King County Parks will open Island Center Forest to deer hunting for an eighth-annual limited season, Oct. 13-31, when no other access will be permitted on 200 acres of forestland.
While hunting will be allowed on the former state lands that now make up Island Center Forest, the 140-acre Natural Area properties – located in the vicinity of Mukai and Meadowdale ponds – will be closed to hunting, but open to all other allowable uses.
Hunters are required to purchase a modern firearm hunting license. Bows and arrows, crossbows, muzzleloaders, revolver-type handguns or shotguns are allowed.
The hunting season coincides with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s designated hunting season in which all firearms can be used, except rifles. This hunt replaces the state’s established four-month-long hunting season in Island Center Forest, which is popular for hiking, walking and other recreational uses, and is the only King County Parks-managed property where hunting is allowed.
King County set the first limited deer-hunting season at Island Center Forest in 2011, and followed that up in 2012 with a five-year pilot project of abbreviated hunting seasons.
Last year, at the conclusion of the five-year pilot project, King County employees conducted a public review process that included gathering public comments about the shortened hunting season.
King County has implemented several new measures as a result of that public feedback, including additional informational signage about the hunt at Island Center Forest trailheads and along property boundaries, and expanded “no hunting” areas near residences.
Vashon Island’s largest public open space, Island Center Forest and Natural Area has 9 miles of trails that are shared by hikers, mountain bikers, runners and equestrians. Island Center Forest was formerly owned by Washington state, and is the only public land on Vashon Island where deer hunting has been allowed.
King County Parks manages the land in collaboration with community partners who make up the Friends of Island Center Forest, a diverse group that includes the Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon-Maury Island Horse Association, Vashon Sportsmen’s Club, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, Vashon-Maury Island Audubon, outdoor enthusiasts and other community members.