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Outdoors blog

Archive for September 2011

Smoke make have provoked latest bighorn dieoff in western Montana

WILDLIFE – Montana wildlife officials say another pneumonia outbreak has killed several bighorn sheep in the Skalkaho area in western Montana.

Officials tell the Missoulian that two dead sheep recently died from severe cases of pneumonia, and that a third sheep had been dead too long to identify the cause.

Veterinarian Brent Rice of Hamilton says smoky conditions in the area from forest fires might have stressed the bighorns and made them more susceptible.

Officials say that if the outbreak spreads it would be the seventh major die-off of bighorns in western Montana since 2009.

Silver Bow offers beginner fly-tying class

What:  Learn the basics and how to tie six flies in two nights.

When:  6 p.m. -9 p.m., Oct. 10-11.

Where:  Silver Bow Fly Shop. 13210 E Indiana Ave.

Instructor:  Angela Morgan.

Cost:  $75; pre-register, space limited.

Contact: Silver Bow Fly Shop, 924-9998.

Roadside treasure: Washington Pass overlook of Liberty Bell in North Cascades

MOUNTAIN ROADS — The North Cascades Highway from Winthrop, Wash., west to Marblemount is a great scenic attraction that keeps getting better, according to this Seattle Times story.

Now's a great time to gander at LIberty Bell Mountain. 

Join nordic skiers to clear trails at Mount Spokane

TRAILS — Join local nordic skiers to clear brush from Mount Spokane cross-country ski trails in work parties set for Oct. 2 and Oct. 15, starting at 9 a.m. at Selkirk Lodge.

Wear appropriate clothing; bring a lunch and water.

Details: Art Bookstrom, 368-3119 days, 624-9667 evenings.

Fewer razor clams available for fall digs

SHELLFISHING — Fewer razor clams will be available for harvest this season on the Washington Coast beaches, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department pre-season surveys.

The decline, said state coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres, is due to the natural cycle of razor clam populations.

“We’ll have a little less digging this season,” Ayres said. “But we’ll probably save as much as we can for spring dates. People like that, the conditions are better and the clams are bigger.”

Information about current razor-clam stocks, marine toxins and digging options is available on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s shellfishing website.

Bowhunter seems to lure unwanted predators

HUNTING — Years ago, before Jim Ebel had retired as manager of the Colville Fish Hatchery, I wrote a story about his unnerving encounter with a cougar.

He was putting up a tree stand before the archery deer season when a cougar came in below the tree and waited for an easy meal to come down.  Ebel was unarmed.

Eventually the cat left the immediate area, so Ebel crawled down and began hiking a mile to his pickup, but the cougar immediately showed up again and stalked him from beihind and from the side, slipping in and out of sight at close range.

That experience — something most hunters will never experience in their lifetimes — was enough to convince Ebel to carry a weapon in the woods.

But last year's hunting season seemed to move Ebel's status from hunter to “bait.”

Read on for the rest of the story:

Last call: Hiawatha Trail closing for season Sunday

RAIL TRAILS – The popular Route of the Hiawatha Trail rail trail near Lookout Pass is scheduled to close for the season on Sunday, (Oct. 2).

Bear spray worked for bowhunters

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — It's worth emphasizing that an Idaho archer was able to end a grizzly attack on his bowhunting partner on Saturday by using pepper spray, an essential that should be on the pack straps of every hunters in grizzly country.

The elk hunter who apparently stumbled across a bear’s resting spot and was hospitalized after the animal bit him and broke his right arm, officials said.

Richard Paini, 40, suffered puncture wounds and an injured left hand along with the broken forearm in the attack at about 9 a.m. He was taken to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

A hospital spokesman said Paini, of Island Park, was listed in serious condition Saturday afternoon.

The bear involved in the attack fled after Paini’s archery hunting partner, John Stiehl of Island Park, used bear spray to scare off the bear. Stiehl told authorities he believed it was a grizzly bear.

Gregg Losinski, an Idaho Fish and Game bear specialist, said hunters are at more risk of surprising bears because they are understandably being stealthy when they're in the woods.

Wolf plan heads wildlife panel’s Oct. 6 agenda

ENDANGERED– Washington’s pending Wolf Conservation and Management Plan will be the focus of another special state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Oct. 6 in Olympia.

The discussion will center on the interaction of wolves with livestock and ungulates.  Public comment will be accepted.

The special session will be followed by an Oct. 7-8 meeting, when the commission will receive briefings on issues including the status of north coast steelhead stocks and population goals for deer, elk and other ungulates.

The special meeting is the second of three scheduled on the recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The first was held in Ellensburg. The third special meeting is set for Nov. 3 in Olympia.

The commission is expected to take action on the plan in December.

Click here to see agendas for the commission meetings.

Click here to see the proposed wolf plan, including recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists.  

Cool, rainy spring dampened pheasant hatch, but birds rallied

UPLAND BIRD HUNTING — Hunters chilled at the thought of what the cool, rainy spring was doing to nesting pheasants and quail in June.

Indeed, the hatch isn't anything to crow about, but it's not as bad as hunters may have feared, at least in the Snake River region.

Surveys by Idaho Fish and Game biologists indicate quail and Hungarian partridge had modest reproductive success and pheasants did better than the did last year, although last year's hatch was pitiful.

Idaho partridge populations of both are down slightly from 2010 and long-term averages. Pheasant numbers are up from last year, but still be low the averages.

Read on for details in a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:

Prepare for Montana hunt with online resources

HUNTING — The time a nonresident takes to plan a Montana hunting trip is worth more than the high cost of the out-of-state tag.   

Read on for some steps and resources to consider.`

Steelhead fishing opens in Upper Columbia and tribs

STEELHEAD FISHING — Fishing for hatchery steelhead opens Wednesday (Sept. 28) on the upper Columbia River above Rock Island Dam, and on the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan rivers, the , the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

Salmon fishing will also reopen Wednesday from Wells Dam to Brewster, and the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.

The steelhead fisheries will remain open until further notice, while the salmon fishery will run through Oct. 15.

Read on for details.

Wild Night for Wilderness Sept. 30 in Sandpoint

CONSERVATION — “Wild Night For Wilderness” – a community celebration of the great outdoors, is being organized into an evening of music, slides and updates on the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, at Evans Brother’s Coffee in Sandpoint.

The evening also includes a taste of local libations — featuring locally brewed beer by Laughing Dog and locally crafted wine by Pend d’Oreille Winery — plus free appetizers, door prizes and music by Baregrass, a popular local dance band.

The event, sponsored by Idaho Conservation League, Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education and Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness,  will have a no-host bar, $5 cover at the door.

Info: (208) 265-9565.

Calf found dead: More Imnaha wolves targeted

ENDANGERED SPECIES – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will kill two wolves from the Imnaha wolf pack, including the collared alpha male,  after they were blamed for a livestock kill in Eastern Oregon.

The department tracked an adult male wolf with a GPS collar to the location of a calf that was killed last week, according to the Associated Press.

Killing the adult male and a second, uncollared wolf will leave two wolves in the pack. Other wolves from the pack have dispersed to new areas.

The wildlife-advocate group Oregon Wild has protested the proposed kills, saying they are a “major blow” to Oregon’s wolf recovery program.

The Imnaha pack has been blamed for 14 livestock kills since mid-2010.

Wolves in the area were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act in May, when the department killed two other wolves.

The overall number of wolves in the state has fallen from 21 to 12. The number is expected to climb.

Act now for FREE tickets to Reel Rock Film Tour

CLIMBING — Some of the year's top climbing short-films are coming to Spokane in a film tour — REEL ROCK VI.

Watch the trailer..

The show is a screaming deal — it's free!  But you must think ahead or get left out.

The films will be shown starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Mountain Gear retail store, 2002 N. Division.

“The show is free but space is limited to about 150, so attendees need to stop into the store and pick up their FREE ticket in advance,” said Phil Bridgers, Mountain Gear events coordinator.

Among the films are epic cold shots of mountaineering Gasherbrum II, big-wall ascents at Yosemite, ice climbs and the skill of an inspiring elementary school-age rock prodigy.

Read on for the film list and details. 

Albino mule deer fawn outstanding in the field

WILDLIFE WATCHING — It wasn’t a ghost Nels Houghton first saw while jogging in the early morning near his Billings, Mont.

Last weekend he returned and stalked to within 75 yards of the rare deer as it walked warily across a hillside, reports Brett French, outdoors writer for the Billings Gazette.

“I’ve hunted all my life and have never seen anything else like that,” he said. “I was pretty excited about it.”

French reports that albino deer are rare, but just how rare is open to debate.

  • One 1989 text, “The Deer of North America,” estimated the rate of albinism in mule deer at 1 in every 500,000 deer.
  • An Outdoor Life article on albino whitetail deer put the number at 1 in 20,000.
  • Former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jay Newell said he thinks the 1 in 500,000 odds are high. He told French he'd seen three albino mule deer — spread out along the Musselshell River and in the Bull Mountains — during his work in the area. Yet Newell has never seen an albino whitetail deer.

Asian carp: if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em

FISHERIES — Asian bighead carp have become a big pain in the rear for fisheries managers and boaters in the Great Lakes region.

To get a sense of the danger they pose to boaters, check out this video of flying carp on the Illinois River.

Illinois officials say some creative thinking about the exotic species might offer a solution to two major problems _ the Asian carp's threatening of the Great Lakes and record numbers of people facing hunger.

In other words, quit carping about the carp and start commercial fisheries to catch them so they can be consumed.

Starting last week, the state's Department of Natural Resources launched a campaign to change the fish's image and teach people how to cook the ultra-bony meat.

Neighbornhood workshop on fire risk reduction for the High Drive Bluff on Thursday

URBAN FORESTS — The Friends of the High Drive Bluff are organizing a discussion on the proposed Fire Risk Reduction Plan for that popular South Hill recreation area on Thursday, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m., at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 5720 S. Perry St.

Anyone interested in the Bluff is welcome and encouraged to participate.
 
Last spring, community members identified fire risk reduction as a high priority for the Bluff and for neighboring homes. Attend this workshop to learn details of the plan, get answers to your questions, and learn how you can help with the project.

Contact: Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension, (509) 477-2167, email robertsd@wsu.edu

BLM seeks public comment on climbing ban in two Idaho counties

ROCK CLIMBING — The Bureau of Land Management is proposing a ban on rock-climbing at Cedar Fields near Burley, Idaho, to protect cultural resources in that area and would also ban climbing on BLM lands in the Castle Rocks Inter-Agency Recreation Area.

The federal agency is taking public comment on the plan until Oct. 28.

See story.
  

Coeur d’Alene Tribe asserting right to hunt

TRIBAL HUNTING – The Benewah County prosecutor was incorrect to say the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in North Idaho does not have the right to hunt or fish on reservation land owned by non-tribal members, tribal officials say.

“Any explanation or advice to people that tribal members can’t hunt and fish anywhere on the reservation is wrong, and potentially dangerous,” said Helo Hancock, tribe spokesman in a report by the Coeur d’Alene Press. “I think it misleads people and could lead to people getting into a conflict situation.”

Hancock said the tribe owns about 3,500 acres in the reservation, or about 25 percent of the land. He told the Coeur d’Alene Press that the rest is state, federal or privately owned.

Doug Payne, the county’s prosecutor, said a 1960 opinion by the Solicitor General of the Department of the Interior said the executive order that created the reservation didn’t reserve to tribal members the right to hunt and fish on the land.

But Hancock said that the opinion Payne referred to had been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968.

Read on for more of the story.

Number of young hunters dropping in Oregon

HUNTING — The number of youth hunters is dropping as Oregon’s population continues to shift to urban areas, according to a report in the East Oregonian.

 Oregon youth hunting license sales for hunters ages 12-17 have dropped by more than 17 percent in the last 10 years, the paper says.

The total number has dropped from 22,000 in 2001 to 18,000 in 2010 as the state’s population has grown.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy told the East Oregonian the numbers have started to stabilize in recent years.

Dennehy says there are now more activities — and distractions — for young hunters than there were a decade ago.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 29 percent of Oregon’s population lives in rural areas.

Photographer’s free program features Owls, woodpeckers

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Distinguished wildlife photographer Paul Bannick will present a free multimedia presentation based on his book “The Owl and the Woodpecker” TONIGHT (Sept. 26), starting at 5 p.m. in the  Wolff Auditorium, Jepson Center, Gonzaga University.

The event is sponsored by Gonzaga Environmental Studies.

Downtown hike a great way to celebrate whatever water has flowed under your bridge

HIKING — My wife, Meredith, and I celebrated our 29th anniversary Sunday afternoon (and evening) with a lively troop of trekking friends, shown here bagging the Kardong Bridge on the Centennial Tail.

This was Bridge No. 18 in the 7.8-mile downtown hike of 18 Spokane River bridges. We could have made it 20 bridges had we scampered across the Maple Street and Division Street bridges, but we left that goal for another year of marriage.

 We started and ended at the Sandifur Bridge near High Bridge Park.

What next? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Ducks Unlimited raising wetland funds at Northern Quest BBQ

CONSERVATION — With waterfowlers gearing up for the fall general season start (Oct. 15), the West Plains Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is sponsoring BBQ buffet dinner and fundraising auction Oct. 6 at Northern Quest Casino.

Many species of wildlife benefit from the work of DU and the generosity of sportsmen and other conservationist to preserve and restore wetland habitats.

Buy tickets online by Oct. 1 for a chance on $100 Duck Bucks to use on the Live Auction!

Read on for details.

Not tonight deer: birth control vaccine may reduce urban deer damage

NUISANCE WILDLIFE — Science is out of the rut and onto a new tactic for dealing with burgeoning deer populations in towns and suburbs where the animals can't be hunted.

A new birth control vaccine for white-tailed deer — a growing nuisance in urban areas for gardens and landscaping — eliminates the dangerous reproductive behavior behind the annual autumn surge in automobile-deer collisions, according to a report in Science Daily.

The vaccine, just becoming commercially available in some U.S. states, was the topic of a report in Denver at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Science Daily said.

Mountain bikers offer trail building class in CdA

TRAILSInternational Mountain Biking Association trail crew experts are offering a Trail Building Class, Saturday, Oct. 1,  8 a.m.-4 p.m.  starting at McLain Hall, North Idaho College,  followed by a field session at Blue Creek Bay.

Experts train locals in techniques to help boost area trail systems.

Dress for a day of work in the woods and bring plenty of water and snacks.

  • Who: Anyone interested in developing mountain biking in our area
  • Cost: FREE – lunch is provided

Sponsored by North Idaho College Outdoor Pursuits, Lake City Trail Builders Association, International Mountain Biking Association, Bicycle Sales and Service, Two Wheeler Dealer, Bureau of Land Management.

Contacts: Jon Totten: jon_totten@nic.edu (208) 769-7809, Lake City Trail Builders: lctba83814@hotmail.com

Facebook ‘wall of shame’ targets slobs who create garbage bears

WILDLIFE — Frustrated by some homeowners' unwillingness to secure their garbage to keep black bears from becoming habituated, a group of residents of Incline Village in Nevada near Lake Tahoe have created a Facebook “wall of shame,” that features unsecured Dumpsters and the identity of the people who own them.

Social Network pressure to protect wildlife!
  

Fall foliage gets grip on Pend Oreille Divide

HIKING — This is my notion of crimson and gray: Fall huckleberries and granite.

I hiked the north-south divide between the Pend Oreille River and Priest Lake today, North Baldy to Kalispell Rock and back today. Total of 17 miles, temps in high 80s. Gorgeous.

A beer well earned.

Free raptor presentation at Blackwell Island; great for kids

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A nifty program on the wonder of hawks and owls will be presented Saturday (Sept. 24) near Coeur d'Alene at the Blackwell Island Boat Launch and Park.

Beth Paragamian and  West Valley Outdoor Learning Center will have live raptors as well as mounted specimens.  They will give a presentation focusing on Raptor Migration. 

Afterwards they plan to make s’mores and give attendees a chance to see the birds up close and ask questions.

The presentation starts at 6:15 at Blackwell Island, which is just outside of Coeur d'Alene on Highway 95.  Just after you cross the Spokane River heading south on 95 you will see the entrance on the right. 

There will be no charge for parking at the facility as it is also Public Lands Day and all BLM recreational user fees are waived for this day.

Lake Roosevelt water levels in slight down-trend

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1283.75 at 9:30 a.m this morning. The elevation is expected to remain in 1283-1285 range for the next week.

For a daily forecast call (800) 824-4916. This forecast is updated at 3 p.m. each day.

  

Hunter killed by gunshot wound, not grizzly bear

ENDANGERED WILDLIFE  — Here's another big twist to the story about the hunter attacked and by a grizzly bear after it had been mistaken for a black bear and wounded in a remote area of extreme northwestern Montana.

The hunter who died during a grizzly bear attack was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest, the Montana State Crime Lab medical examiner announced today.  Initial reports suggested the man was killed by the bear.

Steve Stevenson, 39, was killed when his hunting partner, Ty Bell, shot the bear multiple times in an attempt to stop the bear’s attack on Stevenson, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. One of the rounds struck Stevenson in the chest.  The breaking story has just been posted by S-R reporter Chelea Bannach.

Here's the perspective the S-R published last week from the father of the young hunter who shot the bear.

Colville National Forests announces road access changes

NATIONAL FORESTS — One road is closing for repairs while another is opening on the Colville National Forest. 

Hanlon Cutoff Road (1935115) near Sullivan Lake will be closed starting Monday through Oct. 3. The culvert work is targeted near the intersection of the Hanlon Cutoff Road and the south end of the Harvey Creek Road (FSR 1935000) at mile marker 25.2.

Access to Hanlon Mountain and Diamond City via the Dry Canyon Road (County Road 3503) will not be effected.

Info: Sullivan Lake Ranger District, (509) 446-7500.

Rogers Mountain Road (7000500) temporary closure north of Colville will be lifted on weekends starting next week. The road has been closed to all vehicle traffic seven days a week since June 1, to allow for helicopter logging.

The Road will remain closed to the public on weekdays.

Info: Three Rivers Ranger District, (509) 738-7700.

BLM director tells ranchers: Still no plans for Mont. monument

PUBLIC LANDS — Ranchers continue to cow the federal governement from expanding the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, which eased under the national spotlight in the past two decades along with interest in the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The head of the federal Bureau of Land Management returned to Montana on Monday with a message similar to the one he delivered to ranchers a year ago: No new national monuments.

As part of a tour of rural communities across the West, BLM director Bob Abbey met with about 20 ranchers still upset over the creation of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument by former President Bill Clinton more than a decade ago.

Ranchers noted that the monument had not substantially changed their operations, but noted that efforts of environmental groups to curtail grazing on monuments is a constant worry to them.

Read on for details from the Associated Press report.

WDFW director to address sportsmen at Brewster roundtable

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Northcentral Washington residents have an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson and regional staff in a roundtable-style meeting Sept. 26 in Brewster.

The 10th annual meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Cove Recreation building, 508 W. Cliff Ave., in Brewster.

“This forum has become a tradition that allows local residents to meet with our director and staff in an informal setting to discuss topics of interest to hunters, fishers and other outdoor recreationalists,” said Dennis Beich, the agench's Northcentral Regional director in Ephrata.

Video captures drama of battling bull elk

 WILDLIFE WATCHING — Few images capture the power and fury of the September bull elk bugling season better than this video posted on YouTube by Yellowstonemedia.  Turn up your speakers and enjoy.

Hikers leave map home, separate from party, spend cold night out

HIKING — A couple of seasoned hikers made three classic mistakes that left them out on the slopes of Mount Rainier for a cold night in the woods Tuesday.

In a nutshell:

  • They separated from their party (and the party didn't wait for them at a critical trail junction!);
  • They didn't bring a map for the area to make an educated decision at the trail junction,
  • They didn't have matches that would light a warming fire when they realized they had to spend the night out in temps that ranged to about 40 degrees.

But they did a few things right

  • They stayed put, stayed calm, made shelter and cuddled to conserve body heat.

“I can tell you this for sure, his butt is warmer than mine,” said one of the hikers, both of whom are older than 75. 

“Yeah, how do you know?” the reporter asked.

“Because I was right up against it. And that’s a pretty strange feeling, I can tell you.”

Read on for the story by Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima Herald-Republic

CdA River campgrounds reopened for free autumn use

CAMPING – Big Hank and Bumblebee campgrounds on the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District have been reopened for free fall camping through October on a trial basis.

“We’ve had requests to open the campgrounds in the fall to accommodate both hunters and people who enjoy fall camping,” said Deputy District Ranger Kimberly Johnson.

“This year we decided to experiment with an extended season to determine how much use these sites would receive after Labor Day.”

No camping fee is being charged during the extended trial season. No water or trash removal is offered, but outhouses will remain open.

If the experiment works, and visitors pack out their garbage, other campgrounds, including Kit Price and Devils Elbow, would be considered for fall openings.

  • Big Hank Campground is 15 miles north of Prichard, Idaho, on Forest Road 208 along the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.
  • Bumblebee Campground is 2 miles west of Forest Highway 9 near the Little North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River on Forest Road 796.
  • Info: (208) 664-2318.

Scotchman Peaks continues mountain goat awareness effort

WILDLIFE — Three cheers for Gonzaga University student Molly Sullivan Roberge and others who've been putting up posters recently to help the mountain-going public learn how to be good neighbors with the mountain goats that highlight our high-country hiking trips.

Shown above, Molly is putting up a poster at the Scotchman Peak Trail #65 near Hope, Idaho.  The posters printed by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness (in cooperation with state wildlife officials)  identify a few practices that hikers should follow when hiking in goat territory. (See below)

So far, volunteers have posted signs at the trailheads to Goat Peak, Scotchman Peak, Star Peak, Pillick Ridge, Dry Creek, Ross Creek Cedars and Little Spar Lake.

Read on for details from the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks:
  

Spirit Lake teen hits bulls eye with archery

BOWHUNTING — Alex McClean, a senior at Timberlake High School/Spirit Lake is an avid bow hunter who boasts of being able to “Robin Hood” an arrow on numerous occasions. (He can shoot a bull's eye, then split the arrow with another shot, reports photographer David Nall).

Alex caught the attention earlier this week of Huckleberries blogger D.F. Oliveria.

Alex still has the target he used with the two arrows, one split right down the middle up to the point, hanging in his room as proof, Oliveria said. Nall snapped the photo above in a group of trees right down the divider of Seltice Way, in Post Falls, near the National Guard.

See David Nall's Facebook page here.

DU encourages waterfowls to double up on Duck Stamps

WETLANDS CONSERVATION – Ducks Unlimited is asking duck hunters and other waterfowl enthusiasts to “double up for the ducks” by purchasing two federal duck stamps this year.

“The federal duck stamp has been an important tool in waterfowl habitat conservation for 77 years, but its ability to purchase and conserve important waterfowl habitat has been greatly diminished by inflation and rising land prices,” DU CEO Dale Hall said. “The purpose of the ‘Double Up for the Ducks’ campaign is to show that hunters support the program and are willing to pay more for the duck stamp in order to conserve waterfowl habitat. We view the duck stamp as an investment in conservation, not as a tax on hunters.”

This effort is part of a larger campaign currently being led by Ducks Unlimited to increase the price of the federal duck stamp.

Read on for details.

Hunter: Deadline looms for buying Montana preference points

BIG-GAME HUNTING — Montana has gone to a preference point system for elk and deer.

Of course, this means the cost of being competitive has gone up, but as a benefit, this should make planning your hunt more predictable.

If you plan to hunt Montana in the future, you shouldn't miss the chance purchase a preferance point before the deadline.

Applicants may purchase only one preference point per license year.

Preference points purchased at the time of application are awarded prior to the drawing.

The deadline for applications to be postmarked is Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.

Click here to download a 2011 nonresident preferance point application.

Geezer grizzly lived noble life until age brought him down

WILDLIFE — Montana wildlife officials have euthanized what they say may be the oldest male grizzly bear to be captured in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

Mike Madel, a grizzly bear management specialist for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says the bear was between 24 and 27 years old.

The bear was captured Saturday after it broke into a barn south of Augusta. It was euthanized Monday at the FWP’s Bozeman laboratory.

Its teeth had worn down and decayed, making it difficult for the grizzly to fend for itself or forage. Madel tells the Great Falls Tribune that age and poor health probably prompted it to leave its usual habitat in search of food

Madel says that male grizzlies don’t often make it past 22 or 23. Female grizzlies typically live longer.

PETA plans porn site to screw hunters, anglers; protesters naked in Spokane today?

ANTI-HUNTING — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is planning to launch a pornographic website to promote its animal rights and vegan diet message, according to a story today by the Associated Press.

And members are planning to protest naked today at a sushi restaurant in Spokane, according to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat.

Critics say the stunt to start a porn site will backfire and ostracize PETA from mainstream society — but the anti-hunting and anti-fishing group will get millions of dollars of publicity in the meantime.

(Reader comments have gone mostly like this: “PETA ostracized themselves from the mainstream long ago.”)

PETA also made news in Seattle this week, protesting the practice of teaching kids how to fish.

PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles that the group has applied with ICM Registry to launch the website peta.xxx.

Rajt says the site will feature “tantalizing” videos and photographs, which will lead viewers into animal rights messages. She noted that Norfolk-based PETA has used porn stars and nudity to get its message across in the past, including an annual speech online in which a PETA representative undresses. That video later shares a message about slaughterhouses.

Read on to see the rest of the porn site story from the Associated Press.

Steelheading excellent near Lewiston; water temp 68 degrees

STEELHEAD FISHING — With Dworshak's cooling flows cut back and water temps at 68 degree, anglers continue to have good fishing for a nice run of steelhead in the Clearwater River and the Lewiston area.

Angler checks last weekend by Idaho Fish and Game show:

Clearwater River
Mouth to Memorial Bridge — The heaviest concentration of anglers, 8 hours per fish caught.

Clearwater River
Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge — 4 hours per fish caught.

Snake River
Downstream from Salmon River — 10 hours per fish caught.

Volunteers to give Dishman Hills some TLC on Saturday

CONSERVATION — Friends of the Dishman Hills Natural Area in Spokane Valley are welcoming all volunteers to the end of Summer National Public Land Day event to spruce up this popular urban 'wilderness.'
 
Meet Saturday, 9:30 a.m. at Camp Caro (parking off Appleway and Sargent Road).

Activities will concentrate within the DHNA itself and two other trailheads.

Items to bring:

  • Work Gloves
  • Water
  • Snacks (if desired as none has been allocated for this event)
      

Arrangements have been made between the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association and Spokane County Parks and Recreation for the bathrooms to be open on Saturday. Eat a good breakfast to get you through the morning, but there's a rumor that doughnuts will be availablefor volunteers in the morning upon arrival at Camp Caro.

Tips for catching Rufus Woods triploid rainbow hogs

FISHING — Here's this week's tip for catching triploid rainbows at Lake Rufus Woods, from Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad's Family Guide Service:

He recommends fishing by the net pens.

Troll flies with action disks by Wigglefin, spinners or plugs.You can also cast Worden’s Super Roostertails for some great action. Fishing eggs cured with Pautzke’s Borx O’ Fire or simply Pautzke’s Fire Bait on a slip sinker rig up by the pens can get you some pigs.

Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper changing guard

CONSERVATION — Jennifer Ekstrom, executive director of the Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper has announced she's moving on to another career opportunity. 

Shannon Williamson will step in as the new Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper on Monday, Sept. 26. 

Williamson — shannon@lakependoreillewaterkeeper.org — is a marine biologist with a distinguished academic career. 

Read on for her resume and what she brings to protecting the Lake Pend Oreille watershed, as well as notes on where Ekstrom is headed.

Angler lands, releases 50-inch tiger musky at Curlew Lake

FISHING — Post Falls angler Chris Gades, fishing in a 24-hour tournament on Saturday, caught and released a monster 50-inch tiger musky after sundown in Curlew Lake.

Andy Walgamott was all over this story and another big Saturday catch in his Northwest Sportsman Magazine blog.

‘Backpacking Washington’ author to give slide show at REI

HIKING – Craig Romano, author of Washington Backpacking (Mountaineers Books) and several other hiking guidebooks, will present a free slide program on overnight and multiday backpacking routes across the state on Thursday (Sept. 22), 7 p.m., at REI, 1125 N. Monroe.

Idaho pike anglers to close season with October tournaments

FISHING — Two tournaments in October will close the eight-contest 2011 schedule for The North Idaho Pike Association.

The group will hold it’s 10th annual tourney at Hayden Lake on Oct 1-2 based out of Honeysuckle Boat Launch.

Their season is set to close with the Fall Classic, Oct. 29, at the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene based from Rocky Point launch.

The group's most recent contest was Sept. 10-11 at Noxon Reservoir.

Biologists post Washington hunting prospects on web

HUNTING — Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists and staffers have posted on the agency's webesite their observations on prospects for hunting this fall.

There's information for districts across the state ranging from canned to to detailed. Check it out before you plan your hunt.

Also check out the information in The Spokesman-Review's Hunting 2011 special section of stories.

Hanford Reach salmon anglers landing kings

SALMON FISHING — Just received: The latest Hanford Reach salmon fishing report for Joe Hymer, the Columbia River salmon man from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Staff interviewed 353 boats last week with 203 adult Chinook, 33 jacks, and 3 coho.  Anglers averaged slightly better than a half a fish per boat. An estimated 845 adult Chinook, 137 jacks, and 12 coho were harvested this past week.  Effort is spreading out throughout the Hanford Reach and the Tri-cities.  An estimated 3,408 angler trips this past week with over 400 boats each day on the weekend.  For the season, 1,433 adult Chinook, 249 jacks, and 12 coho have been harvested.

The first in-season run update for the Hanford Reach was completed on September 15. An adult return estimate of 135,819 was expected to return in 2011. The current in-season return estimate is 58,478 adult Chinook, considerably lower than predicted.

Investigators: Fleeing may have triggered Yellowstone grizzly attack

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Investigators say a fatal bear mauling in Yellowstone National Park was possibly triggered by the California victim and his wife screaming and yelling as they ran from an approaching grizzly mother with cubs, according to an Associated Press report.

New details in the July 6 mauling of 57-year-old Brian Matayoshi emerged today as authorities released 911 recordings and investigative documents. Hikers who reported the attack can be heard on the recording saying they heard screaming and animal noises from the direction of the encounter.

A short time later, a lone female voice was heard calling for help.

Heading into bear country?

Click here for good information on hiking, hunting and traveling in grizzly country.

Idaho Fish and Game also has tips for hunting and camping in carnivore country on its Grizzly Bear webpage.

Moose gets cold reception near Pasco; makes hot meals for needy

WILDLIFE — Moose are finding new hazards in Eastern Washington as they stray from their strongholds in the wooded northeast portion of the state and wander west into the Columbia Basin.

This bull moose slipped into an irrigation canal and, like most wildlife and a few humans who get into this situation, it couldn't get out.

Tired from struggling with the steep sides and swift flowing water in the Esquatzel Diversion Channel, it curled up to rest on a clump of grass growing out of cracks in the concrete lined irrigation canal Monday about six miles north of Pasco, according to the Associated Press.

An officer from the Department of Fish and Wildlife later shot the animal because officials couldn’t determine a safe way to rescue the bull.

The meat will be donated to the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission.

Five bears destroyed in Revelstoke in a week: Might there be a problem?

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Five bears have been destroyed in Revelstoke, British Columbia, in the past week after wandering into town in search of food, according to the Conservation Office.

Might there be a problem there?

“All those bears have gone through the food conditioning and habituation process,” Justyn Bell, a conservation officer based out of Golden told the Revelstoke Times Review. “All those bears were in the same neighbourhood around Oscar Street.”

That total is the same as the number of bears destroyed in all of 2010, according to Revelstoke Bear Aware statistics.
  

Bear sightings are also spiking this month as animals wander down from the hills in search of food. There have been 123 bear sightings in all Revelstoke neighbourhoods this year and 44 of those have been since the beginning of this month.

Read on for more of the Times Review story.
  

Hummingbirds show birder new down-under feeding trick

BIRDWATCHING — Inland Northwest birder Nancy Miller of Viola, ID, photographed this hummingbird this week — possibly a sub-adult male Anna's hummingbird, experts say — feeding on her geraniums in a different way than she's noticed before:

“This one does something I’ve not seen them do – sits on the stem of the flower and gets nectar from any buds drooping within reach.”

Salmon Derby set out of Tri-Cities Sept. 23-24

 
SALMON FISHING — More than $24,000 in prizes are set fo the Atomic Salmon Derby set for Sept. 23-24 out of the Trii Cities, sponsored by Grigg's and the Tri-Cities Ace stores.
 
All profits from the Derby will be going to K.O.E. (Kids Outdoor Experience)  This is the group that puts on the Kids Fishing Day at the Columbia Park Family Fishing pond every spring.
 
This is the first salmon derby open to the public in many years, organizers say.
 
Tickets are $60 for adults 16 and older, $25 for youth 15 and younger.
Tickets are available in the Tri-Cities at:
  • Grigg's Department Store - 801 W Columbia St, Pasco WA
  • Richland Ace Hardware & Sporting Goods - 1415 George Washington Way, Richland WA
  • Ace Hardware and Sporting Goods on Keene Road - 103 Keene Road, Richland WA
  • Other Locations - Pollywogs Sporting Goods in Desert Aire, and Hooked on Toys and Sporting Goods in Wenatchee.
Info: Grigg's, (509)  547-0566

Paddlers give TLC to Little Spokane River

CONSERVATION — Members of the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club are joining with St. George's School on Friday to pick up the summer season's accumulation of littler from the shores of the Little Spokane River.

Three cheers!

The volunteer work project is being organized by one of Spokane's most accomplished senior paddlers: Pat Harbine, 468-0954, email oldharb@aol.com

Meet local paddlers for feast, films, gear swap

CANOEING/KAYAKING – Get a flavor for the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club as members gather for the annual potluck, awards and gear swap plus a filmfest of videos from recent club trips.

The free event (bring a potluck dish) is Friday Sept. 23, 6:30 p.m. at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland.

Info:  Ken Stallman, 991-8494, goldcreekbuilding@comcast.net

Last chance to sign up for North Idaho youth waterfowling clinics

YOUTH HUNTING — A few openings are still available for three mentored waterfowl hunting opportunities for youth aged 15 and under, sponsored byThe Idaho Department of Fish & Game Department.

If you have a kid who might be interested in being exposed into this fascinating sport, don't miss this opportunit y.

The hunts are planned for Saturday, Sept. 24, the opening day of the annual youth-only waterfowl season which is open only to hunters age 15 and under.  The mentored hunting clinics will be held at Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area, Heyburn State Park, and the Clark Fork River delta.

Participation will be by advanced reservation and space is limited.  Anyone interested should call to reserve a spot at one of the three clinics and to obtain additional details. 

  • For the Boundary Creek and Heyburn hunts, contact Dave Leptich at (208) 769-1414. 
  • For the Clark Fork hunt contact Ray Millard at (208) 264-5252

Young hunters will need to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult and bring a shotgun and ammunition.  Young hunters will also need to secure a youth or small game license ($7.25) with a federal migratory bird permit ($1.75) prior to the event. 

Youth participants and a guardian will have the opportunity to spend a morning hunting with an experienced waterfowl hunter.  Following a morning hunt, all will be treated to a free barbeque and waterfowl hunting skills clinic. 

The idea is to expose youth to a quality hunting experience and provide their guardian with enough training to repeat the experience independently.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is also soliciting experienced waterfowl hunters willing to assist with the clinics.  If you want to help pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting, please call either of the numbers listed above.

Grizzly bear amazes researchers with long swims in Flathead Lake

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — A young female grizzly bear fitted with a satellite collar for more than a year embarked on several lengthy swims across portions of Flathead Lake, wildlife officials in Montana said.

Sometimes the bear was in the water for 8-12 hours at a time, according to an Associated Press story.

Rick Mace with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the 4-year-old grizzly made the swims after being captured on the west side of the lake near Flathead Lake Lutheran Camp late last summer.

Mace said the bear was fitted with the satellite collar she wore from June 2010 to earlier this month when it automatically dropped off as planned.

Read on for details, and watch out Michael Phelps.

Idaho sockeyes return in second largest numbers since 1950

FISHERIES — At least 1,071 Snake River sockeye salmon spawners have completed their journey from the Pacific Ocean 700 miles upstream to central Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley, making it the second largest return since the 1950s or longer.

Most of the salmon moved upstream in July. When they cross Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River just before entering Idaho — the eighth and final hydro project they encounter up the Columbia, Snake and Salmon rivers — they still have 400 miles to go.

The top sockeye count since Lower Granite was completed in 1975 was 2,201 in 2010. This year’s count is at least 1,502.

FAQs about fish transport project on White Salmon River

FISHERIES — Columbia River area anglers keenly interested in the effort to restore the White Salmon River salmon and steelhead fisheres upstream from the soon to be breached Condit Dam should check out the Frequently Asked Questions info from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Read on for the details about the Fish Capture and Transport Project underway around Condit Dam.

Free national forest access Saturday

PUBLIC LANDS – Saturday is a thrifty time to visit Washington and Oregon national forests that require an access pass for popular recreation sites.

In honor of “National Public Lands Day,” the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service will waive the fees at sites that normally require a recreaction access pass.  

The passes come in various forms:  a $5 fee per vehicle or recreation pass, such as the Northwest Forest Pass, Interagency Annual Pass, Interagency Senior Pass, Interagency Access Pass, Golden Age, or Golden Access Passport.

More upcoming Free Days include:

  • Veterans Day – Nov. 11

Is bird license needed to hunt forest grouse?

HUNTING — While an upland bird or small game license is needed to hunt pheasants and quail, and a migratory bird stamp is needed to hunt waterfowl, no special permits are needed in Idaho and Washington to hunt forest grouse — dusky, ruffed or spruce grouse.

Hunters simply need to have a current hunting license for hunting these forest grouse species.

Gutsy wrangler, horse fending off charging grizzly: Story strikes a chord

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERSMy Sunday story about a female wrangler, her horse and their showdown with a grizzly bear has generating numerous emails from people for a wide range of reasons.

Some are simply glad to finally hear some positive news about people and their encounters with grizzlies this year, especially when the story was positive for both the people and the bear.

Others  — and not just the many horse women out there — are bolstered by Bolster's courage, poise and determination.

A few wonder if that horse, Tonk, is for sale.

But I have to tell you, after I interviewed Bolster, I came home for dinner and told my wife her tale.  When the tears started rolling down her cheeks, my instincts were confirmed: This is a good story.

National Parks to waive fees

PUBLIC LANDS — National parks and many other public land management areas will be waiving entrance fees on Saturday (Sept. 24) to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

The Park Service is waiving fees for a total of 17 days in 2011, the weekend of Veterans Day (Nov. 11-13).

Fee-free days have been offered the past two years as a cost-friendly family vacation option in the economic slump.

Methow Valley Fall Mountain Bike Festival starts Sept. 23

BICYCLING — The annuam Methow Valley Fall Mountain Bike Festival is next weekend, packed with activities from ranging from races and good exercise sitting backto watch films.

Check out the entire schedule at the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association's  festival website.

Read on for info from the festival press release.

Hunter culpable in death of partner, grizzly

HUNTING — While I'm still bowing my head in sympathy for the hunter and the family of the hunter who was killed by a grizzly bear in the remote far northwestern corner of Montana on Friday, I'm also shaking it back and forth now that more details have been revealed in today's news story.

Here's the perspective from the father of the young hunter who shot the bear.

Angler lands steelhead, bass on same cast

FISHING — This post and photo from Northwest fishing icon Buzz Ramsey:

While fishing the Deschutes with guide Bob Toman, ODFW NW Regional Manager Chris Wheaton landed a double, a summer steelhead and smallmouth bass, while casting a single FAT Fish plug in the half ounce size. Although not unheard of, it's rare to catch a steelhead and smallmouth bass on the same lure and cast. Bob and client were fishing about 3 miles upstream from the mouth of where the Deschutes River enters the Columbia.


  

Idaho hunter bagged 2 wolves in 2 minutes

HUNTING — Hunters have a seven-month season to kill two wolves in Idaho, but Boise's Stan Burt did it in about two minutes, according to Roger Phillips of the Idaho Statesman

Near McCall of the second day of Idaho's wolf hunt, Burt said he howled to see if any wolves were in the area.

“A whole chorus erupted,” Burt told Phillips

Not only had Burt located a pack within a quarter mile, but the wolves had located him, and they headed in his direction.

He positioned himself in a clearing with a good view of the terrain.

Within minutes, Burt told Phillips he had at least eight wolves were milling around and looking for the source of the howling.

“They were basically all around me,” he said.

He got his sights on a wolf about 75 yards away and shot it with his Ruger bolt-action rifle chambered in .223.

He expected the wolves to scatter, but they continued stirring in front of him.

“The gunshot did not bother them,” he said. “It really unnerved me that they were not afraid of me after firing a rifle shot.”

Hunter near Idaho-Montana border kills grizzly after bear kills hunting partner

HUNTING — A grizzly bear killed a hunter in Montana near the border of Boundary County, Idaho, today before another hunter fatally shot the bear, S-R police reporter Mehgann Cuniff reports.

Officials from the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service went to the scene of the attack, which occurred about 10 a.m. in the remote area of Buckhorn Mountain near the border Idaho-Montana.

The hunter who was killed is not a resident of Boundary County, officials said.

The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The hunter’s partner shot and killed the attacking grizzly, officials said.

Several rifle hunting seasons are open in the Boundary County region, including black bear, mountain lion, wolf and controlled hunts for moose and deer.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department bear hunting regulations page warns hunters that grizzlies can be encountered in the North Idaho units.

Heading into bear country?

Click here for good information on hiking, hunting and traveling in grizzly country.

Idaho Fish and Game also has tips for hunting and camping in carnivore country on its Grizzly Bear webpage.

Disabled hunters can sign up for special vehicle access on forests

HUNTING — Handicapped hunters in the Inland Northwest are making inroads to decent hunting opportunities on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests as well the Colville National Forest and two timberland companies.

Deadlines are approaching to sign up for several of the opportunities to drive motorized vehicles behind otherwise locked gates.

Hunters with certified disabilities can apply for access to hundreds of miles of otherwise closed roads on the Colville National Forest and Idaho Panhandle forests as well as Forest Capital Partners lands.

Inland Empire Paper Company also participates, although the road access is not exclusive to handicapped hunters.

The program allows hunters with disabilities to use a motorized vehicle on the designated roads, which are usually closed to motorized use year-round.

Several special platforms are being built by Inland Northwest Wildlife Council volunteers to accommodate hunters in wheelchairs at specially selected sites.

The Sandpoint Ranger District holds a drawing to select disabled hunters for special access behind gates on three roads during big-game seasons. The deadline to apply is Sept. 28.

The deadline to apply for access to roads on the Coeur d’Alene District is Sept. 30.

Generally, hunters must provide a copy of their disabled hunting license and handicapped vehicle hunting permit, make, model and year of the vehicle to be used, and the name of the hunting assistant.
  

Washington contacts include:

  • Colville National Forest, (509) 446-7500. Hunters also can sign up at the BLM & Colville National Forest Information Desk, 1103 N. Fancher in Spokane Valley.
  • Forest Capital Partners timber company has designated areas in Stevens County with access coordinated by Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, (509) 487-8552.
      

Idaho contacts include:

  • Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District in Fernan, (208) 783-2363.
  • Sandpoint Ranger District, (208) 63-5111.
  • Bonners Ferry Ranger District, (208) 267-5561.
  • Craig Mountain Wildlife Area on the Snake River, coordinated by Idaho Fish and Game Department, (208) 799-5010.

Read on for details on disabled hunter programs on the Sandpoint and Coeur d'Alene Ranger Districts:

Long-range weather predictions spell good news for NW skiers, river runners

La Niña, which contributed to extreme weather around the globe during the first half of 2011, has re-emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is forecast to gradually strengthen and continue into winter. Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have upgraded last month’s La Niña Watch to a La Niña Advisory.

NOAA will issue its official winter outlook in mid-October, but La Niña winters often see drier than normal conditions across the southern tier of the United States and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley.

“This means drought is likely to continue in the drought-stricken states of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. “La Niña also often brings colder winters to the Pacific Northwest and the northern Plains, and warmer temperatures to the southern states.”

Oregon’s last wilderness lodge changes hands

WILDERNESS — A notable Oregon destination, the Minam River Lodge in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, has changed hands.

The Oregonian reports that Barnes Ellis of Portland has bought the last operating wilderness lodge in eastern Oregon.

The lodge dates to about 1950. It has a main building and dormitory, five cabins. It can accommodate 35 guests. Access is by trail or small aircraft.

At 560 square miles, Eagle Cap is the state’s largest designated wilderness area.

The ranch had been for sale for years, and the previous owner, George Peekema of Vancouver, died last year at 81.

Fish and Game taking names for Panhandle wolf trapping class

PREDATORS — Idaho wolf trapping rules require trappers complete a wolf trapper class before they can buy a wolf trapping tag.

Idaho Fish and Game Department regional officies are making a list of people interested in taking the courses, which will be scheduled, probably in October. The wolf trapping season — Idaho's first — will start in November.

To register for the Idaho Panhandle class, contact the Fish and Game office in Coeur d'Alene, (409) 769-1414.

Classes are first-come, first-served and limited to 25 individuals. The $8 fee covers the cost of materials. All class times, unless noted, are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break; lunch will not be provided.

For details please consult the Wolf Trapping page on the Fish and Game website: .

Geologists to lead bus tour of Ice Age Floods

NATURAL HISTORY — Geologists with decades of experience studying the region's landscape will present a weeknight lecture followed by a guided bus tour focused on the Ice Age Floods next month, sponsored by the Cheney-Spokane Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute.

Sign up in advance for the tour in the bus, which has comfortable seats and a sound system.  Costs vary, with discounts for students, teachers and Institute members.

Read on for details.

St. Joe River access still blocked from St. Regis

FISHING — A portion of the popular St. Regis Road (Forest Highway 50) with access to the St. Joe River will continue to be closed through Monday noon for culvert replacement in the Bear Springs and Float Creek Area.

That means anglers headed for the upper St. Joe will need to use an alternate route.  Alternatives include:

Moon Pass Road out of Wallace, brings you down the North Fork to the St. Joe close to Avery.

Forest Road 339 over Float Saddle and down Quartz Creek to the upper Joe (recommended for high-clearance vehicles).

Info: St. Joe Ranger District  (208) 245-2531.

Elk poachers bagged after slaying Wenaha Unit trophy bulls

POACHING — An Island City, Oregon father and son were arrested last week by Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division troopers following an investigation into the unlawful taking of two bull elk in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit in northeast Oregon. 

The Wenaha Unit is considered a premier controlled branch antler bull elk hunting unit for which only 20 tags are issued during archery season.  This is a very difficult tag to obtain, and for most hunters it may be a once-in-a-lifetime hunting opportunity.

Read on for details from an Oregon State Police press release via Northwest Sportsman Magazine:

Idaho Panhandle forest planning issues to be detailed by conservationist

PUBLIC LANDS — As the Idaho Panhandle National Forests gear up to revise their forest management plansfor the next 15-20 years, conservationists are sizing up the potential impacts on recreation and wilderness.

Brad Smith of the Idaho Conservation League will give a presentation about the Panhandle plan revision and possible impacts on the Selkirk Mountains. The program is set for MondaySept. 19, 7 p.m., at Mountain Gear's Corporate Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield. See map.

Chimney Rock, Harrison Peak, the Lion's Head, Long Canyon and the Idaho side of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness are among the premier recreation sites included in the planning area, he said.

Guide offers tips for hooking Rufus Woods rainbows

FISHING — The recent heat wave didn't kill the fishing for triploid rainbows at Lake Rufus Woods. 

Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service reports catchig fish trolling flies behind a Mack’s Lures Smile Blade or an action disk by Wigglefin.com or even Pautzke’s Fire Bait with a blade in front.

“Also, you can cast quarter ounce Worden’s Super Roostertails for 2 to 5 pound triploids around the lower .

Out of the blue, commission to consider battery-operated decoys

WATERFOWL HUNTING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider a petition to allow use of battery-powered spinning-wing decoys for hunting during a special conference call meeting Friday, 8:30 a.m.

This didn't come up at the recent meeting the Fish and Wildlife Department had on new rules for upcoming hunting seasons.

The only way the public can listen to the discussion — travel to the Fish and Wildlife Department's Olympia headquarters and listen on the speaker phone.

Whitetail bucks losing velvet, prepping for fall, at different rates

DEER HUNTING — Hot weather and a brief cooling trend followed by record or near-record hot weather greeted archery hunters out for the opening of whitetail hunting seasons the past week in western states.

Then came the full moon: Deer activity really slowed for hunters.

The change in weather should get the action back in gear.

Although the velvet seems to peel off most bucks around Sept. 1, hunters are seeing some major differences in antler appearance.

In northeastern Washington, Kevin Scheib saw two nice bucks while scouting over the weekend: One was all rubbed clean, the other still had velvet hanging off his rack, he said.

A little farther south, Brandon Enevold has had plenty of action near his stands as well as at his trail cams as bucks continue to be in summer feeding patterns.

The night of Sept. 6, he snapped photo documentation (above) of two bucks, one in full velvet and the other with a bone-clean rack.

“I'll be letting both of these bucks grow for another year or two,” he said, offering an explanation for his patience: “I passed up 10 bucks over Labor Day weekend and almost got a shot at a solid 140 incher.”

But he said the hot weather shut down his action last weekend. He's expecting that to change.

Saturday’s ‘Dam Cruise’ offers rare chance to drive across Dworshak Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is offering a unique opportunity see the view and drive across the top of Dworshak Dam – the tallest, straight axis, vertical, concrete dam in the United States – on Saturday (Sept. 17), from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Dam Cruise 2011” begins at the Dworshak Dam Visitor Center. Read on to see the rules and restrictions:

Sportmens group offers reward for illegal ATV damage

PUBLIC LANDS — The national Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 aimed at stopping lawbreakers who disturb public land, water and wildlife on motor vehicles such as ATVs.
 
“All-terrain vehicles are popular and powerful tools, with a valid place on our nationalforests,” said Jim Akenson, executive director. “However, these tools are too often abused, impacting habitat and hunting opportunities.”
 
For several years, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has offered a reward to tipsters in Montana who have reported people driving behind gates, vandalize the land or harass wildlife on all-terrain vehicles. The BHA board broadened the scope of the reward to include other northwestern states.
 
“We need motorized access to our public lands, but at the same time we need habitat totally separate from the noise and disturbance that comes with motor vehicles,” Akenson said. “When people drive behind closed gates, shoot from vehicles or trespass on private land, it gives all hunters a black eye. We need to police our own ranks.”
 
Read on for details.

Sunken boats retrieved before Condit Dam is breached

FISHING– Anglers will have to clear off the lower portion of the White Salmon River in southwest Washington for 12 hours on Saturday (Sept. 17) to allow an interagency clean-up team to remove derelict boats, camping gear and other debris before Condit Dam is breached Oct. 26.

The river mouth downstream of the Highway 14 Bridge will remain open.

About 100 waste sites and at least 15 sunken boats have been identified for removal so they’re not flushed down into the Columbia when the 125-foot high PacifiCorp dam is breeched.

The demolition is designed to drain the 92-acre reservoir behind the dam in a quick six hours to flush out sediments that have accumulated behind the 97-year-old dam.

The dam breaching is expected to reopen open 14 miles of habitat for chinook salmon and 33 miles of habitat for steelhead that have been blocked since the dam’s fish ladder washed out in a 1918 flood.

The free-flowing river also is expected to protect critical bull trout habitat and benefit bears and other wildlife that feed on salmon in the waters that originate on the slopes of Mount Adams.

Fisheries staffers from several agencies are jumpstarting the fishery by using seine nets to collect returning salmon in the lower river. The mature fish will be trucked upstream around the dam and released in the upper river to spawn this season.

For updates, see www.pacificorp.com/condit as well as http://whitesalmontimelapse.wordpress.com/

Can hunters block their scent from a deer’s nose?

HUNTING — What do you think? Is a hunter spending his money wisely investing in soaps and clothing billed to mask human scent from the discriminating noses of deer and elk?

I'll tell you what I think in my Thursday outdoors column. Check it out, along with a long list of stories in our Hunting 2011 special section Thursday at spokesman.com/outdoors

Idaho hunters can exchange tags if fires prevent access

HUNTING — Fires burning in Idaho’s backcountry have state and federal land managers to close roads and trails in some areas, including the Idaho Panhandle.raised concerns about public safety and hunter access.

Those closures may affect access to some hunting units.

Idaho Fish and Game officials say they will not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit, they say.

Hunters affected by a fire closure can adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins.

Hunters with controlled hunt tags affected by a fire closure may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded.

Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire. Hunters requesting a rain check will be required to submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the conditions of their request.

Rain checks would be evaluated case-by-case at the end of the hunting season. Rain checks will be valid in 2012 and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the hunter held in 2011.

Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707 when the season is over.

For updates on fires and access restrictions, go online to the Forest Service fire incident website.

Birthday fire settles down, but trails, roads closed in Selkirks

PUBLIC LANDS — Recreation is being curtailed as fire fighters are getting a handle on the 640-acre Birthday fire, which is burning on the Crest of the Selkirk Mountans northeast of Priest Lake and about 20 air miles northwest of Bonners Ferry.

The fire is centered near in the subalpine regions of Abandon Mountain, which is south of West Fork Lake and north of Lions Head. The Forest Service and Idaho Department of lands have closed many popular roads and recreational trails in the area.

Road, trail, and area closures include: 

  • FS Road 281, from its junction with FSR655; the entire length of Trail 21 (starting at West Fork Trailhead to the junction with Trail 102) and the entire length of Trail 347 (starting at Trail 21, to its termination at West Fork Mountain);
  • FS Road 2545 (from the junction with Road 655 to its termination); the entire length of Trail 102 (starting at Hidden Lake trailhead, to its termination at Road 281);
  • FS Road 2443 from the junction with Road 281; the entire length of Trail 17 (starting at the trailhead on road 2443); and the entire length of Trail 18 (starting at Cutoff Peak, ending at Smith Triangulation.)

Idaho Department of Lands also may be restricting access to the Lookout Mountain area northeast of Upper Priest Lake.

Detailed descriptions of closures, as well as an area closure map are posted on the “Birthday Fire” link on www.inciweb.org.

Seasons changing: Harvest moon ushering in the equinox

SKYWATCHING — Sunsets filtered through wildfire smoke and a harvest moon looming full and huge on the horizon have made for great skywatching this week.

Fall is full in the air, with this year’s equinox creeping up on Friday, Sept. 23.

Here's a recent story on the harvest moon from the LA Times.

Read on for details on the harvest moon from eNature.

Idaho seasons about to open for turkeys and other birds

HUNTING — Fall wild turkey hunting seasons open Thursday (Sept. 15) in Idaho and Sept. 24 in select Eastern Washington units.

Other hunts will follow soon.

Read on for the long list of details for Idaho hunts, including the youth waterfowl season (Sept. 24-25) and the youth pheasant hunt, wich starts Oct. 1.

Fall turkey hunters typically find less competition in the field because of other hunting seasons that open in the fall, and they are more likely to bag a bird, Idaho Fish and Game officials say.  Check out their webpage.

Idaho's turkey season is open:

  • September 15 through December 15: General fall hunt in game management units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut Wildlife Management Area) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6.
  • September 15 through October 31: General fall hunt in game management units 73, 74, 75, 77 and 78.
  • September 15 through October 9: General fall hunt in game management units 8, 8A, 10, 10A, 11, 11A, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 18, 19 , 20, 22, 23, 24, 31, 32 (except that portion in Payette County), and 32A. Units 33 and 39 are closed to fall hunting.
  • November 21 through December 31: General fall hunt in game management units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18. This hunt is open on private lands only.

The daily bag limit is one turkey of either sex per day in the fall. No more than three turkeys may be taken per year, except in Units 1, 2, 3 and 5, where up to five turkeys may be taken in a single day during the fall season. Turkey hunters will need a general or an extra tag. General tags not used in the spring general or controlled hunts are valid for the fall hunt. Special unit tags are valid only for the fall season in Units 1, 2, 3 or 5.

Turkey tags are available at all license vendors for $19.75. An extra turkey tag costs $12.25, and the special unit tag costs $5.

For more information see the turkey rules book or the Fish and Game Web site at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67.

 

Youth Waterfowl Seasons Open Soon

The Idaho waterfowl youth hunt opens September 24 and 25, and the regular 107-day season opens October 1 in northern and eastern Idaho, and October 15 in southwestern Idaho.

Daily duck bag limits are seven birds in the aggregate – no more than two female mallards, two redheads, three scaup, two pintails, one canvasback – with a possession limit of 14 birds after the first day and no more than four female mallards, four redheads, four pintails, six scaup and two canvasbacks.

Daily limits for Wilson’s snipe are eight; with a possession limit of 16 after the first day; and the daily limit for coots are 25 with a possession limit of 25 after the first day.

Daily bag limits for dark geese – Canada, greater white-front – are four per day. Daily limits for light geese – snow, blue, Ross’s – are 10 per day.

Seasons are:

  • Area 1: All of the state not included in Area 2.
  • For ducks and dark geese from October 1 to January 13, with a shorter scaup season from October 22 to January 13.
  • For snow and Ross’s geese from October 1 to January 13, 2012.
  • Area 2: All or parts of Ada, Boise, Canyon, Cassia, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Owyhee, Payette, Twin Falls and Washington counties.
  • For ducks and dark geese from October 15 to January 27, 2012, with a shorter scaup season from November 5 to January 27, 2012.
  • For snow and Ross’s geese from November 6 to January 27, 2012; and reopen from February 18 to March 10, 2012.
  • Area 3: For light geese only – includes that portion of the Upper Snake Region within Bingham County in Game Management Unit 63 south of Highway 20 and west of the west bank of the Snake River, and that portion of the Southeast Region within Bingham and Power counties in units 68 and 68A west of the west bank of the Snake River and American Falls Reservoir bluff.
  • For snow and Ross’s geese from October 23 to January 13, 2012; and reopens from February 18 to March 10, 2012.

Parts of Area 2 closed during the spring light goose season areFort Boise and Payette River WMAs and that portion of the Roswell Marsh Wildlife Habitat Area south of state Highway 18, and the Snake River Islands Unit of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge in the Southwest Region.

In Area 1, Fremont and Teton counties are closed to light goose hunting.

Additional details will be available in a printed brochure and on the Fish and Game website within about a week.

Hunters must have a valid Idaho hunting license, a federal migratory game bird harvest information program validation and a federal migratory bird (duck) stamp, except youths 15 and under do not need the duck stamp.

Nontoxic shot is required for all waterfowl hunting in Idaho. For details see the 2011-2012 Waterfowl seasons online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=66; the printed brochure will be available within abouta week at license vendors and Fish and Game offices.

 

Youth Pheasant Hunt Opens October 1

A youth pheasant season opens statewide Saturday, October 1, and runs through October 7 for all licensed hunters 15 years old or younger.

The week-long hunt opens a half hour before sunrise in Area 1, 2 and 3, except on the C.J. Strike, Fort Boise, Montour and Payette River wildlife management areas, where shooting hours begin at 10 a.m. Shooting hours continue statewide through a half hour after sunset.

The regular season opens October 8 in Area 1 and October 15 in Areas 2 and 3.

Youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years or older – one adult may accompany more than one youth.

The daily bag limit is three cocks, and the possession limit is six after the first day, except on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked, in which case the daily limit is two cocks and four in possession.

Hunters 17 and older need a WMA pheasant permit to hunt on Idaho Fish and Game wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked. Pheasants will be stocked on the Payette, Montour, Fort Boise, Niagara and Market Lake wildlife management areas before the youth hunt weekend.

All upland game hunters are required to wear hunter orange during the pheasant season when hunting on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked. And all hunters must have a valid 2011 Idaho hunting license.

Details are available in the current Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey rules brochure, available at license vendors and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67.

 

Sage-Grouse Season Opens October 1

The Idaho restricted seven-day; one-bird per day season for 2011 opens Saturday, October 1.

Sage-grouse season:

  • Seven day season, one-bird daily limit, and two in possession after opening day, statewide in sage-grouse range within Area 2.
  • Area 2 includes:
  • Butte, Camas, Cassia, Clark, Fremont, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Lemhi, Lincoln, Madison, Minidoka, Power and Teton counties.
  • Bannock County west of Interstate 15.
  • Bingham County west of Interstate 15.
  • Blaine County, except within the Salmon River drainage.
  • Bonneville County west of Interstate 15 and north of U.S. Highway 26.
  • Custer County, exceptwithin the Salmon River drainage upstream from and including Valley Creek.
  • Elmore County south and east of U.S. Highway 20 and north of Interstate 84.
  • Oneida County west of Interstate 15.
  • Owyhee County west of the Bruneau River.
  • Twin Falls County east of U.S. Highway 93.
  • Closed:
  • All areas not included in Area 2.

Details are available in a brochure available in print at license vendors and on the Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/rules/uplandSage.pdf.

Any person hunting sage- or sharp-tailed grouse must have in their possession a valid hunting license with a sage- sharp-tailed grouse permit validation at $4.75.

The sharp-tail grouse season also opens October 1 and runs through October 31. Check the Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure for 2011-2012 for season and limit details.

Hold on bird hunters: Idaho quail, chukar seasons two weeks later than usual

HUNTING — The birds of the year will be larger and the hunting dogs will have less chance of heat stroke and rattlesnake encounters when Idaho's partridge and quail seasons open this fall.

The Idaho seasons open Oct. 1 — that's two weeks later than last year's season opener.

Organized sportsment made the a case for the later season opener before the state  Fish and Game Commission two years ago.

Washington, which also will open it's quail and chukar seasons on Oct. 1, went to the later season opening several years ago.

Read on for more details on Idaho's chukar and quail seasons.

Pullman adopts stream conservation project; holds festival Sept. 17

CONSERVATION — Pullman is working with private landowners and students to beautify and maintain the several that flow through the Palouse town.

The Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute in partnership with the City of Pullman will kick off the

  • State could lose $1.8 million in federal recreational trail funding

    TRAILS — Organized trail user groups — including hikers, bikers, equestrians, snowmobilers and OHVers — are scrambling to avoid loss of  recreational trail funding from the federal transportation budget.

    With the Recreational Trails Program in jeopardy, a contingent of trail user group representatives met with Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA, recently to see what can be done.  The recreational groups said Beutler, who serves on Beutler serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was receptive to their information on the cost-effectiveness of the RTP program grants, which usually are matched and boosted by volunteer groups. 

    RTP funds critical maintenance projects by the Forest Service and non-profit volunteer organizations, keeping hundreds of miles of trail open. In fact, your state receives roughly $1.8 million annually from this program. Local clubs leverage this money several times over as it is used it to build and maintain trails all over Washington state.

    RTP is funded through a federal gas tax, which provides revenue for important motorized and non-motorized trail projects. Unfortunately, Congress is looking for cuts, and by sweeping RTP dollars away to cover some other non-recreation transportation projects, they would be redirecting the gas tax money trail users pay at the pump. (The gas tax for RTP is based on an estimate of the amount of gas purchased for off-highway recreation).

    The Washington Trails Association says RTP grants account for 20 percent of its funding for trail maintenance program budget.

    The International Mountain Biking Association is asking trail users to contact representatives in Congress to urge them to sign Rep. Herrera Beutler's letter in support of the Recreational Trails Program.

    >> Learn more! Recreational Trails Program Q & A

    Steelhead fly fishing clinic set at Silver Bow

    STEELHEAD FISHING — Learn fly-fishing tactics and techniques for catching steelhead on our region's steelhead waters in the annual two-hour clinic offered by Silver Bow Fly Shop, 210 E Indiana in Spokane Valley.

    When: Monday, Sept. 19, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
    Instructor: Sean Visintainer, shop owner
    Cost: $20. Prepay to register and reserve spot.
    Contact: (509) 924-9998.

    Study: protected areas not enough to stem crush of human population and save life on Earth

    ENDANGERED SPECIESA new open access study in Marine Ecology Progress Series has found that protected areas are not enough to stem the loss of global biodiversity.

    Even with the volume of protected areas, many scientists say we are in the midst of a mass extinction with extinction levels jumping to 100 to 10,000 times the average rate over the past 500 million years, according to a story on Mongabay.com.

    While protected areas are important, the study argues that society must deal with the underlying problems of human population and over-consumption if we are to have any chance of preserving life on Earth in the long term.

    Lower Hanford Reach steelhead fishery to open early as fish pour in

    FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has just announced it will open catch-and-keep steelheading earlier than scheduled on the Columbia River between the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco and the wooden power line towers at the old Hanford townsite.

    The season for hatchery-raised steelhead will open Friday (Sept. 16) and run through Oct. 31.

    Read on for details.

    Hot steelheading continues on Clearwater despite heat

    FISHING — Idaho Fish and Game has just released creel reports for the past week through Saturday.

    Clearwater River anglers from the Memorial Bridge to the mouth (water temp 46 degrees) averaged 9 fish caught per angler.  That's great.

    Clearwater River anglers from Memorial Bridge at Lewiston up to Orofino Bridge (water temp 49 degrees), 5 fish per angler. Wow!

    Snake River anglers downstream from Salmon River (water temp 72 degrees), 6 fish per angler.  Excellent.

    Fishermen out in force on Columbia, more records set

    FISHING — Steelhead anglers have set records for catch on the Lower Columbia this year, and the records continue to fall with a half million chinook salmon forecast into the river during late-summer and fall.

    A big slug of those fish are bound for the Snake River system.

    Today’s factoids from Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie:

    Since at least 1980:

    • The estimated angler trips thru September 11 are the second highest for the entire fall season.  The highest was 117,975 angler trips in 2009 so we’ve already set a new record.
    • The estimated adult fall chinook catch is the 3rd largest.  The record is 26,195 fish caught in 2003. 

    Last week on the lower Columbia, anglers made 22,985 trips and kept 7,278 adult fall chinook, 394 coho and 271 summer steelhead.  Effort in the area below Warrior Rock declined by 93% after the Chinook closure on 9/9: however, about half of those trips transferred upriver.  Catch rates are highest in the Bonneville area, where boat anglers averaged 0.74 chinook kept per rod yesterday.

    Photo of Pocatello angler with Idaho record walleye

    FISHING Walleye, — It's official!  The Idaho Fish and Game Department has confirmed a state record walleye was caught Saturday in Oakley Reservoir by Damon Rush of Pocatello. 

    The fish weighted 17 pounds, 14 ounces and measured 34.5 inches long and 21.875 inches in girth.

    The fish reportedly hit a Rapala fished on 14-pound test line in the reservoir southeast of Twin Falls. In outweighed the previous record — also caught in Oakley — by 2 ounces.

    Moderate huckleberry crop could help bear hunters

    HUNTING — A poor huckleberry year generally translates into good hunting for black bears that expose themselves more as they search lower and farther for food to fatten for winter.

    Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game regional wildlife manager in Coeur d'Alene, recently did an informal survey of hunters asking them to evealuate the huckleberry crop. The verdict was that this year's crop generally gets a C- grade — not great, but not terrible. 

    That could help hunters some, but it may not lead to the harvest windfall Hayden was suspecting as he found few  berries in his personal forays.

    Read on to see his report.

    Sen. Cantewell steps up for salmon, wades into Pebble Mine fray

    SALMON FISHING — Citing concerns about the effect the Pebble Mine in Alaska could have on wild salmon,Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, told the Seattle Times she plans to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to consider using the Clean Water Act to stop the mine on Bristol Bay.

    But Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young has already introduced a bill that would strip the EPA of the authority to stop the project.

    The issue involves a high-stakes battle that pits gold and copper against the most productive salmon fisheries in the world.
      

    Special 2011 hunting section coming Thursday

    HUNTING — See 12 pages of updates and tips for hunters heading into the field for the 2011 hunting seasons in our annual hunting section, coming in the Thursday paper and online at spokesman.com/outdoors.

    VIDEO: Bull elk responds to bowhunters bugle

    Archery Elk Hunt with Montana Guide services from Bob Legasa on Vimeo.

    HUNTING — North Idaho bowhunter Bob Legasa followed some hunting guides into the Gardner, Mont., area to bugle in elk. First came a young cow, then a bull that would stand out in any crowd of large beasts.

    Check out this short sample of a longer video he's producing to document the hunt.

    “More than 70 elk seen in 2.5 days, 5 set up-close encounters with a bull screaming within 75-100 yards,” Legasa reports.  “The taxidermist I was filming guessed the bull would score around 370 (Boone and Crockett points). Pretty impressive ground over there!”

    Columbia River running unusually pink with salmon

    FISHERIES — Pink salmon have set a record for wandering into the Columbia River and upstream over Bonneville Dam.

    The spectacle has left fisheries biologists scratching their heads, since they don't know of any resident pink salmon populations in the Columbia Basin.

    Also known as humpbacks or humpies, the pinks known to have a relatively high incidence of straying to spawn someplace other than their natal stream, according to the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

    More than 1,500 pink salmon have been counted climbing over Bonneville’s fish ladders, easily surpassing the previous high count — 637 in 2003 — for the entire late summer-fall season, and the highest count since at least 1938, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists said today.

    Read on for details and possible explanations from the Bulletin's story.

    Volunteers needed for September projects on local trails

    TRAILS — Several local groups are joining the Washington Trails Association to upgrade Spokane-area trails this month. Most of the work parties are on weekends, but there's a project set for Thursday at Mount Spokane.

    Read on to for details about all the September projects, including a major effort at the Iller Creek Conservation Area in Spokane Valley. 

    British Columbia declares open season on Chilcotin wolves

    PREDATORSThe British Columbia government has declared open season on wolves in the Cariboo region to benefit cattle ranchers, a move that critics contend is unjustifiable and based on politics, not science.

    Under new wildlife regulations, there is no closed season and no bag limit on hunting wolves in 10 management units in the Cariboo region, according to the Montreal Gazette.

    An annual hunting bag limit of three wolves is typical in B.C.

    The changes also allow for unlimited trapping of wolves on private land with leghold traps in nine management units from April 1 to Oct. 14.

    Northwest Alloys land near Addy provides hay for elk

    WILDLIFE – Northwest Alloys land near Addy, Wash., has a hand in feeding elk wintering at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area near Yakima.

    For the fourth consecutive year, the Alcoa subsidiary is allowing local farmers to harvest alfalfa from fields adjacent to its curtailed magnesium and silicon plant near Addy so the hay can be donated to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    The agreement nets the state about 750 tons of hay a year to feed the elk forced onto the Oak Creek winter range to keep them from damaging private-land crops.

    Fire activity picks up on national forests; check before heading out

    PUBLIC LANDS — With scattered fires burning throughout the region, hunters and campgers should call ahead to Forest Service offices before heading out to national forests this week.

    One friend planning a trip to Montana's Bitterroot Valley had to revise his plans when he called and learned that roads were closed to the trailhead for the lake he planned to fish.

    Idaho Panhandle National Forests today are reporting that more than 70 fires hav ignited since Sept. 1 and seven lightning-caused fires are still active, ranging from 20 to more than 150 acres.

    Read on for details on current fires burning on the Idaho Panhandle:

    Mountain biking basics clinic Thursday at REI

    BICYCLING  — Learn the basics of biking etiquette, safety concerns, biking techniques and recommended equipment in a free mountain biking clinic starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at REI in Spokane.

    Store staff also will discuss basic bike repairs and maintenance and resources for where to ride in the Inland Northwest.

    This class is free, but space is limited, so be sure to pre-register.

    Wild Moose Chase Trail Run debuts at Mount Spokane

    OUTDOOR FITNESS — A new event, the Wild Moose Chase Trail Run, debuts Sept. 24 at Mount Spokane State Park, with 5k, 10k and 25k courses start from Selkirk Lodge.
     
    The event is organized by Eastern Washington University physical therapy students.
     
    “We think this race will be a spectacular opportunity for folks to enjoy being outdoors with their families in one of the greatest places Spokane has to offer — the beautiful Mount Spokane State Park in the fall,” said
    Meghan Faulkenberry, race director.
     
    The 25k event starts at 9 a.m. followed by the other events, the last of which is the family-friendly 5K starting at 10:15. The runs head out on loops over the cross-country ski trails.
     
    Register through Active.com before Wednesday (Sept. 14) to avoid a late fee or visit the race website, http://www.wildmoosechasetrailrun.com for a mail-in registration.
     
    Day of race registration is also available, with a $5 late fee and no guarantee of a shirt.
     
    Group awards and overall awards for participants are planned, as well as sponsor giveaways.

    Drawdowns begin at Inland Northwest reservoirs

    LAKES — Avista Utilities and the Corps of Engineers are beginning fall drawdowns that change the look of the lakes and rivers downstream.

    Lake Coeur d’Alene’s annual drawdown began Tuesday to gradually take the summer level of 2,128 feet down to 2,127 by the end of September. The winter level of 2,122 feet should be reached by the end of December.

    Priest Lake’s drawdown begins in the middle of October, marking the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on the Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.

    Priest Lake is lowered relatively quickly by 3 feet to its winter level by early November.

    Lake Pend Oreille’s slow drawdown is set to begin soon, but not until Idaho Fish and Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration meet this week to negotiate a target level. Idaho Fish and Game mainly is concerned about maintaining water levels for optimum kokanee spawning. 

    Preliminary results from late summer surveys indicate the lake’s kokanee continue an encouraging recovery from their crash, officials said Friday.

    Metaline Falls set to roar again on Sept. 20

    RIVERS – Last September, for the first time in 27 years, the Pend Oreille River's Metaline Falls were exposed as workers lowered the reservoir behind Boundary Dam for dam maintenance.

    Starting this week, the falls will roar again as Seattle City Light workers continue the project by replacing a 312-ton sluice maintenance gate.

    The reservoir will be lowered twice, utility officials say, but the falls are scheduled to be most exposed on Sept. 20.

    Read on for details.

    Arctic ice melt nears record

    CLIMATE CHANGE — Driven by an unprecedented meltdown across much of the Canadian North, the planet's Arctic ice cover has retreated this summer to its second-smallest extent in the 30-year satellite era — and may yet shrink beyond the record-setting thaw that alarmed scientists around the world in 2007. The story is being covered by PostMedia.

    The opening in August of both the southern and northern routes of the Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic islands, along with the clearing out of ice from much of the Beaufort Sea north of the Yukon-Alaska border, are among the highlights of a new report on the state of Arctic ice issued this week by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    Pacific Crest Trail to be closed briefly north of I-90

    HIKING — From Sept. 19-22, hikers on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail No. 2000 just north of I-90 can expect delays of one or two hours while crews work to remove a large log jam and reconstruct the trail. 

    The project area is 3½ miles north of Snoqualmie Pass.

    The trail crew will post details at the trailhead be on the trail to prevent hikers from entering the project area while work is in progress, Forest Service officials say.

    Info: Cle Elum Ranger Station, (509) 852 1100.

    New salmon fishery opening below Chelan powerhouse

    SALMON FISHING — Starting Wednesday (Sept. 14), Washington anglers will get their first chance to catch summer chinook salmon in the tailrace of the hydroelectric powerhouse operated by the Chelan County Public Utility District in Chelan.

    “This opening will test whether we can conduct a fishery in such a small area,” said Jeff Korth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fisheries manager. “Starting this year, a lot of hatchery-reared fish will be moving through the tailrace, and we’d like to give anglers a chance to catch some.”

    The new fishery, scheduled to run through Oct. 15, is restricted to the outfall area extending one-third of a mile downstream from the safety barrier near the powerhouse to the railroad bridge at the Columbia River.

    Read on for details.

    Three Yellowstone grizzlies monitored for role in mauling death

    WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Three grizzly bears have been captured and fitted with radio collars in Yellowstone National Park to help investigators determine which bear might be responsible for last month's mauling death of a Michigan man.

    Park spokesman Al Nash said Wednesday that two adult male bears were captured Sunday in the Hayden Valley area, where 59-year-old John Wallace of Chassell, Mich., was killed on Aug. 25 while hiking alone in the park’s backcountry.

    Another bear captured last week also was released after being radio collared.

    Nash says hair samples were taken from the animals for DNA testing. The bears were fitted with radio collars for tracking and released.

    Park officials have said they will kill the bear that mauled Wallace if they can confirm its role through DNA analysis.

    Sporting clays shooters aim at Boy Scout fundraiser

    TARGET SHOOTING — Boy Scouts will be benefitting next week from the enthusiasm competitive shotgun shooters have for vaporizing clay targets.

    The fourth annual Boy Scout Sporting Clays Tournament, set for Friday (Sept. 16) at Double Barrel Ranch southeast of Spokane already has signed up 115 shooters.

    That makes the event the third largest sporting clays tournament in Washington, said Chris Baker, who's organizing the event for the Boy Scouts.

    Info: (509) 242-8235

    Here we go again: court asked to reverse Congress on Rockies wolves

    PREDATORS — As hunters have begun shooting gray wolves in the first weeks of the wolf hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana, wildlife advocates are once again urging a federal appeals panel to restore endangered species protections for wolves.

    The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, WildEarth Guardians and other groups argue the judicial branch needs to “zealously guard” against a move by Congress that lifted protections in defiance of earlier court rulings, according to the Associated Press.

    They sued the government after Congress in April approved a budget rider taking wolves off the endangered list in five states.

    The filing of their briefs in the case comes as wildlife agencies on Friday reported hunters have killed 11 of the predators since wolf seasons opened in Idaho and Montana last week.

    Initial attempts to stop the hunts were denied last month by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A November hearing in the case is expected.

    Landers looks down on the world … and likes what he sees

    HIKING — Sorry I've been a bit out of touch this week. My wife, Meredith, and I had to focus on what we were doing:  Above Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

    If you've been waffling on whether to go backpacking into the high country this weekend, get over it. Go!

    The nights are cool, the days are perfect, huckleberries are ripe and the crowds and bugs are gone!

    Forest fires restricting road, trail access on Idaho Panhandle

    NATIONAL FORESTS — Restrictions on campfires, smoking and use of chain saws have kicked in at most of the region's national forests. Hot, dry weather will continue through the weekend as firefighters work to contain forest fires caused by lightning strikes.   See the latest on the region's forest fires here.

    In the St. Joe River watershed, several small fires — some prescribed for forest health — are restricting access to several roads and trails. Temporary closures include:

    • Forest Road 201 from Bathtub Meadows to the junction with Forest Road 1258.
    • Forest Road 762 from its junction with Forest Road 1258 to the end of the road.
    • Trail 631 between Twin Lakes and Conrad Crossing Campground.
    • Trail 28 between Twin Lakes and Fly Flat Campground.
    • Trail 2 between its junction with trail 28 and Walo Point.
    • Trail 629 between Twin Lakes and Fly Flat Campground.
    • Trail 89 between Twin Lakes and Beaver Creek Campground.
    • Trail 88 between its junction with Trail 89 and Trail 629.
    • Forest Road 320 between Forest Road 218 and Heller Creek Campground.

    Six small fires are currently burning in the upper St. Joe River watershed. None of the fires pose any threat to communities or infrastructure and are being managed to provide forest health benefits. The fires range in size from less than one acre to 20 acres and are expected to continue burning until fall rains and cooler temperatures extinguish them.

    Lake Coeur d’Alene drawdown has begun

    LAKES — Avista began the annual fall drawdown of Lake Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday.

    The lake will be gradually lowered approximately a foot from full pool by the end of September, and an additional 1½ feet per month thereafter until reaching its winter level. Property owners and boaters should take measures to secure docks and boats for the winter season during this period.

    As part of Avista’s FERC license to operate its Spokane River Hydroelectric Project, which includes Post Falls Dam, Avista is required to maintain the level of Coeur d’Alene Lake at summer full-pool elevation of 2,128 feet from as early as practical in the spring until the Tuesday after Labor Day.

    The slow drawdown will increase flows of the Spokane River downstream of Post Falls, and will slightly decrease river levels between the lake and Post Falls bridge. Spill gates at Post Falls Dam will not be opened for the drawdown, and the river should remain open for recreation until November; however, river users should be aware that water levels can fluctuate at any time depending upon weather and dam operations.

    Avista has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated elevation changes on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River during the subsequent 24-hour and one-week periods. In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington call (509) 495-8043.

    Steelhead surge and hold back at Lower Granite

    STEELHEAD FISHING — The surge of steelhead moving up the Snake River over Lower Granite Dam slowed down dramatically as the flow and spill of cool water into the Clearwater River was reduced upstream out of Dworshak Dam this week.

    But significantly more fish have moved over Lower Granite this week compared with the same week last year.

    Priest Lake subdivision approved despite public objections

    LAKES — Bonner County commissioners approved a 14-lot subdivision at the north end of Priest Lake on Wednesday despite a torrent of objections from neighboring landowners, their attorneys and two environmental groups, according the the Bonner County Daily Bee.

    *The board’s votes followed a public hearing that spanned nearly four hours. More than 20 people testified, but only one person voiced support for the project.
     
    Sandpiper Shores is located between Mosquito Bay and the channel leading to Upper Priest Lake.

    Opponents of the expansion contend the project will displace a dwindling amount of critical wildlife habitat and harm the hydrology of a high-quality wetland.

    Lochsa River boater access to be upgraded

    RIVER RUNNING — The U.S. Forest Service is planning to upgrade facilities at four Lochsa River access points in the next year.

    Site #1 Fish Creek Boat Launch:  Work includes addition of stairs on the north side of the existing launch. Stair shall be similar to existing south side stairs. Other work includes adjustment to the slide and replacement of several existing steps. Work includes building of new 27’ x 15’6” double unit changing room located adjacent to existing restrooms.

    Site #2 Split Creek Stairs:  Work includes removing and replacing all steps for the existing access. New steps shall be 12’ wide and a railing shall be added on the up river side.

    Site #3 Bald Mtn. Boat Launch:Work includes construction of a full boat launch with a slide and steps 8’ wide on each side.

    Site #4 Knife Edge Changing Station:Work includes building of new 14’ x 15’6” single unit changing room located behind to existing restrooms.

    Globetrotting sportsman writes survival manual for worldwide hunters

    INTERNATIONAL HUNTING — Planning a big hunt to an exotic locale outside the United States?

    “World Hunter's Info Manual” by John Lowery offers an inside look at global political climates, first aid and how to recognize hazards before going abroad for a hunting trip

    Read on for details from the publisher.

    Sunday event puts families in realm of beavers

    WILDLIFE EDUCATION – The third annual Picnic with the Beavers – an educational event especially geared to families — is set for Sunday (Sept. 11) starting at 1 p.m. at Liberty Lake County Park, sponsored by The Lands Council and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

    Info: (509) 209-2851 or email aswan@landscouncil.org

    Groups will rotate through three learning stations.

    Read on for details.

    Spokane River Cleanup seeks team leaders for Oct. 1 event

    STEWARDSHIP — Organizers of the annual Spokane River Clean Up, set for Oct. 1, hope to at least match the 800 volunteers who collected six tons of debris from along the rive shores last year.

    In addition to the effort in the Spokane River Gorge and the University District, the cleanup will have groups working in the Spokane Valley, too.

    Volunteers should pre-register.

    To sign up as a team leader, contact Stephen Barbieri, (509) 953-6437 or email stephenbarbieri@msn.com

    Outlawed in Idaho, cow decoys work elsewhere for goose hunters

    WATERFOWL HUNTING — Jump-shooting waterfowlers might be able to beef up their success by devising a cow “blind” for stalking birds in the field.

    The practice once used by market hunters is not legal in Idaho.

    But it's legal in Washington, according to  Capt. Mike Whorton of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.

    Plow through the first part of the video above to the third segment, which shows three waterfowl hunters using a cow silhouette to stalk amazingly close to a flock of snow geese.

    The subject of cattle silhouttes as hunting blinds came up in a Q&A feature from Idaho Fish and Game.

    Read on for more details.

    Wise words from people who learn from wildlife

    WILDLIFE WATCHING — In the spirit of ongoing bird migration, Colbert area birdwatcher Tina Wynecoop shares this poem she clipped from a newspaper while working near the mouth of the Skagit River in 1969.

    The Owl
     
    While hitchhiking to Seattle, two Indians gave
    me a ride from La Conner to Mt. Vernon in a pickup truck.
    On the way I told them I was an artist, and showed them
    a folio of bird drawings I had with me. 
    The Indians looked at them with some interest,
    then the one driving asked me to draw a picture of a Bluejay for him.
    He told me that the Bluejay is the only bird that will help another
    bird of a species different than its own.
    I asked the Indian how they did this. 
    He said that Bluejays will always surround a hungry bird, even an Eagle, and feed it.
    I said I would give him a picture of a Bluejay the next time I saw him. 
    Then the Indian sitting next to me who had been silent, turned and said, “I can hear the Bluejays talk.” 
    I asked him what they said. 
    He replied, “Right now they are talking to an owl they've got riding between them in a truck. 
     
     ~ Charile Krafft (1969)

    Hunters on OHVs urged to stay on designated trails

    HUNTING — The Idaho Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Public Outreach Campaign is urging people who use ATVs or motorbikes during hunting season to stay on designated trails and do their homework to ensure that the trails they plan to ride are open.

    Officials with the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Managementand Idaho Department of Fish and Game say hunters riding off-trail on ATVs or motorbikes continues to be a problem on public lands during hunting season.

    “We are most concerned with instances where a hunter drives off-trail to scout for game or retrieve game,” said Andy Brunelle, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. “One set of tracks through the brush or in a meadow can invite others to do the same, and the impacts add up, damaging vegetation and causing soil erosion into streams.”

    According to several surveys, more than half of the approximately 240,000 people who hunt in Idaho (residents and non-residents) during the fall months are using motorbikes or ATVs to access their hunting areas.

    Officials with the U.S. Forest Service encourage hunters to obtain copies of Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM's) from the national forest where they plan to hunt. Hard-copy maps are available from national forest ranger district offices, and in some cases, they are online.

    The Panhandle National Forests have published new MVUMs for the Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District and the Kaniksu Zone. These are available from Panhandle National Forest offices, and they are online on the forest's web site.

    Panhandle National Forest officials are still working on the map for the St. Joe National Forest. The Idaho OHV Public Outreach Project's web site, www.stayontrails.com, has a link to online Forest Service MVUM's on its where to ride page

    BLM officials encourage hunters to check BLM district office web sites for info. Hard-copies are available at district offices.

    Under the Forest Service's National Travel Rule, “it's incumbent on the user to know if the trail is open or closed” regardless if the trail is signed appropriately, forest officials said. That's because people have been known to shoot signs full of bullet holes, remove signs or vandalize them.

    Hunters also should check Idaho Fish and Game regulations to check on trail or road restrictions in their hunting areas. The Idaho OHV Public Outreach Project produced a YouTube video that helps explain how to sort through MVUM maps and Fish and Game regulations to see if trails are open or closed.  

     A new Idaho law requires youths who do not have a driver's license to take a free safety course before they ride OHVs on forest roads, and that youths under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet when riding on an OHV or driving one.  

    • Check out 10 hunting tips for OHVers.
    • Idaho Fish and Game also has a brochure that reviews motor vehicle and ATV regulations pertinent to hunting. 

    The big lake has a Superior sunrise

    OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY — One of my best college friends lives in Duluth, Minn., on the shore of Lake Superior. 

    His back yard is a premium spot for outdoor scenics ranging from ice formations in the minus 30 degree winters to this moody, wonderful sunrise shot last week.

    This morning was one of the more spectacular skies I've seen in awhile.  What you can't see is the lightning storm to the north of me over the city.  I was seeing it a an angle so i had wonderful views of an incredible electric storm, with this gorgeous sunrise in front of me.  The photo does not do it justice.

    — Scott Wolff

    Three wilderness myths addressed

    CONSERVATION — In the wake of conspiracy theorists taking over Colville National Forest public meetings, Aaron Theisen of Spokane takes a shot at busting three common misconceptions about wilderness. 

    Get wide open feeling in Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

    BACKPACKING — Bob Clark of Missoula shared this photo from his recent backpack trip inthe Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness near Anaconda, Mont.

    The photo looks down the west ridge of Mount Tiny on the summit approach.

    NIC seeking climbers to spruce up Q’emiln Park

    Who:  For local climbers and outdoors enthusiasts, organized by North Idaho College Outdoor Pursuits

    What: Adopt a Crag climbing area cleanup

    When: 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10

    Where: Q’emiln Riverside Park in Post Falls.

    How: Free and open to the public. Call to sign up. (208) 769-7809.

    Tonight: Trout Unlimited to discuss fishery impacts of Alaska’s Pebble Mine

    FISHING – Efforts to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay fishery from a huge proposed copper sulfide mine will be discussed at the Spokane Trout Unlimited meeting tonightsept. 5, 7 p.m., at the Northern Lights Brewery, 1003 E. Trent Ave.

    A program will be presented by Dwayne Meadows, TU’s outreach director for Bristol Bay area, known for its world-class fisheries.

    Fishing guide’s tip: Don’t spare the rod on kids

    FISHING — Chelan-area guide Anton Jones, who fishes with families almost every week, has a bit of advice for adults who take kids out fishing, especially as the kids get older.

    “I see all too often, parents stepping in and “rescuing” a 14-year-old kid that is struggling with a bigger fish or a slightly more difficult task,” said the owner of Darrell and Dad's Family Guide Service.

    “I know you don’t want them to fail, but you’ve got to let them work through some adversity to build confidence and competence.We had an 11-year-old that handled a 20-pound fish on a heavy outrigger rod. It was difficult for him, but you could see him mature a bit more in that moment.” 

    Washington advances lead restrictions to East Side pheasant release sites

    ENVIRONMENT - Lead is gradually getting the boot in Washington's hunting and fishing circles.

    Starting this season, hunters will be required to use non-toxic shot in their ammunition while hunting at pheasant release sites in Eastern Washington.

    The nontoxic shot rule has been in effect at refuges and release sites for several years in Western Washington.

    The pheasant release areas and boundaries of those nontoxic shot zones are defined in maps available online at the agency's website.

    It was a federal rule that banned lead shot for use in waterfowl hunting starting in 1986.



      

    Fall chinook making their move up Columbia

    SALMON FISHING — The Columbia River is getting busy again. Chinook and coho runs are building, and the fortunes of both anglers and gill-netters improving as well.

    The catch and fishing pressure in the lower Columbia (from Bonneville Dam 146 river miles down to the mouth) has grown steadily and more growth is expected.

    Daily counts of upriver fall chinook passing over Bonneville had slowly ticked up from 100 fish on Aug. 1 to 6,830 on Wednesday.

    By the end of August a total of 57,688 upriver fall chinook had passed over Bonneville. 

    About 399,600 adult “upriver brights” are predicted to will make it back to the mouth of the river on their way to the mid-Columbia’s Hanford Reach, the Snake River and elsewhere.

    A click a day: Help The Lands Council win a grant

    CONSERVATIONThe Lands Council of Spokane is ranking high in a national online contest for a grant from Tom's of Maine the help reforest areas of Spokane — to provide much-needed shade, reduce traffic noise and beautify our city.

    But the group needs more supporters to go online daily through Sept. 13 and click to give the effort a vote.

    The Lands Council website has details on the contest and how you can help the reforestation campaign — but mainly, go here to vote for the Lands Council.

    Volunteers clear Selkirks trail to Beehive Lakes

    HIKING — Trail 279 to Beehive Lakes got a facelift last weekend, tanks to nine volunteers from the Idaho Trails Association.

    The group camped up the Pack River Road in the Selkirk Mountains and worked under the supervision of three Forest Service trail crew leaders to clear brush from the popular 4.5-mile trail.

    This year the Sandpoint Ranger District budget for trails was approximately $10,000.  No other funding was available for maintaining hiking trails on the district this fiscal year.

    “The work these volunteers did was priceless,” said MaryAnn Hamilton, Sandpoint Ranger District Trails Coordinator.  “It’s great to see hikers helping out with the trails they enjoy.”

    The Idaho Trails Association incorporated in 2010 to, in part, help trail managers maintain hiking trails in the state, said
    “We would like to express our gratitude for the volunteers that turned out to help keep this trail safe, sustainable, and enjoyable,” said Brad Smith, a member of ITA’s Board of Directors.

    The group organized five other trail projects this year across Idaho.  ITA’s mission is to promote the continued enjoyment of Idaho’s hiking trails.

    Free steelheading seminars set on September Saturdays at Westlope Fly Shop

    FLY FISHING — A series of free spey casting and steelhead fishing seminars have been scheduled for every Saturday in September at Westslope Fly Shop, 1003 E. Trent Ave., Suite 145, in Spokane.

    The schedule includes a variety of classes geared to both novice and experienced anglers. Pre-register for limited seating by calling the shop, (509) 838-0252.   The offerings include:

    Spey casting seminar and instruction, 10 a.m.-noon (except Sept. 17). Held on the Spokane River. Equipment will be furnished as needed, however participants must provide their own waders and wading boots (or wet wading “water shoes”). No limit to the number of attendees for the seminar, but only the first six people to sign up may participate in the casting instruction.

    Knot tying and rigging, 1 p.m. -2 p.m. Discusses basic knots that any angler should know as well as how to rig lines, tie oversize loops for Spey set ups and build custom sink tips.

    Single-handed casting instruction, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. An FFF-certified casting instructor will help you improve your skills. For novice and experienced anglers. Special emphasis on heavier rods/lines and nymphing techniques for steelhead.

    Steelhead fly tying seminar, 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Fly-tying expert Clark demonstrates techniques for tying innovative steelhead flies for Inland Northwest Waters. Each week will focus on a different pattern.

    Montana game takes hit; economy will feel pain of bad winter

    HUNTING — Last winter took a serious toll on deer and pronghorns in parts of Eastern Montana. 

    The ripple effect has translated into a sharp decline in sales of big-game tags in some areas.   The next hit will be to local economies that rely on the traditional spike in business hunters normally bring to small Montana towns.

    Read the story from the Billings Gazette.

    Cyberspace loose with facts or flat out lying about Jeremy Hill grizzly case coverage

    ENDANGERED SPECIES — People want to hear what they want to hear about the Jeremy Hill grizzly bear shooting case, and some of them aren't letting facts get in the way of spreading their agenda on the Web.

    My down-the-middle factual column on the issue last week pointed out the various considerations the case brings up as it heads to trial.

    Now I'm seeing righteous people lie about what I said to discredit the column.  Here's one excerpt from a Idaho Freedom Foundation blog post by Wayne Hoffman (emphasis mine):

    Not everyone is taking Hill’s side. Spokesman-Review columnist Rich Landers was quick to stick up for the grizzly and the feds, writing that while federal law lets people shoot wolves that are threatening people, but not so with grizzlies. … Thus, Landers justifies and gives cover to the federal stance that has enabled Hill’s prosecution.

    That's a total fabrication to make it look as though the law - and me, too - would find fault with a person protecting human life. Here's what I wrote:

    Shooting a grizzly bear is serious business. The law says a wolf can be shot if it’s actively threatening pets or livestock, but no such caveat exists for shooting a grizzly.  Self-defense or the defense of another person are the only legal justifications for shooting a grizzly.

    I clearly pointed out that Hill has legal justification to shoot a grizzly if it was threatening him or his children.

    But Mr. Hoffman's words and those of others are circulating quickly in cyberspace for unquestioning people to consume and repeat with no regard for the truth.

    Oregon bear-feeding lady loses final appeal

    WILDLIFE — A former Yachats, Ore., woman — ordered from her home two years ago for feeding bears — has lost her legal fight to spoil bears with food.

    According to the Oregonian, the state Supreme Court recently declined Karen Noyes' petition for a review of the case. That followed the loss of her appeal earlier this year on charges of harassing wildlife.

    Noyes, 63, began feeding area wildlife in 2002 after losing her husband and daughter.  The congregation of numerous black bears to her property soon became a hazard to neighbors.

    In 2008, four bears were shot and killed by state wildlife officials in a four-week period after being deemed threats to people. 

    Noyes said she's done feeding the bears and she's done with Oregon, too. She told the Oregonian she plans to stay put in California, which also prohibits the feeding of bears.
      

    Idaho sportsman’s group sponsors wolf hunting contest

    PREDATORS — Now that Idaho's wolf hunting season has begun, The Idaho County Sportsmen Club based in Grangeville is kicking off a wolf hunting contest.

    Prizes are planned for the largest male wolf recorded, the largest female, best pelt, biggest paw and longest tooth, according to a club release.

    The club is having a public meeting to annouce the event at 7 p.m. Sept. 6  at the Grangeville Senior Citizens Center.

    Info: John Gaither, (208) 983-1685 or George Casteel, (208) 983-1538. 

    Buying moose raffle tag was the least of his expenses

    BIG-GAME HUNTING — Todd Klement of Spokane just received the official letter informing him that he'd won the state-sponsored raffle for a coveted 2011 Wasington moose hunting permit.

    “I could use any tips or directions on where to start looking,” he said in an email announcing his lucky draw.

    “I had forgotten I even bought a raffle ticket until they called me last week. For awhile I thought someone was playing a joke on me until I got the certified letter in the mail. 

    “The chance at the raffle was only $10 but after my trip to Cabela's last night I see this moose is going to cost me.

    “I told the wife I needed new stuff to hunt moose. She rolled her eyes like she always does.”

    And he hadn't even got around to mentioning that they'll probably need a bigger freezer.

    Rep. Dicks reels in Alaska two-fer

    SALMON FISHING — While fishing near Sitka, Alaska, last month, Congressman Norm Dicks, D-WA, doubled his pleasure by hooking a pink salmon that lured in a lunker with lips only a mother could love.

    The monster lingcod would not let the salmon go.

    See more photos on Ron Yuasa's Reel Time Fishing blog.

    Group buys Yaak-area land to boost grizzly migration

    WILDLIFE – A conservation group has bought 71 acres in the Yaak Mountains in northwestern Montana near Troy with the goal of improving migration corridors for grizzly bears and other wildlife in the region.

    The Missoula-based Vital Ground Foundation bought the land this month from a private landowner, according to the Missoulian.

    “We chose this location because much of the adjacent property is on Forest Service holdings, so we were building on a conservation holding to begin with,” said Ryan Lutey, director of lands for the foundation.

    The parcel is in the 2,600-square-mile Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone that also includes northern Idaho. Lutey said the purchased land offers low-elevation habitat for wildlife along the Kootenai River and is ideal winter range for deer, elk and moose.

    “It has tremendous wildlife values and scenic values,” Lutey said.

    Read on for more details.

    Youth pheasant hunting clinic set near Moscow

    HUNTING – Moscow-area youths ages 12-15 can register for a Youth Pheasant Hunting Clinic scheduled Oct. 1 in Genesee.

    Shotgun skills will be practiced at the local trap range followed by hunting pheasants on nearby private land.     

    “This will be a great opportunity to introduce young hunters to the sport of pheasant hunting,” says Jay Roach, North Idaho Chapter President of Pheasants Forever.  “The goal is to make hunting a fun priority among all the other activities that vie for a teenager's time.”

    Along with hunting pheasants, the youth will learn about wildlife conservation, pheasant ecology, dog handling, and the importance of respecting landowners.  Safety, ethics, sportsmanship and the hunting tradition will be given special emphasis.

    The free clinic is intended for first-time hunters who have completed a hunter education course and hold a valid 2011 Idaho hunting license.  An adult supervisor must accompany each young hunter throughout the clinic.  

    Advance registration is required and space is limited to 20 youth. Contact the Clearwater Region Fish and Game office, (208) 799-5010.

    Sponsors include the Pheasants Forever, Flying B-Ranch, Idaho Fish and Game, Snake River Gun Dog & Sportsmen's Association, and Clearwater Point Dog Club.  

    Sign up for youth steelhead clinic in Lewiston

    STEELHEAD FISHING – Registration is open for youths 14 and younger to join a free steelhead fishing clinic, starting with a classroom session Sept. 22, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at the Idaho Fish and Game Department office in Lewiston.

    On Saturday, Sept. 24, the youths will be paired with experienced adult anglers and fish out of boats on the Snake or Clearwater rivers.  All fishing gear and life preservers will be provided. 

    The first 15 youth to register with Lewiston Parks and Recreation Office, (208) 746-2313, will be given the opportunity to fish on Sept. 24. 

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    About this blog

    News, field reports and insights on the Great Outdoors.

    Rich Landers – hunter, animal lover, hiker, paddler, angler, naturalist and conservationist – has been covering the outdoors beat for more than three decades. His versatility and field research as a trails and waterways guidebook author help him connect issues to a wide range of interests.

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    Rich Landers (@SRoutside) Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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