All posts by Andy Walgamott

WDFW To Remove Some Smackout Wolves, Reports Ranchhand Legally Killed Attacking Wolf

THIS BREAKING STORY IS BEING UPDATED

WDFW Director Jim Unsworth has authorized the removal of wolves from the Smackout Pack of Northeast Washington following an attack on a calf in recent days.

They’re set to begin this week; there is no specific number of wolves that will be killed, but protocols say one or two initially, followed by a review of actions, with the goal to stop the pack from harming more cattle.

The latest calf was the fourth confirmed or probable depredation by the east-central Stevens County pack on calves in the past 10 months.

While most of those occurred last September, in June an employee of a ranch also legally killed a pack member after spotting it and another wolf attacking cattle.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE LOCATION OF THE SMACKOUT PACK NORTHWEST OF SPOKANE IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

“The incident was investigated by WDFW Enforcement and was found to be consistent with state regulations,” a statement from the agency reads.

Under state law, you can kill a single gray wolf if you are witnessing one or more attacking your domestic animals in the federally delisted eastern third of Washington. This particular wolf was a female that had been radio collared in 2015, according to WDFW.

It’s the first time the caught-in-the-act provision has been used by livestock operators in Washington.

As for the latest depredation, the calf was found injured on Forest Service ground on Tuesday.

Bite marks and collar location data show that the Smackout wolves have been near the cattle herd “on a frequent basis.”

The attack occurred in a fenced area, and according to WDFW several deterrence measures have been taken.

Per WDFW:

“The livestock producer that sustained the July 18, 2017 confirmed wolf depredation is currently using: several range riders (one range rider is primary, but others fill in on an as needed basis), has maintained sanitation by removing or securing livestock carcasses, actively hazed wolves with a firearm and pyrotechnics, kept cattle in a fenced pasture within the allotment due to wolf activity, spotlighting nightly, wolf GPS collar data in the area to monitor activity near cattle, used fladry when needed, a RAG box when needed, and several other deterrents in the past. The range rider started patrolling the area prior to the June 1 turnout in 2017, and communicates frequently with the producer and the local Wildlife Conflict Specialist. Information on denning and wolf activity was also shared with the producer, which the producer has avoided those high use wolf areas. Another producer that was involved in one of the three 2016 depredations within the Smackout territory have been using WDFW contracted range riders, sanitation, and removal of injured cattle from the range.”

Conservation Northwest, which has long been involved in helping ranchers in this part of Washington’s wolf country, as well as elsewhere, issued a statement saying it hoped any removals plus the caught-in-the-act take last month would end the attacks on livestock and end the need to kill more wolves.

The organization also said it was “deeply saddened by the loss of these wolves, and for the strife this incident has caused ranchers operating in this area.”

Last year’s depredations occurred in late September and included a confirmed kill of a calf, a probable kill of a calf and a confirmed injury of a calf.

One other calf has been killed by wolves and two injured stretching back to 2015 in the general area.

“The purpose of this action is to change the pack’s behavior, while also meeting the state’s wolf-conservation goals,” the agency’s wolf manager, Donny Martorello, said in a press release this morning. “That means incrementally removing wolves and assessing the results before taking any further action.”

The pack is believed to have numbered eight coming out of 2016, with an unknown number of pups on the ground this year.

“The lethal removal of wolves is not expected to harm the wolf population’s ability to reach recovery objectives statewide or within individual wolf recovery regions,” a WDFW statement reads.

This means that for a second summer in a row, agency marksmen will be targeting wolves as Washington’s population continues to grow at about a 30-percent-a-year clip. Last year it was the Profanity Peaks, while previous removals occurred in 2014 (Huckleberry) and 2012 (Wedge).

Not Much News On Skagit Wolf, None On Loup Loup Mortality Investigation

There’s little news about the Skagit wolf, even less about an investigation into the death of another on the other side of the North Cascades.

USFWS reports that the 100-pound, 2- to 3-year-old black male radio-collared near Marblemount in June hasn’t really left the area.

“We have been getting location data every few days, and the animal seems to be staying in the general vicinity, but not enough info to draw any conclusions at this point,” spokeswoman Ann Froschauer in Olympia said last  week, and yesterday noted, “Still in the area.”

She told the Capital Press it has ranged west and north of this tiny community along Highway 20, near where it was captured and had been hanging out, apparently, for several months beforehand.

Still, it may not have a mate or a pack, based on a lack of other sightings and trail cam photos.

As for WDFW’s revelation late last week that “A mortality of a wolf from the Loup Loup pack is currently under investigation,” the feds and state aren’t saying anything more.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE LOUP LOUP PACK IN THE MOUNTAINS BETWEEN THE METHOW AND OKANOGAN VALLEYS. (WDFW)

Asked for details about the animal, and date and location of the mortality event, Froschauer yesterday said, “We can’t comment on open investigations.”

Wolves are still federally listed in this part of the state.

A state wolf manager didn’t answer a question about it either.

Earlier this year, WDFW reported there were eight members of the Loup Loup Pack.

They roam around the pass of the same name, mountainous country that’s been burned in recent years, as well as is grazed.

In May 2016, three pack members were collared, and in February of this year another was. That female departed for British Columbia two months later.

Ranchers are said to be practicing conflict avoidance tactics and a WDFW-contracted range rider patrols the area part of the time.

The state’s first modern-day pack was confirmed not far away from here nine years ago this month. Several were subsequently poached.

Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (7-19-17)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED FROM JIMMY WATTS, ODFW, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

On Saturday’s (7/15) flight, 162 salmonid boats and 49 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville Dam.

Gorge Bank: Weekly checking showed one adult Chinook kept, and two adult Chinook and four summer steelhead released for 61 salmon anglers; and 153 shad kept for 29 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekly checking showed seven adult Chinook and one Chinook jack kept, plus six adult Chinook, one Chinook jack and eight steelhead released for 18 salmon boats (61 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekly checking showed two adult Chinook kept and three adult Chinook released for 57 salmon boats (99 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekly checking showed one adult Chinook and three summer steelhead kept, plus one steelhead released for 96 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats: Weekly checking showed four adult Chinook, one sockeye and nine summer steelhead kept, plus two adult Chinook and six steelhead released for 69 boats (150 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Astoria-Megler Bridge to Wauna Power lines): Weekly checking showed no catch for one angler.

Estuary Boats (Astoria-Megler Bridge to Wauna Power lines): Weekly checking showed no catch for two salmon boats (four anglers).

Bonneville Pool: Weekly checking showed no catch for four bank anglers.

The Dalles Pool: No report.

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed no catch for two bank anglers.

STURGEON

Gorge boats: Catch and release only. No report.

Troutdale boats: Catch and release only.  Weekly checking showed two sublegal and eight legal white sturgeon released for one boat (three anglers).

Portland to Wauna Power lines boats: Catch and release only. Weekly checking showed 11 sublegal and 10 legal white sturgeon released for two boats (four anglers).

Portland to Wauna Power lines bank: Catch and release only.  Weekly checking showed one legal white sturgeon released for one bank angler.

Estuary Boats (Buoy 10 to Wauna Power lines): Catch and release only. Weekly checking showed one green sturgeon, and 39 sublegal, 50 legal and 73 oversize white sturgeon released for eight boats (27 anglers).

Bonneville Pool: Catch and release only. Weekly checking showed no catch for two bank anglers.

The Dalles Pool: Catch and release only. No report.

John Day Pool: Catch and release only. Weekly checking showed one sublegal sturgeon released for two boats (five anglers).

WALLEYE

Troutdale boats: Weekly checking showed 18 walleye kept and eight walleye released for nine boats (18 anglers).

Bonneville Pool: No report.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed four walleye kept for two boats (six anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed 167 walleye kept and 47 walleye released for 29 boats (57 anglers).

Areas 9, 10, Ocean, Westport, San Juans Salmon Fishing Report (7-19-17)

Puget Sound salmon anglers did much better on this past Sunday’s Areas 9 and 10 marked Chinook opener, at least in the northern waters and compared to last year’s start of the fishery.

WDFW hasn’t updated its quota stats yet, but according to daily creel sampling tallies, 615 fishermen came into Everett with 202 kings on Sunday, 187 came into Fort Casey with 129 and 234 arrived at Shilshole with 38.

A RUN NORTH FROM LESS PRODUCTIVE CENTRAL SOUND WATERS ON THE JULY 16 OPENER YIELDED THIS NICE HATCHERY KING AT MIDCHANNEL BANK FOR A HAPPY ANGLER. (CHASE GUNNELL)

On the 2016 openers, 96, 36 and 44 Chinook were checked at those same ramps, or .2 kings per angler for the two northern launches and .16 for the southern.

Kingston, which wasn’t monitored on last year’s opener, recorded 26 for 259 anglers.

After poking around in the morning in more southerly waters without success, angler Chase Gunnell and crew ran up to Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend.

“The bite turned on in the latter half of the tide. Kept two nice kings and released a native. Herring Aide Coho Killer behind a moonjelly flasher pulled in two, green, yellow and white Coho Killer behind a red racer got the other one. All fish right off the bottom in 80 to 100 feet. The fish are out there and making their way south!” he said.

Tom Nelson of 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Outdoor Line reported good fishing on the second day too, and was buoyed by reports of Chinook action to the west in the Straits.

As for salmon fishing elsewhere on Washington’s saltwaters, here are this week’s reports from Wendy Beeghley of WDFW (first), John Keizer of Saltpatrol.com (second) and Kevin Klein of Puget Sound Anglers (third):

…………………………………..

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 2,006 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 10-16, landing 307 Chinook and 1,463 coho.  Through July 16, a cumulative total of 2,565 Chinook (19% of the area guideline) and 1,804 coho (9% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Westport

A total of 2,239 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 10-16, landing 284 Chinook and 1,053 coho.  Through July 16, a cumulative total of 1,553 Chinook (7% of the area guideline) and 1,350 coho (9% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 89 anglers participated in the all species salmon fishery July 10-16, landing 67 Chinook and 28 coho.  Through July 16, a cumulative total of 156 Chinook (6% of the area guideline) and 53 coho (5% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 1,999 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 10-16, landing 2,352 Chinook and 291 coho.  Through July 16, a cumulative total of 4,698 Chinook (60% of the area guideline) and 688 coho (16% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

……………………………………………………….

Fished Westport Sunday with Jerry Henderson. He caught a nice king and I nailed a decent coho just Northwest of the harbor in 280 feet trolling 100 feet on the downrigger.

(JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM)

(JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM)

Best action for kings came on a Pro-Troll Flasher with a purple haze squid with 6/0 Mustad hooks tied on 50-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon.

(JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM)

We found the coho in the upper 20 to 60 feet of water and we did better pulling a Fish Flash and Herring Aide spoon.

(JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM)

Tuna fishing is going full on now with local charters running southwest around 50 miles plugging their boats with albacore tuna.

………………………………………

The Bellingham Puget Sound Angler’s annual salmon derby took place this last weekend. Fishing for hatchery Chinook was anywhere from red hot to ice cold depending on where you were. Kings aren’t all over the Islands right now, but if you land on them, it can be very good fishing. Hoochies, spoons and bait have all been working.

Doug Marr took the $7500 first place prize with a 26.10-pound clipped fish. Alex Davis landed the biggest kid’s division Chinook at 15.42 pounds. The Bellingham Salmon Derby has always been a fun, family friendly event, with proceeds going to a lot of great causes.

Crabbing kicked off on July 15th. It’s been pretty good from most reports. Look for days with soft tides, or drop for a couple hours during a tide change. Dropping pots on a low and letting them soak into the flood can be productive. Our weather has been pretty darn good, and adding some Dungeness into the mix truly makes it feel like summer is here!

Pictures:

(VIA KEVIN KLEIN, PSA)

1. Doug Marr took top prize in the Bellingham Salmon Derby with this 26.10 lb hatchery Chinook. Well done!

(VIA KEVIN KLEIN, PSA)

2. Alex Davis showed up on top of the Kid’s division again with this 15.42 lber. Nice job young man!

(VIA KEVIN KLEIN, PSA)

3. Oliver Marica and family got a crab feed going on the open July 15th. It’s Dungie time!

Double X Tackle Relaunches Website With Deals On American-made Fishing Gear

THE FOLLOWING IS A DOUBLE X TACKLE PRESS RELEASE

Double X Tackle has relaunched their website to bring all of their brands together in one place.

Double X Tackle is proud to announce that all four of their American-made fishing tackle brands — Vance’s Tackle, CAGI Sonic Attractors, ClearBoard planer boards and Double X Tackle (formerly Rainbow Plastics) — are now all on one site, www.doubleXtackle.com.

Offering the full catalogs of all of these brands makes it easy to reach the $50 limit for free shipping, and that includes the trolling rods!

The new website also provides the opportunity to snag more savings by buying in larger quantities. Most items offer a larger pack quantity that comes with built-in savings.

Take, for example, the 1/4-ounce A-Just-A-Bubble: a 12-pack offers an awesome 18% discount over the single-pack price!

Now through the end of August Double X Tackle is offering a special discount to all followers of Northwest Sportsman. Enter code NWSAUG at checkout and receive an extra 5% off along with the everyday free shipping for orders over $50.

Double X Tackle is American-made fishing tackle done right!

MORE: www.doubleXtackle.com

Snake’s Boyer Park Again Tops Among Pikeminnow Stations

Pikeminnow catches dipped below five figures for the first week since mid-May, with 8,867 brought to stations on the Columbia and Snake last week.

For the second straight week, Boyer Park retained its spot as most productive, with a July 10-16 haul of 2,762 qualifying fish, more than twice as many as The Dalles, where 1,140 were brought in, according to the latest figures from program manager Eric Winther

A MAP ON PIKEMINNOW.ORG SHOWS HOT SPOTS AROUND BOYER PARK, WHICH IS BELOW LOWER GRANITE DAM ON THE SNAKE RIVER. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

Coming in third was Cathlamet, on the Lower Columbia, with 785, then Greenbelt, outside Clarkston, with 710.

Both the rise of Boyer and downtrending of the overall catch are typical for this time of year.

Boyer Park again had the highest catch per angler, with 11.7 for the 236 participants, down from an even 16.0 the previous week, followed by 10.2 at both Ridgefield and Washougal.

The overall average per angler was 6.9 pikeminnow for 1,279 participants.

All totaled, 113,866 qualifying pikeminnow that have been removed from the Columbia and Snake since the start of season May 1. The Dalles has been most productive, with 42,991, followed by Columbia Point at 14,329 and Boyer Park 12,288.

Five specially tagged pikeminnow were caught last week, down from 15 the week before, but with two at Washougal, and one each at Rainier, Ridgefield and Boyer Park.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500. The idea is to reduce the numbers of the native species that prey on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org.

OSP’s Mid-Columbia Fish And Wildlife Troopers Named 2016 Team Of The Year

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE

The Oregon State Police (OSP), Mid-Columbia Fish and Wildlife Team (The Dalles) was recently awarded with the OSP Fish and Wildlife Division Team of the Year award for 2016 accomplishments. The Mid-Columbia Team consists of highly motivated, dedicated and tenacious troopers who enforce fish and wildlife laws and protect Oregon’s natural resources, citizens and visitors in five counties; Hood River, Gilliam, Sherman, Wasco and Wheeler.

PICTURED FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, BACK ROW: SENIOR TROOPER SWEDE PEARSON, SENIOR TROOPER JUSTIN FRAZIER, SERGEANT LES KIPPER. FRONT ROW, SENIOR TROOPER MARK JUBITZ, SENIOR TROOPER BRENT OCHESKEY, TROOPER JASON WALTERS AND SENIOR TROOPER THAD ROUTSON. NOT PRESENT: SENIOR TROOPER CRAIG GUNDERSON. (OSP)

Together, the Mid-Columbia Team proved that through perseverance, dedication and quality investigations their collaborative work enabled them to successfully hold person(s) accountable for the following cases during 2016: Team members initiated an ongoing multi-state major serial poaching investigation where several individuals unlawfully killed up to 30 animals throughout several counties in Oregon and up to 50 animals throughout several counties in Washington. Troopers are continuing to work closely with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sharing information and coordinating conclusion of this investigation.

A team member investigated a serious boat collision occurring in the Columbia River between two boats which caused serious injury to several occupants. The investigation resulted in a guilty plea by one boat operator for BUII, two counts of Assault IV and reckless boating.

Team members responded to a report of the possible poaching of bighorn sheep along Interstate 84 in Gilliam County. The suspects were located, identified, arrested and lodged in jail after two bighorn sheep were located with their heads removed and placed in garbage bags. Upon a thorough investigation, the hard work of the troopers led to the successful prosecution of the two suspects.

They conducted several boat patrols during the fall commercial fishing season, making several arrests and seizures of fish and gill nets used while fishing illegally; primarily by unlawful drift netting through river mouth sanctuaries.

Team members also worked closely with Patrol Division Troopers, assisting with traffic crashes and other calls for service. Additionally, they work well with other local and county law enforcement partners within five counties to provide the best service to the citizens of Oregon.

In addition to their normal Fish and Wildlife Division duties and activities, the Mid-Columbia Team members performed an array of other assignments ranging from being members of, or instructors in various fields including the Oregon State Police Critical Incident Response Team providing support to law enforcement officers who have been involved in critical incidents, to instructing recruit troopers in the enforcement of fish and wildlife laws, as well as, providing quality instruction to other Department members in firearms training, defensive tactics and boat operations to name a few.

The Mid-Columbia Fish and Wildlife Team is commended for a job well done and for their commitment to protecting people, property and Oregon’s natural resources.

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (7-17-17)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED WITH WDFW, INCLUDING PAUL HOFFARTH, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY HYMER

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – Below the I-5 Bridge:  29 bank and 1 boat/3 rods had no catch.  From the I-5 Bridge upstream:  184 bank rods kept 23 adult and 2 jack spring Chinook and 9 steelhead and released 2 adult and 2 jack spring Chinook, 3 steelhead, and 2 cutthroats.  67 boats/193 rods kept 65 steelhead and 1 cutthroat and released 1 steelhead and 17 cutthroat.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 978 salmonid anglers (149 boats) with 42 adult and 6 jack summer Chinook, 67 steelhead, and no sockeye.  24 (57%) of the adult summer Chinook  and 42 (63%) of the steelhead were kept.

SCOTT FLETCHER SHOWS OFF A SUMMER CHINOOK CAUGHT IN THE UPPER COLUMBIA LAST WEEK. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Anglers averaged a steelhead caught per every 14.6 rods.  In comparison, anglers averaged a fish per every 6.1 and 7.6 rods during the same time in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Tri-cities Area Summer Chinook & Sockeye Fishery

With the closure of the Upper Columbia River for the retention of sockeye, angler effort has been low.  This past week, July 10-16, there were an estimated 62 boats fishing for summer chinook salmon in the Columbia River between Highway 395 and Priest Rapids Dam.

WDFW staff interviewed 19 anglers from 8 boats with a reported harvest of 1 adult hatchery chinook and 1 wild chinook and 1 sockeye were caught and released.  For the week an estimated 8 adult summer chinook were harvested.  For the season there have been 2,291 angler trips for sockeye/summer chinook with 115 adult hatchery chinook, 23 chinook jacks, and 885 sockeye harvested. Area fisheries will continue to be open to fishing for hatchery summer chinook through August 15.

Paul A. Hoffarth
District 4 Fish Biologist
WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Marker 82 line downstream – We sampled 16 sturgeon anglers (including 4 boats) with 9 legals released.

Shad

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – We sampled 20 shad bank anglers with 27 fish kept.

Walleye

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – 3 walleye anglers (1 boat) had no catch.

Trout

Recent plants of rainbows, including some over 5 pounds each.  No report on angling success.

Lake/Pond
Date
Species
Number
Fish per Pound
Hatchery
Notes

LK MERWIN (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LK+MERWIN+%28COWL%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Cowlitz County – Region 5
Jul 10, 2017
Rainbow
1,447
0.18
MERWIN HATCHERY

LK MERWIN (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LK+MERWIN+%28COWL%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Cowlitz County – Region 5
Jul 10, 2017
Rainbow
1,234
0.8
MERWIN HATCHERY

COUNCIL LK (SKAM)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=COUNCIL+LK+%28SKAM%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Skamania County – Region 5
Jul 11, 2017
Rainbow
3,337
2.5
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

MINERAL LK (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=MINERAL+LK+%28LEWI%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Lewis County – Region 5
Jul 11, 2017
Rainbow
2,600
2
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

MAYFIELD RES (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=MAYFIELD+RES+%28LEWI%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Lewis County – Region 5
Jul 12, 2017
Rainbow
180
1.89
EELLS SPRINGS

MAYFIELD RES (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=MAYFIELD+RES+%28LEWI%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Lewis County – Region 5
Jul 12, 2017
Rainbow
3,886
2.04
EELLS SPRINGS

WDFW Reports Second Sherman Pack Depredation, 5 Recent Wolf Deaths

The Sherman Pack attacked and killed a calf for the second time in a month, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The confirmed depredation was outlined today in a wolf update from the agency.

(WDFW)

The fresh carcass was found Wednesday, July 12, by a range rider, similar to last month, and also within 200 yards of that wolf kill, on a Bureau of Land Management grazing allotment in Ferry County.

According to WDFW, bite marks and other wounds on the calf as well as GPS collar data from the Sherman male “clearly indicate a wolf depredation.”

The producer uses five range riders and has been patrolling the area since even before turning their cattle out in late May on private ground, say state wolf managers.

They say there are no known dens or rendezvous sites in the area.

Under the agency’s new protocols, just three depredations, including one probable, in a 30-day period, could lead to the beginning of lethal removals. Last year it was four confirmed.

In other Washington wolf news from the update, WDFW reports that a Goodman Meadows Pack male that was captured in collared in January was legally harvested in Idaho;

That a Dirty Shirt Pack male that dispersed to Salmo Pack country in April was subsequently lethally removed by British Columbia officials trying to protect rare woodland caribou;

That the deaths of another Dirty Shirt wolf as well as one from the Loup Loup Pack are under investigation;

And that a wolf that had been part of the Huckleberry Pack in 2014 was recently mortally wounded by a vehicle collision further north this month and was dispatched by WDFW staff.

Killings wolves in Washington is illegal, and west of Highways 97, 17 and 395, where they are listed under ESA, a federal offense.

The update also includes proactive deterrence measures being used on a number of packs, recent activities of those wolves and community outreach provided by WDFW and volunteers.

Pretty interesting reading.

 

Lake Washington Sockeye Count Tops 110,000, But Declining

The odds of a Lake Washington sockeye fishery this year — long to begin with — seem remoter still with today’s updated count unless somehow hesitant salmon managers acquiesce to a Hail Mary bid.

A total of 111,509 have passed through the Ballard Locks since the tally began June 12, and the year’s best days appear to be behind us.

IT’S BEEN 11 YEARS SINCE THE LAST LAKE WASHINGTON SOCKEYE FISHERY, AND DESPITE CALLS FOR AN “OLD TIMES SAKE” SEASON THIS YEAR, THAT’S INCREASINGLY UNLIKELY WITH THE LATEST BALLARD LOCKS COUNTS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Nearly 7,500 were counted July 4, with 21,740 in the three days before and day afterwards.

But since then daily counts have dipped to 2,772 Wednesday and 2,271 yesterday.

The run has typically peaked by now, though of note 2006 didn’t hit its midmark till mid-July.

If there’s good news, it’s that the forecast of 77,292 was wrong, and there does appear to be some softening on the standing escapement goal of 350,000 sockeye to trigger sport and commercial tribal fisheries.

According to a recent WDFW letter, talks have been ongoing with the comanagers about “a new abundance-based management framework that allows for some directed fisheries at run-sizes of 200,000 or greater.”

Written July 7, the communique from Director Jim Unsworth expresses cautious optimism that that figure might be reached.

But Frank Urabeck, a longtime recreational angling advocate who closely watches the counts, now estimates the run will come in somewhere north of 130,000, which is above the 100,000 that he hoped might trigger a “token, for old times’ sake” fishery on Lake Washington, where we haven’t seen a sockeye season since 2006.

Since then, an average of 78,000 — high: 2013’s 178,422; low: 2009’s 21,718 — have entered the locks with fewer still actually spawning.

By comparison, between 2006 and 1972, only three years saw 78,000 or fewer sockeye enter; even the bad salmon years of the mid-1990s were higher.

It’s believed that despite the new Seattle Public Utilities hatchery on the Cedar River, young sockeye are suffering increasing and strong predation in the lake and as they make their way through the Ship Canal, which also appears to be a thermal block for returning adults, leaving them more prone to disease.

This year’s run would also have been at sea during the fish-run-destroying Blob.

Among Urabeck’s aims is to draw attention to what he considers to be a failing run, and he sees this year’s return as what amounts to a last-gasp opportunity to get anglers on the lake and rally support for what once was a wonderful salmon fishery in the heart of the state’s biggest metropolis.

If you never had a chance to partake in it, it was the absolute best kind of insanity going.

Urabeck wants one last go.

“I encourage sportfishing anglers to contact Director Unsworth and the MIT to encourage them to avoid losing this special opportunity to gain public support for our fisheries programs,” he said this morning.

Unsworth, who wrote that Urabeck’s call for a season if the count hit 100,000 “certainly caught my attention,” agreed that Lake Washington salmon aren’t faring well, but was more optimistic about the future.

“It will be a challenging task, but the restoration of clear, clean, and swimmable water to Lake Washington in the 1960s shows what can be accomplished with our engaged and supportive public,” Unsworth states in the letter to Urabeck.

The director says that his agency as well as the tribes, county and utilities are “now implementing and advocating for the actions necessary to improve salmon survival in the Lake Washington basin.”

“In this urban setting, we will need to think ‘out-of-the-box’ to find solutions that provide for salmon in the future. In part, this will likely require rethinking how we use our hatcheries. As you recall, we joined with you and others in the Year-15 Comprehensive Review of the City of Seattle’s Habitat Conservation Plan in recommending new supplementation techniques that maximize fry-to-adult survival through a combination of extended rearing and delayed release timing,” Unsworth states.

Meanwhile, the Muckleshoot and Suquamish Tribes are holding their annual ceremonial and subsistence fisheries, with goals of 1,000 and 2,500 sockeye each, and yesterday saw dipnetting in the ladder as tribal biologists in conjunction with WDFW collected salmon for a longterm biological sampling program.

What the longterm health of the sportfishery holds is anyone’s guess, but at the moment, it is on life support at best this year.