Special Tag Drawing For Early Reporters

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is offering hunters a chance to win one of nine extra hunting tags, as a special incentive to hunters who file early hunting activity reports for the past season.

All deer, elk, black bear, and turkey tag holders, whether successful or not, must report their 2002 hunting season activity by Jan. 31. To be eligible for the special tag drawing, successful hunters must report their harvest of deer, elk, black bear or turkey within 10 days of a kill, and unsuccessful tag holders must file their reports by Jan. 10.

The special incentive tags include two eastern Washington elk tags, two western Washington elk tags, and five statewide deer tags for the 2003 hunting season. The drawing is set for March, and winners will be notified by WDFW.

The season for tag winners runs Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 in any unit open for general season or permit hunts, except Private Lands Wildlife Management Areas and Game Management Units 485 and 157, and those GMUs not open to branch-antlered bull elk hunting.

Tag winners must purchase their incentive tag for $21.90, and can also purchase regular big-game hunting licenses.

Dave Ware, WDFW game division manager, said the special tags are intended to provide an incentive for early reporting to avoid a last-minute rush before the Jan. 31 hunter report deadline.

This is the second year of the reporting requirement for all deer, elk, black bear, and turkey hunters, a move intended to improve the state's harvest statistics.

Ware said hunters have been strong supporters of mandatory reporting, according to opinion surveys and public comments collected over the past few years. "The agency's new license system makes reporting relatively easy for big-game hunters," Ware said.

Hunters can file harvest reports by calling a toll-free automated message line, 1-877-945-3492, or via the Internet at www.fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.

Hunters should have their Washington Interactive Licensing Database (WILD) number available before attempting to file a report either by phone or Internet. WILD numbers are printed on all hunting license documents. Hunters will need to know which GMUs they hunted. Details of the reporting requirements are on page seven of the 2002 "Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules" pamphlet, and a GMU map is on pages 54-55.