Field Reports: Montana curbs increase of wolves

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

PREDATORS – Montana wildlife officials say hunting and other measures have turned the tide on the growth of gray wolf populations increasing since the 1900s.

At least 625 wolves inhabited Montana at the end of 2012, state Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said Thursday.

Montana’s annual verified minimum wolf count decreased 4 percent in 2012 compared to a 15 percent increase in 2011 and an 8 percent increase in 2010.

The 625 wolves are in 147 packs with 37 breeding pairs that will produce pups next month.

The 2012 calculation does not include 95 wolves killed by hunters and trappers from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 this year.

Salmon, steelhead meeting in Tri-Cities

FISHING – Washington fisheries managers will explain forecasts and rules for salmon and steelhead fishing in the Columbia Basin in a public meeting Wednesday, 5 p.m.-9 p.m., at the Benton PUD building, 2721 W. 10th Ave. in Kennewick.

Topics will range from new barbless hook requirements to preseason forecasts, including those for salmon and steelhead upstream of McNary Dam.

See schedule: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/ northfalcon.

Program: winter rafting in Grand Canyon

RIVERS – Lynn and Stan Mrzygod will recount their recent 30-day, 300-mile, self-guided winter excursion through wild rapids in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in a slide program sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club on Monday, 7 p.m., at Mountain Gear corporate offices, 6021 E. Mansfield in Spokane Valley.

Spokane River forum updates access, trout

RIVERS – The annual Spokane River Forum conference this week, mostly oriented to scientists and agencies, will have several panel discussions of interest to recreationalists on Tuesday at CenterPlace Regional Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Pl. in Spokane Valley:

• Putting Shoreline Master Programs to Work, 10:45 a.m., involves public river access for boaters and Centennial Trail users.

• Spokane River Water Trail, 1:30 p.m.

• Red Band Trout Recovery, 3 p.m.

Info: spokaneriver.net/conf.

Hungry bears emerge

CRITTERS – Bears have been coming out of their winter dens in recent weeks.

Since black bears can lose as much as half their body weight during hibernation, and natural foods are scarce, the animals are especially motivated to find easy sources of high-protein food, Washington Fish and Wildlife officials say.

Last year, state agents responded to 444 situations involving bears, ranging from raids on garbage cans and birdfeeders to confrontations with pets.

New laws went into effect last summer that prohibit leaving food or food waste where it can attract bears and other wild carnivores.

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