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Dog guards hunter’s body in Ridgefield refuge duck blind

UPDATED, adding breed of dog.

HUNTING DOGS — A yellow Labrador retriever protecting its owner wouldn’t let a manager at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge near Longview, Wash., approach the duck blind where the hunter had fatally collapsed.

Waterfowlers have to admire the devotion of the dog, counter-productive as defensiveness might be in some cases.

The Clark County sheriff’s office says Ridgefield police removed the aggressive dog using a catch pole Tuesday evening and medics confirmed the 54-year-old man was dead, presumably of natural causes.

The Columbian reports the man went hunting at 5 a.m. but didn’t check out at dusk, so the manager went to check on him. A duck he had shot was inside the blind with him.

The yellow Lab was held for a family member to retrieve.

Video: how to keep your dog out of a trap

TRAPS — A new educational video – Avoiding Wildlife Traps While Walking your Dog is available on Idaho Fish and Game’s website.    

The 9-minute video shows the variety of traps and snares dog owners may encounter while hiking or walking their pets and how to recognize them.

Some traps and trap sets can be visible if you know what to look for. However, many traps will be difficult to spot; it depends on the species targeted.

The video, below, will help dog owners make decisions about whether to keep their dogs on-leash in certain areas.

This video is available on the Idaho Fish and Game Department trapping webpage  along with a companion 8-minute video released earlier, Releasing Your Dog from a Trap that explains how a variety of traps work and how to release your dog from traps.

Although Fish and Game does not know exactly how many dogs are caught in traps each year and not reported, trapper harvest reports indicate an increasing number of incidental dog catches over the last several years.

In the 2012-2013 trapping season, 32 accidental dog captures were documented and 52 dog captures were reported during the 2013-2014 season. Several resulted in dog deaths.

Here's the first Idaho report in 2015 that's come to public attention:

Hunting dog survives being caught in snare

TWIN FALLS, ID (AP) – An eastern Idaho hunting dog survived getting caught in a snare trap meant for coyotes by remaining calm.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Dan Kelsey said the 5-year-old Weimaraner’s leash training likely stopped her from pulling against the snare and choking herself to death.

Leslie Soderquist was running her dog on 35 acres of family land next to a canal.

She heard the dog’s yips and was able to free it.

Kelsey found four more snares, one about 75 yards from Soderquist’s house.

Kelsey said the trapper received permission from another landowner and won’t be cited.

Soderquist said she now carries cable cutters.


Man walking dogs kills wolf on Rathdrum Mountain

See 1-15-15 update about citation for keeping pelt.

PREDATORS — A North Idaho man hiking with his dogs recently on Rathdrum Mountain shot and killed a gray wolf as it crouched at close range.

A new leash on life

PONDERAY - Eighteen dogs and four puppies from Southern California shelters that practice euthanasia gained brighter futures in North Idaho on Monday.

First pet

This is me at 3, with my first kitty, Butterscotch. My sister says the cat was hers, but as you can see Butterscotch and I loved each other. However, this kitty’s life came to an abrupt end when my dad backed over him on the way to work one morning. He drove off unaware, until my mother called him at the office, sobbing, “Butterscotch is all over the driveway!”

Idaho Fish-Game Commission confronts dog-catching traps

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT —  Proposals to reduce the chance that dogs will be caught in deadly body-gripping traps will be considered Nov. 12-13 when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meets in Post Falls.

A public meeting will be held on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Red Lion at 414 East 1st Ave. Citizens are invited to address the commission regarding agenda and non-agenda items.

The commission meeting will begin at 8 a.m. on Nov. 13 as the panel tackles agenda items that range from revenue issues to  discounting nonresident tag fees for mountain lion, black bear and gray wolf.

The proposal to modify regulations related to the use of certain body-gripping traps is likely to generate the most wide-spread interest.

Last winter, along with the widely-reported deaths of two dogs caught in traps, state wildlife officials received numerous complaints from bird and waterfowl hunters and other outdoor recreationists about safety in areas where their activities overlap with trapping.

"We also received input from at least one land management agency that they would consider area closures for land sets if public demand continued and other measures were not instituted by Idaho Department of Fish and Game," officials say in a report to the commission, apparently referring to the U.S. Forest Service or BLM.

In response IDFG convened small working groups in each region to brain-storm ideas that could be considered to reduce
conflicts. The department has been working on three points of consensus:

  1. Set up an online trapper education course which is available through the IDFG website. Train 30 IDFG staffers for more widely available trapper education courses.
  2. Produce a video detailing how to release a dog from a trap or snare. The video (above) has received more than 5,300 online views. A second video on how to identify traps and trapping activity in an area should be available this month. A brochure on releasing pets from a trap also is available.
  3. Propose changes to state trapping rules that restrict the use of body-gripping traps that address the recommendations of the working groups.

Here are the proposals the commission will consider:

  • Body-grip traps with jaw openings greater than 4.5 inches and less than 7 inches across can be used on dry land only when set 7 inches or more back inside a hard container made with wood, plastic, fiberglass, or metal with opening that is no larger than 7 inches in width and total size of opening does not exceed 52 square inches, OR when set at least 4 feet above ground or snow.
  • Any body-grip traps with jaw openings greater than or equal to 7 inches can be used only in water and must be completely submerged when set and immediately after checking at 72 hour intervals.

A “body gripping" trap” is defined as a Conibear or similarly-operated trap designed to snap closed on the target animal’s body killing the animal.

A tasty book

So, I got "War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation" off to the publisher by my September 1st deadline, and am now trying to catch up with the rest of my life!

You can see, Thor thinks War Bonds is a very tasty book, but then again Thor thinks just about everything is tasty. The only things he doesn't care for is bread and popcorn.

Is your pet a finicky eater?

Video: Walking the dog is always a rich experience

HIKING — Here's a dog that knows how to walk a boy.

Poster reminds dog owners to bag it

PUBLIC LANDS — Looks like Spokane isn't the only city in the USA where people think it's OK to let their dogs leave calling cards wherever the urge strikes.

Clinic prepares dogs for rattlesnake encounters

HUNTING – A rattlesnake aversion clinic for dogs, using live adult and juvenile snakes, put on by Natural Solutions of California is set for June 27 in Lewiston. Cost: $70.

Pre-register to schedule individual time slot: (208) 413-3032 or email shellyd181@gmail.com.

Missing pet pigeon flies to school of young owner

CRITTER WATCH — Here's my favorite birding story of the day, courtesy of the Associated Press in Montana:

Everyone has heard of homing pigeons, but Montana fifth-grader Tara Atkins apparently has a “schooling pigeon.”

The pet bird named Foresta had disappeared Tuesday from Tara’s home in the Elkhorn Mountains near Montana City, but it was back in her arms Wednesday after it showed up at her school about 5 air miles away in Helena.

“This pigeon has never been to town before,” Atkins’ mother, Krys Holmes, said. “We got her as a baby, and she just hangs out at home.”

The bird caused a ruckus when it arrived at Central-Linc Elementary, first sitting on teacher Rob Freistadt’s head, the Independent Record reported.

Staff members and a police officer tried for an hour to corral the bird that Principal Vanessa Nasset said was just “sky-bombing everyone.”

Nasset asked Tara for help catching the bird after a parent remembered she had a pet pigeon.

Tara recognized Foresta by her distinct coloration and the blue band around her leg.

But as Tara tried to catch her pigeon, the school bell rang and students poured outside, delaying the capture again.

Fellow fifth-grader Owen Cleary finally caught the bird by throwing a blanket over it while it sat on his head.

Holmes said she doesn’t know how the bird ended up at her daughter’s school.

Bird dog club invites public to training day

HUNTING — The Spokane Bird Dog Association is inviting hunters to bring their dogs to a training day, which includes expert help for all breeds, starting Saturday at 8 a.m., at the Espanola training grounds managed by the club west of Medical Lake. 

This session will be geared more to pointers, but retrievers are welcome. Pointers and retrievers will be split into separate groups.

The public is invited to bring hunting dogs of any age or level of training. Cost: $5.

Unleashed dogs pose threat to winter-weary wildlife

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Deer and elk will need another few months to regain their strength from the rigors of surviving the winter, and they don't need any setbacks from loose-running dogs.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is reminding pet owners that dogs must be on a leash in Idaho wildlife management areas.   

A recent check found 80 percent of visitors to the 53-square-mile Boise River Wildlife Management Area violate a 4-year-old law requiring dogs to be on leashes while in the state's wildlife management areas.  
Agency spokeswoman Krista Mueller says now is a critical time for mule deer, elk, pronghorn and their young to survive to the end of the winter and early spring.  
She says wildlife forced to move out of the area because of roaming pets use up fat reserves needed to get them through the next several weeks.
  • Shed hunters also pose a threat of disturbance to deer still on their winter ranges.

Dog that survived wolf attack mauled by cougar

PREDATORS — You may remember the story about Shelby, the dog that went with its owner to a committee hearing at the Washington Legislature last year (above) all scarred up after being attacked by a wolf as it slept on the porch of its Twisp-area home.

This week, Shelby is back in the news after being attacked again in its yard — this time by a mountain lion.

It's just the latest in this winter's spree of confrontations involving mountain lions in the Methow Valley.

Read on for the Wenatchee World story about Shelby that's been moved by the Associated Press.

Video: how to release pet dog from trap

WILDLIFE —  A new instructional video – Releasing your Dog from a Trap - is available on Idaho Fish and Game’s website and YouTube.

The video doesn't come a day too soon, as several dogs in North Idaho already have been caught in traps intended for critters such as beavers and wolves.

Intended to aid dog owners, the video shows and explains the variety of traps and snares you may encounter, as well as methods and simple tools you may need to safely release your dog should it get caught.  The IFG biologist introducing the video explains that even wildlife researchers use traps as part of their work to study wildlife.  

Here's the explanation from IFG:

Fish and Game does not know exactly how many dogs were caught in traps each year and not reported.  However, trapper harvest reports have identified an increasing trend in incidental dog catches – from two in 2000 to 32 in 2013.  Two dogs were also reported killed in body grip traps this year. 

These increasing trends and recent incidents, coupled with a heightened concern voiced by dog owners, prompted Fish and Game to develop this instructional video.

Kennel clubs, gun dog and sportsmen groups, neighborhood associations and dog training clubs are encouraged to post the video on their websites.

Fish and Game has also developed working groups throughout the state, comprised of members of the public and trappers, to help identify ways to reduce the incidental capture of dogs in traps. If you have any questions, please contact your local Fish and Game office.

Roosevelt Lake shore ideal for winter hikes with dogs

HIKING — Hikers looking for a long winter walk where they can let their dog romp a bit might consider the shores of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area that are away from houses and buildings.

Be smart: If there's anyone around — anglers, walkers or anyone else — use a leash.

Snow rarely lingers long on the Roosevelt shoreline after a storm, and the water level is low from winter through early spring leaving a large beach area for roaming.

Local hiker Karen Jurasin snapped the photo above of her dog, Scout, during a romp on the shore line at the Hawk Creek area northwest of Davenport (page 315 in 100 Hikes of the Inland Northwest).

Some wives are partners in hunters’ financial woes

HUNTING — I'm getting few messages from wives of hunters after they read my outdoors column today, "Hunters need financial planning to cover expenses."

They're pointing out that more and more women are going hunting, too. In fact, a survey last year found that about 11 percent of the hunting licenses sold across the country were sold to women.  Cool.

But the women giving me a buzz today are chuckling with me.

"Thanks for reminding me how much money we put into hunting this year," said Robin, who says she hunts big game with and without her husband. "Problem is, I spent most of it."

Dogs leaving their mark on Mount Spokane

WINTER SPORTS — The trend toward more dogs, linked to the growing popularity of snowshoeing, is getting easier to track at Mount Spokane State Park.

And sometimes you might track it into your car.

Snowshoer Warren D. Walker posted several photos of dog poop he observed while hiking the mountain on Monday, noting that there are plenty of similar photo opps and the trend is dramatic and disgusting.  

Part of the problem is people who violate the state park leash law while others neglect to bring bags to clean up after their pets. Says Walker:

It is a STATE PARK - not a DOG PARK:
Pictures from today - even one at the top of Mt Kit Carson.
I understand your love of animals - but it can not be that hard to pick up after your dog. We are in a State Park - a public place and on a trail used by many - so out of respect and courtesy for others using the trail please pick up after your dog.
Having a dog inside the State Park is a privilege - not a right.

Tough hunting for Snake Canyon chukars

HUNTING — Eastern Washington's pheasant season ended Sunday in a weekend of winds gusting to 70 mph at the top of the 49 Degrees North ski area where they toppled a cell phone tower. 

I figured I had a better shot at chukars in the Snake River canyon where I could loop into bowls out of the wind.  

Indeed, I found some pleasant hunting interspersed with high-wind exposure as I hiked around basalt bands on the ridges.

But I was surprised that in 4.5 hours of covering a lot of ground, my English setter, Scout,  found only two coveys of chukars. The dog locked up solid 80 yards away from the first cover as the strong winds telegraphed their scent to his nose. But the covey flushed wild as I approached, caught the wind, and appeared to be setting wings for a wind-assisted flight to Montana.

The other covey cooperated in making my hunt successful.

But that was it.  I covered some great private land where I've hunted with permission numerous times and never have found fewer than three coveys. 

So now I'm wondering: Should I have been hunting the highest slopes that were open to the high winds?  Is that where the chukars were hanging out?

The hunting season for partridge and quail runs through Jan. 20.

Eagle Cap Extreme puts sled dogs to test

WINTER SPORTS — It's the only Iditarod and Yukon Quest sled dog race qualifier in the lower 48 that takes place west of the Rocky Mountains — and it's virtually in our backyard.

The 10th annual running of the Eagle Cap Extreme sled dog race is Jan. 22-25 in northeast Oregon’s Wallowa County.

Not to be missed, especially if you're bringing kids, is the Jan. 22 pre-race veterinary checks in Enterprise and Joseph that gather all of the sled dogs for public viewing — and in some cases, petting. Sled dogs are amazingly fit, happy and eager to perform.

The Eagle Cap Extreme is hailed by mushers as one of the most challenging and best-run mushing events in the lower 48 states.  The ECX is one of only six qualifying races in the U.S. outside of Alaska.  The race provides a unique opportunity for dog lovers and mushing fans to witness premier canine athletes race through this most rugged and beautiful corner of Oregon.

The event includes three races: 

  • A 12-dog, 200-mile race, which is the Iditarod and Yukon Quest qualifier. (The Iditarod and YQ each cover more than 1,000 miles.)
  • An 8-dog, 100-mile race.
  • A 6-dog, 62-mile “pot race”, which consists of two 31-mile stages held on consecutive days.

All three races begin at Ferguson Ridge ski hill at 1 P.M. on Thursday, Jan. 23.  Pot race finishers return to Fergi later that afternoon, and again on Friday; 100-mile finishers arrive early-mid morning on Friday, Jan. 24; 200-mile finishers arrive early on Saturday the 25th.  The ECX culminates in the mushers' banquet that evening, held in Joseph.

All events except the mushers’ banquet are free to the public. 

Wolf hunter who shot skier’s malamute hasn’t apologized

HUNTING — The story of a Montana wolf hunter shooting a pet malamute as it romped with its owner near Lolo Pass in November is a long way from being as dead as the dog.

USA Today has just posted a story rehashing and updating the Nov. 18 reports that an unnamed hunter in camouflage shot one of three malamutes being exercised on a closed forest road as its owner, Layne Spence, cross-country skied with them.

While law enforcement officials still say no laws were broken, Spence of Missoula contends state law prohibits hunters from shooting on or across roadways an that hunters should always identify their prey before shooting.

He points out that a hunter could be fined for not positively determining whether an elk is a cow or a spike.  Spence contends his malamute, Little Dave, did not look like a wolf. Indeed, a duck hunter must be able to tell the difference between a mallard hen and a mallard drake in all lighting conditions.

But what gets me, a lifelong hunter, is buried deep in the USA Today story when Spence points out he doesn't want to get the hunter into bad trouble. Mainly, he said, "I just want an apology."

Holy smokes.  You shoot a guy's dog while he's yelling at you to stop and you don't have the guts to say "I'm sorry."

This hunter ranks in my memory as one of the most despicable representatives of the sport of hunting, not to mention the human race.

Christmas cat


I am aware that there are one or two photos of felines on the Web. But this one cracked me up.

Something tells me that if you said "Get out of there" to that animal, it would not obey. 

Bird dog makes point on figure of speech

HUNTING — While hunting pheasants on Sunday, this is how my English setter, Scout, defined the idiom, "Got 'em dead to rights."

Pets on web cameras


We all know countless people exchange email photos of their pets with friends and relatives in other parts of the country. Then there are pet pictures on Facebook, et cetera.

But I wonder how many pet owners around here include their animal companions in web camera visits with, say, a daughter in North Carolina or a grandparent in Montana.

And how many of these pets look at the screen and see the image of far-away animal companions looking back at them?

My guess is that, at almost any given moment, someone in the Inland Northwest is gently holding a cat's front leg and simulating a friendly wave to a web-cam feline somewhere a thousand miles away.

Not to mention doing the squeaky voice.

"Hi, Pookie! It's me, Chloe! How're you doing?"

Yes, certain people in our midst are nuts. But it's the kind of sweet craziness that makes you love them even more.

High Drive meeting: Are sidewalks just for poor people?

TRAILS — A packed house showed up last night at the new Jefferson Elementary School for the city-sponsored meeting to unveil new plans for the $6.8 million project that will repave and remodel High Drive while changing access to the South Hill bluff trails.  The meeting provided a lot of answers to concerned neighbors and perhaps raised a few more questions.

One comment from the audience caught my attention as an illustration of how wide the views range on developing a public asset such as High Drive.  The comment from the man, Dave, reminds us that private property owners often take very narrow views of public interest on city right-of-way.

To paraphrase Dave:

The city should focus funding earmarked for sidewalks to poor neighborhoods where people need the walkways to get to the bus rather than waste the money on a sidewalk in an affluent neighborhood where it isn't needed.

First, Dave apparently doesn't look out the tinted windows of his vehicle as he drives to and from his South Hill home to observe all of the walkers and runners who use High Drive each day.

Second, more walkers and runners would enjoy the premier views of High Drive if they didn't have to walk in the road especially around dangerous curves.

Third, it's crazy that the city has gone this long without providing a sidewalk or path the length of High Drive, one of the finest pedestrian routes the city has to offer.

High Drive street project could impact access to trails

TRAILS — As today's news story points out, City of Spokane engineers are ready to present a new plan for the $6.8 million High Drive street project after public criticism of initial proposals this summer and fall sent them back to the drawing board.

The project is of major concern to the hikers, cyclists, dog walkers and runners who flock to the 25-mile trail system along the South Hill bluff. Initial proposals would have reduced access to the trails and eliminated up to 80 percent of the available parking.

The city will unveil the revised design in an open-house meeting on Thursday, Nov. 7, from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., at the new Jefferson Elementary School, 123 E. 37th Ave

  • To get involved with protecting and improving the bluff trails and the natural landscape they traverse, check into the Friends of the Bluff


Adventurer kills, eats faithful dog in 2-month survival epic

ADVENTURE — Here's a Canadian survival story with an unusual twist that has some animal lovers saying a desperate man made a heartless decision.  

But doctors treating Marco Lavoie after his rescue in the wilderness of northern Quebec say he may not have survived his four-month ordeal had he not killed and eaten his dog.

Some fascinating points to the story:

  • Lavoie, 44, was close to death when a rescue crew found him last week.
  • His canoe and vital supplies were destroyed by a bear at the start of a planned two-month trip in August.
  • Lavoie's German Shepherd may have saved Lavoei's life by chasing away the bear in the initial attack.
  • But three days later, facing the possibility of starvation Lavoie, killed his doting companion with a rock.
  • The first words Lavoie reported spoke to medical staff: 'I want to get a new dog.'

Lavoie had lost 90 pounds and was suffering from hypothermia when rescuers found him Wednesday. News reports from Monday indicated he was still in critical condition.

Could you kill your faithful canine companion if you thought it would be the difference between your life and death?

Family seeks shorthair pointer lost near Medical Lake

HUNTING DOGS — Even if the pheasant hunting season weren't days away, Jack Dolan and his wife would be sick that their six-month old German shorthair pointer has gone missing.

The dog ran off after it was lightly struck by a vehicle late Sunday afternoon just west of Medical Lake and the Veteran's Cemetery near the Dolan's driveway at Hallet and Espanola roads

The dog's name is Chip. His collar was broken off by the impact. He panicked and ran across a field and out of sight.   Although there's no collar on him now, he has been micro-chipped and can be identified by a veterinarian.

The family points out that Chip could have covered a lot of ground, so they're posting signs in Reardan, Airway Heights and around the region.

If anyone sees, finds or hears anything that could lead to this dog, please call Dolan at (509) 389-8481.

Dolan, 72, was featured this summer in an S-R story about the extraordinary hunter education course he's been teaching as a volunteer leader for 26 years.  This dog, shown in the photo above, is his prized possession.

Give bird dog attention before the hunt

HUNTING — My Outdoors column today bags some tips from pro trainer Dan Hoke of Dunfur Kennel for easing bird dogs into the seasons safely and efficiently.

Many hunters get all excited about opening days — forest grouse and mourning doves open Sunday.

But the best and safest hunting for a bird dog is later in the seasons, when the field is cooler, damper and there's been more opportunity to get in tip-top shape after the dog days of summer.

High alert for bird dog owners: Cheatgrass in full bloom

HUNTING DOGS — The national plant of veterinarians across the West is in full bloom.

Cheatgrass that was only a spotty problem two weeks ago has been cured by the recent heat wave and I can tell you from personal experience that it's at full capacity to inflict harm on your dog's ears, toes, nose and other body parts.

I'm plugging my dogs' ears with cotton for even the shortest romp, and checking them thoroughly afterward, especially between the toes.

I'll be suspending most field dog training and doing most of my dog's physical conditioning by taking him hiking in the mountains and throwing retrieving dummies into lakes.

The extreme danger to dogs will continue until some point in August when wind and pounding thunderstorms drive most of the seed spears to the ground.