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Elk to be shot at Snoqualmie golf course

WILDLIFE — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department is getting ready to tee off on elk that have been tearing up the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge golf course, about 30 miles east of Seattle.

Some people are upset by the "damage hunt," which will involve a few sportsmen who have completed the state's master hunter requirements.

But the protests should have occured when the golf course and other development was proposed in wildlife winter range. The rest is inevitable.

Since hazing efforts have failed, wildlife officials hope that killing a few of the elk will persuade the herd of about 25 to move to less expensive turf. 

For details on the hunt, which could start this weekend, read the Seattle PI online story.

State asking anglers to help target Pend Oreille River pike

FISHING — It's no secret that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is more than a little concerned about the burgeoning population of northern pike in the Pend Oreille River upstream from Box Canyon Dam.

The main worry is the potential impact pike could have on salmon and steelhead smolts downstream on the Columbia River.

Today the WDFW made it official: The agency has announced it's gearing up for a spring campaign to halt the advance of the voracious, non-native fish toward the Columbia River.

State fishery managers plan to enlist anglers to remove as many northern pike as possible from the Pend Oreille River, a conduit for pike moving downstream from Idaho and Montana.

A new webpage outlines the proliferation of northern pike in the river since 2004 and the threat they pose to native fish species.

Biological surveys conducted in conjunction with the Kalispel Tribe and Eastern Washington University document a dramatic decline in native minnows, largemouth bass, yellow perch and other fish species that inhabit the 55-mile Box Canyon Reservoir.

Read on for more details from a WDFW media release, and the meat of the fishing rule change WDFW is seeking to help expedite the process:

Survey gives mixed review for allowing electronic decoys in WA

WATERFOWL HUNTING — After mechanical “Robo Duck” decoys were invented in the late 90s, Washington waterfowl hunters enjoyed a few seasons to sample their effectiveness.

Many hunters liked what they saw as the wings caused movement in the air and water to lure waterfowl from afar.

But a majority of sportsmen and wildlife managers thought they were so effective they could eventually lead to reduced limits or shorter seasons.

In 2001, the Fish and Wildlife Department conducted a casual survey of hunters and found that 34 percent opposed use of mechanical decoys, 46 percent would be in favor of using them if it did not result in loss of hunting opportunity and 20 percent favored mechanical decoys unconditionally.

A 2006 survey found 40 percent opposition, 49 percent in favor if no restrictions resulted and 11 percent in favor unconditionally.

This fall, sportsmen on the Washington Waterfowl Advisory Group voted 7-5 to support a proposal reinstating use of battery-operated or other electronic decoys. This would bring Washington into alignment with Idaho and Montana, which have no restrictions on mechanical decoys.

The proposal made the list of items being considered for the 2012-2014 Washington hunting regulations.

In November, the WDFW conducted one more email survey among hunters who had purchased state waterfowl license endorsements in the past two years. Of the 3,500 responses:

  • 29 percent opposed use of electronic decoys,
  • 57 percent favored their use if they did not lead to hunting restrictions,
  • 14 percent favored their use unconditionally.

More public comment will be taken on revised proposals in January before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission consider the hunting rules package again in March.

Ardent waterfowl hunter Kent Contreras of northeastern Washington said he’s on the fence, along with most hunters.

“They definitely are effective at bringing in ducks and geese,” he said while hunting Saturday. “I’ve heard from hunters in other states who say mechanical decoys become less effective the more waterfowl see them. But motion in a decoy spread is always effective.”

Bowhunters give lighted nocks big vote of approval in WA email survey

BOWHUNTING — A proposal to allow lighted nocks to be used on arrows for bowhunting seasons in Washington got a big vote of confidence for bowhunters in an email survey conducted last month by the Fish and Wildlife Department.

The survey results were released to The Spokesman-Review this afternoon. The proposal had been opposed by some groups, notably the state's traditional bowhunters.

The proposal comes from Spokane hunter Jim Sutton, who couldn’t even get his idea discussed at the Spokane public meeting held this summer to gather public comment on the first round of proposals.

In a Spokesman-Review story published this summer, Sutton argued that lighted nocks are allowed for hunting in many states because they help archers recover wounded game as well as retrieve lost arrows from the field.

Even though the Pope and Young Club has been dragging its feet on the issue, the trend is changing.

Survey results:

  • 86 percent favored the use of lighted nocks,
  • 10 percent said no lighted nocks should be allowed,
  • 4 percent were undecided.

Dave Ware, WDFW big-game manager in Olympia said 3,800 people responded to the email survey presented to hunters who'd purchased archery tags in the past two years.

Washington has about 24,000 licensed archery deer hunters and 22,000 archery elk hunters, he said.

The proposal will be worked into the package of revised proposals to be presented for more public review in January and ultimately to the Fish and Wildlife Commission for a vote in March.

Members sought for Master Hunters advisory board

HUNTING– The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting letters of interest through Dec. 18 for membership on the department’s Master Hunter Advisory Group.

Four positions are open on the 15-member volunteer group, which advises the state on issues affecting the department’s Master Hunter program and more than 2,000 master hunters statewide.

Applicants should email Lt. Eric Anderson, Master Hunter policy lead, at Eric.Anderson@dfw.wa.gov

Ferry County Commissioners steer clear of Kettle River bait fishing proposal

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT — At a public meeting today, Ferry County Commissioners remained neutral on a proposal to repeal selective gear fishing regulations and allow bait fishing and barbed hooks in a portion of the Kettle River.

The proposal, which stems from the Kettle River Advisory Board, has stirred considerable opposition from anglers and groups who say the restrictions have allowed native trout population to grow in size and numbers despite the river's habitat limitations.

The county commissioners apparently are hearing the public concerns and the consensus that bait fishing would quickly erase gains the fishery has made under selective gear rules that restrict anglers to using artificial flies or lures with single barbless hooks.

Ultimately the decision will be made by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which will discuss new fishing regulations proposals this week in Olympia and vote on the proposals in January or February.

For background on this important fisheries management issue, check out my Thursday outdoors column.

The Fish and Wildlife Department wants to hear your opinion on this and other proposals to be considered for the 2012-14 Washington Sportfishing Regulations pamphlets. Comments are due by Dec. 30

See all the details and proposals on the WDFW 2012 fishing proposals web page.

Send your comments on any of the proposals to: Sportfishing.Rules@dfw.wa.gov

Comments requested on Kettle River bait-fishing proposal

FISHING — As I explained in my Thursday outdoors column, a proposal has come through the back door of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to revert back to allowing bait fishing in the Kettle River.

Selective gear rules adopted with local citizen input in the 1990s have clearly improved the numbers and size-range of trout in the Columbia River tributary.

The rules, which are popular for improving fisheries at many lakes and streams in the region, require anglers to use artificial flies or lures with single, barbless hooks. 

Bait is prohibited in selective gear fisheries because it usually results in the deep-hooking death of a trout even if the angler intends to release it.

Now, however, a few locals want to liquidate the gains and allow bait fishing. They say they're looking out for the best interest of their kids.

I say the best thing we can do for their kids is teach them a little bit about fisheries conservation. Do this by taking them out with a fly, spinner or jig to a river that has four or five times more trout than it would after a couple years of bait fishing.

Then, if they want to fish with bait, take them to nearby Curlew Lake, one of the best mix-species fishing lakes in Washington. 

The Fish and Wildlife Department wants to hear your opinion on this and other proposals to be considered for the 2012 Washington Sportfishing Regulations pamphlet. Comments are due by Dec. 30

See all the details and proposals on the WDFW 2012 fishing proposals web page.

Send your comments on any of the proposals to: Sportfishing.Rules@dfw.wa.gov

Here are details of the specific proposal to allow bait fishing on the Kettle River: 

#14. Kettle River Fishery Additions
Proposal:  Removes selective gear rules in a portion of the upper Kettle River near the town of Curlew.  
Explanation: Provides recreational opportunity through removing selective gear rules from the Canadian Border upstream to Hwy 21 Bridge at Curlew. 


Anglers not holding a high standard along Snake River

FISHING – Anglers along the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers have been leaving a lot to be desired in the categories of ethics and compliance with fishing rules.

On a recent boat patrol along the Snake River upstream from Clarkston, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department police found plenty of lawbreakers.

Fourteen citations were issued in the fourhour patrol, reports Capt. Mike Whorton, department enforcement supervisor in Spokane.  

WA qualifies for $1 mil grant to boost hunting, fishing access

SPORTSMEN'S ACCESS —  Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials say they plan to use a $1 million federal grant and at least $400,000 from big-game hunting application fees to improve recreational access to private lands in Eastern Washington.

WDFW is one of 11 agencies nationwide to qualify for funding fromthe U.S. Department of Agriculture in the second round of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, established under the 2008 federal Farm Bill.

The public can read details and post comments through Dec. 15  at this website.

“Hunters consistently rank access to suitable hunting areas as one of their top concerns,” said Nate Pamplin, assistant director of the WDFW wildlife program. “With the additional federal funding, we’ll be able to build on current state efforts to expand hunting opportunities for years to come.”

WDFW also received a three-year $1.5 million grant to expand access to hunting and fishing on private lands throughout the state during the first round of the program. The department is currently using that funding to establish contracts with landowners to open their lands to outdoor recreation.

Pamplin said the new $993,231 grant will be used to expand hunting and fishing opportunities in Eastern Washington in several ways:

  • Provide incentives to private landowners to allow hunting on forested properties in Kittitas, Klickitat, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Yakima counties.
  • Work with landowners in Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Walla Walla and Whitman counties to improve habitat enrolled in both the federal Conservation Reserve Program and WDFW access programs, as I described in this story about research to help boost CRP's benefits for pheasants.
  • Initiate a “Feel Free to Fish” program in southeast Washington, paying  private landowners for shoreline access to river fisheries.

Wildlife biologists scope out Mt. Spokane ski runs

SKIING — Washington Fish and Wildlife Deparment biologists recently hiked through the sites on Mount Spokane where the State Parks Commission approved  new ski runs for the expansion of the Mt. Spokake Ski and Snowboard Park.

The WDFW formally opposed the expansion of the new runs on the back side of the mountain because of their potential impact on wildlife habitat.

Indeed, Howard Ferguson, district wildlife biologist, reported the group found several of the runs as currently planned will require logging in and around wetlands, old growth and perennial streams. Extensive landscaping and backfilling will also be needed. 

"We saw a bull moose and also found a lot of moose scat, wallows and beds scattered through out the area," he said.

The biologists will make a report with suggested areas the ski area managers should avoid and evaluate mitigation for potential impacts.

Work on clearing the new runs is likely to begin in 2012, ski area officials say.

Newman Lake boat ramp closed for repairs

BOATING — The public boat ramp at Newman Lake will be closed for repairs starting Wednesday (Oct. 5), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this week.

The public access remains open, but no boat launching will be possible.

The agency does not yet know how long the closure will continue. 

Newman Lake is open to fishing year-round.

Charges dropped against ex-detective

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

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

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

Read the reset of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

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

July 16: Fired detective files $10 million claim

July 15: SPD detective fired for 'troubled history'

Feb. 10: SPD detective accused of obstruction

Fired detective’s criminal trial begins

The obstruction of justice trial began Monday against embattled former Spokane police detective Jeff Harvey.

Harvey was fired this year after being charged with a gross misdemeanor following a confrontation with a state Department of Fish and Wildlife police officer who responded on Jan. 22 to a report of boys shooting after hunting hours on private land north of Spokane. Harvey, who was off-duty at the time, is accused of hindering the investigation, which involved his sons.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 16: Fired detective files $10 million claim

July 15: SPD detective fired for 'troubled history'

Feb. 10: SPD detective accused of obstruction

Washington’s 5th wolf pack confirmed; this one’s in Stevens County

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington’s fifth gray wolf pack has been confirmed in northeastern Stevens County, the state Fish and Wildlife Department just announced. 

Earlier this month, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists caught, marked with an ear tag and released a 2-month-old wolf pup from the pack. Biologists have since been trying to capture one of the pack’s breeding adult wolves to radio-collar it for monitoring.

The effort to document the pack began after local ranchers reported observing three wolf pups and hearing howling in late June.

The pack is believed to include a breeding-age male and female and at least three pups. The group has been named the Smackout Pack, in reference to geographic features in the area.

Read on for more information from the WDFW media release.

SPD detective fired for ‘troubled history’

Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired Detective Jeff Harvey on Wednesday as a result of an alleged confrontation Harvey had with a state Fish and Wildlife officer and what his termination letter labeled a “troubled work history.”

The incident was “part of the pattern of behavior that (the department) had documented over the years with this particular employee,” said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

Harvey is the former vice president of the Spokane Police Guild.

Mayor Mary Verner said she “backs the chief’s decision.”

Havey’s termination letter was hand-delivered to his home, Feist said.

Read the rest of Jonathan Brunt's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 10: SPD detective accused of obstruction

Federal grant to boost hunter access in Washignton

HUNTING — A federal grant of nearly $1 million will be used to give private landowners in Eastern Washington an incentive to open their lands to fishing and hunting, the Washington  thanks to to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

The federal Farm Bill-authorized grant is the second awarded to Washington in as many years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year, WDFW received $1.5 million to increase recreational access to private lands around the state.

Don Larsen, the agency's private lands coordinator, said the $993,231 grant will be used in three ways:

  • Provide incentives to private landowners to allow hunting on forested properties in Kittitas, Klickitat, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Yakima counties.
  • Work with landowners in Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Walla Walla and Whitman counties to improve habitat enrolled in both the federal Conservation Reserve Program and WDFW access programs.
  • Initiate a “Feel Free to Fish” program in southeast Washington, paying  private landowners for shoreline access to river fisheries.

Read on for more details.

Discover Pass required starting today at state parks and other state lands

 STATE LANDS — Starting today, the new Discover Pass authorized by the Washington Legislature will be required for vehicle access to nearly 7 million acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands – including campgrounds, parks, wildlife areas, trails, natural areas, wilderness areas and water access points.

The $30 seasonal vehicle permit ($10 daily) will be required at state parks and lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The passes are sold at face value at state parks. A $2 dealer fee is added at sport retailers.  Fees totaling $5 for the $30 annual pass are added when purchased online.

Sportsmen who have hunting and fishing licenses automatically get a pass for fish and wildlife lands and boat access sites.  But that Fish and Wildlife Vehicle Access Pass does not work for state parks and DNR lands. 

Read my recent story for more details.

Check this story for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Click here for a summary of other passes one might need in the Pacific Northwest for outdoor recreation on private, state and federal lands.

Discover Pass sales pick up; enforcement begins Tuesday

STATE LANDS — Employees from three Washignton state agencies will spend the Fourth of July weekend reminding people they need the pass for their vehicles, according to Virginia Painter, spokeswoman for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

Enforcement of the new Discover Pass will begin Tuesday at state parks and state land managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. 

Vehicles already have been required to have state vehicle passes at Washington Fish and Wildlife access sites, such as Libert Lake boat launch.  There's no grace period at those sites.

At least 8,745 annual Discover Passes and 30 one-day passes had been sold as of noon Thursday.
Painter said an additional $550,000 came from dealers outside of the Fish and Wildlife system, who bought them to resell to customers.
She said total revenue from all sources so far is $813,000. The money is needed to keep state parks open and fund management of other state recreation lands, she said.

Fly fishers put muscle into reviving Sherman Creek

CONSERVATION — Here's a tip o' the hat to a volunteer crew of 14 members of the Spokane Fly Fishers who idled their fishing rods Saturday.

Instead, they took up shovels to boost the future of fish in a northeastern Washington trout stream.

The club's conservation committee, headed by Mike Keegan, worked with Colville National Forest fisheries biologist Karen Honeycutt in an ongoing restoration project on Sherman Creek, about 14 miles west of Kettle Falls.

The group reports planting more than 1,000 trees and shrubs that eventually will curb erosion and provide streamside fish habitat.

Honeycutt said that forest crews and volunteers that also include the Colville Tribe and Kettle Falls third graders will plant a total of 7,800 trees and cuttings along the stream this year.

Grazing doesn’t quickly improve wildlife forage, WSU researchers say

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — Researchers say a cattle grazing project on the Asotin Wildlife Area has reduced overall forage without making significant immediate improvements in the nutritional value of the remainig forage for wildlife.

The study results and information from ongoing research is set to be released next week by Washington State University.

The research is central to an ongoing debate over the appropriateness of grazing on state land managed for wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing, according to a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

Some conservation groups have opposed the research worked out in agreements with cattle ranchers and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Concern for allowing grazing on state-managed wildlife lands is understandable. But one must be wary of the contempt for the attempt to research the theory that controlled livestock grazing might stimulate better forage for wildlife.

Read on for details from the Lewiston Tribune report.

Boaters must stop at Washington’s ‘pop-up’ invasive species check stations

BOATING — Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) check stations will be set up this weekend in several locations in Eastern Washington, the state Fish and Wildlife Department announced this afternoon.

These are mandatory stops for anyone on the road with watercraft of any kind.

Officers will be looking for zebra and Quagga mussels and other plant and animal invasive species that can be extremely hazardous, both to native fish and wildlife and to water systems, if introduced to Washington waters.

The Check Stations will run from 8 a.m. through at least 3 p.m., and will be highly visible with signs, as follows:

  • Saturday, on Highway 2 just north of Spokane (near Chattaroy transfer station).
  • Saturday, on Lake Roosevelt, at National Park Service boat launch sites, including Kettle Falls.
  • Sunday, on Snake River boat launch sites, including Clarkston.

For more info on AIS, see the Fish and Wildlife Department's webpage at  http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/.

Washington’s state-lands Discover Pass goes on sale today

PUBLIC LANDS — The new vehicle access pass approved by the Washington Legislature went on sale today, and 17 were purchased in the first hour, officals report — although it appears it was mostly state officials doing the purchasing to make sure the web system worked.

The Discover Pass costs $30 per vehicle per year or $10 a day.

Starting in July, it will be required for vehicle access to nearly 7 million acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands – including campgrounds, parks, wildlife areas, trails, natural areas, wilderness areas and water access points.

I'll have a detailed story on this next week — no sooner because the state is still working out the details. 

State Parks managers are meeting Thursday to work out some kinks — such as whether the pass will be required for users of Mount Spokane State park's alpine ski area.

It's a work in progress, state parks officials told me today.  Information and purchasing options will evolve on the special website dedicated to the pass.

Meantime, the pass — the sole source of income for Washington State Parks and a key income source for DNR and Fish and Wildlife lands — can be purchased online through the Discover Pass website or anywhere hunting or fishing licenses are sold.

Another busy week for Wildlife cops

WILDLIFE COPS — In addition to clamping down on people who disregard wildlife habitat (see previous post) Washington Fish and Wildlife police kept busy last week with a wide range of duties, not the least of which was conducting a hot-spot elk hunt to curb crop damage near Almota, making presentations to hunter education classes and checking anglers throughout the region.

Once officer responded to monitor elk in Spokane Valley and the wild turkeys still plaguing some homeownes on the South Hill.

At least two citations were writen to snowmobilers during a northeastern Washington patrol of the Calispel peak area focusing on Big Game Winter Range closure areas. The officers also joined with Forest Service cops to rescue and transport  three ill-equipped snowmobilers who'd broke down a long way from the road.

When these officers write their book about the crazy cases they check out, they'll have to include last week's call from a person in southeastern Washington who believed a neighbor had placed a toxic black substance in the roadway in an attempt to poison him. 

The officer checked it out, since it could have been a habitat protection violation. 

Turns out the "black substance" was put down by a man who works at a construction company. It was sandblasting sand he'd placed in the roadway to prevent a washout until a permanent fix could be made.

Sandblasting sand is not toxic.  

Cutting tree for bridge over Tucannon River is costly mistake

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT – If a tree falls in the forest and a Fish and Wildlife policeman is around, it will be heard – and investigated.

While patrolling the Tucannon Lakes and Wooten Wildlife Area in the Blue Mountains last week, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officer stopped to check the vehicles of two people he’d seen previously hunting shed antlers.

 Meantime, he heard a chainsaw running down along the Tucannon River, according to the weekly report of enforcement activity in far Eastern Washington.  Moments later a large tree was heard to hit the ground.

The officer hiked into the area, found the two shed hunters and determined that one of them had sawed down a 50-foot tall live cottonwood tree measuring 30 inches at the stump.

The man had dropped the tree into the river to make a bridge for his partner to cross.

Aside from being stupid, senseless and selfish, this also is illegal.

The Tucannon River is a habitat protection area to protect, among other things, the trees and vegetation that shield the river from sun to keep the water cooler for young bull trout and steelhead.

The officer gave the information to the Columbia County prosecutor, where we’re looking forward to seeing a case move through the courts on charges felony malicious mischief and an HPA violation.

Big week for outdoor-related programs, meetings

OUTDO — It's a big week of mostly free activities in Spokane, including nature photographer Art Wolfe, Canadian singer-songwriter conservationist Sid Marty, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, whitewater rafting vendors, youth hunting clinic, snowshoing tours and more.

Check them out here.

Police detective accused of obstruction

A Spokane police detective has been placed on administrative leave after he was charged with obstructing a Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officer.

Detective Jeff Harvey, 46, who is vice president of the Spokane Police Guild, was charged with the misdemeanor offense last week in connection with a January incident in which it’s alleged he “did willfully hinder, delay and obstruct” an investigation into illegal hunting.

Capt. Mike Whorton, of the Region 1 office of the state Fish and Wildlife Police, said he could not comment beyond what was in the report.

“This is one individual. It certainly doesn’t reflect on the professionalism of the Spokane Police Department,” he said. “They are working with us on the case.”

Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said she placed Harvey on paid administrative leave at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“We will be thorough and complete in our investigation,” Kirkpatrick said. “He will remain on paid administrative leave for as long as it takes to do the internal investigation. The criminal matter needs to be handled independently of us.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

No official comment on pronghorns released on Yakama Indian Reservation

WILDLIFE — Neither state nor tribal officials returned telephone queries today regarding the Saturday-Sunday translocation of Nevada pronghorns to the Yakama Indian Reservation.

As I reported in my Monday blog, pronghorns were extirpated from this region in the 1800s.

I called two Washington Fish and Wildlife Department big-game program managers today and they did not respond.  Wildlife biologists with the Yakima Tribe said they were awaiting authority to speak from the tribal council.

The Washington Cattlemen's Association was much quicker to say they are concerned about the potential for transmitting disease. Blood samples apparently were drawn from the animals in Nevada, but the pronghorns were released in Central Washington Saturday and Sunday before the samples could be analysed.

It appears the excitement of bringing back the sage-country speedsters is not unanimous.

Stay tuned.

Food lures WA bears from hibernation

WILDLIFE — Eastern Washington's arctic cold snap has had one advantage you might not have considered:  It's kept the bears in their dens.

In the milder climate of Western Washington, an unusually high number of bears are staying active into the winter and causing problems for homeowners, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials.
Unfortunately, it appears as though the bears are being lured from their normal winter respite by human food.
Read on for details from an Associated Press story.

Bear parts buy deemed lesser offense

In the case of one Spokane man, the bear parts do not make up the sum of a felony.

Appellate judges on Tuesday overturned the felony wildlife trafficking conviction of 52-year-old Jason M. Yon, after he paid $800 for four bear gallbladders in 2008 to undercover Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers.

Yon’s attorney, Richard Lee, successfully argued that his client should not have been convicted of a felony because state law sets a dollar figure of $250 per purchase of parts from big game animals. Yon bought two gallbladders in September and another two in October 2008 for $200 each.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Poachers keep wildlife officers busy

POACHING PATROL — Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement officers in the Spokane Region seem to be answering an increased number of serious poaching calls, Capt. Mike Whorton said today.
Recent examples include…