Despite six recent births in the Selkirk Mountains, biologists estimate there may be only 50 caribou remaining in the Selkirk range, which extends through northeast Washington, southern British Columbia and North Idaho.
Carcasses of two caribou bulls, possibly killed by grizzly bears, were found recently, and three men charged with caribou poaching pleaded guilty last week in Spokane Federal District Court.
Mountain caribou are the most endangered large mammal in the country. The Selkirk population is the only one left in the country. An interagency effort to recover the species has been under way for more than 10 years. Thirteen caribou were captured in north-central British Columbia earlier this year. After radio telemetry equipment was attached, they were released in northeast Washington.
The six new calves are from four cows transplanted this spring and two resident cows that had been radio-equipped earlier this year, according to Jon Almack, WDFW caribou research biologist. Almack said at least five more calves have been born since his aerial survey.
Salmon policy update
Washington state Fish and Wildlife Commission staff will report tonight at Olympia on public comments received on the draft environmental impact statement for a wild salmonid policy.
Staff recommendations for a preferred alternative to the statement draft also will be presented and discussed.
The meeting is scheduled in room 172, Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE, at 6 p.m.
Follow-up workshops have been planned for Tuesday and July 15. For information, contact Debbie Nelson (360) 902-2267.
Tree salvage planned
Massive amounts of trees damaged or knocked down by winter storms in national forest south and west of Priest Lake will be salvaged for timber.
Kent Dunstan, district ranger of the Priest Lake Ranger District, said as many as 10-million board feet, enough to build 500 homes, will be produced from an area encompassing about 1,500 acres. Dunstan said the estimate has increased since a May survey that put the amount of salvaged timber near the 800,000 board-feet level.
Before salvage work can begin, district personnel must solicit public comment and complete an environmental assessment. If all goes as planned, Dunstan said logging at the lower elevations could begin as early as fall.
Kokanee study begins
The University of Idaho, in conjunction with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, has initiated a study of Pend Oreille Lake to assess the effects of higher water levels during the kokanee spawning and incubation period.
Fisheries for kokanee, rainbow trout and bull trout have gone through major declines in the last 40 years. However, with scientific information, it is difficult to implement changes that might improve the quality of fishing.
The study will investigate the importance of predation of the survival of kokanee. Stomach samples will be collected from harvested fish, and kamloops, lake trout and bull trout will be tagged with so-called spaghetti tags that include a five-digit number.
The department asks anglers catching tagged fish to report the tag number, fish species and the date, location and depth of catch.
Symposium plan irks hunters
Discussions about the feasibility of an Idaho Fish and Game Department-sponsored “predator symposium” apparently leaked out and angered bear hunters, agency director Steve Mealey said.
“They blew the whistle on us,” he said.
At issue are baiting, hound hunting and spring hunts. Internal discussions among Fish and Game commissioners of a symposium to find ways to work with those who oppose those methods got out, Mealey said.
That has created near-hysteria among some who think they may have to fight the Black Bear Initiative again, even though it was soundly defeated last fall. The initiative would have banned all three bear hunting practices.
It was the major topic at a public meeting sponsored by Fish and Game June 18 in Idaho Falls.
The department has no plans to revisit the infamous Proposition Two, Mealey said. Commissioner Jeff Siddoway of Terreton, Idaho, said the symposium is his panel’s idea, not Mealey’s.
Buffalo proposal afoot
Montana Gov. Marc Racicot wants long-term management of Yellowstone National Park buffalo to combine brucellosis testing, slaughter, vaccination and some public hunting.
Documents issued by his office recommend a plan that would require some sacrifice by both wildlife advocates and the beef industry, but not by snowmobilers who use the park.
Park roads that are cleared for snowmobile use are blamed for some of the problem with the bison.
Racicot’s preferred alternative is one of seven sketched out in the documents. The choice could come this week from a meeting of federal and state officials in Denver.
State and federal workers killed or shipped to slaughter more than 1,100 buffalo that wandered out of Yellowstone last winter in search of food. Some of the bison carry brucellosis, which causes domestic cattle to abort their calves and causes undulant fever in humans.
Zion project begins
Construction of a transportation system intended to cut congestion at Zion National Park will begin in November.
National Park Service officials this month completed plans for shuttling visitors into Zion Canyon. In partnership with Springdale, Utah, the shuttle system will require canyon tourists to leave their cars in town and be ferried into the park and canyon by propane-fueled buses.
“As we look at larger numbers of people visiting parks around the country, this system at Zion is going to be a model for other parks to deal with congestion and traffic,” said Patrick Shea, Zion transportation-project coordinator at the NPS Denver Service Center. “We also feel by creating a partnership with the town of Springdale, we’re going to help them manage some of their growth and development.”
An information program is under development to acquaint visitors with the shuttle system.
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