Washington Closes Spring Bear, Youth Turkey Hunts, Recreational Fishing Due to COVID-19
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has canceled a spring black bear hunt and all youth turkey hunts. Recreational fishing and shellfishing have also been closed statewide. The closures are the result of the stay home order issued by Washington Governor Jay Inslee in response to COVID-19.
Six northeastern units were to open April 1 for the spring bear hunt but have been closed until further notice. Nearly 90 percent of spring bear permit holders in northeast Washington would be traveling from outside the area, contravening the stay at home order and increasing the opportunity for exposure to the virus. Spring bear hunts currently scheduled to open April 15 will be assessed as that date approaches.
The regular spring turkey hunt is still scheduled for April 15 to May 31, pending continuing developments. WDFW plans to reassess closures and upcoming hunting seasons on April 6. Youth hunters with turkey permits for the April 4-5 youth hunt will be able to use their permits in the regular season should it go forward.
Due to disruptions by COVID-19 issues, the deadline to seal bobcats and otters has been extended from April 30 to July 20, 2020.
Statewide recreational fishing and shellfishing seasons that were to run through April 8 have been closed to comply with the governor’s order. Fishery managers had reported anglers crowding banks despite social distancing orders. Also, crowded boat ramps and waterways ran counter to the governor’s order to stay home.
Wildlife areas and water access areas around the state are thus closed through April 8. On April 6, the WDFW will re-evaluate whether to extend those closures as well. All camping on state lands is closed through April 30.