FISHING – Restrictions on use of lead fishing tackle at 13 lakes with nesting loons will be considered by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission when it meets Thursday-Saturday in Olympia.
The lead issue is on the agenda for Saturday.
Studies have shown that loons can die of lead poisoning by ingesting lead sinkers as they forage for fish.
The 13 lakes where loons breed in Washington include Ferry, Long and Swan lakes in Ferry County; Calligan and Hancock lakes in King County; Bonaparte, Blue and Lost lakes in Okanogan County; Big Meadow, South Skookum and Yocum lakes in Pend Oreille County; Pierre Lake in Stevens County; and Hozomeen Lake in Whatcom County.
Info on lead and loons is online: wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/loons/
Bycatch of kings frustrates anglers
FISHING – Pollock boats and other commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Alaska have accidentally caught an estimated 58,336 king salmon this year, a level of bycatch that could trigger restrictions.
In recent years Gulf of Alaska bycatch numbers have hovered around 20,000 fish.
“By far this is the largest (bycatch) we have ever seen,” said Josh Keaton, a fisheries manager with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Kodiak. “Hopefully it means a lot of kings are out there to be caught and they ran into a big pack of them.”
Most of the bycatch came from the trawl pollock fishery in the last month, especially in the western gulf.
Bycatch is a perennial source of conflict between trawlers and people who prize kings — commercial salmon vessels, subsistence users and sport anglers.
The bycatch this year was large enough to attract the attention of fishery managers in the Lower 48 because kings accidentally caught in the Gulf of Alaska may be from endangered stocks from the Lower 48.
Colorado fourteeners log deadly year
CLIMBING – Eleven climbers have died scaling Colorado’s tallest mountains this season, a possible record for tragedy in the increasingly popular pursuit of 14,000-foot peaks.
Yet, with the number of Colorado peak-baggers reaching 500,000 every season by one group’s estimate, the number of fatalities per 1,000 hikers could be declining.
No one charts hiker and climber deaths in Colorado’s mountains. Since climbers aren’t required to register before beginning an ascent, it’s impossible to accurately count the number of hikers on the state’s 54 fourteeners, says the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative.
But tragic years such as this could fuel a push to impose fees or registration for the state’s heavily trafficked summits.
The trend is clear.
Administrators at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington and Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve have announced plans to raise climber fees by 150 percent to help offset increased costs related to each park’s climbing program. The new fees — $500 for Denali climbers and $50 at Rainier — drew criticism from climbing groups.
Montana forest bill still has a chance
PUBLIC LANDS – U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., says his compromise plan to increase logging and expand wilderness still has a chance to clear Congress this year.
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