Update, March 31: The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife says it has canceled this weekends' youth turkey hunt and that the upcoming bear season will remain closed for now.
The youth turkey hunt was originally scheduled for April 4-5. Youth who were planning to hunt can still use their tags in the regular spring or fall turkey seasons, pending further impacts.
“Aspiring hunters often experience their first successful hunt over this weekend,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “It's disappointing, but this is a serious situation, and we want our communities and the hunting public to successfully protect themselves.”
Six game management units that were scheduled to open on April 1 for spring bear hunting will now be closed, pending further evaluation, but it could reopen if conditions allow.
WDFW says it's taking these steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 during Gov. Inslee's Stay Home order. The department is aware of the public's disappointment in regards to recent public land and resource closures, but noted that while hunting can be solitary, many people have to travel from urban to rural areas in order to partake.
“Every stop for gas, food, or a restroom break can introduce the virus to areas it hasn’t yet reached,” said Susewind. “It was a tough decision, but we want to ensure that people are properly encouraged to stay home at this time.”
The spring turkey season is scheduled to run from April 15-May 31. Next week on April 6, the WDFW will reassess its ability to open impacted hunting areas, as well as other upcoming hunting seasons.
Additional spring bear hunts are currently scheduled to open April 15. WDFW says almost 90 percent of spring bear permit holders in northeast Washington would be traveling from outside the area.
WDFW added that a limited number of open hunting seasons that are winding down or have limited participation that doesn't create the same public health concerns remain open.
Previous coverage, March 26: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says as of right now, hunting seasons are opening as scheduled during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
WDFW says hunting seasons currently underway are not impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions at this time, but significant travel is not advised.
WDFW will keep its website updated with any possible closures, and will send out a news release and social media posts if there are any changes regarding hunting seasons.
The wild turkey hunting spring season opens in April.
Recreational fishing and shell fishing has been closed by the WDFW statewide, closing all wildlife areas and water access areas for at least two weeks beginning Wednesday, March 25.
License sales can be completed online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/#/login.