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Bird Watchers Convene

Hold your fire! Those aren’t government spies infiltrating the countryside with binoculars to their eyes this week. They’re birders convening in Spokane for the Western Field Ornithologist annual meeting, Thursday through Sunday.

The meeting features field trips to area bird hot spots as early as 5:30 a.m. daily. Friday is packed with indoor bird research presentations at the Holiday Inn West.

Tom Rogers, retired Rogers High biology teacher, will discuss birds in the Dishman Hills Natural Area at 10 a.m. Friday. Other presentations by regional experts will feature neotropical birds, impacts of forestry on birds, plus specific reports on loggerhead shrikes, various owls, goshawks and sharp-tailed grouse.

Although people will be coming from as far away as New Mexico, “probably 90 percent of those attending are non-professionals,” said Russell Rogers, president of the Washington Ornithological Society. “Our meeting would surely appeal to anyone that has even a passing interest in birds.”

Field trips range from the Palouse area to search for grasshopper sparrows and white-throated swifts to Salmo Mountain, where birders might see spruce grouse, three-toed woodpeckers and bobolinks.

Info: Russell Rogers, (206) 935-6280; or Bill Tweit, (360) 754-7098.

Fishing pays at Williams

Anglers can compete for $300 in cash Saturday at a Williams Lake fishing derby sponsored by the Cheney Chamber of Commerce.

The derby, based out of Klink’s Williams Lake Resort, will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entry fee is $5. Top prize for the angler who catches the largest fish is $100.

Employees at the resort recently released some large Kamloops trout into the lake.

Bear hunters need course

Hunters planning to use bait to attract black bears in the North Cascades grizzly bear recovery zone must complete a new bait hunter certification course, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department said.

The evening course will cover use of bait and bear identification.

“We want to be sure hunters can distinguish between a black bear and a grizzly,” said Steve Pozzanghera, department bear specialist. “We’ve limited the requirement to bait hunters because of the potential to habituate grizzlies to bait.”

Black bears are hunted throughout much of the nation, but grizzly bears are federally protected in the lower 48 states.

The certification is not required for bait hunters in the Selkirk recovery zone of northeastern Washington because bait hunting is prohibited there, Pozzanghera said.

“The Cascades have habitat suitable for grizzlies, but none has been captured or positively identified,” Pozzanghera said. “On the other hand, we have documented grizzlies in the Selkirks and have given the bear the highest priority there.”

Descriptions of the zones are on page 25 of the 1995 hunting regulations pamphlet.

All hunters are invited to the certification courses, which will be offered in Eastern Washington, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. as follows:

June 20, Chelan Center City Council Chambers, 317 East Johnson St. in Chelan.

Chelan County PUD Building Auditorium, 327 North Wenatchee Ave. in Wenatchee.

Okanogan County Grange, 307 Tyee St. in Okanogan.

Sturgeon suffer stress

Large sturgeon are particularly susceptible to stress from handling because their skeletons are not made to support their great weight out of the water, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials reminded fishermen.

Hauling sturgeon over a gunnel or on to rocks can damage their ribs or internal organs.

The proper steps for handling a sturgeon too large or small to be kept are:

Do not handle or remove from the water any sturgeon that obviously is too large to keep.

Remove the hook or cut the leader if the hook is deep.

Make sure it is upright and able to swim under its own power.

Take the fish by the tail, move it back and forth so water flows over its gills until it recovers if it’s too exhausted to swim on its own.

Measure large fish in the water if possible. If necessary, use a net or beach it on a sandbar. Gaff hooks are illegal and lassos can damage the backbone or internal organs.

The fish should be placed on its side on a flat surface and measured from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.

Anglers wishing to photograph their catch should have their cameras ready as they can be cited for bringing a fish aboard or to shore to be photographed as well as for leaving a fish on the shore while they run to their cars for their cameras.

Sturgeon must be from 48 to 66 inches in length in the Columbia and Snake Rivers upstream of The Dalles Dam to keep and from 42 to 66 inches in all other state waters.

The department requires the release of all sturgeon 66 inches in length and longer because they are the fish that spawn. A 6-foot sturgeon is approximately 23 years old.

Sea lions nab salmon

A sea lion invasion - like the one that devastated Lake Washington’s wild steelhead run - is underway below Willamette Falls at Oregon City, Oregon biologists say.

As many as six sea lions at a time have been seen this spring feeding on salmon below the falls.

, DataTimes