Aug. 17, 2012
King County proposes limited deer hunt at Island Center Forest for next 5 hunting seasons
To help ensure public safety, no other access to land would be permitted during abbreviated hunting season, proposed for Oct. 13-31 this year
King County Parks is proposing to extend annual limited deer hunting in Vashon Island’s Island Center Forest for up to five years during the latter half of October, when all other access to the forestland would be prohibited.
Under the County’s proposal, which follows the 2011 pilot project hunt when more than 60 hunters registered and eight deer were harvested, the 2012 hunting season would run from Oct. 13-31.
Hunts would also be set during similar periods over the next five years, and King County staff would monitor hunter use and harvest rates. King County is asking for public input on this proposal through the State Environmental Policy Act.
The SEPA document is available on the King County Parks’ website,
http://www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/about/notices/islandcenterforest.aspx. The comment period ends Aug. 29. Send comments via email at email@example.com, or via U.S. Mail to Kevin Brown, King County Parks, 201 S. Jackson St., Suite 700, Seattle, WA, 98104-3856.
The County’s proposed hunting season coincides with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s designated hunting season in which all firearms can be used, except rifles. The action reduces the state’s established four-month-long hunting season to a 19-day season.
Hunters would be required to purchase a modern firearm hunting license. Bows and arrows, crossbows, muzzleloaders, revolver-type handguns or shotguns would be allowed; center-fire or rim-fire rifles are prohibited on Vashon Island.
The most significant complaint during the inaugural 2011 limited hunt was the presence of remains from harvested deer along the trails. Parks staff will work with hunters this year to be more mindful of how and where they dispose of deer remains.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has already established a 2012 deer hunting season for Vashon Island that begins Sept. 1 and ends Dec. 31, with separate periods set aside for archery, muzzleloaders and modern firearms.
However, the discharge of weapons at Island Center Forest is only allowed as regulated by King County, and under the County’s proposal deer hunting at Island Center Forest would not be allowed during any of the specially designated archery or muzzleloader seasons from September to December, or during the modern firearm period in November.
Additionally, hunting is not permitted within the adjacent 81-acre natural area, and recreational trails there would remain open throughout the year under King County’s proposal.
Vashon Island’s largest public open space, Island Center Forest and Natural Area has nine miles of trails that are shared by hikers, mountain bikers, runners and equestrians. Island Center Forest was formerly owned by Washington state, and is the only public land on Vashon Island where deer hunting has historically been allowed.
King County Parks manages the land in collaboration with community partners who make up the Friends of Island Center Forest, a diverse group that includes the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon–Maury Island Audubon, equestrians and outdoor enthusiasts, among many other community members.
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King County Parks - Your Big Backyard - offers more than 200 parks and 26,000 acres of parks and natural lands, including such regional treasures as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, 175 miles of regional trails, 180 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. Learn more at http://www.kingcounty.gov/parks/.