(By Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will take public comment on a variety of issues including the protective status of four wildlife species and proposed steps to reduce elk hoof disease at a meeting Aug. 4-5 in Olympia.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene 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/.
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.
In other action, commissioners also will hear a proposal from wildlife managers to require hunters to remove and leave behind the hooves of any elk harvested in six game management units in an effort to reduce the spread of elk hoof disease, a debilitating bacterial disease. WDFW already requires these precautions in many management units in southwest Washington. The new proposal adds two management units in Mason County as well as four in north Puget Sound, where WDFW recently confirmed the presence of elk hoof disease.
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.
In other business, the commission will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to spring bear hunting seasons. Those changes include reducing the number of permits available in the Long Beach area and expanding the hunting area near Copalis.
Commissioners will also take public input on planned changes to Puget Sound clam and oyster seasons.