OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will invite public comments on 2018-2020 hunting season proposals, Columbia River fisheries policy, and other issues during a public meeting March 15-17 in Wenatchee.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in the Wenatchee and Chelan rooms of the Red Lion Hotel, 1225 N. Wenatchee Ave., in Wenatchee.
The meeting begins at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 15, with Commission workshops that include no public input but are open to the public. Meetings scheduled Friday, March 16, and Saturday, March 16, beginning at 8 a.m., with a review of hunting season proposals on Friday and Columbia River fisheries policy review on Saturday.
An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/
The hunting season-setting public process began last summer with surveys and meetings to develop proposals. They include:
- Changes to Yakima and Colockum elk hunting permit allocations.
- Adding unmanned aircraft (drones) to the list of prohibited hunting equipment.
- Requiring black bear hunters to complete a bear-species identification test in areas with threatened grizzly bears.
- Prohibiting night hunting of bobcats in areas with endangered lynx.
The commission will hear final public input at the March meeting, with decisions scheduled for the April meeting.
Last month the commission directed WDFW staff to review the Columbia River policy, adopted in 2013 in collaboration with Oregon to guide management of commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River. The policy is designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing, and shift gillnet fisheries away from the river’s main channel.
The current Washington policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in the lower Columbia, expanding the use of alternative fishing gear by commercial fishers, and implementing strategies to reduce the number of gillnet permits. The commission will be briefed, take public comment, and possibly make decisions at the March meeting.
The Commission will also hear public comment on proposed amendments to hydraulic project approval (HPA) rules on Saturday.
The Commission is set to make decisions on a proposal to require the use of LED fishing lights in the coastal commercial ocean pink shrimp trawl fishery and a permanent rule to clarify the limits of keeping salmon for personal use during an open commercial fishery.
The commission will also be briefed by WDFW staff on forest management in wildlife areas, 2018 federal Farm Bill reauthorization, and the department’s annual wolf report.