Commission Sets Waterfowl Seasons, Discusses Steelhead Management
August 1, 2015
OLYMPIA — With a record number of ducks counted on the northern breeding grounds, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved migratory waterfowl hunting seasons for this fall and winter during a public meeting in Olympia Aug. 7-8.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also discussed the implementation of the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan and a report that outlines management actions designed to address threats to wild steelhead populations.
Under the waterfowl hunting package, most hunting opportunities approved by the commission will be similar to last year. That includes a statewide duck season that will be open for 107 days, starting Oct. 17-21 and continuing Oct. 24-Jan. 31. A special youth hunting weekend also is scheduled Sept. 19-20.
Limits for mallard, pintail, scaup, redhead, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same as last season. But the commission raised the daily bag limit for canvasback from one to two per day because of increasing numbers throughout North America.
Goose hunting seasons will vary among management areas across the state, but most open mid-October and run through late January.
In southwest Washington, however, the commission approved several changes to the goose hunting season. Those changes include:
Closing the season for dusky Canada Geese to ensure protection of the birds in areas where the small population of this subspecies winters.
Expanding the length of the general hunting season into March for other geese.
Adding all of Clark County to Goose Management Area 2A, and Grays Harbor County to Goose Management Area 2B
Eliminating check stations for geese, and instead increasing checks in the field to monitor harvest.
The commission did not take action on a proposal that would have required hunters to pass a new goose identification test before receiving authorization to hunt in Goose Management Areas 2A and 2B. Instead, the current testing requirements to hunt in those two areas will remain effect for this season.
The commission also added another option to the Skagit County brant hunting season that is scheduled for early January. In previous years, WDFW has opened the Skagit brant hunt for eight days when at least 6,000 brant were counted during an aerial survey of the region. The new rule authorizes the department to open a three-day hunt when counts exceed 3,000 brant but fall below the 6,000-bird threshold.
The goose and duck hunting seasons approved by the commission are based on state and federal waterfowl population estimates and guidelines. According to those estimates, a record number of ducks – approximately 49.5 million – were on the northern breeding grounds this spring in Canada and the United States. That’s slightly more than last year’s record of 49.2 million ducks on the breeding grounds.
Details on the waterfowl hunting seasons will be available later this week on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.