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Field reports: Pend Oreille River pike netting continues

Chuck Littlecrow of the Kalispel Tribe removes pike from a Pend Oreille River gillnet. (Rich Landers)
Chuck Littlecrow of the Kalispel Tribe removes pike from a Pend Oreille River gillnet. (Rich Landers)

FISHING – Washington fisheries officials and the Kalispel Tribe have removed around 6,000 northern pike using gillnets in the second year of a pike suppression and monitoring operation on the Box Canyon Reservoir stretch of the Pend Oreille River.

“The majority of these fish are age 3 or less,” said Jason Olson, the tribe’s fish conservation manager.

Pike suppression this season was conducted from March through the first week of May. Netting resumed last week after fish managers deployed even more nets to survey the river and found the spring netting had not reduced pike numbers to target numbers, especially in the north end of the reservoir.

The highest number of pike caught in survey nets last week were a dozen in South Everett and Tiger sloughs.

This spring’s post-suppression survey involved 197 nets that caught 410 northern pike in a week.

For the first time in 10 years of surveys and two seasons of suppression, no large pike were caught in the Box Canyon stretch survey, the tribe reports.

The suppression gillnets were removed from the river this weekend for the PikePalooza fishing derby sponsored by the tribe.

Elk group waives fee for auctions

WILDLIFE – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation says it’s waiving fees for auctioning state-sponsored big-game hunting tags and is challenging other groups to do the same to increase funding for wildlife conservation.

The Missoula-based group said last week it will return 100 percent of the revenue it generates from the auction of state special big-game permits through its national events back to states donating the tags.

Groups that organize tag auctions or raffles generally take a percentage of the profits for their efforts and return the rest to state agencies managing big-game species such as elk, deer and bighorn sheep.

“These tags were intended to benefit wildlife conservation and hunting access, not the organizations selling them,” said David Allen, RMEF president.

RMEF recently auctioned a special elk permit offered by Arizona for $385,000 at its national convention.

The RMEF convention generates $700,000 to $1 million each year by auctioning special tags from states.

Similar high-bid auctions are organized by groups such as the Wild Sheep Foundation and Safari Club International.

Allen also called for sportsmen to follow the auction funds to make sure they’re used for the intended purpose of managing target species.

He said wildlife conservation groups should allow complete transparency of all their financial information.

Montana separates parks from wildlife agency

PARKS – Montana state parks will be overseen by a board dedicated to parks and recreation issues under a law that will divide the duties of the former Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission.

The five-member panel will be devoted to caring for natural and historic areas.

Montana has 54 state parks. Two million people visit them every year, generating roughly $300 million annually for local economies, state officials said.