Latest from The Spokesman-Review
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Forty-four cow elk in western Montana's Ravalli County have been equipped with GPS collars as part of an elk population study expected to last through 2013.
Biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the University of Montana attached the collars earlier this month to the elk captured with net guns and tranquilizer darts fired from a helicopter.
Biologist Craig Jourdonnais of Fish, Wildlife and Parks tells the Ravalli Republic that the study should show how elk are using the landscape in the East and West Forks of the Bitterroot River.
State biologists plan to conduct three or four flights a month to check for mortality as well, which will among other things help peg the impacts of wolves, cougars, bears and other impacts on elk numbers.
Biologists hope to capture and radio-collar elk calves this spring as part of the study.
WINTER SPORTS — The trails, grooming and skiing conditions simply could not be better than they were Sunday at Mount Spokane's cross-country ski trails.
One more brilliant day in the forecast before grimness returns.
NEW ORLEANS — Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum finished fourth in the Bassmaster Classic after the final weigh-in today for the three-day “super bowl” of bass fishing.
Palaniuk, 23, was the youngest of the 50 anglers to qualify for the competition. He also was the only angler from the West.
See a gallery of 13 great photos of Brandon's three-day run in the Classic.
See the ESPN schedule for TV coverage of the Classic to air next week.
Defending champ Kevin VanDam of Michigan won his fourth Bassmaster title and the first-place prize of $500,000 by weighing in 15 fish over the three days totaling a whopping 69 pounds 11 ounces.
Martens earned $45,000, Remitz $40,000 and Palaniuk $30,000.
Today Palaniuk caught a big bass weighing 7 pounds 13 ounces. He told the cheering weigh-in crowd, “I had another one that I swear tried to eat this one.”
Palaniuk, who earned his spot in the classic by winning the $60,000 Federation Nation championship prize last fall, was already creating a buzz of interest among angling media during the pre-fishing in the Louisiana Delta before the event.
He reportedly slept in the back of his pickup to save money.
At least 15 family members and friends made the trek to New Orleans, several driving 2,400 miles one way from North Idaho.
Read on for a Bassmasters report featuring the winners.
HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Department is planning a series of public open house meetings to discuss proposed big-game seasons and rules for the fall hunting seasons.
Some meetings in the Clearwater region are as early as Tuesday. Panhandle meetings will be the week of March 7, but have yet to be announced.
Proposal highlights and meeting dates will be updated on the Fish and Game website.
PRO FISHING — Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum told the Bassmaster Classic weigh-in crowd in New Orleans tonight that he was fishing this morning in thick a fog and could hear other anglers casting nearby, but he couldn’t see who was around him.
Suddenly he realized he was sharing the water with reigning champion and three-time Classic winner Kevin VanDam.
“He was great and very respectful of me, and I’m trying to do the same for him,” said Palaniuk, 23, one of a small group of “youngsters” in this year's Classic. “It’s awesome to be fishing next to someone who I’ve looked up to since I was eight years old.”
He had good reason to look up to VanDam.
The champ had a huge day, topping the entire 50-angler field with five fish totaling 22 pounds 8 ounces to soar up to the top spot after the second day of fishing.
Palaniuk, the only angler from the West in this year's Classic, caught a limit of five fish totaling 17 pounds 14 ounces today. Combined with the five fish he caught Friday, his total is 32 pounds 8 ounces with one more day of fishing to go.
VanDam's total is 41 pounds 11 ounces.
See all the first- and second-day results here.
PRO FISHING — Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum moved from 11th place to fourth place today after the second day of fishing among the 50 anglers in New Orleans for the Bassmaster Classic .
Palaniuk, who's been creating a buzz since he arrived, has a shot a victory in the three-day Super Bowl of bass fishing, which runs through Sunday at the Louisiana Delta.
Palaniuk, the only angler to qualify from the West, caught five fish totaling 17 pounds 14 ounces today. Combined with the five fish he caught Friday, his total is 32 pounds 8 ounces with one more day of fishing to go.
The leader is defending champ Kevin VanDam of Michigan with 41 pounds 11 ounces. In second is Kansas angler Brent Chapman with 38 pounds 1 ounce. In third is Alabama angler Aaron Martens with 33 pounds 2 ounces. See all the first- and second-day results here.
Follow the event online and Palaniuk online; see my previous blog post and ESPN interview with Palaniuk.
Brandon might be the only angler from the West at the Classic, but he's not alone. .
At least 15 family members and friends made the trek to New Orleans, several driving from his hometown of Rathdrum, Idaho.
“That's only 2,392 miles Palaniuk, the 23-year-old winner of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation championship last fall, has been sleeping in his truck to be able to afford his foray into professional fishing.
PRO FISHING — As I write this, Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum is still waiting for his weigh-in after the second day of fishing at the Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans.
Palaniuk, 23, is the only angler from the West among the 50-angler field. He finished the first day of fishing in 11th place.
But he has a vocal group of fans, including about 15 family members who made the 2,400-mile expedition from Idaho to watch him compete in the bigget bassing event in the world.
WINTER SPORTS — Powder is the word for President's Day Weekend skiers.
Around 2 feet of blower powder piled up and was waiting for skiers today. The full moon is out and everyone is ready to go out and shred!
For those of you heading off the managed slopes of area resorts, John Olson, Forest Service hydrologist in North Idaho had this reminder:
“No matter how much fun you are having, you can still die in an avalanche.”
Fernie Alpine Resort reported 9 inches of new powder snow earlier today and it was still snowing.
– 22cm in the last 48hrs and currently snowing close to 5cm an hour of Blower Powder.
OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission issued a statement today voicing its opposition to a provision of bill being considered in the Washington Legislature that would reduce the commission’s authority.
During a conference call, commissioners unanimously approved a statement objecting to the provision in Senate Bill 5669 that would eliminate their authority to set regulations and to appoint and remove the director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The statement says the provision would “reverse the will of the majority of the people as reflected in Referendum 45.” That referendum, approved by voters in 1995, transferred from the governor to the commission the authority to set policy for WDFW and appoint its director.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor, also expressed concerns about another provision of the bill that would consolidate WDFW with the state Parks and Recreation Commission and state Recreation and Conservation Office.
Commissioners said they are concerned about added administrative burdens that would result from consolidating the agencies into a new Department of Conservation and Recreation. Under the bill, the director of the new agency would be appointed by the governor.
PRO-FISHING — Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum is in 11th place after the first day of fishing among the 50 anglers in New Orleans for the Bassmaster Classic .
The three-day Super Bowl of bass fishing runs through Sunday at the Louisiana Delta.
Palaniuk, the only angler to qualify from the west, caught five fish totaling 14 pounds 10 ounces in the first day of competition.
Follow the event online and Palaniuk online; see my previous blog post and ESPN interview with Palaniuk.
PALANIUK HAS FAMILY FAN BASE
Brandon might be the only angler from the West at the Classic, but he's not alone. Here a morning post from the Bassmaster Classic blog.
“Most Classic anglers have supportive families, but few can top B.A.S.S. Federation Nation qualifier Brandon Palaniuk. At least 15 family members and friends made the trek to New Orleans, several driving from his hometown of Rathdrum, Idaho.
“That's only 2,392 miles from Bayou Segnette State Park, or one day, 15 hours of driving at the speed limit. His mother, Tonya, and stepfather, Dan Lyden, along with his grandmother and aunts, stood in the bleachers and cheered him on. Palaniuk, the 23-year-old winner of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation championship last fall, has been sleeping in his truck to be able to afford his foray into professional fishing.
“He's also signed up for the Bassmaster Elite Series, which kicks off in March. Family members held up a banner in the bleachers imploring Palaniuk to 'Do Work.' That's the code phrase he uses to tell his mother when he's faring well in a tournament — 'I do work,' he tells her.”
— Dave Precht
FISHING — Water discharge from Dworshak Dam near Orofino, Idaho, will temporarily decrease starting Saturday, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations officials announced this afternoon.
Discharge flow through the powerhouse will be decreased from approximately 11,000 cubic feet per second to 6,200 cfs on Saturday and Sunday.
Peaking flows through the powerhouse will fluctuate Monday through Friday between 2,500-8,600 cfs, with the reservoir levels lowering about one-quarter of a foot each day, based on currently expected inflows.
Corps officials advise boaters and other persons using waterways both in Dworshak Reservoir and below the dam on the Clearwater River to be alert to changes in water elevation and volume of flow.
Water-management conditions can be viewed on the District website at www.nwd-wc.usace.army.mil/nww/rreports.htm— click on “Hourly” and look in the “TOTAL” column under the “OUTFLOW” heading on the reservoir report. Reservoir elevation is found in the “FOREBAY” column under the “EL AT POWERHOUSE” heading.
OUTDOOR WISDOM — After attending last night's Fly Fishing Film Tour at the Bing — a thoroughly entertaining evening of film that overshadowed the unpolished ramblings of the tour hosts — I left knowing one thing for sure:
The most common misconception about fishing is that it's all about catching fish.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Despite Gov. Brian Schweitzer's call this week for Montanans to defy federal endangered species laws and kill wolves (see story), the state's game wardens aren't launching a war on the controversial predators.
On Wednesday, Schweitzer announced he was done waiting for federal permission to manage wolves in Montana, according to the MIssoulian. He encouraged ranchers to kill wolves that prey on livestock throughout the state, including the northern portion where federal rules prohibit that. He also said he wanted Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials to start killing wolves that threaten elk herds.
However, on Thursday, the Missoulian reported that FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim as saying the department was still pursuing a formal request to shoot some wolves in the Bitterroot Mountains, but did not have larger plans.
Schweitzer's announcement was similar to a decision by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter in October to drop all state efforts on wolf management until the federal government delists the animal.
Idaho's Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ed Mitchell said, “I'm not even talking about wolves anymore.” He referred questions to Gov. Butch Otter's press office.
STATE GOVERNMENT — Plan ahead today if you need something from a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department office — or most other state government offices.
Monday is the Presidents Day holiday and Tuesday is another furlough day for most Washington state employees.
This will be the seventh of 10 unpaid days in the current budget period to cut state spending by $70 million. Law enforcement and other crucial workers are exempted, including state wildlife enforcement agents.
The next furlough day will be March 28.
FISHING-HUNTING — The ice is almost gone from Sprague Lake this week, a harbinger of a new season to come.
Here's the latest hunting fishing report, posted today by S-R columnist Alan Liere.
NATIONAL FORESTS — The lottery drawing is coming up for summer reservations at a popular Forest Service “cabin” on the St. Joe River.
Applications for staying at the former forest service employee home at Red Ives from Memorial Day weekend through Sept. 30 must be received by Feb. 28 at the St. Joe Ranger District, Avery Office, 34 Hoyt Dr., Avery, ID 83802.
High demand prompted officials to book the facility on the upper region of the popular fishing and floating river rather than put it on the national public lands reservation system.
More than 400 applications were received for the 2010 season, but only 50 applicants were granted reservations before the open season was filled, officials said.
Red Ives Cabin lottery applications are available online. For information, call (208) 245-4517.
Rental dates not booked through the lottery will be available on a “first-come” basis and posted on the cabin web site the first week of April.
Other rental opportunities on the St. Joe Ranger District include:
- Clarkia Bunkhouse – Reservations and info at (208) 245-2531.
- Surveyor’s Lookout – Reservations through the National Recreation Reservation System, or call (877) 444-6777.
Find details about these and other rental options on the Idaho Panhandle Natioanl Forests website.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The annual Great Backyard Bird Count begins tomorrow across North America — and in your own neighborhood, if you choose.
Volunteers do a census on the birds in their yard or neighborhood and record the data online to create a huge database you can see, sort and study online.
The Birds of North America Online is offering free access to comprehensive profiles of nine species, from common to rare. Visit the Birds of North America Online and click on the photo for the species you want to see.
FIVE reasons to do the GBBC
1. The birds you see will be recorded for all time. Just count for at least 15 minutes on one or more days and enter your checklist at www.birdcount.org.
2. Your counts ensure that the birds in your town or favorite birding locales will be represented in this continentwide event.
3. Scientists and birders alike can see the tallies as they roll in for more than 600 bird species.
4. In its 14th year, the GBBC provides data to track dynamic bird populations through time, a feat that would be impossible without the participation of tens of thousands of people.
5. Celebrate birds by watching them at your favorite spot. See photos of birds submitted from around the continent or send in your own for a chance to win birdy prizes.
For more news about the count, read this week’s article in The New York Times.
OUTDOOR IMAGES — Linda Lantzy, an outdoor photographer who sports a classy “Best of Idaho” scenic images Facebook page includes some shots she couldn't resist from Washington's North Cascades, according to our Huckleberries blogger, Dave Oliveria.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — During a local birding foray Wednesday, Spokane Auduboner Kim Thorburn reported hearing a canyon wren sing at Deep Creek in Riverside State Park.
“The winter and Bewick's wrens have already been at it for a week or two,” she said. “I also saw a pileated woodpecker drumming on Pine Bluff in the Park. Spring juices seem to be flowing.”
HUNTING — Chronic wasting disease isn't getting the press it received a decade ago as the malady was being documented in deer and elk in several states and provinces. However, while stepped up testing programs from coast to coast are affirming that most areas remain disease free, CWD is still cropping up in new places, according to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance.
For example, in testing done during the past hunting season:
- MaryIand documented its first case of CWD in a deer.
- Minnesota documented the first case in a deer outside of the fenced captive herd where CWD was documented in 2002.
- Alberta tested 12 new cases in wild deer among more than 3,000 heads tested.
- Nebraska found CWD in a record 52 of 3,645 deer tested, but found only a slight increase in the area where previous CWD cases had been detected.
- South and North Dakota found 3 cases among 243 elk samples and 22 among 1,407 deer.
Washington and Idaho remain free of CWD.
CWD is a disease of the central nervous system in deer and elk that’s related to the “mad cow” disease that affects cattle. To date, there’s been no link between CWD and diseases that affect humans.
Wildlife officials throughout the country advise hunters to avoid eating the meat of any animal that shows symptoms of being anything less than 100 percent healthy. However, it's notable that the some of the states reporting deer testing positive to the disease also noted that the deer were otherwise healthy, according to the CWD Alliance's latest report.
Read on for more info on how CWD is affecting hunters.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Skagit Valley Herald photographer Scott Terrell saw something stand out among thousands of white snow geese grazing in a field of winter wheat as he drove along Fir Island Road in northwestern Washington Tuesday.
It was his first sighting of a black snow goose, called a “dark morph,” formerly known as a blue goose.
And his first chance to make an image of one.
The Audubon Society website notes that the dark morph goose is extremely rare in Washington.
Veteran birder Tim Manns, president of the Skagit Audubon Society, was intriqued when told of the sighting.
“I’ve never seen one,” Manns told the Herald. “We do get a few blue geese through this area every once in a while, but they are much more common on the east coast. So it is somewhat of a rarity around here, although not completely unusual.”
WILDLIFE — A trail cam photo that shows eight cougars in one frame (click “continue reading” below) has been going viral on Northwest websites and e-mail lists since a hunter shared it with friends on Christmas day.
As usual, not all the the information in the anonymous e-mails is correct.
But Wednesday, after tracking down the man who made the photos, and collaborating his info with wildlife biologists who looked into matter, the real story is even better than the made up stuff.
All the details are in my Thursday outdoors column. But first a few facts to dispell the misinformation in the circulating e-mails, of which I've received at least eight:
— The images are from a motion-activated camera a hunter placed on a private ranch near Moses Coulee northwest of Quincy.
—The cougars were not feeding on a carcass. No carcass was in the area.
“Cougars are notoriously territorial,” said Jon Gallie, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's biologist in Wenatchee. “Seeing eight in one spot is a wildlife jackpot.”
PRO-FISHING — Rathdrum, Idaho, angler Brandon Palaniuk (pronounced “pal-a-nick”) is catching some attention — and perhaps some extra cash — as he warms up for this weekend's Bassmaster Classic — the Super Bowl of competitive bass fishing.
An e-mail just received from a Bassmaster insider said Palaniuk, 23, is creating some buzz around the competition site at the Louisiana Delta near New Orleans. The insider said he'd heard the Berkley fishing tackle company “just signed on to sponsor him, which suggests someone sees real potential in this guy!”
The 50 anglers who qualified for the Classic are pre-fishing this week; competition will run Friday-Sunday.
Read on for an ESPN pre-event Q&A interview with Palaniuk, who earned his berth at the Classic by winning the $60,000 grand prize at the 2010 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship in Shreveport, La. — a long way from his North Idaho home.
By the way… Despite having competed in tournaments in the nation's goldbelt of bass fishing, he told ESPN that Lake Coeur d'Alene is still his favorite place to fish.
STATE PARKS — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission today OKed environmental considerations in the conceptual expansion proposals for expanding Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.
According to a press release just posted, the commission “issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) for the proposed action.”
The Commission is expected to consider this proposal at its May 19 meeting in Spokane.
Comments on the proposal may be submitted through March 16, 2011 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SEPA determination, checklist, maps, and additional documents related to the proposal have been posted to the State Parks website.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — A Washington state cattle group is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force the agency to review federal protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies.
Attorneys for the Washington Cattlemen’s Association say the lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington, according to an Associated Press report. The cattle association is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative law firm based in Sacramento, Calif.
Foundation spokesman Harold Johnson the government has not met its mandate to periodically review if wolves should be listed as an endangered species, AP reports.
An estimated 1,700 wolves roam the Northern Rockies, including at least one breeding pack in Eastern Washington. A federal judge in Montana reversed two attempts by the Fish and Wildlife Service to lift protections for the species in the last several years.
PRO BASSING — Joey Nania, 19, of Liberty Lake headed out of the region this week with fellow Inland Empire Bass Clubber Art Acuff of Spokane Valley to begin the 2011 professional bass fishing season at the Central Open in Texas.
After that, Nania plans to make a base in Birmingham, Alabama, to be close to major tournament venues.
Nania, the nation's only two-time Junior Bassmaster Champion, debuted on the pro bass tour last year. He finishing 9th in the BASS Central Open on Lake Amistad and first on the Washington State BASS Federation Nation Team while slipping to 24th in a field of 55 anglers at the Federation Nation National Championships.
WILDLIFE — A coyote has become the 10th animal in Josephine County to test positive for rabies over the past 13 months.
The coyote was found in the Cave Junction area, where seven foxes and one goat have all died from the disease. The other rabies victim was a fox near Merlin, The Mail Tribune reported.
The coyote has yet to be tested to determine whether it contracted the same strain of bat rabies found in the other dead animals.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say it’s likely that other animals have contracted rabies in the Cave Junction area.
“Maybe we hit the jackpot and it’s the only one,” said Colin Gillin, the department’s state wildlife veterinarian. “But normally, when you find it, it’s in others.”
Read on for more of the story moved by the Associated Press.
OUTDOOR TRENDS – The ebb and flow of hunting and fishing is detailed in a recently released federal report on hunting and fishing statistics. For example:
- The number of turkey hunters has increased at more than twice the rate of the growth of the U.S. population since 1991.
- The number of duck and deer hunters has remained stable since 1991.
- Turkey hunters in 2006 went out twice as many days as they did in 1991, and the rates for duck and deer hunters going out also increased by 20 percent to 40 percent.
- While the overall number of hunters has declined, most of this can be attributed to a large decrease in small game and dove hunting. Rabbit and squirrel hunting lost half their participants since 1991, which may indicate that new hunter recruitment is declining.
- Fishing participation has dropped for both freshwater and saltwater angling and for nearly all species of fish, with the exception of flatfish.
- Anglers have increased their average days of fishing, so overall fishing efforts remained stable.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a new report, “Trends in Fishing and Hunting 1991-2006: A focus on Fishing and Hunting by Species,” that provides a detailed look at fishing and hunting by species and offers information on national and state fishing and hunting expenditures, participation rates and demographic trends.
The 72-page report, an addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation, represents a comprehensive survey conducted by the Service’s Wildlife Sport Fish and Restoration Program. Data used to support the study were obtained from 11 fishing and hunting surveys sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Assn. of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Read on for quotes on the meaning of the report:
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Conservation groups are putting up a billboard in Eastern Oregon showing a dead wolf in a quest to send the person who shot and killed it to jail, according to an Associated Press story.
Starting today, drivers headed east on U.S. Highway 82 out of La Grande are seeing the billboard offering a $10,000 reward for information in the September shooting of a 2-year-old male wolf from the Wenaha pack in northeastern Oregon.
The wolf was wearing a radio tracking collar and being monitored by wildlife biologists in Oregon and Washington who were trying to peg the movements of the pack that roamed the boarder of the two states.
Wally Sykes of Northeast Oregon Ecosystems says illegal killings of wildlife give rural communities a black eye and discourage tourists interested in wildlife.
Sykes says Northeastern Oregon Ecosystems and other conservation groups are paying for the $2,700 cost of the billboard.
The $10,000 reward has been raised by conservation groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Congressman Mike Simpson fast-tracked wolf delisting legislation Monday by tacking language onto a federal budget bill that would strip Endangered Species Act protection from wolves.
An Associated Press story origining from Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune says Simpson’s measure would reinstate a 2009 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that removed wolves in Idaho, Montana and portions of eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Utah from the list of federally protected species.
It would not be subject to judicial review that has twice overturned wolf delisting rules in the region.
“It makes no sense to call wolves in Idaho and Montana an endangered species. Not only do wolf populations far exceed recovery goals, but without proper management, those populations have grown to the point where they are adversely impacting other wildlife populations in the region and wreaking havoc for ranchers, hunters and public land users in Idaho,” said Simpson, R-Idaho
Read on for more details.