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Stevens County Commission condemns state wolf management

Sept. 18, 2014 2:48 p.m. - Updated: 3:14 p.m.

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Stevens County Commissioners have unanimously passed a resolution that hammers Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managers for failing to protect people, wildlife and livestock from wolves that are naturally recolonizing the region.

The resolution (attached) stems from the Huckleberry Pack attacks on sheep grazing on Hancock timber company land, officially killing at least 24 sheep from mid-August to early September, when the rancher rounded up the flock that started at about 1,800 sheep and moved them to distant pasture.

The resolution says more than 200 of the sheep are still missing and attacks that might be attributed to wolves have been reported by other livestock owners in the area. The commissioners are particularly upset that a livestock grower was forced off private land by wolf attacks.

Meanwhile the Stevens County Commission contends the WDFW “failed to honor its obligation and an imminent threat to life and property still exists.”

The resolution says the commission “will consider all available option to protect the residents” and declared that “the wolves of the Huckleberry Pack are subject to whatever Constitutional means necessary to secure our public in their lives, liberty and property.”

No specific actions were listed.

Stay tuned.





Still a record, but fall chinook run downgraded to 1.2 MIL

Sept. 18, 2014 1:40 p.m. - Updated: 4:04 p.m.

FISHING — Although it's clearly a gigantic run — and still likely to be a record — the size of the 2014 run of fall chinook heading up the Columbia River was officially downgraded from its earlier forecast today.

Washington and Oregon fish managers issued a report that downgraded the forecast from 1.51 million adult fall chinook to 1.26 million — or slightly above last year's record run.

Officially, the Columbia River Compact reported:

Passage of adult fall Chinook at Bonneville Dam since August 1 totals 630,800 fish. Daily
counts reached over 67,000 fish (September 7 and 8) and have slowly declined to 21,000 fish
per day (September 17). Based on the 10-year average, passage is 76% complete by September
17. The most recent in-season runsize estimates from TAC (9/15) include a Columbia River
return of 723,500 Upriver Bright (URB) and 110,000 Bonneville Pool Hatchery (BPH) adult
Chinook. The 2014 Columbia River return is projected to reach nearly 1,258,000 adult fall
Chinook (83% of preseason forecast of 1,510,600 adult fall Chinook)

Forget the change and go fishing.


Life’s good! Wet wading, fly casting for Ronde steelhead

Sept. 18, 2014 8:29 a.m. - Updated: 8:46 a.m.

FLY FISHING — I've heard some people say the water's still too warm in the Grande Ronde River to attract steelhead upstream from the Snake.

Fly fishing guide Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop is putting that myth to bed this week, as you can see in the photo above.


New Mexico pronghorn buck is world record

Sept. 18, 2014 7:02 a.m.

HUNTING — A pronghorn killed by New Mexico trophy hunter Mike Gallo’s has been certified  this month by the Boone and Crockett Club as the new world record.

Gallo shot the animal, often called an antelope, in Socorro County, New Mexico, in September 2013. It's official score is 96 4/8 Boone and Crockett points

The buck surpassed the existing record — which was a tie of 95 points held for more than a decade ago by two pronghorns taken in Arizona — by 1 1/2 inches. That's a huge margin. In fact, it's the widest margin between any of B&C’s 3,400 entries for trophy pronghorn.

The left horn of the new record antelope measures 18 4/8 inches, and the right horn measures 18 3/8 inches. The prongs measure 7 inches on the right and 6 5/8 inches on the left.

“Records reflect success in big game conservation,” said Richard Hale, chairman of the Club’s Records of North American Big Game Committee, in a press release. “Remember, the pronghorn was once nearly lost, much like the bison, until sportsmen led an era of wildlife recovery. Now the species is flourishing. And the fact that such incredible specimens exist today says a lot about how far we have come, and how bright the future might be.”

Gallo isn't a stranger to the record books. In addition to the world record, he has killed the top three pronghorns in New Mexico.

New Mexico is second in pronghorn entries in Boone and Crockett records, with 627. Wyoming is first, with 1,154.


Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

Sept. 18, 2014 6:04 a.m.

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year is National Public Lands Day.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

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Ketchum wants Idaho to use nonlethal wolf control

Sept. 17, 2014 12:11 p.m.

PREDATORS  — City leaders in the central Idaho resort town of Ketchum have passed a resolution requesting state officials use nonlethal methods to manage wolf conflicts with livestock in Blaine County.

The city council in the resolution passed Monday said guard dogs, strobe lights and electric fencing are preferable to aerial gunning, hunting and trapping, according to the Associated Press.

Councilors in the resolution say tourism and wildlife are important to local citizens and the economy.

Councilors are also asking state leaders to reconsider what is considered a viable wolf population.

Idaho lawmakers earlier this year approved creating a $400,000 fund and a five-member board to authorize the killing of wolves.

Conservation groups say that will drive down the Idaho wolf population to about 150 animals. There are about 650 wolves in the state now.


Fall chinook hitting at Snake-Clearwater confluence

Sept. 17, 2014 9:36 a.m. - Updated: 11:25 a.m.

UPDATED 11:25 with photo of the big steelhead Shawn Barron caught on Clearwater River (inset) shortly after his son, Tyler, caught the big fall chinook (above). That's what I call a good day of fishing!

FISHING — The nice thing about fishing in the lower Clearwater River this time of year is that the fish you catch are either big or bigger.

Steelhead have been attracting anglers to the waters near Lewiston since July, when the fish started trickling over Lower Granite Dam in decent numbers and up the Snake River toward Idaho.To date, more than 22,000 steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam (since June 1) and the fish continue to swim over their last Snake River hurdle at the rate of about 1,300 a day.

But now fall chinook are showing in bigger numbers as a forecast record run pushes into the Columbia River system. Indeed, the numbers of fall chinook over Lower Granite is higher than the number of steelhead.

“We are anticipating that the fall chinook salmon returning run to Idaho will be the second largest we have seen in quite some time last year was the largest,” said Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.

“We are expecting around 50,000 adults to pass over Lower Granite Dam and what is even more exciting is this year the majority of the adult fish are three-ocean fish that typically range from 18-22 pounds. 

“On average, more than 2,000 adult chinook a day have been passing over Lower Granite Dam for the past week.  Soon we should exceed 3,000 adult chinook a day.  Catch rates for Chinook have been quite slow, but they should pick up with all these fish starting to move in.”

Steelhead fishing also has been fairly slow, he said, noting that surveys pegged success at 20 hours per fish in the Snake River and Clearwater River downstream of Memorial Bridge where fish can be harvested. 

But expect these catch rates to improve as more fish move into Idaho. 

“Steelhead fishing in the catch-and-release area of the Clearwater River (upstream of Memorial Bridge) has been fairly good with catch rates around 5 to 6 hours a fish,” DuPont said. 

“One interesting this about this year’s A run is that over half the fish that have passed over Lower Granite Dam are two-ocean fish running 9-13 pounds,” he said. The A run is the term used for the earlier arriving steelhead that are typically dominated by one-ocean fish and are mainly destined for the Salmon and Grande Ronde rivers and up the Snake to Hells Canyon Dam.

“So, although the catch rates haven’t been all that great, people have been pleased with the size of the fish they are catching.  Now that the B run (later arriving and generally larger two-ocean steelhead bound mostly for the Clearwater River Basin) is just starting to reach Idaho, the size of the fish should just get bigger.

Fall chinook anglers in Idaho often wonder why “wild” fish are protected when they seem to catch more “unclipped” salmon than “clipped” salmon produced at hatcheries. DuPont explains:

  • Only about 30% of the chinook passing over Lower Granite Dam are fin-clipped.  That is because a lot of wild fish are returning and because around half the hatchery fall chinook released in Idaho are clipped. This was done to help build the run when numbers were low.   Thus, anglers will have to catch around four unmarked fish for every clipped fish that can be harvested. 

Another question commonly asked: “Why can't anglers harvest fall chinook upstream of Memorial Bridge?”   DuPont explains:

  • First, only about 25 percent  of the hatchery fish released into the Clearwater River are clipped. Thus, when you mix in the wild fish only about 15 percent of the fish are clipped.  That doesn’t leave a lot of fish to be harvested.  This clip rate is set until 2017.  Discussion will occur to decide what the new clip rate will be starting in 2018.
  • Second, the Clearwater River is a very popular place to catch-and-release steelhead, and has been for many years.  Anglers come from all over the nation to fish this unique fishery.  Opening a fall chinook season at the same time as this catch-and-release steelhead season occurs would cause significant changes in the dynamics of this fishery (more anglers and more boats).  Many steelhead anglers say they are not in support of this.
  • Finally, the Nez Perce Tribe is largely responsible for rebuilding the fall chinook run in Idaho.  Because most of the Clearwater River is in the Nez Perce Tribal Reservation, we need to be considerate of their concerns and interests before moving forward with a fishery that targets fall chinook in this area.  We will have discussions with the Tribe about this when we feel the time is appropriate. 

National Geographic underwater photographers offer program in Spokane

Sept. 17, 2014 7:41 a.m.

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY — A pair of National Geographic underwater photographers will present a program, Coral Kingdoms & Empires of Ice at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane.  Expect the best.

Explore undersea worlds with photographic legend David Doubilet and his wife and underwater partner, photojournalist Jennifer Hayes. From the coral reefs of Papua New Guinea to the icebergs of Antarctica and the harp seals of Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, they’ll go beyond the published stories to share their behind-the-camera adventures.

The program is the first of a four-part Spokane speaker series running into 2014 featuring award-winning photographers, filmmakers, scientists, and explorers . From the untamed landscape of Antarctica to the surface of Mars, discover what it means to explore the world’s most beautiful places and animals.

Tickets for the Doubilet-Hayes program cost $41.50 through TicketsWest.  Tickets for the entire series can be purchased for $150.


Mountain biking skills classes set at Sekani

Sept. 16, 2014 8:50 a.m.

CYCLING — A basic mountain biking skills class, taught by Evergreen East, is set for 10 a.m. Sept. 27 at Camp Sekani.

An intermediate skills class will follow on Oct. 25.

Details:  Evergreen East.


Agency posts saltwater fishing tips on new webpage

Sept. 16, 2014 7:29 a.m.

FISHING — A new Washington Fish and Wildlife Department web page features tips and tactics for catching fish over 3,800 square miles of marine areas off the coast, Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, Hood Canal, and Puget Sound.

The Marine Fishing web page features:

  • Species calendars showing when to fish by area and species, including salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, flounder, tuna and other marine species.
  • Mapping tools that enable anglers to plan their trips and gain information on shore and boat access.
  • Fishing tips that include YouTube instructional videos, Fishing 101 lessons, fish preparation tips, and information on public clam and oyster beaches.
  • Great Getaways vacation planning section with information about family-friendly fishing vacations.
  • Fishing reports to help guide anglers to where the fish are biting.

The marine web page is one of several fishing information pages the agency has added or enhanced this year, including pages for lowland fishing lakes and high lakes.

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