Washington’s “hunter orange” requirement will not be repealed by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, even though a Grays Harbor County judge ruled the commission had no authority to impose it.
The commission voted at its meeting Saturday to retain the requirement and to seek legislation authorizing it to require hunters to wear a piece of fluorescent-orange clothing as a safety precaution.
“By retaining hunter orange as a requirement, we are clearly saying that the safety of hunters is one of our major priorities,” commission chairman Mitch Johnson said.
“There are 40 states which require some form of hunter orange, and the experience of these states generally shows a significant reduction in firearm-related hunting accidents, without a reduction in hunter harvest,” Johnson said.
He said Washington statistics since the requirement was adopted in 1991 also reflect significant reductions in hunter-related accidents.
Duck bag boosted
Washington duck hunters will enjoy a longer season and higher daily bag limits this year.
Higher waterfowl breeding population levels are expected to produce extremely good hunting conditions statewide.
In Eastern Washington, this year’s waterfowl season will run 100 days, from Oct. 14-Jan. 21, with a bag limit of six ducks. Last year, the split season lasted 76 days, with a bag limit of four.
Bull trout studied
Montana biologists propose killing 12,000 hatchery-reared bull trout because releasing them might damage the gene pool of native bull trout.
The fish at the federal Creston hatchery grew from eggs collected in western Montana waters. They were reared mostly as an experiment.
The experiment proved bull trout can survive at Creston, and it also helped biologists learn about the physiology of the fish, said Wade Fredenberg, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. The information could be valuable if hatchery bull trout are needed in the future.
Environmental groups, such as Friends of the Wild Swan, have sued the hatchery to prevent release of the fish, now 6 inches long.
There are concerns that release could jeopardize the small and struggling population of wild bull trout in Montana waters.
State biologist Scott Rumsey said northwestern Montana lakes with suitable spawning areas generally have either remnant or healthy bull trout populations, or are connected to other bull trout waters.
There are fears that planting thousands of hatchery fish atop natives would overwhelm local gene pools and produce fish not ideally suited to their environments.
Rumsey said it is scientifically wise to avoid mixing hatchery and wild fish. “You have to realize that planting fish is not a panacea for helping wild populations,” he said.
Fish boosters honored
A fisherman’s breakfast to honor spearheads for Lake Roosevelt net pens projects will be held between 9 and 11 a.m. Saturday at the Seven Bays Community Center.
The event is open to anyone, Tim Peone of the Lake Roosevelt Development Association said. Cost will be $4 for adults and $2 for children under 12.
Net pen operators raise 400,000 rainbows a year for release into Lake Roosevelt.
Fly fishers unite
Rotating vices designed to help anglers tie better flies, sunglasses guaranteed to help locate fish feeding the sunniest banks, the latest in wader technology and rods and reels enough to satisfy even the most eager fishers were featured at the 30th annual Federation of Fly Fishers conclave in Livingston, Mont., last week.
Even area environmentalists had something to pitch. They were trying to recruit supporters to fight a gold mine planned at the headwaters of the famed Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River.
FFF operations manager Larry Watson estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 attended.
Tiger tales needed
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wants to know how tiger muskies are doing in Newman Lake and is asking anglers to report hooking fairly large ones.
Madonna Luers, information specialist for the Spokane regional office, said biologists have been unable to catch tiger muskies by electro-fishing, so they have to rely on anglers’ reports to determine growth rates.
She said the department would especially like information on fish weighing more than 25 pounds. Call 456-4073. , Idaho open houses
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will conduct a series of community open houses in towns throughout the Clearwater Region this month to increase citizen participation in setting deer and elk seasons.
“We’re attempting to bring the public into the rule-making process at the outset, not near the end as we’ve done in the past,” said commissioner Keith Carlson.
Following the first round of open houses, the newly formed Clearwater Citizen’s Advisory Committee will review the public comments received and provide input as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game develops the season recommendations.
A second round of community open houses will take place this fall, with the public having an opportunity to review the season proposals and comment on them.
The department will conduct open house meetings, 4-8 p.m., at:
Aug. 21, Lewiston, Community Center, 1424 Main St.
Aug. 22, Moscow, Latah County Fairgrounds Pavilion, 1021 Harold St.
Aug. 23, Orofino, High School, 300 Dunlap Rd.
Aug. 24, Grangeville, Senior Citizens Center, County Rd.
Fraser fishery closed
Canadian Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin last week shut down the largest salmon fishery in the world - the Fraser River fishery - and held out little hope it will reopen this year.
Tobin made the decision after reviewing data that showed sockeye stocks were almost 70 percent lower than the 11 million fish expected.
Fisheries officials blame the low returns on unusually warm Pacific waters and surges in predator fish populations.
“This is not the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye fishery, it is a dramatic decline of one year in a cycle,” Tobin said.
The fishing ban covers the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia between the mainland and Vancouver Island and halts all sport and Indian commercial fishing.
Fishery officials say the ban will cost their industry $77 million.