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State considers hunting rule changes

OLYMPIA -The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take action on a variety of new hunting rules at a public meeting April 8-9 in Olympia.

The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, will meet both days in room 172 of the Natural Resource Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E. in Olympia. The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. both days.

The new hunting rules under consideration include proposals to:

· Adjust elk and deer general seasons and special-permit levels in response to population changes and crop and property damage problems in various parts of the state. Proposed modifications include reducing antlerless white-tailed deer hunting in northeast units, while maintaining opportunities for youth, senior and disabled hunters.

The commission also will consider a proposal that would implement antler point restrictions for white-tailed deer in two northeast Washington game management units.

· Adjust moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat hunting permit levels, based on population surveys.

· Increase spring black bear hunting seasons and permits in western and northeast Washington to help reduce timber damage, address bear nuisance activity and expand hunting opportunities within population management guidelines.

· Simplify game management unit boundary descriptions for deer and elk hunting.

· Clarify public-conduct rules on private lands open for hunting under cooperative agreements with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In other action, the commission will consider proposed changes in state bald eagle management plan requirements.

Bald eagles are no longer listed as an endangered species and are considered recovered in Washington state. The proposal would relax current management plan requirements to require site-specific management plans only if bald eagles were again listed as a state threatened or endangered species.

Bald eagle habitat protection would continue through the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

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