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Field reports: Farmers raise fees, aid wolf control

PREDATORS – Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members have passed a proposal to raise the state brand renewal fee by $25 to increase funding for wolf-control efforts by Idaho Wildlife Services.

Idaho Wildlife Services has lost about $750,000 in funding since 2010, mostly because of federal budget cuts. That has reduced the agency’s total budget to $2.1 million.

The agency said the state in 2013 had at least 77 confirmed or probable wolf kills of cattle and 565 sheep kills, down about 25 percent from 2011.

“It’s slowly working its way down again,” said Idaho Wildlife Services State Director Todd Grimm, attributing some of the decrease to sport hunting seasons for wolves.

The minimum estimated wolf population in Idaho peaked in 2009 at 856 and has gradually decreased to 683, officials said.

The increase in the brand fee would raise about $100,000 a year. Sheep growers also have increased the wool assessment fee by 2 cents per pound to raise about $25,000.

Idaho Wildlife Services officials said that since 1995 there have been at least 1,064 confirmed wolf kills of livestock and 221 probable kills.

Sanpoil walleye limit could be increased

FISHING – A proposal to raise the daily catch limit for walleye in the Sanpoil Arm of Lake Roosevelt from eight to 16 fish will be considered by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission this week.

The meeting is set for Friday and Saturday in Tumwater.

Fish mangers say walleye concentrate in the lower Sanpoil, taking a big toll on young outmigrating trout and kokanee.

Soaring eagle numbers mystery at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE – It seemed the annual winter bald eagle gathering was going to stall at Lake Coeur d’Alene, but Monday’s count soared to 217 eagles. 

From mid-November through mid-December, about half the number of eagles had shown up at Wolf Lodge Bay to feast on spawning kokanee compared with counts in recent years.

Carrie Hugo, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, said the pattern may be changing as more eagles are attracted to Lake Pend Oreille’s reviving kokanee fishery, especially the spawning area at Granite Creek.

At the end of December, the eagle gathering usually starts to thin out as the spawn subsides and ice covers more water. This season, the numbers increased and the season’s biggest gathering of eagles is at the lake this week. 

Study launched on region’s moose

WILDLIFE – State Fish and Wildlife biologists put GPS tracking collars on 28 northeastern Washington moose in December for a long-term study on the largest member of the deer family.

Other states, including Minnesota and Montana, have launched studies to understand why moose are declining in much of their range.

Rich Harris, Washington’s special species manager, said moose still appear to be expanding range and possibly their numbers in Washington.

All moose captured so far, using tranquillizer guns fired from a helicopter, were adult or yearling cows.