Heading into this year’s hunting seasons I had a concern likely shared by many of you… how would wildfires, smoke, or resulting land closures impact the experience? Fortunately, the much-needed rains came and restrictions could be relaxed. And yet, we must recognize this season for the stark warning it was.
If we wish to protect our hunting and fishing heritage, we need to act now to address climate change and pursue needed habitat conservation and restoration for future generations of fish, wildlife AND people. Hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike wish to continue the deep connections we have to the natural world and the experiences it provides us. We all want cool and clean waters with plenty of in-stream flow through the summer and healthy, resilient forests; key ingredients to conserving Washington’s biodiversity and supporting all outdoor experiences. To tackle this challenge is daunting, but there is hope.
We at WDFW are working to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions and have begun our work to prepare for the 2022 state legislative session in pursuit of the policies and funding to support free-flowing rivers, to conserve and restore habitat, and to reverse losses occurring on the land and in the water. At the federal level, Congress is closer than ever to passing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act — legislation that would vastly advance our ability to secure the wildlife and places we value for future generations.
Climate change affects everything in nature: fish, wildlife, ecosystems, and us. As stewards, we’re using our voice to seek changes that help protect and restore the places and activities we love. You can too. Climate change is impacting hunters, anglers, outdoor recreationalists, and all those who care about wildlife in Washington, now.
Whether in hunting camps or halls of our capitals, our voices are powerful, and we must actively participate in climate conversations and solutions. We look forward to partnering with you in this challenge.
Consider serving as a WDFW advisor
At the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, we celebrate diverse individuals who bring a wide range of perspectives and several WDFW advisory groups are seeking new members. If you have interest in Puget Sound angling, the fishing guide industry, or habitat restoration, take a look at the Department’s Advisory Group Handbook, and consider whether this volunteerism opportunity could be right for you. All are welcome to participate regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, status as a veteran, and basis of disability. Those with habitat technical expertise may also want to consider a shorter commitment currently available as part of the Chehalis Basin project review team.
Razor clam season officially underway
This year’s razor clam season is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. And after naturally occurring domoic acid closures last season, harvesters are ready! The first round of digs kicked off in September, and we’ve announced a total of 62 tentative digging dates before the end of the year. The limit has also been increased to 20 clams at all open beaches through the end of the year. We’ll be approving more digs throughout the fall and winter, so grab your clam gun or shovel and hit the beach!
Hunters can help with elk hoof disease
During this year’s hunting season, we are starting a pilot program to evaluate how hunters can help reduce the prevalence of elk hoof disease. For western Washington general season and most special permit hunters, WDFW is offering entry into an exclusive draw opportunity through two opportunities to help with this important pilot project.
Become a partner in WDFW’s efforts to restore habitat
You have a chance to partner with WDFW and improve habitat for fish and wildlife in your communities. We and our partners are soliciting projects to receive funding to remove barriers that prevent salmon and steelhead from swimming upstream, and implement future restoration, acquisition, protection, and conservation projects in the Chehalis Basin watershed. You can even help to create fish and wildlife habitat at home to reduce fragmentation and help offset ongoing housing and urban development habitat losses.
Sea cucumbers in the spotlight
WDFW’s management of sustainable local fisheries provides significant economic, commercial, and recreational value to local communities. For one such example, read our blog “A deep dive into sea cucumber conservation and consumption” or watch our YouTube video exploring the unique world of sea cucumbers.
Engaging the public on coastal steelhead
WDFW has appointed 12 members to an Ad-Hoc Coastal Steelhead Advisory Group. The group will play a role advising watershed specific coastal steelhead fishery plans per Washington legislative direction. The ad-hoc group will meet virtually beginning in 2022. To view a member list or access information on an Oct. 26 second coastal steelhead townhall, visit wdfw.wa.gov/coastal-steelhead.
Celebrating 3 pregnant whales on Orca Recovery Day
Orca Recovery Day, Oct. 16, provided an especially important opportunity to celebrate three Southern killer whale pregnancies among J-pod and ask for the public’s help to change the odds for this endangered population. Consider incorporating small or large actions in your everyday life to make a difference for these whales. Visit WDFW’s website to learn more about what we’ve been up to in support of orca recovery.
Grilled seafood, mushrooms for #LifeOutdoorsWA bounty
October is Seafood Month! Celebrate Life Outdoors this October by grilling up local Washington seafood, whether you reel it in yourself, pick it up from a local market, or buy it off the dock. October can also be high time for mushroom season in the damper areas of our state, and WDFW has prepared an introduction to some foraging favorites so you can also hunt down and deliver these edible delicacies to your Life Outdoors dinner table. Visit the Life Outdoors webpage.