Outdoors

Reporting season has arrived for hunters, crabbers

If you hunted black bear, elk, deer and turkeys (general and special hunt tags) in Washington as of Thursday, Jan. 1 the clock is ticking toward the end of the formal tell-all period.

These reports are mandatory for every transport tag-holder, even those who hunted but were unsuccessful or those who took out tags but ultimately did not go hunting at all. Successful big game hunters are required to report kills within 10 days of filling their tag(s).

The deadline for filing on 2014 effort is Saturday, Jan. 31 and for those who miss this obligation there will be a civil penalty of $10 to pay next time they go for a hunting license.

There’s also an incentive for speedy compliance. Everyone reporting on all their tags by Saturday, Jan. 10 will have their names tossed into a cyber hopper from which the names of nine special hunting permit (five for statewide deer and four for eastside and westside elk) winners will be drawn.

These 2015 permits will be valid regionally enabling the possessor to hunt those zones from September through December.

Holders of special hunt tags for the four main game species as well as general transport tags should be aware that they must now make separate reports of activity on each tag they buy or draw in each general category. There are two methods by which to file transport tag and special hunt tag reports. Mail or email submissions are not accepted nor should the tags themselves be mailed in.

One is by telephone (touch-tone) to 877 945-3492.

The second is on-line at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/

hunting clicking on a report link in the upper right-hand column.

Regardless of the reporting mode, you’ll need to have certain information at your fingertips including your WILD number (found on all license documents) together with individual game management units in which you hunted with each tag.

Reportees should take note of and record the confirmation number issued at the conclusion of each report. If you fail to get one, the report was not received and logged by the agency’s system and you must repeat that individual report.

Similar reporting requirements apply to waterfowl hunters with special hunt authorizations for sea ducks, Skagit brant and Goose Management Area One snow geese. The reporting period for band-tailed pigeons has passed.

CRABBING PARTICULARS ALSO NEEDED

As of New Year’s Day, anyone who took out a 2014 Puget Sound winter Dungeness crab catch record card, regardless of their age, is on the clock and must start reporting their activity, or lack of it, as well as all Dungeness crab they took home.

The deadline for filing these mandatory reports is Sunday, Feb. 1 with a similar $10 civil penalty applying to those who fail to comply when they go to buy their 2015 Puget Sound crab endorsement. That is the authorization that allows personal use gatherers to legally land crab in inland waters.

Crabbers should be reporting on their inland waters crab catching activity in the late or winter 2014 period running from Tuesday, Sept. 2 to Wednesday, Dec. 31.

If crabbers failed to file a similar report of your summer activity/catch prior to Labor Day, it’s too late.

There are several ways to meet this requirement.

• The first option is to mail catch record card(s) via the Postal Service directly to the fish and wildlife department’s Olympia headquarters. Just the late or winter card should be enclosed. The address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091. Do not mail or drop off these documents anywhere else.



• The second option is to log onto WDFW’s special crab reporting webpage. The Internet address for this site is https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/



wdfw/puget_sound_crab

_catch.html. Every paying and non-paying PSC endorsement holders _ adults and youngsters (age 14 and younger) _ who took out winter 2014 catch record cards are obligated to make this filing even if they obtained a document and did not go for crab at all or fished for crab but did not land and retain any Dungeness keepers.

State crab managers say the data from all personal use crabbers is highly important in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery.

START APPLYING FOR 2015 HUNTS

With many 2014 hunts just wrapping up and required reporting taking place, it’s already time to start looking doing homework and making decisions on next fall’s nimrod endeavors. The 2015 array of Idaho Department of Fish and Game non-resident deer and elk tags have been on sale since the first of December and at New Years Day the Wyoming Department of Fish and Game opened its application period for non-resident controlled hunts for big game species.

Both Idaho and Washington also have started accepting applications for their respective drawings that will allot 2015 spring black bear hunt permits.

Several years back Wyoming did away with the printed mailed-out version of its non-resident application booklet in favor of an on-line accessible.

Washington’s special or controlled hunt application period occurs in April.

BRANT GO-AHEAD PENDING

The final word on this season’s Skagit brant hunt is still pending the obligatory pre-season census by state biologists to determine if sufficient birds are present in Skagit County for the scheduled eight day hunt to occur.

This year’s Northwest Washington weekend brant opener is tentatively set for Saturday, Jan. 10, and will be followed by hunt days on Jan. 11, 14, 17, 18, 21, 24 and 25.

In accordance with Washington’s brant management plan for the hunt to get the nod a 6,000-bird minimum combination of Pacific black and Western High Arctic threshold number must be ensconced in their winter digs on Samish and Padilla bays. While the main focus of the airborne count is on the numbers of both the Pacific black and Western High Arctic (the so-called gray-belly) brant in the two Skagit estuaries, the census flight extends north to near-shore marine waters off Whatcom County.

General waterfowl regulations allow hunters of ducks and geese a great deal of latitude in where they may shoot their webbed-footed quarry; but for brant, the rules are much more restrictive. Those brant in Whatcom County waters are off-limits. Among Puget Sound goose hunting haunts, just the blacks and gray-bellies found inside Skagit County’s lines are fair game.

The only other Washington venue where brant may be hunted is on the southwest coast at Willapa Bay. Pacific County’s ten-day brant hunt stint began Saturday, Jan. 3, with additional openings there coming on Jan. 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18.

That hunt focuses on other Pacific Flyway transient brant populations and does not have a minimum number threshold trigger to occur. If the Skagit hunt is green-lighted this week, besides having the basic suite of credentials including a Washington hunting license together with the state migratory bird validation (now in lieu of a stamp) and the federal migratory bird stamp, brant hunters must have a $13.20, special written authorization issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This document, now obtainable on-line to qualified applicants, doubles not only as a permission to hunt brant, it serves as a harvest record on which each days take of these marine geese must be made.

To fulfill the end-of-season reporting requirement, brant hunters can either mail in their reports or log onto the department’s Web-portal, fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wa/

migratorybird and make a digital accounting.

Reporting is an annual obligation that hunters who hold any of these special written authorizations must do to maintain eligibility to receive the documents in the coming year.

In addition to ones for brant, separate written authorizations are issued for band-tailed pigeons, snow geese in Goose Management Area One and sea ducks (harlequins, scoters and long-tailed) throughout Western Washington. For brant and other waterfowl, the reporting deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 15.

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