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Study examines how Washington private landowners manage wildlife through hunting

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(The Center Square) – A new study released by The Property and Environment Research Center, or PERC, explores how states allow private landowners to manage wildlife.

For states like Washington, one way to do that is by allowing private landowners to offer access for hunting on their property, either through permits or ongoing agreements with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, or WDFW.

The PERC study cites the importance of private land conservatism, noting that more than 60% of the United States is privately owned.

“Giving landowners incentives or benefits in wildlife management is a widespread feature of state wildlife management policy,” the study states. “Public hunting access programs often provide funding to landowners to open up their lands for hunting, often providing incentives or even requirements to implement habitat conservation.”

The importance of hunting for wildlife conservation and management stems from its role in keeping various species from becoming overpopulated and/or decreasing the population of its prey. Hunting can also prevent the destruction of agricultural crops; growers can apply for compensation from the state if they suffer damaged caused by wildlife.

Additionally, state agencies generate revenue from hunting license sales and other excise taxes.

“Hunting is also the main way state game and fish agencies influence populations of game species, gather data on those species, and incentivize habitat management,” the study states.

Washington is one of nine states with programs allowing private landowners to obtain hunting permits and sell them to hunters. However, to receive them the landowners must provide public access to their land for hunting.

According to WDFW, there are a variety of ways to hunt on private land that include:

“Free to hunt” lands where the property owner has a management agreement with WDFW to provide public access for hunting.Register to hunt,” in which the hunter must register with WDFW to hunt on private land with a state management agreement.Hunt with written permission, whereby hunters contact a private landowner who has made their contact information available through WDFW.Hunt by reservation made in advance by getting a permit issued by WDFW.

The PERC study concluded that “states often tailor the implementation details of these policies to their specific needs, showcasing the flexibility and adaptability of state-based approaches to wildlife management. As ‘laboratories of democracy,’ states can learn from one another’s successes and challenges, ultimately driving innovation and improvement in wildlife conservation.”

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