Field reports: Packers jailed for cruelty

WILDERNESS – Two men from Woodstock, Ga., who were convicted of abusing their horses during an extended pack trip in western Montana have been sentenced to six months in jail.

A District Court jury in Hamilton, Mont., recently convicted Craig and Curtis Heydon for cruelty to four horses.

The father and son used the horses on a two-month pack trip into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in the summer of 2008. The case came to light when they left one of the emaciated horses lying collapsed along a trail.

The men were ordered to pay $11,544 in restitution for care of the horses. They also must pay almost $10,000 each for the cost of confinement and close to $3,000 each for the cost of the trial.

Associated Press

Humans take toll on grizzlies

WILDLIFE – People killed 20 grizzly bears in north-central and western Montana in 2009, which is about average, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Since 2000, human-caused grizzly mortalities have averaged 19.5 a year in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

Chris Servheen, the FWS grizzly bear recovery coordinator, said 12 grizzly bears were killed by people in 2008, while 25 were killed in 2007.

Sixteen of the 20 bears killed in 2009 were killed in self-defense, by black bear hunters who misidentified them, by bear managers or were struck by trains.

Eight of the 20 bears killed last year were killed on the Rocky Mountain Front, which is more than usual for that area.

Three bear deaths are still under investigation.

Associated Press

Columbia sturgeon numbers down

Harvest cutbacks for lower Columbia sturgeon are being considered as Washington-Oregon fish managers report the population is down 28 percent from 2007.

Bill Tweit of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department said the lower Columbia still has “one of the world’s healthiest sturgeon populations” and reproduction is more than adequate.

However, the population of legal-size sturgeon in the lower Columbia River is down and the catch of sublegal sturgeon has dropped annually since 2005.

Sampling shows more age 7 sturgeon than age 5 and age 6 fish. That might be the beginning of the consequences of sea lion predation on sturgeon, which first was noticed in 2004.

In 2005 and 2006 combined, it is estimated more than 1,000 spawning-size sturgeon were killed by sea lions.

“We can now see a dip in the supply (young fish) coming at us,” Tweit said.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission met to adopt fishing rules Feb. 5-6 in Olympia.

Vancouver Columbian

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