The state Fish and Wildlife Commission has expanded the number of big-game hunting permits available this year and reduce the cost of several types of permits during it meeting April 11-12.
The permit changes were among other changes adopted in hunting rules for the upcoming season.
The continued growth of many deer and elk populations will support the permit increases this year, said Dave Ware, game manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The commission approved additional permits in three areas:
Colockum elk herd: With the herd continuing to exceed population objectives, the number of special permits, primarily for antlerless elk, will jump to 1,016 from 374.
Yakima elk herd: The commission approved 130 additional permits for antlered elk and 1,440 for antlerless elk in response as the herd continues growing.
Northeast white-tailed deer: Buck harvest levels have increased as the herd starts to rebound from harsh winters of 2007-08. The department will make 120 additional antlerless special permits available this year to youth, senior and disabled hunters.
The only significant reduction in special permits will be in the Mount St. Helens area, where the elk herd has reached management objective levels after six years of elevated permit levels. That has reduced the herd 25-30 percent. The commission approved a reduction of 400 permits this year.
The commission also approved a reduction in fees for some special permits and tags, which were raised in 2009. Ware said the agency proposed the reductions to encourage participation in certain hunts and address concerns raised about the cost of certain permits.
Under the new fee schedule adopted by the commission, the cost of a second-deer tag will be reduced to $43.40 from $68, while the price of a multiseason deer tag drops to $139.10 from $182.