Director’s Bulletin | November/December 2021

A drake and hen blue-winged teal flying
A drake and hen blue-winged teal take to the skies over the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo credit Larry James)

Don’t let the gloomy weather hem you in

The rainy, dark, colder seasons of fall and winter in Washington can carry a case of cabin fever if you let them keep you indoors. Thankfully, the Life Outdoors knows no off season, so there are still plenty of options for getting outside if you’re willing to gear up a little and maybe try something new. In that spirit, WDFW staff have gathered some ideas for ways to get you, your family, and friends out there despite the urge to hunker down inside with sweaters and hot cocoa. Check out the full list on our Medium blog. And if you’re sharing online, don’t forget to tag your outdoor adventures with the hashtag #LifeOutdoorsWA.

A fisher, a housecat-sized member of the weasel family, is released by WDFW, the National Park Service and other non-profit and tribal partners in late-November 2021 at Olympic National Park. (Photo credit NPS)

Fisher releases highlight value of collaboration

Through our ongoing partnership with the National Park Service and other federal agencies, tribes, Conservation Northwest, The Calgary Zoo, and others, in recent weeks WDFW staff have released nearly 20 additional fishers to the Olympic Peninsula. It’s the latest event in a nearly two decades-long project to restore the native species to Washington. Read more in our news release or in press coverage from Field & Stream and The Grays Harbor Daily World. While the Washington Fisher Reintroduction Project met its goal in early 2020, releasing more than 250 total fishers across the Olympic and Cascade ranges, project partners saw an opportunity this year to boost the numbers and genetic diversity of fishers on the Olympic Peninsula using animals live-trapped in Alberta.

Bull elk and cow elk laying down in open field
Bull and cow elk at Oak Creek Wildlife Area (Photo credit Don Ashmore)

Cowiche land acquisition connects Oak Creek Wildlife Area units

The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved two land transactions this month: one to acquire 290 acres of shrubsteppe habitat in Yakima County that will link two units of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area, and another to acquire a 34-acre conservation easement in Thurston County that provides wetland habitat for Oregon spotted frog. The Yakima County property connects the Cowiche and Oak Creek units of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area, and will benefit mule deer, elk and other species. Linking these large sections of public land also benefits hunters, birders, and outdoor recreationists. Please keep in mind that as of Dec. 15 several wildlife area units in Yakima and Kittitas counties are closed to public access or open to walk-in access only to protect wintering wildlife; see the news release for details. In southeast Washington, part of the Asotin Wildlife Area is also closed to protect wintering elk and nearby agricultural crops.

Successful night of squidding at Point Defiance Marina

Weekender: squidding picks up, prime time for waterfowl hunting and Christmas bird counts

Our December Weekender is packed full of outdoor opportunities — visit the webpage for recommendations on getting outdoors across each region of the state. After a slow start, Puget Sound squidding has picked up between Seattle and Tacoma. Waterfowl hunters statewide are enjoying the prime of the season as each storm brings fresh flocks of ducks and geese winging south. This month is also an excellent time for birding, including the longest-running community science project in North America: Audubon’s 121st annual Christmas Bird Count, which occurs between Dec. 14, 2021 and Jan. 5, 2022.

Head of large silver fish that has been caught with a fly laying in water to be released
Winter steelhead caught on the Bogachiel River near Forks, Washington (Photo credit Jeff Fong)

Difficult decisions for coastal steelhead conservation follow robust public engagement process

Amid forecasts for low returns, on Nov. 30 WDFW staff and tribal co-managers announced conservation-minded restrictions to sport and tribal fishing on Washington’s coastal rivers. These measures are to protect wild steelhead populations, provide sport fishing opportunity where possible, and support tribal treaty rights. While this was no easy decision, it followed a robust public engagement process that included four online open houses, presentations before the Commission, and extensive dialogue with local stakeholders, guides, anglers, conservation groups and others. This work will continue through the new Ad-Hoc Coastal Steelhead Advisory Group, with a focus on developing a plan to protect and recover native and hatchery-produced steelhead for each river system of Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, and coastal Olympic Peninsula, to be submitted to the Legislature by the end of 2022.

Burned vegetation with small green plants emerging in the foreground
Landscape on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area six days after a prescribed burn, with vegetation already emerging.

Forest management practices benefit fish, wildlife, and people

After another challenging wildfire season, we can be proud of the proactive action taken to ensure the landscapes WDFW manages are healthy and resilient to support a diversity of fish, wildlife, and people. Learn more in this new blog post. Since 2014, WDFW has used a variety of forest management tools to mitigate risks and restore forests to their historic, healthier states. Restored forests decrease severe wildfire risk, improve health and habitat for fish and wildlife species, and protect homes and local communities. WDFW’s forest management work is an ongoing process that requires regular maintenance in many cases after the initial work is done, but the payoff and benefits are worth the effort.

Ocean Shores winter razor clam diggers (Photo credit Serni Solidarios)

Next round of razor clam digs confirmed for Washington coast

This month our coastal shellfish staff were excited to announce 26 tentatively scheduled razor clam digs in January and February, and confirmed that the latest round of December digs can proceed as planned. See the Dec. 9 news release for dates and other details. There were a lot of great digging days this fall — in many cases with quick limits even for new diggers and families — and we’re looking forward to a productive winter season as well. Beginning with the final 2021 digs on Dec. 30, the daily limit of razor clams will return to the usual 15 clam limit, which should help prevent exceeding quotas set before the season.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store