Commission will tackle a number of hunting season proposals

Briefings and public hearings on hunting issues will dominate the agenda when the state Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Friday and Saturday in Moses Lake.

The hunting discussions will begin with an overview of the 2015-17 hunting season-setting process. Mike Cope, game division manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, will give the commissioners a review of the process used to create the latest three-year hunting package. The discussion is scheduled to begin about 10:25 a.m. Friday.

After that, the commission will hear from staffers, and take public testimony, on topics that include landowner hunting permits; small game hunting dates and bag limits; trapping seasons; mountain goat, bighorn sheep and moose hunting; deer and elk seasons; cougar hunting; fall and spring black bear hunting; and game management boundaries.

The department’s Dave Ware, wolf policy lead, will give the commission the annual wolf management report.

On March 6, the department released a report showing the state’s wolf population grew by 30 percent in 2014.

The annual survey showed there are at least 68 gray wolves in the state, up from the 52 wolves that were counted in 2013. The survey also showed four new packs have formed, bringing the total to 16 packs.

The new packs — Goodman Meadows, Profanity Peak, Tucannon and Whitestone — were found east of the Cascades, where all the other wolf packs are.

The report also showed there were 35 sheep killed by wolves last year, setting the record for the number of livestock killed by wolves. The majority, 33 sheep, were killed by members of the Huckleberry pack. A breeding female from the pack was killed by the state as it worked with a rancher to halt the pack from preying on the sheep in Stevens County.

In other matters:

• Rich Childers, Puget Sound shellfish manager, will brief the commission on Puget Sound clam and oyster seasons. The department is expected to recommend season changes on 20 public beaches around the Sound.

• Chris Donley, inland fish program manager, will give an update on the agency’s Fish Washington campaign and other activities conducted by the program.