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PostWed Aug 14, 2019 12:11 am 
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Tuesday August 13, 2019 15:26 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Federal and State wildlife agency partnership aims for rebound of endangered Northern Leopard Frogs in Washington

WDFW, USFWS, WSU and Oregon Zoo provide head-start for frogs overcoming long odds


OTHELLO – Hundreds of endangered Northern Leopard frogs have taken a leap back into the wild in recent weeks at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Grant County.

The releases were made possible by a partnership of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Oregon Zoo, and Washington State University (WSU).

WDFW collected Northern Leopard Frog eggs earlier this spring, and after months of growing in the Oregon Zoo's conservation lab and at WSU, the frogs were ready for release in recent weeks.

Once abundant throughout North America, Northern Leopard Frogs are rapidly disappearing from their native ranges in Washington, Oregon and western Canada.

The species has been listed as endangered in the Evergreen State since 1999, and with only one known population remaining in Washington, there is still a long path to recovery for the frogs.

Likely causes of the frogs' decline in the Pacific Northwest include a combination of threats from habitat loss and degradation, disease, non-native species, and climate change. 

By raising eggs through tadpole stage to froglets at the Oregon Zoo and WSU, the partners are working to bypass these threats and grow the population of Northern Leopard Frogs in the region.

"This project was only possible because of the team of partners pulled together by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife," said Lisa Wilson, deputy project leader for the Central Washington National Wildlife Refuge Complex. "Collectively, we were able to take a giant leap forward to protect northern leopard frogs on Columbia National Wildlife Refuge because so many partners were able and willing to collaborate."

Frogs are often overlooked for their significant contribution to the environment, a fact the agencies and their partners are working to change.

"Northern Leopard Frogs are an important indicator of water quality, they are both predator and prey, and many children around the country have their first significant encounters with wildlife by meeting one of these frogs," said Emily Grabowsky, WDFW biologist. "If we can improve and conserve wetland habitat that is good for frogs, we will also benefit other species ranging from other amphibians to waterfowl and deer."

Funding for the Northern Leopard Frog reintroduction is being provided through a competitive state wildlife grant awarded to WDFW from USFWS's Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities. The agency works to keep common species common and restore species of greatest conservation need.

-WDFW-

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Tuesday August 13, 2019 16:32 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks candidates for ad-hoc fishing guide advisory group


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking candidates to serve on a new committee that advises the department on the commercial fishing guide industry.

Up to 12 individuals from the guiding industry will be chosen for two-year terms that begin in September. The committee may be extended beyond two years as needed. Candidates have until Aug. 27 to apply.

Advisors on this ad-hoc committee will initially provide input on the implementation of a new monthly reporting requirement for commercial guides, said Kelly Cunningham, acting director of WDFW's fish program.

"Beyond that, we want to work with the guide industry to gain a better understanding of their perspective in an effort to improve opportunity," Cunningham said.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, fishing guides will provide WDFW with information such as the date and location of each guided fishing trip, the number of anglers onboard, and the number and type of fish species caught per trip.

"We're looking for advisors who will help us review logbook data and provide the guiding industry's perspective on fisheries," Cunningham said. "We'd like to establish a group that includes both part-time and full-time guides and industry representatives from the various fisheries around the state."

Initially, the advisory group will meet monthly (beginning in September) to ensure timely implementation of the new logbook requirements next year. After the first six months, meetings will be held on a quarterly basis. 

Letters of interest must include the following information:

Candidate's name, address, telephone number, and email address.
Relevant experience and reasons for wanting to serve as a member of the advisory group.
Effectiveness in communication, including methods the candidate would use to relay information to regional constituents.
Applications are due by 5 p.m., Aug. 27, and can be emailed to Raquel Crosier at Raquel.Crosier@dfw.wa.gov. Written applications can also be mailed to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Attn: Raquel Crosier, 600 Capitol Way N, Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostTue Aug 27, 2019 10:50 am 
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Tuesday August 27, 2019 09:33 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW to use drone to count spawning salmon nests


SPOKANE- Starting in September and going through November of 2019, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will partner with Washington State University (WSU) on a research project to use drone technology to advance conservation efforts for summer Chinook salmon.

An unmanned aerial vehicle- also known as a drone- will be used to identify and inventory salmon spawning nests, called redds, in three areas of the Upper Wenatchee River watershed. Those areas include near Lake Wenatchee, near Tumwater Campground, and near Blackbird Island (near Leavenworth). In addition, surveys conducted on foot and by boat will also be used.

High resolution photos and video taken by the drone will help to identify spawning locations and habitat characteristics. Redd abundance and distribution are common metrics used to monitor and evaluate the status and trend of adult salmon populations.

The use of a drone is expected to provide improved data for more accurate population forecasting. It is also less expensive and labor intensive than manual count methods used in the past. The use of the drone, and drone pilot Daniel Auerbach's expertise, will be of minimal cost to WDFW. Auerbach is a graduate student at WSU's School of Environment and this project is part of his thesis research. His work is a collaboration with WDFW's McLain Johnson, who leads research efforts in the area.

During this project, drone flights will take place twice per week for approximately an hour at a time, typically during early morning hours. Photos and video will be taken of the river only, not surrounding areas. The majority of surveys will take place on public land and flying over private land will be avoided when possible. Flight plans and procedures will be carried out in accordance with WDFW Policy and Procedures.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostThu Aug 29, 2019 6:30 pm 
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Tuesday August 27, 2019 17:01 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW plans controlled burns in two wildlife areas to restore prairie habitat in South Puget Sound


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) will do controlled burns to restore unique prairie habitat on two wildlife areas in South Puget Sound starting as early as Aug. 29. The burns will occur through mid-October at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area (https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/scatter-creek-wildlife-area-unit) northeast of Rochester and at the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area (https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/west-rocky-prairie-wildlife-area-unit) northwest of Tenino.

Darric Lowery, WDFW wildlife area manager, said controlled burns are weather dependent and will take place for up to five days. The areas targeted for burning are small, varying in size from one to 10 acres.

"Portions of the wildlife areas may be closed during the controlled fires, and people may see smoke for a couple hours after the burns," Lowery said. "We will work to minimize smoke impacts to homes and the surrounding community."

WDFW is coordinating with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), local fire districts, and other partners, to use professional fire crews experienced with doing controlled burns on public and private lands in the region.

Lowery said WDFW uses controlled burns to preserve native grassland habitats, also known as prairies, and control invasive weeds before seeding and planting native species.

Coastal prairies are one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington, now reduced to less than 3% of their former area. They support many rare plants and animals, including birds, mammals, and butterflies, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 500 water access areas across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation 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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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 10:10 am 
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Friday August 30, 2019 11:27 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Bat-killing disease white-nose syndrome confirmed east of the Cascade Range in Washington


OLYMPIA – White-nose syndrome, an often-fatal disease of hibernating bats, has been confirmed for the first time in Washington east of the Cascade Range. Kittitas County is the fourth county in Washington affected by the disease or the causal fungus, joining King, Pierce, and Lewis counties.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) received four dead bats from a landowner outside of Cle Elum this spring. WDFW sent the bats to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI for testing, where scientists confirmed all four bats had white-nose syndrome. The bat species are either Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis) or little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), two species that are hard to tell apart visually.

Earlier this year, the same landowner alerted WDFW that a large group of bats has lived on their property for over 50 years. Biologists confirmed it was a maternity colony, which is where female bats give birth and nurse their young. In August, scientists counted more than 750 bats at the site.

“We are thankful that this homeowner was a caring steward of these bats and reached out to let us know about the bats on their property, and for reporting the dead bats,” said Abby Tobin, white-nose syndrome coordinator for WDFW. “We rely on these types of tips from the public of sick or dead bats, or groups of bats, to monitor bat populations and track the spread of this deadly bat disease.”

White-nose syndrome is harmful to hibernating bats, but does not affect humans, livestock, or other wildlife.

In 2016, scientists first documented white-nose syndrome in Washington near North Bend in King County. Since then, WDFW has confirmed 34 cases of the disease in three bat species in the state. A timeline of fungus and white-nose syndrome detections in Washington is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/bats.

First seen in North America in 2006 in eastern New York, white-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats in eastern North America and has now spread to 33 states and seven Canadian provinces.

The disease is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which attacks the skin of hibernating bats and damages their delicate wings, making it difficult to fly. Infected bats often leave too early from hibernation, which causes them to lose their fat reserves and become dehydrated or starve to death.

As predators of night-flying insects, bats play an important ecological role in preserving the natural balance of your property or neighborhood. Washington is home to 15 bat species that benefit humans by eating tons of insects that can negatively affect forest health, commercial crops, and human health and well-being.

WDFW has collaborated with partners, including U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington State Department of Health, wildlife rehabilitators, and others to collect samples from bats and the areas where they live around the state for the past three years. This proactive surveillance work helps scientists detect the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome and track its spread.

WDFW urges people to not handle animals that appear sick or are found dead. If you find sick, dead, or groups of bats, or notice bats acting strangely, such as flying outside during the day or freezing weather, please report your sighting online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/bats or call WDFW at 360-902-2515.

Even though the fungus is primarily spread from bat-to-bat contact, humans can unintentionally spread it as well. People can carry fungal spores on clothing, shoes, or recreation equipment that touches the fungus. This precaution may be particularly important in areas where natural barriers like the Cascade Range may slow the natural movement of the fungus across the landscape.

To learn more about the disease and the national white-nose syndrome response, and to get the most updated decontamination protocols and other guidance documents, visit www.whitenosesyndrome.org.

For more information on Washington bats, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/living/species-facts/bats

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostMon Sep 09, 2019 5:05 pm 
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Monday September 9, 2019 16:42 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks public input for Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area management plan


OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wants your input on a draft management plan for the 21,200-acre Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area in south central Washington.

The Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area is popular for waterfowl hunting, fishing, and bird watching. Consisting of 15 unique properties called units, the wildlife area spans Yakima, Benton, and Franklin counties.

WDFW will host a public meeting to present the draft plan on Thursday, Oct.10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Benton County Public Utility District, 250 N Gap Road, Prosser.

Over the past year, WDFW has worked with the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area Advisory Committee to develop a management plan that addresses the status of wildlife species and their habitats, restoration efforts, and public recreation.

The draft plan, a short presentation to guide people through the document, the roster of advisory committee members, and instructions on how to comment are available on WDFW's website under the Management Planning section at https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/sunnyside-snake-river-wildlife-area.

The diverse landscape on the wildlife area supports a variety of native and migratory wildlife. About half of the wildlife area is shrubsteppe, an arid ecosystem dominated by rolling plains of bunchgrass, or "steppe". Other habitat types on the wildlife area include wetlands, agricultural fields, freshwater streams, and woodlands.

"Wildlife areas are public lands, so it is important to us that we hear directly from the community to inform how we manage the land," said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager. "We want to ensure that land, water, and wildlife can be enjoyed today and for years to come."

The public can submit comments through Oct. 21 on WDFW's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments. People can also give comments at the Oct.10 public meeting.

The public comment period will be done under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which is designed to ensure that Washington residents can take part in governmental decisions that could affect the environment.

WDFW is also updating management plans for the Skagit, Scatter Creek, and South Puget Sound wildlife areas in western Washington, and the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in central Washington.

WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 500 water access areas across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

-WDFW-

--------------
"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Sep 20, 2019 6:09 pm 
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Friday September 20, 2019 12:58 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW lifts fire restrictions on most lands in Eastern Washington


OLYMPIA – With cooler temperatures and high humidity, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has lifted fire restrictions on most department-managed lands in Eastern Washington.

Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW Lands Division manager, said the department's action is consistent with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which has also eased burn restrictions.

"We are pleased that Washingtonians can once again build campfires and responsibly sight in their hunting firearms on most of our lands. This change reflects an easing of fire danger in eastern Washington, but we continue to urge hunters, campers, and all others heading outdoors to be extremely cautious while participating in any activity that could spark a wildfire," Wilkerson said.

She noted that some restrictions will remain in place in south central Washington, including a campfire ban through Oct. 15 at all WDFW wildlife areas in Benton, Franklin, Yakima, and Kittitas counties, as these habitats remain more vulnerable to fire longer into the fall.

Similarly, a campfire ban is in place through Oct. 31 at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant and Adams counties and at the Klickitat Wildlife Area in Klickitat County due to their drier, more sensitive nature.

WDFW institutes these bans in the hot, summer months to reduce fire risk across the state, not only on our lands, but on surrounding public lands and communities. This action protects habitat, wildlife, and people, including their ability to enjoy our public lands.

For more information on fire danger in Washington, visit the DNR website at http://www.dnr.wa.gov.

Maps and detailed information about WDFW's wildlife areas can be found online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/wdfw-lands.

WDFW actively manages over 700,000 acres in eastern Washington and about 1 million acres statewide to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

-WDFW-

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Friday September 20, 2019 17:07

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW submits $26 million request for supplemental funds, seeks ongoing funding to serve the public and conserve fish and wildlife


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) on Thursday submitted a $26 million supplemental funding request to the Governor's Office. It marks the first step in a process to gain support from the governor and Legislature for the funding to continue current services, address emerging issues, and deal with a backlog of legislated and unavoidable cost increases during the upcoming session.

"Our work provides tremendous value to the people in our state," said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. "The ongoing funds to create a fully healthy agency is critical to our residents' quality of life, critical to our ability to conserve fish and wildlife, and critical to maintaining sustainable natural resource jobs across Washington."

The bulk of the funding request, $12.5 million, would help the agency address an ongoing structural deficit driven by legislated and unavoidable cost increases, such as the rising costs of wages, centralized state services, and utility increases.

"I'm pleased that last year we presented to the Legislature the results of a performance audit that showed we are good stewards of our financial resources," Susewind said.

To help manage that situation, the department has already made $2 million in cuts to services, and is seeking $6.7 million in ongoing funds to maintain other current services. Without this funding, by June 2020 the department will need to make:

Cuts to species and habitat conservation;
Cuts to fish and shellfish management and eight salmon and trout hatcheries;
Cuts to hunting opportunities;
Cuts to non-lethal methods of managing conflict between people and wildlife.
Cuts to shellfish inspections for the benefit of public safety;
Cuts in access to salmon and steelhead fishing on portions of the Columbia River and its tributaries;
Cuts to maintenance and forest health treatments across the million acres of public land managed by the department; and
Cuts to customer service.
These public services were also at risk in the last budget cycle, when state legislators provided enough one-time funding for the department to continue this work for another year.

The department is also requesting an additional $6.8 million in new, ongoing funds to address seven emerging needs:

Salmon monitoring throughout Puget Sound to provide for fishing and conservation;
Habitat recovery on more than 22,000 acres of public land burned by wildfires in 2019;
Help for property owners to provide fish protections, as recommended by the Governor's Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force;
Removal of sea lions preying on Columbia River salmon, as recommended by the Governor's Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force;
Columbia River fishery commitments;
Humpback whale protections; and
Continuation of a mobile app to help anglers comply with fishing rules.
"I recognize that this is a sizable request, especially in a supplemental session. We would rather not be in this position of requesting a substantial amount of money to sustain basic, core activities that we know provide such fundamental public value," said Susewind. "We estimate that for every State General Fund tax dollar invested in WDFW, and leveraged with other fund sources, that fish and wildlife economic activities generate another $3.50 that goes back into the state coffers. We're seeking adequate, ongoing funding to sustain that kind of return on investment into the future."

The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the department's operating requests in August, plus a $22 million request in capital funding to reduce flooding risks and support hatchery work, including examining infrastructure needs to further increase salmon production for Southern Resident Killer Whales.

View more information on the department's 2020 supplemental request online at: wdfw.wa.gov/2020supplemental.

-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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