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Author Topic: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations  (Read 4751 times))

Offline DragonKiller

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WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« on: October 28, 2014, 09:18:47 PM »
I've decided to start a project to ask for a change to the equipment regulations for small game in Washington State, so that air guns can be used. I've never done anything like this, so anyone is welcome to join and contribute their time, knowledge, experience or anything else that would be valuable.

Earlier today I spoke with an employee at the Olympia office, and was encouraged to go for it.
I've done the fairly easy job of collecting a few different places that describe the current laws and equipment rules here. I'll post them below.
Other things on my research list to start with, is if and when this topic has already been formally brought to the commissioners. Also, a list of other states that allow game species hunting with an air gun and their criteria for doing so.


Here's the current laws/regulations that I have.

WA RCW
Chapter 9
Title 9.41

9.41.010 Terms Defined

(9) "Firearm" means a weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder.

(16) "Rifle" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.


PAGE 80 of Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations
12. Prohibited firearms/hunting methods:
It is illegal to: Hunt game birds or game animals with anything other than a firearm, a bow and arrow, or by falconry. Bullfrogs may only be taken by angling, hand dip netting, gigging, and bow and arrow.


From the WDFW FAQ web site:

WDFW Help Home > Hunting > Rules For Hunting Equipment
Is it legal to use pellet guns, air guns, or sling shots to harvest game birds?
- No. In Washington it is against the law to hunt game birds and game animals using anything other than a firearm (rifle, shotgun, handgun, muzzleloading firearm), a bow and arrow, crossbow, or by falconry.

WDFW Help Home > Hunting > General Hunting Rules
I heard about hunting unclassified wildlife. What do I need to purchase and what type of weapons can I use to hunt them?
- To hunt unclassified wildlife, you need a valid big game or small game license. You can hunt unclassified wildlife year round with no bag limit and with any weapon. For instance, you can legally hunt unclassified wildlife with an air rifle. 

Attached below is the Small Game, Furbearers, and Unclassified Species section (Pages 132-133) from the 2009-2015 Game Management Plan available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/game/.

A table on the pages mentioned shows the following species as unclassified, and can be trapped or hunted year-round.
Mountain Beaver, Coyote, European Rabbit, Gophers, Gray and Fox squirrels, Ground Squirrels, Mice, Moles, Nutria, Virginia Opossum, Porcupine, Rats, Shrews, Spotted Skunk, Striped Skunk, Voles, Yellow-Bellied Marmot.

Exceptions listed are Western Gray squirrels, Golden-Mantled and Washington ground squirrels, Mazama Pocket gophers; which are protected and cannot be trapped or hunted.


The following species are listed as game animals in both the above table, and in the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet.
Cottontail Rabbit, Snowshoe Hare, Bobcat, Raccoon, Red Fox. As stated above, these cannot be hunted with anything other than a firearm, bow and arrow, crossbow, or falconry, and are the species for which I would like to have air guns/rifles added as being allowed equipment.
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Offline natedogg

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2014, 12:48:17 PM »
I'd like to get air guns added for turkey and dove here in IA but I don't know the process of getting this changed. I'll keep an eye on this thread.
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Offline natedogg

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2014, 04:26:48 PM »
I called the Iowa DNR and basically the next steps they recommended was talking to Iowa Chptr of National Turkey Federation and see if they would like to sponsor a change to the regs because if an individual or group of individuals petitions IA DNR for a change to the regs they defer to their wildlife bureau who solicits input from conservation groups like NTF/pheasants forever/Ducks unlimited any time they go to change regs. Generally it looks like the turkey hunting community is VERY closed minded about hunting turkey with anything besides shotgun or muzzle loading shotgun = uphill battle. Probably easier to move to a state that already allows rifle hunting of turkey. So back to your topic if you want to change Washington regs it sounds like your best bet will be to call your DNR and see if their process works the same way, join relevant hunting organization, and lobby DNR/ORG/legislature to update regs. That sounds like a hard battle to win considering the infighting I see on Iowa's preeminent hunting board. Bow hunters generally dump on rifle hunters and each takes turns calling names and insinuating that only such and such constitutes being a 'REAL Hunter'.

So thanks for posting a question that got me to do some research and some thinking. I think for now I'm happy hunting squirrel/rabbit/pheasant. Besides are turkey tags here are 25$ I can buy a huge butterball for that or a nice heirloom bird.
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Offline ToRmEnToR

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2014, 10:29:38 PM »
Thanks for all the leg work..

Offline Aeroguy

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2014, 10:54:43 PM »
Sounds like a worthy endeavor.
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Offline williesurvive

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2014, 12:56:14 AM »
Good luck I'd love to hunt blacktail with an air gun.
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Offline DragonKiller

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2014, 06:03:15 PM »
Wow, a lot of political drama going on right now in WA state over the I594 results….
I think though that I still may as well continue with the attempt at changing the regs here for small game hunting. It will be a long slow process anyway even without all the firearm issues, but hopefully it won't have any impact on my project, and/or it will have settled down by the time any decision makers see my request.

So far I have only come up with a couple of things, but I think they will be useful.
First is a petition form that can be filled out and sent in to the state. The file is too large to attach here, but I'll include the link.
www.ofm.wa.gov/reports/petition.pdf

I'm filling out the 2nd section of the form - requesting an amendment to an existing rule.
There is not much space on the form, so directions are to attach additional pages as needed, which I'll use to include supporting information such as the state by state chart I mention next, and probably a personal statement concerning the power and accuracy levels of modern air rifles, the history and tradition of air rifles (Lewis and Clark), and anything else I decide might help make a difference.
Halfway down the page is also a link to a directory of rules coordinators to submit the petition form to.

I'll be sending mine to:

Department of Fish and Wildlife
Joanna Eide   
Phone (360)902-2403
Fax (360)902-2155   
600 Capitol Way N
Olympia, WA 98501


The second thing I've come across is a chart I found on the Crosman/Benjamin website that lists all approved species for air gun hunting, by state. It is pretty condensed to fit on a single page, but shows what each state allows, and the date it was last updated. Of course, it is stated to confirm local regulations before hunting, but it will be much easier to do that I feel, than trying to find all of those regs individually. So a big find I believe, that will be useful in showing that many other states have progressed to allowing hunting with air guns.
Here is the link for that website as well.
www.crosman.com/pdf/HuntingRegsChart.pdf

So my next step from here is to fill out and submit the petition form.
I'd ask anyone else here who is willing, to do the same. I wouldn't think that flooding their office with the same request via petition forms would do much good, but the few of us who are likely to do it probably won't cause big problems. I do think it would help if they received the request from several people though instead of just one.

A reply from the state should be received within 60 days.
After that I would think my next step would be to attend one or multiple of the commissioners meetings in Olympia to address them in person and discuss any details and monitor any progress.

Oh - and willie - just to clarify, I'm only asking for the change to allow for small game species. Blacktail deer are large game, but I'm sure you know that.
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Offline Bullit

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2014, 06:30:16 PM »
You may want to look here at the same Thread that was started for the same issue.  It's only been a month ago.  Perhaps you can read it over, and team up together as a group...strength in numbers... ;)  Good Luck to Y'all!
http://www.gatewaytoairguns.org/GTA/index.php?topic=76760.msg730423#msg730423
Bullit ;)
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Offline Bicycleman

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2014, 06:43:38 PM »
From Page 42 of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries literature on "Hunting Regulations":  (see the part in RED)

Quadrupeds & Resident Birds
Methods of Taking Quadrupeds & Resident
Game Birds
Taking quadrupeds and resident game birds
from aircraft or participating in the taking
of deer with the aid of aircraft or from automobiles
or other moving land vehicles is
prohibited.
No person may take or kill any game bird or
wild quadruped with a firearm fitted with
an infrared sight, laser sight or except as
provided in R.S. 56:116 (A) (8) any sighting
device which projects a beam of light
to the target or otherwise electronically illuminates
the target, or device specifically
designed to enhance vision at night {R.S.
56:116.1B(3)}. Any person who has been
convicted of a class four or greater hunting
violation for a period of five years after the
date of such conviction shall not use a firearm
fitted with a sound suppressor pursuant
to R.S. 56:116.6.
It is illegal to intentionally feed, deposit,
place, distribute, expose, scatter, or cause
to be fed, deposited, placed, distributed,
exposed, or scattered, raw sweet potatoes
to wild game quadrupeds.
Use of legal archery gear or a shotgun not
larger than a 10 gauge fired from the shoulder
without a rest is legal for taking all resident
game birds and quadrupeds. Also, the
use of a handgun, rifle and falconry (special
permit required) is legal for taking all game
species EXCEPT turkey. It is illegal to hunt or
take squirrel or rabbits at any time with a
breech-loaded rifle or handgun larger than
.22 caliber, any centerfire rifle, or a muzzleloading
firearm larger than a .36 caliber. It is
legal to hunt or take squirrels, rabbits, and
outlaw quadrupeds with air rifles.

Still hunting is defined as stalking or stationary
stand hunting without the use of dog(s).
Pursuing, driving or hunting deer with dogs
is prohibited when or where a still hunting
season or area is designated.
Shotguns larger than a 10 gauge or capable
of holding more than three shells are prohibited.
Plugs used in shotguns must be
incapable of being removed without disassembly.
Refer to game schedules contained within
these regulations for specific restrictions on
the use of firearms and other devices.


And this is from West Virginia Dept. of Natural Resources:

Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 11:19 AM
To: DNR Law Enforcement
Subject: Hunting Regulations
 
Dear Sir or Madame
 
My son has invited me over (from Louisiana) to hunt with him in West Virginia.  He is a WV resident.  I know that Louisiana permits hunting squirrels with a pellet/air rifle.
 
My question is:  Is it legal/permitted to use an air rifle shooting pellets for the taking of squirrels in West Virginia?


The answer I received from them is shown below - short and sweet:

Sep 23  DNR Law Enforcement <DNR.LawEnforcement@wv.gov>

to me 
 
Yes, it is legal in WV.

 
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Offline DragonKiller

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2014, 07:33:43 PM »
Thanks for that heads up Bullit! Not sure how I missed that one. Will definitely look into teaming up on this.
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Offline ToRmEnToR

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2014, 07:09:39 AM »
Great work Dragon

Offline fabnshoot

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2015, 10:54:14 AM »
Excellent Posts, I have been wondering about this same thing here in Washington, and recently I found this post while surfing the internet this morning. Thanks for the leg work Dragon. This is defiantly a worthy endeavor. I think the Crosman hunting regulations  Chart is just the thing to help in starting to convince the fish and game people that this is taking place all over our country, excellent find. And hard to believe that even the state of California is way ahead of us on this issue. We can use their air gun hunting laws in our effort to convince too. Wow, also, the KISS principle is very important here. (Keep it simple stupid) (for the benefit of our regulators, NOT YOU, LOL) particularly when dealing with government people. This kind of thing only takes people getting involved in numbers to make a positive change in policy. I've seen it numerous times in the past. Great job, I'm looking into this also. If we can start a campaign to educate the officials, I am glad to contribute here. 
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Offline alex77147

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2021, 02:41:35 AM »
Sorry for the thread bump, but, Did this get anywhere?  I live in Washington state and also would like to be able to legally hunt small game with an air rifle.  I see some effort has been taken to make it legal to hunt small game.  I tried to contact WDFW waaayyyy back in like 2009 to see if anything can be done to legalize the use of air rifles for hunting but I got nowhere because there was no other interest from other air rifle owners.
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Offline JimD

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Re: WA Small Game Hunting Regulations
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2021, 05:30:16 PM »
I have no idea of the status but I have a suggestion. 

The definition of "firearm" referenced does not specifically exclude air guns because it says "such as" burning gunpowder. 

The definition of rifle is clearly a powder burner but when you look at what it says about hunting it says you have to use a firearm.

Changing a law is difficult because you need an elected official to draft something and push it through for a vote.  You need a friend.  But it appears the conclusion that an air rifle was not allowed comes from the fish and game people who could possibly just decide to change their mind.  If they were to reinterpret things as the release of air in an air rifle is covered by the "such as" language then an air rifle would be a firearm and OK.

Just a thought (I am not a lawyer and may not completely understand the first post). 
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