OLYMPIA – With Washington’s economy hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is planning agency-wide furloughs beginning next week.

While public safety-related needs will remain staffed, most other WDFW services, including customer service, will be unavailable Monday, June 29, as well as July 10, 17, and 24. Additional furlough days are also expected to occur this fall.

Washington faces a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall over the next several years as a result of closures and impacts from COVID-19. Gov. Jay Inslee is requiring nearly all state employees to take eight hours of unpaid leave per week beginning the week of June 28.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has already affected nearly every aspect of day-to-day life in Washington, and our hardworking staff have certainly been feeling those impacts, too,” WDFW Director Kelly Susewind said.

WDFW enforcement officers will remain on duty, while some other staff will adjust schedules to ensure that essential services – such as port sampling and hatchery functions – continue during the furlough days. However, much of the department will be operating at 80 percent of its normal capacity during the month of July, which will affect many ongoing projects and operations.

“We’re working hard to be adaptable, and we appreciate the support of the public and our partners, who we recognize are also facing reduced services and altered project timelines as a result of these furloughs,” Susewind said.

In addition to these reductions, the department identified $12.8 million in reductions to the Governor’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) for this upcoming fiscal year and is initiating plans for further reductions for next biennium, per recent guidance from OFM.

For more information about WDFW’s coronavirus response, visit the COVID-19 updates page at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.