New rules to night hunting coming up

catdog360
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New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby catdog360 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:21 am

Pay attention to the new rules coming up for you guys that hunt at night in Washington. The night hunting bill is alive and proceeding.
brian j cerelli
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby brian j cerelli » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:38 pm

Im not sure exactly what this new rule means, i assume your talking about wac 232-12-063. hunting at night.

does section (d) mean you cant hunt anywhere during general rifle season, even in areas that are permitt only and not open during general season?
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby catdog360 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:53 pm

You never can hunt during a modern firearm season. And no this is the issue we stopped last year. Its back. Enforcement is pushing it. They will try to implent n this next cession
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby Machias » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:03 pm

The changes to the night hunting has been pulled off of the three year rule meeting. No changes what so ever to the night hunting rules.
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby Machias » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:05 pm

This is directly from the Department:

The rule proposal concerning night hunting is broader than just restricting caliber. Before answering your questions, please be aware that as of today, this rule proposal is being pulled from the Wildlife Program's three year regulation package. I would expect to see some variation of this in the future, after we have had a chance to vet it better with hunters. So, along that vein, I might as well describe the thinking behind the proposal now and get some early feedback. There have been a number of incidents associated with hunting at night that have raised concern over public safety, officer safety and the ability to enforce the prohibition on spot lighting big game. Rounds shot into the sides of homes, hunters or companions shot or injured, and a loop hole allowing would-be big game poachers an excuse are the issues driving this. When an officer has to consider approach because he doesn’t want to offend a legitimate hunter, it can get hairy out there. This rule proposal was an effort to try to address all of those things.

BACKGROUND: Prior to the codification of former fish and wildlife codes (Title 75&77), the prohibition against spotlighting big game was much stronger. The former law maintained that if a person was in possession of a firearm, in an area where big game was found, and artificial light was used, the combination of those elements constituted “prima facia” evidence of spotlighting. While the prima facia language is now absent from RCW 77.15.450, officers essentially use the same standard today to articulate an investigatory stop, if not probable cause. Right now, hunting small game species such as raccoon, coyote and bobcat with the aid of spotlight is not prohibited, except during times areas are open for center fire big game seasons. This convolutes things for us when we approach spotlighting during those other months (e.g. “am I going to tick off a legit hunter, or is this a bad guy?").

While the enforceability challenge is usually overcome by evaluating a number of factors, to include whether the habitat being hunted and methods being employed are consistent with hunting small game species, it gives the poachers an argument. I was on patrol two years ago when we set up the decoy. A known poacher shot the decoy from a seated position in the vehicle, with the bullet traveling across the chest of his partner, and out of the open passenger side window. When we pulled him over and took him out of the vehicle, he was arguing that he shot at a coyote. Yeah – that’s the extreme, but the “I’m coyote hunting excuse” is used by most of the bad guys, even when you have them dead to rights.

Hunting big game with the aid of artificial light is almost always done by cruising rural road systems at a slow rate while casting a high powered light along adjacent logging clear cuts or fields, as well as the roads themselves. Calibers used in big game spotlighting cases range from small calibers to reduce noise (and ultimately detection), to high powered rifles, with high powered rifles being the typical choice of poachers. Extensive field officer experience has shown that those hunting big game in this manner are often in the possession of a pre-loaded rifle in the vehicle, or load it from within the vehicle once the game is spotted. A number of unintentional discharges have occurred during spotlighting events, endangering the occupants. Animals are usually shot from, or in, the roadway. There is also greater potential for incidents of reckless endangerment or property damage when high-powered rifles are discharged at night. WDFW and local law enforcement agencies receive complaints every year of homes and buildings being struck by wayward bullets as people shoot illegally at animals located in fields and orchards. These structures, like people, are not visible beyond the range of the spotlight, but are within the range of the rifle round. But this all can be mitigated when someone hunts away from the vehicle, finds a backstop, and identifies shooting lanes. Calling in animals provides an opportunity to consider safety zones.

The general public safety issues associated with spotlighting big-game (or any night hunting) are one concern, but I have eluded to another – the danger to the officer, especially when there are exceptions like hunting small game at night. In our experience, those illegally spotlighting big game are often either intoxicated or on drugs. Suspects avoid being contacted by responding officers, leading to vehicle pursuits. Our history has at least one example of where a Fish and Wildlife Officer was forced to exchange gun-fire with a spotlighting suspect, resulting in the suspect's death. Pennsylvania lost an officer last year on a spot lighting case. In order to minimize the danger to the officer by these armed violators, decrease escalation like a pursuit, and increase successful arrest, contacts are generally done with duty firearms at the low ready and from an area of tactical advantage and cover. The suspect is first taken into custody, all firearms and passengers are secured, and then the investigative interview begins. When a bank is robbed, law enforcement does not respond as if a teller inadvertently bumped the alarm……… because they know that worrying about exceptions up front when guns are involved can result in tragedy. On the other hand, none of us want to have a legitimate small game hunter contacted in high-risk mode.


The best way for me to proceed might be to take it section by section:

WAC 232-12-063 Hunting at night‑-Regulations‑-Penalties. (1) It is unlawful to hunt small game animals or unclassified wildlife at night, unless all of the following requirements are met:
(a) Artificial lights used in the hunting activity are not attached to or projected from any motor vehicle.
(b) Shooting occurs at least fifty feet from a motor vehicle.

We are trying to separate the two activities – illegally spotlighting big game which usually occurs from a vehicle, and legitimate small game hunters that can pursue that activity with calls, back stops, and away from the vehicle. These two provisions are the backbone of the proposal and intended to increase officer safety, and enforceability associated with spotlighting big-game.

(c) Firearms are restricted to .22 caliber rifles and handguns, and shotguns are restricted to no. 6 shot or smaller. Hunting with bow and arrow is allowed.

For what it was worth, this was an ill-conceived idea, with good intentions. We looked at a number of other state’s night hunting rules, and many constrained the caliber. The original thought was to limit projectiles that travel great distances for public safety sake, and provide some deterrence for those really out looking for deer and elk at night with larger calibers. Of course, many elk and deer have been poached with .22 caliber rifles. So the deterrence factor probably isn’t there - it can be argued that .22 caliber rounds travel just as far as some larger calibers, and many popular predator calibers would be excluded by this provision. The idea no longer seems like a good one and you won’t see caliber restrictions in any future proposals from the WDFW Law Enforcement Bureau.

(d) During the months of September, October, or November hunting does not occur in areas closed to hunting for deer or elk with centerfire rifles.

Whoops, we meant to say “open," not closed. This provision was intended to follow current regulation in that you can’t hunt coyotes, bobcat or raccoons in areas that have center fire rifle deer and elk season underway. I wasn’t going to go into the reason behind this, because it’s old law carried forward.

(e) Hunting activity is further than five hundred yards from any structure or temporary habitation located on public land.

After consideration, this would be a difficult distance to determine for officer and hunter both. Plus, some situations warrant safe shooting within this distance. We figured that reckless endangerment laws were sufficient in addressing the public safety piece. You probably won’t see this one in a future proposal.

(f) The hunting activity occurs within published open seasons.

I don’t need to explain this one.

(2) Private landowners or their designees that possess a valid depredation permit issued by the department are exempt from the above requirements while hunting on the permit designated property. Nothing in this section removes the right of property owners, their immediate family members, their documented employees, or tenants of real property, pursuant to RCW 77.36.030, to trap or kill wildlife that is threatening human health and safety or causing property damage on that property, without the licenses required under RCW 77.32.010 or authorization from the director under RCW 77.12.240.

Landowners, tenants, family members and employees were exempted – designees would need to get a free permit.

(3) A violation of this section involving killing, hunting, taking, holding, possessing, or maliciously injuring or harming unclassified wildlife is an infraction punishable under RCW 77.15.160. A violation of this section involving killing, hunting, taking, holding, possessing, or maliciously injuring or harming big game animals, small game animals, protected wildlife, or endangered wildlife is a crime punishable under RCW 77.15.410, 77.15.430, 77.15.130, or 77.15.120, depending on the animal or wildlife killed, hunted, taken, held, possessed, or maliciously injured or harmed.

These are standard penalties already in statute being cited above.

Hope this helps with your understanding………… OG
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby catdog360 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:50 pm

Awesome thanks for the update Fred. I know Tuesday was the last day to respond to this. Looks like we may have stopped it for awhile.
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby George Streepy » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:01 pm

I just spent 45 minutes writing up my opinion on this. The boss (my wife) cursing me the whole time for not doing work that actually puts money in our bank account. Thank You Fred, that makes me feel a little better, if that is what F&G are actually going to try and implement.

On a side note: If you own your own business, hiring your wife, your father, and your mother-in-law isn't always the greatest idea!
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby Machias » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:12 pm

George Streepy wrote:On a side note: If you own your own business, hiring your wife, your father, and your mother-in-law isn't always the greatest idea!


:D :D
Fred Moyer
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby buzz » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:35 pm

Thanks for the good news Fred. :D
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby Dewatto » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:43 pm

Good deal I'll pass this info on.
brian j cerelli
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby brian j cerelli » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:57 pm

thanks for clearing it up machias, (d) made no scence to me, thats why i asked what they was trying to say.
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby catdog360 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:13 pm

Just remember guys we defeated this in late 2010. They promised to bring it back in 2012the and they held their word. We stopped it again, my dad said it had to do with budgets for creating new laws. They still promise to bring it back in three years. My guess is enforcement will be even sneakier then
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby brian j cerelli » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:24 pm

with the way things are going in this fine state of ours, we will loose coon hunting with dogs before this comes up agian in 3 years.... just like our coyote season
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Re: New rules to night hunting coming up

Postby Buddyw » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:14 am

Thanks Fred, This was one of my agenda topics that I wanted to work on after season.

I'm planning on being up at the commission meeting, Glad to see this dropped. I was talking with some folks and we did have some friends and support from inside the department also. We can't throw all of WDFW under the bus there are some friends inside that where giving critical opposition to this rule.

I know allot of guys just want to beat up and Lump all of WDFW together, but that isn't going to help anything. We need to make sure we don't isolate our Friends in WDFW, while we hammer the Anti's within WDFW.

Like I said, I plan on attending the Commission meetings as much as I can. If there are any inputs folks would like addressed, Please let me know and I'll consider bringing them up. It would be nice to see more Hounds men Represented, But I know it's tough with full time jobs and family's so I'm not judging those that can't make it, I'm just lucky that I'm hoping to have a more flexible Schedule with some of my changes, and this is one of the goals I have.

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