It may be interesting to guess the age of the cougar you harvest based on the size and sex. It might be a kitten, sub-adult — less than two-years-old — or an adult. But, you (and we) can’t be sure about an animal’s age without closer inspection and tooth data.

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Washington hunters are required to bring harvested cougars to WDFW for inspection and sealing. Sealing is a process where we put a tag in the pelt to show that the cougar was harvested legally.

The first part of our inspection is to determine if the animal is male or female. One good indicator is if there is a black spot on their back-end. If so, it’s almost certainly a male. If the animal is a juvenile and has not sexually matured, this may not be as obvious as you’d think. …


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You’ve probably heard that you can count a tree’s rings to find its age, but did you know fish scales and ear bones, called otoliths, can tell a similar story about a fish?

It’s something the six staff members in WDFW’s fish ageing lab know well, as they process 60 to 80,000 Pacific salmon scales and 10 to 20,000 marine fish otoliths every year to maintain data on fish age, life history, and survival and help inform future runs and fisheries. …


Washington has more than 260 species of greatest conservation need (SGCN), many of which are listed as threatened or endangered. The current budget for conservation of Washington’s SGCN species is vastly insufficient to meet conservation and recovery goals. It is estimated that WDFW has five percent of the funding needed to adequately conserve the state’s biodiversity.

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Decreased revenue from personalized license plate sales, currently a $1 million dollar per biennium shortfall, is eroding a key funding source for the agency’s work to conserve this biodiversity.

Continuing this important work is crucial to keeping Washington’s common species common and preventing future federal Endangered Species Act listings. …


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Two people are sitting in the dirt beside the road staring at the mountain across the river. Several drivers slow down briefly and stare too. A Border Patrol agent stops to ask what they are looking at. It’s a cold day in late October as Annemarie Prince, a district wildlife biologist out of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Colville office, and assistant wildlife biologist Ben Turnock search the peaks and plains of a mountain near the Canadian border for bighorn sheep from the Vulcan Mountain herd.


At Whatcom Creek in Bellingham, a unique new device is helping salmon by keeping seals at bay

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At high tide, near the mouth of Whatcom Creek, recent visitors to the hatchery at the Maritime Heritage Park in Bellingham might have heard an unusual sound.

Above the noise of the water rushing over fish ladders and the river crashing under the Dupont Bridge at the northeast end of the facility, you can hear it: a noise like a short burst of static, as though someone is about to turn on an intercom or use a walkie-talkie.

It comes irregularly, and that’s by design; that sound is a new GenusWave Targeted Acoustic Startle Technology (TAST) device meant to deter hungry seals congregating at the river’s entrance to the hatchery, where they’re preying on the chum salmon who are on the last leg of a long journey to return to their home river to spawn. …


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In advance of Orca Recovery Day earlier this October, WDFW joined eight state partners to round up some of the ways we’ve been working to save Southern Resident killer whales in an update to the Governor’s Office. The letter captures the state agencies’ progress to implement the recommendations from the Southern Resident Orca Task Force, which Governor Jay Inslee formed in 2018 to find ways the state could protect Southern Resident killer whales.

From working to restore shorelines, to monitoring forage fish populations, spreading awareness about responsible boating, studying contaminant levels in fish, and producing more fish for Southern Resident killer whales to eat — WDFW has been hard at work on the Southern Resident killer whale recovery effort. We are also working to improve fish passage for salmon, developing rules for commercial viewing of Southern Resident killer whales, and partnering with fellow state agencies to support an update of the Governor’s Office’s 20-year plan for salmon recovery. …


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If you find yourself on the Olympic Peninsula this Seafood Month, the Olympic Culinary Loop has you covered with destinations sure to help you experience a locavore’s table — including local shellfish and seafood.

“We encourage visitors to “eat their way around the 330-mile Loop in smaller servings,” said Lisa Martin, Olympic Culinary Loop president and co-owner of the Olympic Cellars Winery. “For example, “take a bite” out of the Southwest corner by experiencing Westport, Ocean Shores and Moclips over one long weekend, and then return north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca again for another. Or, they could taste all that the Loop has to offer during a specific season or in search of a particular taste. …


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Hello all,

It’s Fall — one of my favorite times to leave the office behind and head outdoors. I grew up hunting Roosevelt elk, gathering razor clams and fishing for salmon near my childhood home in Grays Harbor County. Taking time to enjoy nature is why we live here in Washington!

With hunting seasons, fall colors, abundant razor clamming, and several extended fishing seasons, I hope you find yourself enjoying opportunities to explore the natural bounty of our state. As we transition from a challenging summer to an active autumn, and as I enter my third year as WDFW’s Director, I find myself grateful for silver linings.

While our worlds changed with Stay Home/Stay Healthy orders and summer plans were altered, more people are getting out now and enjoying their “backyards.” Many residents learned the value of their public lands and water access sites over recent months as a way to pursue a ‘stay-cation.’ …


The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CTCR) are a long-time partner of WDFW; with coordination efforts centering around the fish and aquatic habitat we all highly value. In recent years, we have worked closely with the tribes on efforts to protect and reintroduce salmon. Two of the major efforts we have coordinated on will be highlighted at the October 2020 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting.

“We are thankful for the partnership with CTCR and the many resources they bring to the table,” said WDFW Fish Program Director Kelly Cunningham. “We are stronger together and can accomplish more. …


WDFW is grateful to all our partners and volunteers. Every year, we are humbly tasked with choosing the standouts from the many nominations we receive for our agency Citizen Awards. Thank you to all the volunteers who gave your time and expertise this past year.

Organization of the Year: Ducks Unlimited — Pacific Northwest Field Office

Ducks Unlimited — Pacific Northwest Field Office partners with WDFW on projects to protect, conserve, and restore wetlands for wildlife and people. The projects on WDFW Wildlife Areas range in type and scale, but with each one Ducks Unlimited demonstrates professionalism and dedication to conservation.

This past year, Ducks Unlimited and WDFW partnered for one of the largest estuary restoration projects on Puget Sound. Fifteen years in the making, the Leque Island Unit project removed dikes allowing tidal waters to flow onto 250 acres for the first time in over 100 years. …

About

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

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