Accurate and complete information on hunting activity is vital to sound wildlife resource management.
To improve the amount and accuracy of information on hunting activities, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) now requires hunters to submit post-hunting season reports.
In an effort to make harvest reporting more convenient, WDFW is offering hunters the option of reporting their activity either by telephone or over the Internet, rather than in writing.
Traditionally, WDFW conducted post-season mail surveys to assess game animal populations and hunter effort and success. Survey information was collected along with reports directly from hunters in the field, at highway checking stations and at locker storage facilities.
However, the response has been low to the voluntary mail survey. Each year, follow-up mailings have been needed to collect the surveys. In addition only about 40 percent of successful deer and elk hunters typically reported harvest information.
The low rate of survey responses has left wildlife biologists with inadequate information for assessment of game populations, hunter take and effort. Consequently, they have been conservative in setting hunting seasons.
As a result, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission the citizen panel which oversees WDFW activities took action last April to make the hunting reports mandatory for all persons holding a state hunting license, whether or not they actually hunted.
The mandatory reporting requirement is expected to dramatically increase the amount of information available to resource managers and ultimately could benefit both wildlife resources and hunters.
To improve compliance, WDFW is offering incentives for early reporting and is imposing penalties on hunters who fail to submit their reports. Those who do not complete the reports on time must pay a $10 penalty before they can purchase a license for the next license year.
Early reporting incentives
Deer, elk bear and turkey hunters who submit their report on or before Jan. 10 will be entered into a drawing for one of nine deer or elk special permits valid for next year's hunting season. Those permits include:
Two special incentive elk permits for western Washington and two for eastern Washington.
Five statewide, any deer, special incentive permits valid in any area open to general or permit hunting seasons except GMU 157, 485 and Private Lands Wildlife Management Areas.
Deer and elk permits will require a hunter to use the appropriate legal weapon during any open general or permit hunting season. Hunters who win the special incentive permits must purchase the appropriate license and tag from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) headquarters in Olympia.
Below are some frequently asked questions about the reporting requirement:
Why does WDFW need accurate hunter activity information?
Hunting activity reports contribute to scientific resource management by serving as an annual inventory system indicating how many animals are taken.
In many cases, harvest information can be used to track wildlife population trends.
The reports help wildlife managers assess the impacts of hunting regulation changes.
Information is used to allocate special permits among many user groups, based on various success and activity levels.
How do I report?
Hunters have their choice of two systems in place for collection of harvest reports:
An automated, toll-free phone line at 1-877-945-3492.
By Internet at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov
Do not hand deliver or mail written reports for deer, elk, black bear and turkey.
When do I report?
Hunters are encouraged to report within 10 days of harvest while details of the hunt are still fresh.
All deer, elk, bear and turkey hunters, including hunters who ended up not hunting, must report by Jan. 31.
Deer, elk, bear and turkey tag holders who do not submit a report by Jan. 31 will not be allowed to purchase tags for the subsequent hunting season until they report.
What information do I report?
Hunters submitting reports will be asked to provide their Washington Interactive Licensing Database (WILD) identification number. It is of utmost importance that this number be correctly entered.
Mandatory hunter reports: Hunters will be asked to report by species tag. Use the form below to help recall the information necessary to submit the hunter report by telephone or Internet. Remember, written reports, whether hand delivered or mailed, will not be accepted for deer, elk, bear and turkey.
For more information at WDFW