Latest from The Spokesman-Review
WATERFOWLING — Duck and goose hunting in Washington this fall will be roughly the same as last year under the season adopted last week by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved.
Statewide duck hunting season will be open Oct. 15-19 and from Oct. 22-Jan. 29.
A special youth hunting weekend is scheduled Sept. 24-25.
Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, scaup, canvasback, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same.
Goose hunting seasons vary by management areas across the state, but most open Oct. 15 and run through January 2012.
Details on the waterfowl hunting seasons will be available later this week on WDFW’s website.
Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S.
HUNTING — Waterfowl hunters are being asked to responded to a survey on Idaho hunting season options by the end of the week.
"We’ve had some requests for more late season duck hunting, and we’re asking hunters statewide to weigh in on which way they’d like to go," said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d'Alene, noting that the Coeur d'Alene area is in Area 2 for both ducks and geese.
Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S., so it's worth chiming in on seasons.
Read on for details on the proposals currently under consideration.
HUNTING– With the duck factories of North America producing a record high number of waterfowl, Montana and Idaho waterfowl hunters have something to look forward to this fall.
This year, 10 primary duck species on the traditional spring survey areas totaled about 45.6 million—a record high for the survey that dates back to 1955, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recent surveys.
That’s an 11 percent increase over 2010 and 35 percent above the 50 year long-term average.
“This year all parts of the 'duck factory' kicked in,” said Jim Hansen, the Central Flyway coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “Just about all of the north central U.S. and Prairie Canada have been wet, but certainly it came with flooding that has been terrible.”
Mallards, the most sought-after species in Montana, were up 9 percent from last year at 9.2 million—22 percent above the long-term average.
Pintails, which have been in decline, showed a 26 percent increase and were 10 percent above the long-term average.
Redheads reached a record high, 106 percent above the long-term average.
HUNTING– A waterfowl calling contest coming up in the Tri-Cities will give the open division winner an all-expense-paid trip to the hallowed quacking grounds of the World Duck Calling Championships in Stuttgart, Ark.
The sanctioned Washington Duck Calling Championships are set for Aug. 6-7 at Wholesale Sports in Kennewick, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association.
In addition to the Open Duck competition, the event has eight other contests and divisions for duck, goose, youth and two-person competition.
Info: Abel Cortina, (509) 786-9196, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read on for details on the divisions.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Birds have giving a thumbs up, so to speak, for Ron Dexter and the seven wildlife ponds he's built on the family property near Mount Spokane over the years.
"Besides great blue herons, belted kingfishers, etc., our main attractions are the wood ducks that have slowly increased in numbers," he reported this week.
"This morning there were 20, half males and half females. I have erected 22 nest boxes, so we still have room for more wood ducks, so if you see any, send them our way.
"Some years, we also have hooded mergansers nesting. At times they will lay in the same box and one or the other will set. The female will hatch out both species. The young stay in the nest box until she calls them out within 24 hours of hatching. They jump out of the nest box with tiny wings spread like parachute jumpers and bounce like corks when the hit the ground.
"They hang around the pond for a few hours, then mama will lead them on a trip through the weed to a nearby creek."
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — George Orr, the always quotable Washington Wildlife Commissioner from Spokane, announced today that he will be leaving the commission when his term expires next year.
Orr, a retired fireman and former state legislator, made the announcement during a commission conference all meeting called for other matters.
“I told the commission today that I’m not going to reenlist,” Orr said. “I’ve served God and country pretty handily since 1960: went into the military, served on school boards, union offices, PTA and elected and appointed offices around the state. Now it’s time to spend time with my wife and good buddy, and perhaps spoil my grandchildren a little more.
“Something else might come around later, but for now I’m not reenlisting.”
Orr’s announcement came four days after Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed eliminating the wildlife commission or making it merely an advisory group instead of a policy-making panel responsible for hiring and firing the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department director.
The City of Spokane is asking — actually, it’s sort of pleading, sort of demanding — that people stop feeding the ducks at Manito Pond.
City Parks and Recreation has put up signs to that effect. It has issued press releases and public announcements that feeding bread to the ducks is bad for the water fowl, and fouls the water.
People feeding ducks leads to an increase of ducks on the pond, which quickly becomes more than the pond can support, and some very nasty water. And the ducks don’t get much nutrition out of the bread, so they wind up fat and malnourished.
It seemed to be working for a while, but now, two years into the “Don’t Feed the Ducks” effort, City Parks is seeing an increase in duck feeding, and an increase in bread in the pond. (That seems to suggest that people are bringing bags of bread to the pond, reading the signs and tossing the bread in the water. “Honest officer, I wasn’t feeding the ducks. I was feeding the POND. Not my fault the ducks ate some of the bread before it sank.”)
So, to review. Don’t feed the ducks. Don’t take bread to the pond to feed the ducks.
But if you forget, and you bring the bread and read the sign and say “D’oh!” Don’t just toss the bread in the water, toss it in the trash cans conveniently located in the park. Or, better yet, take it home and toss it in your trash can.
The Spokane Parks and Recreation Department is pleading with park guests this summer: please don’t feed the ducks. For the last two years, the parks department has spent a lot of time, energy and money on educating park guests about why feeding the ducks bread is a bad, bad idea. Bread is like fast-food for ducks: they get fat, yet are malnourished because they stop looking for their natural food when full of bread. Easy access to bread brings more ducks to the park ponds than what the eco-systems there can handle and the water quality becomes nasty; bad water quality hurts other wildlife such as turtles and frogs - and finally, some ducks never migrate because they stay where the fast-food is readily available.
Someone or something raided a mama duck’s nest in downtown Spokane on Friday and made off with four of her six eggs.
Several tulips that had sheltered the duck in a planter in front of the Lincoln Building were ripped from the flower bed and feathers were strewn about.
Gary Grissom, a loan officer with Academy Mortgage who has been monitoring the duck’s nest, was devastated. The attack was sudden, he said, and not what he expected.
In an e-mail titled “Something terrible happened!!!” Grissom wrote, “I have no idea what happened, but it may be over now…..” The loan officer added, “I am so sick about it.”
Read the rest of Jody Lawrence-Turner’s story here.
Past coverage: Duck rescuer’s celebrity lives on
Okay, this video is adorable. Last year, a guy in downtown Spokane, who works at Sterling Savings Bank, saved a group of baby ducks after they nested in the concrete awning above the bank. He caught them as they jumped, and led them to the river, with Mama Duck close behind. This year, he did it again. This video by Jesse Tinsley is adorable.
The story of this went viral last year, so the Spokesman put up a webcam above the awning, because Mama Duck used the same awning this year. For about a week, you could watch the ducks online.
Have you seen the ducks? Did you ever look at the duck cam? Were you at the parade yesterday?