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More heat on hunters to get the lead out

HUNTING — Birding and wildlfie groups are focusing the spotlight on hunters and shooters who use lead shot and bullets claiming that 20 million birds die each year of lead poisoning.

Read the story here.

Deadline looms for multiple season permit applications

HUNTING — Saturday, March 31st is the last day to purchase a Washington multiple season permit application for 2012. This permit allows a sportsman to hunt in the archery, muzzleloader and modern rifle seasons rather than having to choose just one weapon type.

The number of deer permits has increased this year from 4,000 to 8,500 and elk permits from 850 to 1,000.

Click here for more information.

Click here to purchase an application.

Commission to set Washington hunting rules April 13-14

HUNTING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife commission will vote on about a dozen proposals involving significant changes in hunting regulations for the 2012-2014 seasons when it meets April 13-14 in Olympia.

Fish and Wildlife Department game managers gave the panel detailed presentations on the proposals during the commission meeting earlier this month in Moses Lake.

Audio files posted on the commission's website allow you to listen to those presentations as well as the public comment on the agenda topics.

Click here to see the revised proposals the commission will be considering next month.

Idaho sets 2012 big-game hunting seasons

HUNTING — Idaho's 2012 big-game hunting seasons for deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, gray wolf and mountain lion hunts were set today by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

The commissioners adopted Fish and Game staff recommendations and added a few changes of their own.

Read on for details.

Another study verifies bear spray beats guns

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A Brigham Young University study has supported previous research indicating that bear spray is a more effective deterrant to a grizzly bear attack than a gun.

See the story about the research in the Billings Gazette.

See my story package on the use of bear spray plus a video on how to use bear spray effectively.

Idaho panel to consider big-game hunting, salmon fishing seasons

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will be setting big game and chinook salmon seasons during a meeting Wednesday and Thursday at Fish and Game Department headquarters in Boise.

According to the meeting agenda, the commission will set seasons for this fall’s deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, gray wolf and mountain lion hunts and a spring season on chinook salmon in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

Read on for the recommedatons the commisisoners will consider:

Archery vs. long-distance rifle debated

HUNTING — I heard an interesting discussion at the Big Horn Show.

A firearms hunter said to an archer:  "More skill and dedication is required to shoot deer at 1,000 yards than to hunt deer with a bow at 25 yards."

I think he might be right while still being wrong.

What do you think?

Do News Quiz and win tickets to Big Horn Show

Timely prizes are being offered to people who complete The Spokesman-Review weekly News Quiz dated March 11.

1) Two tickets to the first two rounds of the NCAA women's basketball tournament in Spokane, and

2) Two tickets to the Bighorn Outdoor Adventure Show which starts today Thursday and runs through Sunday at Spokane County's Fair and Expo Center.

Simply take the quiz, and you're eligible to win drawings that will be held Friday.

The overall champ wins a $50 gift card to the Davenport hotel. Good luck to everyone!

Trophy mounts measured at Big Horn Show

HUNTING — The Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show doesn't open until Thursday at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, but “Trophy Territory” big-game mounts already are being scored and judged and eventually will be awarded ribbons in numerous categories.

Several species and racks, in all shapes, sizes and counts are considered. More than 300 mounts were on display at last year’s show.

To enter a trophy for scoring, drive to the south entrance of the Fair and Expo Center and continue through the Yellow Gate to Bay 3 at the following times: Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon.

Info: Larry Carey, (509) 328-6429.

Federal court OKs wolf hunts, rejects appeal

HUNTING — A federal appeals court today rejected a lawsuit from conservation groups that want to block wolf hunts that have killed more than 500 of the predators across the Northern Rockies in recent months, according to a just-filed Associated Press report

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress had the right to intervene when it stripped protections from wolves last spring.

Lawmakers stepped in after court rulings kept wolves on the endangered list for years after they reached recovery goals.

Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that sued to restore protections, said an appeal was under consideration but no decision had been made.

Read on for more details from the Associated Press.

3 dozen people address commission on hunt rules

HUNTING — More than three-dozen people testified, mostly on new hunting rules proposed for the 2012-14 seasons, during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting last Friday and Saturday in Moses Lake.

Hunters have passionate feelings on both sides of many of the proposals. Audio transcrips of the meeting should be posted soon on this portion of the commission's website.

Those proposals range from a measure allowing waterfowl hunters to use electronic decoys

The commission is scheduled to take action on more than a dozen proposals at a public meeting April 13-14 in Olympia.

Washington's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan also was discussed.

To help keep the public involved, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has set up an online reporting tool to record observations of wolf activity.

In otherwords, when people see a wolf, or identify wolf tracks or hear a wolf howl, they're requested to file a wolf observation report at the agency's website/

Livestock owners suspecting wolf harassment of their animals would continue to call (877) 933-9847. 

Posted on the Fish and Wildlife commission's website is a draft Statement on Wolves in Washington to guide the state agency's implementation of the state’s wolf plan.

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.