WDFW seeks citizen volunteers for advisory panels

Nominations for four WDFW citizen committees are currently being accepted.

The groups are the Wolf, joint Washington/Oregon Sport and Commercial (two separate groups) Fisheries, Steelhead/Cutthroat and Puget Sound Sport Fisheries Enhancement advisory panels.

While they do not have a final vote on policy and administration, these groups play a key role in making sure all interests and view points are taken into consideration by department staff and the fish and wildlife commission. They also review, discuss and comment on agency plans as well as convey information back to stakeholders concerning department’s plans. In certain cases, some panels may be asked suggest priorities among action or program alternatives the department is considering.

Panel memberships range from 10-16 persons. Appointments are generally for two years. Once constituted these four groups will likely convene as early as January 2015.

Candidates that are selected demonstrate an elevated level of knowledge and understanding of the issues encompassed the area of focus and are able to effectively communicate in a sensible and diplomatic fashion.

Panels gather at least two to four times each year and in between meetings, advisors may be asked to review and comment on written materials sent to them.

Members of WDFW citizen advisory committees are not paid and often will have to pay travel expenses to attend the formal gatherings.

Candidate nominations may be submitted by groups or individuals and self-nominations also are accepted. Current panel members are allowed to reapply as well.

Affiliation with an organized sport fishing, conservation or commercial organization is not a requirement.

Hardcopy or email nominations must include:

Deadlines and nomination recipients by panel are as follows for the:

Wolf Advisory Group: Friday, Nov. 14. Submissions or questions go to Dave Ware, Game Division Manager at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091; or by email to David.Ware@dfw.wa.gov.

Joint Washington/Oregon Sport and Commercial Fisheries Groups: Friday, Nov.14. Submissions go to WDFW 2108 Grand Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98661, by FAX to 360-906-6776, or by email to TeamVancouver@dfw.wa.gov.

Puget Sound Recreational Fisheries Enhancement and Oversight Committee: Sunday, Nov. 16. Submissions go to Ryan Lothrop at ryan.lothrop@dfw.wa.gov or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Attn: Ryan Lothrop, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia WA, 98501-1091. Call Lothrop at 360 902-2808.

Steelhead and Cutthroat Advisory Group: Sunday, Nov. 30. Submissions go to Nov. 30. Nominations may be submitted to Bob Leland, WDFW steelhead program manager, by mail: 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501-1091; or by email robert.leland@dfw.wa.gov. Contact Leland at 360-902-2817.

For more details about these and other WDFW volunteer opportunities visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/ or http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/.


The 11-day Western Washington modern firearms elk season started Saturday, Nov. 1 in selected game management units including the west third of Whatcom County known as GMU 407.

Elk presence is sparse on Sumas, Stewart and Chuckanut mountain foothills and in the South Fork Valley and this opening is intended to help keep it that way.

For this hunt, any elk (bulls, spikes and antlerless) is legal to bag.

Skagit County’s valley bottom-dwelling ‘trouble’ elk are ensconced on GMUs 418 and 437 that are closed to this general season, but special permit hunters including master hunters have several options available to them.

Modern firearms deer tag holders get their traditional four-day ‘late’ stanza for bucks started Thursday, Nov. 13 again, like the elk hunt, significantly limited in territory to just GMU 407 as well as GMUs on northern inland waters islands from Whidbey and Camano to the San Juan archipelago.

In the 407, any buck is legal to take while in the open island units any deer.

Historically region-wide, this leaves-off opportunity has had a key share of Western Washington black-tailed buck deer harvest occur within its short span.

Coupled with concurrent treaty harvests, that puts considerable pressure on foothills populations and their apparent decline in observed abundance substantiates concerns, hence the continuing closure during the late hunt of the 418, 426 and 437 units in this three county area of Northwest Washington.

A corresponding downturn in deer abundance in lower elevation west county locales has not transpired, however. Hunters who have paved the way by arranging private lands access to buck-abundant private timber-lots, wooded stream corridors and field buffers for their November hunts are likely to have their choice of targets.

Hunting in a safe, ethical and considerate manner, these gunners likely will earn a bit of respect and an offer to come back from some county agricultural landowners whose crops are being damaged by the surfeit of deer.

Borne out of concern for safety, by WDFW regulation, during any modern firearms season, hunters taking the field west of Interstate 5 may not shoulder or shoot center- or rim-fire rifles. All otherwise legal hunting weapons may be used however. Regardless of their location, hunters in lowland rural residential locales should consider voluntarily down-scaling their arms.

County shooting ordinances vary between the spot closure system (Whatcom County) and general applications, on the so-called Indiana model that prohibits discharge of guns in proximity to all residences and outbuildings. Also, a Washington State statute makes it illegal to shot at, from, across or along all public roadways.

On the heels of the elk and late buck smokeless hunts, muzzleloaders and bowhunters with un-notched primitive weaponry tags after deer and elk get their last hurrahs in the last half of the month and then well into December, in some locales right up to New Year’s Eve.

Early November usually sees enough of a change in the continental weather pattern to nudge ducks and geese further south.

Judging from some of the inland Whatcom lowlands water-bodies here many web-footed birds have already felt that impetus.

And, of course, the blustery, rainy conditions of late have enhanced the feel of the waterfowl hunt here. But before you grab your shotguns and dekes and charge out to a duck hollow waterhole, many of these wet locales are either on private land and/or are in one of Whatcom Counties no shooting zones. You must get permission or abstain from hunting as necessary.

Pheasant hunters here have another four weeks of upland bird pursuing to do until season ending plants for Thanksgiving weekend.

Lake Terrell, Alcoa-Intalco and BP Cherry Point units of the Whatcom Wildlife Area are focal points for hunts on released birds.

On the rod and reel side, salmon are fair game in the North Fork Nooksack to the end of the month. Two other county options include the reach of Dakota Creek downstream from Giles Road and Whatcom Creek downstream of the footbridge below the Dupont

Street bridge, the former for coho, the latter for chum salmon.

On the saltchuck, salmon fishing in marine areas 6 and 7 goes into a month-long hiatus (closure) reopening the first of December for the winter blackmouth season.

However, feeder chinook remain legal to catch and retain on November in marine areas 8.1, 8.2 and 9, the waters surrounding Whidbey and Camano islands.

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