Now that you've shucked out all your spare change to buy Christmas gifts for others, why not treat yourself to a New Year's shellfish gathering trip in Hood Canal. "Overall, the Hood Canal...

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Now that you’ve shucked out all your spare change to buy Christmas gifts for others, why not treat yourself to a New Year’s shellfish gathering trip in Hood Canal.


“Overall, the Hood Canal shellfish seasons are longer, and there should be more opportunity in the year ahead,” said Camille Speck, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “We added one-and-a-half month’s in total days open for clams at all (Hood Canal) beaches combined and that was good compared to last year when we had a net loss of open areas. We also added six months across the region for oyster opportunities.”


The clam season at West Dewatto Beach in Mason County on Hood Canal’s east side is open Saturday to April 15.


The section of West Dewatto was closed to sport-clam harvest earlier this year because of a reduced clam population, but recent surveys indicate an increase of clams. The beach is also open year-round for oyster harvest.


The oyster season at Dosewallips State Park in Jefferson County on the west side of Hood Canal near Brinnon will be open year-round beginning Saturday.


Dosewallips State Park has been open to oyster harvest from March 1 through Dec. 31, and recent surveys indicate the population will be able to sustain a year-round season.


On the other hand, the clam season at Rendsland Creek in Mason County on the east side of Hood Canal is closed until further notice. Recent surveys indicate a decrease in clams, but Rendsland will be open year-round for oysters beginning Saturday.


Other Hood Canal or Puget Sound public beaches opening Saturday: Freeland County Park (open for clams only); Frye Cove County Park (clams and oysters); Port Townsend Ship Canal/Portage Canal (clams and oysters); Wolfe Property State Park (clams and oysters); and Shine Tidelands State Park (clams and oysters).


Speck said beginning April 1, the Duckabush will be open year-round for clams and oysters.


“It is a fabulous area and a great place to highlight,” Speck said. “Overall, clam and oyster populations throughout Hood Canal are doing fine and it is a fairly abundant resource.”


Before heading to a beach, check the state Fish and Wildlife fishing-regulation pamphlet or wdfw.wa.gov. For shellfish rules hotline, call 360-796-3215 or toll free at 866-880-5431.


Potentially diseased deer-elk banned


Permanent rules are now in place for restricting importation of deer and elk into Washington that are harvested where chronic-wasting disease (CWD) has been detected.


Research conducted by scientists from Colorado and Wyoming, where CWD is present in wild deer and elk populations, confirmed that the infective agents of CWD can transfer from decomposing carcasses into the soil, where it can infect healthy deer and elk at a later time.


The new rule applies to Washington hunters bringing home deer or elk from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Illinois, South Dakota, Nebraska and Saskatchewan, Canada.


Meat that has been deboned in the state or province where it was harvested can be brought back. Skulls, antlers, teeth, hides and capes that have had all soft tissue removed can also be retained.


Jerry Nelson, a state Fish and Wildlife game manager said enforcement officers encountered 15 to 20 hunters who had taken deer or elk from one of the listed areas and had not properly processed their animals before bringing them into Washington.


In most cases, enforcement officers were able to confiscate portions of the animals that are most important to preventing the spread of CWD.




Notes


* The Nature of Winter Snowshoe Tour Series hosted by the Methow Valley Ranger District is held at 11 a.m. today through Jan. 2, and then every Saturday through March 5. Tour with a local naturalist and learn about winter ecology, wildlife and animal tracking. The tour begins at the Mazama Trailhead yurt or the Sun Mountain Lodge. Tours will also be held Saturday to Monday on Martin Luther King and President’s Day weekends. All participants need a $3 snowshoe pass. Details: 509-996-4036 or www.mvsta.com.


* The Emerald Sea Dive Club offers year-round activities, including the big buddy program, and weekly and monthly dives. The club meets on the first Wednesday of every month, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at Alfy’s Pizza, 4820 196th S.W. in Lynnwood. Details: 425-775-2410 or www.emeraldseadiveclub.org.


* The Northwest Mountain School in Leavenworth has a two-day avalanche course Jan. 22-23 and Feb. 19-20 for backcountry skiers and boarders. Both involve a full-day session in Leavenworth on Saturday and a field day in the Stevens Pass backcountry on Sunday. Cost is $160. Details: 509-548-5823 or www.mountainschool.com.


* The Patty Wagon ski bus to Stevens Pass will operate Jan. 6 to Feb. 24 on Thursdays only. Morning pick-up points are North Seattle-Edmonds, Lake Forest Park, Bothell and Monroe. Cost for the eight-week package is $176 or once a week for $26. Details: 206-546-6717 or e-mail patty@pattysplaces.com.


* The Tahoma Audubon’s Family Discovery Day at Morse Wildlife Preserve in Graham is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesday. Activities include nature-trail interpretation, discovering pond creatures and viewing birds at the preserve’s observation tower. Storyteller Rebecca will also be on hand. Details: 253-565-9278.Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com