PREDATORS – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists confirmed Friday that the Northern Rockies gray wolf population has remained sustainable two years after wolves lost their endangered-species protections in most of the region.
The latest wolf status updates in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming found that aggressive hunting, and some trapping, in the three states lowered the overall number of wolves in 2012 for the first time in years.
Biologists tallied a minimum of 1,674 wolves across the five states at the end of 2012, a 6 percent decline.
However, the wolf population that burgeoned under protections for more than a decade are still five times higher than the federal government’s original recovery goal, set in the 1990s, of at least 300 wolves in the region.
Reserve hunting spot on new online site
HUNTING – Although the signs went up in enrolled fields last fall, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department’s new Quality Hunt Reservation System came online Friday, just in time for the spring gobbler season that runs Monday through May 31.
Selected private lands enrolled in access agreements are available to hunters who can book reservations up to three weeks in advance.
See details at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/
By fall, as hunters catch on, the agency expects hold drawings for reservations.
Earth Day cleanup set at Dishman Hills
PARKS – The Dishman Hills Conservancy is recruiting volunteers for the annual Earth Day cleanup and trail work in the Dishman Hills Natural Resource Conservation Area in Spokane Valley.
The effort is set to begin at noon next Sunday based out of Camp Caro, 625 S. Sargent Road.
New signs and kiosks are set to be installed and trail projects are being planned.
Sign up: dishmanhills.org.
Hatchery proposed at Walla Walla
FISHING – The Bonneville Power Administration may fund a salmon hatchery on the Walla Walla River proposed by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
The plan is to naturally spawn spring chinook to the Walla Walla River Basin, where they’ve been missing for more than 75 years.
The project, the latest of several in the basin, would expand the existing adult holding and spawning facility on the South Fork Walla Walla River near Milton-Freewater.
A public meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the elementary school in Dayton.
Forest rule changed on project protests
FORESTS – The U.S. Forest Service has changed its rule on when a protest can be filed against projects that require an environmental analysis, such as a timber sale or a road decommissioning.
Previously, appeals were made after the Forest Service announced its decision on an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment.
As of last month, objections must be made before the final decision is issued.