Latest from The Spokesman-Review
WILDLIFE — I go home to my hunting roots in Montana every year at this time, and the photo below (click continue reading) by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson illustrates one of the reasons why.
A photo I made from my annual Montana hunting trip, above, illustrates several more reasons.
Read on for a few biological pointers on why the pronghorn (also called antelope) is so special.
REFUGES – Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and Spokane Audubon Society are organizing an annual work party and potluck for Saturday, (Oct. 20) in the ongoing community effort to restore native riparian habitat to benefit birds and other wildlife species.
Volunteers will plant hundreds of native saplings to plan before installing fencing to protect the trees from deer, elk and moose browsing.
Work will start at 9 a.m. followed by the potluck at noon.
Meet at Turnbull Refuge headquarters. Drive five miles south of Cheney on Cheney-Plaza Road; turn left on Smith Road and drive two miles to the headquarters.
Groups should register in advance. Info: 235-4723
HUNTING — A little rain helped quiet the woods a bit in some areas for Saturday's deer season opener in Eastern Washington, but some areas were still snap, crackle pop.
Nevertheless, hunters were bagging deer at about the same rate as last year in NE Washington.
The Deer Park check station saw 114 hunters on Sunday with 12 deer (9 whitetails, 3 mule deer) for a 10-1/2 % success rate. Last year the same check station on opening weekend checked117 hunters with 7 deer.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also ran a Chattaroy check station for the first time in years to help gather deer body condition for a research project. That station on Sunday checked 66 hunters with 9 deer for a 13.6% success rate.
WDFW eforcement staff reported “slow” opener, particularly in northeast GMUs (some speculate some hunters are using other areas that are open to any buck, rather than the 4-pt. minimum in popular GMUs 117 and 121).
A friend and his daughter hunting Lincoln County Saturday saw few deer hunters — but tons of geese.
Okanogan Deer Harvest: The Winthrop deer check station saw 127 hunters with 17 deer. These numbers are almost identical to check station data from last year, and are in line with anecdotal observations of good success and lower than average hunter numbers being reported by enforcement agents in the district. Prospects for the remainder of the season should get even better with periodic valley rain and mountain snow expected through next weekend.
HUNTING — Just in time for the the big-game rifle seasons, the elk rut is winding down and the big bulls will be slinking away from their harems to recover and hide in thick dark woods — wherever they can avoid attention from huners and wolves.
Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson caught the the bull above in September, during the peak of its glory — and vulnerability.
Now the bull's world is all about surviving through winter.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The ducks that were hatched this spring have been flying for months. But ducks and even geese aren't the largest of all native North American wildfowl.
The trumpeter swans that hatched in mid-June at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge have required the entire summer and several weeks of autumn to grow, muscle up and feather out enough to flap their 15- to 20-pound bodies into the air from a dramatic running-on-top-of-the-water takeoff.
Carlene Hardt has been following the Turnbull trumpeters closely this year and she has captured good photos of their development.
“The cygnets have all their flight feathers and could fly anytime,” Hardt reports this week. On Sunday, one of the cygnets made a very short flight with the parents! The other two have not shown any interest so far but I am sure they will soon.
“The parents leave for about an hour each day. I wonder if they leave them so long to encourage them to learn to fly so they can follow!”
Even the adult turmpeters were flightless during a portion of the summer. They swam closely with their offspring at Middle Pond near the refuge headquarters while they molted their feathers.
Trumpeter swans are typically gray when they hatch. Cygnets steadily lose their gray plumage and molt in pure white feathers by the time they are one year old. The change is not complete in the Turnbull birds.
Cygnets require 110-120 days from the time they hatch to the time they fledge — a moment that appears to be arriving this week at Turnbull.
Once they get the hang of it, these trumpeter swans will be able to fly between 40-80 miles per hour. They are susceptible to collisions with wires, especially when they migrate, but they offer an irresistible reason to crane our necks skyward for a look.
Click “continue reading” to see the difference in the Turnbull cygnets' wing development from the third week of August to the first week of October, as shown in Hardt's photos.
POACHING — Five deer were shot, killed and left to rot north of Reardan around Oct. 4, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police said today.
It’s the second five-deer spree-poaching case the agency has investigated in the Spokane Region in two weeks.
The Lincoln County deer included three bucks and two does shot with small-caliber firearms in and near an alfalfa field.
In late September, five whitetails were found dead in another case north of Spokane Valley after spotlighting activity was noticed near the intersecton of Farwell and Peck roads. Two fawns in that case had been run over by a vehicle; the others shot.
It's honorable to rat on scumbag poachers, but you can also earn hefty rewards or bonus points offered for information leading to arrests in these cases.
Call the agency’s regional office in Spokane, (509) 892-1001.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Bear sightings have sent Camas High School cross-country teams running two times in recent weeks.
The x-c meets were moved after bears were sighted at Lacamas Park, a forested 330-acre park.
Police say they’ve received numerous reports of bears at the park and they’ve notified the state Fish and Wildlife Department.
Perhaps its a coach's plot to pick up the pace.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Moose are looking for love this time of year, and, as in humans, it can make them goofy.
This is OK when they're out in the woods, but it's not uncommon to see moose around Spokane, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene and other towns in the region.
Give moose a wide berth. Enjoy them from a distance.
Here's a report from Spokane's South Hill by Robert Estuar:
Might be time to remind people to be wary of moose off the South Hill bluff. I mountain bike the trails about 4 times per week and I've seen moose on 4 separate occasions over the past 3 weeks.
Yesterday around 6 pm, I happened on 3 moose (looked like a cow and 2 calves) about 25 feet off the trail. I've seen the moose on the lower trails -southwest of the powerlines.
Great to have wildlife sightings so close to home but I worry about problem interactions with people and their dogs.
Garden expert Pat Munts offers more on the subject today in this column.
WILDLIFE — The mating season for white-tailed deer is a month or more away, but bucks already are tuning up.
For the past week, we’ve noticed the whitetail rattling antlers. Nothing serious, more for fun.Tonight we observed these bucks jousting. One would watch while the other two rattled antlers.Then they would switch and the observer would join in while another watched.
HUNTING — Alyssa Donelan, a sophomore at Central Valley High School, had a busy Saturday — with more than one date.
She donned camouflage clothing and left home at 5 a.m. to go turkey hunting with her father, Jim. When the turkeys stood them up in the morning, Alyssa move on to a remarkable transition.
She was out of her camouflage and into the hair dresser by 1 p.m.
By 5 p.m. she'd transformed from Rambo to ravishing just in time for the arrival of Sawyer Starnes, a senior, who picked her up for the CV homecoming dance.
The day was dubbed a success, but Alyssa still has an unfilled turkey tag, and an ego that needs a little buffing.
While Alyssa and five girlfriends slept in after a post-dance sleepover at her house, her dad and brother left home at 5 a.m. on Sunday. The boys returned with a turkey about 10:30 a.m., just as Alyssa and the other girls were waking up.
CONSERVATION — An image of a common goldeneye painted with uncommon talent by Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest.
The artwork will be featured on the 80th federal migratory bird stamp, which will be purchased by collectors, waterfowlers and other wetlands conservationists next year.
The announcement was made today by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Rowan Gould at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, during the annual art contest – the only juried art competition sponsored by the federal government.
This is Steiner’s second Federal Duck Stamp Contest win. His art previously appeared on the 1998-1999 Federal Duck Stamp.
Steiner’s acrylic painting of a common goldeneye will be made into the 2013-2014 Federal Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2013. The Service produces the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $15 and raises about $25 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge system for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of people.
Read on for more details.
HUNTING — Tough times for deer in a corner of Wyoming, similar to the outbreak that swept through portions of Montana two years ago:
Whitetail deer die-off in NE Wyoming worst in decades
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, a disease spread by a biting gnat, has caused the worst die-off of whitetail deer in northeast Wyoming in decades.
HUNTING — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning hound hunting for bears in California, 16 years after Washington state did the same thing by voter initative.
Both campaigns were primed and pumped by the Humane Society of the United States and other anti-hunting groups.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Don't bite the hand that feeds wildlife.
Chop it off.
Montana wildlife agents euthanize five food-conditioned bears
After neighbors complained about someone in Heron feeding bears, Montana wildlife agents investigated and found five, well-fed food-conditioned black bears that they had to kill.
CONSERVATION — One of the country’s biggest wildlife art contests will be judged in Ogden this week as the annual Federal Duck Stamp Contest comes to Utah for the first time in its nearly 80-year history. The event has been to the West only one other time.
The work of nearly 200 artists from across the United States will be open for free viewing by the public at Weber State University, reports Brett Prettyman in the Salt Lake Tribune. Judges will pick one piece during the two-day event to serve as the 2013-14 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.
Organizers picked Ogden to host the 2012 event due in a large part to the Great Salt Lake and its surrounding marshlands. Waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and other wildlife use the habitat throughout the year.
WILDLIFE — In case you had any doubts about the elk mating season being in full swing, Montana wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson offers this photographic evidence.
Notice I didn't say this is image is proof. After all, hitch-hiking is legal in Montana.
PUBLIC LANDS — National parks will be waiving entrance fees to celebrate National Public Lands Day on Sept. 29.
The Park Service is waiving fees for a total of 17 days in 2012.
Offering free admission to national parks and other federal lands has been featured the past three years as a cost-friendly family vacation option in the economic slump.
WILDLIFE CRIMES — In a major crackdown on alleged illegal wildlife traffickers today, Washington Fish and Wildlife police served 14 search warrants on businesses — including Walla Walla County restaurants selling illegal elk meat.
A SWAT team was called in to arrest one West Side man officers say provided “two to three big game animals a week” at times to undercover officers.
See the report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
Here's report by KING 5 TV.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — It's one thing to be an anti-government blowhard.
It's another thing to be detrimental to Idaho's public resources and the state's very valuable wild elk herds.
Good riddance, Rex Rammel.
See the story here, and we hope it's the last we hear of him.
WILDLIFE REHABILITATION — Boo Boo, the black bear cub found by fire crews with second degree burns on all four paws last month, has been moved to a rehabilitation area in central Idaho.
Idaho Fish and Game biologist Jeff Rohlman picked up the young bruin today at the Humane Society shelter in Boise where he has been recuperating.
Rohlman took the bear to the Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary in the mountains outside McCall. The sanctuary is dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife. Since 1989 it has housed and cared for a range of large and small mammals and birds in distress from injury, loss of parents, or loss of habitat.
Boo Boo weighed in at 46 pounds today, up from just 23 pounds when Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Mark Drew transferred the bear to the Idaho Humane Society on Aug. 31.
He will spend the first night in a pen about the size of a single-car garage, which is attached to a two-acre enclosure at the sanctuary. When released from the pen, he would be free to roam the enclosure.
If he continues to mend, he would be released to wild. Perhaps as soon as later this fall.
He was rescued August 26 by firefighters working on the Mustang Fire burning north of Salmon. His feet were badly burned, and he was treated initially at Idaho Fish and Game's Wildlife Health Lab in Caldwell.
The young bear has continued to improve. No infection in any of his foot pads has been detected despite second-degree burns on all four feet, Drew said.
WILDLIFE — More than 200 Roosevelt elk shed antlers seized by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife can be purchased during an online auction that's underway. Bidding for about half of the items will close Sept. 19, and bidding for the other half of the items will close Sept. 20.
Items available during the auction include:
• More than 100 large individual shed antlers.
• Four sets of matched antlers.
• 26 bundles of large shed antlers.
• One large skull cap plate with antlers from a Rocky Mountain bull elk.
• One large set of mounted antlers from a trophy mule deer buck.
To participate in the online auction you must pre-register.
The shed antlers, seized because they were collected illegally, have been sorted into three grades: fresh (picked up the same year as shed), one-year white (picked up one or more years after being shed), and two-year white (picked up two or more years after being shed).
More than 100 of the individual shed antlers have had gross scores determined, many of which qualify for entry into the Boone and Crockett record book, said Sergeant Carl Klein of the WDFW Law Enforcement Program.
Read on for more details:
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — This BBC film clip offers a glimpse of a town and tourists in the midst of the annual autumn mating season for elk.
The footage is as funny as it is sad to see people so nonchalant and clueless about walking past hormone-charged 800-pound animals with antlers.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Every year we read about a tourist in Yellowstone National Park being hurt or killed by a bison.
The park warns people to give bison plenty of distance; change course if necessary; leave them alone because while they're amazing creatures they're also unpredictable and dangerous.
The same goes with moose we see around the Inland Northwest, and even mountain goats (see previous post).
The incident in this video won't make headlines because nobody was hurt. But if the child being chased had tripped, it would be a different story.
This was really stupid, especially since adults are involved.
HUNTING — A nice, easy, fulfilling start to the hunting seasons.
Scout and I have three and a half months to go!
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — The effort continues:
The bear cub with burned paws who was rescued from Idaho's Mustang Complex fire is not the only baby critter in that fix; fire crews rescued this baby bobcat, nicknamed “Chips,” from the Chips fire in California on Saturday. The tiny female kitten, about the size of a domestic kitten, had burns on all four paws and an eye infection, and is being treated at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, where she is expected to make a full recovery, and after being sheltered with other bobcats through the winter, will be released back into the wild. You can read more here.
WILDLIFE — A summer heat wave and poor huckleberry crop is causing trouble for bears in the region by forcing the bruins to lower elevations where they run into conflicts with people.
Heads up: A grizzly has been seen near Priest Lake. Keep a clean camp and a garbage free cabin area.
The problem has been more than apparent farther norther in Canada.
This year, 16 black bears, a wolverine, several wolves, and countless elk and deer have been killed on the highways and railways in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.
The human-caused animal death toll keeps rising — due, experts say, to a late spring and hot summer that has kept bears in the valley bottoms, and also to increased traffic speeding through the park.
BIG GAME — Antlers raw from freshly shed velvet, this whitetail buck's clock is ticking toward the rut.
The image was made last week by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A judge has dismissed most of a widow’s claims in a $10 million suit against the federal government after her husband was killed by a mountain goat at Olympic National Park two years ago, saying that even if it seems unfair, the park can’t be sued for the decisions it made, according to the Associated Press.
Robert Boardman, a 63-year-old registered nurse, was trying to protect his wife and friend when the 370-pound billy goat gored him, severing arteries in his thigh, on a trail near Hurricane Ridge in October 2010. The goat is believed to have been one that harassed park visitors for years.
- The incident spurred park officials and hiking groups to work harder at educating hikers on ways to visit the high country without teaching mountain goats bad habits that can lead to aggressive behavior.
His wife, Susan Chadd, sued, accusing the government of negligence in its management of the goat, known as “Klahanne Billy” for the name of a nearby ridge. She also alleged that the park botched the rescue effort – the one claim that was not dismissed in U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan’s ruling in Tacoma this week.
Bryan said even though the park could have acted more quickly to kill or relocate the goat, its actions are immune from lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act because they involved an exercise of discretion related to public policy.
The one remaining claim is that the park staff failed to act quickly once the attack was reported, AP reported.
HIKING — Reports of aggressive mountain goats have forced rangers once again to close some trails in Olympic National Park, where a hiker was gored and killed by a goat two years ago.
Hikers can play a role in preventing these otherwise docile creatures from becoming dangerous in their high-country habitat. Here are guidelines posted by the Washington Trails Association:
- Hikers should urinate at least 50 feet off the trail, preferably on rocks. The animals' attraction to the salt in human urine can bring goats closer to trails (and the hikers on them) than is good for either species.
- Try to stay 50 yards (or about 150 feet) away from mountain goats at all times. For photographers, this means using a telephoto lens to snap your shots. Never try to approach or pet kid (young) mountain goats. No matter how cute they are, mountain goats are still wild animals. It's up to hikers to give the goats a wide berth, even if they are standing close to, or even in, the trail. If the trail doesn't permit you to go around, consider turning back early.
“If the goat wants the trail, give the goat the trail,” Nancy Jones, a Visitor Services Specialist with the Cle Elum Ranger District, told WTA last year. “Back off. Give the goat the right-of-way. Go the other way.”