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PostWed Feb 14, 2018 5:17 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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"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 Feb 21, 2018 11:15 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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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostMon Feb 26, 2018 7:14 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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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostWed Mar 28, 2018 12:57 pm 
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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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timberghost
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PostWed Mar 28, 2018 1:59 pm 
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That's encouraging news
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DigitalJanitor
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PostWed Mar 28, 2018 3:02 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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~Mom jeans on wheels
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timberghost
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PostThu Mar 29, 2018 5:03 am 
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Along with packing some self defense.
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PostThu Apr 12, 2018 3:48 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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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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