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Field reports

Sun., Dec. 5, 2010

Cowlitz County is poacher paradise

WILDLIFE – Washington Fish and Wildlife officials say they’re struggling to keep up with poaching and fishing violations reports in Cowlitz County because the department has no game wardens stationed there.

Four game wardens are allocated to Cowlitz County, but two of the officers are on medical leave and two that have left have not been replaced.

With more budget deficits looming for the state, the wardens in Cowlitz County may not be replaced soon. Fish and Wildlife is facing a shortfall between $10 million and $20 million in the next budget cycle.

WDFW Sgt. Ted Holden said Lewis County offers are responding to Cowlitz calls but have no time to do routine patrols that can deter poaching or violators.

The lack of wildlife officers in Cowlitz County highlights the decline of wardens in Washington, even as more people head to the state’s forests and reserves. In 1993, when the departments of wildlife and fisheries merged, their combined forces totaled 117 enforcement officers.

Now, 96 WDFW officers patrol the state, though the state’s population has increased by 20 percent in that period.

The department also has five detectives that focus on major cases that take months to investigate.

- Associated Press

Pikeminnow anglers paid $1.2 million

OUTFUND – A program to reduce the numbers of a salmon-eating native fish called the northern pikeminnow paid $1.2 million to Northwest fishermen on the Columbia and Snake rivers this year.

The Bonneville Power Administration funds the annual six-month bounty season, which harvested 173,000 pikeminnows to help to increase survival rates for young salmon and steelhead.

Fishermen get paid $4 to $8 for northern pikeminnow 9 inches and larger caught in the Snake and lower Columbia. Specially tagged fish are worth $500.

Spokane anglers Edward Williams and Daniel Geiger ranked ninth and 10th among the money-earners.

However, they were no match for Nikolay Zaremskiy of Gresham, Ore., who earned a record $81,000.

He caught more than 10,000 fish to set an angler harvest record.

Zaremskiy is no stranger to cashing in on pikeminnows. He set the previous earning record of $58,000 two years ago.

“He fished primarily near The Dalles and down to Longview,” said Eric Winther, Washington Fish and Wildlife program coordinator. “But he also fished high up the system at Boyer Park (on the Snake).

“Some of the guys who are doing the best do a bit of moving around.”

This year’s total catch was about average, but down from the high of more than 267,000 in 2004. Anglers averaged 6.9 fish a day, up from 4.9 last year.

The program originated 20 years ago to help anadromous fish losses caused by BPA dams.

- Rich Landers

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