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Photo contest focused on women hunters

OUTPHOTO – Washington’s modern rifle elk season opens Saturday, giving sportsmen another chance to put aside the rifle, pick up the camera and snap a good photo of the girl or woman out for the hunt.

For the fourth year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is holding a photo contest, the winner of which will grace the cover of the state’s 2015 big-game hunting regulations pamphlet. The state distributes 650,000 copies of the pamphlet each year.

Last year the contest looked for the best photo of a hunting camp.

This year’s theme is “Women: Hunting Through the Generations.”

“We know that the world of hunting is full of mothers, sisters, daughters and wives,” the agency says in its announcement. “Passing down hunting knowledge through the generations is something that brings families closer and turns hunting experiences into cherished memories. If your family includes women who know a thing or two about the hunt, we want to know about it.”

Some rules to consider up front:

  • Digital photos should be at least 1 MB – preferably larger – to ensure a quality print job. 
  • Photos should not include logos or items that could appear to endorse specific companies or products. 
  • Submissions must be received by March 1, 2015.

See details on the agency’s website under Hunting.

Sheep rancher: coyote control counterproductive

PREDATORS - One Idaho livestock grower is joining the growing ranks of going against the grain on traditional predator control:

Federal agency killed 2,773 coyotes in Idaho in 2013
Most of the coyotes killed by Idaho Wildlife Services in Blaine County were killed at the request of livestock producers. But at least one sheep producer said that they do not kill coyotes themselves nor do they request federal agents to do so, as removal of the predators sparks a reproductive response in the species.
—Idaho Mountain Express

Andrus favors Boulder-White Clouds monument

PUBLIC LANDS — While a Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, requests a little more time to persuade his party's naysayers to let him usher in a new Idaho wilderness, former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus says it's time for action:

Andrus urges Idaho Boulder-White Clouds be named national monument
At a ceremony Monday awarding former Interior Secretary and Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus the Frank and Bethine Church Award for Public Service, Andrus and others said that while they appreciated U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's ongoing quest to pass his Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, they believe it's time for executive action to protect the area as a national monument.
—Idaho Statesman

Chronic-wasting disease shows up again in Wyoming deer

HUNTING — Others issues like wolves, EHD in deer and antelope, brucellosis and elk hoof disease have occasionally lured our eye off the chronic wasting disease that became such a big concern more than a decade ago.

In 2011, the issue was rekindled with new cases.

This season, we're getting another reminder:

Chronic-wasting disease found in new hunting areas in Wyoming
Wyoming Fish and Game officials said chronic-wasting disease, which is always fatal to elk, deer, was found in mule deer in hunt areas 84 and 36, districts that border other districts where the disease had previously been found.
—Jackson Hole News & Guide

Fungus responsible for Big Hole trout dieoff

FISHING — Bummer for a great trout stream:

Montana biologists say endemic fungus killing fish in Big Hole River
The Saprolegnia fungus is found in nearly every waterway in Montana, and state wildlife biologists said that fungus is what's killing brown trout in the Big Hole River and that the recent die-off of the trout is the result of perfect timing and conditions for the fungus to kill stressed fish.
—Ravalli Republic

Beware of Zombies: Riverside Park trail to get scary on Oct. 25

PARKS — The third annual Return of the Zombies hike is set for Oct. 25 on what's billed as “the scariest half-mile hike ever” in Riverside State Park.

Hikers of all ages are invited to hike the haunted trail between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. as a fundraiser for the Riverside State Park Foundation.

The route begins at the park's Seven-Mile Airstrip, 7903 W. Missoula Road, in Nine Mile Falls. See directions.

Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for youths age 3 – 12 and free for children under 3.

  • The Washington Discover Pass is not needed on vehicles for this event.

Adults are issued a flashlight, and kids ages 3 to 12 receive a glow-in-the-dark bracelet. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Pets are not allowed. 

At this outdoor version of a haunted house, participants hike a half mile through the woods at the park, while volunteer “zombies” provide the scary atmosphere. Participants should be prepared to walk over uneven terrain and wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing. Organizers will be selling hot chocolate and coffee. A DJ will be entertaining at a warming fire.

Info: Cherie’ Gwinn, 465-5066 or cherie.gwinn@parks.wa.gov.

Spokane runner up in online poll for America’s Best Riverfront

OUTDOOR CITIES — Wilmington, N.C., generated enough votes to edge Spokane this week in a USA TODAY 10 Best Readers' Choice contest for Best American Riverfront.

Wilmington “waged a tight but winning battle against Spokane for the top spot and landed the #1 slot after a frenzied weekend of voting,” the online pollsters reported.   

Wilmington lies on the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River, which winds up into easternmost North Carolina from the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to Bald Head Island.  Because Wilmington is associated with the many barrier island destinations for which it serves as a gateway - Wrightsville Beach chief among them - the public often is unaware that it's a river city. 

The Top 10 vote-getting cities for Best American Riverfront are:  

  1. Wilmington, N.C.
  2. Spokane, Wash.
  3. Davenport, Iowa
  4. Dubuque, Iowa
  5. Pittsburgh
  6. Louisville, Ky.
  7. Chattanooga, Tenn.
  8. Savannah, Ga.
  9. Detroit
  10. Richmond, Va.

Regardless of the poll, Spokane has a world-class connection to a river.

Think about what our “River Runs Through It” offers to visitors. And ponder what it adds to the quality of life for those of us who live here — for example:

  • Riverfront Park and free festivities such as Pig Out In the Park.
  • Foot bridges over the Spokane Falls, a year-round attraction but especially exciting in the refreshing spray of spring runoff.
  • The Spokane River Centennial Trail.
  • Historic Monroe Street Bridge.
  • Tribal powpows.
  • Spokane Jazz Orchestra Fourth of July Concert.
  • Rotary Fountain.
  • Fishing for native redband trout.
  • Access for rafters, SUP and other boats with take-outs including the No-Li Brew Pub — it doesn't get much better than that.

Ruby Creek wolf continues to elude state trappers

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A gray wolf that was deemed too comfortable with being around rural homes and pet dogs near Ione, Wash., has eluded state trappers intending to put the female wolf into captivity at wildlife facility near Tenio, Wash.

State Fish and Wildlife officials have called off the trapping effort and will wait until snow accumulates to offer a better chance of capture.

The Ruby Creek wolf was trapped and radio-collared in 2013 and had been hazed with rubber bullets to try to keep it away from Pend Oreille County residences. Wolves learn quickly from these encounters and are much harder to capture the second time around. Wildlife managers are concerned for public safety as well as the prospect of the solo wolf being bred by a domestic dog during the winter mating season.

Here's the latest update for on the Ruby Creek wolf as well as ongoing wolf-management issues from Nate Pamplin, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife assistant director and head of the state's wildlife program:

Ruby Creek Wolf: 

To date, we have not been able to capture the Ruby Creek female for placement at Wolf Haven International.  So far our efforts have been mostly trapping with leg-hold sets; we’ve had 24 traps in the ground for 18 nights.  We have used traps with scent lure and blind sets (no scent).  We've used scat and hair as bait from the dogs the Ruby female has been mingling with, as well as walking the dog around the area to lay scent.  We've tried free ranging darting twice and pushing the wolf towards the traps. 

At this point and given this level of effort, we have pulled the traps because trapping is probably not going to be successful.  We will continue monitoring the Ruby Creek female and will be prepared to capture her using a dart gun, cougar walk-in trap, or leg-hold trap if the right opportunity occurs.  Once snow arrives, we me need to dart her from the air.   If these efforts are unsuccessful, we will re-evaluate options.

Whitman County Animal Mortality Investigation:

A man described as a farmer is being investigated for shooting a wolf after chasing it in a vehicle southwest of Pullman.

We are still conducting the investigation on the animal shot in Whitman County and sent genetic samples to a lab to determine whether the animal was a wolf or a hybrid.  We expect the investigation to be concluded in the next couple weeks.

Profanity Peak Pack:

Washington's most recently confirmed wolf pack came to light in September after killing cattle in a remote national forest allotment in Ferry County near Profanity Peak. A new depredation was reported this week.

WDFW staff responded to the Diamond M ranch and investigated a cow that had substantial injuries on October 20.   The animal was discovered during the round-up/collection efforts to move animals to the Basin and winter range.  Staff confirmed that the injuries were caused by wolves. The wounds appeared to be about a week old.  This is the third incident involving four livestock: 1) a dead cow and calf, 2) an injured calf (which was with three other calves that were observed injured, but were not able to be caught/inspected) and 3) an injured cow.  Currently, we do not have any wolves collared in this pack.

The livestock operators are cooperating to try to avoid problems with wolves, Pamplin said, noting that staffers are trying to locate the wolves for a possible capture and radio-collaring misison.

The operator is collecting the cows from the main allotment where the depredations have occurred, so human presence is high and the number of cows remaining on the allotment is lowered and getting reduced almost daily.  We know that there are cattle spread over multiple allotments in the immediate vicinity as well as private ranches on the periphery of where this pack likely ranges.  Whether this pack is attacking livestock owned by others is unknown at this time. 

Coho in spotlight; steelhead providing action

FISHING — The first coho fishing season on Idaho's Clearwater River has been capturing a lot of attention this weeke, but fishing guides correctly point out that steelheading — the bread and butter of late fall fishing in the Snake and Clearwater rivers — is doing just fine.

Here's the latest report from Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing based out of Clarkston:

The Clearwater has been kicking out a lot of nice big B-run fish ranging anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds. This time of year these fish are hot and make some line screaming runs and acrobatic leaps. Dam counts are looking excellent for a great season. An email from Joe DuPont, IDF&G Clearwater Fishery Manager states that as of  10/7/14, over 9,000 hatchery Steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam (based on detected PIT tags) that are destined for the Clearwater River.  This is about triple of what we saw last year at this same time and 30% more than we saw 2 years ago.

One of the exciting things about the run this year is the vast majority of them are the larger 2-ocean fish unlike last year when many were the smaller 1-ocean fish.  To date, over 25,000 Clearwater River bound hatchery Steelhead have passed over Bonneville Dam, so there are still a lot on their way.  This means there will be no need to for emergency rules like we implemented last year to protect brood stock. The limit on the Clearwater for steelhead is 2 per day with no size restrictions.

Another exciting development on the Clearwater is that with combined efforts from the Nez Perce Tribe and IDF&G, we are allowed to catch and harvest Coho Salmon. This is the first time in the history of the State of Idaho where sportsmen are able to harvest Coho. The limit is 2 per day and the season is open until November 16th, 2014. Our boats have been landing a few Coho’s a day while targeting Steelhead, which is a nice added bonus to the day.

Fishing should continue to pick up from here on out.

 

Grande Ronde catch-and-release steelheading could be history

FISHING — Fisheries managers have proposed a rule that would require anglers to keep all hatchery steelhead they catch on most of southeastern Washington, including the Grande Ronde with the exception of the first 2.5 miles up from the mouth. Anglers would have to stop fishing when they retained their limit of two or three hatchery steelhead, depending on the river.

Check out this and other proposals and make comments online.

See the steelhead retention rule here.

Youth vulnerable to lead poisoning at shooting ranges

SHOOTING — The Seattle Times series of stories on lead poisoning issues at shooting ranges is providing more food for thought and action:

The youngsters knew their sport could be dangerous, even deadly.

But for the junior team at the Vancouver (Wash.) Rifle and Pistol Club, the peril that emerged from their sport didn’t come from a stray bullet.

It came from lead.

In 2010, blood tests revealed that 20 youths had been overexposed to the poisonous metal after shooting in the club’s dirty, poorly ventilated range.

“It was devastating,” said Marc Ueltschi, the junior team coach and a club member. “It scared the life out of me. No one knew anything about lead poisoning and what to fix.”

Vancouver Rifle is just one of several private gun clubs across the United States that have posed health hazards in a sport with growing numbers of youths and women.

While those most likely to be poisoned by lead in gun ranges are the workers themselves, The Seattle Times has found dozens of avid shooters overexposed in such states as Washington, Massachusetts and Alaska.

The most vulnerable are children learning to shoot and compete in clubs operated by volunteers who may have little knowledge of the risks of firing lead ammunition. Gunfire can put lead residue in the air, and on the skin and nearby surfaces.

Yakima River stretch opening for coho

FISHING — A coho fishing season will open on the “middle” Yakima River on Wednesday, Oct. 22, — for both hatchery and wild fish, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has just announced.

Location: From the Interstate 82 bridge at Union Gap to the “closed water” line 3,500 feet downstream of Roza Dam.

Reason for action:  A record return of coho salmon is returning to the upper Yakima River with more than 15,000 counted passing Prosser Dam through Oct. 20. Yakama Nation and WDFW biologists agree that a harvestable surplus is available to provide this sport fishing opportunity.

Other information:

  • Daily limit of two (2) coho (wild or hatchery)
  • Barbless hooks are required (single-point or multiple-point allowed)
  • During this fishery, the “Selective Gear Rules” prohibiting use of bait and knotted nets is temporarily suspended.
  • Night closure in effect.
  • Fishing for trout and other gamefish closes on Oct. 31 by permanent rule.
  • Fishing for steelhead remains closedAll steelhead (rainbow trout greater than 20” in total length) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
  • A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement is required to participate in this salmon fishery.
  • Fishing from boats equipped with an internal combustion motor (ICM) is allowed only from the I-82 Bridge at Union Gap to the east-bound (upstream) I-82 bridge at Selah Gap. Boats with an ICM may be used for “transportation only” upstream of the Selah Gap Bridge.
  • Closed to fishing year-round for all species 400 feet upstream from the upstream side of the Yakima Avenue/Terrace Heights Road bridge in Yakima, including the area adjacent and downstream of the Roza Wasteway No. 2 fish barrier rack next to Morton & Sons Inc.

Hanford Reach fall chinook still on the bite

FISHING — “The number of anglers fishing for salmon in the Hanford Reach continues to slowly decline but the fishing remains excellent with 2.7 fall chinook landed per boat,” says Paul Hoffarth, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department Columbia River biologist in the Tri-Cities. 

An estimated 1,576 boats fished for salmon in the Hanford Reach this past week.  WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 481boats (1,251 anglers:8,066 pole hours) and 93 bank anglers (333 hours).  An estimated 4,311 salmon (3,767 adult chinook, 534 jacks & 10 coho) were harvested.   Bank anglers didn’t fare as well only averaging one chinook for each 31 anglers but the good news is that the bank anglers are starting to pick up a few steelhead.   There were an estimated 4,297 angler trips for fall Chinook in the Tri-cities this past week. 

For the fall salmon season that started August 1, there have been over 42,000 angler trips harvesting 25,596 adult Chinook, 2,290 jacks, and 171 coho.

The lower Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford townsite) will remain open to fishing for salmon through October 31. The last day of fishing in the area upstream of the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers is October 22. 

The Yakima River fall chinook fishery has provided a decent number of fish. The Yakima closes on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

This past week WDFW staff interviewed 211 anglers fishing for salmon in the lower Yakima River with 49 adult chinook, 1 Chinook jacks, and 4 coho harvested. Anglers averaged a salmon for every 11 hours of fishing.

 

An estimated 275 salmon were caught this past week (247 adult fall Chinook, 5 jacks, and 23 coho) bringing the season total to 1,152 salmon.

Dog, pheasant season, work: Setting priorities

HUNTING — A successful morning hunt.

Time to get back to the other office.

Ecology to present Spokane River flow rule Wednesday

RIVERS — A Proposed in-stream flow rule for the Spokane River — important to anglers and paddlers — will be presented during an open house meeting on Wednesday.

The Washington state Department of Ecology will explain the proposal to visitors starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22. A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. 

Where: CenterPlace Regional Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley. 

More information: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/rules/557-ov.html

Deadline for public comments: Nov.7.

Mt. Spokane ski area expansion meeting Nov. 19

STATE PARKS — The controversial proposal to expand the downhill ski area at Mount Spokane State Park will get another public hearing in Spokane Valley next month.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has announced a special  evening public meeting to take testimony about land classification options that could impact the expansion proposal.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 at Center Place Recreation Center, 2426 N. Discovery Pl.

“This will be the only opportunity for verbal public comment on the Mount Spokane issues prior to the Commission’s decisions on land classification and the proposed expansion at Mount Spokane at a regular meeting in Spokane the following day,” the commission says in a media release.

In 2010, Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park pared down previous plans and requested an expansion of the concession’s ski area by about 279 acres. The proposal involves adding one lift.

Nov. 14 is the deadline for written comments to the commission before its meeting. Email comments to  Commission@parks.wa.gov.

The options the commission will chose from are spelled out online at 1.usa.gov/1u0NSOA.

This  draft Environmental Impact Statement includes a previous round of public comment received through Sept. 30.

 In 2010, Mount Spokane 2000 approached the Commission with a conceptual proposal to expand skiing into approximately 279 acres of an 800-acre portion of the park known as the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area, an area that has not been assigned a land classification.

Options to be considered by the Commission on Nov. 20 include the following land classifications and associated potential development options:

Natural Forest Area: Would allow no ski lift development and would limit recreation activity to Chair 4 Road as well as to a portion of a summit road and an existing mountain biking trail

Resource Recreation and Natural Forest Area: Would allow alpine skiing as a conditional use with no lift or formal runs constructed and limited clearing of downed or damaged trees to reduce hazards for backcountry skiers

Recreation, Resource Recreation and Natural Forest Area: Would permit ski lift development and runs and would provide for more vegetation clearing within the area designated Recreation, while offering a higher level of resource protection in the Resource Recreation portion and no development within the Natural Forest Area.

Idaho record coho caught on Clearwater

FISHING — Idaho's first specific coho fishing season opened Friday on the Clearwater River and before the weekend was over, the state had a new record for coho salmon.

Ethan Crawford caught a 9.4-pound coho in the Clearwater and had it officially weighed, according to Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department Clearwater Region fishery manager.

Crawford, 32, of Moscow, is a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist. He's also worked for Idaho Fish and Game.

“Seeing this is basically the first fishery we have had on ocean going coho, it was not surprising to me to see the old record fall which was caught out of Cascade Reservoir (6 pounds) in 1992,” DuPont said. The previous records was a fish the spent its life in freshwater.

“I can tell you that there are many more out there that are even bigger,” he said, noting that a lot of fish in the 10-pound range are moving up the river.

Anglers, many of them steelheaders, were bonking the coho and filleting them for the dinner table this weekend without even thinking about record books, DuPont said. Both clipped and unclipped coho can be kept during the fishery that runs through Nov. 16.

Be sure you know how to ID a coho while fishing the Clearwater.

If you catch a fish that you believe could be a new record, see this link for directions on how to get your fish verified:

The Snake River run of coho was declared extinct in 1985. But the Nez Perce tribe began a restoration effort in the Clearwater River starting in 1995. The run gradually improved before taking a giant leap forward this fall with the return of more than 15,000 adults.

 

Rare hunt for national park elk underway

HUNTING — A unique annual elk hunt in a national park began Saturday.  

The Grand Teton National Park’s annual elk reduction program will run until Nov. 2.  

Congress allowed the “controlled reduction” of elk when the park was created in 1950. Hunting is not allowed in most national parks, and the hunt in Grand Teton comes with restrictions.  

The 650 Wyoming-licensed hunters are restricted to two areas of the park. They are allowed to hunt cows or calves — but not bulls — from three primary herd segments: Grand Teton, southern Yellowstone National Park and the Teton Wilderness area of Bridger-Teton National Forest.  

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports archery, hand guns and other non-center-fire ammunition rifles are banned, and artificial elk calls are also not allowed.   
  

Simpson asks Obama to wait on Idaho national monument

PUBLIC LANDS — Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho is asking President Barack Obama to hold off designating a rugged swath of central Idaho as a national monument.

Simpson tells the Idaho Statesman that he’s asked the president for six to eight months to give him time to work on passing legislation.

Simpson’s Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, or CIEDRA, would create three wilderness areas totaling 332,775 acres while also releasing 130,000 acres from a wilderness study area to a multiple-use designation.

But that plan for years has failed to get through Congress.

So some groups are asking Obama to use his executive power under the Antiquities Act to create a 592,000-acre national monument that includes the rugged Boulder and White Cloud mountains.

Jury’s still out on B.C.’s controversial Jumbo Pass ski area

PUBLIC LANDS — The controversial Jumbo Glacier resort in the Purcell Mountains near Invermere, British Columbia, is in a holding pattern after its environmental certificate expired on the weekend, but resort officials say they’re still on track to open the day lodge and a lift by next winter, the Calgary Herald reports.

The $1-billion ski resort’s environmental certificate — which has been in place for 10 years — expired last week.

No additional construction will take place at the site until First Nations and other stakeholders are consulted and until B.C. Minister of Environment Mary Polack rules on whether the resort has “substantially started” the project.

Resort plans call for  construction of 5,500 condos and up to 23 ski lifts.

The upscale resort has divided the community between those who want a boon to local business and others who fear destruction of the pristine wilderness and grizzly bear habitat.

N. Fork Clearwater road closed for repairs

FISHING — The North Fork of Clearwater River Road 247 will be closed starting tomorrow, Oct. 21, at milepost 39.3, at Flat Creek for the removal of an aquatic organism barrier culvert, the Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forests announced today.

The road closure will run no later than Nov. 11. 

Info: (208) 582-4203.

N. Cascades Highway closing for construction

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — A 10-mile stretch of North Cascades Highway in northcentral Washington will be closed for 34 hours starting Tuesday morning, with no detour route.

From 6 a.m. Tuesday through 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21-22, Highway 20 will be closed between Granite Creek and Rainy Pass (mileposts 147 to 157). During the closure, crews will replace culverts that were damaged in mudslides.

“That’s closed as in ’you can’t get there from here,’ because there is no detour,” the Department of Transportation said in a lighthearted news release.

H i g h w a y 2 0 w i l l reopen after the culverts are replaced, the agency said.

And, assuming it doesn’t snow a lot between now and then, the road will remain open until heavy snows force the annual winter closure.

  • Glacier National Park's Going to the Sun Road over Logan Pass in Montana closes for the season today.

Lead poisoning documented at some shooting ranges

SHOOTING — Exposure to lead at shooting ranges is a poorly monitored health risk that's affecting shooters and people who work at the facilities in some areas, according to a story in the Seattle Times.

Indoor, outdoor, public and private, gun ranges dot the national landscape like bullet holes riddling a target, as the popularity of shooting has rocketed to new heights with an estimated 40 million recreational shooters annually.

But a hidden risk lies within almost all of America’s estimated 10,000 gun ranges: firing lead-based ammunition spreads vapor and dust filled with lead, an insidious toxin.

Thousands of workers, shooters and their family members have been contaminated at shooting ranges due to poor ventilation and contact with lead-coated surfaces, a Seattle Times investigation has found.

Those most at risk are range workers who inhale airborne lead as they instruct customers and clean up spent ammunition. Lead exposure can cause an array of health problems — from nausea and fatigue to organ damage, mental impairment and even death.

Employees have carried lead residue into their homes on their skin, clothes, shoes and work gear, inadvertently contaminating family members, including children, those most vulnerable to lead’s debilitating health effects.

For the public, shooting firearms is the most common way of getting lead poisoning outside of work, according to national statistics.

Through documents, interviews and a first-of-its-kind analysis of occupational lead-monitoring data, The Times has found reckless shooting-range owners who’ve repeatedly violated workplace-safety laws.

The nation has an estimated 6,000 commercial indoor and outdoor gun ranges, but over the past decade, only 201 have been inspected, according to a Times analysis of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records. Of those inspected, 86 percent violated at least one lead-related standard.

Opening day report: Pheasant hunting better behind a dog

HUNTING — Following a bird dog's nose through pheasant country is one of the most vigorous, intense, satisfying and rewarding forms of hiking. And the results can be delicious.

Kokanee provide fall color near Sullivan Lake

PUBLIC LANDS — Sullivan Lake is a great option for getting out this weekend to enjoy fall colors — on the forest and on the fish!

The Western larch needles are turning yellow and the crimson-colored kokanee are running from the lake into Harvey Creek where they are ripe for easy viewing.

Huge schools of these bright red beauties can be seen from the bridge or creek bank at the south end of the lake as the fish pair with mates for spawning. 

“This intense and exciting event is important to the survival of the species,” says Franklin Pemberton of the Colville National Forest. Visitors are asked to avoid harassing the fish or disturbing the streambed.

The run typically lasts until the middle of December.

Females dig a redd (deposit site) to lay eggs and within a few days die.  Their decaying bodies provide nutrients to the creek and Sullivan Lake vital to the growth of plankton and insect life that will feed next year’s young.  The dying salmon also feed animals like bald eagles, raccoons, and mink.  Kokanee eggs hatch in February and remain in the gravel until spring where they are swept away into Sullivan Lake to start another cycle.

DIRECTIONS:  From Highway 31 south of Ione, take County Road 9345 toward the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station and Sullivan Lake.  The bridge over Harvey Creek is at the south end of the lake. Harvey Creek is closed to fishing.

Info:  (509) 446-7500. 

 

Hunters tell it like it is at Lynnwood wolf management meeting

ENDANGERED SPECIES — As predicted, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife-sponsored public meeting on wolf management held Tuesday in Lynwood had a different tone than the similar meeting held Oct. 7 in Colville.

The public in Lynnwood blasted the state for killing any wolves even to protect livestock. Cattlemen and hunters in Colville were enraged by the state's reluctance to take out entire packs of wolves.

I've seen little TV or mainstream newspaper reports from the Western Washington meeting in which state wildlife managers explained their wolf management actions and took public comment.

In contrast, the Colville meeting was attended by three TV stations, reporters from The Spokesman-Review and other papers and an AP reporter.  Two different stories were on the AP wire the next day documenting how state officials got their butts chewed in northeastern Washington.

It's safe to say there weren't as many vegan-related bumper stickers on cars parked outside the Colville meeting. No vocally angry cattle ranchers ranted at the Lynnwood meeting, although a few hunters showed up to say what was on their minds.

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine has a thoughtful report on the Lynwood meeting.

Said Walgamott, taking off on one hunter's assurance that wolves eventually would be hunted in Washington despite the arguments that no wolves should be killed:

Really, it’s a success story when you can get to the point that hunts on any species can be held, kind of like the comeback of elk that allowed for seasons in this state by the early 1900s, whitetails in Missouri by 1931 and elsewhere in the East, bandtail pigeons by the early 2000s in the Northwest.

Washington's wolf management plan requires 15 successful breeding pairs in three distinct regions of the state for three straight years, or 18 in any one region before wolves would be hunted in the state.

By contrast, Oregon state rules call for launching a delisting process for wolves when Eastern Oregon has four breeding pairs for three consecutive years.  That delisting from endangered species rules could start next year judging from the progress wolves are making.

Washington has a tough road to travel in the next few years as wolves continue to expand.  Walgamott let Nate Pamplin, WDFW's wildlife program director have the last word in his report on the Lynnwood meeting:

Even as a self-identified counselor gave WDFW’s crew some psychoanalysis about a little chart they put together that showed what the agency hears from both sides, Pamplin noted:

“I don’t have the easy button. We heard a lot of good ideas tonight. We’re going to recover wolves. We’re going to manage wolf-livestock conflicts. We know wolf-ungulate issues are coming. We need to do better outreach.”

 

Salmon ID chart helps Clearwater anglers identify catch

FISHING — Idaho's first specific coho fishing season opens today on the Clearwater River.

You can keep coho regardless of whether their adipose fins are clipped or unclipped in the mainstem or designated sections of the Middle Fork and North Fork below Dworshak Dam.

But since fall chinook is closed to harvest and unmarked steelhead must be released, anglers must be clear on identifying coho.

This chart should help.

Trail cam captures shot of Selkirk mountain caribou

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services fudges on the issue, the mountain caribou is the rarest big game species in the United States and therefore the most endangered.

So capturing a photo of a Selkirk mountain caribou isn't just a big deal, says Kalispel Tribe wildlife biologist Bart George — It's “The Holy Grail for trail cam pictures!”

That is, if Sasquatch isn't.

Washout temporarily closes Beauty Creek Road

PUBLIC LANDS — Recent rains and flooding have caused a washout on Forest Road 438, also known as the Beauty Creek Road.  The route is temporarily closed while Idaho Panhandle National Forests crews repair the damage between mile marker 1 and mile marker 4.4.

Flood damage has made the road impassable, but an alternate route accessing the upper reaches of Beauty Creek is available through Forest Road 439, near Mount Coeur d’Alene.

Barriers and road closure signs are posted at the entrance to FR 438.

Info: Coeur ‘d Alene River Ranger District,  (208) 664-2318.

Fishing’s better when God is on your side

FISHING — I, too, have had days like this with my fishing buddies.