Tag Archives: Washington

NEWSLETTER March 5, 2016

I am sending you four pages of information from the State of Washington-2014 Game Status and Trend Report that represents a quick study on deer management in Washington State.

The information is a consequence of a long phone conversation with Dana Base, the senior biologist for the NE corner of Washington State. Our conversation centered on population inventory and when Dana made the point that his colleagues had counted 3000 deer in the Methow Valley I instantly asked what the population estimate was. He chuckled “we don’t do that”.

The Methow Valley is approximately 60 miles south of Osoyoos and runs NW/SE.

Senior biologist, Scott Fitkin and his partner Jeff Heinlen manage 11 Game Management Units in Region 2 North Okanagan; four GMUs touch the International Border.

Forevermore remember Scott Fitkin’s words when describing wildlife inventory-“preliminary calculations suggest any estimates produced will have extremely wide confidence intervals.

Washington State does road deer counts and every hunter is expected to go on-line and complete a hunter harvest survey. Those who do not are fined a nominal fee when they renew their yearly hunting license.

In my conversation with Scott he stressed the importance of access management. I reminded him of the quote on page 95 of the current Washington State 2015 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations ”Roads have been closed to vehicular traffic in over 65 areas providing over a million acres of relatively undisturbed prime hunting habitat”.

Access Management is only possible if there is a budget that will provide the necessary money and that is certainly the case in Washington State.

Prior to my conversation with Scott I had a phone conversation with John Buckley who is the Licensing-Revenue and Statistics Supervisor in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and received the following information on Recreational License Sales July 1,2014- June 30, 2015:

Total Hunting License Revenue –Big Game = $14,729,482.

Total Hunting License Revenue-Small Game = $2,845,507

Total Hunting License Raffles Revenue          = $    233,500.

Total Hunting Revenue July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015 = $17,808,489.

John Buckley and colleague Craig Bartlett connected to the Public Affairs Office confirmed that all the revenue collected from the sale of hunting licenses (firearm and species licenses) is committed to the funding of the wildlife management file.

Scott Fitkin made it very clear that “we have enough money” after he made the point that the Pitman Robertson Act which directs tax money from the sale of guns and ammunition to the State wildlife management program from which the tax is collected.

Although Canadians will never have a love affair with guns in league with Americans why does Canada not have similar legislation?

The last paragraph in Scott Fitkin’s four page report on deer management in North Okanagan describes a sensitive approach to dealing with complaint ungulates once again-polar opposite to BC.

If you care about the future of the province’s wildlife resource save the information as a good reference point if you understand the measure of B.C. Liberal MLA, Mike Morris’ concluding statement in his August 2015 report: Getting the Balance Right. Improving Wildlife Habitat Management in British Columbia. There is an urgency and heightened concern amongst resident hunters, guide outfitters, trappers, the wildlife viewing industry and conservationists that the province is not acting quickly enough to address the decrease in wildlife populations and degradation of wildlife habitat.

It was my original intention to send you a newsletter every two months but the sorry state of management on our mountains especially the Gilpin Grasslands and adjacent forest is grim so I will send you pictures and information that make my point.

Barry Brandow Sr.

Here is the Washington report:  CCF03072016

Here is the Alberta report:

Wildlife Inventory Alberta

Important quotes from 1989 Management Plan for Mule Deer in Alberta and 1986 Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in Alberta

Introduction page 1  White-tail Deer and Mule Deer

“The wildlife policy stated that the government is to ensure that wildlife populations are protected from severe decline, that viable populations are maintained and that the wildlife resource is passed on to future generations as it was received”

Inventory Survey-

 Quotes from Both reports are the same with few exceptions.

  • Page 12 population estimates were hampered by problems associated with collection and interpretation of survey data.
  • Page 24 In Alberta there is not enough staff to obtain sufficient information through widespread use of indirect indices to estimate whitetail population.
  • Page 100- Population inventory involves direct methods where the deer are actually observed (e.g. aerial survey) and indirect methods (e.g. jaw collection, harvest questionnaires. Direct Methods-can provide all the necessary population information. Indirect methods-can provide information on distribution and age/sex ratios but only crude estimates of population size.
  • Page 101- In the identified high priority WMUs the survey should be flown biannually (using a helicopter) with sampling of a sufficient intensity to produce a population estimate accurate to the plus or minus 20 percent level of precision.
  • Page 59- Current surveys are designed at a sampling intensity that will provide population estimates for the WMU at a precision level of plus or minus 30 percent.

Alberta Mule Deer Management Plan 1989

Introduction  Mule Deer

“The wildlife policy stated that the government is to ensure that wildlife populations are protected from severe decline, that viable populations are maintained and that the wildlife resource is passed on to future generations as it was received”.

  • Page 24 Harvest– before mid 1950s the question of population size was based on isolated counts and the subjective assessment of many people including farmers, forestry staff and game wardens.
  • Page 63-population estimate-current surveys will provide population estimates at a precision level of plus or minus 30 percent.
  • There are many techniques available for deer population inventories such as track counts, pellet counts, browse surveys, night-lighting, road side counts, aerial surveys and extrapolation of hunter harvest data. All methods have good points and drawbacks. The technique that comes closest to meeting our needs in Alberta is the aerial survey.
  • Page 102-population inventory-indirect methods are limited.
  • Page 103- aerial surveys are the only practical direct population inventory method to use in Alberta.


2012 – What Has Changed?

Two years have passed since this site was created and the meetings and testimonials took place.
What has changed?

At at February 2012 meeting in Grand Forks a number of people voiced their displeasure, opinions and observations.
Below you can watch and listen … and hopefully learn something.

Contrast what you find here with how it is dealt with just south of us in Washington state in the text below on this page.

How different are Washington state and British Columbia? What’s different?
Below is an email from Jay Shepherd regarding this:

Hi Mr. and Mrs. Brandow,
I jointly interviewed Woody Meyers (Wa. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife mule/white-tailed deer and elk researcher with approx. 30 years of experience in the western and eastern Okanogan among other places) and Dana Base (Steve Zender’s replacement in Colville, 14 years in the area now as he worked for Steve for 12 years). Steve Zender was out of the area. The answers below are a summary of their combined answers while sitting together.

Mule Deer

1. Why does Washington State game units; 101, 105 and 108 have a 9 day mule deer buck rifle season with a 3 point minimum?

We have low current numbers compared to historic numbers as you know. This may be due to some harsh winters, drought conditions for several years, and other habitat problems associated with fire suppression, weeds, cattle etc…We also have a very crowded west side of the state and so we have a large population of hunters. The relatively conservative harvest approach limits vulnerability and may increase deer numbers. Many want a full cessation to antlerless harvest which may occur in 101 during archery.

2. Why have Washington State biologists not accepted the BC argument that healthy sex ratios of 20 bucks per 100 does is an acceptable wildlife management strategy that justifies long rifle seasons on small wildlife populations?

Actually, and unfortunately we have a recommendation of “ greater than 15 bucks per 100 does” in our Game Management Plan. We are just not there yet in our thinking either and Woody suggested studies are showing even 20 is low given the that mule deer bucks do not breed like white-tail bucks, and are more sedentary and pursue does less, and therefore more bucks may be needed in a mule deer population.

Mule deer in the Grand Forks area once numbered in the thousands have declined to a few hundred and yet management Unit 8-15 (Grand Forks area) has a 52 day rifle season on the buck.

Whitetail Deer

3. Why does Washington State Game Units 101, 105 and 108 have a 14-15 day rifle season on the whitetail buck?

Basically the same answer as Question #1. We have low current numbers compared to recent numbers before the 2007 and 2008 numbers. The current numbers are due to harsh winters and other habitat problems associated with less agriculture, particularly the reduction of alfalfa and hay. We again have a very crowded west side of the state and so we have a large population of hunters.

4. Would Washington State Game Managers consider a 3 week whitetail doe season state wide? Please explain why yes or no.

No, the politics would stop consideration of that idea. We would not do this because our hunters want higher densities and we need to regrow out population after the hard winters a few years back. We just cut back on antlerless hunts in some units and now have a 4–point minimum in our 2 best white-tail units.

5. In the Grand Forks area the whitetail buck rifle season is 82 days long. What impact would an 82 day rifle season have on the whitetail buck in Units 101, 105 and 108?

It would reduce escapement of bucks and would not support good hunting in those units and be sustainable in the long term.

BC is encouraging people to hunt and one of the tactics is to allow hunting opportunity on a significant number of animals at the same time contrary to past wildlife management practices of first and foremost considering the impact on the animals.

6. What is the [position of Washington State Game Managers on the smorgasbord approach to game management? Do you encourage hunting regardless of the impact on specific animals?

We have some multi-species seasons to be honest. We do not encourage hunting to the extent the long-term effects on a species can not be sustained.

7. In BC you can hunt with rifle, bow and cross bow.
Why do hunters in Washington State have to declare and subscribe to only one method of hunting?

Our hunters demanded less crowding, mainly lower hunters numbers. We are also attempting to reduce direct pressure indirectly by choose your weapon and encourage escapement of more animals for all of the above mentioned reasons.