OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will decide on a land transaction and hear updates on a wide range of topics at an in-person meeting June 23-25 in Olympia, including discussions on Free Fishing Weekend, spring bear policy, wolf-livestock conflicts, cougar hunting and game management plan, among other items.
The Commission’s work kicks off beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, June 23 with meetings of its Wildlife, Fish, Habitat, and Big Tent committees, where topics include, e-bike use on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lands, Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy, and discussion on several fish and wildlife conservation topics.
The full Commission then meets starting at 8 a.m. Friday, June 24, when commissioners will make a decision on a land transaction to acquire 350 acres in Thurston County that would protect occupied habitat for the Mazama pocket gopher and multiple other species, while also improving hunting, hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. The land would be managed as part of the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area, and is the second phase of a larger property acquisition that will contribute significantly to conservation of the imperiled south Puget Sound prairie landscape.
Commissioners will then hear updates on several fish- and fishery-related topics, including potential changes to limit the annual Free Fishing Weekend to species that don’t require a catch record card, reducing impacts to sensitive populations and challenges with monitoring and enforcement. Staff will then brief commissioners on proposed changes to commercial crewmember licenses and regulations for dealers when submitting an electronic fish receiving ticket.
Later Friday, the Commission will hear from staff and discuss rule making information and processes regarding wolf-livestock deterrence rules. They will also discuss policy direction related to spring black bear hunting.
On Saturday, staff will brief the commissioners and take public comment on proposed changes to the cougar hunting rule to increase the bag limit in areas where monitoring has shown a high level of cougar predation on elk calves in the Blue Mountain Elk herd, and an update on possible direction related to updating the Department’s game management plan.
This meeting will be held in-person at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia, with an option to also attend virtually; see the meeting page for how to tune in online. This is the first Commission meeting being held in this hybrid format, and the public should be aware that technical challenges may occur as this new technology is tested.
The full Commission is then tentatively scheduled to meet June 30 from 12 to 2 p.m. to discuss WDFW’s proposed budget requests for the 2023-25 biennium. Commissioners were first briefed on those priorities in early June, and are expected to make a decision on budget proposals in August. More information on that potential meeting, as well as recordings and information about past meetings, can be found on the Commission’s webpage.
All members of the public are invited to share their perspective and participate in WDFW public feedback opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, language proficiency, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, veteran status, or basis of disability. Members of the public interested in providing verbal public comment can pre-register on WDFW’s website.