on registered resident boats and by state legislation approved in 2017 that authorized collection of new fees from nonresident watercraft owners and commercial watercraft transporters. Funds also come from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and grants secured by WDFW with support from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Washington State Invasive Species Council.

Taylor said the number of watercraft inspected at the new station this year is more than double what it was during the same months last year. This May at least 1,000 watercraft were inspected at the new Spokane station.

WDFW operates another AIS inspection station near the Washington-Oregon border at on the Columbia River south of the Tri-Cities, where about 600 watercraft were inspected during the month of May.

Taylor noted that anyone transporting any kind of watercraft – from from large boats to paddleboards – is required by law to stop at the inspection station.

"If it floats, it's a boat," she said, "and could harbor aquatic invasive species that could harm Washington waters."

-WDFW-

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