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Coronavirus impacts Washington hunts

Coronavirus impacts Washington hunts

Photo credit: Thinkstock

In order to follow the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” directive, Washington has canceled its spring youth turkey hunt and general bear season remains closed – for now. The decision will disappoint many who have participated in the hunts each year, but the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has made this decision to “limit the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19” per the governor’s order, the agency reports.

“Every stop for gas, food, or a restroom break can introduce the virus to areas it hasn’t yet reached,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “It was a tough decision, but we want to ensure that people are properly encouraged to stay home at this time.”

The youth turkey hunt was scheduled for April 4 to 5. Spring bear season was slated to begin April 1 in six game management units. WDFW will re-evaluate at a later date as to whether spring bear season will reopen should current COVID-19 conditions improve within the state. According to WDFW, 90% of spring bear permit holders in northeast Washington travel to hunt from outside of the area.

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Canceling the youth turkey hunt was a hard, but necessary, decision. 

“Aspiring hunters often experience their first successful hunt over this weekend,” said Susewind. “It's disappointing, but this is a serious situation, and we want our communities and the hunting public to successfully protect themselves.”

Those who have youth turkey tags may still be able to use their tags during the regular spring or fall turkey seasons, “pending further impacts,” according to WDFW. Spring turkey season runs April 15 to May 31. The agency plans to reassess opening the impacted hunting areas on April 6. Hunts with limited participation do not have the same public health concerns and remain open. For updates on WDFW’s coronavirus response and harvest season, click HERE.

See all COVID-19 state updates here

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