INTERPRETATION OF GAME STATUTE PROVIDING FOR SPECIAL HUNTING SEASONS AND PROMULGATION OF PROPOSED REGULATIONS INCIDENT THERETO
Department of Game may, by regulations, limit the holder of a special permit obtained by the drawing of lots to hunt only in the area described in the permit and to limit his hunting or kill to one antlerless deer.
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May 1, 1952
Honorable John A. Biggs
Director of Game
509 Fairview Avenue North
Seattle, Washington Cite as: AGO 51-53 No. 292
In your recent letter the request was made for an opinion as to whether the Department of Game, under the provisions of § 25, chapter 275, Laws of 1947 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 5992-35) as amended by § 2, chapter 205, Laws of 1949 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 5992-35) may legally promulgate the following regulations:
(1) Require the holder of a permit which has been obtained at a lot drawing and accepted by him, to limit his hunting entirely to the area described in the permit and thereby waive his right to hunt elsewhere in the state for buck deer during the regular season.
(2) Require the holder of such a permit obtained at a lot drawing and accepted by him to hunt for or kill only antlerless deer.
The Department of Game may, by regulations, limit the holder of a special permit obtained by the drawing of lots to hunt only in the area described in the permit and to limit his hunting or kill to one antlerless deer.
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
Section 2, chapter 205, Laws of 1949 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 5992-35) provides, in part as follows:
"The Director, with the approval in writing of the Commission, may entirely close, or shorten the open season fixed by any rule or regulation of the Commission for game animals, fur-bearing animals, game birds, or game fish within the respective game areas, and after a season has been closed or shortened, he may reopen it for all or any portion of the time fixed by rule or regulation of the Commission, and he may also fix daily, weekly, or season bag limits on game animals, fur-bearing animals, game birds, or game fish within any game area.
"Whenever the Director finds that game animals have increased in numbers in any locality of the state to such an extent that they are damaging public or private property, or over-grazing [[overgrazing]]their range, the Commission may establish a special hunting season, designate the area and the number and sex of the animals that may be killed by a licensed hunter therein, promulgate necessary rules and regulations, and determine by lot the number of hunters that may hunt within such area and the conditions and requirements incident thereto * * *."
It is clear from the foregoing section that the legislature has given the game commission unrestricted authority to establish a special hunting season, designate the area and the number and sex of animals that may be killed by a licensed hunter, and set forth any conditions and requirements incident thereto that the commission deems necessary. It follows that the commission can require the holder of a special permit to hunt for or kill only an antlerless deer in the particular area described in the permit.
The question remaining is whether the commission may, by regulation, provide that when a licensed hunter participates in a lot drawing, is successful and accepts the permit, he thereby waives his right to hunt statewide for buck [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] deer during the regular hunting season. We are of the opinion that the commission, under the authority granted, can legally promulgate such a regulation. It should be noted, however, that the game commission, by these regulations, in no manner deprives the hunter who has been issued a license to hunt buck deer during the regular season, of any of his rights. The drawing of lots is entirely voluntary on the part of the individual hunter, and if he desires to participate in these drawings, is successful and accepts the permit issued, he must then abide by his choice and limit his hunting privileges to the terms of the permit.
Very truly yours,
JOHN J. O'BRIEN