Latest from The Spokesman-Review
WILDLIFE — If you need a little levity in your day, check out this hillarious video of British commentary voiced over footage of critters doing their natural thing. Not even a sourpuss could watch this without laughing.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Nevermind if you cannot go to Alaska — you can thrill at the sight of huge brown bears fishing for salmon at an iconic waterfall via a live feed from a Webcam in Katmai National Park.
Click here for the live view documenting the annual gathering of about 100 brown bears descending on a mile-long stretch of Brooks River to feast on the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.
If the link above does not work, paste this URL into your browser:
ENDANGERED SPECIES — As if to emphasize the first few paragraphs of my Thursday Outdoors column, seven groups with a pro-wolf agenda, including the Spokane-based Lands Council, petitioned the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife “to stop the indiscriminate killing” of wolves — even though the agency isn't.
- See their press release.
If wildlife managers don't give them satisfaction, they plan to appeal to Gov. Jay Inslee.
I'm sure the Stevens County Cattlemen will be at the governor's desk, too.
Any sportmen's groups out there planning to rattle the guv's cage?
How about you county commissioners?
- Anybody want to be a Washingtong wildlife manager this summer?
The agency posted last night’s Washington wolf webcast for those who didn’t get to see it live (it begins at the 14-minute mark, for some reason) but want to learn more about impacts to big game from experts in the Northern Rockies.
“We did get quite a few comments,” Ware says about the opportunity for hunters to email in questions for the webcast. “Most were fairly positive in terms of hearing what other states are doing.”
He added that a overall a variety of views were expressed.
Among the numerous questions from hunters and others posed by Wildlife Program chief and MC Nate Pamplin to Ware (as well as Montana and Idaho big game managers) was one by a Miles: “Is there going to be a Washington wolf hunting season?”
Ware says that the wolf plan says it’s a possibility, and that the agency feels like other states, that hunting is a good management tool that provides recreation and is mandated by the legislature to provide hunting opportunities.
“I can’t imagine why we we wouldn’t recommend it, to have wolves to be hunted as well,” he says near the 2:42:30 mark
HIKING — The greeting party was there, as usual on top of Scotchman Peak on Thursday, rewarding my daughter and me for our steep 7-mile-round-trip hike from the northeast corner of Lake Pend Oreille.
Mountain goats that live on the Idaho peak towering above Clark Fork, Idaho, have become an attraction in themselves. They can almost make you overlook the killer view of Lake Pend Oreille, the Selkirk Mountains to the west, the Cabinet Mountains to the east and the expanse of backcountry to the north proposed for wilderness.
If you go:
— Expect a hike that's vigorous going up and punishing on the way down.
—Prepare for bugs on the summit if winds are calm.
—Urinate off the trail well before reaching the rocky summit area to avoid conditioning the goats to following people. Mountain goats crave the salt in urine and it's thought to make them aggressive, as in the case of the hiker who was gored to death in Olympic National Park.
—Heed the warning signs and please don't feed the goats — for their own good and yours. They've been fed before and they'll come looking for food and salt to lick. Guard your packs. They may try to nibble at your pack straps.
I fear for the mountain goats' future if they continue to be spoiled and set up to hurt somebody one day.
After posting the blog info above on Facebook, I received this reply to consider from FB friend Nick Delavan:
My friend Cody Evans and I made our yearly pilgrimage to the summit (of Scotchman Peak) a month ago. We were greeted by 7 goats one of which was extremely aggressive and at one point he charged, stopping only ten feet from us. We almost turned his white coat orange! Thankfully a well placed rock via fast pitch sent him on his way. I believe that particular goat was sick, injured or both. It was a good reminder that these animals are wild and have the potential to be dangerous. At no point should people forget that. Leave no trace applies even on a day hike!
ENDANGERED SPECIES — A gray wolf — this one black with a tiny bit of white on its chest — was captured in Pend Oreille County Monday morning by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department technicians so the animal could be fitted with a GPS collar and released.
Is the 68-pound yearling female still attached to an existing pack or is it a member of a suspected but unconfirmed new group that would be labeled the Ruby Creek pack?
No one knows. Time will tell.
I've been in contact with Wildlife Department personnel since mid May regarding wolf captures and just happened to be along for one of the few successful captures of the year involving trapping.
While there's more to come, Northwest sportsman editor Andy Walgamott has the initial details right about Monday's event in this just-posted blog report:
At least the 11th so far this year that’s been collared and released by state and tribal biologists, the 68-pound yearling female was caught in an area between the known Smackout Pack territory and a suspected pack in the Ruby Creek drainage.
“Only time will tell if it’s a Smackout or lead us to a new pack,” said Madonna Luers, a WDFW spokeswoman in Spokane.
A photo by Rich Landers of The Spokesman-Review, who was in on the capture with Scott Becker and broke the news, shows that it wears a black coat.
That could link it to the Smackouts of western Pend Oreille County and central Stevens County, or it could be a disperser. One of last year’s Huckleberry Pack of southern Stevens County was black.
GPS data should show its wanderings and pack affiliations.
WDFW previously reported 10 other wolves had been caught, collared and released between February and mid-June of this year — two in Diamond, also in Pend Oreille County, three in Smackout, three in Huckleberry, and three in Teanaway of Kittitas County.
One of the Teanaways, a 47-pound female, subsequently died. We’re still awaiting word from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on cause of death; the state preliminarily put it down as a mountain lion kill.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Residents in the 22000 block of East Morris Road snapped this shot of a cougar in their backyard around 7 this morning and emailed the photo to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.
Anyone out there up for a backyard campout sleepover tonight?
PREDATORS — Big game managers from Washington, Idaho and Montana will discuss their experiences managing game animals in areas populated by wolves during a live webcast, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., on July 18.
Questions can be emailed in advance or during the presentations to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Montana and Idaho have been managing wolves longer than Washington and their experience can provide context to inform the department and citizens on how to confront the challenges that lie ahead for Washington, said Phil Anderson, WDFW director.
"This will give the public an opportunity to hear directly from those who have been involved in wolf management in other areas of the west," he said.
Jon Rachel, Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s state wildlife manager, and Jim Williams, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ northwest wildlife program manager, will discuss the impacts wolves have had on deer, elk and other big game animals in their states.
Successful big game hunting strategies in wolf country also will be presented.
Dave Ware, WDFW statewide game program manager, will describe the status of wolves and big game hunting in Washington.
Big Game Forever submitted a 120-page report that contained a lot of magazine articles and government statistics, but little details on how the group spent $300,000 from Utah to shift wolf-management from the federal government to the state.
—Salt Lake Tribune
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Oregon Senate passed a bill on Thursday that puts into law provisions of a settlement allowing the state to resume killing wolves that make a habit of attacking livestock.
The vote was 30-0.
The House has passed it, and Gov. John Kitzhaber is expected to sign it once the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approves other provisions of the settlement.
Oregon has been barred for the past year and a half from killing wolves while the Oregon Court of Appeals considered a lawsuit filed by conservationists.
A settlement was reached in May with the conservation groups, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and the governor’s office.
It creates a new rulebook that makes killing wolves a last resort, and gives ranchers wider rights to kill wolves they catch attacking their herds.
WILDLIFE — Why didn't I think of this? Roadkill gifts and fashions — they combine our love for wildlife with the applaudable theme of recycling.
Reid Peppard, an Ameican artist and fasion designer, working under the name RP/Encore, is creating taxidermy artworks and jewellery based on casts of teeth, bones, hides, feathers and organs of critters.
Reid claims that her work is entirely ethical, if not grotesque, as the animals she uses have already died of natural or unpreventable causes (they are often discovered and donated by friends).
Won't be long before women in high heels will be fighting wolves for elk carcasses.
HUNTING — Idaho's 2013-2014 wolf hunting seasons begin July 1 in the Panhandle Zone, but only on private land.
Actually, wolf hunting season is open year-round on private lands in the Panhandle, but seasons in the rest of the state take a hiatus during summer.
The wolf hunting seasons that are still open throughout the rest of the state close on June 30 and reopen on Aug. 30.
See details and exceptins in the new wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules posted on the Fish and Game website.
The wolf trapping season opens Nov. 15 in eight wolf zones and Feb. 1 in one additional zone.
Wolf hunters may use five tags, with no overall harvest limit.
Wolf tags are available for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents. Wolf hunting tags are valid for a calendar year; trapping tags are valid July 1 through June 30.
The 2012-2013 wolf hunting season closes June 30. As of June 24, hunters had taken 200 wolves, and trappers 120, for a total of 320 wolves.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson caught this image of a whitetail fawn over the weekend. Check out the eyelashes…. and the whiskers! They grow up fast.
When a fawn is born it is odorless so that predators are not attracted to its location. Oftent, the mother doe will stay away from the fawn for a few days so that her scent does not rub off on the fawn or attract predators to the area where the fawn is hiding while gaining strength. When a fawn detects danger it will remain perfectly still.
Fawns that live past the first week have a good chance of surviving to adulthood.
CAMPING — A backcountry campground near the head of Lake Chelan has been closed indefinitely because of a black bear that was lured by the taste of food and garbage left unsecured by visitors.
The National Park Service announced Thursday that Tumwater Campground, located about 12 miles from Stehekin Landing, is closed until further notice.
A bear received a "substantial food reward" when it got into a garbage can at the primitive campsite on Monday, the agency said. Though the can has been removed, the bear is expected to return to the campground to look for more food.
The nearby High Bridge Campground will also be monitored by park staff to make sure the bear does not go there in search of an easy meal.
The agency said that a camp closure of two to three weeks in generally enough to convince a bear that there is no more food there.
HUNTING — A black bear gives a hunter a moment he'll never forget. Check it out.
WILDLIFE — “I found this fawn all by itself and want to know what to do with it?”
It happens every spring and the calls are coming in to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department offices fast and furious this week, says Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman in Spokane.
"Please help us convey the usual messages about leaving baby wildlife, including fawns, in the wild where they belong because their mothers will be looking for them where they left them," she said.
- See more information about leaving wildlife be on this website.
Does might leave their faws eight hours or more between feedings.
Some fawns already have been picked up and deposited with wildlife rehabbers, including Otis Orchards veterinarian Jerry Ponti, who tends to end up with a small “herd” each year. Even rehabilitated fawns have reduced chances of surviving well after being reintroduced to the wild.
The photo is from the WDFW online Image Gallery submitted by Laura Rogers, who made the shot a couple years ago at this time north of Colville. She calls it “I’m Not An Orphan!”
HUNTING — I had some interesting conversations over meals with a professor from Iran a few years ago centered on our common love for hunting chukars. We don't hear much about that part of Middle Eastern culture, but he was a solid enthusiast for walking the steep river canyons and swinging a shotgun for sport.
I made my gaffe when I expressed dismay that he hunted alone without a bird dog. He winced a bit but was polite.
Still clueless, I invited him to hunt with me and experience the excitement of hunting behind a pointing dog.
He respectfully declined and that was that.
Later I learned that buying and selling dogs is illegal in Iran. Iran’s parliament also passed a bill to criminalize dog ownership, declaring the phenomenon a sign of “vulgar Western values.”
Pursuing birds without a dog would leave a huge hole in my experience, so I'll be hunting my chukars here in the United States of America, which has the highest dog population in the world.
France has the second highest and some South American countries may rival our country for dog populations, except nobody seems to own all the strays that roam the streets.
HUNTING — I don't want to jinx the odds, but a lot of upland bird hunters are noticing this is the driest weather we've had in several years for the peak period of the wild quail, chukar and pheasant hatching season.
Upland bird chicks are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia if cool, wet weather persists in early June.
Last year's season was boosted by a good second hatch of birds.
This could be the year the first hatch blossoms.
WILDLIFE — Fawns are all over the landscape, and does are as careful to keep them groomed as any other mom.
Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson caught this pair at bath time.
Remember, if you see a fawn along, leave it be, wildlife biologists say. A doe can leave its fawn for as much as 8 hours between feedings during the day. They don't do this to be cruel, but rather to protect the fawn from predators. The doe won't return if it senses danger will follow her to the fawn.
Even the Washington State University Veterinary College recommends leaving seemingly abandoned fawns in the wild. Read the school's recommendation.
WILDLIFE — A moose was killed by law enforcement officers after being severely injured in a collision with a car early this morning near the Spokane Valley Mall.
The moose — described by wildlife officials as a yearling — was hit by a large sport utility vehicle in the area near Evergreen Road and Indiana Avenue. The driver was not injured.
A police officer shot the animal and the meat will be donated to the Union Gospel Mission.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this morning announced its proposal to lift most of the remaining federal protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states (with the exception of the Mexican wolf areas), a move that would end four decades of recovery efforts.
- The move is criticized by some scientists as premature; they listed concerns in May.
- Sportsmen's groups have been quick to support delisting.
- Washington-based Conservation Northwest also says delisting is premature, citing the reduced penalties for wolf poaching.
- The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership calls wolf delisting a conservation success story.
But in a draft proposal, federal scientists said the wolves in Washington and Oregon "constitute the expanding front of large, robust, and recovered wolf populations to the north and east.
Federal officials said in the draft, “We are confident that wolves will continue to recolonize the Pacific Northwest regardless of federal protection.”
The public has 90 days to comment period on the proposal. A final decision is expected next year.
With more than 6,100 wolves roaming the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe told The Associated Press that a species persecuted to near-extermination last century has successfully rebounded.
Prominent scientists and dozens of lawmakers in Congress want more. They say wolves need to be shielded so they can expand beyond the portions of 10 states they now occupy.
However, you won't find many lawmakers in districts occupied by wolves calling for more wolf protections, and 72 members of Congress representing both parties signed a letter to President Obama in March requesting the gray wolf be delisted from Engangered Species protections.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., issued this statement today, calling the delisting proposal "long overdue."
Read this morning's AP report, which includes the range of opinions.
WILDLIFE — A Pennsylvania OB-GYN doc on a guided fishing trip in southwestern Montana went home with an amazing tale of hauling in a 25-pound lunker — a baby moose plucked from the rushing waters.
Karen Sciascia of Red Hill, Pa., and guide Seth McLean with Four Rivers Fishing Co. were fishing the Big Hole River on Saturday when they spotted a cow moose with a calf trying to cross the river.
Sciascia told the Missoulian that the mother moose struggled to cross and when her calf tried to follow, it was swept away.
They followed downstream, finally spotting the tiny moose’s nose just above the water.
Sciascia says she scooped the moose out of the water and McLean rowed the raft upriver so they could return the calf to her mother.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Half of Washington’s 10 confirmed wolf packs are believed to have had pups this spring, including those in the Lookout territory of western Okanogan County for the first time in three years, according to a report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine.
Donny Martorello, WDFW’s wolf manager, told Walgamott the Teanaway pack in the Central Cascades, and Huckleberry, Smackout and Diamond packs in northeastern Washington are the other packs that appear to have litters, based on denning activity, GPS telemetry data clustering around one spot in a territory, and, in the case of the Lookout Pack, a photo of a lactating female.
That means the state's wolf population is suddenly increased by at least 20-30.
The reproductive status of the Salmo, Wenatchee and Wedge wolves and the Colville Tribes’ Nc’icn and Strawberry packs is unknown at this time, Martorello told NW Sportsman.
Five successful breeding pairs, including Teanaway, Huckleberry, Smackout, Diamond and Nc’icn, were reported in Washington in December in the 2012 state-tribal report to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
WILDLIFE — Scientists across the West are raising concerns about a growing infestation of exotic deer lice that appears to be killing Columbian black-tailed and mule deer and recently turned up in Nevada.
The infestation has been on the rise, especially in Oregon, Washington, California and New Mexico.
Researchers said the non-native lice first appeared in the mid-1990s. They apparently weaken the deer during the long winter months, causing hair loss and distracting them from threats posed by hungry predators like mountain lions.
WILDLIFE — Wolf advocates are making their case against state-sanctioned wolf hunting in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho by booking billboards to take advantage of the summer tourist season ramping up near Yellowstone National Park.
A wolf pictured on the billboards will be asking a lot of families from all over the country, "Will you save me?"
See the story by the Bozeman Chronicle.
WIlDLIFE WATCHING — Rich and Faye Krenkel don't have to tell you why they live off the beaten path in the foothills of Mount Spokane.
This photo gives you a hint. Here's Rich's observation from inside his house:
Mom was real nervous out in the field; I couldn’t figure out why. She walked towards us and was just about to the fence under our (living room) window when the fawn stood up and we saw it.
It was one happy, hungry fawn. It’s tail was going a mile a minute.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The first case of parvovirus in Oregon wolves has been documented by the Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.
The wolf known as OR19, found dead by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists on May 19, died of complications of canine parvovirus, according to the lab's preliminary report.
Here's the report from ODFW:
The highly contagious and often fatal disease is common among domestic dogs, and can spill over into wild canids such as coyotes, foxes, and wolves. Domestic dogs are normally vaccinated for the disease but wild animals are not. Parvovirus has been documented in wild canids in other areas of the country and most commonly occurs in pups. It is unknown at this time if other wolves in Oregon are affected with the virus, but biologists will continue to monitor for signs of the disease throughout the summer.
This is the first documented case of parvovirus in Oregon wolves, though outbreaks have been well documented in wolf populations throughout the western United States. In some areas it has caused short term declines in wolf populations by reducing the number of surviving pups. Long-term effects are less understood, but are generally not expected to threaten overall conservation of the species (though it may reduce the rate of population growth).
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Wolves are roaming, forming new packs, popping pups and generally keeping Washington and Oregon wildlife managers on full alert this spring.
A black male wolf caught last year from the Smackout Pack and collared in far northeastern Washington was reported recently 300 miles northwest of Oroville. ("Spread the wealth!" some folks are saying.)
This roamer known as WA-O17M is causing a rustle among DNA researchers who are having to bite their tongues a bit on the conventional theory that there's a distinct population of coastal gray wolves in British Columbia. The discussion is chronicled in this analysis by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
Meanwhile, Washington is beefing up its crew of wolf specialsts who are trying to locate and put radio collars on members of wolf packs they currently have no way of monitoring, including the new Wenatchee Pack. They have not been successful at last report. And there's still no confirmation of a pack on the Washington side of the Blue Mountains.
OREGON wolf specialists also are going full steam, with better success at collaring wolves. Recent developments include:
New policy on using lethal control on wolves depradating livestock, hammered out with cattlemen and environmental groups.
New pair of wolves in Mount Emily Unit, documented in early April in Union County.
Minam Pack female collared on May 16. The 81-pound wolf is the first radio-collared wolf in this pack, which was discovered last year hanging out mostly within the Eagle Cap Wilderness. This marks the 20th radio-collared wolf in Oregon.
Cattle depredations by Imnaha pack on May 15. A yearling cow was confirmed by ODFW to have been killed, with two of the pack's collared wolves present. A calf was attacked but survived. These are the third and fourth confirmed wolf depredation incidents by the Imnaha Pack in 2013.
Sheep depredation in northern Umatilla County on May 21 involving at least one member of the Umatilla Pack. ODFW confirmed six sheep were depredated by wolves which resulted in four dead. Evidence gathered showed a similar pattern of attack as the depredation events in 2012 in this same general area.
CAMPING — Many families consider Memorial Day weekend the kickoff for the camping season. Unfortunately, it's also the start of some bad habits for wildlife attracted to the food and garbage campers make available.
Luring wildlife to camping areas with food creates pests that can bother or injure campers that follow. In some cases, especially with bears, a junk-food addict usually must to be killed for public safety.
Also, wildlife attracted to food are more likely to be around roads where they can be hurt in vehicle collisions.
But even with that knowledge already firmly in his camping routine, James Pelland was chagrined to find elk rustling through untended garbage at his camp over the weekend. Here's his report and heads up to other campers.
"My family and I enjoy floating and camping up on the N.Fk CDA. Over the years we've seen plenty of deer, elk and moose.
"Around 5 a.m. Monday morning I woke to what sounded like something rummaging through our camp gear. I had gone to bed early and left it up to my wife and daughter, who were enjoying the campfire, to make sure our site was properly "secured" (food put away etc). I poked my head out of the tent and saw our small trash bag had been left hanging on a tree and the elk (not raccoons, not crows) in the attached picture were helping themselves to leftover pita chips and clam chowder. The yearling was using its nose to try to open our cooler!
"We feel sorry for furthering the habituation of these elk to people and people food, and feel sorry for the elk. The camp hosts told us that the elk drink the soapy water from their cleaning pail."
Then Pelland pointed out:
I remember a couple years ago a bear chewed on someone's ear through his tent near St. Regis… The camper got there at night and didn't notice that the previous folks had left a huge food mess. My buddy and I had driven right past that site the next day on our way to fishing… I always remember that story and don't need a bear chewing on my ear (or worse).
HUNTING DOGS — It's easy to be prepared for the unexpected but inevitable day your hunting dog is sprayed by a skunk.
And you should ALWAYS be ready. Even at home, as I experienced this week when my dog was sprayed in the backyard just before I was to leave for work.
Since an Eastern Washington University chemistry professor tipped me off to the formula in the 1980s, I've kept a skunk kit in my pickup and in my bird hunting gear basket. I've given the kits as holiday gifts to my hunting buddies.
(See my dog, Scout, above, looking at the kit as though he knows it's his only ticket back into the house.)
I once took a midnight call from a friend who was in Montana with his daughter and dog. They were in a pickle. They were camping with his wife's new SUV and she'd warned them they'd better take care of it in her absence. But their dog got sprayed by a skunk 300 miles from Spokane and father-daughter needed the recipe or they'd be in the dog house with the dog.
I gave them the recipe and two days later I found a thank you note and a bottle of wine on my door step.
THE RECIPE is simple: One quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap.
THE KIT makes it easy to apply. Buy a small Tupperware-type container just big enough to hold two quart bottles of hydrogen peroxide, two plastic zipper bags with measured amounts of baking soda and a small plastic bottle with dish soap.
(I like this "double" recipe approach just in case two dogs get too friendly with a skunk at one time. You don't have to make choice on which dog "gets lost" on the way home.)
Also in the container, include one or two pairs of Latex or rubber gloves, a wash rag and a small drying towel. You're set.
Should your dog get sprayed, you can remove the skunk odor in the field (if you have rinse water) without stinking up your rig.
Mix the ingredients at the time they are needed, NOT BEFORE. Wash the dog with all of the solution. Having the washcloth helps you keep it out of the dog's eyes.
Rinse thoroughly. You may want to do a second wash with dog shampoo, but a thorough rinse seems to work fine and prevents the peroxide from changing the color of your dog's fur.
By the way, when I came to work Monday and mentioned that my dog had been sprayed by a skunk, a colleague came over with her wallet and pulled out the de-skunking recipe I'd published in the S-R Outdoors section years ago. "It saved me once, and I wanted to make sure I always had it just in case," she said.
WILDLIFE — A rabid bat flew into a Kootenai County home. Residents couldn't verify whether anyone was bitten, so they're undergoing rabies treatment.
Read the story from S-R reporter Betsy Russell.