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THURSDAY, DEC. 16, 2010

This week's CdA eagle count: 117

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- BLM biologist Carrie Hugo counted 117 bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area of Lake Coeur d'Alene during her weekly count on Wednesday. The 117 birds -- 85 adults with white heads and 32 immature birds -- is up from 89...

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When quail don't fly

HUNTING -- I was pretty confident going into today's hunt. I had a shotgun and an English setter that covers real estate like the wind.But the valley quail didn't fly.Instead, they challenged us to a footrace through the Lincoln County sagebrush.The birds won, by a...

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The bald eagle at right drops a kokanee salmon back into Lake Coeur d’Alene near Higgens Point after the eagle at left began harassing it Wednesday. Birdwatchers and photographers gather along the lake’s eastern arm this time of year to watch the eagles feed on spawned-out kokanee. The birds migrate through the region on their way south each December.  (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Board CdA boats to view bald eagles

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- A scenic boat cruise is one of the more enjoyable ways to view the annual winter bald eagle gathering at Lake Coeur d'Alene's Wolf Lodge Bay.Here are a few options;Dec. 26-Jan. 2: Coeur d'Alene Resort 2-hour cruises start at 1 p.m. Cost:...

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Owl carving stolen at 49 Degrees North

NORDIC SKIING -- Etta, the owl beautifully carved out of cedar, has been stolen from its perch overlooking the the Hoot Owl nordic ski trail at 49 Degrees North."Please put out the word," said Keith Wakefield, who helped design and create the ski area's nordic...

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WEDNESDAY, DEC. 15, 2010

This 770 foot railroad trestle across the north end of Curlew Lake is a key feature in the 33-mile Ferry County Rail Trail  that runs along an abandoned railway from Republic to the Canada border. (Bob Whittaker)

Ferry County trail gets $100,000 grant

TRAILS -- A $100,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation will help put railings and other safety features on a 770-foot trestle -- one of the jewels in the rough of the rail trail that runs 33 miles from Republic to the Canada...

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Early reaction to Wildlife merger plan

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT -- The buzz is growing over Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget-cutting proposals that would, among other things, merge the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to into a new mega agency and reduce the Fish and Wildlife Commission to an advisory role or eliminate it...

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A white wild turkey feeds with a flock of normal wild turkeys in north Spokane County. (Evan Johnson)

Wild turkeys toughest bird around

WILD FOWL -- In a testament to the species' hardiness, reports of white wild turkeys among the region's big wintering flocks are fairly common.First, one must marvel that there are big wintering flocks after two bad winters in the past three years followed by this...

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TUESDAY, DEC. 14, 2010

Fish, Wildlife panel could be axed

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is on the chopping block in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Tuesday proposal announced to consolidate state agencies and eliminate boards and commissions to save nearly $30 million.Among other mergers, a new Department of Conservation and Recreation would...

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F&G diretor fined $500 for trespassing

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT -- Idaho’s top fish and game official has pleaded guilty to one count of trespass to hunt and ordered to pay a $500 fine, the Associated Press reported this afternoon. Idaho Fish and Game Director Cal Groen told a judge Tuesday he wasn’t...

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Bear barks up wrong tree 

WILDLIFE -- Hunting from a tree stand puts a hunter's scent above the ground, where critters often come and go without a clue that a human is present.Sometimes the critters don't come and go, through. Sometimes they just keep coming.Check out this video of a...

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MT student won’t be expelled over gun

GUNS -- A Columbia Falls High School student who inadvertently brought an unloaded rifle to school in the trunk of her car will not be expelled, the Associated Press reports.The school board made its unanimous decision Monday night, and the 16-year-old honor student and varsity...

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Autumn is one of the best times to visit Glacier Natural Park. Crowds are down, and you get access to some of the most beautiful fall foliage around and very much worth the drive east from the Inland Northwest. (Donnie Sexton  / Montana Office of Tourism)

Glacier National Park records busiest year

PARKS -- Glacier National Park’s Centennial year has become its busiest.Even though November’s visitor count was down 14 percent compared to the same time last year, the 13,000 visitors last month were enough to push this year’s total visitation past the 1983 record year, according...

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This pair of moose  roamed around Hauser Lake on Sunday. Agencies are getting more complaints about wildlife munching on local gardens.
 (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Moose in the yard? Chill

WILDLIFE -- Winter weather is tempting moose to wander into towns and neighborhoods to nibble tender landscaping plants. In most cases, Idaho Fish and Game Department officers recommend giving the moose a day or two to find its way back into the wild. "It found...

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MONDAY, DEC. 13, 2010

Poachers keep wildlife officers busy

POACHING PATROL -- Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement officers in the Spokane Region seem to be answering an increased number of serious poaching calls, Capt. Mike Whorton said today.Recent examples include...

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Red line shows the 2011 forecast return of Columbia River upriver spring chinook salmon in comparison with the actural returns from previous years. They are ranked in order of size. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Spring chinook forecast looks good

FISHING -- The 2011 spring chinook salmon run into the Columbia river should be a good one, although not in the sensational range of the run that moved upstream this year.State and federal fisheries experts last week issued a preliminary forecast of 158,000 springers moving...

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Tonight: Free programs feature wilderness, exploring

PROGRAMS -- The Spokane Mountaineers are featuring two programs tonight featuring some excellent outdoor photography.Tim Coleman of Conservation Northwest will discuss the Columbia Highlands Initiative and proposals for wilderness areas in the Okanogan and Colville National Forests.Jon Jantz of WILDLIGHT Photography, a Washington climber, traveler,...

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A dog  watches over ewes at Lava Lake Land & Livestock near the North Fork of the Big Lost River near Ketchum, Idaho. The company uses dogs and other measures to protect its sheep from wolves. Associated Press
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Other predators benefit from focus on wolves 

WILDLIFE -- While the Rocky Mountain reigon's wildlife control agents are forced to focus on wolves, coyotes, grizzly bears, black bears and mountain lions are making a killing on livestock."Our wildlife control people spend so much time with wolves that they’re being taken away from...

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A simple dome tent structure - a work in progress -  serves as a snowshoer's shelter on the Twisted Klister trail systemat Fourth of July Pass. It's maintained by the Panhandle Nordic Club

 (Panhandle Nordic Club)

Simple shelters go up for snowshoers

WINTER SPORTS -- You have to love the spirit of the Panhandle Nordic Club and the volunteers who have helped develop the Fourth of July Pass ski and snowshoe trails.They help maintain the trails. They bake cookies to give to the I-90 snowplow drivers as...

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SUNDAY, DEC. 12, 2010

Weather bleak at Mount Spokane nordic area

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING -- The great skiing conditions of Saturday deteriorated today into a slushy slog at the Mount Spokane nordic ski trails.To add insult to injury, the power was lost to the Selkirk Lodge this morning. The trails couldn't be groomed Saturday night because of...

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SATURDAY, DEC. 11, 2010

Tim Wills gets some help from his 10-year-old son, Josh, to land a bright steelhead on Dec. 11, 2010, along the Snake River shoreline several miles upstream from Lower Granite Dam. (Rich Landers)

Snake River shores hot for steelhead

FISHING – A cold winter wind was blowing down the Snake River today, but the steelhead fishing was hot.With the able assistance of his 10-year-old son, Josh, shore angler Tim Wills landed this bright steelie around 1 p.m. near the Wawaiwai boat launch. The Wills...

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FRIDAY, DEC. 10, 2010

A snowy owl was photographed in Lincoln County on Dec. 10, 2010. The arctic visitors delight birdwatchers when they arrive in Eastern Washington each winter. (Buck Domitrovich)

Snowy owls make annual visit to region

BIRDING -- They come just a few at a time from their home in the arctic, but they stand out like NBA players on a grade-school tour bus when they arrive in Lincoln County each winter.Snowy owls are always welcome sights to Inland Northwest birdwatchers....

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Stevens County sets hearing on OHV laws

OFF-ROADING -- The controversial issue of making it legal to ride ATVs and other non-highway-suitable vehicles on more public roads is back on the front burner in Stevens County.Amendments to OHV Ordinance 06-2009 is set for discussion at a special Dec. 20 County Commissioners hearing,...

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Highway underpass a hit with critters

WILDLIFE -- A month after a wildlife underpass opened under Idaho Highway 21 east of Boise, the animals seem to be getting the hang of it, according to the Idaho Statesman.Boise River Wildlife Management Area manager Ed Bottum says the animals almost immediately began using...

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Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.