Seasons wind down, reporting winds them up

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 28, 2013 

Starting Wednesday, Jan. 1, anyone who took out a 2013 Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement and winter catch record card may begin reporting their activity, or lack of it.

Personal-use crabbing for 2013 ends at 5 p.m. New Year's Eve, at which time all gear must be back on dry land.

Reports on activity from Tuesday, Sept. 3, to Tuesday, Dec. 31, must be filed by Saturday, Feb. 1, and card carriers failing to do so will pay a $10 civil penalty to obtain their 2014 Puget Sound crab endorsement, the legal permit for personal-use crabbing in inland waters.

If you didn't file a similar report on summer crabbing up to Labor Day, it's too late.

There are several ways to comply:

? Mail your catch record card(s) to the fish and wildlife department's Olympia headquarters: WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091. That can be done immediately if you have no plans to fish in the coming week. Do not mail or drop off these documents anywhere else.

? The second option is to wait until Wednesday, Jan. 1, and log onto WDFW's crab reporting webpage at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html.

Every PSC endorsement holder must file, even those who did not go crabbing during the late season and those who tried but did not catch and keep any Dungeness.

The information is used in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery. Without it, managers can't justify allocating increased amounts of the annual Dungeness crab catch to non-treaty recreational crabbers.

BIG GAME HUNTERS ON THE CLOCK, TOO

Hunters of black bear, elk, deer and turkeys (all general and special hunt transport tags) in Washington also must report in, starting Jan. 1, including those who hunted but were unsuccessful and those who took out tags but ultimately did not go hunting.

Successful big-game hunters should be off the hook since they're already required to report kills within 10 days of filling their tag(s).

The big-game transport tag reporting deadline is Friday, Jan. 31.

There's a $10 civil fine for failing to file and there's an incentive for speedy compliance.

Everyone filing all their tag reports by Friday, Jan. 10, will have their names included in a drawing for nine special hunting permits - five for deer and four for elk.

These 2014 permits will be valid regionally from September through December.

Holders of special hunt tags for the four main game species as well as general transport tags must now make separate reports of activity on every tag obtained in each general category.

There are two ways to file mandatory transport tag and special hunt tag reports.

? Telephone 877-945-3492.

? Go to https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/hunting and click on the report link in the upper right-hand column.

Either way, you'll need to have your WILD number (found on all license documents), plus the individual game management units in which you hunted with each tag.

Those reporting should take note of and record the confirmation number issued at the conclusion of each report.

If you don't get a confirmation number for each filing, it means the report was not received and logged by the agency's system and you must repeat that individual report.

STEELHEAD NUMBERS

As of Thursday, Dec. 26, Western Washington state and cooperative hatcheries have reported the following hatchery winter steelhead returns and egg-takes. There are comparisons to last year at this time for reference.

Maritime Heritage Center Hatchery (Whatcom Creek): 13 adults as of Dec. 18. Same time in 2012: one adult.

Kendall Creek Hatchery (North Fork Nooksack River): 32 adults, no eggs taken. Goal is 165,000 eggs. Same time in 2012: 31 adults, 28,000 eggs taken.

Marblemount Hatchery (Cascade River, Skagit): 28 adults with 56,000 eggs taken; goal is 275,000 eggs. Same time in 2012: 30 adults, 11,000 eggs taken.

Whitehorse Hatchery (North Fork Stillaguamish River): Five adults as of Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Same time in 2012: 40 adults, 56,386 eggs taken.

Tokul Creek Hatchery (Snoqualmie Rive, Snohomish): 148 adults. Same time in 2012: 309 adults, 322,920 eggs taken.

Soos Creek Hatchery (Green River): 18 adults. Same time in 2012: 61 adults, no eggs taken.

Dungeness Hatchery (Dungeness River): Two adults. Same time in 2012: 22 adults, 14,000 eggs taken.

Bogachiel Hatchery (Bogachiel River, Quillayute): 166 adults with 190,400 eggs taken. Same time in 2012: 580 adults, 306,000 eggs taken (target 155,000 egg take goal).

Humptulips Hatchery (Humptulips River): 152 adults with 95,920 eggs taken. Same time in 2012: 401 adults, 103,750 eggs taken.

Forks Creek Hatchery (Willapa River): 75 adults, no eggs taken as of Dec. 11. Same time in 2012: 371 adults, no eggs taken

Cowlitz Hatchery (Cowlitz River): 349 adults with no eggs taken. Same time in 2012: 634 adults, no eggs taken.

COUGAR QUOTAS REACHED

With their target harvests reached, eight of Washington's 49 cougar hunt areas will close Tuesday, Dec. 31.

These locales, in portions of Stevens, Pend Oreille, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, Kittitas, Yakima, Klickitat, and Cowlitz counties, include game management units 105, 117, 149, 154, 157, 162, 163, 328, 329, 335, 336, 340, 342, 346, 382, 388, 560, 574, and 578.

To preserve a variety of cougar age classes statewide, the 49 management areas designated in the plan, now in its second year, have harvest quotas set based on population levels being managed for in each, said Dave Ware, WDFW game division manager.

Overall plan is intended to maintain healthy numbers of older animals, which tends to be more effective at keeping populations sustainable.

Managers say hunters killed 156 cougars statewide in 2012, 145 in 2011 and 108 in 2010 and they expect this year's take to be similar to 2012's. Successful mountain lion hunters are required to report their kills immediately.

Ware said that during the Jan. 1-March 31 portion of the season, more cougar hunting areas could close early.

Hunters should check WDFW's game species web address at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/cougar/ or call the cougar hunt hotline (1-866-364-4868) to check for those areas remaining open.

As closures are ordered they will be posted on the website and hotline, which are updated weekly.

For more information about Washington cougar management, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/bear_cougar/index.html

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983 has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his outdoors blogs and contact him at http://bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.

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