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Outdoors blog

Archive for September 2012

California artists wins 2012 Duck Stamp Contest

CONSERVATION — An image of a common goldeneye painted with uncommon talent by Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. 

The artwork will be featured on the 80th federal migratory bird stamp, which will be purchased by collectors, waterfowlers and other wetlands conservationists next year.

The announcement was made today by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Rowan Gould at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, during the annual art contest – the only juried art competition sponsored by the federal government.

This is Steiner’s second Federal Duck Stamp Contest win.  His art previously appeared on the 1998-1999 Federal Duck Stamp.

Steiner’s acrylic painting of a common goldeneye will be made into the 2013-2014 Federal Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2013.  The Service produces the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $15 and raises about $25 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge system for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of people.

Read on for more details.

Snake steelheaders giddy with success this week

FISHING — Yes, the run is way below average, but as I've been pointing out, some fishermen are having a heyday catching steelhead on the Snake River, as fish movements picked up this week.

Here's a report (and photo above)  from Jeff Holmes, a writer/angler who lives in the Tri-Cities:

The Snake River is supposed to be extraordinarily slow right now but looky lookie at what my friend Teddy and I caught out there on 1 trip. That's 7 hatchery steelhead, an adult chinook, and a jack.

We also released a big wild steelhead and a much larger salmon and had many other savage rips.  I am headed out again to rip and slay.

Holmes said his was night-fishing in one of the middle impoundments. He was using lighted plugs, and pointed out that he crimped the barbs on his Brad's Wigglers.

 

Bad week for wolves in Washington and elsewhere

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Some people are cheering and others are mourning Washington's mission involving a helicopter and gunman to kill six wolves this week and eliminate the Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County.

Eliminating a pack is a milestone in Washington wolf recovery and management.  But it's a milestone long past in Idaho and Montana.

FOR PERSPECTIVE:

Government workers and ranchers in Montana have killed at least 74 wolves this year following livestock attacks. 

State Parks offer free entry on Saturday

PARKS — To recognize National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Washington State Parks are offering free entry: The Discover Pass is not required.

Saturday is one of 12 “free days” offered at State Parks each year.  The final 2012 State Parks free days are scheduled for Nov. 10-12 during the Veteran’s Day holiday weekend.

Other activies recognizing the day include the annual:

Spokane River Cleanup

Dishman Hills Service Day

Lake Roosevelt water levels holding steady

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1283.70 at 9 a.m. today (Sept. 28).

The lake level is expected to remain in the 1283-1284 range through next week.

These are only predictions are subject to change.

Get daily lake level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Wyoming whitetails die from disease

HUNTING — Tough times for deer in a corner of Wyoming, similar to the outbreak that swept through portions of Montana two years ago:

Whitetail deer die-off in NE Wyoming worst in decades
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, a disease spread by a biting gnat, has caused the worst die-off of whitetail deer in northeast Wyoming in decades.

California bans hound hunting for bears

HUNTING — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning hound hunting for bears in California, 16 years after Washington state did the same thing by voter initative

Both campaigns were primed and pumped by the Humane Society of the United States and other anti-hunting groups.

Steelhead run spikes over Lower Granite Dam

FISHING — Get your hooks sharpened in the Lewiston-Clarkston area for th big spike of steelhead that's moved over Lower Granite Dam in the past two days — nearly 3,000 on Wednesday alone.

Black bear slaughter prompted by feeding

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Don't bite the hand that feeds wildlife.

Chop it off.

Montana wildlife agents euthanize five food-conditioned bears
After neighbors complained about someone in Heron feeding bears, Montana wildlife agents investigated and found five, well-fed food-conditioned black bears that they had to kill.
  

Officials “pretty sure” they killed entire Wedge Pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — “We don't know that we got them all, but we couldn't find any more,” said Dave Ware, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department Game Division manager, explaining the agency's decision today to wrap up its mission to eliminate the Wedge Pack of wolves that have been preying on cattle in northern Stevens County.

The sixth wolf in three days was killed this morning by an agency sharpshooter in a helicopter just south of the U.S.-Canada border in the “wedge” area between the Columbia and Kettle rivers. The wolf killed today was the alpha male, who'd was wearing a GPS collar and was easy to locate. Also killed this week was the breeding female and four other adult wolves

A young female wolf from the pack had been killed by a state marksman on Aug. 7.

The one pup from the pack's 2012 litter that had been trapped and tagged was found dead of undetermined causes last month

The KING 5 TV video above shows the alpha male and the pup during their capture and release earlier this summer.

That totals 8 wolves, but doesn't explain the whereabouts of several other pups thought to have been born this year.

“The pups do a lot of howling when they're weaned, but we didn't near the howling earlier this summer, so we don't know what happened,” Ware said.

“Could there be other wolves out there? Yes. We'll be monitoring. If we found one in the near future, we'd have to think about what to do. The ones we've found in the past few days have all been adults. So we've accomplish the objective and disrupted the pack. If we see something soon, we'll deal with it.

“But if we get tracks or howling a couple of  months from now, it may not be a member of this pack. It could be more wolves dispersing from Canada. We'd approach that case differently. Wolves are going to come back to the wedge sooner or later. It's good habitat.”

The Diamond M Ranch, which had at least 17 cattle attacked or killed this summer on public and private land, is pulling the cattle out of the area, but the ranchers told Ware that some of the livestock can't be rounded up in the rugged forest. All of the cattle don't come in until the snow flies.

Helicopter gunner kills 6th Wedge Pack wolf; effort concludes; alpha male, female dead

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say a helicopter gunner killed the alpha male of a cattle-preying wolf pack today, concluding the mission to eliminate the Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County.

The wolf was shot just south of the U.S.-Canada border in the third day of aerial shooting that claimed six wolves, agency director Phil Anderson said in a media release. The alpha male has been wearing a GPS since early summer, when it was caught and released by a state wolf researcher.

The state has been following the GPS signals of the alpha male to locate the pack, which officials have been targeting for elimination since Saturday. 

The pack's alpha female was killed earlier this week, Anderson said. A younger female wolf was shot by an agency staffer on Aug. 7 during the first lethal efforts to curb attacks on cattle that started in early July.

How do you know you have the entire pack, considering WDFW originally estimated the pack included at least eight animals?  WDFW state wildlife manager responds.

A Spokesman-Review photographer has been attempting to get photos of the effort, but was told by agency staff on the scene that they could not include him in the activities or make any official comments.  One staffer did say that none of them enjoyed what they were doing, but that they were doing their job.

“Directing the pack’s removal was a very difficult decision, both personally and professionally, but it was necessary to reset the stage for sustainable wolf recovery in this region,” Anderson said.  “Now we will refocus our attention on working with livestock operators and conservation groups to aggressively promote the use of non-lethal tactics to avoid wolf-livestock conflict.”

With the latest operation concluded, Anderson said the department would continue to monitor wolf activity in the Wedge region as it is doing in other parts of the state. While some WDFW staff were working full time with the Wedge Pack for most of the summer, other staffers have been working to document wolf activity in Okanogan, Chelan and Kittitas Counties, the Blue Mountains and elsewhere in Northeast Washington.

Read on for more background and details.

Water temps almost cool enough for good fall trout fishing

FISHING — Time is running out  for anglers at many of the Spokane-area trout lakes, some of which close for the season on Sunday .

The rainless heat wave of August-September is keeping water temperatures unusually high, and the fish haven't picked up their fall feeding activity.  

I talked to a group of locals having coffee this morning at Fishtrap Lake Resort. They'd put in some long hours for just a few fish.   But the ones they caught were beautiful, big-shouldered carryovers with  delicious red meat.

“It's just a matter of how much time you want to put in to get them,” one angler said.

Water temps have cooled to 60 degrees in the morning and range to 65 or more in the afternoon, they said.

“But that's a lot better than earlier in the week when they were up to 72 in the afternoon, ” one man said. “That's just too warm for the trout.”

The general consensus from the group was that the water temperatures would drop and the fish would go on the bite within a few days after the Fishtrap fishing  season closes.

Peak fire season tips for hunters

HUNTING — It's not news that the fields are dry and fire danger is extreme.

But don't let your guard down when you go out hunting or recreating.  One thoughtless moment in these conditions can be costly.

Hunters, who have an especially big responsibility to be fire conscious, should:

  • Drive only on established roads.
  • Avoid roads with tall vegetation in the middle track.
  • Never park over dry grass and other vegetation.
  • Carry a fire extinguisher—or water-filled weed sprayer—shovel, axe, and, a cell phone for communications in addition to other outdoor safety gear.
  • Restrict camping activities to designated camping areas.
  • Not build campfires.
  • Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.

Being able to respond is essential in the first few seconds of a fire start when it is small and easily extinguished.

State kills 3 more Wedge Pack wolves today

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Three wolves from the Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County were killed by a shooter in a helicopter today as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife continued its effort to stop persistent attacks on livestock by eliminating the pack.

Since early July, Wedge Pack wolves are believed to have killed or injured at least 17 cows and calves from the Diamond M Ranch herd ranging on both private and public land between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers southwest of Laurier, Wash. 

Department Director Phil Anderson said a WDFW marksman shot the wolves from a helicopter at about 8 a.m.  The wolves were shot about seven miles south of the U.S.-Canada border in the same area where two other wolves from the Wedge Pack were killed by aerial gunning yesterday.

Biologists estimate the pack includes 8-11 wolves.  Before this week's kills, the state shot a wolf on Aug. 7 when it was still believed the pack could be thinned and dispersed without eliminating the pack. 

One wolf, thought to be the pack's alpha male, was trapped and fitted with a GPS collar earlier this summer. WDFW officers have been monitoring that wolf to follow the pack in the rugged, remote forested country.

Anderson said a department wildlife veterinarian would perform necropsies on all five of the wolves killed this week.

For more information on the situation, see the WDFW's  Wedge Pack Lethal Removal Actions FAQ

Duck stamp art contest makes rare appearance in West

CONSERVATION — One of the country’s biggest wildlife art contests will be judged in Ogden this week as the annual Federal Duck Stamp Contest comes to Utah for the first time in its nearly 80-year history. The event has been to the West only one other time.

The work of nearly 200 artists from across the United States will be open for free viewing by the public at Weber State University, reports Brett Prettyman in the Salt Lake Tribune. Judges will pick one piece during the two-day event to serve as the 2013-14 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

Organizers picked Ogden to host the 2012 event due in a large part to the Great Salt Lake and its surrounding marshlands. Waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and other wildlife use the habitat throughout the year.

Pro-wolf groups stir up ranks to protest killing of Wedge Pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Pro-wolf groups aren't all standing by as Washington Fish and Wildlife staffers try to eliminate the cattle-preying Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County. Here's a form letter being promoted by the Center for Biological Diversity:

Center for Biological Diversity

 

Dear John,

Only seven wolf packs live in Washington state — but the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has ordered the entire Wedge pack killed in response to cattle depredations. That includes at least eight wolves.

The killing will be carried out on the public's dime using marksmen on the ground. If that doesn't work, these wolves will be shot from helicopters.

Washington's wolf management plan clearly states that, to avoid cattle losses, non-lethal measures must be taken first to protect livestock. In this case only minimal actions were taken to avoid wolf-livestock conflicts. The state should not reward irresponsible ranchers by killing wolves that are only acting as wolves do.

Please call Gov. Christine Gregoire now at (360) 902-4111 and tell her you do not support killing the Wedge pack when ranchers have not done their part to protect cattle.

Then let us know you got through to the governor's office by clicking here. A sample call has been provided below:

“Hello, my name is ________________ and I live in ________________, Washington. I'm calling to ask Governor Gregoire to stop the killing of the Wedge pack by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. I'd also like to state my opposition to state-run wolf killing, particularly in cases where ranchers have not done everything they can to avoid losing livestock. Can you please tell me the governor's position on this issue?

[Wait for explanation]

“Thanks, that's good to know. I still don't believe the circumstances justify killing the Wedge pack. These animals are endangered, and killing them should always be viewed as a great loss. The kill order should be permanently revoked.”

[Offer the staffer your address or zip code, and thank them for their time.]

Colockum remains closed by fire danger; region dry, dry, dry

PUBLIC LANDS — Be sure to check ahead for possible fire restriction before setting out for a hunting or camping trip this weekend. Closures are in effect in some areas as fires continue to burn in the absense of fall rains that normally would have wet the landscape by now.

A vast tract of state land including the Colockum area and Stemilt basin are closed to hunting and other recreation due to danger from the Table Mountain Complex fires.

Sgt. Kent Sisson of Chelan County Emergency Management said fire personnel are in the process of posting information boards in the area and signs alerting hunters and other recreators. Fires, including campfires, are also prohibited until further notice.

NO GREENUP COULD IMPACT BIG GAME

The lack of September rain has left big-game without a “fall green-up,” the sprouting of green vegetation in the warm “Indian Summer”  after a September rain shower. This greenup is very important to game putting on fat for fall.

The green-up or lack of it factors into their winter survival.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Lake Roosevelt boat fueling ends Sunday

BOATING — Lake Roosevelt's on-water fueling and minimal services will end for the season on Sunday (Sept. 30) at 5 p.m. at Keller Ferry and Seven Bays.

Info: (509) 725-7229 or (509) 647-5755.

Geology prof talks on Ice Age floods

LAND FORMS – A free program on “Missoula Floods in the Northern Rockies,” will be presented Thursday, 7 p.m., at Spokane Community College Student Union Building.  

The program will be presented by Gene Kiver, a book author, retired geology professor and stalwart in the Ice Age Floods Institute.

State shoots 2 wolves in Wedge Pack today; 6 or more to go

ENDANGERED SPECIES – Shooting from a helicopter, a marksman with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife killed two wolves in Northeast Washington today as part of an effort to eliminate a pack that has repeatedly preyed on livestock in a remote grazing area near the U.S.-Canada border.

The word comes from Bruce Botka, WDFW public affairs director in Olympia.

Teams of marksmen and wildlife biologists returned to an area of northern Stevens County known as the Wedge late last week, but had not killed any wolves after several days of around-the-clock activity. 

Beginning Monday, the department called in a helicopter to aid the effort, and an airborne marksman shot the two wolves early this afternoon, about seven miles south of the Canadian border.

WDFW Director Phil Anderson had directed the pack’s removal last week in response to the wolves’ escalating pattern of predation on the livestock herd of the Diamond M Ranch of Stevens County.  Since July, the pack of eight or more wolves is believed to have killed or injured at least 17 of the herd’s calves and cows.

The department says the attacks came despite non-lethal efforts to minimize wolf conflict by the rancher and department staff. Some pro-wolf groups say the efforts to prevent the attacks could have been more effective.

Read on for more details from WDFW.

Priest Lake mackinaw gives fisherman the finger

FISHING — Good fishermen always check the stomach contents of their fish to see what they've been eating, but few have had to drop the task at hand, go to the police and have the contents FINGER PRINTED to find out the source of the feed!

Read S-R reporter Scott Maben's story from Priest Lake, Idaho.

Black bears hanging out at English Point near Hayden Lake

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A black bear sow and her cub have been frequenting the English Point recreation trail near Hayden Lake, Forest Services officials say.

No reports of aggressive behavior from the bears have been received at the Panhandle National Forests headquarters in Coeur d'Alene, “but it remains important for the public to exercise caution and give the bears plenty of space to ensure future bear encounters are uneventful,” said Jason Kirchner, forest public affairs officer.

“Bear sightings are not unusual but due to the unpredictable nature of bears the public needs to understand that some caution should be taken whenever they are in bear country,” said Coeur d’Alene River District Ranger Chad Hudson.

BEAR ENCOUNTER GUIDELINES

Should you encounter a bear:

  • Stay calm. Group together, pick up small children and assess the situation. Prepare to use your bear spray.
  • Do not run or make sudden movements, it may instinctively cause the bear to charge you.
  • Give bears a chance to identify you as human, and not a threat. If the bear stands up, it is trying to see, hear and smell you better.
  • Talk firmly in a low-pitched voice while backing away. Avoid direct eye contact as bears may perceive this as a challenge or threat.
  • Continue to back away slowly and cautiously, retreating to a place of safety. Monitor the animal’s response, and adjust your actions accordingly.

More info: Center for Wildlife Information or your local Forest Service office.

Being a geezer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

HUNTING — Although I wasn't old enough to be allowed to carry a gun, I took my English Setter, Scout, out for some training at the Fishtrap Lake pheasant release site this morning, the second day of the new Geezer Pheasant Hunting Season.

Scout found one cock (above) in the first 15 minutes while the sunrise was still glowing orange through smoke from the region's wildfires. Then we worked for another 50 minutes without a find.

Birds had been released for las weekend's youth upland bird seasons and hunters reported roosters leftover after the weekend season closed.

But it's very dry out there. Survivial of pen-raised birds is notoriously short. 

I met a legitimate senior hunter with his chocolate Lab, having a good time but they had found no birds by 8:30 a.m.   He had other places to try…. and of course he had time to do it.

Being a non-geezer, I had to go back to work.

Disease testing required for game returning with hunters

HUNTING — Washington hunters returning with game from Wyoming or 16 others states and some Canadian provinces must have the meat and trophies properly processed to prevent possible spread of Chronic Wasting disease.

CWD has been found in wild deer populations in Texas and Missouri in the past year, bringin the number of states with verified cases to 17.

Washington residents hunting in states where CWD has been confirmed are required to conduct additional processing of deer, elk and moose carcasses brought back to Washington.

The others states where CWD has been detected include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The requirements are in place to reduce the risk of spreading CWD into Washington, where no cases of the disease have been confirmed.

While CWD is a fatal illness in deer and elk, there have been no confirmed cases of CWD being transmitted to humans or passed to domestic animals or livestock.

See more information on the additional processing and reporting requirements, (also published onpage 93 of the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules Pamphlet.

Click here for more information on CWD.

Disabled hunters sign up for access

HUNTING– Qualificed applicants have until Sept. 30 to sign up in a drawing for special access to hunting areas through the Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District’s Hunters with Disabilities Program.

Disabled hunters must sign up in person at either the Forest Service’s Silver Valley Office, (208) 783-2363, in Smelterville or Fernan Office, (208) 664-2318, in Coeur d’Alene. 

Applicants must present a Handicapped Person's Motor Vehicle Hunting Permit (orange card), a valid Idaho Disabled Hunting License and a big game tag when signing up.

The Forest Service is allowing motorized access for hunters with disabilities during the General Elk Season, Oct. 10-31 in two areas:

  • Clover-Haystack Mountain, Roads 6544, 6545 and 944.
  • Idaho Gulch, Road 1505.

The drawing will be held Oct. 1.

The Sandpoint Ranger District also has two areas open for disabled hunters. Applications for opening day hunts must be submitted by noon on Friday (Sept. 28). Info: (208) 263-5111.

Organized runs hit the trails around Spokane

TRAILS– Two notable trail runs are coming up in the Spokane area:

Wild Moose Chase Trail Run, Sept. 29, on 5K, 10K and 25K routes on trails at Mount Spokane State Park.

(No Discovery Pass required; reduced fees for kids.)  

Email: wildmoosechase@gmail.com

Sekani Trail Run, Oct. 13, choose to walk or run on 5K or 10K courses at Camp Sekani, a 125-acre natural park above the Spokane River in Spokane Valley.

UI sends writers into the wilds

OUTDOOR WRITING – Graduate students chosen for the University of Idaho’s new Writing in the Wild masters of fine arts fellowships will spend a week at either the McCall Outdoor Science School at Payette Lake or the Taylor Wilderness Research Station in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.  

Applications for the creative writing program this academic year are due Sept. 30.  

Applications for the 2013-2014 fellowships are due April 15.

Idaho sets clinics for youth waterfowlers

HUNTING– Registration is underway for the limited number of spots in the annual Youth Waterfowl Hunting Clinics sponsored by the Idaho Fish and Game Department’s Panhandle Region.

This year’s clinics are set for Sept. 29, when girls and boys ages 15 and under and their parents can learn the basics of hunting waterfowl in mentored hunting situation during the states’s special hunting season just for youths.

Following a morning hunt with experienced waterfowlers, participants will be treated to a free barbeque and skills clinic. 

The clinics are limited to 25 participants at three different clinics:

Northern Panhandle Clinic: Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area, northwest of Bonners Ferry.

Central Panhandle Clinic: Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area, east of Sandpoint at the Clark Fork Delta drift yard boat ramp.

Southern Panhandle Clinic: Heyburn State Park, northwest of St. Maries at the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Pre-register with J.J. Teare at the Panhandle Region Office, (208) 769-1414.

Youth hunter switches seats with dad; pheasants leftover for geezers

HUNTING — Daniel Kuhta, 15, ended his career of participating in youth upland bird hunting seasons Sunday at the BLM Fishtrap Lake area with a limit of pheasants, and a good weekend with his dad, Scott, their yellow Lab, Luby, and the family's new Lab pup, Max.

“This was the last year for my son to take advantage of the youth hunt weekend,” said Scott, marking just one in the series of changes of teenagehood.

“He turned 15 in July and today was the first time he drove ME to our hunting spot.”

“We hunted Fishtrap both days and saw lots of birds. There were a few kids out Saturday but we did not see any other bird hunters Sunday.”
 
Fishtrap is one of 29 pheasant release sites in Eastern Washington. The next release of pheasants at the sites is likely to occur the week AFTER the Oct. 13 general phesant season opens.

Mushroom club plans Priest Lake foray

FORAGING – The Spokane Mushroom Club’s annual fall foray is set for Oct. 5-7 at the Priest River Experimental Forest based in Priest River.

Experts lead daily group hikes to identify mushrooms collect specimens for educating the groups when they convene.

Participants who can’t spend the entire weekend can join the Saturday foray, which leaves promptly at 9 a.m., and attend Saturday’s Pot Luck set for 6 p.m.

Pre-registration is required by today (Sept. 24). Cost: $25.

Lodging arrangements can be made.

Contact Lynda Foreman, (509) 368-9969, email schroomerlyn@msn.com

State aims to eliminate wolf pack: more details

ENDANGERED SPECIES — More information about the decision to kill the entire Wedge Pack of wolves responsible for killing wolves this summer in northern Stevens County is in my news story in today's paper.

Cattlemen, pro-wolf groups weigh in on Wedge Pack death sentence

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department in conjuction with a livestock group and a wildlife conservation group have just issued statement's on the previously reported state decision to eliminate an entire wolf pack that's been attacking cattle in northern Stevens county.

“In response to ongoing attacks on livestock by a wolf pack in Northeast Washington that appears to be preying exclusively on cattle, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced it plans to eliminate the pack and lay a foundation for sustainable, long-term wolf recovery in the region,” according the the WDFW statement just released.

 WDFW Director Phil Anderson said the plan has the support of key conservation interests and livestock operators.  Two organizations that participated in developing the state’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan – Conservation Northwest and the Washington Cattlemen’s Association – joined the department in issuing a statement explaining their positions. 

Mount Adams fire closes part of Pacific Crest Trail

TRAILS — A wildfire burning near Mount Adams forced the closure of part of the Pacific Crest Trail late Thursday.

The closed segment of the trail is between the Williams Mine Trailhead off Forest Road 23 to the junction of the Divide Trail on the Mt. Adams, Ranger District, said Ken Sandusky of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Call the district office for more information, (509) 395-3402.

The Cascade Creek fire, apparently sparked by lightning storms near Mount Adams on Sept. 8, has burned 9,800 acres. Firefighters say its only about 50 percent contained.

Death sentence issued for entire wolf pack in Wedge area

ENDANGERED SPECIES — One thing's for sure: Beef is not healthy for wolves.

At a public meeting in Colville Thursday night, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced intentions to eliminate the entire Wedge Pack of wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle in northern Stevens County since mid-July.

This is a milestone in the controversial process of wolf recovery, the first time a wolf pack has been targeted in Washington since gray wolves were extirpated from the West with guns, traps and poison in the early 1900s. Eliminating wolf packs focused on livestock already has been employed in Montana and Idaho where the issues arose.

Statements were issued late Friday afternoon by the WDFW along with the state Cattlemen's Association and Conservation Northwest.

Details of the meeting and the agency's plan to kill the wolves are spelled out in this morning's report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

For those watching this issue, the writing was on the wall.

The scenario was pretty well set up, as I illustrated in my Thursday column, when WDFW officials confirmed another wolf attack on Diamond M Ranch cattle on Sunday.

Walgamott also posted a detailed scene-setting report.

The agency posted answers to frequently asked questions on Wednesday night.

Hiawatha rail trail closing for season Sept. 30

BICYCLING — The Route of the Hiawatha mountain bike trail, with its popular tunnels and trestles near Lookout Pass, will close for the season at 5 p.m. on Sept. 30. 

BLM’s Fishtrap Lake trails mostly untouched by fire

PUBLIC LANDS — The 350-acre fire on BLM land that prompted a temporary evacuation of Fishtrap Lake Resort recently was fairly well contained with minimal damange, officials say.

The photo above shows the edges of the fire burning up to the Farmer Landing trailhead west of Fishtrap Lake.

“Horseback riding and hiking along the trail from that trailhead should still be through unburned landscape,” said Steven Smith, BLM recreation manager in Spokane.

“So far, about 54 different fires in Eastern Washington have affected BLM lands,” said Scott Pavey, Spokane District spokesman, noting that some fires farther west are still burning. “A rough total of about 42,500 BLM acres have burned.”

Idaho forest dryness spikes; fire danger extreme

PUBLIC LANDS — “We were sitting pretty good a couple of weeks ago, but there's been marked increase in field dryness,” said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forest public affairs officer, getting word out that potential for forest fires have changed remarkably in just the past week.

“Monitoring stations in the North Fork Coeur d'Alene, near St. Maries and in the Selkirks are registering in the top 3 percent of dryness ever recorded.”

Forest Service plans for annual fall controlled burns to improve wildlife habitat and clear out forest understory to reduce fire danger next year are on hold until conditions are less volatile, he said.

“Even if it wasn't so dry in the Panhandle, the smoke that's moved into the region would be enough to put off our controlled burning plans because of air quality requirements,” he said.

“At least the smoke is a good reminder that there are fires all around us. We haven't had any significant fires, but we're not out of the woods yet.”

Scientists document acceleration in arctic ice melt

ENVIRONMENT — More sobering news related to climate change:

Arctic ice melt smashes record set in 2007

As the arctic ice melt ended Sunday, scientists calculated the extent of the melt at 293,000 square miles more than in 2007, which broke the previous record.  — Washington Post

Related story:  Small boat sails through arctic ice issue

Wedge wolves topic of Colville public meeting tonight

ENDANGERED SPECIES — At the request of Stevens County ranchers and commissioners, Washington Department of fish and Wildlife officials will present an update on their efforts to deal with gray wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle since mid-July.

Some of the issues were spelled out in today's Outdoors column.

The cattle belong to the Diamond M Ranch which summers its livestock on a national forest grazing allotment in the “wedge” area near the Canada border between the Columbia and Kettle rivers.

Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, will outline the agency's efforts in a public meeting set for 5 p.m. tonight (Sept. 20) in the Colville County Commissioner's meeting room (old Avista Building) 230 E. Birch Street Colville 99114.  See map.

WDFW posted these answers to questions about the Wedge Pack issues on its website Wednesday.

Reading between the lines, Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott says the agency appears to be targeting more than just a few of the Wedge Pack wolves — perhaps the entire pack of 8-11 animals.

Priest River prime for paddling starting Oct. 8

PADDLING — The drawdown of Priest Lake to its winter level will begin Oct. 8.

The drawdown generally is complete by early November and brings the lake down three feet from a summer elevation of 3,427.64 feet to the winter level of 3,424.64, said Karl Duncan, the dam operator.

The lake’s drawdown also launches the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.

Photographer leaves no doubt: elk are in the rut

WILDLIFE — In case you had any doubts about the elk mating season being in full swing, Montana wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson offers this photographic evidence.

Notice I didn't say this is image is proof.  After all, hitch-hiking is legal in Montana.

National Parks offer free admission Sept. 29

PUBLIC LANDS — National parks will be waiving entrance fees to celebrate National Public Lands Day on Sept. 29.

The Park Service is waiving fees for a total of 17 days in 2012.

Offering  free admission to national parks and other federal lands has been featured the past three years as a cost-friendly family vacation option in the economic slump.

Forest Service eases ruling on skier use of Bitterroot cabin

NORDIC SKIING — The Forest Service has moved a popular skiers cabin at Chief Joseph Pass to the the agency's nationwide rental system and started charging a fee, but officials compromised and lowered the overnight rental rate from $20 to $9 for this season after a protest by disgruntled members of the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club.

The club spent nearly two decades developing the cross-country ski trails in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Montana, and in 2001, raised $100,000 to build the Gordon Reese Cabin at Chief Joseph Pass. They felt betrayed when the Forest Service denied them free access to the cabin.

See the story by the Ravalli Republic:  USFS relents a bit on cabin rental in Montana national forest
  

Volunteers to spruce up Dishman Hills Sept. 29

PUBLIC LANDS — The Dishman Hills Conservancy and REI have a useful way to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

 On September 29th we look to continue the wonderful efforts that were made on April 22nd (Earth Day) by our 547 volunteers. We will continue the process of noxious weed removal, placement of mulch in the lower Camp Caro parking area to aid in habitat restoration and perform trash clean-up across the properly.

Thanks to REI, we will also have a couple of t-shirts that we will be able to give away via a drawing at the event.

 More information and online registration: DHNA National Public Lands Day 2012

  

Dawn Glanc’s Montenegro climb presented tonight at Mountain Gear

CLIMBING – Rock and ice climber Dawn Glanc will discuss her 2010 tour in Montenegro in a free multi-media program TONIGHT (Sept 19) at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division.

Refreshments start at 6 p.m.; show at 7 p.m. Gifts will be offered to the first 100 women attending.

Glanc joined Patrick Ormond and Jeremiah Watt on the first American team to climb in the Balkans country bordered by Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and the Adratic Sea.

Never trust your hunting dog with a gun

HUNTING — Two men, on opposite sides of the world, have been shot by their alleged best friends, reports News.com.au.

One man's shooting trip in Utah, US took a surprise turn when he was shot in the buttocks - by his own dog.

Meanwhile in France, a 55-year-old hunter had to have his right hand amputated after his dog accidentally shot him has said he doesn't blame the pet, which he still considers “adorable”.

Read more.

Washington agents, SWAT team sting wildlife traffickers

WILDLIFE CRIMES — In a major crackdown on alleged illegal wildlife traffickers today, Washington Fish and Wildlife police served 14 search warrants on businesses — including Walla Walla County restaurants selling illegal elk meat. 

 A SWAT team was called in to arrest one West Side man officers say provided “two to three big game animals a week” at times to undercover officers.

See the report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

Here's  report by KING 5 TV.

Shooting, smoking, fires restricted on state wildlife lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Citing extreme fire danger in Eastern Washington, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just issued emergency restrictions — including a restrictions on target shooting, smoking and open fires —  for all state wildlife lands.

Many of these restrictions already are in place on national forests.

Read on for the details.

Park sued for not using wolves to control elk

PREDATORS — WildEarth Guardians will have their day in court in a lawsuit  against the National Park Service for not considering reintroduction of wolves into Rocky Mountain National Park as an option for controlling elk numbers.

Park officials have been using sharpshooters to thin the elk herd over the past few years.

WildEarth says wolves should have been introduced to do the culling naturally. 

Biologists say the park is to too small to expect the wolves to stay put and not cause issues elswhere. 

WildEarth said we'll see you in court.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing a case Thursday on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder.

See story.

Losing Rammel no loss to Idaho elk, hunters

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — It's one thing to be an anti-government blowhard. 

It's another thing to be detrimental to Idaho's public resources and the state's very valuable wild elk herds.

Good riddance, Rex Rammel.

See the story here, and we hope it's the last we hear of him.

La Sportiva Wildcats a hit with Pacific Crest Trail through hikers

BACKPACKING — Ultra light, ultra functional and ultra durable — those are the keys to gear that causes a buzz among through hikers on long-distance trails.

One group of hikers most of the way through their month's long,  2,650-mile journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, recently were comparing notes on their shoes at Washington's Chinook Pass. The durability winner in this group was the La Sportiva Wildcat trail running shoe, a Backpacker  Editor’s Choice item in the magazine’s 2010 gear review.

One hiker had 1,000 miles on his pair and they were still going strong.

While trail running shoes may be perfect for PCT through hikers, who are focused on speed and staying on the trail, they may not be the best for everyday hikers who may not be so trail hardened or who do more off-trail exploration.

Diamond Pack wolf killed by hunter in Idaho

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Even though Washington wolves are still protected by state endangered species rules, Idaho offered a touch of “management” to the Diamond Pack of northeastern Washington over the weekend.

A Washington man with an Idaho wolf hunting license killed a wolf on Saturday just east of the Pend Oreille County/Washington border.

The wolf had the red Washington eartags 379, 378, which means it had been caught, tagged and released by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists studying the Diamond Pack's movements. 

According to Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager, the male wolf was killed by the hunter in Kalispell Creek. which drains into Priest Lake near Nordman. 

The Diamond Pack had been observed as early as 2007 and was confirmed as the second breeding wolf pack in 2009.  The photo above shows Diamond Pack pups photographed in Pend Oreille County in 2009 by a remote camera placed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Only a few tagged Washington wolves have previously strayed to legal doom in other jurisdictions.

  • A Diamond Pack female wolf was killed by a trapper in Idaho last winter just east of the Washington border.
  • A Teanaway Pack female wolf was shot last spring in a southeastern British Columbia pig pen.

Read on for details on the Diamond Pack from the WDFW.

Updated: Snake steelhead run a shadow of past years

FISHING — The numbers over the dams tell the story of this year's downsized steelhead run to the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

What the numbers don't say is that anglers putting in their time are catching fish, and having a good time doing it.

More than 1,600 fish a day have been moving up over Lower Granite Dam.

How many do you need?

Read on for the latest update, posted Monday afternoon, on Columbia River system steelhead and fall chinook run sizes.

More dead cattle but no dead wolves reported in Wedge

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department hasn't had much to report regarding its less than fruitful efforts to curb the cattle killing by gray wolves in the Wedge area of northern Stevens County. The toll is about 15 cattle confirmed killed or injured by wolves between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers since mid-July.

But a lot of other people are talking, including the Stevens County Cattlemen's Association.

Several more cattle have been found dead or severly injured since WDFW sent officers into the Wedge area in late August, but the agency has not reported any wolves being killed in the effort.

Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, said this afternoon that the number of officers in the area is being increased after another Diamond M Ranch calf was confirmed killed by wolves in an investigation on Sunday. 

Possible reasons for the lack of effective agency response are listed in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

Read on to see a media release from the Cattlemen's association, which is raising concern about the progress of wolf recovery and wolf management.

Map shows forest areas closed by fires in Leavenworth-Wenatchee area

FOREST FIRES — The map above from the Wenatchee National Forest shows areas off limits to visitors because of forest fires in the Central Washington area.

The closures affect hikes in prime season and hunters out for Washington's early High Buck Hunt that opened Saturday.

Cool-headed backpackers evacuate Alpine Lakes as fires close in

BACKPACKING — After reading my post this morning about fire-related closures affecting hikers in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness,  Stephanie Akker of Kennewick emailed me the photo (above) snapped Saturday from the Colchuck Lake area as she decided to evacuate during the night to safety. 

I was happy to see your article on-line as I have been scouring for more info since we backpacked out of Colchuck, in the dark, Saturday night. 

Attached is a photo of the fire from our campsite on the north end of Colchuck.  We day hiked into the Enchantments Saturday after camping at Colchuck Friday night. We chose to evacuate after watching the fire grow dramatically over the course of 24 hours and also considering the proximity to the parking lot. 

Yes, we had to forgo our coveted permit, but felt it better safe than sorry. 

Read on for her photo of Colchuck Lake, a scene that helps you understand why it was no easy decision to leave.

Fires restrict access to Alpine Lakes Wilderness, other areas

HIKING — Many backpackers with coveted permits for the prime September season in the Enchantment Lakes area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in northcentral Washington are finding their plans up in smoke.

Area includes Eightmile Road, Colchuck, Stuart, Eightmile, Caroline, and Trout lakes, and the Windy Pass portion of the Enchantment area in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness due to a fire burning Many Enchantment area overnight camping permits are cancelled. However, the Enchantment Basin itself remains open at this time with access via Snow Creek Trail. Please call the Wenatchee River Ranger Station for more information on which permits are cancelled.

See a photo and report from a backpacker who self-evacuated Colchuck Lake Saturday night as fires closed in.

Read on for the latest press release and details from the Wenatchee National Forest.

Updated: Snake steelhead run a shadow of past years

FISHING — The numbers over the dams tell the story of this year's downsized steelhead run to the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

What the numbers don't say is that anglers putting in their time are catching fish, and having a good time doing it.

More than 1,600 fish a day have been moving up over Lower Granite Dam.

How many do you need?

Read on for the latest update, posted Monday afternoon, on Columbia River system steelhead and fall chinook run sizes.

Small boat sails through climate change issue in arctic

CLIMATE CHANGE — The warming globe is giving sailors more room to roam.

Read the disturbing story: 

Ship's historic crossing signals extent of Arctic melt, Edmonton Journal.

Sign up incentive for Spokane River Clean up

RIVERS — The Spokane River Cleanup is set for Sept . 29.

The 10th annual event is likely to follow last year's footsteps with about 800 people picking up tons of trash based out of High Bridge Park, the University District and Spokane Valley.

Pre-register by 5 p.m. Monday (Sept. 17) to be get into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to Mountain Gear.

Show leadership by volunteering as a team leader to help the event succeed. A meeting for team leaders is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at Mountain Gear Corporate Offices, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave.

 

Boo Boo the bear may get back to the woods

WILDLIFE REHABILITATION — Boo Boo, the black bear cub found by fire crews with second degree burns on all four paws last month,  has been moved to a rehabilitation area in central Idaho.

Idaho Fish and Game biologist Jeff Rohlman picked up the young bruin today at the Humane Society shelter in Boise where he has been recuperating.

Rohlman took the bear to the Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary in the mountains outside McCall. The sanctuary is dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife. Since 1989 it has housed and cared for a range of large and small mammals and birds in distress from injury, loss of parents, or loss of habitat.

Boo Boo weighed in at 46 pounds today, up from just 23 pounds when Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Mark Drew transferred the bear to the Idaho Humane Society on Aug. 31.

He will spend the first night in a pen about the size of a single-car garage, which is attached to a two-acre enclosure at the sanctuary. When released from the pen, he would be free to roam the enclosure.

If he continues to mend, he would be released to wild. Perhaps as soon as later this fall.

He was rescued August 26 by firefighters working on the Mustang Fire burning north of Salmon. His feet were badly burned, and he was treated initially at Idaho Fish and Game's Wildlife Health Lab in Caldwell.

The young bear has continued to improve. No infection in any of his foot pads has been detected despite second-degree burns on all four feet, Drew said.

Volunteers to pick up NF CdA River Saturday

PUBLIC LANDS — The crowds that trashed the prized North Fork Coeur d'Alene fishing waters this summer have subsided back to the places they leave their garbage the rest of the year.

So it’s time for a river cleanup.

On Saturday, Sept. 15, the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River Watershed Advisory Group and the Idaho Panhandle National Forests are organizing a public clean-up day including a free BBQ lunch and prizes for the “most interesting” garbage collected.

  • The river cleanup event will begin at 9 a,m. 
  • Volunteers check-in at Albert’s Landing, 2 miles north of Kingston on Old River Road.
  • Barbecue and prize drawings will start at 1 p.m.

Info: Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District at (208) 769-3028.

”We are thrilled to host this much-needed river cleanup,” said Kajsa Stromberg, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality scientist and WAG facilitator. “All summer-long, there have been boaters, floaters, campers, and other visitors enjoying the North Fork and now we have cans and garbage piling up along the river banks and filling up its deep pools. Sometimes the river shines with all the cans.”

Good news, bad news about forest beetle infestations

PUBLIC LANDS — A pine beetle outbreak that has left many Western states with vast stands of dead and dying trees has eased for the second consecutive year, the U.S. Forest Service says.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that more trees are dying at higher elevations as beetles take advantage of warm winters to gain a new foothold.

And with trees on roughly 42 million acres killed by various beetles since 2000, it could take decades for some forests to fully recover.

Read the story here.

Eastern Washington early goose hunt Friday-Saturday

HUNTING — Washington's two-day early Canada goose hunting season in Units 4 and 5 — most of Eastern Washington — is set for Friday and Saturday (Sept. 14-15).

Check your regs carefully, and get ready for what appears to be great hunting.

Seasons are changing: Revelstoke gets first snowfall

WINTER SPORTS — The photo above comes today from Revelstoke Mountain Resort, a day's drive north in British Columbia, where the ski area operators were stoked to wake up and see the first snowfall of the season in the Canadian Rockies area.

Revelstoke Mountain is Canada’s Newest Ski Resort, claiming to have the most vertical in North America  – 5620ft! 

Here they come! Steelhead, salmon pouring over Lower Granite Dam

FISHING — I love the looks of this graphic from the Fish Passage Center showing yesterday's spike of steelhead pouring over Lower Granite Dam. The big push up the Snake has begun!

From just over 240 fish a day a week ago, water temperatures had cooled and beckoned just more than 600 fish over the dam toward Lewiston on Sunday.

That pulse tripled on Monday to more than 1800 fish.

Fall chinook also are steaming upstream.

Year of photos capture Pacific NW in minutes

OUTDOORS — This video of time-lapse photography captures the soothing essense of Pacific Northwest scenery in just a few minutes.

But a Portland photographer devoted a year and exposed 260,000 frames to produce it.

Fires affecting front country and backcountry

WILD FIRES from recent lightning storms on tinder-dry landscapes are an issue for people heading outdoors in almost every direction.

Here's a regional roundup from Mountain West News:

Thousands of lightning strikes spark hundreds of fires in Washington state
The 300-acre Cascade Creek Fire is the worst of the 200 wildfires sparked by lightning in Washington state over the weekend.
Portland Oregonian;Sept. 10
Wildfire in southern B.C. forces hundreds from their homes
Strong winds pushed a wildfire first reported Sunday afternoon across more than 200 acres in southern B.C., and more than 1,550 residents near Peachland were ordered to evacuate.
Vancouver Sun;Sept. 10
 

Evacuations ordered as wildfire burns on Wyoming's Casper Mountain
A wildfire first reported at 4 p.m. Sunday on the east side of Casper Mountain in Wyoming grew quickly to hundreds of acres and forced the evacuation of campgrounds and dozens of homes.
Casper Star-Tribune;Sept. 10

More evacuations ordered on Mustang Complex fire in Idaho
A level 3 evacuation order was issued for residents along the Highway 93 corridor from Quartz Creek to North Fork in Idaho on Sunday, as the Mustang Fire Complex moved closer to that corridor.
Ravalli Republic (AP);Sept. 9

Wildfire threatens resort in W. Wyoming
The Little Horsethief Fire that ignited Saturday afternoon grew quickly to 800 acres, and on Sunday, residents living on Snow King Mountain near Jackson, Wyo., were put on notice that they may need to evacuate.
Jackson Hole Daily;Sept. 10
 
Crews have 8,000-acre wildfire in Montana 51 percent contained
Fire investigators believe the 8,000-acre wildfire burning in Montana south of Livingston was human caused.
Billings Gazette;Sept. 10
 

Woman angler’s first king weighs 83.3 pounds

SALMON FISHING — I guess you could say she got a good start. 

Deborah Whitman-Perry's first experience in catching a king salmon turned out to be an 83-pounder while fishing out of Good Hope Cannery Resort at Rivers Inlet, British Columbia.

She got to savor it.  The fight went on for an hour.

Read the Seattle Times story.

Washington tops North America list for tiger muskies

FISHING — Washington is outstanding in the latest Lunge Log, the international “brag board” where Muskies Inc. members in North America post their longest catches (and releases).

Tops on the MuskiesInc.org “Longest Releases” for 2012 is a 46 incher hooked on June 16 by Ed Walzer at Lake Merwin Reservoir in Cowlitz County.

Just behind that bruiser in second place is a 45.5 incher hooked May 4 by Douglas Wood at Silver Lake in Spokane County.

Just as impressive is that these two Washington lakes plus Mayfield, Tapps and Curlew in Washington produced nine of the top 25 tiger muskies recorded by Muskies Inc. across North America this year.

Not making the list was the biggest fish of all: a 10-year old, 49-inch, 40-pounder landed by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologists doing a survey last week at Curlew Lake in Ferry County. 

See the story here.

The biologists say they turned up more fish of that size while electroshocking — and those fish are still there!

Forest Service rejects Bitterroot ski resort

PUBLIC LANDS — For the second time in seven years, the U.S. Forest Service has rejected a proposal by Tom Maclay to build a destination ski resort on Lolo Peak.

Read the story in the Ravalli Republic.

Northeast WA wolf saga continues

ENDANGERED SPECIES — No report yet on whether more Wedge Pack wolves have been killed in northern Stevens County as they continue to kill cattle while eluding the guns and traps of Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers.

Get up to speed with:

Fight over wolves reignited — Seattle Times

Daily Wolf Howler, week's-end update — Northwest Sportsman 

Colville Tribe confirms state's 9th wolf pack — Spokesman-Review

Fire sweeps Banks Lake west side, burning at Grand Coulee

PUBLIC LANDS — Fire fighters have their hands full in forests and lowlands from blazes started by Saturday night lightning storms and fanned by Sunday's huge winds.

A Facebook friend in Wenatchee says the orange on the skyline is more than a little frightening.

At least four fires in the Coulee City-Grand Coulee-Almira area are prompting evacuations, with around 8,000 acres burned.

“Huge fires are burning here in Grand Coulee,” reports angler Connie Mcquaid from her home at 10 p.m.

“The switchyard has had explosions — I've seen them. The whole west side of Banks Lake looks like it's on fire. Parts of Grand Coulee west of the canal are being evacuated. The air in town is unbreathable. They sky from my view is all orange.”

Lightning fires erupt in Wenatchee Valley

PUBLIC LANDS — Last night's wave of thunder storms in Eastern Washington has sparked numerous fires in the dry canyons and forests near Leavenworth, Chelan and Wenatchee.   Here's the just-posted Forest Service report for details on locations, with the grim warning that high winds are predicted to fan the flames.

Read on:

Deschutes River steelhead rally anglers

FISHING — Although the steelhead have been slower to make their way upstream to the Snake River, the run has arrived on the Lower Deschutes River, along with a palpable excitement among anglers, reports Mark Morical of the Bulletin in Bend, Ore.

“Each year, the peak of the summer steelhead run reaches Sherars Falls on the Deschutes River in mid-September,” he writes. “While this year’s run is not as prodigious as originally predicted, the steelhead have been showing up in decent numbers in the Lower Deschutes, according to Rod French, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist based in The Dalles.”

Read on for the rest of his report on this fabled fishery that flows into the Columbia River.

Boone & Crockett scorer scores trophy pronghorn

HUNTING — Larry Carey, who measures dozens of trophy big-game animals in Spokane each year as an official Boone and Crockett scorer, bagged his own wall-hanger recently while antelope hunting with relatives near Cimarron, N.M.

Carey, 74, shot a pronghorn measuring 85 inches green. After the 60-day drying period, the buck should easily make the 82-inch gross score minimum for the B&C Record Book.

Carey, a member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the anchor of Trophy Territory at the annual Big Horn Show, logged eight pronghorn hunts before tagging a bruiser this large.

Unlimited fishing at Fish Lake through Oct. 21

FISHING — In preparation for a fall rotenone treatment to get rid of scrap fish and northern pike, catch limits will be lifted starting Saturday at Fish Lake off the Cheney-Marshall Road.

Ditto for Little Beaver Lake in Okanogan County.

Read on for all the details from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Colville Tribe documents Washington’s 9th wolf pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Colville Tribe confirmed Washington’s ninth wolf pack Sunday as they trapped and released a 104-pound gray wolf.

The new group of gray wolves has been called the Strawberries Pack.

The wolf is the third to be captured, fitted with a GPS collar and released  on the reservation in three months.

Eric Krausz and Donovan Antoine of the tribe’s wildlife program caught the 104-pound female wolf on Sunday, the tribe reports.

Wolf trapping expert Carter Niemeyer was hired last spring to teach the Tribes’ wildlife personnel the tricky art trapping gray wolves.  While Niemeyer was on the reservation, the trapping team captured a 68-pound female and a 72-pound male as the tribe confirmed the state’s eighth pack, dubbed the Nc’icn Pack.

After scouting to find significant wolf sign, Krausz and Antoine set a trapline two weeks ago that finally caught the third wolf after six days.

The tribe is working on a wolf management plan that’s separate from the Washington wolf plan adopted last year to deal with wolves as the naturally move back into their former range.

Wolf answers bowhunter’s elk call; archer wins

HUNTING — Bowhunters have been learning over the years — some of them the hard way — that bears and even cougars will sneak in on them while they are calling elk during the September rut seasons.  

Cow and calf talk is especially effective in luring predators, and archers must be ready to deal with being prey for a large carnivorem whether it's with their bow, bear spray or a handgun, where allowed.

This week, a Montana elk hunter with a wolf license shot a wolf on the fourth day of archery season just west of the Whitefish Divide, reaching a quota that prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to close the North Fork Flathead’s wolf management Unit 110. It is the only hunting district in the state that retains a quota for wolves.

Region One Wildlife Manager Jim Williams said the hunter checked in the wolf as required on Wednesday.

“An individual archer took an 83-pound, 4-year-old male wolf just west of the Whitefish Divide,” Williams told the Daily Interlake. “The guy was cow-talking at elk. The wolf came right in.”

Only two wolves can be harvested a year in the district, which covers the North Fork west of Glacier National and extends over the Whitefish Divide into Lincoln County.

One more wolf can be harvested once the rifle season for wolves opens Oct. 15.

State auctions Roosevelt shed elk antlers online

WILDLIFE —  More than 200 Roosevelt elk shed antlers seized by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife can be purchased during an online auction that's underway. Bidding for about half of the items will close Sept. 19, and bidding for the other half of the items will close Sept. 20.

Items available during the auction include:

• More than 100 large individual shed antlers.
• Four sets of matched antlers.
• 26 bundles of large shed antlers.
• One large skull cap plate with antlers from a Rocky Mountain bull elk.
• One large set of mounted antlers from a trophy mule deer buck.

To participate in the online auction you must pre-register.

The shed antlers, seized because they were collected illegally, have been sorted into three grades: fresh (picked up the same year as shed), one-year white (picked up one or more years after being shed), and two-year white (picked up two or more years after being shed).

More than 100 of the individual shed antlers have had gross scores determined, many of which qualify for entry into the Boone and Crockett record book, said Sergeant Carl Klein of the WDFW Law Enforcement Program.

Read on for more details:

Oregon monitoring state’s fifth breeding wolf pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — In case you missed it from last week, Oregon has confirmed its fifth breeding wolf pack after documenting pups in a group roaming the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

Read on for details from the Associated Press.

Natural, cultural history displayed at Dry Falls

 NATURAL HISTORY — Natural and cultural history of the Dry Falls area will be presented in displays by the Wanapum Heritage Center and the Ice Age Floods Institute on Saturday (Sept. 8), 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Dry Falls State Park Visitor Center south of Coulee City, Wash.

Visitors can explore the Wanapum Native American Discovery Unit and talk with tribal educators about the rich history of the Wanapum tribe.

Learn about the historic floods that shaped North America through an interpretive display by the Ice Age Floods Institute.

Admission is free. The Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to the event.

See map here.

Read on for more details.

Wedge Pack cattle-killing pattern apparently continues; two more carcasses found today

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Wedge Pack's appetite for livestock may spell doom for four or more of the dozen or so wolves roaming between Canada and northern Stevens County.

Two more Diamond M Ranch cattle were confirmed today.

That could bring the number of wolf depredations on the ranch's herd to 12 the cattle between the Columbia and Kettle rivers since mid July.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers are in the area trying to trap and collar another wolf in the pack  — one is already collared to help them monitor the pack's movements.  They're also seeking to kill wolves and disperse the pack.

Department Director Phil Anderson gave an update on the Wedge Pack issue a few hours ago. 

Anderson's update is detailed here in a blog post by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

Corps closes Columbia campgrounds early; campers irked

PUBLIC LANDS — Citing budget cuts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed several camgrounds on the Columbia River on Tuesday — weeks earlier than normal.

The move surprised campers as they were evicted on Tuesday in picture-perfect weather for being in a campsite with their families.

Read the Tri-City Herald story.

See a list of Walla Walla District recreation sites and closure announcements.

It probably didn't help the Walla Walla District's budget last week as crews had to clean up trash from 3,000 partiers at the corps' Illia Dunes recreation site on the Snake River.

Video: When people mix with elk in the rut…

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — This BBC film clip offers a glimpse of a town and tourists in the midst of the annual autumn mating season for elk.

The footage is as funny as it is sad to see people so nonchalant and clueless about walking past hormone-charged 800-pound animals with antlers.

Bambi meets cougzilla: trail cam shows real life of predator-prey

WILDLIFE — Trail cams offer maybe too much reality for some people who think all is peaceful among wildlife in the woods.

This series of trail cam photos documents the short amount of time between cute and dinner.

Fly fishing art, beer featured at benefit for Project Healing Waters

Fly tying and fly fishing artwork will be on display and local brews will be served at a Fly Fishing Art Show to benefit Project Healing Waters, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., Friday Sept. 7, at the Steam Plant, 159 S Lincoln St.

Project Healing Waters addresses the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings.

The non-profit group is organizing activities in the Spokane area.

Featured artists include:

Greg Piller, Steam Plant’s head brewer, will be offering samples of Steam Plant’s handcrafted beers and Spokane-based Dry Fly Distilling offer tastes of their fly fishing-inspired spirits that use locally-grown grains and botanicals.

Food and drink specials will be offered in Stacks restaurant and the Steam Plant Brewing Co. & Pub 3 p.m.- 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to closing.

Info: (509) 995-9945

Wolf attacks on cattle continue; state resumes hunt on Wedge Pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Before taking a break for the holiday weekend, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers confirmed that wolves had attacked two more cattle on private land in northern Stevens County, this time on private land.

See details in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

Today Fish and Wildlife officers have resumed their hunt to radio collar another wolf in the pack and kill up to four members of the pack in an attempt to stop the pattern of depredations on Diamond M Ranch cattle in the Wedge area between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers.

See a just-posted update on the situation, again by Walgamott, the wolf man from Northwest Sportsman.

Motorized users sue to drive through Great Burn wilderness study area

PUBLIC LANDS — The Blue Ribbon Coalition and the Idaho Snowmobile Association filed a lawsuit against the Clearwater National Forest for its travel plan that bans motorcycles, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and mountain bikes in the Great Burn wilderness study area on the Idaho-Montana border, according to a story by the Idaho Statesman.


“Only Congress can designate wilderness. We cannot stand idly by and watch them change the long-established system for managing these treasured lands.”

Sandra Mitchell, public lands director of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association.

“I see this as full frontal assault on wilderness. They are making essentially the argument that the Forest Service doesn’t have the power to protect wilderness character as a multiple use of public lands”

Brad Brooks, deputy regional director of the Wilderness Society in Boise.

Wyoming finally taking charge of its wolves

PREDATORS — Another milestone in wolf reintroduction…

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that wolves in Wyoming will be removed from the federal endangered species list as of Sept. 30, allowing Wyoming's wolf hunt to go forward as scheduled on Oct. 1.

See Casper Star-Tribune story With federal protection removed, Wyoming's wolf hunt begins Oct. 1 


  

Video: How dumb can Yellowstone tourists be around bison?

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Every year we read about a tourist in Yellowstone National Park being hurt or killed by a bison.

The park warns people to give bison plenty of distance; change course if necessary; leave them alone because while they're amazing creatures they're also unpredictable and dangerous.

The same goes with moose we see around the Inland Northwest, and even mountain goats (see previous post).

The incident in this video won't make headlines because nobody was hurt.  But if the child being chased had tripped, it would be a different story.  

This was really stupid, especially since adults are involved.

Marksmanship clinics offered at Fernan Gun Club

SHOOTING- Another in a series of rifle marksmanship clinics is being offered at the Fernan Gun Club this weekend, Sept. 8-9.

The clinics are sponsored by the Revolutionary War Veteran's Association's Project Appleseed, which involves shooting instruction along with history about the impact of marksmanship in the American Revolution.

The clinics teach three rifleman shooting positions, use of the sling, six steps to firing, natural point of aim, how to zero your rifle using inches/minutes/clicks, and more.

The project also is designed to promote civic involvement.

Preregister: (208) 819-0866 or email ID@appleseedinfo.org.

Organizers say participants also will hear stories of the American Revolution surrounding the events of April 19, 1775, when marksmanship met history and American Heritage was born.

Waterfowl calling, hunting seminars featured at Cabela’s

HUNTING — Duck and goose calling contests plus seminars by waterfowling experts and a retrieving dog trainer are on the schedule for two days of free events this weekend (Sept. 8-9) at Cabela’s in Post Falls.

Some of the seminars will be conducted by hunters who've been spotlighted in S-R outdoors features, including Pend Oreille County waterfowling expert Kent Contreras and Spokane-area dog trainer Dan Hosford.

Saturday’s schedule:

8 a.m.-9 a.m. – Registration for junior duck calling.

9 a.m. – Seminar on identifying waterfowl, hunting regulations by Idaho Fish and Game.

9:30 a.m. – Junior Duck Calling Contest (16 and under).

9:30 a.m.-10:30 – Registration for open duck calling.

10:30 a.m.  – Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.

11 a.m. – Open Duck Calling Contest.     1 p.m. – Layout blind hunting, judging distance by Kent Contreras.

 2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.

Sunday’s schedule:

9 a.m. – Registration for junior and open goose calling.

9:15 a.m. – Duck calling strategies by Chris Redell.

9:45 a.m. – Junior Goose Calling Contest.

10:30 a.m. Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.

11 a.m. – Open Goose Calling Contest.

1 p.m. – Hunting gear, hunting situations by John Plughoff.

2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.

Note: dog-training seminars may change times if weather too hot for the dogs.

Backcountry hunter, angler highlights issues

HUNTING/FISHING – Matthew Scott, Washington coordinator for the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, will present a program about the group’s involvement in the Colville National Forest planning, wilderness recommendations, collaboration efforts and off-road vehicle issues Tuesday (Sept. 4), 7 p.m., at the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, 6116 N. Market.

Illia Dunes reopened after partiers’ trash cleaned up

PUBLIC LANDS — The Illia Dunes recreation area was reopened today as student volunteers from Washington State University helped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers clean up trash left by more than 3,000 partiers at the popular Snake River site last weekend.

The sandy beach downstream from Lower Granite Dam is one of the more popular Corps of Engineers Snake River recreation areas and a college party hot spot.

The area was closed on Aug. 27 because of glass and trash that raised health and safety concerns, said Bruce Henrickson, spokesman for the corps Walla Walla District. 

“After announcing closure of the dunes, the corps received many offers of volunteer cleanup assistance from nearby university fraternities and sororities, plus individuals,” he said. The corps chose to work with 64 student volunteers organized by Washington State University’s Center for Civic Engagement. Corps officials expressed appreciation for all offers of volunteer help.
 
The corps staff plans to monitor Illia Dunes and the “pack it in, pack it out” policy for individuals to remove their own trash. The other main concerns are keeping glass and open fires off the beach and whether visitors use alcohol responsibly and use the restrooms rather than the beach and the bushes.
 
“Visitors will be helping determine future recreational usage of the area, which is also a wildlife habitat management area,” Henrickson said.
 
Corps officials have discussed the possibility of banning alcohol after an unexpected crowd of more than 3,000 people swarmed the recreation area on Aug. 25 and 26. The corps received no request for a large gathering, Henrickson said.
 
Many broken bottles and beer cans were left in the water, garbage was strewn about the beach and parking lots, and litter was discarded along the roadway, he said.
 
More than 3,000 pounds of trash was removed from the shore, the water and along the road by corps staff and contractors, he said. The WSU volunteers topped off the cleanup by collecting another dumpster load of trash.

Opening day for grouse hunting: mission accomplished

HUNTING — A nice, easy, fulfilling start to the hunting seasons.

Scout and I have three and a half months to go!

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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 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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