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Goose on the lookout — for what?

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Canada geese generally nest on the ground. However, they also will nest in cliffs and high in trees, usually by taking over an existing nest, such as one built by a great blue heron. 

This goose, however, appears to be a (large) duck outta water.

Reports Jim Kershner, who snapped the photo Tuesday on the South Hill Bluff trails overlooking Hangman Creek:

Yes, that's a Canada goose sitting way up on a snag. No, I have no idea why. I don't think the goose knew either.

Details of Washington waterfowl seasons changed

HUNTING — Amendments to some of the fine print on Washington's 2013-2014 waterfowl hunting seasons have been made by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and posted on the state agency's website. The changes include changes in limits for ducks such as canvasbacks and scaup and details about goose seasons.

Click here to see the final regulations and a Concise Explanatory Statement that describes the changes the Commission has made to these regulations. 

The Commission also extended the comment period for proposed Wildlife Interaction Rules to Sept. 20The rule involves mitigating wolf-human conflicts.  Submit comments to: Wildthing@dfw.wa.gov.

Turnbull Refuge to host youth for waterfowl hunting

HUNTING – Young hunters can apply for a limited-entry youth waterfowl hunt at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge during Washington’s youth waterfowl hunting weekend at the end of September.

Applications will be accepted Aug.1-15 from licensed hunters under age 16.

Hunters will be allowed to use designated hunting sites, accompanied by an adult.

One application per hunters must be submitted on standard U.S. Postal Service postcards and include the youth’s full name, address and telephone number.

Youths may apply with a youth friend or youth sibling on the same application.

Mail postcards to Refuge Manager, Turnbull NWR, 26010 South Smith Road, Cheney, WA, 99004. 

Drawing results will be posted on the refuge website and letters of confirmation and a youth waterfowl hunt brochure will be mailed to selected youths by the end of August. 

A workshop will be held in partnership with the Spokane Chapter of the Washington Waterfowl Association to select hunting sites, and provide waterfowl identification and hunting tips on the weekend prior to the hunt.

Info: (509) 235-4723.

Geese fouling Lewiston-Clarkston beaches

WILDLIFE — Asotin resident Charlotte Tuttle detoured from the usual Asotin County Commissioners meeting Monday to let them know what's on the mind — and feet — of people visiting parks along the Snake River near Lewiston and Clarkston:

“We’ve got goose poop up to our ankles and mandates up to our eyeballs,” Tuttle said, according to the Lewiston Tribune.

Tuttle said there are so many geese along the river near Swallows Park that people can no longer swim at the park or walk on the bike path without encountering gobs of goose waste.

Butch Aiken - emergency services director for the county - said anytime there’s a trouble-making goose in the Seattle-Tacoma area, it’s brought to eastern Washington, and now those geese are causing problems on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property near the river.

Children cannot swim at Swallows Park because it’s contaminated by the geese, Aiken said.

Residents asked the commissioners to explore possible solutions, such as allowing people to hunt geese during a certain time period.

“It’s worth looking into,” said Asotin County Commissioner Jim Fuller.

Oregon town still struggling with geese in parks

WILDLIFE — An infestation of Canada geese has been converting  portions of Bend, Ore., parks into latrines for years. Frustrated parks staff and health officials raised the ire of animal rights activists when they killed about a hundred geese a few years ago — probably some of the same folks who at turkey at Thanksgiving.

So the battle continues.  Read on how everything from vegetable oil to kayaks is being used to control the problem.

Canada geese sign off for the evening; Landers, too

WATERFOWL — I'm thankful for today and looking forward to tomorrow, just as these goslings appeared to be saying at last light on Thursday, photographed by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Clouds of snow geese darken skies in Montana

WILDLIFE WATCHING — More than 50,000 snow geese have been resting at Freezeout Lake near Great Falls, Mont., on their annual spring migration.

Snow geese are the only waterfowl I know of that are hunted during spring migrations as part of an effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reduce the overpopulated birds and reduce the damage they've been doing for years to their arctic nesting areas. 

But because the geese travel in such large groups with so many wary eyes, the are difficult to hunt, and their populations have not been brought under control. 

Montana outdoor photographer Jaimie Johnson caught a relatively small group of the migrants in the air at Freezout that filled his frame.  Here's his observation:

They are back in force! Worth the trip if you like seeing large amounts of Snow Geese.
 
The hardest part for us is all of the other “Watchers”. We probably saw 25 or 30 other cars on a weekday.
 
The neat part about this image  is that when I took it, I could have taken 6 or 7 shots across and had the same amount of geese in the frame. Wow !

Parasites are natural in ducks, fish; but they’re still nasty

HUNTING/FISHING — My outdoors column this week discusses some of the disturbing parasites waterfowl hunters and anglers have discovered in the ducks and fish they've harvested in the Inland Northwest.

They're natural; been around for a long time, and in most cases the game and fish are still safe to eat — as far as we know — as long as you cook the meat to at least 180 degrees.

But would I eat visibly parasitized meat?  What do you think?

  • Waterfowlers: The photo above shows a mallard infested with the sarcocystis parasite, better known as “rice breast.” 
  • Fishermen: Click on the document attached to this blog post to see the pamphlet “Common Parasites and Diseases in Washington Fish,” prepared by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Hunters note that the meat of rabbits, bears and cougars also must be thoroughly cooked to prevent exposure to serious diseases: tularemia and trichinosis.

Documents:

Eastern Washington early goose hunt Friday-Saturday

HUNTING — Washington's two-day early Canada goose hunting season in Units 4 and 5 — most of Eastern Washington — is set for Friday and Saturday (Sept. 14-15).

Check your regs carefully, and get ready for what appears to be great hunting.

Waterfowl calling, hunting seminars featured at Cabela’s

HUNTING — Duck and goose calling contests plus seminars by waterfowling experts and a retrieving dog trainer are on the schedule for two days of free events this weekend (Sept. 8-9) at Cabela’s in Post Falls.

Some of the seminars will be conducted by hunters who've been spotlighted in S-R outdoors features, including Pend Oreille County waterfowling expert Kent Contreras and Spokane-area dog trainer Dan Hosford.

Saturday’s schedule:

8 a.m.-9 a.m. – Registration for junior duck calling.

9 a.m. – Seminar on identifying waterfowl, hunting regulations by Idaho Fish and Game.

9:30 a.m. – Junior Duck Calling Contest (16 and under).

9:30 a.m.-10:30 – Registration for open duck calling.

10:30 a.m.  – Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.

11 a.m. – Open Duck Calling Contest.     1 p.m. – Layout blind hunting, judging distance by Kent Contreras.

 2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.

Sunday’s schedule:

9 a.m. – Registration for junior and open goose calling.

9:15 a.m. – Duck calling strategies by Chris Redell.

9:45 a.m. – Junior Goose Calling Contest.

10:30 a.m. Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.

11 a.m. – Open Goose Calling Contest.

1 p.m. – Hunting gear, hunting situations by John Plughoff.

2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.

Note: dog-training seminars may change times if weather too hot for the dogs.

Prosser man wins berth to World Duck Calling contest

WATERFOWLING —  Abel Cortina of Prosser won the premier solo event in the Washington State Duck Calling Championships last weekend, earning a berth in the prestigious World Duck Calling Championships held over Thanksgiving holidays in Stuttgart, Ark.

John Plughoff of Yakima dominated goose-calling, winnng the Washington State Goose event as well as the Open Goose event.

Cortina — chairman of the Washington Waterfowl Association and one of the judges in the state event — won the Washington premier contest in 2003 and went on to place 16th at Stuttgart.

Cortina missed several years of competitive calling while serving in the military, although he won the 2005 Arizona state title while stationed there and returned to finish second hin the Washington state event last year.

Cortina teamed with another WWA member, Mike Maier of West Richland, to top the Two-Man Duck event.

Apparently Cortina’s position with the WWA judges doesn’t help him in the competition. Judges never know who’s competing at any time; they’re in a segregated area and can only hear (and grade) the calls — not seeing the callers.

Read on for the list of top callers in each division.

Wet spring was dream for ducks

WATERFOWL HUNTING — Preliminary surveys indicate a wet spring is just ducky for waterfowl.

While the jury's still out on whether pheasants and other upland birds will produce many young after the wetness that smothered our region during nesting, ducks apparently prospered throughout much of North America. The notable exception is pintails.

Is you're retriever in shape? 

Here's a summary of the North America breeding ground population surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Mallard: totaled 10.6 million ducks, a 15 percent increase over last year and a 39 percent increase over the long-term average.

American wigeon: increased 3 percent from last year, but remains 17 percent below the long-term average.

Teal, Green-winged and blue-winged: numbered 3.5 million and 9.2 million, 20 percent and 3 percent respectively above last year. Both are well above the long-term averages by 74 percent and 94 percent.

Gadwall: increased 10 percent above last year’s estimate, and 96 percent above the long-term average.

Northern pintail: numbered 3.5 million, down 22 percent from last year’s estimate, and 14 percent below the long-term average.

More info: www.ducks.org

UI/CDA Building Spikes, Hurts Geese

According to our callers, at least three geese were severely injured while trying to nest on the beams that cross the waterside front of the University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene campus building. It turns out that to deter the geese from nesting – as they have in previous years — a maintenance crew had installed, literally, a bed of 5-inch nails. Horrified witnesses in the building watched the geese struggling to make a nest while getting punctured by the nails. The geese were completely covered in blood and could not understand their peril as this had been their nesting area for years/Terry Harris, KEA Blog. More here. H/T: Facebook Friend Carol Muzik

Thoughts?

Wetlands conservation banquet set in Pullman

WETLAND CONSERVATION — The Pullman chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its annual fund-raising event on Feb. 12 at the Paradise Creek Brewery in downtown Pullman. 

Social hour starts at 4 p.m. A ticket gets you in for heavy hors doeurves, a drink of choice, the fundraising auction and membership in Ducks Unlimited, which is celebrating its 75th year of efforts for waterfowl conservation.

For tickets, contact Joe Ford (509) 872-3030; Vic DeMacon (509) 336-9151, or Jeremy Lessmann (509) 336-9559.

Since 1937, DU has conserved 12 million acres of habitat across North America, benefiting more than 900 different species of wildlife.

Ducks Unlimited shares the holiday spirit

WATERFOWL HOLIDAYS — A reminder from Ducks Unlimited of the beauty good habitat ensures.

Aerial survey plots Columbia Basin waterfowl congregations

WATERFOWL HUNTING — Mikal Moore, state waterfowl biologist, compiled data Wednesday from the season’s first aerial waterfowl surveys over the Columbia River Basin on Monday and Tuesday.

Bottomline: Northerns are here.

“There a lot of new birds in the area, probably recently arrived, that seem to be staging in large groups at well-established reserves and private hunting clubs”, she said. The ducks were not yet well distributed and widely available to hunters, but many opportunities exist, she said.

Waterfowlers will want to read on for details from her observations.

Last chance to sign up for North Idaho youth waterfowling clinics

YOUTH HUNTING — A few openings are still available for three mentored waterfowl hunting opportunities for youth aged 15 and under, sponsored byThe Idaho Department of Fish & Game Department.

If you have a kid who might be interested in being exposed into this fascinating sport, don't miss this opportunit y.

The hunts are planned for Saturday, Sept. 24, the opening day of the annual youth-only waterfowl season which is open only to hunters age 15 and under.  The mentored hunting clinics will be held at Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area, Heyburn State Park, and the Clark Fork River delta.

Participation will be by advanced reservation and space is limited.  Anyone interested should call to reserve a spot at one of the three clinics and to obtain additional details. 

  • For the Boundary Creek and Heyburn hunts, contact Dave Leptich at (208) 769-1414. 
  • For the Clark Fork hunt contact Ray Millard at (208) 264-5252

Young hunters will need to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult and bring a shotgun and ammunition.  Young hunters will also need to secure a youth or small game license ($7.25) with a federal migratory bird permit ($1.75) prior to the event. 

Youth participants and a guardian will have the opportunity to spend a morning hunting with an experienced waterfowl hunter.  Following a morning hunt, all will be treated to a free barbeque and waterfowl hunting skills clinic. 

The idea is to expose youth to a quality hunting experience and provide their guardian with enough training to repeat the experience independently.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is also soliciting experienced waterfowl hunters willing to assist with the clinics.  If you want to help pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting, please call either of the numbers listed above.

Washington waterfowl seasons set

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.

Idaho seeks comments on waterfowl seasons

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.

Taket he quick survey here

Read on for details on the proposals currently under consideration.

Rain, floods spurred ducks to reproduce

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.

Researchers mark 894 Canada geese, 30 from GU

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — Volunteers helped Washington Fish and Wildlife Department researchers round up and band 894 Canada geese in Eastern Washington during the past two weeks.  More than 80 of the geese were captured in the Spokane and Liberty Lake area, includind 30 at Gonzaga University.

The roundup was timed for the molt, when the adults couldn't fly, making it easy to herd them and their broods into enclosures.

Read on for the tally of birds captured at 14 sites during this ongoing study headed by waterfowl expert Mikal Moore. 

Researchers round up geese around Spokane

WILDLIFE RESEARCH– Biologists and a team of volunteers are herding Canada geese into pens and clamping leg bands on about 1,000 young birds in Eastern Washington for a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife study of goose population trends.

The teams were herding geese at Qualchan Golf Course this morning starting at 4:30 a.m.

They planned to trap and release geese later in the day at Gonzaga University and Liberty Lake.

In its fourth year, the study seeks to understand nesting declines, hunter harvest patterns and the birds’ use of urban and rural habitat, said Mikal Moore, state waterfowl specialist.

Since the study began, biologists have banded 2,523 geese from eight areas in Eastern Washington, Moore said. Of that number, 406 were observed with neck collars and 359 marked geese were taken by hunters.

The roundup is timed during the molt. Since the adults can't fly, the volunteers can herd the families into pens.  After the goslings are inspected and banded, they're released.

Read on for details about the banding, the study and what birdwatchers and hunters can do to help the research. 

A fowl family moment in the sunshine

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Canada geese are in the full swing of raising their families around the region.

S-R photographer Dan Pelle captured his family unit basking in the sun along the banks of the Spokane River on Upriver Drive and Crestline this week.

Three goose pairs were seen with at least 17 young birds in this area.

Those aren’t tennis balls near the golf course water hazard

WATERFOWL — Happy Mother's Day from the nearest pond or water hazard!

After 25-30 days of tending their nests, Canada geese have been hatching broods all over the Spokane area this past week.

The little yellow goslings stand out especially vividly on the green grass of golf courses, such as Qualchan, where they are tolerated by course managers.

Reasearch has shown that many of these goslings will fledge and migrate north this fall, where a high percentage will fall to goose hunters in Canada, never to fowl, or foul, a Spokane golf course again.

Rare dark snow goose spotted by West Side photographer

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Skagit Valley Herald photographer Scott Terrell saw something stand out among thousands of white snow geese grazing in a field of winter wheat as he drove along Fir Island Road in northwestern Washington Tuesday.  

It was his first sighting of a black snow goose, called a “dark morph,” formerly known as a blue goose.

And his first chance to make an image of one.

The Audubon Society website notes that the dark morph goose is extremely rare in Washington.

Veteran birder Tim Manns, president of the Skagit Audubon Society, was intriqued when told of the sighting.

“I’ve never seen one,” Manns told the Herald. “We do get a few blue geese through this area every once in a while, but they are much more common on the east coast. So it is somewhat of a rarity around here, although not completely unusual.”