The state’s new waterfowl hunting season, approved Aug. 8 by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, will be similar to last year’s. The statewide duck season will be open for 107 days, running Oct. 17-21 and then Oct. 24-Jan. 31. A special youth hunting weekend is set for Sept. 19-20.
Limits for mallard, pintail, scaup, redhead, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same as last season. The commission did raise the daily bag limit for canvasback from one to two per day because of increasing numbers throughout North America.
Goose-hunting seasons will vary among management areas across the state, but most will open mid-October and run through late January.
The waterfowl seasons approved by the commission are based on state and federal waterfowl population estimates and guidelines set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to surveys done this spring in Canada and the United States, a record number of ducks, approximately 49.5 million, were on the northern breeding grounds. That’s slightly more than last year’s record of 49.2 million ducks on the breeding grounds.
People hunting waterfowl in southwest Washington should note that the commission did approve several changes to the goose-hunting season. Those changes include:
▪ Closing the season for dusky Canada geese to ensure protection of the birds in areas where the small population of this subspecies winters.
▪ Expanding the length of the general hunting season into March for other geese.
▪ Adding all of Clark County to Goose Management Area 2A, and Grays Harbor County to Goose Management Area 2B.
▪ Eliminating check stations for geese, and instead increasing checks in the field to monitor harvest.
The commission opted against a proposal that would have required hunters to pass a new goose-identification test before receiving authorization to hunt in goose-management areas 2A and 2B. Instead, the current testing requirements to hunt in those two areas will remain in effect this season.
The commission also added another option to the Skagit County brant-hunting season scheduled for early January. In previous years, the state has opened the Skagit brant hunt for eight days when at least 6,000 brant were counted during an aerial survey of the region. The new rule allows the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to open a three-day hunt when counts exceed 3,000 brant but fall below the 6,000-bird threshold.
In other matters, the commission also discussed the implementation of the statewide steelhead management plan and a report that outlines management actions designed to address threats to wild steelhead populations.
Details on the upcoming waterfowl hunting seasons will be available at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations.