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06
OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to consider adopting rules regarding chronic wasting disease (CWD) and 2004-05 waterfowl hunting when it meets Aug. 6-7 in Lynnwood.

The commission, a nine-member citizens panel which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is also expected to vote on whether to adopt the department's proposed 2005-07 budget and 2005 request legislation.

Commissioners will also review a proposed pilot project to allow the use of hounds to hunt cougar in Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. Commissioners could vote on the proposal, or continue action until a future meeting, as recommended by WDFW staff.

The commission is scheduled to meet from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Embassy Suites Hotel is at 20610 44th Ave. West in Lynnwood. The complete meeting agenda is available online on the Internet.

The chronic wasting disease emergency rule amendment would prohibit importing deer and elk harvested from states and Canadian provinces where chronic wasting disease is present in wild populations. CWD is a fatal disease of the central nervous system. No deer or elk in Washington have been found with the disease thus far, despite more than three years of random testing of hunter-harvested animals.

The emergency rule would allow importation of animal carcasses if they were already boned out and processed. Under the proposed rule, deer and elk hides and capes would only be allowed if heads are not attached, and skulls and antlers would only be allowed if all soft tissue is removed. Finished taxidermy mounts would be allowed.

If adopted, the emergency rule would go into effect Sept. 1 and last 120 days. The carcass ban could become a permanent rule in 2005. Washington residents hunting in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Illinois, South Dakota, Nebraska and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan would have to comply with the regulations.

Migratory waterfowl seasons proposed for 2004-05 are similar to last year's package, said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl section manager. The general duck- and goose-hunting seasons are proposed to run for 107 days, identical to the 2003 season, except in southwest Washington, where goose-hunting will likely be restricted by funding cuts for a dusky goose monitoring program.

Dusky geese are a subspecies of Canada geese that winter in the lower Columbia and Willamette river valleys and require special management attention because of their relatively low abundance, Kraege said.

The commission is also expected to act on a proposal to allow public goose hunting on a 30-mile stretch of the Snake River along Lake Sacajawea, to abolish the 933-acre Moxee Game Reserve, and to create the 491-acre Snipes Game Reserve, both in Yakima County.

Commissioners are expected to consider adoption of a number of fisheries and catch data accounting rules, as well as amendments to rules governing shellfish classification, commercial herring, sea urchin and sea cucumber harvests and catch data accounting. Amendments to rules regarding wildlife rehabilitation requirements are also expected to be up for adoption.

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