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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Idaho sportsmen against landowner big-game tag bills

HUNTING — Idaho sportsmen's opposition may have swayed the close vote to stop a bill to give landowners big-game tags they could sell. But another vote on a similar bill is brewing.

Senate Bill 1282, sponsored by Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, would allow private landowners to receive and sell “special incentive tags” for deer, elk and antelope if they first negotiate public access agreements with the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

The bill languished in the Senate Resources and Environment Committee for weeks but was given new life — and likely a vote this week — when a similar piece of legislation sponsored by Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, died on the Senate floor, the Lewiston Tribune reports. 

The vote was close: 17-17, with the decision to fail the effort made by the tiebreaker.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission chose to support Brackett's bill even thought it formally opposed Siddoway’s version, report's Tribune outdoor writer Eric Barker.

Read on for details from Barker's story.

Hunters post a sign of the times

CONSERVATION — Behind the words on the sign is a tradition of hunters and anglers paying billions of dollars in license fees, federal duck stamp fees and excise taxes on their hunting and fishing equipment to fund wildlife conservation efforts.

Most other recreation groups contribute little or nothing in comparison.

294 coyotes killed in Northeast Washington derby

PREDATORS —  Northeast Washington businesses and hunters once again took aim at coyotes this winter to spread a little wealth and help beleaguered white-tailed deer a little more breathing room.

Participating hunters checked in 294 coyotes during the winter Coyote Derby covering Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.  The number is up from 227 taken during the derby last year.

The derby, organized by the Northeast Washington Wildlife Group, is sponsored by Clark's All Sports of Colville, Lake Roosevelt Walleye Club, Stevens and Spokane Counties Cattlemen's Association, Double Eagle Pawn, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others, according to a story with more details by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

Legislature, chinook season covered at sportsmen’s breakfast

FISHING/HUNTING — Speakers will provide updates on Idaho Legislature activity of interest to hunters and anglers, as well as an update on the spring chinook salmon forecast at the monthly Sportsman's Breakfast in Lewiston on March 6.

Other presentations will cover big game issues and enforcement highlights.

The Clearwater Region of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will provide coffee and doughnuts.

The meeting begins at 6:30 a.m. at the Fish and Game office, at 3316 16th Street in Lewiston.

The meeting is open to anyone interested in wildlife and is designed to stimulate informal discussion about local wildlife issues. 

 Info: (208) 799-5010.

Idaho Fish and Game proposing reduction in elk harvest

HUNTING — Idaho Fish and Game wildlife managers have posted their proposals for Panhandle big-game hunting and will be taking comment public meetings starting Saturday.

Of special interest to most hunters are the proposals to reduce elk harvest in some areas.

Click continue reading to see the proposals and the explanation from Jim Hayden, Panhandle Region wildlife manager.

Silver Valley hunting meeting moved to Kellogg

HUNTING —  The site and time for the Silver Valley public meeting on big-game hunting seasons has been changed:

  • Saturday, March 3, in Kellogg, 7:30 a.m. at the Steelworkers Hall, 110 Hill St.

PETA admits killing 95 percent of its shelter animals

ANIMALS — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an out-there animal rights and anti-hunting group, acknowledged Wednesday that it euthanized 95 percent of the animals at a shelter at its Virginia headquarters last year.

PETA also indicated it would like to kill the messanger.

Read the USA Today story here.

Remember, this is the group that stormed the Westminster Dog Show last year to oppose people who own purebred dogs.

Meetings set to explain Idaho hunting season options

HUNTING — With concern for elk herds still high on the list of issues, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has scheduled four public meetings in the Idaho Panhandle to discuss 2012 big-game hunting seasons for deer, bear, lion, wolves and elk.

In some cases, the wildlife managers will be recommending more liberal hunting for bears, cougars and wolves and more restrictive hunting for elk to help bring back herds.

Morning meetings:
  • Saturday, March 3, in Pinehurst,  7 a.m. at the Lions Club, 106 Church St.
  • Saturday, March 3, in St. Maries, 8 a.m., at the Elks Lodge, 628 Main St.
(Coffee will be provided free, and breakfast will be available for those who want to purchase it.)
 
Evening meetings
  • Thursday, March 8, in Sandpoint, 7 p.m., at the Bonner County Fairgrounds, Lehman Building.
  • Friday, March 9, in Coeur d’Alene, 7 p.m., at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
In addition to the four local public meetings, the public will soon be able to view proposals and post comments on the IDFG website.
 
Read on for insights in the big-game situation by Jim Hayden, IDFG Panhandle Region wildlife manager.

Wolf verified roaming through Kalispell

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A wolf was caught on tape by a police cruiser's dash cam roaming through northwest Kalispell.  The video and tracks were confirmed as a radio collared wolf by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists.

Tough neighborhood.

Read the story in the Daily Interlake.

‘American Guns’ TV hosts coming to Spokane

SHOOTING – Hosts of the Discovery Channel’s “American Guns” will be in Spokane March 3 for a meet-and-greet before the Friends of the NRA fundraiser at the Red Lion Inn at the Park.

Rich, Renee, Paige and Kurt Wyatt, a family known for firepower and cleavage, will be available to the public 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m.

The annual fundraising banquet raises money to promote gun safety, education programs and scholarships. Tickets available at Sharp Shooting, White Elephant, Wholesale Sports and Mountain Shadow Arms.

Idaho Senate nixes sale of landowner hunt tags

HUNTING — The Idaho Senate, in a rare 17-17 tie vote, killed a bill that sought to allow landowners to sell special hunting tags they receive because their properties provide important habitat for deer, elk, or pronghorn. 

The measure that died Wednesday was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Republican rancher from Terreton. 

Currently, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission allows eligible landowners to participate in drawings for “Landowner Appreciation Tags.” 

According to the Associated Press, Siddoway wanted to allow landowners the chance to cash in on these controlled hunting tags by letting them sell them to other hunters, at any price they negotiate. 

The bill raised concerns that Siddoway sought to extend to landowners like himself a lucrative new option that violates the spirit of Idaho’s hunting legacy — preserving opportunities for everyone, not just the privileged, the Associated Press reported.
  

Hunt Decline Hurts Outdoor Programs

Hunting is a popular pastime in Idaho. It’s just not as popular as it used to be. What does that mean for Idaho? Less revenue for outdoors programs. Hunting license and tag sales have slowly declined over the past several years, according to data from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “Fishing licenses have stayed relatively steady as far as the numbers of licenses sold,” regional conservation officer Gary Hompland said. “Most of that, from what we can tell, is because we’ve had some really good salmon and steelhead runs the last few years. … What is really disconcerting is our hunting licenses, both resident and non-resident. “When those sales start to slump, all of our programs that function primarily on a budget related to those sales are affected”/Andrew Weeks, Twin Falls Times-News. More here. (2009 AP file photo: First wolf killed in Idaho after resumption of wolf hunting)

Question: Do you hunt?

Calif. game commission president getting ripped for cougar hunt

HUNTING — Californians love and protect their mountain lions, even though the state is among the few where cougars have attacked and killed people in the past 20 years.

But the president of the California Fish and Game Commission is getting pressure to resign after he booked a perfectly legal mountain lion hunt in Idaho and filled his tag.

The incident is highlighted in this Huckleberries post by Dave Oliveria.

Wildlife commission approves Okanogan land purchase

CONSERVATION — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the purchase of 165 acres of key fish and wildlife habitat in Okanogan County today during a conference call meeting.

State Fish and Wildlife Department officials say purchasing the land along the Okanogan River about 20 miles north of Omak will allow the agency to protect spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead, and grassland and shrub steppe beneficial to wildlife.  

The property will become part of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, managed by WDFW to provide habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species as well as public access for outdoor recreation, such as fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.

The $795,000 purchase price will be funded with grants from the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Revised master hunter elk season proposed near Turnbull

HUNTING — Yesterday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife had not firmed up proposed revisions of the master hunter December elk hunts in units surrounding Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

Today it has.

Proposed hunting regulations for 2012-2014 are being updated here.

The proposals for master hunter seasons are being posted on a separate Master Hunter web page.

The revised master hunter proposals were posted here, highlighted in yellow, this afternoon.

Agency managers explain:

“Our original proposal was to completely eliminate this hunt, but it was a big change and many local landowners supported continuing the opportunity. So we have changed our recommendation to retain two GMUs, antlerless only to address damage, and retain the same dates.

The revised master hunter proposal:

GMU 127 & 130, general antlerless only, season Dec.9-31.

Cabela’s to open ‘outpost’ store near Yakima

OUTDOOR RETAILERS – Cabela’s announced this morning it is introducing a new store format that will bring the outdoor sporting goods retailer to Washington Plaza, a shopping center under construction at the former Costco property near Yakima.

The news was reported by the Yakima Herald-Republic.

The Sidney, Neb., company announced the Union Gap store, the first under its smaller “Cabela’s Outpost Store” format, during its fourth-quarter earnings call to shareholders.

Cabela’s plans to open the 40,000-square-foot store by this fall. The Post Falls Cabela's store, by comparison, has 125,000 square feet of showroom space.

Despite Cabela’s popularity, local businesses that have served Yakima Valley’s outdoor and hunting community remain optimistic.

Gary Fairbanks, owner of Fairbanks Outfitters, a fly fishing shop in Yakima, said he can compete on price, noting that he has ordered product for customers at a lower price than listed in the Cabela’s catalogs.

“They have a huge selection,” he said. “But (its) prices are quite high compared to mine.”

Read on for more details from the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Correction: hunting rules vote set for April

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The newspaper version of today's outdoors column includes an error by saying the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will vote on hunting season proposals in March.   The vote will come in April, but the March meeting will be the last opportunity for public comment at a commission meeting.

Read the corrected column here for the latest news about the evolution of the hunting proposals.

Also, I've heard that despite the approval of the Game Management Advisory Council for changing the either-sex general elk hunts to bull-only in the west portion of northeastern Washington's Selkirk Elk Herd, state wildlife managers are considering leaving the seasons as they've been.

Apparently the landowners that spoke against the proposals at the recent Colville meeting got the agency's attention.  The landowners fear the move to increase the northeast elk herd will lead to more crop damage.

State wildlife managers have not yet announced what they will recommend to the commission next week. 

Idaho to present hunting rule changes in Moscow meeting

HUNTING — Idaho Fish and Game will hold a public meeting in Moscow to discuss 2012 big game seasons and fishing seasons and rules from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., March 7, at the Latah County Fairground Exhibit Bldg, 1021 Harold.
 
Another meeting is set for March 8, at the Fish and Game regional office, 3316 16th St. in Lewiston.

Lincoln County teen injures buddy while shooting rabbit

HUNTING — Just in case it wasn't covered in your hunter education course: Never shoot a rabbit in a road culvert or irrigation pipe when your partner's on the other end blocking the rabbit from coming out.

Read on for the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife police officer's report of a hunting accident last week involving two 13 year-olds. One of them is lucky to be alive.

Top elk callers crowned by RMEF

HUNTING — Elk callers from 10 states, led by Oregon, Colorado and Nevada, earned Top honors in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation/Leupold World Elk Calling Championships for 2012.

One man from Idaho and one from Washington were in the cream of the crop.

Competition was held during the RMEF annual convention and expo, which ended Feb. 4 in Las Vegas.

Read on for the results.

Washington releases flurry of stuff on fishing, hunting rules

FISH AND WILDLIFE — Fishing rules adopted for 2012… upcoming meetings about the Pend Oreille River pike fishery… revised hunting proposals for 2012-2014  — all of this is involved in a small blizzard of proposals and adoptions coming out of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department in the past few days.

It's taking time to get explanation for some of what's going on. Pursuing.

Apparently the agency's biologists defied conservation sense and collapsed to pressure — FROM WHERE?  — to lift selective fishery regulations and allow juveniles to use bait to fish for trout in the Kettle River from the Highway 21 bridge at Curlew north to the Canada border near Danville.

The justification remains unclear as to why the agency would want to back off a working conservation effort on native fish. Curlew area kids have an excellent bait fishing opportunity at Curlew Lake. These kids are losing a valuable conservation education opportunity with a new rule allowing adults to rig them up to kill native trout.

Here are links to recent announcements on three fish and wildlife developments we're following:

Commission adopts new sportfishing seasons, rules at weekend meeting in Olympia.

Click here for the agenda and revised summaries of what was voted on.

Pend Oreille River northern pike plans to be presented in Spokane, Usk on Feb. 15-16.

Proposed rule changes for hunting seasons in 2012-2014.

Proposed northeastern Washington elk management plan.

Read on for the initial response the agency offers for going ahead with the Commission-proposal to allow bait fishing on the Kettle River:

Legislature considering hunting, fishing, wildlife bills

WILDLIFE LAWS — The Washington Legislature is considering numerous bills that relate to hunters, anglers and wildlife.

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine posted this update on last week's activity.

Weekend reading: WDFW posts revised hunting rules proposals for 2012-2014

HUNTING — A few days later than scheduled, proposals for hunting rules and seasons for 2012-2014 have finally been posted on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department website.

Check them out. The Fish and Wildlife Commission will take more public input on the proposals during its March meeting in Moses Lake.

 
2012-2014 Hunting Season
The Wildlife Program is currently in the process of developing the 2012-14 hunting seasons. The first public comment period (8/15-9/20) has just wrapped up and department staff are currently analyzing the information received. Hunting season recommendations will be developed and available for public review in early January. Learn more >>

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.

Anti-hunters would love species to death

ENDANGERED SPECIES — On Sunday, the CBS news program 60 Minutes highlighted the killer instinct within animal rights/anti-hunting organizations.

Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral was allowed to explain how she's worked to help enact rules requiring a federal permit to hunt the endangered scimitar-horned oryx in the United States.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted an explanation of the new rule  — including a list of myths and explanation of the new red tape the rule requires — after the 60 Minutes report aired.

At face value, this appears to be a noble cause to Feral's financial supporters. After all, why would anyone want to hunt an endangered antelope species that's on the brink of extinction?

In the 60 Minutes segment, reporter Lara Logan asks that question repeatedly to the Texas game ranchers who have used high-fence ranches and hunting to help save three antelope species that have essentially gone extinct in Africa.

“If the species is endangered, why do you hunt them?” she asked.

The answer:  We hunt a few for the survival of the species.

The ranchers clearly explained they have imported antelopes such as the beautiful scimitar-horned oryx to huge fenced preserves where the species has been nourished and allowed to prosper and maintain a gene pool for reintroductions into their native Africa.

Meantime, in order to pay for maintaining these herds in Texas, sportsmen pay a hefty fee to hunt and harvest a few of the oryx that have lived well into maturity and spread their genetics to numerous offspring.

Without hunting to pay the bills, U.S. game ranchers won't be able to afford to maintain oryx herds.

Simple as that, the species could go poof.  

Pricilla Feral said she'd rather see extinction that hunting.

That's sick.  But it's a well-funded position.

Idaho Fish and Game’s annual report online

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho Fish and Game Department Director Virgil Moore delivered the state of the agency report to the Fish and Wildlife Commission last week. 

The annual report, available online, details the agency's funding sources and how officials spent the money.

The report also includes overviews of each bureau.

Time to apply for Idaho spring turkey, bear hunts

HUNTING — Idaho's application period for spring turkey controlled hunts starts today and runs to March 1.

The application period for spring black bear ends Feb. 15.

Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15 – some controlled hunts open later.

Leftover tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.

See details on the Idaho Fish and Game Department website.

Poll finds Western sportsmen back land, air, water protections

CONSERVATION — Western voters who identify themselves as sportsmen view America’s public lands as critical to their state’s economy and quality of life, accoding to survey results released Monday by Colordao College, in Colorado Springs.

The State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll found that Western sportsmen support upholding protections for clean air, clean water, natural areas and wildlife.

The survey covered AZ, CO, MT, NM, UT and WY, but Idaho was not included.

A college press release says the poll was conducted by Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm).

According to the results:

  • 92 percent of sportsmen – the majority of whom identify as politically conservative or moderate – believe that national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are an “essential part” of the economies of these states.
  • Nearly two-thirds of sportsmen polled also opposed allowing private companies to develop public lands when it would limit the public’s enjoyment of – or access to – these lands, and the same percentage believe in maintaining current conservation measures for land, air and water.
  • More than two out of every three sportsmen view loss of habitat for fish and wildlife as a serious threat to a quality outdoor experience.  Further, 75 percent of sportsmen polled indicated that cuts in funding for parks, habitat, and water quality pose a serious threat to their hunting heritage and western lifestyle.
  • Sportsmen and members of the general public agreed that even with tight state budgets, the government should maintain investments in land, parks, water and wildlife conservation.

These results bolster the findings of a major survey commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation late last year, which measures the significant economic impacts associated with outdoor recreation and makes the case that conservation programs are a common sense investment.

The full sportsmen’s survey is available on the Colorado College website.

A fact sheet highlights the results.

Elk, deer applications due earlier in Montana this year

HUNTING — Nonresident hunters eyeing an elk hunt in Montana this fall need to be on the ball a few months earlier than usual to make their applilcations for special permits.

Hunting and fishing licenses went on sale Jan. 16 and March 15 is the new deadline for residents and nonresidents to apply for deer and elk permits.

In past years, hunting licenses went on sale at the end of February and June 1 was the deadline for special deer and elk permit applications.

The early start means resident and nonresident hunters will have their drawing results by mid-April, rather than the end of July. That gives hunters three additional months to plan their hunt, scout hunting areas, get in shape, and talk to landowners about access for hunting.

Resident and nonresident applications and information, including application success tips, are available online at fwp.mt.gov.

Click New Deadline – March 15 Deer & Elk Permits under the “For Hunters” tab.

  • May 1 continues to be the deadline to apply for moose, sheep, goat and bison licenses.
  • June 1 remains the deadline to apply for antlerless deer B and elk B licenses and antelope and antelope B licenses.

Montana's new hunting and fishing license year runs from March 1 to Feb. 28, 2013.