Western Washington rifle hunters to get 12 days for elk

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OLYMPIA — Sportsmen will get an extra day of elk hunting in Western Washington as the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a 12-day modern firearms season.

“The health of our elk herds has shown real improvement since 2001, when the department started developing management plans specific to each herd,” said Miranda Wecker, commission chairman. “Most of our elk herds are now at or near the population goals established under those plans.”

The commission also increased the number of bull-elk permits for the Nooksack, Blue Mountains and Yakima herds. Permits for antlerless elk were increased in the Blue Mountains, Yakima, and Colockum areas.

The nine-member commission rejected a proposal to lift the statewide ban on using electronic decoys to attract waterfowl.

Also not adopted was a proposal to allow the use of illuminated arrow nocks, which make it easier for bow hunters to recover their arrows. The commission did, however, indicate a willingness to revisit that issue next year.

“The commission has struggled with the issue of allowing new technologies in hunting,” Wecker said. “It raises questions of fair chase, equal opportunity among hunters and the very tradition of the sport. The commission has to uphold those standards, and some of us believe we have to draw the line at the use of electronics.”

All of the changes approved by the commission will be posted on the agency website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/) and incorporated into the state’s 2012 Big Game pamphlet, available later this month.