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Helicopter pronghorn roundup caught on video

WILDLIFE — A helicopter's speedy pursuit and net capture of pronghorns in Nevada is captured on amateur video and posted on YouTube.  If you think helicopter net gunning is child's play, you need to watch this. 

Click here for one video showing the intensity of the helicoptering skills required. Listen for the two shots as the gutsy gunner — tethered by a cable out the door of the rocking ship — fires nets down on the speeing pronghorns.  The video above shows the netting done closer to the camera in the final frames.

On Sunday I ran a package of stories detailing the reintroduction of these unique critters to Washington.

The footage was shot by volunteers in Nevada during  the roundup of 100 pronghorns destined for the Jan. 15-16 re-introduction on the Yakama Indian Reservation in central Washington.

After the animals were netted, the volunteers raced out to untangle them and secure them so they wouldn't injure themselves before transport. The project was funded by Safari Club International.

Winter is Hurricane season at Olympic National Park

NATIONAL PARKS — Winter at Olyimpic National Park conjures up images of pounding surf on wilderness beaches.  But many people don't realize the Western Washington park also offers stunning winter alpine beauty served by the plowed road to Hurricane Ridge.

Bring your skis or snowshoes if you visit this winter paradise, which is served by a shuttle bus from Port Angeles in case you don't have the tire chains required in some conditions.

Get a weather preview via the Hurricane Ridge webcam.

Read on for details or click here for details from the Olympic Peninsual visitors association.

Did you know?
Mount Olympus receives over 200 inches of precipitation each year and most of that falls as snow. At 7,980 feet, Mount Olympus is the highest peak in Olympic National Park and has the third largest glacial system in the contiguous U.S.

See documentary on Skeena River woes

RIVERS — Whether you're a paddler or a steelhead angler, you've probably heard of British Columbia's Skeena River.  It's an iconic natural resource that's threatened, according to a documentary that will be playing in Spokane on Friday.

“Awakening at the Skeena,” a film by Andrew Eddy, will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern, 25 W. Main Ave. sponsored by The Lands Council.  A donation to the cause is requested.

To reserve seats, call 209-2382.

For more info, check out The Skeena Watershed Coalition and The Wild Steelhead Coalition.

Spokane Valley to improve Barker Bridge access to Spokane River

RIVERS – At a meeting today, officials from the City of Spokane Valley pledged to improve the boater access to the Spokane River at the site of the new Barker Road bridge.

“The work will begin in March,” said Terry Miller of the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club. He was one of several people at the meeting of parties involved in overseeing the construction project.

Also at the meeting with city engineers were representatives from agencies such as Department of Ecology and state parks.

“They plan to hire contractors to knock down the hill, remove about 100 cubic yards of material, flaten the area and then come in with landscaping a trail down to the beach,” Miller said.

They also plan to move the barriers back about 20 feet so a vehicle can more easily back a raft or other light craft closer to the river, Miller said.

The $11 million project has been criticized for fouling the river with erosion and reducing rather than improving the critical access it has provided for paddlers and anglers.

Rathdrum man to represent West at Bassmasters Classic

PRO FISHING — A Rathdrum man is the only angler from the West to qualify for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic – the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing –  Feb. 18-20 at Bayou Segnette State Park in Louisiana.

Brandon Palaniuk, 23, a member of the Panhandle Bassmasters, is a heavy-equipment operator who’s earned $60,000 in his other career as a pro angler.

His ticket to the big stage was teaming with fellow Idahoan Bill Golightly to win the BASS Federation Nation Championship at Louisiana's Red River in October. Other than that, an ESPN report noted, “his pro record is completely blank.”

“Since the first time I was taken out in a bass boat when I was 8 years old, I have been thinking about making the Classic,” Palaniuk said at the awards ceremony. “And since I started fishing the Federation when I was 16, I started dreaming about winning one of these (annual championships).”

Palaniuk is among 15 rookies energizing this year's Bassmasters field.

Alabama leads all states at the Bassmaster Classic with 10 residents in the 50-angler field. Oklahoma and Texas each have five, Arkansas four, and Florida and South Carolina each have three.

P0’d woman assaults ice anglers with fish

ICE FISHING — This story out of the Muskegon (Mich.) News sort of dashed any romance I had about settling down in one of the traditional ice-fishing shacks that are so popular on the eastern half of the U.S.

Turns out you have to be careful about the neighborhood, even on the ice, as you can see from this story about a couple of guys minding their own tip-ups when a lady piddles on their plot of ice and starts whacking them with frozen fish.

Hunt accident story makes Landers see orange

HUNTING SAFETY —  A 35-year-old eastern Idaho man who lost his right lung and most of the use of his right arm after being mistakenly shot during hunting season last fall is in the news for stating publically that he’s frustrated the shooter is facing only a misdemeanor.

The Associated Press reports that Korby Hansen of Rexburg says his medical bills are close to $400,000 and that he expects those to increase after being hit with a 12-gauge shotgun slug fired by 57-year-old Mark Later of Rigby in October.  The two men were hunting whitetails in Madison County when the accident occurred near the end of legal shooting hours

Later faces a misdemeanor charge of injuring another by careless handling and discharge of a firearm. Hansen wants Later charged with felony aggravated battery, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Reading past reports on this accident, it’s staggering to consider how preventable it was.

Hansen was wearing camouflage in a firearms hunting area.

Later, who was hunting with another party, said he took a shot a late-day movement he thought was a deer.

Wearing hunter orange clothing, as is required in most states such as Montana, would have almost certainly prevented this accident.

And if it didn’t, Hansen would have had a better case to ask for an even stronger charge – attempted murder.

Fine proposed for skiing in dangerous areas

OLYMPIA — If the threat of getting snuffed out doesn't detract you from going for off-limits pow, maybe a stiff fine will do the trick.

Skiers who venture into dangerous areas that are closed to the public could be fined up to $1,000 under a proposal being considered by the state Senate.

S-R Olympia Bureau reporter Jim Camden says the bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, calls for fines for any skier who crosses in to a marked area that has been closed because of dangerous conditions.

Those skiers aren’t just risking their lives, they’re risking the lives of ski patrol members who go in after them, Kastama said.

It does not prohibit back-country or off-trail skiing, he added.

Why fish for kokanee at Roosevelt?

FISHING — Frank Whitney holds up one of the reasons anglers might want to pursue kokanee at Lake Roosevelt

Whitney caught this beefy 23-incher — weighing 4 pounds, 3 ounces — while fishing over the weekend out of Keller.

His friend, Eldon Wagner, wasn't quite as lucky earlier in the week.

 “I went out with a neighbor last Tuesday and we caught two  nice rainbows from shore at Sterling Point Camp Ground and froze,” Wagner said. “I will take my boat the next time and anchor near shore and turn the heat on.” 

Spokane Boat Show has (safety) class

BOATING — Get more bang for your buck by multitasking at the Spokane National Boat Show, which opens Friday and runs through Feb. 6 at Spokane Interstate Fair and Expo Center.

The eight-hour America’s Boating Course, which satisfies Washington’s mandatory boater education requirements, will be offered during the show in two-hour segments on four consecutive days Monday-Thursday, starting at 5:30 p.m.

The classes will be taught by the Spokane Sail & Power Squadron. Cost: $48 or $40 for youths under 18.

Preregister to get free admission to the boat show. If you register at the show, you’ll have to  pay the first-day’s admission but will get in free the remaining days.

Contact: Jim Roeber, 328-6165 or the Power Squadrons club house, 929 W. Jackson Ave.

Washington's boating safety requirement schedule

Following is the phase-in schedule for Washington's requirement that boat operators carry a card showing they have passed a certified boater safety course.

Year  / Age group
2011 / 35 years and younger
2012 / 40 years and younger
2013 / 50 years and younger
2014 / 59 years and younger

After 2014, requirement applies to any boater born after Dec. 31, 1954.

Bill would give loons status against poachers

OLYMPIA — A bill has been introduced in the Washington Legislature that would, among other things, give loons and trumpeter swans some clout against a poacher's bank acount.

When a  Newport-area man senselessly killed a common loon at Yocum Lake a few years ago, Washington Fish and Wildlife authorities could do little more than write him a ticket for just under $300.

Senate Bill 5201 would increase the fine to $2,000 for killing a loon, ferruginous hawk, bald eagle, peregrine falcon; tundra swan or trumpeter swan.


Sportsmen-related bills entered in Olympia

OLYMPIA — Here' s a sampling of legislation of interest to sportsmen that's been introduced in the Washington Legislature and is up for major public hearings. It's a version reduced from a list being watched by the Fishing and Hunting Natural Resources Forum.

SB 5201 and companion bill HB 1248 regarding issues that impact the department of fish and wildlife: The bill has a variety of measures, such as increasing the prenalty for poaching protected wildlife such as eagles, swans and loons to $2,000.  The bill also would prohibit feeding bears, cougars and wolves.

Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Marine Waters at 1:30 p.m. today.  House version scheduled for public hearing in Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 26.

 HB 1124 and companion SB 5356 establishing seasons for hunting cougars with the aid of dogs: sThe bill would extend the current pilot project to allow hound hunting for northern tier counties from Chelan across to Pend Oreille. It's being oppposed by groups such as the Humane Society of the United States. 

Referred to Agriculture & Natural Resources; public hearing held on Jan 18; scheduled for executive action on Jan. 25 at 10 a.m.

SB 5112 restrictions on firearm noise suppressors:

Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 26.

 HB 1095 Regarding payments in lieu of taxes for lands managed by the department of fish and wildlife:

Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 26.

 House Bill 1387 and companion Senate Bill 5385, increasing revenue to the state wildlife account: Would increase most hunting and fishing licenes fees, although a few would be decreased.

House bill is scheduled for public hearing the House Committee on General Government Appropriations & Oversight at 1:30 p.m. on Jan 27.

Fourth of July Pass ski trail holding snow

WINTER SPORTS — The Panhandle Nordic Club's annual Rock Soup event is set for Saturday at Fourth of July Pass nordic trails Panhandle Hut. Although the snow is thin on the trails, there's plenty for skiing.

“The ski up Skywalker from Skateway to Twisted Klister and beyond is great,” said club spokesman Geoff  Harvey, after checking out the trails this weekend.

A few places weren't so good.  Read on for Harvey's full report. 

Let winter get you down

WATERFOWL — These ducks are offering their free services as models to promote the effective qualities of down insulation as they hang out comfortably on the ice in below-zero conditions.

Down is the lightest most compressible and efficient natural insulator for cold weather clothing.

But the ducks stress that consumers should insist on clothing filled with 100 percent GOOSE down. 

Flying trapper shows his business class

OUTDOOR CHUCKLE — As a trapper boarded the airplane, the flight attendant asked what he had in the bag over his shoulder.

“It's a dead raccoon.”

“You can't bring a dead raccoon on the plane,” the attendant said.

“Sure I can.  It's carrion.”

Snowshoers making tracks this weekend

WINTER SPORTS — This has been a glorious and brilliant weekend for exploring the winter outdoors in the Inland Northwest, especially for snowshoers who absorb it all at a quiet pace that seems in step with the season.

Ice shrouded everything on top of Star Peak northeast of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, when a Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness group arrived on a snowshoeing daytrip Saturday.  The Idaho-based wilderness advocates lead numerous group snowshoe treks into the wild and unforgetable scenery on winter weekends. 

On snowshoes that kept him afloat over the ample snowpack, George Momany of Spokane marched through a winter wonderland under brilliant blue skies up to the top of Mount Spokane on Saturday.  I joined him. We saw numerous snowshoers up and down the mountain on treks short and long.

Sno-Park requirement at Mount Spokane

Snowshoers should make a commitment to visit Mount Spokane State Park more than once a season and take advantage of the bargan.  A one-time Sno-Park permit costs $20 per vehicle  while you can enjoy unlimited entry to the lower portions of the mountain by purchasing a $40 season Sno-Park pass.

If you want access to the upper snowmobile parking lot and Selkirk Lodge parking area near the nordic ski trails, and additional $40 groomed trail system season pass is required.

Get info and purchase Sno-Park permits online here

At least one bird dieoff mystery solved

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

WILDLIFE — Maybe it doesn't solve the case of 3,000 blackbirds that fell from the sky and died in Arkansas on New Years Day, but at least the people in South Dakota got to the bottom of a dieoff of starlings in the city of Yankton, SD.

David Thompson detailed in Nisbet talk

ADVENTURE — Historian and author Jack Nisbet of Spokane will give a slide presentation on “David Thompson among the Kalispel” this month in the cultural heart of the tribe's reservation.

Although the Lewis and Clark Expedition had garnered much of the publicity a few years earlier, the English-born fur agent and explorer had extensive dealings with tribes in this region in the 1809-1812 period Nisbet will cover.
The two-hour program will start Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Camas Wellness Center, 1821 N. LeClerc Road in Usk. Admission is free, with a non-perishable food bank donation requested. Pre-register by calling (509) 447-2401 or emailing cmack@wsu.edu.
Nisbet will trace Thompson’s journeys, try to understand his relationship with Kalispel people and look at the tribe’s influence on his large maps of our region.
Nisbet, a teacher and naturalist, has authored several works that explore the human and natural history of the region, including two books on Thompson and his recent book, “The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest.”

Spokane River Water Trail discussed

RIVERS — Andy Dunau, Executive Director of the Spokane River Forum, will discuss the effort to develop the recreation potential of the Spokane River Water Trail in a meeting with the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club Monday, 7 p.m., at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland.

According to Dunau, the proposed trail incorporates the following principles:

  • Environmental river stewardship.
  • Honoring historic and cultural resources.
  • Supporting community development and healthy living.

Program to steady minds of rock climbers

CLIMBING —  Arno Ilgner author of The Rock Warrior's Way will be in Spokane Tueday to present a free slide snow on mental fitness for athletes heading out to hang on the edge.

The free program will beging at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division.

Ilgner speializes in teaching climbers how to take appropriate risks, prepare their minds and overcome limitations.

Read on for more details on the program and Ilgner's books.

WA wolf bills panned or ‘awfulness’

WILDLIFE LEGISLATION — A spokeswoman for an organization working on wolf, wildlife and wildland issues in Washington is panning a trio of Canis lupus-related bills introduced in Olympia last week, according to a report by Northwest Sportsman magazine.

“They are spectacular in their awfulness and in the way they distort the truth,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Bellingham-based Conservation Northwest about House Bills 1107, 1108 and 1109. The magazine had looked into the bills in a previous report.

She predicts a quick death for them.

One of her coworkers, Derrick Knowles, a Spokane hunter, is among the 17 members on the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Wolf Working Group, which since 2007 has helped shape the state’s draft wolf management plan.  It is expected to be debated and approved this year.

Read on for more details.

Women’s Souper Bowl at Mount Spokane

WINTER SPORTS — Women and girls can earn an advantage in winning prizes by signing up early for the 6th Annual Women's Souper’ Bowl snowshoe and cross-country Ski event at Mount Spokane.

Use the handy new online registration option.
The event runs 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Feb. 6, but if ladies who sign up before this Sunday get an extra ticket for the prize raffles.  Also, the first 100 to sign up get a free cloth shopping bag from REI.
The best part is the event itself, which includes snowshoeing lessons and treks (free rentals provided), a cross-country ski race and other activities, along with a  SoUPER lunch and prize drawings.
The event, designed for women of all abilities, supports the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant.
Minimum $25 donation requested.
Special Souper Bowl bus transportation to the mountain is available (saves the cost of a  Sno-Park permit).
Last year the event had SOUPER results. Tthe 245 participants skied, snowshoed, dined and raised $9,300 for the charity, organizers said.
Read on for more details.

Ski area rewards rainy-day patrons

WINTER SPORTS — Mount Baker Ski Area took a beating over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend as rain pounded the ski area during a weekend that's critical in a resort's bottom line.

How did the ski area respond to the hardy skiers who showed up rain or shine.

“They gave everybody a free poncho,” said my daughter, who's schooling at Western WA University.


Runners, photogs top grizzly targets

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Runners are gaining ground on wildlife photographers as the most likely people to be mauled by a grizzly bear in the Northern Rockies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator says long-distance trail runners are approaching photographers as the backcountry group most likely to be badly hurt in an animal encounter.

Chris Servheen told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee on Thursday that running in grizzly country at dawn and dusk is risky, but he is not interested in proposing regulations to restrict the sport.

The Missoulian reports that committee members expressed concern about structured races in bear territory, in particular the growing interest in competitive ultra-marathons that send runners 100 miles along mountain trails. Members cited blog posts from several runners who recounted their disorientation and punch-drunk condition as they headed into nightfall.

The committee is composed of federal officials and representatives of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Alberta and British Columbia.

Highest tide of year on Washington Coast

BEACHCOMBING — Washington beaches will see the highest tides of the year this weekend, peaking at 7:28 a.m. Sunday.

Unfortunately, the peak comes a bit late for the razor clamming season that runs today and Saturday.

The National Weather Service says the tide will measure 13.2 feet on Puget Sound in Seattle. Minor tidal overflow begins at 13.5 feet.

The highest tides of the year typically occur in January

Avalanche danger ‘considerable’ in many areas

WINTER S PORTS — The avalanche advisory issued by the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center this morning warns of “considerable” danger on many areas of the Inland Northwest.

Avalanche conditions for the Idaho Panhandle National Forest are rated as Considerable on wind loaded aspects above 5000 feet.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely.  

Avalanche conditions are MODERATE on other aspects and elevations below 4500 feet.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human caused avalanches are possible.

See the complete avalanche advisory here.

Read on for more details from this morning's advisory:

Hunting, fishing fee increase bill introduced

OLYLMPIA — Legislation was introduced Thursday for the first across-the-board increase in Washington hunting and fishing license fees in 14 years, according to a report by Allen Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian.


House Bill 1387 would result in an increase in revenue from hunting licenses of 7.3 percent, 12.6 percent from sport-fishing licenses and 51.4 percent from commercial licenses.


The measure was introduced at the request of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. A companion measure is expected to be introduced in the Senate.


“This legislation is our top priority for this legislative session,'' said Phil Anderson, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Its outcome will greatly determine this department's  ability to maintain fishing and hunting opportunities and move forward with conservation efforts around the state.'' 


Some West Side sportsmen's groups are not supporting the increass. And of course the bill is just another reason on the West Side to heat up the debate on commercial vs. sport fishing.


Read on for more details in the Columbian's story.

Big occasion for surfers in Hawaii

WATER SPORTS — The waves are rising to the occasion of an almost-annual event in Hawaii.

Surfers are catching massive waves this week on Oahu's North Shore. Organizers of the big wave surfing contest known as “The Eddie” say Waimea Bay's waves aren't consistently large enough to hold the event. But this year it's a go, and too timing if there there even just as a spectator.

The contest in memory of legendary Hawaiian surfer Eddie Aikau is held only when waves are at least 20 feet. 

The event has been held only eight times since it was founded in 1984.

Gear up for CdA kokanee fishing

FISHING — Take it from the record number of bald eagles that gathered to feast on spawning salmon this winter:  The kokanee have made a comeback at Lake Coeur d'Alene.

The turn-around has been dramatic, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologists say in a just-released report, and prospects for the 2011 fishing season are bright!
Read on for details.

DNR warns of moth outbreak in area trees

FORESTS — Inland Northwest landowners with woodlots are being warned to watch for signs of a tree-damaging caterpillar outbreak that's already affected at least 570 acres in eastern Spokane County and 8,500 acrees in North Idaho.

Defoliation from the Douglas-fir tussock moth was found in aerial surveys last year, the Washington Department of Natural Resources said in a press release issued moments ago.
Grand fir and Douglas fir are most susceptible to damage especially in the top third of the tree crowns.
Read on for more information and contacts.