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Natural Resources and Parks
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Following public input, King County proceeds with modified Island Center Forest deer hunt

Summary

With significant input from the community and to ensure public safety, King County Parks will limit deer hunting in Island Center Forest on Vashon Island to the latter-half of October, during which time no other access of the designated forestland will be allowed.

Story

Following an extensive public-engagement process that featured in-person meetings and an online community forum, King County Parks will again open a portion of Island Center Forest to deer hunting for a limited season, Oct. 14-31. To help ensure public safety, no other public access will be permitted on 280 acres of forestland during the brief hunting season.

The 2017 hunting season follows a five-year pilot project of abbreviated deer-hunting seasons that ended in 2016. King County undertook a public engagement effort this summer that sought public review and comment on a proposed five-year extension of the limited hunt.

More than 125 public comments were received through an online forum, email, phone calls, and a public meeting.

Based on the community’s input, King County will continue to stress public safety by limiting access to Island Center Forest for hunters only during the designated season.

During the Oct. 14-31 limited hunt at Island Center Forest, non-hunters are encouraged to use the many trails found at Shinglemill Creek, Fisher Pond, Paradise Valley, Dockton Forest and Maury Island Marine Park. 

Concerns raised by neighbors about hunters walking onto their forested properties will be addressed through new detailed signs and maps that highlight the nearby residences and will be posted at Island Center Forest access sites.

An updated map of the designated hunting area that hunters can download for their use will be available at kingcounty.gov/parks/deerhunt before the season gets underway.

New signs and handouts about hunting rules, regulations and etiquette will also be posted at access points.

As in past seasons, hunters will be asked to register at trailheads and Parks employees will continue to monitor use.

King County will continue its partnership with state wildlife biologists and enforcement officers in monitoring the hunt and ensuring a successful and safe hunt.

The abbreviated hunting season coincides with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s designated modern firearm hunting season in which all firearms can be used, except rifles. Bows and arrows, crossbows, muzzleloaders, revolver-type handguns or shotguns are allowed. Hunters are required to purchase a modern firearm hunting license, wear safety orange clothing and hunt during daylight hours only.

King County took over management of the former Washington State Department of Natural Resources lands, now known as Island Center Forest, in 2005. At that time, the Vashon community requested that all historic uses of the site be allowed to continue, including hiking, biking and horseback riding, forest management and deer hunting.

King County Parks manages Island Center Forest in collaboration with community partners who make up the Friends of Island Center Forest, a diverse group that includes the Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon-Maury Island Horse Association, Vashon Sportsmen’s Club, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, Vashon-Maury Island Audubon, outdoor enthusiasts and other community members.

Increased year-round use of the land by non-hunters raised concerns about unsafe conditions in the woods during the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s annual four-month-long deer hunt from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, which included separate seasons for archery, muzzleloaders and modern firearms.

In a plan created with community input and with public safety in mind, King County initiated a limited deer hunt in 2011 which reduced the state’s established four-month-long hunting season to a 20-day season in Island Center Forest.

King County established a five-year pilot project beginning in 2012, during which time Parks employees monitored hunter use, harvest rates, and other facets of the limited seasons.

For more information, please contact David Kimmett at 206-477-4573, or david.kimmett@kingcounty.gov.

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About King County Parks
King County Parks - Your Big Backyard - offers more than 200 parks and 28,000 acres of open space, including such regional treasures as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, 175 miles of regional trails, 215 miles of backcountry trails and a world-class aquatic center. By cultivating strong relationships with non-profit, corporate and community partners, King County Parks enhances park amenities while reducing costs.