The Washington Outdoor Report - for week of Sept. 1

Saving deer on our roadways and more hunting season prospects

Courtesy John Kruse The running rump of a deer is a sign of danger to other big game animals and may hold the key to reducing vehicle collisions.
REDUCING VEHICLE COLLISIONS WITH DEER AND ELK – Many of our readers are familiar with the lonely, barren stretches of highway and roads running along the Hanford Nuclear Reservation towards the Tri-Cities. Much of this area encompasses not only the Hanford Nuclear Reservation but also the Hanford National Monument, where mule deer and elk herds live. Unfortunately, a significant number of both species are killed as a result of vehicle collisions in this area, especially along Route 4 South, a two-lane roadway running from Richland into the Hanford Nuclear Site.
Officials at Hanford are trying something new to reduce the amount of deer and elk killed by vehicles. Writing for the Tri-City Herald, Annette Carey reports white canvas sacks are being placed over roadside posts every 50 feet along Route 4 South where many of these collisions have occurred. The idea behind this low-cost strategy is when vehicle headlights shine on these bags, the deer seeing them will think the white bags are the rump of a fleeing deer or elk, a sure sign of danger to animals and a warning to stay away. 
This technique has been used in Wyoming where a state Department of Transportation study showed a 65 percent reduction in car versus deer accidents. The study also showed deer and elk learned to wait until the bags were not illuminated by headlights to cross the road. If this technique works in South Central Washington to reduce collisions with mule deer and elk as it did in Wyoming to reduce collisions with white-tailed deer, you may see more of these white canvas sacks covering roadside posts in our state and less roadkill on our highways. 
COLUMBIA BASIN HUNTING PROSPECTS – Last week we shared prospects for the upcoming hunting season from Central and Northeast Washington. This week, WDFW Wildlife Biologist Sean Dougherty has insights about how things are looking in the Columbia Basin.
DOVE: According to Dougherty, “Mourning dove numbers are pretty good this year”. Hunters heading out for the dove opener on September 1st should try to get permission to hunt on wheat fields if they can. However, the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area around Potholes Reservoir and to a lesser extent, the Gloyd Seeps Unit between Moses Lake and Stratford, will offer public land opportunities. Although the season remains open through October 30th, the vast majority of doves will leave for warmer climes when the first cold front comes through our region.
MULE DEER: Dougherty says the prospects for mule deer are about the same as last year and counts are well within management objectives. Seasonal conditions were favorable this year for deer as well which bodes well for the future. Asked about where to go, Dougherty recommended archery hunters consider Game Management Unit 284 in Adams County, where you can harvest both does and bucks (three points or better on the antlers). 
WATERFOWL: Sean Dougherty paints an optimistic picture about ducks in the Basin this year saying, “Local (duckling) production was good and early season counts are up from last year.” This should make for a good opening day and early part of the season until the northern ducks and geese arrive from Canada in November. 
UPLAND BIRDS: Quail numbers are at least as good as last year and probably up, marking a continued growth of this upland game bird species in the Columbia Basin. Dougherty says pheasant numbers may be up as well but with no surveys completed this year due to Covid-19 issues, this is just a guess.
In short, good seasonal conditions this year should make for a good hunting season for both deer and bird hunters in the Columbia Basin. 


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