Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Help Native Nesting Birds

June 2011
Your purple martin house taken over by European starlings?
You may have design flaws in the housing you’ve provided that allows these aggressive, non-native birds to thrive and our native birds to decline.
Some ready-made bird houses may look cute but are not necessarily designed to keep the bullies of the bird world out.
Perches, for example, aren't needed by birds but attract house sparrows and starlings.
Design and construction of bird houses need to be species specific. The most important part is the entrance hole. If the hole is too small, the desired bird won’t be able to enter. If it’s too big (and this is more likely) undesirable wildlife – like non-native sparrows and starlings, and uninvited squirrels, can get in and harm, evict, or kill the desired bird.
As a rule, house sparrows can’t enter a nest box if the entrance hole is less than 1-1/8 inches in diameter. Starlings can’t enter if the hole is less than 1-1/2 inches in diameter.
Information in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) “Woodworking Projects for Backyard Wildlife,” available at, specifies entrance hole sizes to exclude these birds wherever possible. Even if you don’t want to make your own nest boxes, it’s a good resource for making better decisions when you purchase bird houses.
Bird houses often have to be maintained on a yearly basis to stick to these specs. You’ll need to patch or restore the entrance holes after squirrels or woodpeckers have tried to enlarge them. There are many ways to do this, from attaching wooden extensions or “donuts” over the holes to fortifying them with metal washers.
If you still have problems with aggressive non-native species even when you follow the standards, there are also design alternatives.
A diamond-shaped entrance hole that is no more than 7/8-inch deep and up to 3-1/2 inches wide, will exclude house sparrows and starlings. To accommodate the slightly bigger violet-green swallow, file down the area inside of the entry hole by just a quarter inch. You can see these specs at
Anacortes bird enthusiast Gene Derig came up with that diamond design but recently told us about an even simpler way to accommodate and protect not only violet-green swallows, but also chickadees, nuthatches, and other native species.
“Try using a ¾-inch high slot configuration,” Gene said. “The slot is made by drilling three consecutive horizontal holes with a ¾-inch drill bit, and then just shaving out what’s left. It’s especially good for urban areas where there are more house sparrows.”
The purple martin is a species that could really use help with suitable nest sites within its range in western Washington, since its numbers seem to be declining. In fact, it’s a candidate for state protective listing, in part because of competition from sparrows and starlings.
WDFW biologist Chris Anderson notes that purple martins are colony nesters, but those attractive “multiple apartment complex” bird houses designed for them can be a problem in urban areas where starlings and house sparrows are numerous.
“A cluster of gourds drilled with holes seems to be much less preferred by starlings and house sparrows and the martins love them,” Anderson said.
Another way to help is to be more strategic with placement of bird nest boxes.
Martins, like all swallows, feed on insects, mostly on the wing, often over water where insects concentrate. Hanging a gourd collection over water makes it that much more enticing to martins and less inviting to sparrows and starlings.
Sparrows and starlings usually won't nest within ten feet of the ground. Placing nest boxes four to five feet off the ground and in brushy areas will discourage these birds, and will readily be used by many native species, from bluebirds to wrens. Nest boxes at this height, however, are vulnerable to predators such as cats.
If you want to get rid of house sparrows or European starlings nesting in a bird house, it is legal to remove their nests and destroy the eggs. Unlike most birds, these non-native, introduced species are not protected by state or federal law. Nests may have to be removed five to six times before sparrows or starlings finally abandon the house.
Sometimes the best thing to do if your area is plagued by starlings or house sparrows, and you can’t actively manage them, is to simply not use bird nest boxes at all.
There are many other resources to help you address bird house issues in addition to WDFW’s “Living With Wildlife” webpages. Some of the best information is available on the Sialis website, developed for people interested in helping bluebirds (which are in the genus Sialia) and other native cavity-nesting birds. For starling problems, see and for House sparrow problems see Another good site is .

Monday, June 27, 2011

Oregon's Mentored Youth Hunter Program

The Mentored Youth Hunter Program
Youth 9 through 13 years of age now have another opportunity to gain hunting experience and learn about Oregon’s rich hunting heritage. The Mentored Youth Hunter Program allows youth 9 through 13 years of age to hunt without first passing an approved hunter education program. It gives unlicensed youngsters the opportunity to receive mentored, one-on-one field experience and training on the ethics, safety, responsibility, and enjoyment of the hunting while closely supervised by a licensed adult.
As an incentive to participate in the mentored youth hunting program, youth will receive one mentored youth preference point for each year the youth registers for the program. Once the department receives the youth’s registration form, if the youth does not have a hunter identification number, a number will be assigned and a mentored youth preference point updated in the system.
The time shared between a youngster and a mentor is invaluable. There simply is no better way to introduce a young person to safe, ethical and responsible aspects of hunting than with the close supervision of an adult mentor that the Mentored Youth Hunter Program provides.
Contact Us
e-mail questions to: mailto:mentored.youth@state.oror call 503-947-6027
General Information
Youth Participation
A youth may participate in the mentored youth hunter program, without first passing an approved hunter education program, provided the youth:
  1. Is 9 through 13 years of age. At age 14, a youth is no longer eligible to participate in the mentored youth hunting program. From age 14 through 17, a youth must pass an approved hunter education program and possess his or her own license and/or tags.
  2. Hunts while accompanied by a supervising hunter who is 21 years of age or older and who has a valid license and tag(s) for the dates, area and species being hunted.
  3. Noah Frank
    Noah Frank with his first buck.
    -Oregon Fish and Wildlife-
    Annual registration is required.
  4. Has in possession proof of registration.
  5. Reviews and acknowledges understanding of material on safe hunting practices provided by the department by signing form.
  6. Follows all regulations regarding hunting in the given wildlife management unit, management area or location
  7. Remains under the immediate control of the supervising hunter at all times while the youth is in possession of any legal weapon for the hunt
Supervising hunter

            The supervising hunter shall:
  1. Have a valid hunting license and tag(s) valid for the dates, area and species being hunted.
  2. Maddy Donovan
    Maddy Donovan, 11 years old, got her first deer. She was Mentored by her Great Grandpa Bernard L. Straight. 
    -Photo provided by John B. Straight.-
    Maintain immediate control of the mentored youth hunter at all times while the youth is in possession of any legal weapon for the hunt.
  3. Ensure that all Oregon hunting regulations are followed. The supervising hunter shall be responsible and accountable for all actions of the mentored youth hunter while engaged in hunting.
  4. Supervise only one mentored youth hunter at any given time while engaged in hunting.
  5. Review information on safe hunting practices provided by the department with the youth. 

            While engaged in mentored youth hunting activities:
  1. The supervising hunter shall maintain immediate control of the mentored youth hunter at all times while the mentored youth hunter is in possession of any legal weapon for the hunt.
  2. The supervising hunter shall not accompany more than one mentored youth hunter at any given time while engaged in hunting.
  3. The supervising hunter and the mentored youth hunter shall not collectively possess more than one weapon legal for the hunt at any given time while engaged in hunting.
Seasons and bag limits
  1. Hunter Pariani
    Hunter Pariani with his first long beard Turkey. The hunt was mentored by his uncle, Fred Pariani.
    -Photo provided by Fred Pariani-
    Any wildlife harvested by the mentored youth hunter shall be counted towards the supervising hunter’s bag limit.
  2. A youth is not eligible to participate in the mentored youth hunting program if the youth possesses their own valid hunting license and/or tag(s) valid for the dates, area and species being hunted. 
  3. The mentored youth hunting program is not applicable to designated youth only seasons and hunts.
Mentored Youth Preference Points
  • Youth participating in the mentored youth hunting program will receive one mentored youth preference point for each year the youth registers for the program.
  • The mentored youth preference points will be “banked” and held in the licensing system with no expiration date. To redeem banked points, the mentored youth will be required to fill out a form supplied by the department’s License Services Section that clearly states what species the mentored youth wants their mentored youth preference points moved to.
  • You can now view “banked” mentored youth preference points on the My Hunter Information link.
  • Points must be used at one time and may not be split among species.
  • Once Mentored Youth Preference Points are redeemed, they are converted to the Preference Point System and are subject to the Oregon Administrative Rules that govern preference points.
Redeem Mentor Youth Preference Points
Mentored youth preference point(s) must be converted into regular preference point(s) before they can be used on a controlled hunt draw. When you decide to convert your point(s), all of the mentored youth preference point(s) that you have accumulated to that date must be used towards one specific controlled hunt series. You must submit a controlled hunt application for the hunt series that you have chosen before your points can be converted, application deadline to apply for Spring Bear is February 10th and Big Game is May 15th. Your mentored youth preference point(s) do not expire, however decisions to convert mentored youth preference point(s) are permanent and will remain in the system until successful in a draw. Converting mentored youth preference point(s) is done by submitting the Request to Redeem Mentored Youth Preference Point(s) (pdf). If you have questions about your point(s) please contact ODFW License services at 800-708-1782.
Mail or fax the completed form to:
ODFW, License Services
3406 Cherry Ave. NE
Salem, OR 97303-4924
Fax Number 503-947-6113

Oregon Open Fields Program Seeking 95K Acres

SALEM, Ore. — Columbia Basin landowners with good upland bird habitat on their properties can earn some additional income by providing public hunting access, thanks to ODFW’s new Oregon Open Fields program.
Funded by a federal grant, the program seeks to open 95,000 acres of private land in the Columbia Basin to upland bird hunting.
Landowners that participate will receive payment based on criteria like the size of the access area and type of access permitted (advance reservation required or walk-in hunting access). Payment will range from 78 cents to $3 per acre. Payments for hunting access for similar programs average about $2 an acre.
ODFW staff help landowners that participate in the program by posting signs, installing permit boxes, patrolling properties, coordinating hunter reservations, and managing all other aspects of the hunting access program. The state’s Recreational Use Statute also provides liability protection for participating landowners.
The Oregon Open Fields program is administered through the ODFW Access and Habitat Program and is funded by a grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
For more information about participating in the Oregon Open Fields program, contact ODFW at 503-947-6317 or visit the Oregon Open Fields website.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WDFW Hunter-Access Grant Initiative


June 21, 2011
                        Public can comment on plans
                        for hunter-access grant initiative
         OLYMPIA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept public comments through July 21 on a $1.5 million federal grant designed to encourage more private landowners in Washington to open their lands to hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) was one of 17 agencies nationwide to qualify for a three-year grant under the new Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program administered by the USDA under the 2008 federal Farm Bill.
In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, USDA’s Farm Service Agency recently determined that the department’s plans for the grant money would not have a significant effect on the environment.
The federal findings are posted at Public comments on those findings may also be submitted on that site.
Dave Ware, WDFW game manager, said the state agency has already raised $400,000 to expand hunter access to private lands through additional fees paid by hunters who apply for new permit-only hunts.
“Hunters consistently rank access to suitable hunting areas as one of their top concerns,” Ware said. “With the additional federal funding, we’ll be able to build on current state efforts to expand hunting opportunities for years to come.”
In addition, WDFW plans to establish at least five new wildlife-viewing areas near urban areas of the state.
Key initiatives planned by WDFW include:
  • Access Near Urban Centers ($437,240): Increase acreage enrolled in the Snow Goose Hunting Program and the number of waterfowl hunting blinds available through such programs as “Feel Free to Hunt,” “Register to Hunt” and “Hunt by Written Permission” from 10 blinds to 25 blinds; establish public big game hunting access on at least 5,000 acres of private forest lands; and establish at least five new watchable wildlife opportunities on private farmlands.
  • Snake River Conservation Reserve Program ($387,300): Establish public hunting access on at least 12,500 additional acres of private farm land and establish public access for hunting on an additional 15 farms also enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
  • Corn Stubble Retention ($63,000): Double the amount of acres enrolled in the program to attract game birds to farmlands.
  • Southwest Washington Private Forest Land Access ($499,680): Establish public hunting access on at least 50,000 additional acres of private forest lands.
  • Improved Use of Technology ($155,000): Develop a new GoHunt interactive mapping program and an automated system for reserving hunting days on private lands enrolled in WDFW’s programs.
Ware said WDFW has bolstered its Private Lands Access program to reverse the steady decline of land open to hunting due to population growth, suburban sprawl and crowding on public lands. Just over one million acres of private land is currently open to hunting under agreement with WDFW, compared to three million in the late 1990s, he said.
“Our staff is out working with farmers, ranchers and owners of private timberlands on multi-year agreements right now,” he said. “We want to have as many of these agreements in place as possible by the time fall hunting seasons get under way.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Discover Pass Now Available

June 20, 2011
Media contacts:
Virginia Painter, State Parks, (360) 902-8562
Bryan Flint, DNR, (360) 902-1023
Margaret Ainscough, WDFW, (360) 902-2408
OLYMPIA-The state's new Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks and recreation lands is available for sale at recreational license dealers and online.
The Discover Pass-providing access to 7 million acres of state park and recreation lands-will generate funding to keep those lands open following steep state budget cuts.
"We are optimistic that people will support state parks and recreation lands and buy the Discover Pass," said Don Hoch, State Parks director. "Without the pass to support State Parks, we would have been closing park gates all over the state."
Beginning July 1, the pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). State recreation lands include state parks, boat launches, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, campgrounds, trails and trailheads.
"The Discover Pass will help ensure that the beautiful recreation lands of Washington State remain open for all to enjoy," said Commissioner of Public Land Peter Goldmark. "For less than the cost to take the family out to the movies, we can keep popular places such as Mount Si, Capitol State Forest and Ahtanum State Forest open."
There are several ways to purchase the Discover Pass:
  • Online at .
  • At nearly 600 sporting goods and other retail stores that sell recreational fishing and hunting licenses. A vendor list is available at or via a link from the Discover Pass website.
  • By telephone, toll-free at 1 (866) 320-9933.
  • At state parks, where staff is available.
  • From state Department of Licensing vehicle license agents, beginning this fall.
The annual Discover Pass fee is $30, and a one-day pass is $10. A Discover Pass purchased from a recreational license dealer, by phone or online will cost a total of $35, which includes the $30 pass fee, a 10 percent transaction fee and $2 dealer fee. A one-day Discover Pass costs a total of $11.50, which include the $10 base price, a 10 percent transaction fee and a 50-cent dealer fee.
"The Discover Pass allows state natural-resource agencies to maintain public access to millions of acres of state recreation lands," said Phil Anderson, WDFW director. "Sport fishers and hunters have traditionally supported WDFW wildlife areas and water access sites through their license fees; now all who enjoy these lands will share in their support."
The Discover Pass must be visible in the front windshield of street-legal motor vehicles on state recreation lands. Holders of certain types of fishing and hunting licenses, registered campers in state parks and certain others are not required to buy or display a Discover Pass. For details on these and other exemptions, visit
There is a $99 penalty for failing to display the pass as required.
On the July Fourth holiday weekend-the first few days of Discover Pass implementation-public education and compliance with the new pass requirement will be emphasized, according to agency officials.
Revenue from the Discover Pass will fill budget gaps created by the loss of state General Fund support for parks and state recreation lands. Revenue from pass sales will be divided among the three state agencies that manage state recreation lands in proportion to General Fund (tax-revenue) reductions: 84 percent to State Parks; 8 percent to WDFW; and 8 percent to DNR.
The Discover Pass was approved by the 2011 Legislature (Senate Bill 5662) and signed in May by Gov. Chris Gregoire. In addition to providing a stable source of revenue, the legislation provides reciprocal authority for law enforcement staff from each agency.
For questions or more information on Discover Pass sales call 1 (866) 320-9933.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Women's Outdoor Workshop

Women's workshop offers instruction
in fishing, hunting, outdoor skills
OLYMPIA - Women can learn the basics of fishing, hunting and other outdoor skills in a September weekend workshop that includes several sessions led by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) experts and other certified instructors.
The annual workshop, scheduled Sept.16-18 at Camp River Ranch in Carnation, is coordinated by Washington Outdoor Women (WOW), a non-profit program dedicated to teaching women outdoor skills and natural resource stewardship. Now in its 14th year, WOW is an educational outreach program of the Washington Wildlife Federation.
Twenty different classes will be offered throughout the weekend, including archery, basic freshwater fishing, fly fishing and fly tying, kayaking, cooking wild game, big-game hunting basics, wilderness first aid, survival skills, medicinals on the trail, training a hunting dog, outdoor photography and more.
WDFW staff members serving as volunteer instructors for the event include biologists Laura Till and Susan Cierebiej, who will teach the use of a map and compass in the field. In all, 34 instructors will volunteer their time and expertise at the WOW workshop to help women re-connect with the outdoors.
Workshop participants must be at least 18 years old, and those planning to participate in the fishing and fly-fishing sessions must have a current Washington recreational fishing license.
The workshop fee of $235 includes the weekend's lodging, meals and use of all necessary equipment. Partial scholarships, provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, are available for first-time participants.
To learn more about the workshop and to download the registration form, visit the WOW website at or call Ronni McGlenn at (425) 455-1986. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DNR Investaigates Keys Given Out To State Lands

From: EDITOR'S BLOG/ Andy Walgamott/NW Sportsman
DNR Investigates Giving Out Of Keys To State Lands
Washington Department of Natural Resources officials are investigating how and why keys to state timber lands in central King County were given out earlier this spring.
Much is unclear, but DNR communications director Bryan Flynt confirmed this afternoon that someone at their South Sound region office in Enumclaw gave out gate keys to parcels in the Raging and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers near Preston and North Bend, apparently for bear hunting.
“Giving of the keys was not authorized,” said Flynt.

He did not know when they were given out, if they were used, when they would be returned, or have many other answers.
“We’re still at the beginning of sorting this all out,” he said.
DNR headquarters was alerted to the situation by state legislators, including Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) yesterday, Flynt said. A now-six-page-long thread on Hunting-Washington — “Dangerous Precedent- DNR Gives Gate Keys To Tribes for Bear Hunting, What’s Next” — was started Monday morning and yesterday afternoon Rich Landers of the Spokane Spokesman-Review blogged about it.
The thread includes an email from a Washington Department of Fish & Wildife wildlife biologist to an unknown party that, if legitimate, indicates that on May 20 a WDFW law enforcement officer gave the biologist the head’s up that a DNR manager had “issued gate keys and permission to hunt over bait on all their lands south of Hwy 18 to the Muckleshoot Tribe.  Our guess is that this is their way of solving their peeling problems.”
The “peeling problem” is bears chewing the bark off young Douglas firs, trying to get at the sugar-rich cambium layer after their winter slumber. The girdling kills the valuable timber. The issue has led WDFW to adopt a number of spring hunts in Western Washington to try and control damage.
It appears that DNR first tried that way to deal with the hungry bears.
“They approached us about establishing a spring bear hunt in that area” sometime last year, said WDFW spokesman Craig Bartlett. “We’ll likely propose that in the next three-year game package” to the Fish & Wildlife Commission.
The biologist’s apparent email indicates several concerns for the agency, including how the episode will appear to nontribal sportsmen. It says:
1)      WDFW officers will not be able to distinguish a tribal bait pile from an illegal one
2)      Officer safety could become a factor because of the confusion over who has a right to hunt vs those who don’t
3)      Non-tribal hunters will likely be dismayed because they don’t have access, can’t use bait, and can’t hunt at this time of the year
4)      Non-hunters in King County will likely be dismayed over bears killed in the spring using bait
A Muckleshoot spokesperson had no immediate comment today but indicated he would get back to Northwest Sportsman tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Montana's Smith River Open

Smith River open for floaters

Smith Permit holders and others may call the Smith River Reservation Line at
(406) 454-5861 between 8 AM and noon, Monday through Friday, to cancel or obtain information on future floats dates that may be available. For water and boating safety tips, visit "Stay Safe Outdoors"

Low clearance under private bridge on Smith River

Due to high sustained flows on the Smith River, Montana State Parks is advising floaters to exercise caution when floating under a private bridge located approximately 2 miles below the Camp Baker put-in. Recently the Smith River at this bridge was flowing at 3,250 cfs; with clearance estimated to be between 46 to 52 inches. Floaters planning a Smith River trip during the remainder of June are urged to determine whether the vertical height of their particular water craft is well below this range to safely clear underneath the bridge. River Rangers at Camp Baker will physically measure all water craft prior to launching until the river levels drop sufficiently.
Noted for its spectacular scenery and renowned trout fishery, the Smith River is unique in that it has only one public put-in and one public take-out for the entire 59-mile segment of river. Boat camps located along the remote river canyon help preserve the unique quality of this area. The Smith River between Camp Baker and Eden Bridge is the only river corridor managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks as a permitted river. Permits for private floats on the Smith River are allocated to the public via a lottery system prior to the spring season. Permit applications are typically available the first week of January each year, with an application deadline of mid-February.
Consult the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to get an overview of the Smith River and check for Advisories, Restrictions, and Closures. If you don’t find all the answers you’re looking for on this website, you can contact the Smith River State Park office in Great Falls at (406) 454-5840.

New for 2011 Float Season

The following changes will go into effect beginning with the 2011 float season:
On November 18, 2010 the FWP Commission updated the Smith River State Park and River Corridor Biennial Rule. The Commission made some changes to the rule to enhance floater opportunities and improve management of the park. Beginning with the 2011 float season, the following changes will be in effect (This list also includes changes made in 2010.):
  • $10 nonrefundable permit application fee.
    FWP will no longer require applicants to submit floater fees with their application. This will eliminate the practice of refunding money to unsuccessful applicants. All float fees are due when registering at Camp Baker.

  • Applicants must be a minimum of 12 years of age.
    A person applying for a Smith River permit must be a minimum of 12 years of age at the time they submit their application. There is no age restriction to participate on a Smith River float trip.

  • Peak Season Waiting Period
    A person who receives a permit through the lottery for a launch date during the time period of May 15 through July 15 (peak season) will not be allowed to apply for a permit for this time period the following year. They may still apply for launch dates outside this time period, accompany other permitted trips, or acquire a cancelled permit for any launch date.

  • Super Permit Lottery
    In addition to the regular private float permits, FWP will issue one Super Permit each year through a separate lottery. The recipient of the permit will be allowed to launch on any date of their choosing for that year. Float fees are not included with the Super Permit and must be paid when registering at Camp Baker. There is no limit to the number of chances someone may purchase ($5 per chance). The money from the sale of Super Permit chances will be deposited into the Smith River Corridor Enhancement Account.

  • Human waste pack-out required to use Deep Creek Boat Camp
    Floaters wanting to camp at Deep Creek boat camp must pack-out human waste using a commercially produced or other approved human waste pack-out system.

  • Only successful applicants will be notified.
    FWP will no longer notify unsuccessful permit applicants. Lottery results will be posted on the FWP website.

  • The float fee for nonresidents age 13 and older is now $60.
  • Launch fees are applicable year-round.
  • No pets are allowed on Smith River float trips.
    This restriction does not apply to legitimate service dogs and hunting dogs used for lawful hunting purposes during legal hunting seasons.

  • Sign-in at Camp Baker is limited to 24-hours in advance.
    Floaters may sign-in (check-in) at Camp Baker beginning at 7:30 AM on the day prior to their launch date in order to secure a "place in line" for registration.



A permit is required year-round to float the Smith River. The permit page provides detailed information about applying for a permit—including significant dates, fees, and rules.

Plan Your Float

Once you’ve obtained a permit, you can begin planning your float. The links below will assist you with the planning process.


The Smith River is a special place. As a visitor, you have the responsibility to be a steward of the land and the fishery, as well as respect private property and the experiences of other floaters.

Bow Hunting Mule Deer

Bow hunting Mule Deer is far dissimilar than whitetail. Mule Deer populate a vastly more prominent area than white tail deer. Your shots will specifically be longer yardage and normally you will have to go to the deer rather than them coming to you. The most mutual method of archery hunting mule deer is the spot and stalk method. Below are 10 of the most essential things to make your mule deer hunt successful.

1. Paper or GPS maps, peculiarly topographical maps. Mule deer live in big wilderness areas like the badlands of the Dakotas. Finding the North and South facing slopes will support you to put yourself in a position to spot Mule deer bedded down attempting to keep cool or stay warm, depending on the weather.

2. Spotting scope. Find a good place where you are not skylined and commence spotting. Make a mental grid and look over the entire visible landscape one scope width at a time. Make sure to stop the scope in each grid box. It is easy to miss a well camouflaged deer when you are moving at you are spotting.

3. A backpack with multiple pockets, a hydration bladder and quiet zippers. Once you spot your trophy buck, you need to be ready to put on a heap of severe miles. Being competent to comfortably carry your gear including your bow and keep your arms rested will make all the divergence when it is time to take the shot.

4. Good Hunting boots. Not only will you be covering a great deal of distance but Mule deer are sure to lead you though a good deal of rough terrain.

5. Camouflage. Camouflage costume is very important, I like Ghillie Suits or Prairie Ghost for hunting in the badlands.

6. Scent eliminator. Play the wind as much as possible, but inevitably, the wind will swirl and roll over those huge ridges, it may be a west wind at the top of the ridge, but as it rolls, it may be an east wind down in the valley. For a few bucks you may make sure a few more share points on your chances.

7. Range finder. All the hard work you have done stalking this huge buck are for not one thing if you can’t place the shot. Judging range in the open terrain that Mule deer populate may be peculiarly difficult, a range finder is a must.

8. Patience. It is mutual to find yourself in a position where you are within shooting range, but without a good shot. Perhaps there is a yucca plant amidst you and the deer, or perchance the deer is in a wash and you may only see his ears and antlers. You may just need to wait for him to stand up and stretch his legs. Patience will remunerate off.

9. Good mechanical broadheads. They fly straighter and more predictably than fixed blade broadheads and they often have a more outstanding cutting diameter with less weight.

10. Headlamp. It is more likely that you will have daylight to track your huge buck after you release the arrow, but you may still be a long way from camp when the sun goes down.
(Published from Deer Hunting Tips)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Southwest Idaho Fishing Report

Fishing Report

Updated: June 10, 2011
This report highlights a few of the best places to fish, what anglers are using and what they are catching. The information is compiled from regional Fish and Game fishery managers, local tackle shops and anglers.

View the Southwest Region
June Fish Stocking Schedule

[PDF, 18 KB]
With the high water fishing is very different this year. We recommend hitting lowland lakes or reservoirs.
  • We received an angler report from Marsing Pond. It is really good right now. Trout are hitting off of spinners like crazy.
  • We had a recent report from an angler who fished Paddock Reservoir recently. Fishing was a little spotty as the water hasn't warmed up much there yet. The fishing should pick up in the next couple of weeks. Boaters can still launch, and bank fishermen would do well to wear a pair of waders and get off the back a little bit. Bass are going for spinner baits and soft plastics. Have a great time fishing!
Kokanee Anglers
If you are kokanee fishing Lucky Peak know that the Iron Man competition has closed the ramp near the dam Tuesday, June 7 through the race Saturday June 11. Put in at Lucky Peak State Park. Recent reports show that kokanee fishing is picking up and fish are being caught near the surface to 20 feet.
Fly Fishing Anglers
It is no surprise that we still have very high water conditions in rivers and streams. The Owyhee River and South Fork Boise Rivers are blown out and flowing at 4,000 CFS and 3,500 CFS respectively

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When The BBC Came Looking For Wolves

Editor’s note: This is an updated and expanded version of an article which originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine. 
by Andy Walgamott
CARLTON, Wash.–It’s a very long way from Broadcast House in Southwest England to the Methow, but this past February, the BBC showed up in this North-central Washington valley.
Camped out up a cold, snowy gulch, the smoky-smelling camera crew ran around in a rented diesel pickup for a month filming a documentary about the local wolves.
That would be the Lookout Pack – or whatever’s left of it anyway.
At one point in summer 2008, it numbered ten, setting off alarm bells among hunters, myself included, who prize the valley’s mule deer herd.
It’s unclear exactly how many pack members remain, but Duane Kikendall saw two out his front window Feb. 26. That was three days after the BBC paid him a morning visit at his house in Carlton, a tiny burg along Highway 153 whose claim to fame is the fly pattern known as the Carlton General.
Practically every morning at first light, the 76-year-old, fourth-generation valley resident and old horse trainer picks up a pair of high-powered binoculars and scans a mountain just to the west.
“That’s our entertainment – watching the hillside,” says Kikendall, who lives with his wife, Betty and dog, Jack, and says that otherwise he’s just “sitting around waiting to die.”
A couple neighbors watch from their houses too, including Max Judd, who first spotted wolves there in spring 2008.
Kikendall says his view includes a 2-mile swath of an open, east-facing pine- and sage-dotted slope that muleys frequent. Whether they’re bunched up in odd spots or scattered tells him if there are wolves actively hunting.
An even better sign might be carrion eaters like bald and golden eagles, ravens and magpies.
“They know even before there’s a kill,” he says.
Once he watched three eagles land in a tree and wait as a wolf took the measure of a little deer herd.
“She sorted them out just like a damn sheepdog until she finally got the one she wanted – it must’ve been more tender,” Kikendall recalls.
Then the hunt was on for the pack.
“They actually herded that deer into the brush. I didn’t see them make the kill, but it didn’t come out. It’s a small piece of brush, so I would have seen it,” he says.
OVER THE PAST TWO WINTERS, Kikendall has kept a “wolf diary,” and his 3,750-plus words provide a record of the pack on part of its winter ground. (The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s field monitoring season runs from April into early fall.)
Largely written in an even tone, it details the wolves “playing grab ass,” their hierarchy, how nervous the local coyotes are these days, and how a siren one morning set them to howling.
Kikendall took out his predator call and howled back, but was spurned.
According to his notes, the wolves sometimes make just one showing a month, other times six or seven. He reports seeing them tree a cougar, hunt gophers and in late December 2009 watched as many as seven wolves at once – a number which matches the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s official estimate at the end of that year.
Known online as Idabooner, he’s posted some excerpts of his journal (see below ) at Hunting-Washington where wolves are a hot topic. Some can’t wait to follow up on his sightings with a gun; some have been riveted – “my heart was pounding in my chest,” said one reader.
He himself calls the scenes “amazing” and “fascinating.”
But make no mistake: Duane Kikendall won’t be hugging these wolves anytime soon.
He worries that his county is filling up with them. Like some sportsmen he doesn’t have much faith in biologists’ estimates, and he’s heard the rumor the wolves had a helping hand arriving in the valley.
He also worries their presence could restrict coyote hunting. While headed into the Pasayten during a flurry of suspected wolf activity in the 1990s, he says he was told, “Don’t shoot any coyotes.”
Songdogs can be hell on fawns and sheep, and their winter coats can bring in some money.
(Coyote hunting remains open; the rules pamphlet points out differences between the species, just as it does for black bears and Endangered Species Act-listed grizzly bears.)
Kikendall terms the wolves’ coming an “invasion,” and says he told the BBC interviewer that “some kind of control” is needed to keep their numbers in check.
POPULATION CONTROL is already happening naturally and unnaturally – never mind the hopes of pro-wolfers or federal penalties of up to $100,000, a year in jail and civil fines for killing ESA animals.
The Lookout’s alpha female is known to have had a total of 10 pups in 2008 and 2009. It was observed by Kikendall in a very pregnant state last spring, and also may have thrown a litter in 2007 based on reports of six to nine wolves observed in the region that summer and winter.
And while there have been sightings all over the Methow – Mazama, War Creek, Libby Creek, Elbow Canyon, Benson Creek, Chewack, Texas Creek – in March, official numbers from the Feds shrank the pack to a minimum of two or three at the end of 2010.
Granted, 50 percent of wolf pups die annually and 10 percent of adults are difficult-to-count loners – some of the bitch’s broods may have just dispersed to happier hunting grounds – but what the pack’s apparent lack of traction says about the quality of wolf habitat and prey availability in the 350- to 400-square-mile territory it occupies on the west side of the upper Methow Valley and northern end of Sawtooth Ridge is an open question.
Another is, just how many wolves are being illegally killed?
In late March 2009, news broke that at least two had been allegedly poached. The case began when shipping agents at the Omak Walmart called the cops about a leaky package that, upon opening, was discovered to contain a bloody wolf pelt. It was traced back to a Twisp family, a member of whom confessed to killing a wolf, say police. The suspect said he shot it after it became entangled in a barbed wire fence; according to an affidavit, a photo indicates that it may have actually been caught in an illegal leghold trap. Federal charges have yet to be filed, but the possibility remains open, says the U.S. attorney’s office in Spokane, according to the local paper.
In fall 2009, it’s suspected that a pair of Westside men shot another wolf at the extreme northern end of the pack’s range, took it home and then dumped the skinned carcass in the upper Skagit Valley. It’s considered a target of opportunity rather than part of a concerted effort to kill off the Methow’s wolves, but word of it sparked applause from a ranch family elsewhere in the region.
Then, in May 2010, the alpha female suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. Two local biologists think it was shot, but there’s no crime scene, tips or anything to follow up on.
“She’s gone. We don’t know why. That’s the extent of the investigation,” says WDFW’s Sgt. Jim Brown, chief game warden for Okanogan County.
The wolf could have died on its own. Way back at its July 2008 capture, it and its mate were aged at “no less than 7 or 8 years old,” “gummers,” says Carter Niemeyer, the retired federal biologist who trapped them for WDFW.
But Brown and others are suspicious about why the collar never broadcast a special mortality signal. Maybe the battery went dead, but that doesn’t match up with how visible the animal was at the time, Brown says.
In the face of at least three poachings – maybe even more than four, one senior state law enforcement official says – Bellingham-based Conservation Northwest teamed up with WDFW to offer more “robust” rewards for information on illegal kills. The agency is now offering up to $7,500 for info that leads to convictions in gray wolf kill cases (as well as $3,000 for “egregious” shootings of deer and elk). Previously only $500 was offered.
THERE ARE SEVERAL self-appointed wolf experts banging the war drums around the region these days, and then there’s Ed Bangs. Based in Helena, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator for the Northern Rockies has been working with and managing the species almost longer than I’ve been alive. I asked him about the odds that so many wolves from such a tiny population would be killed in such a relatively short period.
A bowhunter, Bangs used an archery analogy to explain annual wolf survival in the greater Yellowstone area.
He says that in the “bull’s eye” core of their habitat – the famed national park where wolves were reintroduced in the mid-1990s – 80 percent survive each year.
In the next ring out – the park’s edges, surrounding wildernesses and national forest – it dips to 70 percent. The next ring – public lands extensively used for grazing and a bit of private land – it declines to 60 percent.
In the fourth ring – which includes ranches as well as more roaded public lands – it drops to 50 percent, and in the one beyond that, survival is 40 percent, he says.
At that level, “You don’t have packs persisting,” Bangs says.
It’s debatable what ring the Methow and the rest of Washington’s North Cascades represent for wolves – a handful of computer models disagree – but by summer, it could be the bull’s eye or next level out. There is something like 2.5 million acres, or 4,000 square miles, of mountainous, forested wilderness, near wilderness and national park in the 70 miles from the Canadian border south to Highway 2 and 90 miles from Mt. Baker east to Loomis. Crossed by just a single, seasonal two-lane state route, there are, at most, a dozen active grazing allotments – and none with sheep.
Then again, it’s also a world of rock, which is tough to digest unless you’re a lichen.
And in winter, the heights are heap deep in Cascade concrete, driving the deer herds towards the settled Methow and Okanogan Valleys and even to the edge of the Columbia River further south – country more like the outer rings.
Bangs uses another metaphor to illustrate the persistence of packs in the fifth ring – “little lights blinking on and off” – and points out that wolves have pushed out of the Rockies onto Montana’s open, eastern prairies for 50 years but packs have yet to persist there.
“Why? Illegal killing and (agency) control (for livestock depredations),” he says. “In some instances, areas are kept wolf-free through illegal killing and control.”
While much of the angst over state wolf management in the Northern Rockies leading up to Congressional delisting earlier this spring focused on public hunting, what’s not so well known is that since 1984, 1,517 problem wolves have been legally killed by government agencies and ranchers protecting their stock, says Bangs.
And that’s just half the tally.“There’s probably been 1,500 wolves illegally killed in the last 25 years,” Bangs adds.
So far in the North Cascades – the gateway to the rest of the range and Western Washington for wolves – the poachers are ahead of the government.
SGT. JIM BROWN STANDS on the thin tan line trying to keep the lights on for Canis lupus in Okanogan County, in which the Methow Valley is located.
“Wolves are here to stay,” he says, a line that echoes throughout WDFW.

That said, Brown isn’t too excited about los lobos. There’s the politics and overheated emotions, not to mention poaching and dead farm animals.
So far in his beat only one of the four horsemen has yet to rear its head. He says people go on and on about pet and livestock kills, but there’s never any evidence.
Domestic dogs running deer against orchard fences – that’s another story.
Brown is also a sportsman, and after spending two hours with the BBC’s film crew, believes the documentary will come off as anti-hunting.
“They are going at it clearly from a ‘Leave the wolves alone, they have a right to be here’ standpoint,” Brown says.
The crew wanted to go bust someone poaching a wolf. Instead, he took them to Walmart.
There he showed them the surveillance cameras that recorded the license plate of the woman who allegedly dropped the pelt package off, evidence that helped jump start the case.
Brown felt like the interviewer was trying to pigeonhole him with questions.
“They didn’t like that I kept bringing up the extremes on both sides,” he says.
Who knows how the material will be edited, but the game warden worries that he might become associated with a pro-wolf slant.
“I told them that people may be extreme in their views, but they are concerned. Whether those are valid is another thing, but you can’t dismiss their fears,” he says.
It’s not clear why the BBC chose to focus on the Methow and the Lookout Pack. Wolf recovery is not a new story in the region, and there just aren’t that many animals in the valley. Word is that the crew managed just one shot of two wolves over a month.
But that rarity might be part of the story. Brown says they said it was because this pack is different from others. That is, it is isolated from the naturally recolonizing wolves of Northwest Montana and the reintroduced ones plunked down in Yellowstone and Central Idaho in the mid-1990s.
Two members of the film crew did not respond to emailed questions. A local newspaper editor who’d spoken with them said they were afraid of too much exposure, but would talk more after they finished filming this summer. And a representative of Conservation Northwest who was involved in the project said she’d promised to hold off on media and blogging until fall.
It’s not the only wolf show in progress. A Sandpoint, Idaho, man who predicts Washington “will be a biological desert in as little as 10 years,” is following up on his recently released production Yellowstone is Dead with a documentary “covering the corrupt wolf promoters of Washington” and says he will offer evidence of how wolves were planted in the Methow.
WE’LL SEE WHAT HE DRUMS UP, but in all likelihood, the species didn’t get there in a cage in the back of a greenie government biologist’s pickup, by parachute or in a Schwan’s delivery van as some want to believe, but by walking there on their own four feet.
We hunters and ranchers tend to massively underrate wolves’ true mobility, as if they’re homebodies and not like the migratory deer and elk they prey on. Certainly the moose that are now colonizing the western and southern edges of the Columbia Basin haven’t exactly had to thumb rides from WDFW’s Scott Fitkin, Paul Wik and Dave Volsen.
How far can wolves wander? This past January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a map that traced the seven-month walk of a yearling female. It was collared with a GPS tracking device in Southwest Montana and then traveled over 3,000 miles and across parts of five states before being found dead in Colorado.
That’s roughly the pace of another dispersing female’s trek across Scandinavia. Scientists say it went a minimum of 6,000 miles – and possibly as many as 9,000 miles – between its den near Oslo and the Finnish-Russian border where it was killed 21 months later.
Those, of course, are the extremes, but a 1999 article in the Journal of Wildlife Management suggests that in areas of low pack density – such as central Scandinavia at the time – wolves may travel “excessive” distances to find mates, prey and habitat.
About 35 miles north of Carlton as the raven flies is the international border and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Encompassing the Similkameen, Okanagan and Kettle River watersheds, it’s the only region in the entire province without a wolf hunt because, well, there just haven’t been any to hunt.
That’s changing. Thirty miles beyond the border is the town of Princeton where a pair were shot not too long ago by a rancher, according to a provincial biologist.
He was not authorized to talk to the media (a government spokesman did not return my call), but he says that there’s a growing wolf population in the Okanagan. In 2007, it was estimated at six packs and 30 to 40 animals.
Since then, he’s been rounding up evidence on the population to kick start a hunt.
“Because predator seasons are so bleeping sensitive, I’ve had to put together lots of information” for headquarters and politicians to sign off on a season, he says. “This one catches the public’s eye.”
It will catch the eye of wolf watchers south of the border: Hunts may lead to even fewer dispersers crossing into Washington.
BACK IN CARLTON, after a month without a sighting, Duane Kikendall reported that a wolf wandered across the mountain the morning of March 29. He says it didn’t pay any attention to the 40 or so deer there at first, but then made a crafty charge. From his vantage point, it was unclear if it made a kill.
They say that just the mention of the word “wolf” creates its own sightings, but Kikendall tells me that he’s seen wolves off and on throughout his life in the valley. It may be surprising to some, but that’s what WDFW data also shows.
A 1995 paper from agency biologists confirms over a dozen and a half sightings in the Cascades and Pend Oreille County between just ’91 and ’95 as legit, and it terms more than 175 other reports between the mid-’70s and ’95 – including 35 in Okanogan County – as having a “high reliability.” The agency’s draft wolf management plan lists another 100 unconfirmed reports over the past 10 years.
As of Dec. 31, 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated there were a minimum of 18 or 19 wolves in three packs:
• 12 in the Diamond Pack of east-central Pend Oreille County — six adults and six pups
• Four in the Salmo Pack of extreme northern Pend Oreille County — three adults and one pup
• Two or three in the Lookout Pack of western Okanogan County — all adults
• In the Northern Rockies, for every 10 wolves in packs, there’s another wanderer, but in Washington, USFWS’s Ed Bangs thinks it’s probable there would be a slightly higher ratio of dispersers. A radio-collared yearling female from Oregon’s Imnaha Pack, OR-5, showed up in the eastern Blue Mountains in late January and there has been confirmed wolf activity elsewhere in Washington’s side of the range. On the north side of the Columbia Basin, Colville tribal biologists are awaiting DNA results from some canid poop found next to large tracks in the Sanpoil Valley last winter, and WDFW will follow up on reports in the Teanaway and North Cascades near Hozomeen this year.
The state’s end-of-2009 wolf population was estimated at a minimum of 12 in two packs, Diamond and Lookout.
The bottom line is, wolves have been invading/recolonizing Washington in ones, twos, threes for decades, but until the late 2000s it never amounted to a hill of beans. When the Lookout Pack shacked up, it fundamentally changed the alphas’ behavior. Before, they could roam at will, picking off a deer in this valley, a beaver in the next. But with pups to feed, they inextricably tied themselves to the muley herd, which itself is bound to the Methow Valley floor because of winter snows.
Doing so made them far more visible.
“People want to think of wolves as a symbol of wilderness and remoteness,” says John Rohrer, a local U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, “but (in winter and spring) they’re right outside people’s doors.”
That brought to the valley the great sociological experiment that is the Wolf Wars: the angst, the rah-rahing, the rumor mongering – and the poaching.
It has also made more clear how difficult it may be for wolves to spread into the western two-thirds of Washington on their own — required to meet the draft plan’s proposed recovery goals — and a prospect that makes one WDFW biologist shift uneasily in his chair because it raises the specter of the expensive, time-consuming, divisive, bound-to-be-litigious process that would be translocation — moving the species around inside the state to reach those benchmarks.
An alternative idea was brought up during public comment on the wolf plan. A wildlife biologist at a different state agency suggested that rather than basing recovery on packs occurring across most of Washington, base it on populations in just the eastern third of the state, the area they’re now federally delisted and where packs from Idaho, Oregon and BC are expanding into.
“If statewide recovery is necessary before any management can occur, then we have no business hunting moose or bighorn sheep until they have established populations in all suitable habitat,” wrote Scott Fisher at the Department of Natural Resources.
The USFWS is currently mulling whether wolves in the western two-thirds of the state, such as the Lookout Pack, should be included in the delisted Northern Rocky Mountains population, or be its own distinct segment. A decision is expected by the end of the year.
WHO KNOWS, maybe another pack will appear in the Methow – the latest rumor is five were seen up Cow Creek, east of Carlton ­– but with how few BBC’s crew found on their first trip, perhaps they will have to go to another part of the state this summer to find more.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

William White Wolf Case

‘A Pattern Of Behavior’ In White Wolf Case
The meat of yesterday’s coverage of the 12-count grand jury indictment handed down against members of a Twisp, Wash., family focused on the alleged poaching of wolves and its discovery when a FedEx agent refused to pick up a bloody shipping package at the Omak Wal-Mart in March 2009.
What was lost is that the Federal case also charges William “Bill” D. White with four counts of trying to import a moose and whitetail deer he’d shot in Canada back into the United States in November 2007, the moose illegally taken, the deer legally taken but undeclared when it should have been.
There’s also a case pending in Okanogan County District Court against him for poaching a trophy buck out of season and illegally hunting a bear with hounds, according to the lead state game warden there.
“One of the things we hear is that he’s a folk hero for allegedly killing wolves,” says Sgt. James Brown of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, “but this is a pattern of behavior.”
Mythologizing wildlife criminals may not be a particularly Northwestern characteristic, but it is here that Claude Dallas was popularized after he shot two game wardens in Idaho in the 1980s and escaped jail before serving 22 years for manslaughter.
YESTERDAY’S STORY ON THIS BLOG about the indictment said that Bill White and others are suspected of shooting wolves. However, a broader range of tools was allegedly employed, including trapping and poisoning.
“There were multiple methods in which wolves were killed, and that will come out at trial,” Brown says.
According to the 10-page indictment filed Tuesday in Spokane federal court, it alleges that Bill White:
Emailed a relative in Alaska in mid-December 2007 looking for “assistance in locating someone that knew how to snare wolves”;
Sent an email that on or about Jan. 24, 2008 he “and others were hunting wolves near his residence”;
Reported by email that in April and May 2008 he “was attempting to trap or kill wolves near his residence”;
In early January 2009, he “applied a pesticide in an order to unlawfully take and kill wildlife, including gray wolves”;
And sent an email in mid-January 2009 that he and others “shot several wolves, specifically two wolves in one group of nine and one wolf in another group of three.”
The indictment charges his son, Tom D. White, with two counts of unlawfully killing endangered gray wolves. According to court papers, Tom killed one in mid-May 2008, the other in mid-December.
A photo seized during a March 2009 search warrant shows Tom with a dead wolf. According to previous news articles, he said he shot it after it became entangled in a barbed wire fence. According to a search-warrant affidavit, it may have actually been caught in an illegal leghold trap then killed.

Bill and Tom White must surrender a Remington .300 Ultra Mag rifle, a 1999 Dodge Ram pickup, “one large, toothed, leghold trap,” and a Moultrie trail camera, if found guilty.
For attempting to ship a wolf pelt out of the country, they and Tom’s wife Erin all also face one count each of smuggling goods from the U.S., unlawfully exporting an endangered species and false labeling of wildlife for export, the last a Lacey Act violation.
Amazingly, even after an Alberta man tipped Bill off that the unprocessed hide meant for him had been intercepted by police, Bill continued to try to kill wolves, federal papers show.
The maximum fine for killing an ESA-listed wolf is $100,000, up to a year in jail and civil fines of $25,000. Wolves were federally protected across all of Washington when the two poachings allegedly occurred in 2008. They remain so in the area where it took place, though wolves in far Eastern Washington have since been delisted from ESA, but remain under state protections.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in charge of wolves in the western two-third of the state and the agency which took the lead investigating the case, had no comment.
“There was a long, thorough investigation,” said spokeswoman Joan Jewett in Portland. “Now we have the indictment. The case is in the hands of the U.S. attorney. We can’t really comment at this point.”
The next step in the Federal case will be for the Whites to be summoned to Spokane for arraignment on the charges. A trial date will then be issued.
THE WHITES’ ALLEGED TARGET was the Lookout Pack, the state’s first in 70 years. Though it was likely the breeding pair had a litter in 2007 based on two good sightings elsewhere in Okanogan County, it wasn’t officially confirmed until July 2008. It was the subject of a Wenatchee World article the month before. After talking with Bill, reporter K.C. Mehaffey wrote:
White said he saw tracks this winter as large as those left by a cougar, only more oval in shape, with distinct toenail marks left in the snow. He said his son has seen one pack with nine wolves and another with four.
He said state and federal officials questioned the sightings, so he set up a remote camera and caught them on film. He said he also gathered hair at one location. One of the females captured on film shows clearly visible protruding nipples, indicating she’s nursing pups, he said.
White said he’s not happy about the sightings. After what the northern spotted owl did to the logging industry, he worries that gray wolves will only create more restrictions on public land.
“Are they going to rope it off and say no more logging or hunting or snowmobiling?” he asked.
White said he thinks one pack of wolves killed one of his hunting dogs that didn’t come back after a hunt this winter. “Everybody’s not supportive” of repopulating the area with wolves, he said, adding, “The cattleman’s the only one that’s going to make a sacrifice.”
In March 2009, after news broke about the investigation, White told the Methow Valley News:
“I’ve never been through anything like this,” said Bill White on Monday (March 30). On the advice of his attorney, he was reluctant to talk to the Methow Valley News. “It’s a painful deal, but when they have a hearing, it will all come out.
“I know, but I can’t say, if the wolves were bothering our animals. It’s not going to be like they’re saying,” said White. “It will all come out in the wash. It’s unfortunate that people make judgments, but this country has a pretty good legal system and I trust it will work.”
According to WDFW, the Lookout Pack shares DNA with coastal wolves in British Columbia. No evidence has surfaced that the animals arrived here any other way than on their own four feet.
At one point in 2008 the pack numbered 10; today only two, according to WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers. They both are apparently male, one the alpha. Another was poached in fall 2009; the alpha female mysteriously disappeared last spring.
AS FOR THE STATE’S CASE AGAINST BILL WHITE, Brown says it’s partially based on pictures seized from his computer.
“We determined there was a nice, big trophy mule deer taken out of season,” says Brown.
In an echo of the recent Tony “” Mayer elk poaching case over in Idaho, Bill White reported one date as the buck’s harvest, sent emails indicating it was taken at another time, and an image of it shows it was taken on an entirely different day, Brown says.
As for the bear, the game warden was able to match up the background in an image of it to a ridge of Alder Creek Mountain near White’s property west of Twisp, thereby confirming it wasn’t taken somewhere else hounds might have been legal for pursuit.
“Poachers need to brag,” Brown says. “If you brag, there’s going to be an electronic footprint.”
AS IF ALL THIS WOLF NEWS WASN’T ENOUGH, WDFW’s Wolf Working Group is going over revisions to the draft wolf management plan in Ellensburg today.
Not too far from there, biologist Paul Frame is poking around the Teanaway in hopes of trapping large canids reportedly in the area.
From there’s it’s likely he will head for northern Pend Oreille County to figure out whether the Salmo Pack dens on the Washington side of the International border — and where it would count towards state recovery goals — or on the BC side. He may also check into reports of wolves in the Hozomeen area and Blue Mountains.
WDFW also posted a brand-new map of confirmed and suspected wolf ranges in Washington, part of the agency’s attempts to be more transparent about the state’s population.

With how huge of an issue wolves are and large of a management plan is being proposed, WDFW may hold as many as four public workshops across the state this summer and fall.
The schedule is not set in stone, but the meetings would occur early in the month.
One thing that can be said to be set in stone is the most contentious item in the entire wolf plan: how many wolves over three consecutive years are enough for WDFW to delist from state protections.
“Yes, we looked at the minority opinion, yes, we looked at public comments, yes, we looked at the blind peer reviewers, but the one thing that ain’t changing is 15 breeding pairs,” Luers says. “We’re taking that to the (Fish & Wildlife) commission.”
The minority opinion, written by ranchers and hunters on the working group, advocated for half that number while many public commenters asked for as many as 25 or 30. Two of the three peer reviewers felt that 15 wasn’t adequate.
In the revised draft plan, new modeling from Washington State University’s Carnivore Lab found that in six of nine scenarios, 15 pairs spread through the Cascades and five-oh-nine country would be adequate to ensure long-term recovery – as long as those numbers weren’t population caps.
Luers says that Wildlife Division assistant director Nate Pamplin told the working group that they could shuffle where those 15 occur around in the state. The revised plan designated six pairs for far Eastern Washington, five for the South Cascades and Olympics, four for the North Cascades.
Not so explicitly stated publicly is that to achieve that many pairs over three years would actually likely require a total of 23 packs as nearly a third of wolves apparently don’t breed every year, according to the plan.
The commission is scheduled to sign off on a final version in December.
Luers says that the alleged wolf poaching by the Whites “sets back, delays the timeframe to delist them and manage as any other wildlife in the state.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Washington Bowfishing

Carp'n at Potholes Reservoir

      I was invited this weekend to go fishing for carp, bow fishing to be exact. This of course is not your conventional hook, line and sinker technique. I was told that all I needed to do was to convert one of my bows into a bow fishing "rig" which basically only required me to buy a couple of solid fiberglass arrows with barbed fishing tips, a reel for the bow and string. A "must have" accessory includes polarized sunglasses to help spot the fish swimming below the surface. Other accessories, not necessarily optional, is a lot of sunscreen and bug juice! I knew the mosquitoes and black gnats are horrendous this time of year when the wind stops.
     At 4:30 a.m., with boats in tow, we headed from Cle Elum to the Moses lake/Potholes area of Washington St. We arrived around 6:30 and launched the two boats. Jim Schill, Chuck Anderegg, and Colton Kennedy(photo above) in one boat and Jim Haeckel, Shawn Perez, and myself in another. Our guide for the day, Jim Haeckel, took us to the secret spot where they had shot (or shot at) hundreds of carp in past outings. For whatever reasons, high water,water too cold, the spawn was over, the spawn hadn't started etc., their were no carp to be found! Not to give up, we headed to shallower, warmer water and started to find fish, not hundreds but enough to keep us interested! We found them in the weeds, sunning in the grassy areas, in the sunken timber, some just cruising by. This was beginning to be a lot of fun! And challenging! They are not easy targets, definitely not like shooting fish in a barrel! The deeper the fish, the more challenging they were, caused by the refraction by the water which required aiming farther below them and then allowing for the deflection of the arrow after it impacted the water surface. This made for some very interesting shooting.
Chuck(left) and Colton
      At about one o'clock things were slowing down, we were ready to head back. Then Jim Schill in the other boat called us and told us they had found an even better location. Re-energized, we made the run to where they were shooting. More carp and more shooting opportunities! Another couple hours of this and we were ready to head back. We weren't all that successful at "hitting" alot of carp but every chance was just as exciting as if we did! This sport requires a bit of on the water practice and then seasoned with a little luck. Not unlike any other kind of fishing.
Shawn and Jim
     If you haven't tried this "fishing", you're missing out on some interesting and challenging fun! It doesn't have to require a  large investment, an old recurve or compound bow and an inexpensive bow reel, line and arrow and you're ready to go. There are even many places to go that doesn't require a boat, just wading the shore lines along some of these lakes or creeks, being always careful of rattlesnakes in some areas of course.
     Shawn believes there is a good recipe for carp and is currently working on it, we'll keep you posted if he's successful! If anyone can help him out, please let us know!!
     In the mean time, summer is almost here so try to get out and enjoy what the Northwest Outback has to offer!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cooking Bear Meat by Steve Rinella

Bear meat is highly edible and can be quite delicious depending on what the bear’s been eating and how it’s been handled. But before you start messing around with bear meat you need to consider the risk of trichinosis. It’s a disease caused by infection of larvae from a type of parasitic round worm known as Trichina spiralis. The worm is the reason why you’re traditionally supposed to cook your pork to well done, though trichinosis has been largely eradicated from domestic pork. Nowadays, over 90% of U.S. trichinosis cases are attributable to bear meat, though even that number is relatively small and usually includes far fewer people than your average high school classroom. Other known vectors of the disease in recent decades have included mountain lion, wild boar, and even walrus.

Animals contract trichinosis in the same way that humans do, through the consumption of flesh that is infected with the worms. Domestic pork used to carry trichinosis largely because of the practice of feeding them uncooked garbage; rats and mice in the garbage were consumed raw along with the trash and the rodents passed along the disease. In 1980, uncooked garbage was banned as pork feed; since then, cases of trichinosis in pork have all but vanished.

Bears, obviously, have not gotten this memo. They still eat whatever they please. In many areas, it’s basically just a matter of time before an individual bear eats something and picks up the worm. In Montana’s Lincoln and Sanders Counties, 100% of bears over six years of age have tested positive for the parasite.
The first bear I ever killed, well over a decade ago, was an eighteen-year-old bruiser from Lincoln County. I cut out an ounce or so of his tongue and sent it for testing at Montana State University in Bozeman. Sure enough, the test results came back positive. The state informed me that I was excused from the wanton waste laws, which require that all bear meat be salvaged and used. However, I was ineligible for a new bear license.
By then I’d already processed the meat and had 87 pounds of ground burger and close to 60 pounds of steaks and roasts. A basic survey of literature on the disease suggested that the parasite was very easy to kill with thorough cooking. An internal temperature of 137 degrees Fahrenheit is all it takes, though obviously you want to go a little hotter to make sure. Also, there is strong evidence–though not official government endorsment– to support the conclusion that freezing infected meat for a month at a temperature lower than 5 degrees will kill it.

So I went ahead and bought a trusty meat thermometer and started eating bear burgers and bear steaks. Obviously, I’m still alive. Now, I don’t even bother testing my bear meat. The results are not going to alter my behavior, no matter what they are. I’ll still eat my bear meat, cooked to a medium doneness. And even if you contract trichinosis, it doesn’t mean you’ve had your last bear hunt. Early symptoms, if any, include muscle fatigue, diarrhea, heartburn, and fatigue. If you catch it early, it’s easily treated. So go ahead and eat that bear meat in your freezer. You’ve got no excuse to let it sit in your freezer until it’s freezer burned. Remember: you kill it, you eat it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Muskox Calves Rescued

Wildlife biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game helped treat two abandoned muskox calves from the North Slope and transferred them to permanent homes at the University of Alaska’s Large Animal Research facility (LARS) in Fairbanks and the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage.

Both calves were born in a herd on the North Slope near the Dalton Highway. In each case, the calves were not orphaned, but had been separated from their mothers for three days, and could no longer survive in the wild.

“Muskox calves spend at least a year with their mothers and can nurse for even longer,” said wildlife veterinarian Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen. “Once a calf has been bottle fed by a human for the better part of a year, it becomes too attached to humans. It’s not possible to reintroduce it to a wild herd.”
The behavior of the muskox herd was being observed as part of a Fish & Game research project. On May 12, a researcher noticed a calf about a mile away from the herd. Based on tracks at the scene, the herd may have been scattered after being chased by a grizzly bear.

The researcher attempted to reunite the calf and its mother by leading the calf toward the herd, but the following day, the herd had moved even farther from the calf, which had become extremely weak. The department does not recommend people to attempt to reunite muskox calves with herds because muskox can charge when they feel threatened, especially large bulls.

Abandoned or orphaned wildlife cannot be taken from the wild unless permanent homes are available and have been approved through the Department of Fish and Game.

After contacting Fish and Game’s wildlife veterinarian, researchers learned that applications had been approved from both LARS and the Alaska Zoo to receive muskox calves if they became available. The calf was brought to LARS where it was given fluids and a high-fat milk replacement formula developed for arctic ungulate calves.

On May 13, Fish and Game staff received word of a second calf spotted by Alyeska workers in the same area but several miles from the herd. A veterinarian working for Alyeska received permission to transport the calf to Fairbanks on a ConocoPhillips/BP flight. After being evaluated and given fluids at LARS, the calf started to gain weight and will be transferred to the Alaska Zoo today.

“First time mothers often don’t go back and look for their calf after being separated,” said wildlife biologist Beth Lenart. “It’s not uncommon, and nature takes its course. What is very unusual is that the calves were noticed by trained staff in the field, that LARS was able to temporarily house the calves, that transportation was available, and that requests for muskox calves to permanent homes had been approved and were on file. Things fell into place.”

Muskox populations on the North Slope have been declining and are the focus of research to determine causes of the decline and management strategies to maintain the herd. Grizzly bear predation has been documented as a primary source of muskox mortality.
The loss of two calves from the herd is unfortunate, but both calves will help researchers and the public learn more about muskox.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Idaho's Hwy 21 Wildlife Underpass is Working

As the scenic State Highway 21 snakes its way across the Boise Mountains, it also intersects another favorite travel route.

For millennia, mule deer and elk have traveled to and from low elevation ranges where they spend the winter, to mountain meadows where they grow fat each summer feasting on the rich vegetation found at higher elevations. In doing so, they must cross State Highway 21.

In recent years, from 75 to 200 or more mule deer and elk, crossing the highway between Boise and Robie Creek, have been killed by vehicles each year.

So far this spring, only one animal has died in the stretch with a recently completed wildlife underpass.
The underpass was completed in October on Highway 21 near milepost 18.2, at the site of a well-documented big game migration "funnel" and subsequent collision "hotspot." A bridge replaced the fill that had supported the road, opening this migratory corridor to deer and elk. By physically separating wildlife and motorists, the underpass now provides protection for both.

The second phase of this project involves building a wildlife fence on the east side of the road to direct deer and elk away from the highway and towards the underpass. Federal stimulus money was used to build the bridge and part of the fence. But additional funding is still needed to complete the fencing project.
A group of local people working together to find ways to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions on our roads and highways worked with the Idaho Transportation Department to get the underpass built. The group's focus now is raising the money to complete the wildlife exclusion fencing to make the underpass even more effective than it has already been shown to be.

Dubbed the Boise River Wildlife Linkage Partnership, the group includes private citizens, business people, non-profits and city, county, state and federal representatives.