PAT NEAL: The Circus is Coming to Town

THE CIRCUS IS coming to town!

No, this one doesn’t involve caged animals. It’s even worse.

This is a bureaucratic circus for the enjoyment of anyone who buys a hunting or fishing license in Washington.

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet Friday and Saturday in Port Angeles.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is a panel of citizens appointed by the governor to rubber stamp policies for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, also known as the WDFW or, “We Destroy Fishing in Washington.”

This is a historic moment for the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

You would have to be living in a cave somewhere to not be a witness to the downward spiral to extinction through starvation of the Southern Resident orca and the Puget Sound chinook salmon that they depend on for food.

You would have to be in a coma somewhere to ignore the population explosion of salmon-eating seals and invasive sea lions that have enjoyed a “sacred cow” status under the federally imposed Marine Mammal Protection Act that allows these predators to kill two-thirds to three-fourths of Puget Sound chinook each year.

You would have to be illiterate, unconscious or both to ignore the devastating impact of farmed Atlantic salmon pens in the public waterways of our state that are allowed to pollute and endanger our wild Pacific salmon with chemicals, antibiotics and infestations of sea lice that kill young migrating fish.

You wonder if the Fish and Wildlife Commission is aware that Washington state still allows a commercial herring fishery that takes the food away from the very salmon we are trying to save for the orca.

Is the Fish and Wildlife Commission totally unaware of the latest research that reveals that the genetics of salmon raised in a fish hatchery are identical to the so-called wild spawning salmon that were probably the progeny of hatchery fish themselves? Probably not.

They continue to restrict funding for the facilities that would be the most effective tool in combating the extinction of the orca.

Does the Fish and Wildlife Commission know that we have spent a billion dollars on habitat restoration in Washington in the past 20 years with no corresponding increase in the salmon population?

Apparently not.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is more concerned with more important matters.

The agenda of the Port Angeles meeting will include a decision on the status of tufted puffins, Oregon silverspot butterflies and grizzly bears.

These are topics that I think we can all agree on.

Who doesn’t love tufted puffins? They are the favorites of bird-watchers everywhere.

And of course, we all love butterflies but according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon silverspot butterfly has never been a “common” species so it is no wonder it is endangered.

As for reintroducing grizzly bears to Washington’s North Cascades, people in Montana are all for it.

Montana would gladly give Washington all the grizzlies they want if only because they think the people in Washington are way too relaxed.

Washingtonians need the thrill of knowing they can get their faced ripped off at any time around the next bend of the trail.

At least the Fish and Wildlife Commission won’t be a complete waste of time and precious fishing-license dollars.

They are going to tackle what they see as the biggest threat to our fisheries: fishing guides.

The latest proposal would make fishing guides fill out a log book every time they fish.

We can all sleep at night knowing this threat to our fisheries has been eliminated.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patnealwild [email protected].

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