All posts by Andy Walgamott

20-question Quiz Helps Hunters ID, Learn Differences Between Wolves, Coyotes

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW has launched a new online Coyote and Gray Wolf ID Quiz to help people differentiate between wolves and coyotes. Find the quiz at http://bit.ly/2x56uoU or at the ODFW Wolves website, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/.

WOLF OR COYOTE? A NEW ODFW QUIZ SHOWS PHOTOS OF BOTH SPECIES AND IDENTIFIES KEY DIFFERENTIATING FEATURES. (ODFW)

The quiz uses actual photos of various wolves and coyotes of various ages to test user’s knowledge, and gives tips on how to tell wolves from coyotes. For example, coyotes have taller, pointed ears and a pointed face and muzzle while wolves have shorter rounder ears and a blocky face and muzzle.

“We encourage everyone who spends time in the outdoors to take this quiz, but especially hunters that pursue coyotes,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW acting wolf coordinator. “It is the responsibility of every hunter to know their target.” Wolf pups in particular can resemble coyotes in the fall.

Wolves are protected throughout the state of Oregon and there is no hunting season for wolves anywhere in the state. Intentionally hunting or accidentally “taking” a wolf is unlawful and can have serious legal consequences. In 2015, a hunter shot and was prosecuted for killing a collared gray wolf in Grant County that he misidentified as a coyote.

ODFW also relies on hunters, outdoor recreationalists, livestock producers and others to report wolf observations. These public wolf reports help wildlife biologists know where to focus wolf survey efforts. If you think you have seen a wolf, wolf sign or heard wolves howling please report it at www.odfw.com/Wolves/wolf_reporting_form.asp

“This quiz can help anyone better identify wolves in the field,” said Brown. “We really appreciate everyone taking the time to take the quiz.”

Pikeminnow Catches, Average Per Angler Surge

Pikeminnow catches surged to their highest weekly level in two months as anglers participating in the Columbia-Snake sport reward program also landed the most per rod of the season.

According to the latest figures from state managers, 850 anglers brought in 10,270 qualifying fish to check stations up and down the two rivers for a 12.1 catch per unit effort during the week of Sept. 11-17.

THE PIKEMINNOW SPORT REWARD PROGRAM OFFERS INCENTIVES TO CATCH THE SPECIES FROM THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA UP TO TRI-CITIES, AND IN THE SNAKE FROM TRI-CITIES UP TO CLARKSTON. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

Catches have been below that mark since July 9, and it’s 2.1 fish better than the previous week, which had been the highest of the year.

Numerically, the largest catches were at Boyer Park (1,675), Washougal (1,587), Rainier (1,245) and Willow Grove (1,103).

Stations with the highest averages were Boyer Park (25.6), Rainier (22.2), Ridgefield (20.2) and Gleason (17.8).

All totaled, 175,513 qualifying pikeminnow have been removed from the Lower and Middle Columbia and Lower Snake since the start of season May 1. That’s better than seven of the last ten seasons, but with just two catch periods left doesn’t seem like it will match last year’s 225,350.

The Dalles has been most productive, with 44,457, followed by Boyer Park at 22,103 and Columbia Point at 16,106.

Average catch on the season is 7.1, with a range from 10.1 at The Dalles to 1.5 at Umatilla.

A total of 247 tagged fish have been turned in.

Effort is 24,609 on the season.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500. The idea is to remove the native species that preys on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system. It runs through Sept. 30.

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

Fire Leads To Pheasant Release Changes At Scatter Creek, South Sound Wildlife Areas

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

State wildlife managers plan to release thousands of pheasants at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Thurston County this year, but not in the area ravaged by a wildfire that swept across 345 acres south of the creek last month.

The 926-acre wildlife area, owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), has attracted pheasant hunters from around the region for more than 50 years. With hunting seasons drawing near, the department plans to distribute the 4,000 birds typically released there each season in a new way.

(WDFW)

“Fortunately, firefighters prevented the blaze from jumping Scatter Creek, so we can still have a hunting season in the wildlife area,” said Christopher White, WDFW pheasant manager for the wildlife area. “We had to improvise a bit, but we think this distribution will support a good hunt this year.”

Rather than divide the birds between the northern and southern sections as in previous years, WDFW will release 3,500 pheasants north of Scatter Creek, White said. Another 500 birds will be redirected to nearby release sites at Lincoln Creek, Skookumchuck and the Chehalis River.

Brian Calkins, WDFW regional wildlife manager, said the change was necessary under the circumstances. The fire left little cover for the birds south of Scatter Creek, and what cover remains is adjacent to a county road, he said.

“We don’t want to attract hunters to the southern portion of the wildlife area,” Calkins said. “Putting birds and hunters in that area would create an unsafe situation.”

The season will get underway Sept. 23-24 for hunters under age 16, followed by a hunt Sept. 25-29 for hunters age 65 or older and those with disabilities. The general hunt for all ages opens Sept. 30 throughout western Washington.

Meanwhile, the department is continuing to assess damage caused by the fire, which was sparked in a nearby residential area of Rochester. WDFW estimates the cost of restoring the burnt landscape south of the creek at $1 million.

“Recovery actions are already moving forward, starting with the removal of snags and repair of dozer lines left in the fire’s aftermath,” Calkins said. “Larger-scale weed control efforts and replanting will commence in the coming weeks.”

For more information about the upcoming pheasant season, see the guide on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01923/

 

OSP Looking For Leads In Case Of Buck Gunned Down In Bow Season Near Prineville

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

The Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division is asking the public’s help to identify the person(s) responsible for the unlawful taking and wasting of a buck deer in Crook County.

(OSP)

On the afternoon of September 16th, 2017, OSP was notified of a dead buck deer north of Prineville located 1 1/2 miles from McKay Creek on McKay Creek Road (USFS 33).

The deer was located approximately 75 yards from the roadway and the 2×3 buck only had a portion of one back-strap removed. The rest of the buck was left to waste.

The buck deer had been shot with a rifle during the archery season. It is believed this occurred September 14th or 15th prior to the poaching discovery.

If you have any information please contact the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division at your local office or use the below information to report wildlife violators on the TIP Line.

TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 (24/7)

TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us (Monitored M-F 8:00AM – 5:00PM)

Harts Pass Road Reopened; Snow In Forecast

Good news for the High Buck Hunt: Harts Pass Road is back open after having been closed on the eve of the September rifle season in the Pasayten.

Snow is also in the forecast every day this week for the 6,500-foot-high saddle on the southwest edge of the sprawling wilderness.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST FOR HARTS PASS. (NWS)

The road up to Harts Pass was closed last Thursday because of the Diamond Creek Fire, but thanks to moderating fire danger and work to contain it, managers reopened it today, as well as Robinson Creek and the Middle Fork Pasayten River country.

Elsewhere in the Pasayten, Falls Creek, Black Lake, lower Andrews Creek and the Chewuch trail to Basin Creek have also been reopened, according to Inciweb.

 

ODFW Evacuating 1.78 Million Hatchery Salmon Ahead Of Rains, Possible Debris Flow

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW staff are evacuating about 1.65 million coho salmon and 132,000 spring Chinook salmon from Cascade Hatchery today and tomorrow due to the threat of debris flow in areas burned by the Eagle Creek Fire.

A SCREENSHOT FROM AN ODFW VIDEO SHOWS TANKER TRUCKS LINED UP TO TRANSPORT YOUNG SALMON FROM CASCADE HATCHERY. (ODFW)

“Rain is forecast next week in areas scorched by the Eagle Creek Fire, and we expect to see mudslides and debris flow,” said Brett Requa, ODFW east region hatchery coordinator. “This could overwhelm the screens on our water intake, reducing or completely shutting off the flow of water that sustain these fish, so we want to get them moved now.”

 ODFW plans to move about 500,000 Umatilla River coho and 500,000 Lostine River coho to Leaburg Hatchery, where they will be reared until next spring and then hauled back to the Umatillia and Lostine Rivers. Also, 350,000 Yakama coho will be hauled to Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery and 300,000 will be hauled to Willard National Fish Hatchery. The 132,000 spring Chinook are being hauled to Sandy Fish Hatchery.

 These juvenile fish (< 1 year old) are being transported beginning this morning in fish transport trucks which have oxygen supplies to help lower stress in the fish and keep them healthy.

 Bonneville Hatchery has well water available and is not expected to be hit as hard by the debris flow so their 2.4 million fish will remain on site. Staff are also weighing options to move Oxbow Hatchery and Herman Creek coho to another hatchery in the state but fire experts feel the Herman Creek drainage is in much better shape than the Eagle Creek drainage.

A HELICOPTER CARRIES WATER DIPPED OUT OF THE COLUMBIA IN THE GORGE TO HELP DOUSE THE EAGLE CREEK FIRE. (INCIWEB)

 “We thank Eagle Creek firefighters for saving all the structures at our three Cascade Locks fish hatcheries,” said Requa. “ODFW will be working to limit any harmful impacts to fish due to the Eagle Creek Fire over the next few months and years.”

 ODFW also thanks ODOT for delivering diesel fuel to power Cascade Hatchery’s generator over the past 10 days. The hatchery has been without power since Sept. 5.

Zinke To BLM, USFWS, NPS: Figure Out How To Increase Fishing, Hunting Access

Federal land managers are being directed to figure out how to provide more fishing and hunting access under a directive signed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today, a move lauded by sportsmen’s groups.

It follows on troubling news earlier this week that participation in hunting dropped by 2.2 million between 2011 and 2016, but could help open more lands, so key to the opportunities we enjoy.

MANAGERS OF NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT GROUND AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ARE BEING ASKED HOW TO INCREASE HUNTING AND FISHING ACCESS UNDER AN ORDER FROM DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR SECRETARY RYAN ZINKE. THAT PROCESS HAS BEEN ONGOING AT PLACES LIKE TURNBULL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, WHERE SPECIAL HUNTS FOR AN INCREASING ELK HERD HAVE BEEN HELD, BUT ZINKE’S ORDER COULD OPEN EVEN MORE OPPORTUNITY. (TURNBULL NWR)

“The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands,” said Zinke in a press release. “As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands – packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4 a.m. with my dad – I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.”

His order calls for:

  • The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service to come up with plans within four months for expanding access to hunting and fishing on their lands;
  • Amend management plans for national monuments to specifically ensure hunting and fishing on them;
  • Identify federal lands where those activities are limited;
  • Expand outreach to underserved communities;
  • Develop a “one-stop” website outlining sporting opportunities on all Department of Interior lands;
  • And improve wildlife management collaboration with states, tribes, conservation groups and others.

Ducks Unlimited was supportive, particularly the part of Zinke’s order calling for “significantly” increasing waterfowl populations through habitat projects, as well as more hunting opportunities.

“Wetlands are not only a valuable resource for our nation’s waterfowl, but they also benefit more than 900 other species of wildlife,” noted Dale Hall, DU CEO, in a press release. “Investments in the conservation of wildlife habitats, like wetlands, are vital in preserving, protecting and advancing our nation’s long hunting and angling heritage. At the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring that all Americans and those generations to come, have access to the wildlife and wild places that we enjoy today.”

In recent years, USFWS has gradually been increasing waterfowl, big game and fishing opportunities on Northwest refuges and those across the country.

Land Tawney of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers said his organization looked forward to working with Zinke and Interior.

“Our hunting and fishing traditions rely on both conservation and access, with insufficient access being the No. 1 reason cited by sportsmen for forgoing time afield,” Tawney said in a press release. “The importance of Secretary Zinke’s commitment to sustaining and expanding public access opportunities to the outdoors, therefore, cannot be overstated.”

Others supporting the move included the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as well as National Rifle Association.

“For too long, sportsmen’s access to our federal lands has been restricted, with lost opportunity replacing the ability to enjoy many of our best outdoor spaces. This extension to Secretarial Order 3356 will go a long way to reversing that trend and help grow the next generation of hunters, fishermen, and recreational shooters,” added Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in a press release. “I appreciate this new order and am committed to working with Secretary Zinke and my colleagues to do everything we can to expand and enhance access to our federal lands for all Alaskans, and all Americans, so that we can continue our rich sportsmen’s heritage.”

WDFW Reports 2 Confirmed Wolf Depredations In Stevens, Asotin Cos.

A Northeast Washington wolf that may be part of a new pack forming in northern Stevens County killed a cow in late August, according to state wildlife managers.

WDFW investigated the remains of the largely consumed carcass on Aug. 31 and says that based on GPS collar data from the Dirty Shirt Pack disperser, signs of a struggle at the site of the depredation, bite marks, wolf poop and reports of wolves in the area it was a confirmed depredation.

AN IMAGE FROM WDFW’S MONTHLY WOLF UPDATE SHOWS APPARENT PUPS IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. (WDFW)

The livestock producer, who had been advised beforehand by WDFW of the wolf in the area, had their cattle in a fenced pasture near a residence they rented out, and both the rancher and renters were checking on the stock daily while the renters were also periodically using lights at night, according to wolf manager Donny Martorello.

He says that a state-contracted range rider had also began watching cattle in nearby grazing allotments.

Since the attack, a second range rider has begun patrolling the local allotments, while a FOX light has been set up in the producer’s pasture to help deter any more depredations, Martorello says.

He was hesitant to say that the Dirty Shirt wolf is officially part of a new pack — two wolves traveling together in winter — but notes that a trail camera picked up an image of a British Columbia disperser and that time stamp information puts both animals in the same location on the same day. That apparently occurred in late July.

“We’re assuming they’re together, but we don’t know that for certain,” Martorello says, adding that it probably won’t be till winter snows before they can definitively say one way or the other.

If it is a new pack, it would join the Wedge, Smackout, Stranger, Huckleberry, Dirty Shirt and Carpenter Ridge Packs which roam entirely or partially in Stevens County, making it the county with the most wolf packs in the state.

While other depredations this summer have occurred in Northeast Washington, the other eastern corner of the state saw one recently too.

An Asotin County cow and calf were injured by the Tucannon Pack 10 or more days ago. The injured cattle were first spotted by a hunter southeast of Cloverland. The pair was on a Forest Service road.

WDFW investigated Sept. 5 and is treating the incident as a single event instead of two, which it otherwise does with depredations of large livestock such as cattle.

Martorello says that’s per an exception in the agency’s protocols if cattle are known to be together, such as a cow-calf pair.

He said the calf had the more severe injuries but the mother’s ears were torn up most likely from trying to defend her young one.

It’s an important distinction because under the lethal removal guidelines, agency director Jim Unsworth can authorize taking out one or two wolves after three confirmed or probable depredation events in 30 days.

According to WDFW, a range of nonlethal deterrence measures are being used in the range of the Tucannons.

OTHER WOLF NEWS

  • Biologists, fish and wildlife officers and conflict specialists have been pretty busy over the past month, performing 10 other investigations on dead or injured cows, calves, sheep and a dog in Stevens and Ferry Counties. They were found to have been caused by a domestic dog, a coyote or unknown, or weren’t depredations at all.
  • There are no updates at all on the Skagit County wolf. Its DNA is still in the queue at a federal lab, and it doesn’t appear to be doing much on the ground either.
  • All’s quiet — at this writing anyway — on the Sherman and Smackout Pack fronts following a series of depredations followed by lethal removals. WDFW continues to evaluate the wolves’ behavior in response while nonlethal deterrence measures also are ongoing.
  • WDFW C&Red a young member of the Beaver Creek Pack after capturing it in mid-August.
  • For more details, see the agency’s monthly wolf update.

Call For Vols: Help Needed At OR Coast’s Salmon River Hatchery

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW is looking for volunteers to help with the Fall Chinook Program at Salmon River Hatchery this fall. Staff will activate the fish trap this weekend with the forecasted rain, and volunteer shifts will be available starting next week.

VOLUNTEERS HELP NET CHINOOK AT THE SALMON RIVER HATCHERY. (ODFW)

In 2016, Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program volunteers contributed over 500 hours at the Salmon River Hatchery and were responsible for the distribution of adult Chinook salmon to eight Oregon food share organizations. 

Salmon River Hatchery releases 200,000 adipose-marked and coded wire tagged fall Chinook salmon smolts each year to support a popular in-river recreational fishery, supplement ocean recreational and commercial fisheries, and provide information for the Pacific Salmon Treaty.

Salmon River Hatchery fall Chinook are the indicator stock to estimate the exploitation rate for all fall Chinook on the North Oregon coast. The recoveries of these fish in the commercial and sport fisheries in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, along with recoveries at the hatchery and on the spawning grounds, are used to represent the harvest rate of Oregon’s coastal fall Chinook in these fisheries.  

Additional information about the volunteer program can be obtained at https://midcoaststep.ivolunteer.com or by contacting Christine Clapp at christine.m.clapp@state.or.us or 541-265-8306×253. The Salmon River Hatchery is located at 575 N. North Bank Rd. Otis, Oregon.

Harts Pass Road Closed On Eve Of High Buck Hunt Due To Wildfire

Bad news on the eve of Washington’s High Buck Hunt.

The Harts Pass Road has been closed due to the 119,000-acre Diamond Creek Fire in western Okanogan County.

THE DIAMOND CREEK FIRE IN LATE AUGUST NEAR COUGAR LAKE IN THE PASAYTEN WILDERNESS. (SARA BILLINGS, INCIWEB)

The announcement was made this morning by fire managers that the gravel road leading from Mazama to Slate Peak is closed at the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest boundary just past Lost River Airport.

Harts Pass is a key access point for the Sept. 15-25 early rifle deer season, serving as a jumpoff into the Pasayten.

Many hunters hike into the sprawling wilderness, while others sit along the boundary and glass for bucks in the high meadows.

Today’s road closure follows on previous area and trail closures affecting nearly all of the Pasayten.

SILVER STAR MOUNTAIN FROM SLATE PEAK, AT THE TOP OF THE HARTS PASS ROAD. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The Diamond Creek Fire began in late July and had made an initial move south before largely burning to the north through August and across the Canadian border.

But it has begun heading south again, leading to yesterday’s level 2 evacuation notice for Mazama.

Today’s forecast includes a red flag warning there due to forecasted north winds.

By Sunday, there’s a 50 percent chance of rain.

For the latest developments, monitor Inciweb, #DiamondCreekFire on Twitter and Diamond Creek Fire on Facebook.