ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Outdoors blog

Archive for April 2013

Biologist explains Idaho’s limited spring chinook season

FISHING — Following up with today's setting of limited Idaho spring chinook salmon fishing seasons on the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers, the Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston is offering more details to help anglers understand the situation.

  • Click “continue reading” below to see the full explanation by IFG's Joe DuPont.
  • Washington's Snake River biologist Glen Mendell also posted an update on the run.

“In some areas, I think people will be satisfied with these rules and in others, maybenot so much,” DuPont concluded. “This has certainly been tough on us in Idaho Fish and Game when setting these seasons and rules, as there is still a lot of uncertainty. We also know how important this fishery is to all of you, and it hurts to start the season with such restrictive rules in the Clearwater River drainage.

“For some better news, the Jack run is starting out good. Let’s hope it continues as it could provide us some good fishing opportunities, and it is an indicator of good things to come.”

Read on…

Wash. bio updates spring chinook run in Snake River

FISHING — Moments after Idaho announced a limited spring chinook salmon fishing season that will start on May 4,  Washington Fish and Wildlife Department Snake River fisheries biologist Glen Mendel has just issued this update on spring chinook from his perspective.

As many of you have undoubted seen at the Fish Passage Center website, the Chinook counts at Bonneville Dam spiked at over 5,000 per day, but they quickly dropped within a few days to about 2,500.  What we don’t know right now is whether another spike in fish numbers is coming soon or not.  If not, the run could be very small this year.  As of yesterday, the Chinook run is ahead of last year at this time, but well below the 10 yr average, for Bonneville, Ice Harbor and Lower Granite dams.  The next few days could be very informative about the likely run size.  The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is likely to update the run prediction next week.

The Ice Harbor (IHR) fishery began last Friday and ran through Saturday.  We that fishery to be open again on Friday and Saturday of May 3 & 4.  We had staff sampling the fishery on both days last week.  We heard about one adult Chinook kept and one lost but we could not confirm that.  Our estimates so far are shown below.  The daily ladder window counts should increase substantially by this next Friday.

Month

Date

Day

Ave. number of Shore Anglers

Ave. number of Boat Anglers

Catch Rate (hrs/fish)

4

26

Fri

10.2

3.15

0

4

27

Sat

13.6

14.8

0

The Little Goose and Clarkston area fisheries ran on Sunday and Monday.   There was almost no fishing effort, and there was no catch, at Clarkston because few Chinook have reached there yet (only about 20-30 per day at Lower Granite Dam).   Little Goose had modest angling effort both days, and it was windy on Monday.  So far we have observed that they kept 4 Chinook at Little Goose during our sampling surveys.  We are still entering data and doing estimates but total harvest here might be 5 or 6 fish.  The counts at Little Goose will probably be over 100 Chinook today and continue to climb so fishing should get better soon.

Climbers abandon Everest after attack by Sherpas

MOUNTAINEERING — An American female climber who's climbed Mount Everest four times is getting a big share of the credit for saving three British climbers confronted on Everest by an angry mob.

British climber-photographer Jon Griffith told The Guardian he had to flee with two companions fearing the “mob” would stone them to death as “years of frustration” boiled over in what he calls a misunderstanding over use of routes prepared by the Sherpa guides.

Speaking from Lukla, the town that acts as gateway to the Everest region, Jon Griffith told the Guardian of the moment when a group of up to 100 Sherpas confronted them about an argument higher up the mountain. “It was obvious there would be no talking or negotiation,” he said. “They crested the ridge of moraine above our tent. They had pulled their scarves over their faces and instantly bent down to pick up rocks.”

Griffith said that without the bravery of half a dozen other climbers at Camp 2, he and his two partners – the Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck and the Italian Simone Moro – would have been killed in the incident on Saturday. He praised the American climber Melissa Arnot, the only woman to have climbed Everest four times, who warned them an attack was imminent.

He said: “Melissa was a real heroine. She saved Ueli's life. Without her, he'd be dead. She explained to us in our tent that there was a big mob out looking for us. She said something terrible must have happened. We explained that words had been exchanged but that was it. She stepped out of the tent for a moment and then shouted: 'They're coming, get out of here.'”

Steck, the renowned Swiss climber who's set records for climbing the Eiger and other peaks, said his “trust is broken” and he'll “never return to Everest,” in this interview with SwissInfo.com.

Outside magazine's site makes the point that early reports about incidents on Mount Everest “are often murky or incorrect when first filed.”  However, Steck's interview is riveting.

The Nepali Times calls it “the highest brawl in world history,” as well as evidence of a culture clash.

The AFP says a meeting between some of the climbers and the Nepalese guides may have cleared the air Monday.

ABC News is airing this TV report and interview with Arnot tonight.

National Public Radio is airing this interview with Griffith today.

Birder spots rare Baikal teal near Missoula

BIRDING — “As soon as I looked at it closer, I knew right away it was a Baikal teal,” said Western Montana birder Radd Icenoggle. “There have only been 11 or 12 of them spotted in the continental U.S. south of Alaska.”

He immediately going online Sunday night with his photo and observations of the rare sighting — in an irrigation ditch.

Like the storm that blew in last weekend, he created a flurry of activity among birders who wanted to bag a life-list bird they'd otherwise have to travel to another continent to see.

The male Baikal teal is unmistakable, with its striking green nape and its long-dropping dark scapular feathers. It breeds in eastern Russia and winters in eastern Asia.

Read on for the story from the Missoulian.

Idaho chinook salmon fishing opens May 4

FISHING — Idaho will open a spring Chinook salmon fishing season on Saturday, May 4, on parts of the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers, according to rules adopted today by the state Fish and Game Commission.

Fish counts from Bonneville Dam suggest that the 2013 return of Chinook salmon to Idaho may be significantly lower than forecast but large enough to support fisheries. Projected returns for the Clearwater River are farther below forecast levels than returns to the Salmon and Snake rivers.

Fish and Game tailored the 2013 fisheries proposals to meet hatchery broodstock needs, focus fishing efforts in areas where hatchery fish are most abundant, and still allow fishing in river reaches that anglers have grown accustomed to fishing in recent years.

The proposal for the Clearwater River approved by the commission achieves these goals by limiting fishing to four days per week and reducing the length of river open to fishing in each of the recently fished sections.

Only the Lochsa River is closed entirely to fishing.

Salmon returns to the Salmon and Snake rivers do not appear to be as far below forecast levels as those to the Clearwater. Fisheries in the Lower Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers are similar to fisheries in recent years. These areas will be open seven days a week, and river sections recently fished will not be shortened – except the Shorts Bar to Vinegar Creek stretch of the lower Salmon River, which is closed.

Read on for details on Idaho areas open and closed to fishing.

Interior Secretary Jewell leads reporter to fresh air for interview

PUBLIC LANDS — Sally Jewell puts her best foot forward….

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell hits the trail in her new role

New York Times Reporter John M. Broder recently joined recently confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on a hike in order to talk about her new role of managing public lands.

Interior serves as steward for approximately 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands; oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states; and upholds trust responsibilities to the 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.

Jewell is no stranger to the mountains, as you can see in the 2010 photo (above) taken as she was climbing Mount Rainier.

Bounty of balsamroot along South Hill bluff trails

HIKING — I case you haven't walked over High Drive to hike the trails along the South Hill bluff, massive swaths of arrowleaf balsamroot have been in full bloom for several days.  Check it out.

Idaho elk plan meeting Thursday in CdA

HUNTING — Idaho Fish and Game is beginning it's process to revise elk management plans with an open house at the Panhandle Region headquarters office from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Thursday (May 2) in Coeur d'Alene.

Not to be confused with annual hunting regulations, species management plans provide direction for management of a particular species for the next 10 years or more.

Read on for more details from IFG officials.

Grouse puts wildlife police officer in pecking order

WILDLIFE — Washington Fish and Wildlife police officers are accustomed to dealing with testosterone-charged males strutting their stuff.

But officer Curt Wood stood up to a bird-brained attacker to get these photos.  Here are the details from an edited version of the agency's Enforcement Division's weekly report:

While patrolling Lincoln County for turkey hunters, Officer Wood encountered a male dusky grouse that was strutting head on a primitive road.  Officer Wood pulled his patrol vehicle up to the grouse and stopped.  

Within seconds, the grouse jumped up onto the front of the officer's pickup and started strutting on the hood.  Officer Wood was able to get one picture with his cell phone camera before the grouse jumped back onto the ground in front of the truck.  

Wood got out of his vehicle and eased to within a foot or so of the grouse.  While the officer was snapping more photos, the grouse suddenly attacked Wood’s hand, sending his camera flying several feet.  

Wood was able to get a few more pictures (and a few more pecks to the hand) before he returned to his vehicle and tried to get out of there with his ego intact.  While driving away, he observed the grouse chasing his vehicle for quite a distance down the road. 

At last report, no charges have been filed.

Requiem for 10-target shotgun shooting record-setter Tom Knapp

SHOOTING — Tom Knapp, 62, a modern shotgun virtuoso who revived exhibition shooting in the 1980s, died on April 26 in Minnesota.

Knapp, who performed in Spokane several times sponsored by Benelli, was especially notable for being the first to throw 10 clay targets in the air and blast them all before they could hit the ground.

  • See the video above of Knapp's world-record-setting shoot with slow-mo verification.

A modern-day shooter who displayed more than a hint of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West showmanship, he also was an easy-going spokesman for the shooting sports who could let his shotgun do the talking, whether holding it upside down or above his head.

He started exhibition shooting in 1987.

In 2010, he retired after 20 years of shooting with Benelli, but he picked up again with CZ-USA.

A tip of the hat to one of the good guys.

Bassmaster ranks Lake CdA 11th among nation’s top bass fishing lakes

FISHING — Lake Coeur d'Alene is ranked the best Northwest bass fishing lake and No. 11 in the nation in the new Bassmasters magazine rankings of the top 100 bass fisheries in the United States.

  • The Columbia River was ranked No. 21 in the country.
  • Dworshak Reservoir ranked No. 26.
  • Lake Sammamish ranked No. 51.
  • Fort Peck, Mont. ranked No. 75.

No. 1 in Bassmasters 2013 rankings is Lake St. Clair, Michigan

Sign up for Ice Age Floods scablands field trip

GEOLOGY — “Anatomy of Cheney-Palouse Scabland Tract,” a free lecture by geologist Gene Kiver, will be presented by the Ice Age Floods Institute, 7 p.m., on May 3 at the JFK Library Auditorium, Eastern Washington University, Cheney campus.

Sign-up for the May 4 Ice Age Floods annual field trip, which involves a bus tour from Lake Steptoe Ridge to the headwaters of Rock Creek. Cost: $55-$70.

Info: Melanie Bell, (509) 954-4242.

Video: Fishing with kids is a hoot!

FISHING — It's no fish story that Spokane angler Tanner Grant, his fishing buddy Branden Carter and their boys had a great time Saturday for the fishing season opener at West Medical Lake.

They have this short broadcast-quality video to prove it.  

Grant shot the footage in and out of the water with his Go-Pro camera and edited the clips to perfection. Add the  perfect song and it's a first-class documentary on why many of us feel sorry for parents who've never taken their kids fishing. 

P.S.  Notice the boys eating in the background as they watch before applying the skills they've learned from observation and a peanut-butter high. A cooler with appropriate food is an essential item for successful kid fishing trips.

Also see:

Eastern Washington's top trout lakes surveyed

Photo essay: Boy's first fish — hooked on the moment

Eastern Washington’s top trout lakes surveyed

FISHING — Despite strong winds that picked up by late morning, Saturday's opener of Washington's lowland trout fishing season produced some excellent fishing throughout much of Eastern Washington.

Click on the documents below to see the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's opening day survey results and comments of local biologists on the top lakes from Grant County east to Pend Oreille county.

Also see:

Video: Fishing with kids is a hoot!

Photo essay: Boy's first fish — hooked on the moment


Documents:

A boy’s first fish: hooked on the moment

Get Adobe Flash player

FISHING — I feel sorry for parents who don't take their kids fishing. They don't know what they're missing.

See a few hints about what they're missing in my Sunday story about Saturday's opening day of Washington's lowland trout season

Please enjoy this short photo sequence of Quinn Connacher, 6, of Spokane, as he works at Williams Lake to catch his first fish.

Once the trout was netted, the boy got a huge high five before he pranced and danced in celebration on the Bunker's Resort dock.

To heck with the five-fish limit.  As soon as his stepfather gathered their minimal gear, the boy made a beeline  up to the campground to show off his prize. 

The rainbow may have grown a little larger by the time he finished telling the story.  

Also see:

Eastern Washington's top trout lakes surveyed

Photo essay: Boy's first fish — hooked on the moment

First fish caught at 12:02 a.m. at Fishtrap

FISHING — Eleven-year-old Cameron Earnshaw of Kennewick caught the first fish of the season off the docks at Fishtrap Lake Resort on Saturday — two minutes after the season opened at midnight.

Much more fun followed for the large family groups gathered for the annual tradition of fishing on opening day of Washington's lowland lake trout season. 

Update: Wash. OKs limited public lethal control of wolves

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted unanimously to allow people without a special permit to shoot a wolf caught in the act of attacking a pet or livestock.

The emergency rule was enacted in an urgently called teleconference meeting that started at 1 p.m.

See story just posted by S-R Olympia Bureau reporter Jim Camden, who sat in on the teleconference.

Click “continue reading” below for all the details from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Also:

See the fact sheet the commissioners were briefed with (click on “Summary and attachment” under Agenda).

See my posts leading up to the meeting and link to today's news story from S-R Olympia Bureau reporter Jim Camden advancing the meeting.

See another story that broke today: Feds ready to delist wolves from ESA protections.

Panel OKs rule allowing livestock-attacking wolves to be shot

UPDATED 3:45 p.m. 4-26-13 with details from WDFW

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted unanimously to allow people without a special permit to shoot a wolf caught in the act of attacking a pet or livestock.

The emergency rule was enacted in an urgently called teleconference meeting that started at 1 p.m.

See story just posted by S-R Olympia Bureau reporter Jim Camden, who sat in on the teleconference.

Click “continue reading” below for all the details from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Also:

See the fact sheet the commissioners were briefed with (click on “Summary and attachment” under Agenda).

See my posts leading up to the meeting and link to today's news story from S-R Olympia Bureau reporter Jim Camden advancing the meeting.

See another story that broke today: Feds ready to delist wolves from ESA protections.
  

Delisting wolves will shift cost from feds to states

ENDANGERED SPECIES — As reports surfaced today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the gray wolf from endangered species protections, the costs of the recovery are being totaled:

Between 1991 and 2011, the federal government spent $102 million on gray wolf recovery programs and state agencies chipped in $15.6 million. Federal spending likely would drop if the proposal to lift protections goes through, while state spending would increase. 

And the management job's not done. Scanning the news I see that in the past week:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services verified that two wolves killed five ewes and eight lambs on a ranch in Montana near Gardiner, and the rancher has been given a shoot-on-sight permit to remove the wolves should they return.
  • A wolf was observed killing a deer at the edge of a Wenatchee neighborhood.
  • A wolf was killed by a motor vehicle on Highway 97 (old Blewett Pass route) in southern Chelan County.
  • A dead calf near Twisp is being investigated Wednesday as a possible wolf kill.

Read on for the latest update on the delisting story by The Associated Press.

Woman injured in ATV crash sues Forest Service

PUBLIC LANDS — Here's a possible precedent setter that could be costly in the long run…

An eastern Idaho woman is suing the federal government for an injury she sustained in 2011 when her all-terrain vehicle rolled down a hill located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Accoding to the Associated Press, Karleen Linford, of Inkom, filed a complaint Thursday seeking almost $800,000 in damages for serious injuries related to her ATV crash on federal land.
 
Linford says she drove her ATV up a fence crossing ramp on the Inman Canyon Trail, and then fell four feet as the ATV rolled off the hillside and landed on top of her.
 
She alleges the U.S. Forest Service was negligent in its construction and care of the fence crossing, and hopes to secure compensation for her own injuries.
 
She's also asking for about $1,300 to pay for damage to her ATV.

Lake Roosevelt water levels continue to plunge

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt is at an elevation of about 1261.20 feet today, and it's continuing a steady downward trend — dropping about a foot a day now — to make room for spring runoff. 

The drawdown is not nearly as severe as last year, as the chart shows.

Grand Coulee Dam is being operated to reach the flood control elevation of 1255.5 - 1258.5 feet for later part of next week, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The level is likely to stay in that range until the spring runoff kicks in, which is forecast to be around the second week in May.

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.

Snake spring chinook season opens today, but still pending in Idaho

FISHING — As Washington is opening limited spring chinook salmon fishing seasons on specified stretches of the Snake River this weekend (see details here), Idaho has set April 30 as the day fish managers will meet to decide on seasons.

Here's today's update from Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston:

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Commission will be meeting on April 30 to set our spring Chinook salmon seasons. 

Since Monday, the number of Chinook salmon passing over Bonneville Dam has certainly picked up and not surprisingly so have the number of PIT-tagged fish destined for Idaho.   

If you look at the table above, notice that the total number of Chinook salmon that we project to pass over Bonneville Dam in almost all cases is higher than what I showed you on Monday.  There is still a big gap between what we project the harvest share will be with an average versus late run timing, so we aren’t out of the woods yet.  However, it is looking more promising.

Feds ready to delist wolves from ESA protections

ENDANGERED SPECIES - The Los Angeles Times reports today that the feds are getting ready to announce their proposal to remove gray wolves from Endangered species protections.

Mike Jimenez, who manages wolves in the northern Rockies for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said delisting in that region underscored a “huge success story.”

The sweeping rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would eliminate protection for wolves 18 years after the government reestablished the predators in the West, where they had been hunted to extinction. Their reintroduction was a success, with the population growing to the thousands.

Pro wolf groups already are arguing that the move would cut short wolf recovery before the species has advanced anywhere near its former range, including Colorado and Utah.

But it's clear that state and federal wildlife manager are saying wolves have reestablished better than scientists had predicted and the headaches and social impact make delisting a prudent step in the wolf's best interest.

  • Washington wildlife managers wild decide today whether to enact an emergency rule giving landowners authority without a special permit to shoot a wolf that's attacking their pets or livestock. See details here.
  • S-R Olympia Bureau reporter Jim Camden has a wolf report from the Legislature.

The presence of wolves has always drawn protests across the Intermountain West from state officials, hunters and ranchers who lost livestock to the wolves. They have lobbied to remove the gray wolf from the endangered list.

Jimenez said that while wolves are now legally hunted in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the federal agency continues to monitor pack populations and can reinstate protections should numbers reach levels that biologists consider to be dangerously low.

Federal authorities intend to remove endangered species protections for all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states, carving out an a exception for a small pocket of about 75 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, according to a draft document obtained by The Times.

Once those protections end, the fate of wolves is left to individual states. The species is only beginning to recover in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. California is considering imposing its own protections after the discovery of a lone male that wandered into the state's northern counties from Oregon two years ago.

The species has flourished elsewhere, however, and the government ended endangered status for the gray wolf in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes regions last year.

 

It’s official: survey confirms Dworshak kokanee bonanza

FISHING — Fisheries biologists made an educated guess earlier this month that kokanee fishing at Dworshak Reservoir and other regional waters would be in top form this season. See story.

Now Idaho Fish and Game Department biologists have finished trawling surveys that confirm their optimism.

Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager in Lewiston explains:   

IFG completed its spring trawl survey on April 10.  The 2-year old kokanee (the ones we mostly catch) ranged from about 9 to 11 inches in length and were fat and healthy looking.  These fish were as big as we’ve ever caught this time of year, and were about a half inch longer than what we caught last year at this time. 

For this survey, we sampled from the Dam to Evans Creek (halfway between Dent Bridge and Grandad Bridge).  Interestingly, the lowest catches were near the Dam, and catches tended to increase as we moved up reservoir, especially upstream of Magnus Bay.  So, if you are having troubles catching kokanee this spring, you may want to try farther up reservoir then you typically do.  

Based on trawl counts, it appears that kokanee abundance will be on the low side again this year, so it should shape up to be another year of fewer, but bigger fish.

If you’re a bass fisherman, it’s almost time to start looking for smallmouth bass on the lower end of the reservoir.  Smallmouth bass tend to get active when water temperatures reach 50°F.  During our trawl, the surface temperatures on the lower end ranged from 48 to just below 50°F and a thermocline has already developed in some areas.  So get ready, bass should be getting hungry any time now. 

Preventing spread of invasive species: Take it personally

ENVIRONMENT — Anglers wading in rock snot or hikers walking through fields of spotted knapweed should be easy converts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new campaign to raising awareness of invasive species.

Native plant and wildlife species suffer the most from invasions of exotics.

If everyone chips in, the costly battle against a long list of invasives could be more effective.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has summarized the campaign in “Seven Simple Steps” to leave invasive pests – non-native insects, other animals, plants and diseases that feed on America’s crops, trees and plants – behind.

The national “watch list” has been expanded to include 15 of the most damaging “Hungry Pests” that can cause havoc with our native flora and fauna.

Snake River spring chinook season openers Friday, Sunday

FISHING — A section of the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon on Friday (April 26), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just announced.

Two other sections of the Snake near Little Goose Dam and Clarkston will open Sunday (April 28).

Each section of the river is scheduled to be open two days a week.

  • The section below Ice Harbor Dam will be open Friday and Saturday each week.
  • The sections near Little Goose Dam and Clarkston are scheduled to be open Sunday and Monday each week.

All three sections are open until further notice, but the fishery is not expected to remain open for more than a few weeks, said Glen Mendel, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Mendel encourages anglers to review the fishing rule change, posted on WDFW’s website.

Read on for more details from WDFW.

Lawmakers pass non-lethal wolf control bill; commission to consider lethal control option

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Lawmakers in Olympia apparently have worked out a compromise for dealing with two wolf-related bills still alive in the 2013 Washington Legislature.

Both of the measures have wide support in Northeastern Washington as well as the endorsement of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie biologists, but their linkage has been stalled by some groups in on the West Side.

According to reports from legislators:

Senate Bill 5193, authorizing a state wolf vehicle license plate to collect money earmarked for non-lethal wolf management programs has been maneuvered out of committee and is expected to be adopted Friday.

Senate Bill 5187, which would allow people to kill a wolf without a permit in the case of a wolf attack on pets or livestock, will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission with a recommendaton to be enacted immediately by an emergency rule.  

As reported in my blog this morning, the special commission teleconference is set for Friday at 1 p.m., but the discussion has narrrowed to just the provisions of SB5187 now that the Legislature has taken action on the non-lethal control measure. 

  • People keenly interested can listen to the meeting live via telecommunications at WDFW regional offices in Spokane, Ephrata and Yakima.

If this works, it's win-win for legislators and wildlife managers. West Side Dems can vote on the non-lethal control option which is not controversial without having to vote on a lethal control measure that would stir up pro-wolf groups like a pack in a sheep pen.

The non-elected Fish and Wildlife Commission is being asked to make the more controversial decision, which many people see as important to qwelling the anger and frustration with burgeoning wolf packs in northeastern Washington.

Wolf issue meeting won’t be open live to public

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commisison's urgently scheduled meeting to discuss a proposal to give people authority to kill wolves that attack pets or livestock will not be broadcast live online as previously reported.

  • People keenly interested can listen to the meeting live via telecommunications at WDFW regional offices in Spokane, Ephrata and Yakima. The commission's teleconference meeting is set to start Friday at 1 p.m.

Otherwise the public will be able to go online to listen to a recording of the special meeting on wolf measures shortly after adjournment.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commisison office originally said the meeting would be open in a live online audio stream. The staff said the recording would be posted ASAP after the meeting on the commission website.

Helena has attractions for mountain bikers

CYCLING — Montana's capital city is cashing in on it's surrounding wildness to create attractions for mountain bikers.

The Helena National Forest and South Hills Trail System reaches into Helena with a trailhead in the city limits.

The South Hills Trail System is an extensive mountain biking trail system known for its single track and long descents. Specialty bike shops provide advice on trails, equipment and rentals to ensure riders get the most out of the area.

Soon biking enthusiasts will have another reason to love Helena, the Vigilante Bike Park, which is being built near the town's center to offer terrain features in a safe riding environment. Construction of the park begins this summer on two acres of reclaimed land and will integrate pieces of old Helena buildings from the Urban Renewal Project. Park features for pros and beginners will include pump tracks, dirt jumps for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders as well as a skills trail and dual slalom course.

Meantime, Helena has more than 500 miles of world class mountain biking trails in its area.

These trail systems have groomed the way for several events on the spring-fall cycling schedule:

                                  

Photo: a pleasant pheasant morning in Montana

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Mating season is in full bloom around the region, and rooster pheasants are dressed to kill.

Check out the colors this cock displayed Wednesday for the lens of by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Wash. panel asked to give rural residents right to kill threatening wolves

UPDATED 4/25/13 at 10:50 a.m. regarding recording of upcoming meeting.

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A request to allow landowners to protect people, pets and livestock by killing an attacking wolf without a permit will be considered Friday in a urgently scheduled special meeting of the Washington Fish and Wildlife commision.

Ten state lawmakers — from both parties and both chambers — signed a letter Tuesday (click on document below) requesting the commission to enact provisions of two wolf-control bills that are stalling in the 2013 Washington Legislature.

The bills, which have been endorsed by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists, would people to shoot wolves caught in the act of attacking their animals. They also address funding for non-lethal deterrents to wolf depredation.

The measures would apply to the eastern third of Washington where the federal government has delisted gray wolves from federal endangered species protections, but where state protections still apply.

State wildlife managers have testified at legislative committee hearings that the measures would likely result in few wolves killed.

They said the measures would improve social tolerance for the rapidly growing wolf population in northeastern Washington by giving rural dwellers a tool to protect their property if needed.

Idaho and Wyoming enacted similar provisions in the early years of wolf reintroduction and only three wolves were taken, WDFW biologists testified.

However, pressure by animal rights activists in Western Washington apparently have kept lawmakers from moving the measures to final consideration (although the bills are not dead). They apparently were unmoved, even by the testimony of man whose dog was attacked by a wolf on the porch of his house.

Public can listen to recording of wolf issue meeting

The public can listen to a recording of the special meeting on wolf measures shortly after it adjourns. The meeting is set to start Friday at 1 p.m.

  • People keenly interested can listen to the meeting live via telecommunications at WDFW regional offices in Spokane, Ephrata and Yakima

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commisison office originally said the meeting would be open in a live online audio stream.  But the office announced later that a recording would be posted ASAP after the meeting on the commission website.


Documents:

Gov. Inslee begins shake up of Fish-Wildlife Commission

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Gov. Jay Inslee is taking advantage of his authority to appoint members of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

As rumored last week, commissioner Gary Douvia of Kettle Falls has been removed from his position and his slot is vacant. His term expired Dec. 31.  See current list of commissioners.  

Often Fish and Wildlife commissioners continue their roles even when governors change.

Even commissioners whose terms have expired usually are allowed to continue on the panel until a replacement is named, if that ever happens.

But in Douvia's case, the ax has fallen with no explanation and the governor's staff is activey interviewing candidates for the postition.

One candidate is retired Spokane firefighter George Orr, a Democrat, former state legislator and former Fish and Wildlife Commissioner.   His interview is this morning.

I've also learned that commissioner Chuck Perry of Moses Lake has been given his walking papers, but is being allowed to continue on the commission until he's replaced.

It's rumored that commission chair Miranda Wecker's expired position is in question.

More details on the shifting of commission positions are offered here in a post by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

Northern pike on bite at Long Lake

FISHING — Anglers have been hooking up with big bass at Long Lake this week, but the biggest fish Peter Roundy landed was a plump northern pike (above).  

On his Facebook page, Roundy said he caught the pike pictured ”across from Willow Bay near the islands… big pike spawn goin on…. They're takin' over…. I caught six on Tuesday; two on Monday.

NY Times explores source of behemoth cutthroats

FISHING — After my post on a Spokane Fly Fishers outing to catch large Lahontan cutthroat trout at Omak Lake, I received an email from an angler who was surprised.

“When I lived in Omak in 1965-67, we waterskied there and as I remember the lake was very alkaline and nobody fished it,” he said. “Is it possible that the lake I remember is another lake?”

“No, it's the same lake,” I responded. “But you hit exactly on the reason it is stocked with Lahontan cutthroat trout, a species originating from the southwest and specially adapted to thriving in alkaline waters.  The Lahontan species also is stocked in Lake Lenore and Grimes Lake.”

By coincidence, The New York Times has just published a story recounting the successful effort to revive and preserve the Lahontan cutthroat's genetics originating from Pyramid Lake, Nev.

Note:  Check out the NYT photo of the anglers wading out with ladders to get out to deeper water while gaining a higher profile for longer casting.

What do you expect from a sage-land species?

USGS study finds sage grouse like undisturbed areas, quiet 

A new study led by U.S. Geological Survey biologist Steve Knick has confirmed that sage grouse need undisturbed habitat and solitude for successful reproduction.

Researchers found 99 percent of the active 3,000 leks studied in 355,000 square miles of historic sage grouse range in the West found were in areas where no more than 3 percent of the land had been disturbed by human activity. —Idaho Statesman

Barbless hook rule set to expand on Columbia

FISHING —  Starting May 1, anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River and most of its tributaries downstream from Chief Joseph Dam will be required to use barbless hooks.

This is just one of several new fishing rules adopted for 2013 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The new barbless regulations expand a similar rule in effect on the stretch of the Columbia River that constitutes the border between Washington and Oregon.

The new rules extend the ban on barbed hooks another 250 miles upriver on the Columbia River and to dozens of its tributaries, including the Cowlitz, White Salmon, Klickitat, Snake, Yakima and Okanogan rivers. 

Anglers fishing those waters will still be allowed to use single, double-point or treble hooks, so long as the barbs have been filed off or pinched down.

Jim Scott, assistant director of the WDFW Fish Program, said the new rule will contribute to ongoing efforts to minimize impacts on wild stocks while maintaining opportunities for anglers to harvest abundant hatchery fish.

“Anyone who’s ever fished with barbless hooks knows they are easier to remove from a fish’s mouth than a barbed hook,” Scott said. “That’s important in fisheries where anglers are required to release wild fish unharmed.”

Fishing regulations requiring the release of wild salmon and steelhead are common in the Columbia River Basin and other Washington waters, especially in areas wild salmon and steelhead are protected by state and federal laws. In those cases, only hatchery fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.

“Anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound and ocean waters have been required to use barbless hooks for years,” Scott said. “The new rule on the Columbia River is consistent with our state’s longstanding commitment to sustainable fisheries.”

Waters where the new rules apply are marked in WDFW’s 2013-14 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, now posted online.

The paper version of the pamphlet will be distributed to recreational license dealers around the state by early May.

Idaho moose, bighorn, goat apps due April 30

HUNTING — The deadline for Idaho moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat controlled hunt applications is April 30, according to the state Fish and Game Department.

Moose population changes, primarily in the Clearwater and Panhandle regions, have prompted the state to offer 46 fewer bull tags but 11 more antlerless tags.

Bighorn sheep changes are in the Salmon Region, where Hunt Area 27-4 was split into two separate hunt areas; the portion of hunt area 27-4 within unit 27 will be Hunt Area 27-5 with two tags, and the portion of 27-4 that falls in the Yankee Fork Drainage in unit 36 will be Hunt Area 36 with one tag.

Mountain goat hunting involves only on change in the Upper Snake Region where hunt area 51 is closed, eliminating three tags.

For moose, goat and sheep hunt applications only, the entire application fee must be paid with the application. All but the $6.25 application fee ($14.75 for nonresidents), will be refunded to those who do not draw. The resident application, including permit fee, costs $173; nonresidents pay $2,116.50. Unsuccessful resident applicants will receive a refund of $166.75; unsuccessful nonresident applicants will receive a refund of $2,101.75.

Read on for other details.

Synthetic wildlife biology offers hope, poses questions

WILDLIFE — Could genetic manipulation allow species to adapt to climate change or control an invasive species?

Could we bring back the passenger pigeon and other extinct speces?  Would we want to?

This is just a sense of the future of wildlife management through the door opened by genetic engineering. Scientists took a step through that door recently at Cambridge University to examine the question: “How will Synthetic Biology and Conservation Shape the Future of Nature?

 

Will synthetic biology help or hinder conservation efforts? This question was debated at the symposium organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society, but the answers won't come quickly.
 
More questions:
  • Could scientists change the biology of an organism to be more productive or enable it to grow in new environments?
  • Could we manufacture wildlife products like ivory in a lab?
  • Could the unintentional release of a synthetic organism destroy all the fauna in an ecosystem? 
“This new science might ultimately be another one of the tools that we could use to save our threatened natural world – which some surmise is approaching its sixth episode of extinction,” Revkin said. “Could we pool our intelligence with this new group of colleagues to finally turn back the clock on the demise of Earth’s great diversity of life?”

Revkin concludes with three thought-stimulating articles:

Snake River biologist updates spring chinook run

FISHING — After Idaho backed off making spring chinook salmon season predictions for lack of run information this week, Washington's Snake River fisheries biologist added his take today.

Glen Mendel of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife notes the spring chinook returns so far at Bonneville Dam and even at Snake River dams are above last year but well below the 10 year average.

Read on for his detailed update and predictions:

Wolves call end to bull elk’s long tenure in Yellowstone Park

WILDLIFE — An internationally famous Yellowstone National Park bull elk has died, likely killed by the Canyon wolf pack, which was seen Saturday feeding on his carcass, according to today's report by Brett French of the Billings Gazette.

Elk No. 10, the last to wear a yellow ear tag with the number 10 on it, was found dead about a half mile east of the Wraith Falls trailhead in the park on Saturday, according to Al Nash, the park's chief of public affairs.  The elk was 16-18 years old.

Elk No. 10 became internationally famous after the British Broadcasting Corp. made a film on elk that featured the Mammoth animals as well as those in Estes Park, Colo. Clips from the films “Street Fighters” and “Showdown in Elk Town” can still be found on YouTube.

The large bull elk attracted attention in Gardiner in 2001 when he got his antlers tangled in a badminton net and poles at the Mammoth school. The only way to remove the net was to tranquilize the elk and saw off its antlers. That's when the elk was given its yellow ear tag to ensure that any hunters who saw it that fall would know the elk's meat was unsafe to eat because of the tranquilizer.

“I remember in 2006 when Elk 10 arrived on the Mammoth scene on Sept. 10,” wrote Jim Halfpenny, a Gardner-based naturalist who gives tours in the park, in an email. “He was now big and took the harem over from another bull. In the coming years, he and Elk 6 did battle on more than one occasion. In more recent years he did not come into Mammoth, but maintained a harem of his own between the YCC camp and Mammoth Terraces. Being slightly old, wiser, and lacking the body weight of his youth, it was now time to retreat to a more private place with a smaller harem. He let the younger bulls compete for the prime grazing habitat of Mammoth and the cows that are attracted there.”

Join the group to pick up Palisades Park

PUBLIC LANDS — Volunteers are invited to join Spokane's annual Palisades Park Cleanup Day set for 9 a.m.-noon, Saturday (April 27).

Palisades Park is 700-acre natural area behind the gate that blocks vehicle traffic from the old Rimrock Drive and the fabulous view over Spokane Falls Community College and the rest of Spokane.

Come wearing gloves and toting bags and tools for picking up litter and maintaining trails.

A new long-range project will kick off to recontour and revegitate the old sandpit area in heart of the park.

Carpool and meet at the intersection of Greenwood Road and Rimrock Drive to sign up.as we need a record of volunteers and to assist in letting volunteers know where help is needed,

Palisades map

The Pocket Guide to the Conservancy and Wildlife trails of Palisades Park is available for $3. Make check payable to Palisades. Send cash/check to: Palisades, W. 4625 Bonnie Dr, Spokane, WA 99224

Schweitzer’s 2013-14 passes valid at six other ski resorts

WINTER SPORTS — Schweitzer Mountain Resort has a new far-reaching perk among the deals and discounts ski resorts are offering this time of year to promote advance season pass sales.

If you're a skier/boarder with a yen to travel for your turns, Schweitzer's new association with the Power Alliance is appealing.

The new agreement offers Schweitzer passholders free skiing at six Western resorts. Schweitzer's unlimited and Sunday - Friday passholders alike can take advantage of the Powder Alliance deals at:

Video: Jet boat crashes at Time Zone Rapid on Salmon River

WHITEWATER  — There was a major league close call last weekend at the 29th Annual Salmon RIVER Jet Boat Races near Riggins, Idaho.

Check it out and see how long you can hold your breath.

Teen a young model of hunting consistency

HUNTING — Elizabeth Odell is a model of hunting consistency.

The young Spokane hunter bagged her first turkey (see photo at left) and deer in the spring and fall seasons when she was 9 years old.

Liz, now 15, was out last weekend to keep the string going with a nice gobbler (top photo).

Odell is from Spokane and hunts with her father, Jim, and proud grandpa, Dick, who submitted the photos.

 

Wilderness films make case for Scotchmans

p>

PUBLIC LANDS — Two short documentaries about the grassroots effort to secure wilderness status for the Scotchman Peaks northeast of Lake Pend Oreille will be presented Thursday (April 25) at Gonzaga University.

The films and a presentation by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness will begin at 7 p.m. at the Jepson Center’s Wolff Auditorium.

“The Fight for Wilderness in Our Backyard” is one in a series of presentations for the Earth Week activities sponsored by GU students.

The local effort to designate a Scotchman Peaks Wilderness northeast of Lake Pend Oreille has been a classy act from the beginning — starting with the founding of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness in 2005.

The effort is revealed in all its home-grown glory in the documentary, Grass Routes: Changing the Conversation.

A second film, “En Plein Air” chronicles the experiences of artists during a five-day trek through the Scotchma Peaks as they capture the natural beauty of the area through their artistic styles.

The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is a volunteer-driven group of more than 3,900 supporters from North Idaho and Western Montana working to protect the 88,000-acre Scotchman Peaks roadless area through wilderness designation. The area straddles the borders of Idaho and Montana as well as the boundaries between the Idaho Panhandle and Kootenai national forests.

Idaho postpones spring chinook season setting

SALMON FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has canceled its meeting set for today to set spring chinook salmon seasons because too few fish have made it over Bonneville Dam to predict the run into Idaho.

Here's the explanation, just received from Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission was scheduled to meet today to set the spring Chinook Salmon season and limits.  Due to the low number of PIT-tagged fish that have passed over Bonneville Dam (as of April 21, 2013), we felt it was too early to project how many salmon would eventually make it to Idaho.  As a result, this commission meeting was cancelled, and we will likely announce later this week when the commission will reconvene to set the salmon season and limits. 

I have provided the table (above) so you all can view the data we are working with that the will be used to estimate the number of fish that are destined for Idaho and eventually be used to set the Chinook salmon season and limits.  I want you to focus on the last two columns of this table which summarizes how many fish would be available for harvest based on whether the run has an average timing or late timing. 

For a Idaho spring Chinook run that has an average timing, about 30% of the run should have passed over Bonneville Dam by now.  If this run has an average timing, you can see that it will be very weak and we won’t even have enough fish coming to Idaho to meet brood needs.  For an Idaho spring Chinook run that has a late timing, less than 15% of the run should have passed over Bonneville Dam by now which means there will be a lot more to come.  If the run is late, we are projecting there would be enough to have a fishery across the Clearwater Region.  So, as you can see, it didn’t make much sense for the Commission to meet when there is so much uncertainty with how many fish will actually make it to Idaho. 

Let’s all hope that the run is late and there will be enough coming to Idaho to have a fishery. 

Stay tuned for more info to come next week. 

An Idaho Fish and Game Commission teleconference to set 2013 salmon fishing seasons has been rescheduled for April 30.

Go paperless and Credit Union will plant a tree

CONSERVATION — A local credit union is linking a promotion to the roots of conservation.

Starting today — Earth Day — Spokane Teachers Credit Union members who switch to paper-saving electronic account statements will be helping plant trees and educating studens about conservation.

For every member who makes the switch from paper statements to e-statements between April 22 and June 30, STCU will donate the money to plant one treealong Deep Creek, Coulee Creek and Hangman Creek (also called Latah Creek). Work will be done in North Idaho, as well, although exact locations have not been selected.

The work is being organized by The Lands Council, which plans on planting 5,000 trees through its Project SUSTAIN.

Up to 400 Inland Northwest high school students will help plant the trees, said Amanda Swan, Lands Council director of development and communications. Students from Mead Alternative School, The Community School, On Track Academy, Lewis and Clark High School, Coeur d’Alene High School and Post Falls High School and St. Maries High School will participate.

“The benefits are in reducing erosion in the watershed,” Swan said. “Tree planting helps stabilize stream banks, reducing sediments and toxics from entering our watersheds and eventually the Spokane River. There’s a public health benefit that goes beyond doing something great for the environment and planting trees.”

Colorado avalanche deaths stun Colorado backcountry snow goers

Saturday's avalanche was deadliest in Colorado in more than 50 years

On Saturday, five men participating in the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash on Colorado's Loveland Pass were killed by an avalanche, the deadliest in the state since 1962. 

The Backcountry Bash was a fundraiser for the area avalanche center. —Denver Post

Start hiking season Tuesday with WTA’s Toast to Trails

OUTGOING – Meet Washington Trails Association members for updates on on the region’s trails and trail projects Tuesday (April 23), 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at Northern Lights Brewhouse, 1003 E. Trent Ave.

RSVP here.

Lake PO Club preps for Spring Derby, Gerrard strain fundraiser

FISHNG – The Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club's 68th annual Spring Derby will kick off with a pin auction fundraiser Friday (April 26), 7 p.m., April 26 at the Sandpoint Elks Club.

Fishing runs Saturday through May 5 with a payout of more than $15,000, including $2,500 for the top rainbow.

The club is raising money to reintroduce pure-strain Gerrard rainbows to the lake.

Derby tickets cost $40; Youths age 13 and under free.

Info: (509) 209-3608; rmilliken2004@yahoo.com; (509) 209-3608.

Read on for details about the club's Gerrard rainbow revival plan.

Ice Age Floods group explores subtleties of scablands

 GEOLOGY — “Anatomy of Cheney-Palouse Scabland Tract,” a free lecture by geologist Gene Kiver, will be presnted by the Ice Age Floods Institute, 7 p.m., on May 3 at the JFK Library Auditorium, Eastern Washington University, Cheney campus.

  • Sign-up in advance for the May 4 Ice Age Floods annual field trip, which involves a bus tour from Lake Steptoe Ridge to the headwaters of Rock Creek.  Cost: $55-$70.
  • Info: Melanie Bell, iaficheneyspokane@gmail.com, (509) 954-4242.

 Read on for details about the field trip.

Overhaul begins on trails in Dishman Hills Natural Area

CONSERVATION — About 200 volunteers chipped in today to start a major revamping of the Dishman Hills Natural Area trail system.

Groups such as the Spokane Mountaineers and Gonzaga University student programs turned out in the Spokane Valley for the annual service day organized by the Dishman Hills Conservancy.

Regular trail users will soon notice a big difference as new trails are built to connect a series of four larger loops while some other trails, including sections of a few well-used ones, will be decommissioned.

The effort seeks to reduce the criss-crossing of trails and provide more resting areas for wildlife.

More signs will be posed as the project continues.

Other groups today planted hundreds of trees to reforest an area near the Camp Caro parking lot off Appleway and Sargent Road.

American Whitewater advocate updates river issues, dam removal

RIVERS – Thomas O’Keefe of American Whitewater will update paddlers on the approval for removing Mill Pond Dam on Sullivan Creek and other river-liberating projects in a program for the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club Monday, april 22 7 p.m., at Mountain Gear Corporate Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley.

O'Keefe, AW’s Pacific Northwest stewardship director, will discuss the national group’s regional river conservation efforts, including recent dam removal success stories, revision of national forest plans and the future of river management for the Lochsa River and the rest of the Clearwater drainage.

Adventure scientists document chilling facts of global warming

ENVIRONMENT – “Chasing Ice,” a fascinating and award-winning National Geographic documentary about adventure-scientist documenting changes in the arctic will be presented by the Idaho Conservation League and other local environmental groups on Monday, 7 p.m., at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint.

Read on for details about the making of this 2012 film, and why local groups are bringing the stunning images to the big screen in North Idaho.

Volunteers to give key outdoor sites TLC this weekend

PUBLIC LANDS — Volunteers are planning to pick up and spruce up a couple of prized outdoors recreation features in the Spokane area this weekend.

Unveil the (Centennial) Trail, Saturday (April 20), 9 a.m.-noon

About 350 volunteers have pre-registered for the annual clean-up, working in sections to cover the entire 37.5-mile Centennial Trail from the stateline to Nine Mile Falls. The trail attracts two million visits a year.

Dishman Hills Service Day, Sunday (April 21), 9 a.m.-noon

Volunteers are signing up for the annual Earth Day cleanup and trail work in the Dishman Hills Natural Resource Conservation Area in Spokane Valley based out of Camp Caro. Organized by the Dishman Hills Conservancy, new signs and kiosks are set to be installed and trail projects are being planned.

Seen near Wallace: Is it wolf or dog?

WILDLIFE —  A reader submitted this photo snapped Wednesday off I-90 between Wallace and Mullan.  She said the eyes appeared blue like those of a husky, but the animal ran away as though it were wild.

 What's your guess? Wolf, wolf hybrid or husky?

Click “continue reading” for my opinion and the consensus from several Idaho Fish and Game Department wildlife biologists who work with wolves.

Spring gobbler season underway

HUNTING — What are you doing on the fourth day of the spring gobbler hunting season in Washington and Idaho?

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson bagged this tom with his Canon.

Salmon River jet boat races start Friday at Riggins

RIVERS — The 2013 USA Jet River Racing Series kicks off this weekend (April 19-21) with the 29th Annual Salmon RIVER Jet Boat Races near Riggins, Idaho.

About 20 jet boat teams from Canada and the United States are expected to compete. Teams will be racing for fastest times on Saturday and Sunday. 

The next scheduled races in the US are:

  • May 17-19, 1st annual Race the Joe, on the St. Joe River at St. Maries.
  • Aug. 23-25, 2nd annual Thunder on the Snake, on the Snake River at Lewiston.

The community of Riggins is celebrating  this weekend's events with a public BBQ on Friday, April 19 starting at 6 p.m. (tickets are $10 per person) and a fireworks show on Saturday evening after the first day of races.

Spectators are invited to watch the event from the riverbanks where there is public road access to view all the action.  Notable viewing areas include the confluence of the Little and Main Salmon Rivers, Time Zone Rapid and Tight Squeeze Rapid.

Music, food and vendors will be featured all over town.

Read on for lodging in for and a race schedule.

Kootenai River watershed of B.C., Mont., Idaho cited as endangered

FISHING — Of concern to anglers:

B.C., Idaho, Montana river watershed on American Rivers' endangered list

Five open-pit coal mines in the Fernie-area Elk River watershed, a major tributary of the Kootenai River, an international watershed that covers 18,000 square miles in British Columbia, Montana and Idaho, were cited by American Rivers for ranking the Kootenai River among the most endangered in the United States. 

The group is urging its 100,000 members to write Secretary of State John Kerry to use the International Joint Commission to protect the river.    — Toronto Globe and Mail

Wolf seen hunting near Wenatchee is a heads up to everyone

PREDATORS — A wolf witnessed hunting a deer in a Wenatchee residential area Tuesday is a dose of reality a little too close to home for some people.

It's a reminder that urban deer need to be controlled, and that we need to have measures in place so we can control wolves.

We need to be aware of wolves — all of us.  The landscape has changed.

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine offers this reminder of the well reported developments in the past few years:

It’s a reminder that it’s not just ranchers who will need to adapt to living with the species, but mountain bikers, hikers, mushroom pickers and others who frequent the woods. They will also need to adjust their behavior and become more alert in the outdoors and better understand wolves’ proclivities to avoid the rare negative interactions.

North Cascades Highway opening is harbinger of summer

PARKS — Suddenly it seems as though summer will happen.

Washington's North Cascades Highway, a gateway to North Cascades National Park, opened Tuesday, weeks earlier than last year because of a thinner snow pack. The route gives easier East-West access across the northern region of the state.

The April 16 opening compares with the May 10 opening in 2012, when the photo with this post was snapped near Liberty Bell.

Washington Department of Transportation crews began the process of clearing State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, on March 25, a day earlier than last year. On average, it takes four to six weeks for crews to clear the highway, but this year they accomplished it in three weeks. Crews cleared snow as deep as 35 feet over the roadway; last year, it was double the amount.

The highway was closed Nov. 20, 2012, from milepost 134, seven miles east of Diablo Dam on the west side of Rainy Pass, to milepost 171, nine miles west of Mazama.

  • The latest reopening for the highway was recorded on June 14, 1974.
  • The earliest opening was March 10, 2005.
  • In 1980, four years after the highway first opened, it remained open all winter due to a drought year.

For more information, including a history of opening and closing dates, maps, photos and progress reports on the 2013 opening, visit the North Cascades web page.

Alaska sport sport fishers serve seafood teaser at Seattle restaurant on Saturday

FISHING/EATING — You don't have to fly to Alaska to sample a bit of the Hook It, Cook It action I wrote about a few weeks ago. Visit Szmania's Restaurant in Seattle on Saturday (April 20) and taste for yourself.

Hook It, Cook It is a unique event that combines saltwater salmon and halibut fishing out of Sitka followed by a meal each day at the fishing lodge with one of the anglers — a world-class chef. After being on the water fishing with the group each day, Ludger Szmania returns to the lodge in the late afternoon to share his cooking techniques and generous fresh-fish samples while the group watches and sips wine or beer.

This is great event for any angler who relishes eating a fresh catch, but it's a premier activity for couples who share that love.

This weekend, the captain from Angling Unlimited is joining this top Seattle restaurant to give locals a taste of what they're missing if they don't book a spot in the annual May 17-21 Hook It, Cook It event. 

Read on for details.

Annual Washington coastal cleanup 30 tons of fun

PUBLIC LANDS – The annual volunteer cleanup of the Washington Coast, set for Saturday (April 20) is a remarkable success story.

Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed it Washington Coast Cleanup Day to help match last year's effort when more than 1,300 volunteers removed 30 tons of marine debris from Washington’s Pacific Ocean beaches.

Founding organizations for the annual Earth Day weekend cleanup include Washington State Parks and the Washington Clean Coast Alliance. The CoastSavers program of the Alliance organizes a major coastal cleanup each year around the time of Earth Day.

Last year, more than 1,300 volunteers removed 30 tons of marine debris from Washington’s Pacific Ocean beaches.

Looking for a beach party this weekend? Sign up on the CoastSavers web site.

Or just show up and sign in at state or national park ocean beach area.

Kokanee revival forecast at Dworshak Reservoir

FISHING — Dworshak Reservoir’s kokanee fishery surprised anglers in 2012, as notoriously small kokanee finally showed some size. The fish were growing to the 13-inch range in response to the nutrient enhancement project Idaho Fish and Game and the Corps of Engineers have been conducting since 2007 to make up for the lack of feed in the reservoir’s deep waters.

This year – depending on overwinter survival that has yet to be determined — biologists expect twice as many two year-old fish in the fishery reaching even heftier sizes.

“The fish anglers are catching right now are running about 10-11 inches long,” Andy Dux, IFG biologist, said last week. “Those fish should be 12-15 inches long by this summer and be abundant enough to provide good catch rates.”

Here’s some science anglers can sink their teeth into: “Past research shows that as kokanee get larger, they are easier to catch,” Dux said.

The water fertilizing project was stalled in 2011 because of a lawsuit a citizen brought regarding its impacts on water quality.  That resolved, the nutrient project resumed in 2012 and the fish appear to be responding.

Dworshak’s kokanee fishery picks up as water temperatures warm, with good fishing from spring through summer.

The trick at Dworshak is to follow the fish, which progressively move farther up the 54-mile reservoir during summer toward their fall spawning areas, Dux said.

In spring, most anglers launch at Big Eddy near the dam since the fishing is best in the lower reservoir upstream for about 10 miles.

As summer progresses, more anglers will launch at Dent Acres recreation facility 13-miles upstream from the dam to get into the good fishing.

  • See the attached document for a detailed 2013 update of the Dworshak Reservoir nutrient enhancement project.

Documents:

Living with Coyotes program presented by South Hill bluff group

TRAILS — In mid-April last year, several off-leash dogs were attacked by coyotes that were defending the territory around a den near a popular South Hill bluff trail below High Drive.

Candace Hultberg-Bennett, a local wildlife biologist, will present a short program on what people can do to live safely and peacefully in the same neighborhood with coyotes.

  • The program starts at 7 p.m. at St. Stevens Church Parish Hall, 5720 S. Perry.

The Friends of the Bluffs have asked her to speak on her studies on how urbanization and the reintroduction of wolves have impacted coyote populations in northeastern Washington.

A public sentiment that emerged from the coyote-dog conflicts last year was the simmering discontent trail users have with people who violate city-county laws by walking, running and even bicycling with their unleashed dogs.

HELP IMPROVE BLUFF TRAILS

The Friends of the Bluff have scheduled another trail work party, 9 a.m.-noon, on April 27.

Meet at the High Drive and Bernard trailhead. Wear suitable work clothes and gloves, bring water to drink.

Info: robertsd@wsu.edu

Wolf-related bills alive but sputtering in Olympia

ENDANGERED SPECIES – A day before the Washington Legislature’s deadline for bills to be considered by the opposite house, two wolf-related proposals are still alive.

But despite their merits and being approved by the state Senate, they’re gasping in the House — as a new crop of wolf pups is being born in dens across the East Side.

Senate Bill 5187, sponsored by Sen. John Smith, R-Colville, would allow rural dwellers to kill a gray wolf caught in the act of attacking or threatening livestock or another domestic animal, no permit required.

This bill, supported by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists, would go a long way in reducing the public tension in northeastern Washington, where locals feel they are being unfairly saddled with the dangers and impacts of wolf recovery.

The bill has essentially died in committee, but Smith said it has a chance of being tied in with another wolf bill that could move.

SB5193, also introduced by Smith, would allow the State Wildlife Account to be used for compensating owners of livestock for damage caused by wolves. It also would create a new account to be used for livestock predation claims. 

An important part of this bill would remove the condition in existing law that a livestock owner must raise livestock for sale to qualify for wildlife damage compensation.

Fly fishers score on large cutthroats at Omak Lake

FISHING — The Spokane Fly Fishers' club outing to Omak Lake last weekend was a success, according to the photo (above) and brief report from Mike Berube:

The club's outing to Omak Lk this past weekend was a good time. Everyone caught fish…. Threw streamers for two days and caught a lot of fish. It didn't seem to matter what pattern we used.

Omak Lake is a on the Colville Indian Reservation (tribal fishing license required) about 7 miles southeast of Omak. The 10-mile-long lake is large — 3,244 acres compared to Sprague Lake at 1,840 acres.  But it's also famous for producing trophy-size Lahontan cutthroat trout.  

  • The 18.04-pound Washington state record Lahontan cutt was caught in Omak Lake in 1993.

Public beaches and boat access are at the north end of the lake. 
  

Celebrities sign skateboard to boost Ferry County rail trail

TRAILS — Development of the 28.5-mile Ferry County Rail Trail from Republic along the Kettle River to the U.S. Canada border is getting a boost with an auction item signed by celebrities.

A Longboard Skate - donated to Ferry County Rail Trail Partners by Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder - is being signed by celebrities as a one-of-a-kind auction item. The effort is spearheaded by FCRTP organizer Bob Whittaker, who's also a professional rock band manager currently on a world tour with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Celebs signing the board so far include Nick Zinner, Karen O and Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as Eddie Vedder, Neko Case, Nick Cave and pro-skating champ Tony Hawk.

2013 FCRTP Annual Meeting 
The annual meeting of the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners will be held at the Carousel Building at the Ferry County Fairgrounds, 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday (April 21). Expect to find good people and refreshments, plus a Ferry County Historical Society presentation on area railroad history.

Olympic Park not taking campsite reservations by phone

BACKPACKING — Olympic National Park is accepting reservation requests for wilderness camping areas with overnight use limits by fax or postal mail only. Phone reservations are no longer accepted.

Limits on overnight use in high-use wilderness camp areas are in effect May 1-Sept. 30 to help minimize the impact from humans and provide a quality wilderness experience. Reservations for these sites are recommended, park officials said in a news release.

Reservations for camp areas without overnight use limits are not required and are not accepted. Permits for these areas are not limited and may be picked up at a permit office just before a hike.

A wilderness camping permit is required for all overnight stays in the park’s backcountry areas. Permit fees are $5 to register a group and an additional $2 per person per night for anyone 16 or older. The full permit fee will be charged for all reservations. The fee is nonrefundable.

Overnight use limits are in effect for these high-use wilderness camp areas:

Ozette Coast, Royal Basin/Royal Lake area, Grand Valley and Badger Valley area, Lake Constance, Upper Lena Lake, Flapjack Lakes, Sol Duc/Seven Lakes Basin/Mink Lake area, Hoh Lake and C.B. Flats, Elk Lake and Glacier Meadows and the group and stock camp sites along the Hoh River Trail.

Here's the proceedure:

  • Download the campsite reservation form.
  • Mail reservation requests to Olympic National Park, WIC, 3002 Mt. Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or
  • Fax reservation requests to (360) 565-3108.

 Click here for additional information.

Casting for Recovery helps cancer survivors

FISHING – A fundraising dinner benefitting “Casting for Recovery” is set for April 27 at the Coeur d’Alene Inn, 506 W. Apple Way Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Tickets $30, $50 for two. 

Email dlonderee@roadrunner.com or phone (208) 683-1759.

The program benefits cancer survivors, who can apply at CastingforRecovery.org for this year’s retreat at Shoshone Base Camp along the Coeur d’Alene River.

Some turkeys survive opening day; some don’t

HUNTING — The first day of the spring gobbler hunting season is drawing to a close.

“I almost got my turkey today,” said George Orr in a voicemail message just before the end of legal shooting hours.

“It ran right in front of me as I drove down Sunset Hill. That would be a hell of a way to start the turkey season, almost running over one.”

Well, let's hope George shoots straighter than he drives, should he get the chance.

The season runs through May 25 in Idaho and through May 31 in Washington.

2013 Wash. hunting rules adopted by commission

HUNTING – Allowing lighted nocks for bowhunting was among 17 measures adopted for the 2013 hunting seasons during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Saturday in Oympia.

Jim Sutton of Spokane has worked for several years to get the commission to approve the use of electronically illuminated nocks, which can be helpful in retrieving arrows. Traditional bowhunters had originally opposed the any use of electronics in primitive weapon seasons, but Sutton argued that lighted knocks had no impact on harvest success.

Some of the other new rules will:

  • Restore archery hunts for antlerless elk in Yakima County in game management units 352 (Nile) and 356 (Bumping).
  • Rescind the five special hunting permits previously available for the Tieton bighorn sheep herd, which the state recently eliminated to prevent the spread of a deadly outbreak of pneumonia.
  • Restrict importation of dead game animals from Missouri, Texas and Pennsylvania, which are among a number of states with deer and elk populations known to harbor chronic wasting disease.  

All 17 hunting rules approved by the commission will be included in the 2013 Big-Game Hunting pamphlet, which will be available in sporting goods stores and other license vendors late this month.

Spring drawdown begins at Lake Roosevelt

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt is about 1274 feet today, and it's begun a steady downward trend to make room for spring runoff.  But Columbia River dam operators don't expect the drawdown to be nearly as severe as in recent years, having less impact on boaters and anglers.

Grand Coulee Dam is being operated to reach the flood control elevation of 1258.5 at the end of the month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 

Lake levels are expected to decrease 1 to 1.5 feet a day and spill over the drumgates will be intermittent through the rest of the month in order to reach the flood control elevation target.

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.

Top recent outdoors stories from The Spokesman-Review

Following are some of the top recent regional outdoors stories in The Spokesman-Review:

2013 is 'year of the kokanee' for Inland NW anglers

Paddlers plead for river access in Convention Center expansion design

Palouse landowner honored for planting fields with wildlife in mind

Woman rescued from Cascades avalanche dies; man still missing

The Gear Junkie: Guides and multitools you can pack on a plane

Field Reports: Wolf levels high despite 2013 kills

  • Reserve hunting spot on new online site

  • Earth Day cleanup set at Dishman Hills

  • Hatchery proposed at Walla Walla

  • Forest rule changed on project protests

Out & About: North Idaho fly fishers cast for students

  • Raise pheasant chicks

  • Glacier Park distance hiker speaking in Spokane

  • Fly fishing film festival in Sandpoint

  • Bamboo rod and walking stick built for Parkinson's effort

  • Anglers aid in Casting for Recover cancer effort

Officers seize 242 trout at Lake Lenore, arrest suspected poachers

Weekly Hunting-Fishing Report for the Inland Northwest

County conservation fund wants to buy Mica Peak, Williams Lake sites

Efforts underway to remove northern pike

Salmon hatchery proposed on Walla Walla River

FISHING – The Bonneville Power Administration may fund a salmon hatchery on the Walla Walla River proposed by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

The plan is to naturally spawning spring chinook to the Walla Walla River Basin, where they’ve been missing for  more than 75 years.

The project, the latest of several in the basin, would expand the existing adult holding and spawning facility on the South Fork Walla Walla River near Milton-Freewater, Ore.

  • A public meeting is set for  6 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at the Elementary School in Dayton.
  • Comments will be accepted through April 29 and can also be submitted online at www.bpa.gov/comment.

 Read on for more detals from BPA.

Area’s first hummingbirds can arrive in April — hungry

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Hummingbirds have been known to begin trickling into the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area as mid-April.

If you're gearing up to feed the hummers this season, the Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy and Cornell Lab of Ornithology offer this advice:
 
Maintaining a backyard hummingbird feeder can help provide the birds with nectar critical to their survival, especially in early spring when natural food can be in short supply, and during fall when they need to double their body mass before migration.
 
To ensure your yard is a safe and nutritious stopover for hummingbirds:
  • Fill the feeders with sugar water, made by combining four parts hot water to one part white sugar, boiled for one to two minutes. NEVER use honey, which promotes the growth of harmful bacteria, or artificial sweeteners, which have no nutritional value. Also avoid red food coloring.
  • Clean the feeders with a solution of one part white vinegar to four parts water about once a week. If your feeder has become dirty, try adding some grains of dry rice to the vinegar solution and shake vigorously. The grains act as a good abrasive. Rinse your feeder well with warm water three times before refilling with sugar solution.

Earth Day cleanup set at Dishman Hills

NATURAL AREAS – The Dishman Hills Conservancy is recruiting volunteers for the annual Earth Day cleanup and trail work in the Dishman Hills Natural Resource Conservation Area in Spokane Valley.

The effort is set to begin at noon next Sunday (April 21) based out of Camp Caro.

New signs and kiosks are set to be installed and trail projects are being planned.

Sign up: dishmanhills.org.

  

Reserve private land hunting spot on new Wash. online site

 HUNTING – Although the signs went up on enrolled fields last fall, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department’s new Quality Hunt Reservation System didn't come online until today — just in time for the spring gobbler season that runs Monday through May 31.

Selected private lands enrolled in access agreements are available to hunters who can book reservations up to three weeks in advance.

By this fall, the agency expects hold drawings for reserving the most popular areas as hunters catch on.

Officials also say they want to hear your comments by email at wildthing@dfw.wa.gov.

Wash. panel OKs lighted nocks for bowhunting

HUNTING — By a 6-2 vote, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today approved used of lighted nocks on arrows for bowhunting.

Spokane hunter Jim Sutton has been promoting the proposal for several years, as pointed out in a Spokesman-Review story published in 2011.

Sutton argued that lighted nocks are allowed for hunting in many states because they help archers recover wounded game as well as retrieve lost arrows from the field.

The proposal had been opposed by some groups, notably the state's traditional bowhunters.

Even though the Pope and Young Club has been dragging its feet on the issue, the trend is changing.

Wolf status summed up for Idaho, Mont., Wyo.

PREDATORS — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists weighed in today, confirming that the Northern Rockies gray wolf population has remained sustainable two years after wolves lost their endangered species protections in most of the region.

The latest wolf status updates on 2012 wolf monitoring in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming found that aggressive hunting, and some trapping, in the three states lowered the overall number of wolves for the first time in years. 

Overall, biologists tallied a minimum of 1,674 wolves across the five states at the end of 2012, a 6 percent decline.

However, the wolf population that burgeoned under protections for more than a decade are still FIVE TIMES higher than the federal government’s original recovery goal, set in the 1990s, of at least 300 wolves in the region.

That goal was achieved in 2002, but lawsuits stalled wolf management for years and the population soared.

Read on for a summary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2012 Northern Rockies wolf status report.

Ammo hoarding leaves new shooters unloaded

SHOOTING — Just in case you'd planned to take your kid out target shooting with a small-caliber rifle this weekend, you'd better have your own hoarded supply of ammunition.

Dan Hansen had that in mind when he went shopping the other day.

The photo above indicates the lack of ammo he found on the .22 caliber shelf at Cabela's.

Conservation Futures could add two choice spots

PUBLIC LANDS — The Spokane County Conservation Futures Program is asking county commissioners to preserve 920 acres on the west flank of Mica Peak and15 acres at a geological site between Badger and Williams lakes south of Cheney.

If approved, the acquisitions would bring Conservation Futures Program holdings to more than 7,000 acres through 29 acquisitions.

To date through the program, Spokane County Parks and Recreation manages 14 properties and the City of Spokane Parks Department manages an additional 11 properties within city limits.

Fly fishing film fest April 19-20 at Sandpoint

Fall Run by Todd Moen from Todd Moen Creative on Vimeo.

FISHING — The 2013 Fly Fishing Film Tour plus a second night of more festival films is coming to Sandpoint April 19-20.

 

The F3T is coming to Sandpoint April 19 at 7 p.m. at the Panida Theater followed by a different show  — The International Fly Fishing Film Festival — on April 20.

Click here for a list and trailers of most films edited into this year's F3T road show.

See the Outdoors story about Fly Fishing Guide Hank Patterson, a spoof that's getting raves for fly fishing comedy videos

All proceeds from both Sandpoint shows go to the Panhandle Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Pend Oreille Water Festival (classroom and field trip event for all 5th graders in Bonner County where they are taught about fisheries and water quality!).

2013 Washington salmon fishing seasons set

FISHING — Washington’s 2013 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized yesterday during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) meeting in Portland.

The regulations cover salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington’s ocean and coastal areas and the Columbia River.

In developing salmon seasons, the first priority for state and tribal fishery managers is to meet conservation goals for wild salmon, said Phil Anderson, WDFW director.

As in past years, recreational salmon fisheries in 2013 will vary by area. Click continue reading for details on the seasons and limits for each of the four areas.

Poachers caught with nets, 242 Lahontan cutts at Lake Lenore

UPDATED 11:41 a.m. with details of arrest from officer's incident report:

FISHING — Last night, a man at the Spokane Fly Fishers program asked me if I'd heard a fishing report from Lake Lenore.  I didn't have an answer for him, but I do today.

The fishing for large Lahontan cutthroat trout at the quality fishery is pretty darned good - IF YOU'RE POACHING with GILLNETS.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers arrested four Western Washington men in the early hours of Saturday morning with 242 cutthroats seized in an illegal night-time netting operation at the prized Grant County lake.

The lake is managed as a “quality fishery,” attracting anglers who want to use single barbless hooks and no bait to catch-and-release large fish. Anglers are allowed to keep no more than one fish at day from Lenore.

Arrested were Vitaliy Kachinskiy, 23, of Mount Vernon and three Everett men: Sergey Otroda, 32, Igor Bigun, 26 and Oleg Pavlus, 25.

The Grant County prosecutor's office said today it has not yet begun processing the case.

“We have members of two ethnic groups involved with an annual thing of illegal netting that's causing great concern for our fish program,” said WDFW Capt. Chris Anderson in Ephrata.  “One group has been caught targeting mostly whitefish at Banks Lake and this group was targeting the big spawning cutthroats at Lenore. The 242 fish were just one night's catch. We're not sure how many nights or weeks worth of fish they've taken out of the lake.”

WDFW agents also nabbed two Spokane men from another ethnic group for similar illegal netting activity in January. One of the subjects threatened an arresting officer with retribution.

This is a huge bummer for fishermen. Not only do we deal with environmental issues that plague fish, but also with human pond scum that will do this to a fishery that means so much to anglers and the local economy.

Read on for the chilling details about the stake out and arrest. 

Free sticker: show your pride in Washington fishing

FISHING — Act now and get a free sticker with the image above for your vehicle, boat or tacklebox.

The “Fish Washington” logo is the new symbol of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife statewide recreational fishing opportunities.

The logo is available free in a 6-by-4 inch oval sticker. Their available free while supplies last by filing out the online form on the agency's website.

Bamboo rod, walking stick raffled for Parkinson’s effort

FLY FISHING — An ellegant bamboo fly rod that fits into a handcrafted walking-stick case with leather work is being raffled in Spokane as a fundraiser for the Parkinson’s Resource Center.

The 3-to-4 weight two-piece rod and walking stick, valued at $2,400, was made by Sweetgrass Rods of Twin Bridges, Mont.

Tickets, $25, are available through April. 30 at (509) 473-2490.

Read the attached document for a detailed explaination of the rod-case from Sweetgrass Rods.


Documents:

Fishing electronics seminar at Mark’s Marine

FISHING — Mike Pentony, the Lowrance west coast pro staffer will present a free salmon fishing program Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for the last in a weekly series of fishing seminar at Mark’s Marine, 14355 N. Government Way in Hayden.

Fly fishing gives Vietnam vet a day of peace

FISHING — The photo above shows Double Spey Outfitters fly fishing guide G.L. Britton in the process of aiding Vietnam-Gulf War veteran Harold Watters of Cheney catch and release a feisty rainbow Tuesday.

They were enjoying the sunny day on a locally organized Project Healing Waters outing at Crab Creek.

Well done.

Had a wonderful day,” Watters said by emaiI last night. “I was able to excape my PTSD for the day, and for that I thank you.”

Spokane Bicycle Club is the wheel deal

OUTPEDAL – Last Sunday’s Outdoors feature on regional bicycling events included a list of regional bicycling groups.

Unfortunately, an editing error omitted the venerable Spokane Bicycle Club, which was at the top of the list.

“We've been an active biking club for over 35 years with a membership of around 200,” said Don Carlton, club president.  The group has adopted mile 31 of the Centennial Trail and provide reliable support for all things related to bikes in the area.

“We offer seven rides a week in various skill levels. We host the bike coral for Bloomsday, bike sitting for over 200 bikers, as well as the registration for SpokeFest.”

Wash. commission to set 2013 hunt rules

HUNTING –The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting 17 new hunting rules for the upcoming season when it convenes Friday and Saturday April 12-13 in Olympia.

Among other proposals on the agenda, the panel will consider allowing bowhunters to use illuminated arrow nocks, which can be helpful in finding and retrieving arrows.

All of the proposals scheduled for a vote are posted online.

In other business, a plan will be discussed for transferring the Fish and Wildlife Department's Hunter Education Division and certain wildlife-conflict responsibilities from the Enforcement Program to the Wildlife Program.

Ants, birds featured in Audubon programs

NATURE – Local Audubon chapters are sponsoring free 7 p.m. nature progams this week:

Tuesday (April 9): Bluebird trails, citizen science and NestWatch; sponsored by Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society, at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey in Coeur d’Alene.

Wednesday (April 10): “For the Love of Ants: a Superorganism,” by Laurel Hansen, EWU natural science professor, at Riverview Retirement Center auditorium, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave., sponsored by the Spokane Audubon Society.

Ducks Unlimited to honor Whitman County landowner

CONSERVATION – The Spokane chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its annual fundraising banquet April 11 at the Lincoln Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Bob Zorb of Spokane and St. John, who was unable to travel for the national ceremony in Washington, D.C, will receive DU’s national private lands conservationist of the year award at this Spokane event.

Get tickets online at ducks.org/washington.

Clear Lake youth fishing day sign-up due April 19

FISHING – The 2013 Youth Fishing Day at Clear Lake is set for May 4, but registration is due by April 19 so organizers can order the t-shirts and fishing rods given to each kid, ages 5 -14, at the event.

About 6,000 rainbow trout – including some lunkers – will be stocked in the swimming bay at the Fairchild Air Force Base recreational facility on the lake. Up to 900 kids are assigned a time to fish.

Volunteers from area sportsmen’s groups have been meeting to rig rod-reel combos that will be given to each participant to keep.

Cost: $10 per kid.

Register at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2315 N. Discovery Pl. in Spokane Valley, telephone 892-1001.

Or go online to download and mail the registratin form.

Idaho going online for elk plan input

HUNTING — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has scheduled an online chat, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., on Wednesday and Thursday (April 10 and 11) for the public to weigh in on the new blueprint for managing the state’s elk herds.

The agency’s big-game biologists and mangers statewide will be working online with transcribers to answer questions as they come in from people who connect through the agency website.

“We had good participation in the online chat we held this winter for waterfowl rules and licensing and that was held during mid-day when people were working,” said Mike Keckler, the agency’s communications chief.

“We’re thinking we’ll get even more participation if we hold it in the evening.”

The agency also will schedule an open house meeting in Coeur d’Alene this spring.

Idaho’s elk management plan was revised more than 12 years ago and is in need of an update to reflect shifting public attitudes and elk population changes, officials said.

Revisions currently under consideration are based on elk hunter surveys, habitat changes and other factors.

WDFW needs angler input on Snake spring chinook rules

FISHING — Anglers have until Monday to comment on proposals geared to helping them get the most out of a very limited spring chinook salmon fishing season being planned for the Snake River in late April and May.

“The 2013 run forecast is low, and following the restrictions of federal Endangered Species Act, the harvest allocation available for the Snake River is just 360 adipose-fin-clipped hatchery adults, at least until the in-season run update is available the first week of May,” says John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fisheries manager.

The agency is asking anglers to choose one of three options and let biologists know by email to help them make a decision that will please the most anglers.

Read on for details and the options from WDFW:

Anglers need new fishing licenses

FISHING —   $29.50.

If that number doesn't jingle a bell, maybe you haven't renewed your Washington resident season fishing license.

Your 2012-13 license expired on April 1.  Get a new one here or from a license dealer.

Idaho's new license year began Jan. 1

Montana's new license year began Feb. 1.


Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/04/07/2546804/2950.html#storylink=cpy

Sign up for Fly Fishing 101 Course by North Idaho Fly Casters

FISHING — Fly Fishing 101, an annual fishing school offered by the North Idaho Fly Casters, starts May 7.

Classes will continue on Tuesday evenings May 14 and 21 followed by a casting clinic on June 22 and the on-the-water session and barbecue June 29 on the Coeur d’Alene River.

The course covers stillwater strategies, basic equipment, safety, etiquette, knot tying, entomology, water reading, fly selection, locations to fly fish, and includeds fly tying demonstrations.

Cost: $75, includes club membership.

Pre-register: (208) 946-6631 or Northidahoflycasters.org.

Fish, wildlife recreation fills the calendar

If you fish, hunt, dig clams or enjoy watching birds, keep your eye on the calendar this month:

April 9-14 - A six-day morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled on various Washington ocean beaches.

April 15 - Washington's general spring turkey hunt opens for hunters of all ages and runs through May 31.

April 24-30 - The month’s second morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled on various ocean beaches.

April 26-28 - The Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, based in Hoquiam, celebrates shorebirds.

April 27 - Hundreds of lakes, including West Medical and Williams in Spokane County, open to trout fishing across the state for the biggest “opening day” of the year.

See The S-R's special 2013 Fishing Section coming Thursday.

Fly fishers to get updates on local waters at Extravagana

ANGLING – State fisheries biologists for the Spokane Region and the Idaho Panhandle will present fishing updates at the annual Spokane Fly Fishers Extravaganza Wednesday (April 10) at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy.

Hilary Hutcheson of Trout TV (pictured above) will join fly tiers, fly shops, and other fishing groups with displays for the event starting at 5 p.m.

The biologists — Jim Fredericks of Idaho Fish and Game and Randy Osborne of Washington Fish and Wildlife — will present their fishing reports at 7 p.m.

Birding author presents ‘Gift of the Crow’ at Get Lit!

WILDLIFE WATCHING  – If you don’t think crows are cool, you haven’t read “In the Company of Crows and Ravens,” (Yale University Press) by John Marzluff, a University of Washington professor of Wildlife Science.

To catch up, bring the kids and catch his presentation, “Gifts of the Crow,” at 7 p.m. on Thursday (April 11) at the Mobius Science Center on Main Avenue across the street from River Park Square.

It’s one of many fun events set for EWU’s Get Lit! literary festival.

Marzluff’s latest book, “Gift of the Crow,” (Free Press) combines biology, conservation and anthropology to present an in-depth look at the way humans and crows have mutually influenced each other. The illustrated book reveals how crows share human behaviors such as delinquency, risk-taking, and even language.

New Spokane Bass Club has home-water schedule

TOURNAMENT FISHING — The Spokane Bass Club, founded in December to schedule quality fishing tournaments on local waters, has a full schedule of 2013 events, including a tournament to benefit Spokane Children's Hospital.

The Long Lake Classic, slated to be an annual event, is set for May 4-5. Entry $150 per boat with an 80 percent payback, 10 percent of proceeds to the charity.


Most of the events are random draw so anglers without boats can get involved, said Tyler Brinks, club president.
  

Read on to see the full list of the Spokane Bass Club 2013 fishing contests.

Plan ahead for free week of entry at national parks

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

But none of the perks are as sweet as the week of entry-fee-free days coming up at national parks:

  • Celebrate National Park week with no entry fees April 22-26.

The 13 Fee-Free Days in 2013 include three holidays that involve ALL federal lands such as national parks, forests, BLM lands and wildlife refuges — Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 28), and Veterans Day Weekend (Nov. 9-11). 

A list of other dates and participating agencies is listed below. The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

June 8, Great Outdoors Day — U.S. Forest Service

Aug. 15, National Park Service Birthday — National Park Service

Sept. 28, National Public Lands Day — National Park Service, Fish & wildlfie Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service.

Oct. 13, National Wildlfie Refuge Day — Fish and Wildlife Service

Nov. 9-11, Veterans Day Weekend — National Park Service, Fish & wildlfie Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service.

Additionally, active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service.

The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and over, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.

Grass widows not alone on South Hill bluff

TRAILS — Local writer Jim Kershner, a household name to long-time readers of The Spokesman-Review, is having a ball watching spring explode along the trails of the South Hill bluff below High Drive.

Last week he found a few bunches of arrowleaf balsamroot blooming a bit ahead of normal.

On Saturday he found the slopes alive (above) with grasswidows — that clearly were having nothing to do with being alone this season.

Coyote advisory:  Remember last year, when several dogs were attacked by denning coyotes as they joined their owners for hikes or runs on the South Hill Bluff trails? 

The Friends of the Bluffs are sponsoring a free program, “Living with Coyotes,” at 7 p.m., April 17, at St. Stevens Church Parish Hall, 5720 S. Perry. 

Meantime, be proactive in your dog's favor: Keep your dog on a leash.

10 reasons to stay on your skis, snowboards

WINTER SPORTS — Thar's white gold in them thar hills, and plenty of snowpack for getting in a few more runs on skis and snowboards before spring creeps up into the the mountains.

Inland Northwest ski resorts are taking different approaches ending or extending their ski seasons this week.

Meantime, Craig Hill of the Tacoma News Tribune offers a West Side perspective on 10 top reasons you don't want to put your skis away too early in April … and, yes, bikini's are on the list.  Click “continue reading.”

Balsamroot starting to bloom on South Hill Bluff

NATURE — Reader Jim Kershner emailed a photo snapped Thursday of arrowleaf balsamroots blooming in brilliant yellow on the South Hill bluff trails — a bit earlier than usual, but, hey, we should have expected this given the smiles on golfers' faces all through March.

Kershner must have been running from a moose, evading a coyote or walking his rough-and-tumble dog, Jack — the photo was blurry — but those definitely were wildflowers.  

Take a hike on the miles of trails below High Drive and see for yourself.

Next to bloom:  Serviceberry.

Lake Roosevelt water levels staying high

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt is dropping only slightly from its weekend summer-like elevation of 1282.0. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expects the level to remain around 1280.0 enroute to a target of 1279.9 by April 10.

The next flood control elevation target is:

  • April 30 - 1265.1 feet.

These elevations can and probably will change with the April water supply forecast scheduled for announcement the second week of April.

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.

Spokane Bike swap a one-stop deal for buying, selling

BICYCLING — The second annual Spokane Bike Swap — a one-stop shop for people interested in buying or selling a bicycle — is set for April 13-14, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m both days, at Spokane County Fair & Expo Center.

There's no better time or place to make a deal on a bike, and the 5 percent consignment fee supports a cycling gem — the Spokane River Centennial Trail.

The event will feature a wide range of used bikes in the bike corral and seven local bike shops with new bikes and accessories.

Admission: $5 or kids under 13 free.

Sellers: check in bikes April 12 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Sellers are urged to pre-register online.

“The goal of the Bike Swap is to enhance Spokane County's biking community by providing affordable bikes for transportation, recreation and fitness,” said LeAnn Yamamoto, event director.

DONATIONS AND FREEBIES

Free bike helmets:  a limit number will be available April 13 for kids ages 3-16 in families of financial hardship through the Kiwanis Paint-A-Helmet program.

 Donate a bike: You can donate a bike to sell for the total benefit of the Centennial Trail.  The Friends of the Centennial Trail will store the bike if you want to bring it in days before the event.  Call (509) 624-7188. 

Wash. state parks face grim future under Senate proposal

PARKS — State Parks were hurting when the 2013 Washington Legisature convene, and a bunch of them will be closing if the Senate doesn't scratch up some money to keep these valuable assets solvent.

The state budget as proposed by the Senate on Thursday — SSB 5034 — would CUT the state parks budget by more than $5 million and force the closure of some state parks.

A lot is at stake for Spokane area, where the quality of life is vastly enhanced by Mount Spokane and Riverside state parks, which also manage the Centennial Trail and Little Spokane Natural Area.

But under deep cuts inflicted on the agency over the past few years, Mount Spokane already has no ranger on duty two days a week. That situation would likely get worse under the current budget proposal, not to mention the 30 or so parks that would have to be closed.

The governor’s proposed budget is much kinder to State Parks,” said Cris Currie of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park.

State Parks needs $27 million from the General Fund to keep the system functioning reasonably, said Jeff Lambert, conservation chair of the Spokane Mountaineers.  At this point, he said, “There is no long-range financial plan for State Parks.”

 Contacts:

Salmon fishing seminar tonight at Mark’s Marine

FISHING — Mike Cordon of the Adventure Guide Service and Benita Galland will present a free salmon fishing program tonight, 6:30 p.m. for the latest in this year's seminar series at Mark’s Marine, 14355 N. Government Way in Hayden.

The seminar will focus on techniques and their favorite fishing spots and seasons on Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Columbia River system.

The last scheduled seminar at Mark's Marine is April 11, the annual Electronics Seminar presented by Mike Pentony, the Lowrance west coast pro staffer.

East siders wary of extending spring chinook fishing in Lower Columbia

FISHING — Spring chinook anglers in the lower Columbia River are getting an additional six days of fishing.

Low harvest levels ran well below expectations in March, prompting Oregon and Washington to extend the initial  recreational fishing season through April 12.  Originally, it was set to close, previously set to close April 5.
 
Fishing success picked up on Wednesday.
 
Through March, anglers had caught just 1,500 adult spring chinook salmon, about 25 percent of the 6,100-fish harvest expected by this point in fishery, said Ron Roler, Washington Fish and Wildlife's Columbia River policy coordinator.
 
“The season definitely got off to a slow start, but the bulk of the run is starting to move in,” Roler said. “River conditions are excellent – low and warm – so we will be monitoring the fishery closely to make sure the catch doesn’t exceed the established guideline.”
 
Allen Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian caught two East Side salmon spokesman for comments from an upstream perspective:
  • Idaho Fish and Game fisheries manager Pete Hassemer suggested that Oregon and Washington close fishing on a couple of days next week to lessen the harvest on the earliest-returning spring chinook, which largely are headed to Idaho.
  • Tri-State Steelheaders spokesman Mike Bireley in Walla Walla urged sport fishing in the lower Columbia be limited to three days per week until 10 percent of the projected upper Columbia-Snake run has crossed Bonneville Dam.
Guy Norman, WDFW regional director in Vancouver, cautioned that sport catches can skyrocket in April if the fish arrive.
 
“River conditions are very good for catching spring chinook salmon,'' Norman said. “I want to be sure we're on top of this.''
 
After three years of strong spring chinook returns, this year’s fishery is based on a projected run of 141,400 upriver fish, about 25 percent below the 10-year average. By comparison, approximately 203,000 fish destined for areas above Bonneville Dam returned to the Columbia River last year. Another 67,600 are predicted to return this year to the Willamette and other lower Columbia tributaries.

Under the plethora of state, federal and tribal management agreements, sportsmen in the lower Columbia are allocated 4,900 of those upper Columbia chinook before mid-May. About 1,570 of those 4,900 are projected to be caught through Friday and 3,652 chinook through April 12.

Washington and Oregon officials say they may meet on April 10 to review sport catches from the lower Columbia. Norman said he also wants the states to track the catch and be ready by Monday or Tuesday if an early closure is warranted.

State officials will meet at 2 p.m. Monday to consider commercial fishing on Tuesday in the lower Columbia.
 

Last push of steelhead crossing Lower Granite Dam

FISHING — Warm weather and spikes of river flow have spurred the last gasp of the season's steelhead spawning run up and over Lower Granite Dam.

The 4,300 steelhead over the dam since Jan. 1, is very similar to last year and the five-year average.

Ski areas winding down; some extending season

WINTER SPORTS — Good spring skiing is in the forecast for skiers and snowboarders as Inland Northwest resorts post various schedules, events and season extensions.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort  announced today the extension of the ski season through April 14, noting the snowpack remains excellent. The annual Tropical Daze celebration is this weekend (April 6-7).

49 Degrees North has announced free lift tickets for skiers and snowboarders for the rest of the week before the resort shuts down for the season after Sunday (April 7).

Silver Mountain will be open Thursday-Sunday this week, with the end of the regular season festival and Splashdown Rail Jam this weekend. Thereafter, lifts will reopen for “Silver Saturdays” through April.

Lookout Pass  is open Thursday through Sunday this week. The annual Slush Cup is set for  Saturday (April 6). Next week the plan is to be open only on April 13 for the last day of the season.

Mt. Spokane is open for spring break, closing for the season on Sunday (April 7).

Stevens Pass  is open this week through Sunday, then reopening April 8-14 to close the season.

Only 13 state senators support federal lands in Idaho

PUBLIC LANDS — Would you trust the state of Idaho to manage the national forests, rangelands and parks in the best interest of a full range of the public, recreation and wildlife?

Quotable:

“Senators, the only reason you want title to a land is to sell it. And I don't think Idaho should be for sale.”

Idaho Sen. Michelle Stennett, one of 13 who voted against House Concurrent Resolution 22, which demands Congress transfer federal lands in Idaho to the state.
- Idaho Mountain Express

The first year of a wolf, from conception

WILDLIFE — Northern Rockies gray wolf packs are highly structured socially.   Only the alpha male and alpha female breed.

Generally, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife biologists:

  • Mating occurs in January.
  • Pups are born in dens in April and the pack supports the nursing mother with food.
  • The female and pups begin uniting with the pack at a rendezvous site in May. 
  • Pups are weaned in June.
  • By October, the pups are actively hunting with the pack.
  • By December, the pups appear full size and some older wolves may have been dispersed from the pack to take care of themselves and find new mates and territories. 
  • Wolf packs are known to kill other wolves as they expand or defend territories averaging 350 square miles. Dispersing wolves are especially vulnerable.

A pack is defined as a minimum of two wolves hanging out together.

A breeding pack must have a minimum of one male and one female wolf hanging out together during the winter breeding period.

Hunting, trapping slow to balance Idaho wolf numbers

PREDATORS — Idaho's 2012 wolf monitoring report released Tuesday indicates the state is struggling to get 14 years of burgeoning wolf populations into some sort of sustainable balance with prey and social acceptance.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reports 683 wolves at the end of 2012, down from 746 wolves in 2011 — an 11 percent decrease.  

But the total number of packs has increased from 104 in 2011 to 117 in 2012. Wolves are moving in and out of the state, and a new crop of wolves is being born in dens across the state this month.

State wildlife officials attribute both the overall population downsizing and the increase in packs to continued pressure through hunting, trapping and agency control methods.

“Despite concerns expressed by some people that hunting and trapping would eliminate wolf packs, we haven’t found that to be the case,” said Jon Rachael, Fish and Game’s state big-game manager in Boise.

While the number of wolf packs increased, the average size of the packs decreased, Rachael said.

“That is exactly what we would expect to see with wolves being harvested by hunters and trappers,” he said. “Average pack size peaked in 2008 prior to our first hunting season, when we estimated an average of slightly more than eight wolves per pack, and has declined since then to about five wolves per pack now.”

Last year, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission increased bag limits, extended hunting seasons in some areas, allowed hunters to use electronic calls and certified more wolf trappers.

Idaho reports 418 wolves were killed by these means and the efforts of Wildlife Services to protect livestock

Yet the overall effort has barely made a dent in a wolf population that federal and state experts agree is too large for its own good.

For now, it’s the official policy of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to continue reducing the number of wolves. Wildlife officials don't state a goal for Idaho's wolf population, noting only that the state legislature in 2002 committed to maintaining at least 150 wolves.

“Simply removing them one time doesn't mean they are gone,” Rachael said. “They will backfill suitable habitat fairly quickly. That is why you can have a pretty high harvest rate with wolves and you don't see the population plummeting as some folks were predicting early on.”

Free skiing through Sunday at 49 Degrees North

WINTER SPORTS — 49 Degrees North has announced free lift tickets for skiers and snowboarders for the rest of the week.

The resort plans to shut down for the season after Sunday, the final day of free skiing, sponsored by Toyota dealers.

Anglers flock to Dry Falls for April 1 opener

FISHING — With April 1 falling on a Monday, the opening day for fishing at many of the Columbia Basin's trout lakes didn't reel in a lot of effort in some areas.

Dry Falls Lake was an exception.

The selective gear lake, a darling for fly fishers had a good turnout, with 45-50 float tubes and pontoons on the water when Washington Fish and Wildlife Deparment district biologist Chad Jackson checked it out.

Fishing overall was good with several anglers having double digit catches of trout, Jackson said. “However, individual angler success was highly variable, that is, some with over 20 fish, some with less than10, and others with 2-3 or less,” he said. 

“Anglers who fished chironomids were the most successful. 

“Trout size was excellent ranging from 12-20” and with most around 15-16.”

Fishing effort wasn’t very high at the “production” lakes (Upper and Lower Hampton lakes, North and South Teal lakes), but those who did fish Monday morning had gorgeous weather and reasonably good success, Jackson said.

Anglers averaged about two trout each, and those harvested were 13-16 inches. 

Idaho reports 11 percent decrease in wolves during 2012

PREDATORS — Idaho's gray wolf population at the end of 2012 was at least 683, a decrease of 11 percent from 2011, according to the federally required annual state wolf monitoring report (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/wolves/) posted online today by the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

Humans killed 418 of the 425 wolves known to have died in the state last year by hunting, trapping and state and federal agency control efforts to protect livestock, the report says.

However, the number of documented packs had increased and wolves were occupying territories throughout the state.

Montana also has reported a decrease in wolves in its 2012 annual report, the first decrease since 2004.

In Washington, where wolves are still under Endangered Species protections, the number of wolves increased signficantly from 2011 to 2012, with the number pegged at around 100.  

Idaho biologists documented 117 packs in the state at the end of 2012 — an increase of seven from 2011 — plus 23 border packs that overlap in Montana, Wyoming and Washington.  But total numbers of wolves have gradually decreased because of hunting and other efforts since the population peaked at a minimum of 856 in 2009. 

Of the 66 Idaho packs known to have reproduced, 35 packs qualified as breeding pairs at the end of the year, the report says. Those reproductive packs produced a minimum of 187 pups.

A new crop of pups will be born in dens across the state this month.

Wolves were confirmed to have killed 73 cattle, 312 sheep and two dogs in Idaho last year, the report says.

The Panhandle Zone was occupied by 15 documented resident packs in 2012 — up three from 2011 —  plus five known resident border packs, three suspected packs and one other documented group during 2012, the report says. Three new resident packs were documented in 2012.

Wolf recovery and monitoring reports from Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and more recently from Washington and Oregon are posted on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northern Rockies Gray Wolf website.

Montana revisiting wolf management plan

PREDATORS — With wolves stacking up in northeastern Washington at an alarming rate, perhaps Washington ought to take a cue from Montana, which has announced plans to review the guidelines set in the state's wolf management plan.

Montana is rounding up the state's disbanded 12-member Wolf Management Advisory Council in Helena, April 12, for a meeting to review and discuss the wolf management plan they helped to create.

“A lot has transpired since the council last met in 2007,” said Jeff Hagener, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department director. “Governor Steve Bullock and I have invited the members to gather in Helena for a one-day meeting to review the status of the wolf in Montana today and to discuss the effectiveness of the management plan.”

Poachers keep wildlife officers busy writing tickets

FISHING — Numerous lakes already are open for fishing, but a few folks apparently like the elbow room they find at waters that aren't officially open.

They kept Spokane Region Wildlife police  busy last week.   Here are a few excerpts from the regional enforcement weekly report:

Officer Snyder patrolled the Spokane River and lakes in the Medical Lake and Cheney areas.  Two groups of anglers were cited for fishing closed season at West Medical Lake

Officer Snyder checked anglers at Liberty Lake and arrested one on an outstanding warrant out of Lincoln County. 

Officer Spurbeck patrolled the Spokane River and contacted two subjects fishing closed waters.  The subjects were also using terminal gear and neither subject had a valid fishing license. 

Sergeant Charron responded to two fisherman fishing closed waters on Deep Lake. Suspects attempted to hide fishing gear but were unsuccessful. 

Officer Vance patrolled the Touchet and Tucannon Rivers. One angler was contacted as he was fishing directly at the base of the dam in Dayton on the Touchet River. He said he saw the no fishing signs and knew he was not allowed to fish there, but wanted to catch a steelhead the easy way. 

Judge says backcountry skiers have right to relief from snowmobiles

WINTER SPORTS — Backcountry skiers who have been negotiating against the near-total encroachment of snowmobiles into national forest playgrounds near Lookout Pass and Stevens Peak may find some support in a ruling handed down by a court in Boise.

A federal judge in Idaho says the U.S. Forest Service broke the law when it didn’t craft rules to govern snowmobile travel, handing powder-loving backcountry skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts a victory that could extend to national forests nationwide.

  • The skiers emphasized they didn't want a ban on snowmobiling, just a balance of their use in the winter backcountry.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush ruled Friday that the Forest Service must go back to work on its 2005 Travel Management Rule and draw up regulations designating areas of use and non-use by all off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles, on national forest lands.

See the story: Judge sides with backcountry skiers

Tick paralysis cause of mysterious dog illness

ANIMALS — A dog that walks like it's drunk, or starts loosing control of its legs, or unable to get up could have a number of ailments.  But one thing you should check for immediately is tick paralysis. 

The cure if caught early is as simple as removing the problem-causing tick.

Here's a case in point from Mary Franzel of North Idaho who encountered the problem over the weekend with her dog, Zip:

To my dog owner friends: Yesterday Zip got “Tick Paralysis.” It's a toxin that some ticks have that causes progressive paralysis. It started by her not being able to stand up on her hind legs to look out the window. It progressed to her barely being able to use her back legs.

Thank heavens Celeste Boatwright Grace happened to be over for a hike. After ruling out an injury, she thought of this tick borne disease. We found 4 ticks & after a bath I found one more. If the tick is removed soon enough it reverses & the dog usually returns to normal. It can be fatal if the tick remains attached & the dog ends up going into respiratory distress. It's most common in the Rocky Mountains & the Pacific Northwest.

Ponderay Vet has already seen 1 case last week. It is rare, but from now on I'm treating all my dogs with topical tick medication.  A heads up - you may want to treat your dogs!

I tried to post a video of Zip stumbling but my speedy internet connection wouldn't let me. She is very tired today but seems to be walking fine. :-)

Outdoors daughter flexes mussel, eats weeds

FORAGING — Who says college grads can't make a living? 

My daughter, Hillary, is using skills she learned as a camp trip leader and kayak guide to make nutritional ends meet with a little Northwest foraging during a recent outing with her sister in the San Juan Islands. As her recent email reported:

When we went out kayaking, I harvested some mussels and we cooked them up last night in a curry! Brook had an abundance of nettles in her backyard so I picked a bag full and made nettle pesto last night! Here is a picture of my spring bounty. I froze a jar for you and mom. Even though I wore gloves, my fingers still tingled all night last night!

I told her I'm glad she knows how to cook stinging nettles: Better to have tingling fingers than a tingling colon.

She also said she's looking forward to feeding me some bull kelp chutney.

Dent Acres campground opens April 11 at Dworshak Reseroir

BOATING — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir says the Dent Acres Campground has been opened for the season and campers are reserving sites for spring and summer using the www.recreation.gov reservation system.

The smallmout bass fishing can be good, and Idaho Fish and Game biologists predict this will be a great kokanee fishing season at the reservoir.

Reservations can be made for camping dates May 23 or later, though the campground opens on April 11 on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Dent Acres campsite fees are $10 per night via self-deposit registration for April 11 – May 22.
  • Reserved campsites beginning May 23 are $18 per night.
  • The Group Camp is $50 per night, and the Picnic Shelter is $25 for the day.
 
Dent Acres boat ramp was opened for public use on Monday, March 11.
 
For updated Dworshak water level and boat ramp information, call (800) 321-3198.
 
For more information regarding facilities access and current conditions call (208) 476-1255 or stop by Dworshak Dam Visitor Center, which is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Biologists will kill Naches bighorns to curb disease

WILDLIFE — Noting that at least 25 wild sheep have already been found dead, state wildlife officials announced today they plan to euthanize a large percentage bighorns remaining in the Naches area to curb the spread of a deadly pneumonia outbreak running through the herd.  

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists and U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services staff plan to shoot wild sheep over the next few weeks in the Tieton herd, about 10 miles west of Naches.

Because most of the sheep are believed to be infected with a disease that causes pneumonia, almost all of the animals will likely need to be euthanized, said Richard Harris, WDFW manager for special species.

This is just the latest of several outbreaks that have wracked the region's bighorns.

Read on for details.

Bicycles rule North Cascades Highway behind plows

BICYCLING — Bicyclists are in that brief once-a-year window of opportunity when the North Cascades Highway west of Winthrop is all theirs — save fore a few snow plows and Washington Department of Transportation vehicles plowing the pass.

“This is that one time of the year when Highway 20 is a trail,” the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association reminds us in a post.
 
WSDOT crews have begun clearing the snow and they are moving fast, says the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
  • Click here to follow the work to clear the road up and over Washington and Rainy passes.
And if you miss this opportunity, there's always the premier chance to ride behind the plows on the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park starting in late April and sometimes running into June.

Idaho hatchery to boost endangered sockeye

FISHING – Construction on a once-abandoned sockeye fish hatchery project in eastern Idaho intended to bolster Idaho’s breeding program is back on schedule, Idaho Fish and Game officials said.

The $13.5 million Springfield Fish Hatchery between Aberdeen and Blackfoot should be finished by November.

Hatchery manager Doug Engemann said the hatchery is intended to boost the number of endangered sockeye salmon returning to Redfish Lake near Stanley in central Idaho. The Bonneville Power Administration is paying for the hatchery that’s being built on a 73-acre site.

“We’re moving past the genetic conservation component of the program into a bonafide stock rebuilding, stock recovery program,” Engemann said.

5 months to grouse season: Got a dog?

HUNTING — Yep, a good bird dog pup can be a handful for a few months, but he'll be worth his adult weight in gold for a hunter, as a companion and a working dog.

I saw this handsome three-week-old German shorthair pointer at Dunfur Kennel off I-90 near the Four Lakes Exit.

First wave of Idaho big-game hunt applications starts today

HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Department will take applications for moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep controlled hunts starting today through April 30.

Applications for elk, deer, pronghorn, fall turkey and fall black bear controlled hunts are accepted from May 1 through June 5.

Cougar kittens evade coyotes at Elk Refuge

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Where's a good tree when you need it?

Two cougar kittens used their climbing skills and a wooden fence to evade five coyotes on the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyo., as shown in a series of photos by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Outdoor Recreation Planner Lori Iverson.

Iverson witnessed a spectacular standoff between two juvenile mountain lions as the coyotes let the cats know they weren’t welcome in the area. The mountain lions sought safety on a buck and rail fence for over an hour while the coyotes lurked in the background.

Here, one of the coyotes has moved in closer. Notice the flattened positions of the mountain lions.

Click here to see the rest of Iverson's photos.

Get blog updates by email

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.

Follow Rich on Twitter

Send Rich an email

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Outdoors blog.

About Rich

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.

Recent work by Rich

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here