The state Fish and Wildlife Commission will take public comments on proposed changes to the protective status of Steller sea lions and tufted puffins at its meeting Friday and Saturday in Olympia.
The commission also is scheduled to discuss draft options for a new policy to address conservation and fishery objectives for Willapa Bay salmon fisheries.
Penny Becker, the acting Diversity Division manager and Gary Wiles, a biologist with the Wildlife Program, are slated to brief the commission on updated status reports for Steller seas lions and tufted puffins. The department is recommending listing tufted puffins on the state’s endangered species list and removing Steller sea lions from the state’s threatened species list. Delisting could lead to the future lethal removal of small numbers of Steller sea lions at places where authorized by federal and state law.
After receiving the briefing, the commission will take public comment on the recommendations. The commission is expected to vote on the recommendations in March.
The briefing is scheduled to being after Friday’s lunch break.
A separate public hearing, set for about 8:30 a.m. Saturday, will give the commission an update on development of policy to guide management of Willapa Bay salmon fisheries. The public also can view the draft options at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation.
In other business, the commission will receive a briefing on two proposals to acquire land for fish and wildlife habitat and public recreation. One property is a 94-acre parcel in Whitman County that is being donated by Pheasants Forever, according to a department news release. The other is 10 acres in Whatcom County that would be funded through a National Coastal Wetlands grant.
Additionally, the commission will hear a briefing on the enforcement program and will discuss the North of Falcon policy, which provides direction to fishery managers in defining annual salmon fishing seasons in Washington's waters.