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Great expectations: elk season opens Saturday

Oct. 24, 2014 2:33 p.m.

HUNTING — Eastern Washington's modern firearms general elk season opens Saturday at 7 a.m.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaimie Johnson, in the photo above, gives hunters a  couple of things to dream about tonight.


Photo contest focused on women hunters

Oct. 24, 2014 6:01 a.m.

OUTPHOTO – Washington’s modern rifle elk season opens Saturday, giving sportsmen another chance to put aside the rifle, pick up the camera and snap a good photo of the girl or woman out for the hunt.

For the fourth year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is holding a photo contest, the winner of which will grace the cover of the state’s 2015 big-game hunting regulations pamphlet. The state distributes 650,000 copies of the pamphlet each year.

Last year the contest looked for the best photo of a hunting camp.

This year’s theme is “Women: Hunting Through the Generations.”

“We know that the world of hunting is full of mothers, sisters, daughters and wives,” the agency says in its announcement. “Passing down hunting knowledge through the generations is something that brings families closer and turns hunting experiences into cherished memories. If your family includes women who know a thing or two about the hunt, we want to know about it.”

Some rules to consider up front:

  • Digital photos should be at least 1 MB – preferably larger – to ensure a quality print job. 
  • Photos should not include logos or items that could appear to endorse specific companies or products. 
  • Submissions must be received by March 1, 2015.

See details on the agency’s website under Hunting.


Sheep rancher: coyote control counterproductive

Oct. 23, 2014 3:37 p.m.

PREDATORS - One Idaho livestock grower is joining the growing ranks of going against the grain on traditional predator control:

Federal agency killed 2,773 coyotes in Idaho in 2013
Most of the coyotes killed by Idaho Wildlife Services in Blaine County were killed at the request of livestock producers. But at least one sheep producer said that they do not kill coyotes themselves nor do they request federal agents to do so, as removal of the predators sparks a reproductive response in the species.
—Idaho Mountain Express

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Andrus favors Boulder-White Clouds monument

Oct. 23, 2014 10:42 a.m.

PUBLIC LANDS — While a Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, requests a little more time to persuade his party's naysayers to let him usher in a new Idaho wilderness, former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus says it's time for action:

Andrus urges Idaho Boulder-White Clouds be named national monument
At a ceremony Monday awarding former Interior Secretary and Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus the Frank and Bethine Church Award for Public Service, Andrus and others said that while they appreciated U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's ongoing quest to pass his Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, they believe it's time for executive action to protect the area as a national monument.
—Idaho Statesman


Chronic-wasting disease shows up again in Wyoming deer

Oct. 23, 2014 8:55 a.m.

HUNTING — Others issues like wolves, EHD in deer and antelope, brucellosis and elk hoof disease have occasionally lured our eye off the chronic wasting disease that became such a big concern more than a decade ago.

In 2011, the issue was rekindled with new cases.

This season, we're getting another reminder:

Chronic-wasting disease found in new hunting areas in Wyoming
Wyoming Fish and Game officials said chronic-wasting disease, which is always fatal to elk, deer, was found in mule deer in hunt areas 84 and 36, districts that border other districts where the disease had previously been found.
—Jackson Hole News & Guide


Fungus responsible for Big Hole trout dieoff

Oct. 23, 2014 7:24 a.m.

FISHING — Bummer for a great trout stream:

Montana biologists say endemic fungus killing fish in Big Hole River
The Saprolegnia fungus is found in nearly every waterway in Montana, and state wildlife biologists said that fungus is what's killing brown trout in the Big Hole River and that the recent die-off of the trout is the result of perfect timing and conditions for the fungus to kill stressed fish.
—Ravalli Republic


Beware of Zombies: Riverside Park trail to get scary on Oct. 25

Oct. 22, 2014 4:03 p.m.

PARKS — The third annual Return of the Zombies hike is set for Oct. 25 on what's billed as “the scariest half-mile hike ever” in Riverside State Park.

Hikers of all ages are invited to hike the haunted trail between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. as a fundraiser for the Riverside State Park Foundation.

The route begins at the park's Seven-Mile Airstrip, 7903 W. Missoula Road, in Nine Mile Falls. See directions.

Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for youths age 3 – 12 and free for children under 3.

  • The Washington Discover Pass is not needed on vehicles for this event.

Adults are issued a flashlight, and kids ages 3 to 12 receive a glow-in-the-dark bracelet. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Pets are not allowed. 

At this outdoor version of a haunted house, participants hike a half mile through the woods at the park, while volunteer “zombies” provide the scary atmosphere. Participants should be prepared to walk over uneven terrain and wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing. Organizers will be selling hot chocolate and coffee. A DJ will be entertaining at a warming fire.

Info: Cherie’ Gwinn, 465-5066 or cherie.gwinn@parks.wa.gov.


Spokane runner up in online poll for America’s Best Riverfront

Oct. 22, 2014 3:10 p.m. - Updated: 3:10 p.m.

OUTDOOR CITIES — Wilmington, N.C., generated enough votes to edge Spokane this week in a USA TODAY 10 Best Readers' Choice contest for Best American Riverfront.

Wilmington “waged a tight but winning battle against Spokane for the top spot and landed the #1 slot after a frenzied weekend of voting,” the online pollsters reported.   

Wilmington lies on the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River, which winds up into easternmost North Carolina from the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to Bald Head Island.  Because Wilmington is associated with the many barrier island destinations for which it serves as a gateway - Wrightsville Beach chief among them - the public often is unaware that it's a river city. 

The Top 10 vote-getting cities for Best American Riverfront are:  

  1. Wilmington, N.C.
  2. Spokane, Wash.
  3. Davenport, Iowa
  4. Dubuque, Iowa
  5. Pittsburgh
  6. Louisville, Ky.
  7. Chattanooga, Tenn.
  8. Savannah, Ga.
  9. Detroit
  10. Richmond, Va.

Regardless of the poll, Spokane has a world-class connection to a river.

Think about what our “River Runs Through It” offers to visitors. And ponder what it adds to the quality of life for those of us who live here — for example:

  • Riverfront Park and free festivities such as Pig Out In the Park.
  • Foot bridges over the Spokane Falls, a year-round attraction but especially exciting in the refreshing spray of spring runoff.
  • The Spokane River Centennial Trail.
  • Historic Monroe Street Bridge.
  • Tribal powpows.
  • Spokane Jazz Orchestra Fourth of July Concert.
  • Rotary Fountain.
  • Fishing for native redband trout.
  • Access for rafters, SUP and other boats with take-outs including the No-Li Brew Pub — it doesn't get much better than that.

Ruby Creek wolf continues to elude state trappers

Oct. 22, 2014 10:15 a.m. - Updated: 10:41 a.m.

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A gray wolf that was deemed too comfortable with being around rural homes and pet dogs near Ione, Wash., has eluded state trappers intending to put the female wolf into captivity at wildlife facility near Tenio, Wash.

State Fish and Wildlife officials have called off the trapping effort and will wait until snow accumulates to offer a better chance of capture.

The Ruby Creek wolf was trapped and radio-collared in 2013 and had been hazed with rubber bullets to try to keep it away from Pend Oreille County residences. Wolves learn quickly from these encounters and are much harder to capture the second time around. Wildlife managers are concerned for public safety as well as the prospect of the solo wolf being bred by a domestic dog during the winter mating season.

Here's the latest update for on the Ruby Creek wolf as well as ongoing wolf-management issues from Nate Pamplin, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife assistant director and head of the state's wildlife program:

Ruby Creek Wolf: 

To date, we have not been able to capture the Ruby Creek female for placement at Wolf Haven International.  So far our efforts have been mostly trapping with leg-hold sets; we’ve had 24 traps in the ground for 18 nights.  We have used traps with scent lure and blind sets (no scent).  We've used scat and hair as bait from the dogs the Ruby female has been mingling with, as well as walking the dog around the area to lay scent.  We've tried free ranging darting twice and pushing the wolf towards the traps. 

At this point and given this level of effort, we have pulled the traps because trapping is probably not going to be successful.  We will continue monitoring the Ruby Creek female and will be prepared to capture her using a dart gun, cougar walk-in trap, or leg-hold trap if the right opportunity occurs.  Once snow arrives, we me need to dart her from the air.   If these efforts are unsuccessful, we will re-evaluate options.

Whitman County Animal Mortality Investigation:

A man described as a farmer is being investigated for shooting a wolf after chasing it in a vehicle southwest of Pullman.

We are still conducting the investigation on the animal shot in Whitman County and sent genetic samples to a lab to determine whether the animal was a wolf or a hybrid.  We expect the investigation to be concluded in the next couple weeks.

Profanity Peak Pack:

Washington's most recently confirmed wolf pack came to light in September after killing cattle in a remote national forest allotment in Ferry County near Profanity Peak. A new depredation was reported this week.

WDFW staff responded to the Diamond M ranch and investigated a cow that had substantial injuries on October 20.   The animal was discovered during the round-up/collection efforts to move animals to the Basin and winter range.  Staff confirmed that the injuries were caused by wolves. The wounds appeared to be about a week old.  This is the third incident involving four livestock: 1) a dead cow and calf, 2) an injured calf (which was with three other calves that were observed injured, but were not able to be caught/inspected) and 3) an injured cow.  Currently, we do not have any wolves collared in this pack.

The livestock operators are cooperating to try to avoid problems with wolves, Pamplin said, noting that staffers are trying to locate the wolves for a possible capture and radio-collaring misison.

The operator is collecting the cows from the main allotment where the depredations have occurred, so human presence is high and the number of cows remaining on the allotment is lowered and getting reduced almost daily.  We know that there are cattle spread over multiple allotments in the immediate vicinity as well as private ranches on the periphery of where this pack likely ranges.  Whether this pack is attacking livestock owned by others is unknown at this time. 


Coho in spotlight; steelhead providing action

Oct. 22, 2014 7:27 a.m.

FISHING — The first coho fishing season on Idaho's Clearwater River has been capturing a lot of attention this weeke, but fishing guides correctly point out that steelheading — the bread and butter of late fall fishing in the Snake and Clearwater rivers — is doing just fine.

Here's the latest report from Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing based out of Clarkston:

The Clearwater has been kicking out a lot of nice big B-run fish ranging anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds. This time of year these fish are hot and make some line screaming runs and acrobatic leaps. Dam counts are looking excellent for a great season. An email from Joe DuPont, IDF&G Clearwater Fishery Manager states that as of  10/7/14, over 9,000 hatchery Steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam (based on detected PIT tags) that are destined for the Clearwater River.  This is about triple of what we saw last year at this same time and 30% more than we saw 2 years ago.

One of the exciting things about the run this year is the vast majority of them are the larger 2-ocean fish unlike last year when many were the smaller 1-ocean fish.  To date, over 25,000 Clearwater River bound hatchery Steelhead have passed over Bonneville Dam, so there are still a lot on their way.  This means there will be no need to for emergency rules like we implemented last year to protect brood stock. The limit on the Clearwater for steelhead is 2 per day with no size restrictions.

Another exciting development on the Clearwater is that with combined efforts from the Nez Perce Tribe and IDF&G, we are allowed to catch and harvest Coho Salmon. This is the first time in the history of the State of Idaho where sportsmen are able to harvest Coho. The limit is 2 per day and the season is open until November 16th, 2014. Our boats have been landing a few Coho’s a day while targeting Steelhead, which is a nice added bonus to the day.

Fishing should continue to pick up from here on out.


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