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Washington State Fish and Wildlife

Washington, the Evergreen State, consists of 71,300 square miles of spectacularly beautiful landscapes stretching from Pacific Ocean shorelines to majestic mountain ranges dotted with volcanoes to high plains desert. The plants and animals, fish and wildlife found within the borders of this picturesque wildlife and fishterritory makes the state an outdoor paradise.
Keeping that paradise alive and vibrant isn't an accident, though. It takes a great deal of study and effort to maintain the most beneficial balance between man and nature. Fortunately, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is there promote the state's abundant biodiversity while teaching residents and visitors how to do their part to protect, restore, and enhance this ecological wonderland for generations to come.

wildlife and fish


In Washington, children learn early that the plants, animals, and fish in their midst are to be enjoyed but respected. Maintaining the natural beauty of the land is an on-going collaborative effort so educating the state's youth is a priority in most communities. Fortunately, the study of nature is generally understood as a rewarding lesson for students of every age.

It's hard to know what needs protecting if it isn't properly identified. This report was developed with teachers of kids in the K-12 school range as a learning tool that shows children the descriptive and comparative methodologies scientists use when they're at work in the field.
Field Investigations: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Processes (pdf) / Pacific Education Institute

This education tool designed for fourth graders is enjoyed by kids of all ages and their parents, too. Learn how to look for the signs left behind by animals in their natural habitats, where to look for them, and how to leave the area safe for the animals once the people are gone.
Wildlife Sign Walk (fourth grade) / Starflower Foundation

From the Pacific shoreline to the eastern border, water in Washington is vital to the state's natural beauty. This online database, geared for teachers of grades K through 12, combines educational resources and references from academia and industry, the sciences, the government, and from nonprofit organizations devoted to ecological conservation throughout the state.
WOW / Washington on Water

Hands-on workshops conducted in natural settings teach Washington's women how to connect with the outdoors in ways that enhance their awareness of the state's natural beauty.
Washington Outdoor Women
wildlife and fish


Puget Sound, the Columbia River, and countless other waterways in the state are teeming with life. Washington's rivers and streams are prime spawning habitats for Pacific salmon and the oysters, clams, and shellfish found burrowed into the sand and rocks of the state's salt- and freshwater shorelines are some of the tastiest in the world. These water creatures have fed humans for centuries but their value isn't limited to the dinner plate. The plants and animals who live in and around the water rely on the fish for food, of course, but also for keeping the natural habitat in healthy balance for all.

No matter where they are - the rivers, the ocean, the sound, the lakes, the desert - the Western Fisheries Research Center bears the responsibility of creating, maintaining, and regulating Washington's fish populations to safeguard natural habitats and preserve strength of each very important species.
Western Fisheries Research Center / US Geological Survey (USGS)

Why save salmon and steelhead, aside from the fact that the rainbow trout, a member of the salmon family is the Washington state fish? Here are four reasons why (and you may be amazed to learn how very important these fish are to the human food supply).
Why Save Salmon and Steelhead? / Fish First

Advocacy. Education. Science. Social responsibility. Hatcheries. Harvest. Heritage. These are just some of the concerns on the Wild Fish Conservancy of the Northwest.
Wild Fish Conservancy: Northwest

Fish & Wildlife Commission

The state's Fish & Wildlife Commission works in conjunction with local, state, and federal government regulations and goals as well as with interest groups and the people of the state to make certain the health of the ecology will be respected and enjoyed in the most environmentally conscious ways possible. wildlife and fish

Washington state law says the nine members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission must all live in a different county to ensure the state's wildlife and fish health and habitats are maintained in a way that benefits the entire state as a whole.
Fish and Wildlife Commission / Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Since it was founded as a single fisheries research unit in 1967, the WACFWRU has expanded to 40 units that provide technical assistance for promoting educational and research initiatives promoting the state's abundance of fish and wildlife.
Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (WACFWRU) / Cooperative Research Units
wildlife and fish

General Information

The people of Washington are well aware of the bountiful beauty of their home state but it's a beauty that knows no bounds. The pristine forests, clear streams, magnificent mountain ranges draw tourists from the four corners of the globe. The preservation of the state's natural beauty is a global affair, too.
The World Wildlife Federation lists the coastal forests of the Northern Pacific in its "Global 200 most outstanding and representative areas of biodiversity." The federation describes the area as "one of the largest and most pristine temperate rainforest and shoreline ecosystems in the world" and, fortunately, the people of Washington are avidly involved in keeping it that way.
Northern Pacific Coastal Forests / World Wildlife Federation

What is the significance of the biodiversity thriving in the wetlands of Washington? What should the priorities for their conservation be? What are their status today and what is needed to preserve them for the future? These are the questions under study by a collaborative team of researchers from Washington and Oregon.

The Nature Conservancy is active in the Pacific Northwest where it works to enhance the relationship between man and beast. By conserving the landscape - both the land and the water - the conservancy protects the natural habitats that Washington's fish, wildlife, and plants rely on.
Washington: Protecting Our Lands and Waters / The Nature Conservancy

wildlife and fish


It's vitally important that anyone exploring the natural beauty of the Washington wilds be mindful at all times that they are not the inhabitants of the wilderness. They are just visiting and they're in the home of millions of plants and animals that live nowhere else but here. Non-stop protection of natural habitats is the only way to keep the fields and streams, mountains and deserts, forests and prairies vibrantly alive.

The delicate balance between man and nature was recently put to the test when the Buddhist community at Sravasti Abbey called upon Mark Swanson, of Washington State University, to help cull trees from the forest surrounding the monastery in order to enhance the quality of the forest that would remain. Swanson's biggest dilemma? The community practices the Buddhist belief in ahimsa - doing no harm to any living thing. Even trees.
Buddhist Community Enjoys Healthier Forest, Thanks to WSU Natural Resource Sciences Students / Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

The Pacific Northwest has one of the most effective hydropower systems in the US but it came at a cost to the region's fish and wildlife. Today, the power company that built the dams is working closely with government agencies, the leaders of tribal peoples indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, and other entities dedicated to restoring and preserving ecologically sustainable habitats for the fish, animals, and plants that call the Columbia River home.
Environmental Stewardship / Bonneville Power Administration

Washington's human population is growing and taking up more space, space that has been, historically, the home of plant and animal life, some of which are found no place else on Earth. LandScope Washington is taking on the challenge of preserving the state's rich natural heritage as human habitat and wildlife habits converge.
Threats and Issues / LandScope Washington


The state of Washington encourages the enjoyment of the state's natural beauty but must regulate what happens when and where for the long-term survival of the creatures that live in the wilderness. The state issues licenses for hunting and fishing and regulates hunting and fishing seasons and territories so as to preserve the natural bounty while enhancing the outdoor enjoyment of thewildlife and fish hunter or fisherman.

It's almost always hunting or fishing season in Washington but the details change throughout the year. Learn all the details at the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife's website. You can even purchase your licenses online.
Purchase Fishing and Hunting Licenses Online / Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife
Washington is a sportsman's paradise. Hunting and fishing opportunities abound. Camping, hiking, and mountain climbing are activities enjoyed by Washingtonians and visitors from around the world. The Washington Wildlife Federation works with the state's fish and wildlife department to develop a Master Hunter Program to emphasize ethical, lawful, and safe hunting practices maintained at the highest standards possible.
Sportsmen, Conservation & Ethics / Washington Wildlife Federation


Licensing isn't the only measure of protection for Washington's natural habitats. State and federal regulations govern the allowed activities of everyone enjoying the Washington wilderness.
The spectacular Olympic National Park isn't the only stretch of Washington coastline where fishing and shellfish harvest are allowed but the park's regulations set the pace for those activities in the rest of the state. Fish and Shellfish Regulations: Olympic National Park / National Park Service

We take our pets to the vet and then nurse them back to health at home. What happens to sick or injured animals in the wild? The lucky ones find their way into the hearts of the state's many wildlife rehabilitators.
How to Become a Wildlife Rehabilitator / PAWS Wildlife

Washington is home to a number of wildlife refuges, many of which are open to the public for hunting and fishing, as long as the appropriate regulations are followed.
Regulations for Hunting and/or Fishing in Washington Refuge Units / Cornell University Law School

Large predatory animals such as cougars pose a dilemma for state officials charged with the responsibility of maintaining a healthy balance between the state's humans and their pets and the state's wildlife populations.
Research Helping to Shape Hunting Regulations / Washington State University


A quiet morning spent in the Washington wilderness is much more rewarding than a trip to the zoo. You'll see some of Mother Nature's most beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, interacting with their own species and the animals who share the landscape with them. Enjoy but remember . . . BigFoot lives out there, too!

wildlife and fishWhat would Washington be without bears? Learn more about the grizzly bear lifestyle in a setting that's educational, informative, non-threatening, and fun for the whole family. Western Wildlife Outreach: Home of the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project

Ever wonder what's walking the wilderness along side you? The Wildlife Tracking Intensive offers courses at the youth and adult levels and even includes home study opportunities so you'll wonder no more when you explore the wonders of Washington's natural environment. Wildlife Tracking Intensive / Wilderness Awareness School

What's New

People have been living in Washington for thousands of years but there's always something new going on. Some of it's research, some of it's learning opportunities, some of it's just plain fun. Find out what's going on in Washington's wilderness today and be sure to volunteer when you find an activity that seems inviting.

The "residents" of the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehab Center change constantly. As soon as one animal is well enough to be released into the wild, another arrives needing help. Keep track of the amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles currently in care at this busy animal rehab center.
Currently in Care / Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

It's hard to think of Washington without thinking of the beautiful Puget Sound. The King County government offers these tips for keeping the Sound in sound shape for generations to come.
King County Working to Save Puget Sound / King County and Puget Sound Partnership

From heavy mineral toxicity levels that affect the health of native mussels to the seeds that cultivate the prairie to rare but hungry carnivores that roam the Cascade Mountains, the study of plant and animal life in Washington is a nonstop endeavor. Find out what's under study today.
Ongoing Studies / Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, US Fish & Wildlife Service
The call of the wild in Washington is strong, almost impossible to resist. Enjoy it fully but be mindful of the delicate nature of this natural nirvana. Take nothing but photographs. Leave nothing but footprints.