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Jake break: some turkeys safe from Sunday season opener

HUNTING — These wild turkeys feel free to trot through the Ponderosa neighborhood in Spokane Valley even though Washington's general turkey hunting season opens Sunday.

The front-runners are clearly jakes, as indicated by the short "beards" protruding from their breasts.

This little neighborhood parade (photo by Bob Bartlett) illustrates why non-hunters look at you like you're a nut when you get all loaded up with hundreds of dollars worth of equipment to go after a spring gobbler. 

Idaho lawmakers made wise choice on ATVs and hunting

OFF-ROAD VEHICLES — Idaho recently came within an eyelash of stripping the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of the authority to regulate the use of all-terrain vehicles on public land during hunting seasons.

An editorial in the Idaho Mountain Express notes that if the state Senate had not stopped a measure that had been approved by the House, Fish and Game would have had no say on where hunters could operate ATVs during big-game hunting seasons.

That would have been a big mistake, the opinion piece suggests. 

Read on for the editorial's reasoning.

Click here for the Idaho Fish and Game Department's web page on ATV issues.

Moose killed on Beacon Hill; officer seeks tips

POACHING — A cow moose was illegally killed Monday night on Beacon Hill in Spokane Valley, Washington Fish and Wildlife police say.

The poachers killed the animal using archery equipment on the north side of the mountain above Valley Springs road.

The animal was butchered on the spot, leaving little more than the two front feet and head behind.

Tire tracks indicate a small vehicle was used, possibly a small four-wheel drive, said Officer Dave Spurbeck.  A landowner heard a vehicle leaving the area around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Officers have few other clues and welcome any information that might help solve the case.

  • Call the investigators directly: Officer Paul Mosman, 710-5707, or Spurbeck, 993-3997. You can remain anonymous and still be elligible for a reward.

Beacon Hill, which holds several communications towers, is the prominent mountain just north of the Spokane River and just east of Esmeralda Golf Course. It's popular with mountain biker and hikers.

This web page details how poaching tips in any case can be provided anonymously by phone, email or text message.   Rewards are offered.

Otherwise call (877) 933-9847 anywhere in the state.

To reach the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Spokane Region Office during work hours, call (509) 892 1001.

Washington hunting rules to be set in Olympia

HUNTING – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take action on more than a dozen proposed changes in hunting rules for the 2012-14 seasons at a public meeting April 13-14 in Olympia.

New rules proposed for adoption include allowing waterfowl hunters to use electronic decoys and allowing bowhunters to use illuminated knocks. A separate item on landowner hunting permits also is on the commission's meeting agenda.

Some of the proposed hunting rules were developed after a series of public meetings and online surveys that began last summer. However, several proposed rules emerged after those meetings started, including the provisions on electronic decoys, lighted knocks and changes to the master hunter program for elk hunting near Turnbull National Wildlfie Refuge.

In other business, the commission will:

  • Consider adopting a statement designed to guide WDFW’s implementation of the state’s wolf plan,
  • Receive a briefing on legal aspects of the species’ protected status in Washington state.
  • Consider approving a request by WDFW to purchase 1,144 acres along Asotin Creek in Asotin County and 49 acres on the Methow River in Okanogan County to maintain habitat for fish and wildlife.

Idaho Fish and Game can’t Face(book) the online ugliness

WILDLIFE AGENCIES — After wading briefly into the world of social media, the Idaho Fish and Game Department has had to "unfriend" itself on Facebook.

Comment threads on issues such as wolves got so ugly, it was taking too much effort to monitor the traffic.

"We were spending way too much time looking at it. We had some employees who were trying to moderate [Facebook] in the middle of the night, which was crazy," Mike Keckler, chief of IDFG's Bureau of Communications told the Boise Weekly. "I was doing that for a while, and realized I was literally losing sleep over this."

Read onfor the rest of the Boise Weekly report.

Crab Creek angler becomes traveling feast for ticks

FISHING — A friend to took advantage of Tuesday's window of decent weather for an unplanned trip to sample the fly fishing at Crab Creek in Lincoln County.

Although he'd been to the creek and had decent success two weeks earlier, the water was off-color on Tuesday from the recent rain and the fishing was poor, he said.

"I was going to quit but then caught a nice fish so kept going," he said. "Did not get another."

But that's not to say he got skunked in every department.

"Part way through the day I stopped counting the number of ticks removed from my clothing at 100," said.

Brave guy.  When he was at Crab Creek in March, he picked off dozens of ticks in the field, in his vehicle on the drive, and still found four on his chest back home. Then he left on a ski vacation a week later, and found another attached in his scalp. He figures his car still holds Crab Creek ticks waiting their turn. 

When he got home, his wife told him she found several in the sheets when she changed the bedding.

Be careful out there.

Click here to read my detailed primer on hiking and recreating in tick country.

TV host tells his side of Idaho illegal hunting citation

HUNTING — On March 20, I devoted my weekly Outdoors column to the case of Oregon hunter Bob Beck, a TV hunting show host, who pleaded guilty to shooting two deer in Idaho even though he had only one non-resident tag.

The  case was made a year after the 2010 hunt when a sportsman gave Idaho Fish and Game a tip after seeing the hunt and the killing of both deer on Beck's Extreme Outer Limits program, which aired on the Sportsman Channel. Beck did not own up to the illegal kill until he was confronted by authorities. The guilty plea was entered and the fines were assessed in February 2012.

Beck has issues with my reporting and commentary on the case. He's elaborated his concerns in posts at many online forums.

Indeed, he's working to have details on the outcome of the case changed. But as of this week, the ruling remains the same as I reported it on March 20 based on information from Idaho Fish and Game Department investigators and the Benewah County prosecutor.

I'll update any changes that develop in the case.

As of today, the case is still active in Oregon.

Meanwhile, you can hear Beck's version of the case in his own words in a radio interview conducted last week by John Kruse of Northwest Outdoors Radio.

The taped interview will air on the show as follows:

  • on 1240 KOFE in St. Maries Saturdays at 8 AM.
  • on 920 KXLY  in Spokane Sunday at 6 AM.
  • on 1230 KSBN in Spokane on Sunday at 2 PM.

Kruse also plans a follow-up interview with Beck..

Idaho Legislature kills bills aimed at cyclists, ATV hunters

Two bills of interest to outdoor recreationists have died in the Idaho Legislature.

  • Legislation that would have taken away the authority of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to regulate hunting with ATVs died in the state Senate on a 20-15 vote. See the story here.
  •  
  • Idaho state Rep. Roy Lacey's H.586 would have required motorists to give bicyclists a three-foot safety zone when passing them on the roadway. See the story here.

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.