OLYMPIA –-(Ammoland.com)- State wildlife managers plan to release thousands of pheasants at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Thurston County this year, but not in the area ravaged by a wildfire that swept across 345 acres south of the creek last month.
The 926-acre wildlife area, owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), has attracted pheasant hunters from around the region for more than 50 years. With hunting seasons drawing near, the department plans to distribute the 4,000 birds typically released there each season in a new way.
“Fortunately, firefighters prevented the blaze from jumping Scatter Creek, so we can still have a hunting season in the wildlife area,” said Christopher White, WDFW pheasant manager for the wildlife area. “We had to improvise a bit, but we think this distribution will support a good hunt this year.”
Rather than divide the birds between the northern and southern sections as in previous years, WDFW will release 3,500 pheasants north of Scatter Creek, White said. Another 500 birds will be redirected to nearby release sites at Lincoln Creek, Skookumchuck and the Chehalis River.
Brian Calkins, WDFW regional wildlife manager, said the change was necessary under the circumstances. The fire left little cover for the birds south of Scatter Creek, and what cover remains is adjacent to a county road, he said.
“We don't want to attract hunters to the southern portion of the wildlife area,” Calkins said. “Putting birds and hunters in that area would create an unsafe situation.”
The season will get underway Sept. 23-24 for hunters under age 16, followed by a hunt Sept. 25-29 for hunters age 65 or older and those with disabilities. The general hunt for all ages opens Sept. 30 throughout western Washington.
Meanwhile, the department is continuing to assess damage caused by the fire, which was sparked in a nearby residential area of Rochester. WDFW estimates the cost of restoring the burnt landscape south of the creek at $1 million.
“Recovery actions are already moving forward, starting with the removal of snags and repair of dozer lines left in the fire's aftermath,” Calkins said. “Larger-scale weed control efforts and replanting will commence in the coming weeks.”
For more information about the upcoming pheasant season, see the guide on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01923/