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PostThu Feb 06, 2020 12:39 pm 
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* Please see previous post *

Bernardo, on Sept. 18, 2018 in another thread wrote:
Ski, my question was whether the large amount of cougar attacks on Vancouver Island are consistent with the overhunting theory or the underhunting theory, ie overpopulation?

Ski, on Sept. 18, 2018 in another thread wrote:
That's an excellent question for which I do not have an answer.

The cougar population in Oregon was estimated to be about 200 animals in the early 1960s, and is now estimated to be over 6000. (Oregon's land mass is 98,381 square miles.)( .06 cougars per square mile )

As RumiDude pointed out above, the cougar population of Washington State is significantly less - about one-third that of Oregon - estimated to be about 2000 animals. (Washington's land mass is 71,362 square miles.)( .028 cougars per square mile )

The cougar population of Vancouver Island is estimated to be about 3500 animals. (Vancouver Island's land mass is 12,079 square miles)( .289 cougars per square mile )

Oregon outlawed the use of dogs for hunting cougar in 1994.
Washington outlawed the use of dogs for hunting cougar (and other animals) with the passage of Initiative 665 in 1996.
The Provincial Government of British Columbia allows use of hounds for hunting cougar.

There does exist the possibility that Vancouver Island, hosting arguably the highest concentration of cougars in the world, might have more cougar/human incidents simply because there are more cougars in a much smaller area.

* Cougars are one thing where I have to question whether WDFW's "management policy" is as good as it could be. *

Previous discussion thread regarding cougar attack near Mt. Hood

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PostThu Feb 13, 2020 2:06 pm 
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Wednesday February 12, 2020 15:10 PST

NEWS RELEASE

Commission approves forest restorations, Willapa Bay policy guidance, and hears updates on hatchery reform and Grays Harbor salmon policy


OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved continued implementation of the Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy for 2019 brood year fall Chinook hatchery releases and 2020 fishery management objectives and measures at their Feb. 7-8 meeting.  The Commission also approved forest restoration thinning projects across 1,200 acres in Oak Creek and Blue Mountain wildlife areas.

The Commission discussed and heard public comment on several topics that will move forward for actions at later dates. These spanned 14 possible future land transactions, Grays Harbor salmon management policy, sturgeon status in the Lower Columbia River, and the latest in hatchery science.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) manages 80 hatchery facilities and 159 hatchery programs across the state. Given the agency’s roles in conservation and fishing access, the Commission will spend time at their March meeting reviewing WDFW’s progress toward implementing the current hatchery reform policy, designed to  advance the conservation and recovery of wild salmon and steelhead.

The Commission further discussed next steps in the Columbia River policy review and directed WDFW to plan a review of current hunting contest rules. The Commission also heard about backyard wildlife sanctuary and pollinator programs.

More information is available online at wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings .

The Commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the WDFW.

-WDFW-

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PostTue Feb 18, 2020 7:15 pm 
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Tuesday February 18, 2020 16:02 PST

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW uses drone to study predators and prey in wild lands of Stevens and Pend Oreille counties


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and collaborating partners will fly a drone over northeast Washington wild lands during the week starting February 16.

WDFW and University of Washington biologists will use the drone to film landscapes and work sites associated with the Predator-Prey Project, a five-year research effort that began in the winter of 2016-17. Researchers working with the project are studying the impact to ungulates (mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk) from wolves and other carnivores such as cougars, bobcats, and coyotes.

Using a drone for this work is less risky and less expensive than filming from conventional aircraft. Video taken by the drone will be used in an education-outreach film, available in late 2020, that will describe the data collection process, and how the data will inform wildlife management decisions.

Drone flights will take place in Game Management Units 117 and 121 in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. Exact locations, flight times and days will be dictated by weather conditions and animal distributions. The flights will take place mostly on public land. Drone pilots will avoid private land and human habitation when possible.

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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PostWed Feb 19, 2020 5:36 pm 
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Wednesday February 19, 2020 14:06 PT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW Police arrest alleged repeat big-game poacher in Clallam County


OLYMPIA – Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Police Officers, along with Clallam County Sheriff deputies, and members of the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team have arrested a man charged with 26 big-game poaching-related crimes.

Jason Bradley Hutt failed to appear for his court hearings regarding a yearlong WDFW Police investigation into the alleged poaching of a wide range of wildlife across the North Olympic Peninsula. On Jan. 16, 2020, the Clallam County Superior Court issued three felony bench warrants for Hutt. WDFW Officers booked Hutt for these warrants, and he is currently being held in the Clallam County jail on $60,000 bail.

Hutt, and his accomplice Wyatt J. Beck had been charged in Jefferson and Clallam Counties with a combined total of 44 criminal violations which occurred from the summer of 2018 to the summer of 2019.

Hutt had been on the run after failing to appear for a court hearing related to this case. In addition to the previously named crimes, Hutt is now charged with felony bail jumping.

“The public is often instrumental in giving us the ability to catch criminals,” said lead investigating Fish and Wildlife officer, Bryan Davidson. “In this case, we were able to follow up on a public report of a poached black bear, and we found that Beck and Hutt allegedly unlawfully killed three black bears.”

In addition to the bears, the two men are also charged with poaching two bull elk and three buck blacktail deer. The men are charged in Clallam County with unlawfully hunting the three deer, taking an over limit of deer, and unlawfully using an illegal caliber of weapon to hunt big game. The men were also charged in Jefferson County for poaching two bull elk in the Brinnon area in the summer of 2018.

As a result Hutt was charged in Clallam County with hunting/possessing deer without a license, failing to tag deer, unlawfully carrying a loaded pistol in a vehicle in open view, possessing a loaded shotgun, and a rifle in a motor vehicle, and unlawfully possessing bobcat, river otter, and a harlequin duck. Hutt was also charged for possessing methamphetamine found on his person during his arrest.

“We couldn’t have completed this arrest without the Clallam County Sheriff’s Department and the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team,” said Davidson. “Cases like these take the whole community, and we’re grateful for those who provided information to help us in this investigation.”

Hutt is due to appear in Clallam County Superior Court Friday, Feb. 21 and in Jefferson County Superior Court in April for his next court hearings.

-WDFW-

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PostFri Feb 28, 2020 4:42 pm 
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Friday febrary 28, 2020 15:25 PST

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Willapa Bay tributaries will close to fishing due to projected low steelhead returns


OLYMPIA – Fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced the closure of Willapa Bay tributaries in an effort to meet preseason expectations for spawning wild steelhead.

Affected rivers include the tributaries of Willapa River: Forks Creek, Palix River and all forks, Nemah River North, South, and Middle, the Naselle River, and Bear River.

The closures will begin Monday, March 2 and are expected to last through Friday, May 22.

With projected low steelhead returns statewide this year, WDFW and tribal co-managers have taken steps in-season to maximize the number of wild steelhead that return to spawning grounds, including closing all fishing in the Chehalis River.

“Shifting angling pressure due to the fishing closure of the Chehalis last week is likely to affect the outcome of preseason plans to protect wild steelhead in other rivers,” said James Losee, fish program manager for WDFW’s coastal region. “These additional closures are needed to protect wild steelhead and ensure we meet preseason objectives.”

Losee noted that the number of wild steelhead spawning in the Chehalis River has fallen below the escapement goal every year since 2016, indicating a continuing problem with low returns that can also be seen in Willapa Bay.

“When returns are this low, it is challenging to predict the effect that changes in angling pressure will have on our ability to meet short- and long-term conservation goals,” Losee said.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor other area rivers and streams and announce additional fishery changes as needed. Anglers are encouraged to visit https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ to see in-season rule changes.

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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PostThu Mar 05, 2020 6:09 pm 
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Thursday March 5, 2020 17:04 PST

NEWS RELEASE

Commission will hear comments on 2020-2021 hunting seasons at March meeting in Kennewick


TRI-CITIES - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will invite public comments on 2020-2021 hunting season proposals during their meeting in Kennewick on March 13. The public will be able to watch the meeting live from a link on the Department website, wdfw.wa.gov, or player.invintus.com/?clientID=2836755451&eventID=2020031002.

The commission meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, March 13 with presentations and hearings on:

Changes to the migratory waterfowl and gamebird season regulations
Changes to deer, elk, and other big game species hunting seasons
Changes to landowner hunting permits, multi-season deer and elk permits, and raffle hunts
Changes to cougar management harvest guidelines
Proposal to abolish a rule relating to the spread of elk hoof disease
The Commission will take open public comment in the morning and will take public comment on these specific items throughout the meeting. They are scheduled to make final decisions regarding these and other hunting season proposals at their April meeting in Olympia.

The Commission is asking individuals to consider the advice from the Washington Department of Health regarding the COVID-19 virus by staying home if they are sick or have underlying health conditions.

If members of the public are concerned about attending this meeting in person but wish to provide their comments on any of the hunting rule proposals, the Commission has extended the period for written public comment through March 31. Written comments may be emailed to wildthing@dfw.wa.gov.

Consistent with health authorities' guidance, the Commission is canceling a previously scheduled wolf committee meeting, rescheduling a hatchery policy evaluation review workshop to a date to be determined, and rescheduling the review of the Columbia River Salmon policy to the June Commission meeting in Yakima. The Commission is also modifying an in-person meeting of the Columbia River Salmon Policy workgroup to a teleconference meeting on Wednesday, March 11 at 1 p.m.

The Wildlife Committee will continue to meet at 7 a.m. Friday morning.

A revised meeting agenda is available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission.

The meeting will be recorded and may also be viewed from home either live or afterward at the public's convenience.

The Commission encourages the public to monitor the Department's website for further schedule changes that may be needed to help protect public health.

The Commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

-WDFW-

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

Thursday March 5, 2020 17:13 PST

NEWS RELEASE

Commission workgroup to hold special meeting on Columbia River salmon policy


OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has set a special meeting for its workgroup on the Columbia River salmon management policy to begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11 via teleconference. The Commission is cancelling the in-person meeting of this workgroup previously scheduled in Kennewick, WA.

The Commission has established this workgroup to develop recommendations to the full Commission regarding whether any long-term modifications of its Columbia River Salmon Management Policy are necessary. The workgroup will not be making any recommendations regarding the policy framework for the 2020 fisheries.

Materials for this Columbia River workgroup meeting are available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission. Public comments will not be taken during this teleconference. However, the public can listen remotely or from room 180 in the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street, S.E., Olympia, WA. Interested members of the public should contact the Commission office at 360-902-2267 prior to 3 p.m. on March 10 to obtain the conference phone number and access code.

The Commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostSun Mar 22, 2020 1:49 pm 
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Sunday March 22, 2020 13:38 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Washington campgrounds to close through April 30
Day use areas and trails remain open


OLYMPIA – Today, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (Parks), Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the closure of all state campgrounds across Washington to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Campgrounds will remain closed through April 30.

The closure includes roofed accommodations like cabins and yurts.

No new campers will be allowed into Parks, WDFW, or DNR lands beginning Monday, March 23. Current campers will be phased out following instructions from land officials.

Day use areas and trails remain open. Due to the volume of people visiting Washington's ocean beaches, we are asking the public to avoid those areas. People should continue to practice social distancing when recreating outdoors.

State Parks
Campers who have state parks reservations through April 30 will be notified and offered a full refund. Visitors can find the latest information about State Park operations at parks.state.wa.us/COVID19.

Department of Fish and Wildlife
Although camping is not allowed, WDFW wildlife areas and water access areas remain open for public use at this time. However, due to theft and increased usage of their restrooms, visitors should plan to bring their own hand sanitizer and toilet paper. For the latest information about WDFW operations, visit wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates .

Department of Natural Resources
DNR's camping will be closed to dedicated camping areas and dispersed camping or camping outside of designated camp sites. For the most up-to-date information for DNR lands, visit dnr.wa.gov/recreation.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 5:49 pm 
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Tuesday March 24, 2020 16:21 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Washington state parks and wildlife areas to close following governor's order


OLYMPIA – Today, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (Parks) and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced the temporary closure of all state-managed parks, wildlife areas, and water access areas for at least two weeks starting Wednesday, March 25. The closure is in response to Gov. Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order issued yesterday.

Entrance gates and facilities will be closed, and on-site public services will be suspended. Essential staff will be present to preserve and protect resources.

Camping and other overnight accommodations on state-managed recreation lands will remain closed through April 30.

The public can find the latest information about State Parks and WDFW operations at:

Parks: parks.state.wa.us/COVID19.
WDFW: wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates
State land officials and staff appreciate the public's understanding and cooperation in this unprecedented time.

-WDFW-

(* emphasis added *)

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostWed Mar 25, 2020 4:55 pm 
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Wednesday March 25, 2020 16:51 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW closes recreational fishing statewide in wake of governor's order to 'Stay Home, Stay Healthy' in response to COVID-19


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced its decision to temporarily close recreational fishing and shellfishing statewide in the wake of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's order directing Washingtonians to stay home and stay healthy to limit the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19.

The closures will begin at midnight Wednesday, March 25 and last until at least 5 p.m. on April 8, 2020. WDFW will re-evaluate on April 6 whether the closure may need to be extended.

"This is not a decision we take lightly, but it's the right thing to do for the health and well-being of Washington's families," said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. "Monday's extraordinary order for the residents of our state to stay home requires all of us to work together to ensure these measures have the intended effect."

Fishery managers have reported that some anglers have been seen crowding banks as concerns over coronavirus have continued.

"We've seen an uptick in outdoor recreation at some locations in recent weeks as people have looked for ways to get outside," said WDFW Fish Program Director Kelly Cunningham. "We've had reports of crowded boat ramps and busy fishing on some rivers, which runs counter to the governor's direction to stay home and practice social distancing."

In addition, many salmon and steelhead fisheries require regular monitoring under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which includes conducting angler interviews at access sites surrounding the state's marine waters. The on-site, face-to-face nature of angler interviews puts people at potential risk of transmitting the coronavirus. Without such monitoring, these recreational fisheries must close to ensure ESA protections.

WDFW and other state agencies previously closed all of their water access sites, including boat launches, and other public lands where people may gather. Local and tribal governments are taking similar actions across Washington.

WDFW Enforcement officers remain on duty and will be enforcing these new closures.

The lowland lakes opening day for trout remains scheduled for April 25, but will be evaluated depending on whether the governor's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order might be further extended.

For the latest updates on WDFW's coronavirus response, please visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates. Updates to openings and closures will be posted to that page. For the latest information on the statewide response to this pandemic, visit https://coronavirus.wa.gov/.

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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PostMon Mar 30, 2020 2:36 pm 
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Monday March 30, 2020 14:34 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Spring youth turkey hunt canceled, bear season to remain closed for now


Stay Home, Stay Healthy actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19

OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced a decision to cancel the youth turkey hunt previously scheduled for April 4-5. In addition, six game management units (GMUs) that were scheduled to open on April 1 for spring bear hunting will now be closed pending further evaluation and could reopen if conditions allow.

The Department is taking these steps to limit the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19 per Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's order to Stay Home, Stay Healthy.

Many in the public have shared disappointment tied to previous public land and resource closures, pointing to exercise as an exemption. WDFW Director Susewind understands the need to spend time outdoors but notes that while hunting itself can be a solitary activity, many people have to travel from urban to rural areas to enjoy it.

"Every stop for gas, food, or a restroom break can introduce the virus to areas it hasn't yet reached," said Susewind. "It was a tough decision, but we want to ensure that people are properly encouraged to stay home at this time."

The Department had previously canceled mentored turkey events, but the youth special hunts hold a special place in staff's and hunter's hearts.

"Aspiring hunters often experience their first successful hunt over this weekend," said Susewind. "It's disappointing, but this is a serious situation, and we want our communities and the hunting public to successfully protect themselves."

Youth who were planning to hunt on April 4 or 5 may still use their tags in the regular spring or fall turkey seasons, pending further impacts. The spring turkey season is scheduled to run April 15 through May 31.

On April 6, WDFW will reassess its ability to open the impacted hunting areas, as well as several other upcoming hunting seasons. The most notable upcoming seasons include spring turkey and additional spring bear hunts currently scheduled to open April 15.

Nearly 90 percent of spring bear permit holders in northeast Washington would be traveling from outside the area.

A limited number of open hunting seasons that are winding down or have limited participation that does not create the same public health concerns remain open. Hunters participating in those seasons are reminded to renew their license for the 2020-21 hunting license year.

For the latest updates on WDFW's coronavirus response and harvest season updates, visit wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates.

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 Apr 02, 2020 11:26 am 
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Thursday, April 2, 2020 11;09 PDT

You'll notice that this month's Weekender is different than normal - we've switched from places to go to things you can do in your own backyard. Check out this month's special edition of Weekender. HERE: https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/weekender

A message from WDFW Director Kelly Susewind

In the last few days, I have made several unprecedented decisions in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Washington. As of today, 247 of our fellow Washingtonians have succumbed to this tragic disease. 5,984 more people are known to be infected, and an unknown number are unknowingly infected. As a nation, the United States now leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases.

To reduce potential loss of life, I have directed my staff to cancel the April youth turkey hunt; delay some spring bear openings; close access to wildlife areas and water access areas, including our boat launches; and close all recreational fishing and shellfishing.

These closures will last through at least April 8. I believe these measures are necessary to help limit non-essential travel and effectively implement the Governor's Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

Fishing, boating, or hiking on public lands normally wouldn't violate social distancing guidance. However, we have recently seen unusually large crowds driving to, and congregating at, state public areas. Clearly, people were seeking an outdoor reprieve from their anxiety, which unintentionally caused higher transmission risk at these sites and in nearby rural communities.

We know many Washingtonians find great solace in spending time on the water or in the wilderness, and we are taking these painful steps only because of the urgent need to protect the health and well-being of our neighbors and our communities.

For the latest information around WDFW's response to COVID-19, please continue to visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates . We'll also share social media content from our channels to help you stay connected with Washington's diverse and amazing fish and wildlife - from the safety of your own home.

I request your patience and understanding as we ask you to stay home and stay healthy – just as the Governor has asked. You have a role in saving lives in your family, your community, and your state. The better we do now, the sooner we can all return to the waterways, lands, and activities that we so enjoy.

I promise to you that we will reopen access to these resources as soon as it is safe to do so.

Kelly Susewind
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Director

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Apr 03, 2020 5:47 am 
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That's terrible that Turkey hunting and fishing have been closed. Save more for next year I guess
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PostFri Apr 03, 2020 4:03 pm 
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Friday April 3, 2020 14:05 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

State lands closure extended to May 4


In accordance with the governor's extension of the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order, all state lands will continue to be closed to the public through May 4.

OLYMPIA – The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (Parks), and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today the extended closure of state lands to the public through May 4. The closure coincides with the extension of Gov. Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order.

This action is a continuation of the state's efforts to protect residents by stemming the spread of the coronavirus. This extension will apply to all camping on state lands, boat launches and water access sites, wildlife areas, and day-use recreation areas.

"The decision to extend the closure of public lands was an extremely difficult one. I share the sense of disconnection and loss that we are all feeling by not being able to be out in nature," said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who leads DNR. "Our trails, campgrounds, and outdoor spaces are core to who we are in the Washington, but this temporary sacrifice is necessary to turn the tide and protect our loved ones and neighbors. We have the responsibility to do what we must to save as many lives as possible."

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind added, "We know many Washingtonians find great solace in spending time on the water or in the wilderness, and we are taking these painful steps only because of the urgent need to protect the health and well-being of our neighbors and communities."

WDFW anticipates additional fishing and hunting season announcements on Monday, April 6. Updates will be shared at wdfw.wa.gov.

"We understand and appreciate the hardship the park's closure has on the outdoor-recreating public," said Parks Director Don Hoch. "Most of our staff work for Parks because of their passion for the outdoors, and many of them have had to be reassigned to indoor work during this crisis. We all need to do whatever we can to help contain the spread of this virus. That means postponing a trip to a state park and staying home and staying healthy."

Campers who have state parks reservations through May 4 will be notified and offered a full refund. Visitors can find the latest information about State Park operations at parks.state.wa.us/COVID19.

People should continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene when outdoors and continue to stay as close to home as possible. DNR, WDFW, and Parks will continue to monitor this issue and will keep the public informed of the latest updates.

About DNR Recreation

Led by the Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, DNR manages 1,200 miles of trails and 160-plus recreation sites in 3 million acres of working forest state trust lands and 92 natural areas. DNR trust lands keep forests development-free, provide clean water, and generate revenue for public services and school construction. For recreation updates visit https://www.dnr.wa.gov/recreation. See additional DNR operational notices related to COVID-19 by following this link: https://www.dnr.wa.gov/slider.

About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural, and historic resources. State Parks' statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety, and winter recreation.

About WDFW

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife actively manages about one million acres of land, with 33 wildlife areas and nearly 500 water access sites around the state. These public lands help sustain wildlife habitat and public recreation opportunities for current and future generations. WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities. For updates on WDFW closures and restrictions during the COVID-19 response, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates

-WDFW-

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PostMon Apr 06, 2020 6:11 pm 
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Monday April 6, 2020 18:06 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Fishing, shellfish harvesting, and some hunting postponed

WDFW acts to protect Washington communities from the spread of COVID-19


OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced that recreational fishing, shellfish harvesting and spring turkey and bear hunting seasons will be delayed in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.

The decision follows a Friday announcement that all state land and boat ramp closures would extend to May 4, 2020 to coincide with Gov. Jay Inslee's extension of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

WDFW expects most recreation activities to remain closed through the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order. The department will reevaluate specific hunting, fishing, shellfish harvesting, public land, and boat ramp closures as new information becomes available from public health officials.

"Local public health authorities have relayed to us their concerns regarding the risk that hunting, fishing and recreational travel poses to their communities right now," said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. "With the support of the Governor's office we're asking people to put their recreation plans on pause while we work together to get this situation under control."

Director Susewind noted that some individuals may be able to enjoy these activities without risky interactions, but many cannot. He asks everyone to be patient for the health of all Washingtonians.

These newly extended closures include all recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting, whether on public or private lands, and the spring bear hunts that would have started on April 1 as well as the April 4 and 5 youth turkey hunt. In addition, the department will postpone the spring bear and turkey season opening days, which were previously scheduled to open on April 15. The department made the closure decisions after consulting with local health departments.

While some recreational fishing opportunities exist year-round, the lowland lakes trout season opener, previously scheduled for April 25, is one of the most celebrated angling days of the year. The recreational halibut seasons scheduled to open on April 16 in Marine Areas 6-10 and Areas 1-5 on April 30 will be delayed. Recreational harvesting of spot shrimp in Marine Areas 5-7 and 12 will also be delayed. When fishing seasons do open, anglers should be prepared to practice proper social distancing and avoid the gatherings that characteristically define opening day for so many.

A number of April razor clam digs are cancelled, though the department will assess the ability for razor clamming and other shellfish seasons to resume in May. According to Larry Phillips, WDFW Coastal Region Director, "We had an excellent season planned, with a great number of days available for razor clam digging. If we are not able to reopen, clam diggers can still look forward to larger clams next year."

If the department is able to open spring bear and turkey seasons on May 4, spring bear hunters would still have until May 31 or June 15, depending on the location, to use their permits before the intended season closure dates for those hunts. Likewise, spring turkey hunters would have 28 days of hunting during the spring season, plus, most likely, a robust fall season.

Hunting application deadlines for the rest of the year have not changed, yet the deadline for sealing bobcat and river otter pelts that were harvested during the 2019-2020 season has been extended to July 20.

Refunds for licenses and permits, if initiated before opening day, are available. Hunters can also get their points reinstated for spring bear season if requested prior to the start of the season.

The department does not regulate shed antler hunting, yet wants to remind the public that this activity is not allowed on state lands while the closures are in place.

For the latest updates on WDFW's coronavirus response updates, visit wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates.

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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PostWed Apr 22, 2020 1:30 pm 
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Monday April 20, 14:38 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Annual report shows growth in Washington's wolf population for 11th year


OLYMPIA – Washington's wolf population continued to grow in 2019 as the minimum count of wolves reached their highest levels since wolves were essentially eliminated from the state in the 1930s. The annual year-end wolf report was released today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

"The population continuing to recover is good news for wolf conservation but it can also bring additional challenges.  Last year was particularly tough for wolf-livestock conflict management," said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. "We are working with citizens and communities to strike a balance so both livestock producers and wolves can share the landscape and thrive in Washington."

In 2019, one of WDFW's partners in wolf management, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CTCR), changed their methodology for counting wolves. So for the 2019 annual count, the Department is reporting the counts separately.

As of December 31, 2019, WDFW counted 108 wolves in 21 packs, and CTCR reported 37 wolves in five packs. The two counts combined represent an eleven percent increase in the wolf population over the previous year. Ten of the packs WDFW monitored were documented as successful breeding pairs. Using the new methodology, CTCR didn't collect information on breeding pairs. Because this is a minimum count, the actual number of wolves, packs, and successful breeding pairs in Washington is undoubtedly higher.

The CTCR changed count methodology because they consider wolves recovered on their lands. As a result, the same resources that have been put into year-end surveys by both WDFW and CTCR in the past - activities like track, aerial, and camera surveys - were not used for 2019 on the reservation. Instead, this year's numbers provided by CTCR reflect winter numbers incidentally gathered from hunters, trappers, and public observations, which means they may come with additional uncertainty.

Two new wolf packs were confirmed in 2019, while another may have disbanded. The new Sullivan Creek Pack formed in Okanogan County.  Wolves re-established a territory in the Kettle Mountains, in an area formally occupied by the OPT Pack in northeast Washington. That new pack is called the Kettle Pack. WDFW surveys indicated a single wolf maintained the Diobsud Creek territory this winter, which had been considered the only Western Washington pack, but no longer meets the definition of a pack for 2019.

The 2019 wolf counts increased from a year ago when WDFW reported 97 wolves in 22 packs and CTCR reported 36 wolves in 5 packs. While the overall minimum number of wolves in the state is up in 2019 compared to 2018, the number of packs and breeding pairs were slightly lower.

"As the wolf population begins to recover, we're going to see population growth slow in parts of the state where the local population is nearing capacity," said statewide wolf specialist Ben Maletzke. "It's a natural occurrence that happens in many wildlife populations and is even more pronounced in a territorial carnivore. Similar to what we would expect, we are seeing the number of packs and the number of individuals level off in northeast Washington while new packs continue to form in the North Cascades recovery area."

Each year's population total reflects population losses as well as gains. WDFW documented 21 wolf mortalities during 2019: one was killed by a cougar, one died of unknown causes, two were killed by landowners protecting livestock, one killed by a landowner due to a perceived threat to human safety, one is still under investigation, and six were legally harvested by tribal hunters. Nine wolves were lethally removed by the Department in 2019 in response to attacks on livestock.

The majority of packs, 85 percent, were not involved in known livestock or other animal depredations last year. WDFW investigators confirmed 14 cattle killed by wolves in 2019, plus one more probable instance, and another 11 cattle that were injured. This represents a slight decrease over wolf-livestock conflicts that occurred in 2018.

"We had more negative impacts to cattle and lethal removals last year than we'd like to see. It's been a challenging situation, but ranchers are continuing to play an important role in reducing wolf-livestock conflict," said WDFW wolf policy lead Donny Martorello. "And we are starting to see local, grass-root efforts to improve the use and effectiveness of non-lethal deterrents."

Since 1980, gray wolves have been listed under state law as endangered throughout Washington. In the western two-thirds of the state, they are classified as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act and are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In eastern Washington, WDFW manages the species consistent with the 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. HERE: https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/00001/wdfw00001.pdf

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

The full Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2019 Annual Report (HERE: https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02136 ) and a video summary is available from the Department's website.

-WDFW-

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