Outdoors

Field reports: Methow Valley requires ski passes for pooches

SKIING – The Methow Valley Sports Trail Association will require nordic skiers with dogs to buy a trail pass for the pooch this season.

Also new this year, youth skiers will be given free passes for the association’s 200 kilometers of groomed routes near Winthrop.

Dog passes will cost $5 a day or $35 for the season. Dogs are allowed on 38 kilometers of trails.

After being allowed on their cross-country ski trials for years, dogs have become users too, and should be asked to pay, said Danica Ready, the ski association’s program manager.

Ready said she doesn’t expect skiers to balk at the proposal. Last year, dog owners bought about 70 passes for their canine friends voluntarily.

To promote family skiing, youths 17 and under can ski for free this year. At most cross-county ski trail systems, she said, the age limit for free skiing is 12.

Invasive mussels threat to Idaho waters

BOATING – Failing to prevent invasive zebra and quagga mussels from clogging northern Idaho waterways could end up costing the state $100 million, North Idaho officials say.

Officials at a Pacific Northwest Economic Region meeting last week in Coeur d’Alene predicted an infestation of Idaho would damage fisheries, hydropower production, tourism and agriculture.

Amy Ferriter, invasive species coordinator at the Idaho Department of Agriculture, said if the mussels enter Idaho there are no real control options.

She said testing has determined mussels currently aren’t in Inland Northwest Waters.

Idaho has 15 mandatory boat inspection stations at its borders. Ferriter said it would be too expensive to have inspection stations at the state’s 240 public boat launches/

In 2012, workers intercepted 57 boats that had mussels attached. That’s up from three boats found with mussels in 2009.

Ferriter said boats should be cleaned before heading for Idaho. At stations, they’re cleaned before being allowed to continue.

She said most of the boats carrying mussels are coming from Lake Mead, on the Arizona-Nevada border.

Hunters kill wolves outside of Yellowstone

HUNTING – Seven gray wolves that were collared for research purposes have been shot by hunters in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, says Yellowstone National Park’s chief scientist.

Dave Hallac said Thursday there’s been no indication any wolves were taken illegally. He says two were from packs that no longer spend most of their time in the park.

Wildlife advocates say the killings underscore the need for a buffer zone around Yellowstone with limits on wolf hunting and trapping. Otherwise, they warn the number of dead park wolves will quickly climb once Montana’s trapping season begins next month.

Hallec says the number killed so far does not threaten the park’s population of 85-100 wolves.

The animals were removed from the endangered species list last year by Congress.



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