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Oh, no! Even dead grizzlies are hurting people this year

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — This strange year for grizzly bear encounters with humans is going toward bizarre, as you'll see in this story that just moved by the Associated Press.

Man gets shock after poking dead bear on live wire

LIVINGSTON, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a bowhunter suffered serious injuries from an electric shock when he poked a dead bear lying on live wires.

The Park County sheriff’s office says Edward Garcia of Emigrant came across a badly decomposed bear carcass Sunday in the Beattie Gulch area north of Gardiner.

Garcia was shocked when he poked the carcass with a knife, suffering injuries to his torso, head and hands.

The sheriff’s office says Garcia walked two miles to find help. He was flown to a burn center in Salt Lake City, where he was listed in critical condition on Tuesday.

Eugenio Garcia tells the Livingston Enterprise that his brother is in good spirits. He says Edward Garcia helps his family run a salsa business, Montana Mex, in Livingston.

Local falconer’s Audubon program connects hunting, conservation

WILDLIFE — “Falconry and game hunting, a conservation alliance,” is the title of a program to be presented by Spokane falconer Doug Pineo on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The program is sponsored by the Spokane Audubon’s Society which meets at Riverview Retirement Community, Village Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave. near Upriver Drive.

Pineo's involvement in falconry dates back decades, and he was involved with the movement that brought the peregrine falcon back from the brink of extinction.  He recently retired a shoreline specialist with the Washington Department of Ecology.

Humor: hunter reveals his fall priorities

OUDOORS HUMOR — Four guys have been going to the same deer camp for many years. Two days before the group is to leave, Ron's wife puts her foot down and tells him he isn't going.

Ron's friends are very upset that he can't go, but what can they do?

Two days later, the three get to the camping site — and they find Ron sitting there with a tent set up, firewood gathered and dinner cooking on the fire.

“Dang man, how long you been here, and how did you talk your wife into letting you go?”

“Well, I've been here since yesterday,” Ron explained, popping open a cold one. 

“Yesterday evening, I was sitting in my chair and my wife came up behind me and put her hands over my eyes and said, 'Guess who?' I pulled her hands off, and she was wearing a brand new negligée. 

“She took my hand and pulled me to our bedroom. The room had candles and rose petals all over. On the bed she had handcuffs and ropes! She told me to tie and cuff her to the bed, and I did.

“And then she said, 'Do what ever you want.'

“So, here I am.”

Idaho hunters required to stop at check stations

BIG-GAME HUNTING — Good luck to all you hunters heading out Monday for the opening of Idaho's general rifle deer hunting season.

Whether you bag a deer or not, be sure to stop when you come a cross an Idaho Fish and Game Department hunter check station.  Your stop helps them manage wildlife better for all of us.

All hunters and anglers are required to stop at check stations, whether you have any game animals or fish in the vehicle or not. You must stop if going to their hunting or fishing spot or returning home from their hunting or fishing.

Idaho law requires sportsmen stop even if they have been unsuccessful.

Passions run high at latest Washington wolf plan meeting

ENDANGERED SPECIES —  Passions continued to run high in Washington about the growing wolf population as the state Fish and Wildlife Commission held a special meeting on a proposed wolf management plan Thursday in Olympia.

The commission and state Fish and Wildlife Department officials held the  22nd public meeting about wolf management before a capacity crowd in the large meeting hall from morning until evening, according to a report by Tom Banse of the NW News Network.

The Commission is scheduled to adop a wolf plan in December, although groups called for delays in that decision during Thursday's meeting.

Wildlife biologists have confirmed five wolf packs and that total about 30 wolves in Washington. They are scattered from the North Cascades east to the Selkirk Mountains, with newpacks emerging in the Blue Moutains.

Hunters warned to be prepared for bear encounters

HUNTING — Regardless of what species they're stalking, hunters heading into bear, wolf and cougar country — which it just about everywhere around here — should be prepared to deal with a close encounter.  That means thinking about it before hand and being equipped with pepper spray in many cases.
 
Wildlife agencies are trying to get the word out on bear awareness as hunters continue to have run-ins.
 
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Bear Management Specialist, Jamie Jonkel, says that the moment hunters start to think about heading afield is also the time to plan on how to react in the case of an encounter with a bear. 
 
The first thing to consider, Jonkel says, is that the very act of stalking game, such as deer and elk, in the fall increases a hunter’s chance of bumping into bears.
 
“This is the time of year when bears are out and about in constant search for food before winter, and hunters are being quiet and often travelling in areas with dense cover where bears are feeding and bedding and can be surprised at close range,” Jonkel said. “Harvesting an animal also elevates the risk of drawing in a bear, especially grizzlies, so hunters need to be extra cautious.”
 
Read on for some good advice to ponder before the next hunt.

Hunting app helps deer hunters keep, share diaries

BIG-GAME HUNTING — A new smartphone app for iphone and Android could be a boon to hunters tracking their hunting success with hunting diaries.

 “Deer Diary, the App for Hunters,” is partnered with a companion website, DeerDiary.com, which synchronizes information with the app.

“Deer Diary” lets the hunter capture details about a hunt, including weather, photos, notes and, much like Foursquare, allows hunters to “check in” at their favorite tree stand or other hunting spot.

The app travels with the hunter into the field, allowing him or her to access and record information and tap into the shared knowledge of fellow hunting enthusiasts.

Back at camp (or living room), hunters can relive their hunts and learn from past successes and failures, gleaning knowledge and tips from other hunters who have left notes in the app.

“Successful hunters know their surroundings and understand the conditions that make for the best hunts. With ‘Deer Diary,’ it’s easy to record these conditions, see patterns and ultimately become more effective on the hunt,” said the app’s owner and creator, Gus Saucerman.

“Deer Diary” is available now in both the Android App Market and Apple’s App Store.

http://www.deerdiary.com/

Groups urge wolf delisting in Washington

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Two groups put the pressure on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department this week by filing a petition urging the state to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves in the eastern one-third of the state.

The petition was filed with the state Fish and Wildlife Department just before today's special commission meeting in Olympia to discuss Washington's proposed wolf management plan.

Read on to see why state livestock growers and one hunting group is not pleased with the way the wolf plan is going.

Click here to see the proposed wolf plan, including recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists.  

Mountain grouse moving to high country

BIRD HUNTING — I've been hiking a lot of miles of trails the past few months and I've clearly seen the progression of dusky grouse into higher elevations.

Males tend to be at higher elevations earlier in the year, while the hens with their broods don't move up until mid September or so. 

Yesterday I hiked (in the rain) on a couple of high mountain ridges in northeastern Washington where I'd seen only a couple of scattered grouse a few weeks ago.  This time I saw two broods of grouse — an adult an 3 and 5 chicks in each group.

The chicks were not full grown. They were about the size of chukars.  I'll give them another week or two before heading out with the shotgun and English setter.

Nevada courts bird hunters to enjoy excellent chukar season

BIRD HUNTING — Looking for a bird-hunting adventure destination this season?   Nevada is putting out the word that it has record-high numbers of chukars in some — not all — portions of the state for a season that runs through Feb. 5.

Read on for the report from the Nevada Division of Wildlife.

Elk on stage at CM Russell Wildlife Refuge

WILDLIFE WATCHING — One of the best wildlife viewing stages anywhere in September and early October is the cottonwood bottom along the elk viewing area in the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge60 miles north of Lewistown, Mont., (my hometown). 

Even though the elk are in the rut, they know exactly where the elk viewing area boundary is… where archery elk season hunters lurk. Yet the elk come out and put on a show of bugling and mating as if on a stage in front of cars lined up along the dusty refuge road for more than a mile.

Soon the action will disperse, and the show will be over.

Hours, pay not worth the stress, many Montana game wardens say

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — There's nothing lucrative about the life of a Montana game warden, and that's only part of the reason there are job openings.

In the past five years, 24 game wardens in Montana — about a third of the force — have left their jobs, and most said the long hours, relatively low pay and the inability to get away from the job for just a couple of days all played a role in their decision to leave.

See the story by the Helena Independent Record.
  

Area bird hunting outlook ripe with hope

UPLAND BIRD HUNTING —Hunters chilled at the thought of what the cool, rainy spring was doing to nesting pheasants and quail in June.

 Indeed, the pheasant hatch isn’t anything to crow about, but it’s not as bad as hunters may have feared in some areas.

In Whitman County, the first hatch for the most part was wiped out, said Joey McCanna, WDFW upland bird specialist. “I have heard good reports of re-nest attempts from landowners harvesting wheat,” he said last week.

In the Columbia Basin, wildlife biologists are reporting the best pheasant hatch since 2005, McCanna said. “Hunters will need to concentrate on good cover adjacent to food.”

In the Snake River region of Idaho, Fish and Game Department biologists indicate quail and Hungarian partridge had modest reproductive success and pheasants did better than the did last year, although last year’s hatch was pitiful.

 Idaho partridge populations are down slightly from 2010 and long-term averages. Pheasant numbers are up from last year, but still be low the averages.

Bull elk takes heat at Hanford

BIG GAME — We don't think of elk as being creatures game for hot weather, but the elk enjoying the sanctuary of the near-desert conditions on the Handford Nuclear Reservation are doing just fine, thank you.

Erika Holmes, who works at the Hanford Site, snapped this photo of a bull and his harem last week. 
 
The bull had at least 23 cows in his harem in sight of salmon anglers fishing the Hanford Reach of the Columbia, she said.
 

Cold water a major safety factor for waterfowlers

WATERFOWLING — Water does not have to be near freezing to kill, it only has to be colder than a person to cause potentially fatal hypothermia.

With the waterfowl seasons about to open, Idaho Fish and game officials are urging waterfowl hunters who hunt from boats are to wear life jackets and take necessary safety precautions when on the water.

Nationwide last year, 15 hunters lost their lives in boating accidents. Eleven victims drowned because they were not wearing life jackets, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation reports. Overloaded boats and failure to wear life jackets are leading reasons Idaho typically loses a couple of waterfowl hunters every year.

Cold water wicks body heat 25 times faster than air at that same temperature. A hunter who falls in has only a few minutes before the cold renders numb numb and unable to swim.

Most boats float even when capsized or swamped, so get in or on the boat to get as far out of the water as possible. Wearing a life vest is a must. It will help preserve body heat and keeps even an unconscious person stay afloat. Get to shelter, change into dry clothing and warm up slowly.

Read on for more timely tips:

Bowhunter seems to lure unwanted predators

HUNTING — Years ago, before Jim Ebel had retired as manager of the Colville Fish Hatchery, I wrote a story about his unnerving encounter with a cougar.

He was putting up a tree stand before the archery deer season when a cougar came in below the tree and waited for an easy meal to come down.  Ebel was unarmed.

Eventually the cat left the immediate area, so Ebel crawled down and began hiking a mile to his pickup, but the cougar immediately showed up again and stalked him from beihind and from the side, slipping in and out of sight at close range.

That experience — something most hunters will never experience in their lifetimes — was enough to convince Ebel to carry a weapon in the woods.

But last year's hunting season seemed to move Ebel's status from hunter to “bait.”

Read on for the rest of the story:

Bear spray worked for bowhunters

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — It's worth emphasizing that an Idaho archer was able to end a grizzly attack on his bowhunting partner on Saturday by using pepper spray, an essential that should be on the pack straps of every hunters in grizzly country.

The elk hunter who apparently stumbled across a bear’s resting spot and was hospitalized after the animal bit him and broke his right arm, officials said.

Richard Paini, 40, suffered puncture wounds and an injured left hand along with the broken forearm in the attack at about 9 a.m. He was taken to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

A hospital spokesman said Paini, of Island Park, was listed in serious condition Saturday afternoon.

The bear involved in the attack fled after Paini’s archery hunting partner, John Stiehl of Island Park, used bear spray to scare off the bear. Stiehl told authorities he believed it was a grizzly bear.

Gregg Losinski, an Idaho Fish and Game bear specialist, said hunters are at more risk of surprising bears because they are understandably being stealthy when they're in the woods.

Wolf plan heads wildlife panel’s Oct. 6 agenda

ENDANGERED– Washington’s pending Wolf Conservation and Management Plan will be the focus of another special state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Oct. 6 in Olympia.

The discussion will center on the interaction of wolves with livestock and ungulates.  Public comment will be accepted.

The special session will be followed by an Oct. 7-8 meeting, when the commission will receive briefings on issues including the status of north coast steelhead stocks and population goals for deer, elk and other ungulates.

The special meeting is the second of three scheduled on the recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The first was held in Ellensburg. The third special meeting is set for Nov. 3 in Olympia.

The commission is expected to take action on the plan in December.

Click here to see agendas for the commission meetings.

Click here to see the proposed wolf plan, including recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists.  

Cool, rainy spring dampened pheasant hatch, but birds rallied

UPLAND BIRD HUNTING — Hunters chilled at the thought of what the cool, rainy spring was doing to nesting pheasants and quail in June.

Indeed, the hatch isn't anything to crow about, but it's not as bad as hunters may have feared, at least in the Snake River region.

Surveys by Idaho Fish and Game biologists indicate quail and Hungarian partridge had modest reproductive success and pheasants did better than the did last year, although last year's hatch was pitiful.

Idaho partridge populations of both are down slightly from 2010 and long-term averages. Pheasant numbers are up from last year, but still be low the averages.

Read on for details in a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:

Prepare for Montana hunt with online resources

HUNTING — The time a nonresident takes to plan a Montana hunting trip is worth more than the high cost of the out-of-state tag.   

Read on for some steps and resources to consider.`

Calf found dead: More Imnaha wolves targeted

ENDANGERED SPECIES – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will kill two wolves from the Imnaha wolf pack, including the collared alpha male,  after they were blamed for a livestock kill in Eastern Oregon.

The department tracked an adult male wolf with a GPS collar to the location of a calf that was killed last week, according to the Associated Press.

Killing the adult male and a second, uncollared wolf will leave two wolves in the pack. Other wolves from the pack have dispersed to new areas.

The wildlife-advocate group Oregon Wild has protested the proposed kills, saying they are a “major blow” to Oregon’s wolf recovery program.

The Imnaha pack has been blamed for 14 livestock kills since mid-2010.

Wolves in the area were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act in May, when the department killed two other wolves.

The overall number of wolves in the state has fallen from 21 to 12. The number is expected to climb.

Albino mule deer fawn outstanding in the field

WILDLIFE WATCHING — It wasn’t a ghost Nels Houghton first saw while jogging in the early morning near his Billings, Mont.

Last weekend he returned and stalked to within 75 yards of the rare deer as it walked warily across a hillside, reports Brett French, outdoors writer for the Billings Gazette.

“I’ve hunted all my life and have never seen anything else like that,” he said. “I was pretty excited about it.”

French reports that albino deer are rare, but just how rare is open to debate.

  • One 1989 text, “The Deer of North America,” estimated the rate of albinism in mule deer at 1 in every 500,000 deer.
  • An Outdoor Life article on albino whitetail deer put the number at 1 in 20,000.
  • Former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jay Newell said he thinks the 1 in 500,000 odds are high. He told French he'd seen three albino mule deer — spread out along the Musselshell River and in the Bull Mountains — during his work in the area. Yet Newell has never seen an albino whitetail deer.

Coeur d’Alene Tribe asserting right to hunt

TRIBAL HUNTING – The Benewah County prosecutor was incorrect to say the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in North Idaho does not have the right to hunt or fish on reservation land owned by non-tribal members, tribal officials say.

“Any explanation or advice to people that tribal members can’t hunt and fish anywhere on the reservation is wrong, and potentially dangerous,” said Helo Hancock, tribe spokesman in a report by the Coeur d’Alene Press. “I think it misleads people and could lead to people getting into a conflict situation.”

Hancock said the tribe owns about 3,500 acres in the reservation, or about 25 percent of the land. He told the Coeur d’Alene Press that the rest is state, federal or privately owned.

Doug Payne, the county’s prosecutor, said a 1960 opinion by the Solicitor General of the Department of the Interior said the executive order that created the reservation didn’t reserve to tribal members the right to hunt and fish on the land.

But Hancock said that the opinion Payne referred to had been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968.

Read on for more of the story.

Number of young hunters dropping in Oregon

HUNTING — The number of youth hunters is dropping as Oregon’s population continues to shift to urban areas, according to a report in the East Oregonian.

 Oregon youth hunting license sales for hunters ages 12-17 have dropped by more than 17 percent in the last 10 years, the paper says.

The total number has dropped from 22,000 in 2001 to 18,000 in 2010 as the state’s population has grown.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy told the East Oregonian the numbers have started to stabilize in recent years.

Dennehy says there are now more activities — and distractions — for young hunters than there were a decade ago.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 29 percent of Oregon’s population lives in rural areas.

Hunter killed by gunshot wound, not grizzly bear

ENDANGERED WILDLIFE  — Here's another big twist to the story about the hunter attacked and by a grizzly bear after it had been mistaken for a black bear and wounded in a remote area of extreme northwestern Montana.

The hunter who died during a grizzly bear attack was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest, the Montana State Crime Lab medical examiner announced today.  Initial reports suggested the man was killed by the bear.

Steve Stevenson, 39, was killed when his hunting partner, Ty Bell, shot the bear multiple times in an attempt to stop the bear’s attack on Stevenson, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. One of the rounds struck Stevenson in the chest.  The breaking story has just been posted by S-R reporter Chelea Bannach.

Here's the perspective the S-R published last week from the father of the young hunter who shot the bear.

WDFW director to address sportsmen at Brewster roundtable

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Northcentral Washington residents have an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson and regional staff in a roundtable-style meeting Sept. 26 in Brewster.

The 10th annual meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Cove Recreation building, 508 W. Cliff Ave., in Brewster.

“This forum has become a tradition that allows local residents to meet with our director and staff in an informal setting to discuss topics of interest to hunters, fishers and other outdoor recreationalists,” said Dennis Beich, the agench's Northcentral Regional director in Ephrata.

Charges dropped against ex-detective

The case against former Spokane police Detective Jeff Harvey has essentially been dropped after a jury deadlocked Wednesday on an obstruction charge and the prosecutor said he won’t pursue a second trial.

 Verdicts require unanimous decisions and the jury split 5-to-1 in favor of acquittal. Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Brian O’Brien said the case is over.

“I won’t be pursuing it,” O’Brien said. Harvey “had to go through the full trial. We had our day in court on this charge.”

Read the reset of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 20: Obstruction trial for ex-police detective begins

July 16: Fired detective files $10 million claim

July 15: SPD detective fired for 'troubled history'

Feb. 10: SPD detective accused of obstruction

CdA River campgrounds reopened for free autumn use

CAMPING – Big Hank and Bumblebee campgrounds on the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District have been reopened for free fall camping through October on a trial basis.

“We’ve had requests to open the campgrounds in the fall to accommodate both hunters and people who enjoy fall camping,” said Deputy District Ranger Kimberly Johnson.

“This year we decided to experiment with an extended season to determine how much use these sites would receive after Labor Day.”

No camping fee is being charged during the extended trial season. No water or trash removal is offered, but outhouses will remain open.

If the experiment works, and visitors pack out their garbage, other campgrounds, including Kit Price and Devils Elbow, would be considered for fall openings.

  • Big Hank Campground is 15 miles north of Prichard, Idaho, on Forest Road 208 along the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.
  • Bumblebee Campground is 2 miles west of Forest Highway 9 near the Little North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River on Forest Road 796.
  • Info: (208) 664-2318.

Spirit Lake teen hits bulls eye with archery

BOWHUNTING — Alex McClean, a senior at Timberlake High School/Spirit Lake is an avid bow hunter who boasts of being able to “Robin Hood” an arrow on numerous occasions. (He can shoot a bull's eye, then split the arrow with another shot, reports photographer David Nall).

Alex caught the attention earlier this week of Huckleberries blogger D.F. Oliveria.

Alex still has the target he used with the two arrows, one split right down the middle up to the point, hanging in his room as proof, Oliveria said. Nall snapped the photo above in a group of trees right down the divider of Seltice Way, in Post Falls, near the National Guard.

See David Nall's Facebook page here.

Hunter: Deadline looms for buying Montana preference points

BIG-GAME HUNTING — Montana has gone to a preference point system for elk and deer.

Of course, this means the cost of being competitive has gone up, but as a benefit, this should make planning your hunt more predictable.

If you plan to hunt Montana in the future, you shouldn't miss the chance purchase a preferance point before the deadline.

Applicants may purchase only one preference point per license year.

Preference points purchased at the time of application are awarded prior to the drawing.

The deadline for applications to be postmarked is Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.

Click here to download a 2011 nonresident preferance point application.