Meeting could change local bear and elk hunting regulations

At the upcoming meeting the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, they will take public comment on issues such as changes to Grays Harbor and Pacific County spring bear hunting, proposed steps to reduce elk hoof disease, as well as the protective status of four wildlife species.

The commission will hold a public hearing at the meeting on proposed changes to the spring bear hunting seasons in our area. Changes proposed include expanding the hunting area near Copalis and reducing the number of permits available in the Long Beach area.

Commissioners also will hear a proposal from wildlife managers that would expand the area required for hunters to remove and leave behind the hooves of any elk harvested in an effort to reduce the spread of elk hoof disease.

already requires these precautions in many management units in southwest Washington. The new proposal adds two management units in as well as four in north Puget Sound, where WDFW recently confirmed the presence of elk hoof disease.

The commission will take public comment on WDFW’s recommendations to list yellow-billed cuckoos as an endangered species in Washington and elevate the level of state protection for loggerhead sea turtles from threatened to endangered.

In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service distinguished the cuckoo in western North America as a distinct population and listed it as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The north Pacific population of loggerhead sea turtles has declined substantially since the last half of the 20th century.

The commission is expected to make a decision on the status of these two species at its meeting in September.

During the August meeting, commissioners will consider WDFW’s recommendations to keep leatherback sea turtles listed as a state endangered species and green sea turtles listed as state threatened species.

Neither shows significant signs of recovery.

Wildlife managers additionally will ask commissioners to approve changes to regulations for auction, raffle or special incentive permits for hunting big game and wild turkeys. The proposed changes would clarify where permit holders can hunt and which animals can be legally hunted.

Commissioners will also take public input on planned changes to Puget Sound clam and oyster seasons.

The meeting will be held August 4-5 in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building at 1111 Washington St. SE in Olympia. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. both days.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

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