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Shed hunt responsibly to protect big game

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

February 23, 2015

SALEM, Ore.—This time of year isn’t just for Easter egg hunting. Many Oregonians are in the outdoors looking for another seasonal treat– shed antlers.

Oregon’s male deer and elk naturally shed their antlers at this time of year (only to regrow them in spring and summer). Buck deer usually shed theirs from late December through March, and bull elk from late February through early April.

Rob Tanner, co-founder of Oregon Shed Hunters, believes more people are enjoying the sport of shed hunting. “We are noticing more people getting out, but the clientele has changed a bit,” he says. “It’s no longer just hardcore hunters; nowadays it’s more of a family event with mom, dad, kids and even pets out shed hunting.”

But the peak of shed hunting season in late winter/early spring also coincides with tougher weather and less forage availability for big game, making it a vulnerable time for wildlife. Shed hunters using motor vehicles can put wildlife on the move when these animals need to be conserving valuable energy reserves. Pets and people on foot or horseback can also disturb big game.

Wildlife biologists have real concerns about the sport’s impact on big game, especially when it’s not practiced responsibly. “Shed hunters and their dogs can pressure, stress and exclude deer from the very ground that was set aside to help them survive the winter,” said Chase Brown, assistant district wildlife biologist in The Dalles.

While this year’s mild winter has made conditions easier for big game, it could also mean they get disturbed more than usual. “The mild winter had made access easy this year, so shed hunters can go into more remote places,” says Mark Kirsch, Umatilla District wildlife biologist. Kirsch cites resource damage (from vehicles using unimproved roads or going cross country), gates left open, trespassing and movement of animals to private agricultural land where they cause damage as some common problems seen from unethical shed hunting.

Shed hunters can take the following steps to protect big game while still enjoying their sport:

  • Don’t disturb big game animals: Don’t approach animals or follow the same ones on a daily basis.
  • Respect road and area closures. These are in place to protect winter range and wintering big game. Some ODFW wildlife areas are entirely closed to public access during late winter; other areas have road and travel restrictions. More information on specific closures below or see the 2015 Oregon Big Game Regulations.
  • Don’t take vehicles off-roading. The ground is water-logged at this time of year and off-roading in the wrong place can damage critical wildlife and fish habitat. Travel by foot or horseback instead.
  • Shed Antler
    Kellen Tanner with a shed antler.
    Photo courtesy of Rob Tanner.

    Don’t be in the same spot every day. Deer and elk might need to be in that spot for food or cover, and your presence will keep them from it.

  • Keep dogs under your control. Don’t let dogs approach or follow wildlife. State law prohibits dogs (and people) from harassing wildlife. (ORS 498.102 and 498.006)
  • Don’t trespass on private property. You always need permission to be on private land. Antlers that are shed on private land below to the landowner under Oregon statutes.

Monitoring winter range closures and travel restrictions are a priority for Oregon State Police at this time of year. OSP patrols winter range closures and travel management areas by air and by vehicle.

More about antlers

Antlers are the fastest-growing bone that isn’t cancerous or prenatal. Antlers on deer can grow at a rate up to seven times that of skeletal growth. Elk antlers can weigh 30-40 pounds.

Elk antlers begin re-growing soon after they are shed, with most growth happening in spring and summer months. The antlers are covered by “velvet” throughout this growth period, before hardening to bone in late July-early August for elk and late August-early September for deer. This makes antlers ready in time for breeding season (in September for elk and November for deer), when male deer or elk will fight for dominance using their antlers.

Oregon Big Game Regulations (page 22) state that “No person shall possess or transport any game mammal or part thereof which has been illegally killed, found or killed for humane reasons,except shed antlers, unless they have notified and received permission from personnel of the Oregon State Police or ODFW prior to transporting.” So people may pick up naturally shed antlers in the outdoors, but may not pick up skulls with antlers attached without permission.

People who collect shed antlers are allowed to sell or exchange them, but certain rules apply. Only naturally shed antlers, antlers detached from the skull, or a skull split apart can be sold or exchanged. For antlers detached from the skull or skulls split apart, the seller must have legally taken the game part (e.g. on a big game tag or after receiving permission from OSP or ODFW to remove skull and antlers from the wild in the first place.)

Past poaching problems led to the regulations. Skulls that are split have less value and are not eligible for record books. These regulations reduce the incentive for someone to kill animals on winter range or out of season, hide the skull, and go back months later and “find it”. AHide/Antler Dealer permit ($17) is needed to purchase antlers for use in the manufacture of handcrafted items.

Road closures and other regulations

Shed Antler
Roosevelt elk shed. Photo by Joe Hulbert.

Several ODFW managed wildlife areas and Travel Management Areas are closed during the winter to protect big game on winter range. Others have travel restrictions. See page 80-85 of the 2015 Oregon Big Game Regulations for more information.

Wildlife Area closures;

  • Phillip W Schneider Wildlife Area (Dayville): Closed to public access Feb. 1 – April 14, some roads closed seasonally from Dec. 1-April 14.
  • Elkhorn Wildlife Area (Baker and Union Counties): Closed to public accessDec. 1 - April 10.
  • Bridge Creek Wildlife Area (near Ukiah): Closed to public access Dec. 1 -April 14.
  • Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area (Clatsop County): Refuge and area closures.
  • Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area (La Grande): Lands west of Foothill Road closed to entry Feb. 1 – March 31.
  • Prineville Reservoir Wildlife Area (Maury and Ochoco Units): Closed to motorized vehicle access Nov. 15 or Dec. 1-April 15.
  • White River Wildlife Area (Wamic): Road closures and restrictions.

Other winter range closures (See map of wildlife management units)

  • Lost River Winter Range (Klamath Falls Unit): Closed to motor vehicle use Dec. 1 – April 15.
  • Bryant Mt (Klamath Falls Unit): Closed to motor vehicle use Nov. 1 - April 15.
  • Tumalo Winter Range (Upper Deschutes Unit): Closed to all motor vehicle use Dec. 1 - March 31.
  • Cabin Lake-Silver Lake Winter Range (Paulina, Silver Lake, Fort Rock Units): Closed to motor vehicle use Dec. 1 - March 31.
  • Metolius Winter Range (Metolius Unit): Closed to motor vehicle use Dec. 1 - March 31.
  • Starkey Experimental Forest Enclosure (Starkey Unit): Closed to all public entry Nov. 15 - April 30.
  • Spring Creek Winter Range (Starkey Unit): Closed to all motor vehicle use Dec. 15 - April 30.
  • McCarty Winter Range (Starkey Unit): Closed to all motor vehicle use Dec. 15 - March 31.

Get ready to hunt this spring: Openings in March hunter education classes

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

SALEM, Ore.—ODFW has openings in several hunter education classes coming up in late February and March.

“Spring is a great time to take hunter education,” says James Reed, ODFW hunter education coordinator. “Many classes are available and it’s well before the fall rush. Students who take a March class could even get certified in time for spring turkey season (April 15-May 31).”

Hunter education students can take the course in a conventional classroom setting or by completing a workbook or online course. Independent study students (who take the workbook or online class) must also participate in a field day.

Conventional hunter education classes available:

Banks (Washington County) – March 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26 (Banks Fire District)

Beavercreek - March 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 13 (Beavercreek Grange Hall)

Bend - March 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19 (Bend High School International Wing)

Hermiston – March 3, 4, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 24 (VFW Hall and other location)

Irrigon – March 3, 5, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19 (AC Houghton Elementary School)

Lane County – March 14 and 21 (Noti and Creswell)

Molalla - March 2, 4, 9, 10, 11 (Molalla Fire Station)

Salem – March 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26 (Four Corners Rod and Gun Club)

 

Field days (for independent students who have completed their workbook or online education course):

Albany/Shedd - March 7 (Albany Rifle and Pistol Club)

Enterprise – Feb. 28 (Eagle Cap Shooters Association)

Hillsboro – March 21 (Hillsboro Trap and Skeet)

Knappa - March 14 (BKS Sportsmen’s Club)

Keno - Feb. 28 (Klamath Sportsman’s Park)

La Grande – March 28 (Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area)

Roseburg, March 21 (Roseburg Rod & Gun Club)

Salem/Gervais – March 1 (Mid-Valley Clays)

 

All classes and field days are listed on ODFW’s license sales page (under View All Classes/Workshops). See directions on how to register for a hunter education class (PDF).

 

Hunter education is required for all hunters under the age of 18 and encouraged for adults, too. The classes cover important issues including hunter ethics and respect for private landowners; wildlife management and identification; firearms handling and safety; hunt preparation and techniques; survival; and introductory bowhunting.

All classes are taught by certified volunteers dedicated to passing on the tradition of hunting to future generations. These volunteer instructors teach and certify about 6,500 students statewide each year in hunter education.

More information on hunter education: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/education/hunter/

 

Hunters have until March 31 to apply for multiple-season permits

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

OLYMPIA – Deer and elk hunters have until March 31 to enter their name in a drawing for a 2015 multiple-season permit, which can greatly increase their opportunities for success in the field.

In mid-April, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will randomly draw names for 8,500 multiple-season deer permits and 1,000 multiple-season elk permits.

Winners of the drawing will be eligible to purchase a special tag allowing them to participate in archery, muzzleloader and modern firearm general hunting seasons for deer or elk in 2015. Winners who purchase the multiple-season elk tag by Aug. 31 can participate in general elk-hunting season in both eastern and western Washington.

Winners also may choose any weapon type when applying for a special permit to hunt deer or elk.

“This is a great opportunity for hunters to extend their hunting season this fall,” said Mick Cope, game manager for WDFW.  “Rather than having to choose just one hunting method over another, the multiple season permit allows more flexibility.”

Cope noted that the tags can be used only during general seasons and in game management units that are open during a modern firearm, muzzleloader, or archery general season. For example, winners may not hunt during the muzzleloader general season in an area that is not open for the muzzleloader general season.

Also, hunters can apply only once for each species and are limited to harvesting one deer or elk.

Hunters may purchase a multiple-season permit application at an authorized license dealer, listed at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/ , or by calling (866) 246-9453. The permit application is $7.10 for residents and $110.50 for nonresidents.

A 2015 hunting license is not required to submit an application, but winners of the drawing must purchase one before they can purchase a multiple-season tag.

Hunting licenses and multiple-season tags can be purchased from local license dealers, on the Internet (http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ ) or by calling (866) 246-9453. Including transaction fees, multiple-season deer tags cost $139.10 for residents or non-residents, in addition to the cost of an annual hunting license, while elk tags cost $182.00 for residents and nonresidents in addition to the cost of an annual hunting license.  For more information, visit WDFW’s website athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/ , or call the licensing department at (360) 902-2464.

 

(JASON BAUER)

WDFW approves razor clam dig starting March 2

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

OLYMPIA – Clam diggers can return to two coastal beaches Monday (March 2) through Thursday (March 5) to dig razor clams during a month packed with potential digging opportunities.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig at Long Beach and Twin Harbors after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

As in previous openings, the dig is scheduled on evening tides. No digging will be allowed on any beach before noon.

(JASON BAUER)

(JASON BAUER)

Under state law, diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

The four-day dig is scheduled for the following dates, beaches and low tides:

  • March 2, Monday, 4:49 p.m.; 0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • March 3, Tuesday, 5:26 p.m.; 0.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • March 4, Wednesday, 5:59 p.m.; 0.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • March 5, Thursday; 6:30 p.m.; 0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

WDFW shellfish managers have tentatively scheduled a nine-day dig beginning March 16. Low tides will switch to morning from evening tides midway through the proposed dig on the following dates, beaches and tides:

  • March 16, Monday, 4:15 p.m.; 0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • March 17, Tuesday, 5:08 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • March 18, Wednesday, 5:57 p.m.; -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • March 19, Thursday, 6:42 p.m.; -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • March 20, Friday, 7:26 p.m.; -0.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks

Seasonal switch to morning tides

  • March 21, Saturday, 7:55 a.m.; -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • March 22, Sunday, 8:42 a.m.; -0.7 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • March 23, Monday, 9:31 a.m.; -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • March 24, Tuesday, 10:21 a.m.; -0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2014-15 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website athttps://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

More information about razor clams is available on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

 

Plastic Junk Found In Vedder River Steelhead’s Stomach

Long research into the field here in the Northwest suggests that steelhead will bite a whooooooole lot of different things, but what was inside the gut of one caught on a river just north of the Washington border is a little disturbing.

“Shards of blue, orange, black and white plastic, some the size of a loonie,” a Canadian one-dollar coin that’s larger than a quarter, were pulled out of the winter-run’s stomach and intestinal tract, according to an article in The Province.

Angler Jordan Butt, 32, reported catching the steelhead on the Vedder River, northeast of Lynden, Wash., and a tributary of the Fraser, in mid-February, and thought it looked like the bits had been in the fish awhile.

It’s suspected debris was ingested in the saltwater.

While the Great Pacific Garbage patch is well known, it’s also well offshore and probably not even close to where steelhead (and salmon) feed during their ocean phase, so a more nearshore source is suspected.

The plastic probably would have affected the fish’s ability to feed and digest, but Butt reportedly said it fought healthily.

Anyone else find weird bits in a steelhead’s stomach?

STOMACH CONTENTS OF A PEND OREILLE RIVER PIKE. (JASON CONNER, KNRD)

State, Tribal Managers Say They’re Winning Battle Against Invasive Pike In Pend Oreille

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

State and tribal fish managers are winning the battle against invasive northern pike on a section of the Pend Oreille River in northeast Washington, but they don’t expect to declare victory anytime soon.

For the fourth straight year, crews from the Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources Department (KNRD) will use gill nets to remove non-native pike from Box Canyon Reservoir and work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to monitor the results.

As in previous years, the netting operation will run five days per week through March and April, even though fish managers estimate they have already removed more than 90 percent of the northern pike from the reservoir.

“Northern pike are voracious predators that pose a significant threat to native and game fish species,” said Bruce Bolding, WDFW warmwater fish program manager. “We can’t stop these fish from moving into Washington waters from Idaho, but we’re going to do everything we can to keep their numbers as low as possible.”

STOMACH CONTENTS OF A PEND OREILLE RIVER PIKE. (JASON CONNER, KNRD)

STOMACH CONTENTS OF A PEND OREILLE RIVER PIKE. (JASON CONNER, KNRD)

A key goal is to keep northern pike from moving downstream from the Pend Oreille River into the Columbia River, where they could affect salmon and steelhead populations, Bolding said.

Surveys conducted by WDFW and KNRD between 2004 and 2011 documented a rapid increase in the number of pike in Box Canyon Reservoir and a significant decline in abundance of other fish species.

Bolding said gillnetting during early spring has proven to be the most effective method of reducing northern pike. Between 2012 and 2014, more than 16,000 fish (38,000 pounds) were removed by netting.

In addition, anglers harvested a total of 334 northern pike during “PikePalooza” fishing derbies sponsored by KNRD, which offered more than $20,000 in cash and prizes over the past three years.

Jason Olson, KNRD Fisheries Conservation Program Manager, said the tribe will not conduct similar fishing derbies this year, because the numbers of northern pike have been reduced so far.

“We expect sport angler catch rates for northern pike in Box Canyon Reservoir to remain low,” Olson said. “However, bass fishing can be exceptional, and populations of brown trout and panfish are showing signs of rebounding.”

State and tribal fishery managers encourage anglers to harvest as many northern pike as they can from both Box Canyon and Boundary reservoirs. Under state law, any northern pike that is caught must be killed before it is removed from the area in which it was taken.

While the Box Canyon Reservoir has the state’s largest population of northern pike, anglers have also reported catching them in the Columbia River just north of the Canada border, near Northport and Kettle Falls, and in the Spokane River from Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho to Long Lake in Spokane County.

Bolding said problems with northern pike started with illegal releases of the fish into the Flathead, Bitterroot and Clark Fork river systems in Montana, where they migrated downstream into Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille and into Washington.

For more information about northern pike in Washington and annual summaries of the project see http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/esox_lucius/ .

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IDFG Reports ‘Signs Of Improvement,’ ‘Robust’ Numbers In Some Elk Herds

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME

St. Joe Elk Herd Shows Signs of Improvement

By Wayne Wakkinen, Panhandle Region

Elk hunting in the Panhandle has a long and rich tradition.  For many years the Panhandle was one of the very few places in the United States that had a general either-sex elk hunt that allowed modern centerfire rifles.  In most places, antlerless elk have been managed under limited entry controlled “cow” hunts, or imposed weapon restrictions such as archery-only hunts.

Unfortunately, in 2012, low calf:cow ratios observed during winter elk surveys caused Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) to eliminate the general either-sex elk hunt.  So what caused the low calf:cow ratios and is there any encouraging news from current surveys?

The low ratios were not caused by a single issue, but rather a combination of factors. These include declining habitat quality, predation by black bears and mountain lions and wolves, changes in the ability of people to access areas, and technology that can increase hunting success rates.  Additionally there are things that people cannot control, such as winter severity and summer drought.

Some of these factors create a cascading effect.  For example, declining habitat quality can result in cows in poor body condition.  This in turn can result in lower birth weights of calves, something that’s been shown to be an important factor in calf survival.  The condition of a cow elk can affect the ability to survive severe winters and to escape predators.

What can IDFG do to improve elk hunting in the Panhandle?  Because the current situation is caused by many factors, the solution will also have to be multi-pronged.

The first step that IDFG took was the unpopular decision to eliminate the general season on antlerless elk.  The change resulted is an increase in cow survival, thus preserving the breeding stock that is going to be necessary to rebuild elk herds.

Another step taken was the liberalization of predator seasons.  Black bear and mountain lion seasons have been lengthened and in some units hunters can now use electronic calls and a second tag.  Wolf hunting and trapping seasons have been lengthened region-wide and hunters and trappers can take multiple wolves.

But these steps are only part of the solution.  Without a long term commitment focused on improving the quality of elk habitat, gains in elk survival will be more difficult to come by.

Elk prefer younger forests that provide nutritious browse.  The 1910 fire and large fires in the 1920s and 1930s created expansive shrubfields that were conducive to a growing elk herd.  That, coupled with widespread predator reductions, resulted in a very robust elk population starting in the 1950s.  These shrubfields are now near or over 100 years old.  They don’t provide the nutrition they once did, and further, they can be so thick that elk become more vulnerable to predation.

IDFG is working with major landowners, primarily the U. S. Forest Service, to manage forests to benefit elk and other ungulates.  Prescribed fire in old shrubfields can help, as can well-designed timber harvest.

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Is any of this working?  There are encouraging signs that some of these efforts are having a positive effect.

During winter surveys in the Panhandle, IDFG uses a ratio of 30 calves per 100 cows as a yardstick for a healthy elk herd.  As recently as 2008, ratios were as high as 43:100 in Unit 7 in the St Joe drainage, but ratios declined following the harsh winters of 2007-09.  This isn’t unusual following a hard winter, but typically the ratio bounces back within a couple of years.  Unfortunately, calf:cow ratios remained low in Unit 7, with winter surveys finding 9, 12 and 13 calves per 100 cows in 2012, 2013, and 2014.  Why weren’t we seeing a rebound in elk numbers?

Elk can become trapped in a “predator pit”.  This can happen when elk numbers are reduced for some reason, such as a hard winter, but there is still alternate prey available that support high predator numbers.  In northern Idaho, white-tailed deer are abundant and prolific.  They can recover quickly from population declines and in turn can support high densities of predators.  The high number of predator can take enough elk to keep elk numbers low.

The good news is that surveys conducted this winter showed a substantial increase in elk calf:cow ratios.  Ratios in Unit 7 above Avery averaged 30 calves per 100 cows and Unit 6 around Calder had over 40 calves per 100 cows.  What happened?

Just like the cause of the decline, it is probably a combination of things.  Northern Idaho experienced its third mild winter in a row, something that undoubtedly helped.  Liberal hunting seasons on predators affected their numbers and have likely helped elk escape from the predator pit.  If the current conditions remain the same or improve, we may see a continued improvement in the St Joe elk herds.

IDFG has no intention of eliminating any of the predator species.  IDFG has an obligation to maintain populations of all wildlife in the state and that includes black bears, mountain lions, and wolves.  We will, however, take steps to reduce predator numbers when they negatively impact elk or deer populations.

We also can’t lose sight of habitat issues.  Predation management is expensive and labor intensive and weather events are out of our control.  Long term improvements in the quality of elk habitat are an essential part of the equation for insuring the continued existence of healthy Panhandle elk herds.

 

Wildlife Crews Find “Robust” Elk Populations

Recent survey flights by Idaho Fish and Game wildlife staffers confirmed that elk populations in two local elk “zones” are in great shape. For several days in early January, Fish and Game biologists flew large portions of the Boise River Zone and the adjacent Smoky-Bennett Zone, counting and classifying elk in each area.

In the Boise River Zone, elk numbers totaled 7,769 animals, with cow elk (5,417) and calf elk (1,317) making up the majority of the count. More than 1,000 bulls were part of the total, and classified as follows: 448 spikes, 240 raghorn bulls and 347 mature bulls.

The calf/cow index, used to gauge the health and growth status of an elk herd, was calculated at 24 calves/100 cows. The bull/cow ratio penciled out at 19 bulls/100 cows.

Wildlife biologist Jake Powell, who spent several days in a Bell 47G helicopter counting elk, provided some perspective on the numbers. “In reference to the Department’s elk management plan, these figures exceed the population objectives for this elk herd,” Powell explained. “For example, our total cow elk objective for the Boise River Zone is a range between 3,200 and 4,800 animals. The 5,417 figure is obviously well above that which might translate into increased hunter opportunity this fall.” Powell also noted that the poor snow conditions made surveying elk a bit difficult. “We saw animals as high as 7,000 feet which required additional time and effort to survey,” Powell said.

The Smoky-Bennett Zone is new for 2015, combining the former Smoky Zone with the adjacent Bennett Hills Zone based on elk movements between the two areas. A January survey of this zone produced equally encouraging numbers.

The Smoky-Bennett Zone elk herd totaled 4,871 animals, with cow elk (2,712) and calf elk (1,173) making up the majority of the count. Nearly 1,000 bulls were part of the total, and classified as follows: 337 spikes, 349 raghorn bulls and 300 mature bulls.

The Smoky-Bennett Zone calf/cow index was calculated at 43 calves/100 cows, while the bull/cow ratio was calculated at 36 bulls/100 cows. “Both the calf/cow and bull/cow ratios are encouraging,” Fish and Game wildlife manager Daryl Meints noted. “Both ratios are signs of a very healthy elk herd.”

When the Smoky-Bennett Zone was established in 2014, new population objectives were developed as well. “Objectives for this zone, as laid out in the elk plan call for 2,000 to 3,000 cow elk, 620 to 930 total bulls and 400 to 595 adult bulls,” Meints said. “Our January counts have this herd at the top end of the cow elk objective and over objective in both bull categories. That bodes well for the 2015 elk season.”

In order to better quantify elk numbers across both the Boise River and Smoky-Bennett Zones, the two were flown simultaneously to account for some elk that move between these zones during winter months. Conducting the survey in this fashion resulted in a more representative calculation of elk numbers within and across the two zones.

Because both zones are above population objectives, increased harvest opportunity for elk in both areas has been proposed. Review and comment on 2015 big game hunting season proposals on the Fish and Game website at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/public-involvement.

ACE WADE OF CASTLE ROCK SHOWS OFF A COWLITZ SPRING CHINOOK HE CAUGHT ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21. (ACE WADE, VIA JEFF HOLMES)

Columbia, SW WA Fishing Reports (2-23-15)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS ORIGINATE FROM TANNA TAKATA, ODFW, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC

  • Steelhead angling was fair in the John Day pool last week.

  • Effective Jan. 1 through March 1, 2015 sturgeon retention is open in the Bonneville Pool.  The catch guideline for Bonneville Pool is 1,100 legal white sturgeon.  Anglers are catching a few legals.

  • Effective Jan. 1, 2015 sturgeon retention is open in The Dalles Pool until the respective guideline of 100 legal white sturgeon is met.  Angling was slow last week.

  • Effective Jan. 1, 2015 sturgeon retention is open in the John Day Pool until the respective guideline of 500 legal white sturgeon is met.  Boat anglers caught a few legals last week.

  • White sturgeon retention in the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam is closed but remains an option for catch-and-release fishing.

  • Walleye fishing was excellent in The Dalles and John Day pools last week.

SALMON, STEELHEAD AND SHAD On Saturday’s (2/21) flight, 63 salmonid boats and 167 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Columbia River Estuary to Bonneville Dam.

Gorge Bank: No report.

Gorge Boats: No report.

Troutdale Boats: No report.

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekly checking showed one adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook and four adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus nine unclipped steelhead released for 161 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats: Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (one angler).

Estuary Bank (Clatsop Spit to Wauna Powerlines): No report.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Wauna Powerlines): No report.

Bonneville Pool (Columbia River between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam): No report.

The Dalles Pool (Columbia River between The Dalles Dam and John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for six bank anglers.

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm): Weekly checking showed two adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept for 25 bank anglers; and one unclipped steelhead released for one boat (two anglers).

STURGEON Lower Columbia (below Bonneville Dam): Closed to retention, catch-and-release only. No report.

Bonneville Pool (Columbia River between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam):  Weekly checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept, plus 29 sublegal sturgeon released for 54 bank anglers; and one legal white sturgeon kept, plus 142 sublegal sturgeon released for 21 boats (55 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (Columbia River between The Dalles Dam and John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept, plus one sublegal sturgeon released for 28 bank anglers; and one legal white sturgeon kept, plus one legal and 12 sublegal sturgeon released for seven boats (16 anglers)

John Day Pool (Columbia River between John Day Dam and McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for 23 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 11 sublegal sturgeon released for 23 boats (55 anglers).

WALLEYE

Bonneville Pool: Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (two anglers).

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed two walleye kept for three bank anglers; and 33 walleye kept for 13 boats (30 anglers)

John Day Pool (Columbia River between John Day Dam and McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler; and 60 walleye kept, plus 35 walleye released for 33 boats (68 anglers).

……………………………………

Salmon/Steelhead

Deep River – Effective March 1 – June 15, on days when the mainstem Columbia River recreational fishery below Bonneville Dam is open to retention of Chinook the salmonid daily bag limit in Deep River will be the same as mainstem Columbia River bag limits. On days when the mainstem Columbia River fishery is closed to Chinook retention, the permanent salmonid bag limit regulations for Deep River apply.

Coal Creek (near Longview) – Feb. 28 is the last day to fish for steelhead and other game fish below the falls.

Cowlitz River – 8 boat anglers kept 4 steelhead.  The fish were sampled from the trout hatchery area.

ACE WADE OF CASTLE ROCK SHOWS OFF A COWLITZ SPRING CHINOOK HE CAUGHT ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21. (ACE WADE, VIA JEFF HOLMES)

ACE WADE OF CASTLE ROCK SHOWS OFF A COWLITZ RIVER SPRING CHINOOK HE CAUGHT ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, WHILE FISHING WITH FRIEND DENNIS SCHWARTZ OF CAMAS. (ACE WADE, VIA JEFF HOLMES)

During five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator, last week Tacoma Power recovered:
4 coho adults
59 winter-run steelhead

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released:
Eleven coho to the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,060 cubic feet per second on Monday, February 23.
Kress Lake – This past week 10 adult steelhead went to Kress Lake. Nine were Kalama Integrated stock and one was Early Winter stock.  No report on angling success.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the I-5 Bridge downstream – Effort increased with the nice weather but catches remain light.  We didn’t sample any fish though a few spring Chinook have been reported caught.

On the Saturday Feb. 21 effort flight count, a total of 63 boats and 266 bank anglers were tallied.  Effort was spread throughout the river.

Effective March 1- May 15, the mainstem Columbia River will be open for retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead
and shad ONLY during days and in areas open for retention of adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook.

Mainstem Columbia from Buoy 10 upstream to the I-5 Bridge – Open to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery
steelhead through April 10 (except closed Tuesdays March 24, March 31, and April 7).  Effective March 1, the adult
salmonid limit will be 2 fish of which no more than one may be a hatchery Chinook.

Mainstem Columbia from the I-5 Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam – Effective March 1 through April 10 (except
closed Tuesdays March 24, March 31, and April 7), open to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead
The adult salmonid limit will be 2 fish of which no more than one may be a hatchery Chinook.

No additional adult Chinook have been observed at Bonneville Dam since Feb. 8 when the one fish was counted.

Bonneville Pool – No effort observed for steelhead.

The Dalles Pool – Light effort and catch for steelhead.

John Day Pool – Bank and boat anglers are catching some steelhead.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort is light during the current catch-and-release season.  Only a single boat was observed fishing for sturgeon during last Saturday’s effort flight count.

Bonneville and The Dalles pools – Bank and boat anglers are catching a few legals.

In Bonneville Pool, an estimated 135 (12.%) of the 1,100 fish guideline had been taken through February 15.  Sturgeon may be retained in Bonneville Pool through March 1.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – A few boat anglers were fishing for walleye and bass.  However, they had no catch.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers averaged about a walleye kept per rod.   Effort was light for bass and no catch was observed.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged nearly 1.4 walleye per rod.  Effort was light for bass and no catch was observed.

ACQUISITION OF THE 8,000-ACRE LOWER DESCHUTES RIVER RANCH WOULD PROVIDE A LARGER CORRIDOR OF PUBLIC LAND ALONG THE FAMED NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON STREAM. (ODFW)

Meeting Feb. 26 On ODFW’s Plan To Acquire Large Lower Deschutes Ranch For Habitat, Access

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

In collaboration with the Trust for Public Land (TPL), ODFW is considering acquiring about 10,000 acres in the Lower Deschutes River Canyon in north central Oregon (Wasco  County).

Learn more at a public meeting being held this Thursday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m. at The Dalles ODFW Screen Shop, 3561 Klindt Drive.

The property is known as the Lower Deschutes River Ranch. Its purchase by ODFW would add to the existing 8,000-acre Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area and create 25,000 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat and public access on the west side of the Deschutes River.

ACQUISITION OF THE 8,000-ACRE LOWER DESCHUTES RIVER RANCH WOULD PROVIDE A LARGER CORRIDOR OF PUBLIC LAND ALONG THE FAMED NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON STREAM. (ODFW)

ACQUISITION OF THE 10,000-ACRE LOWER DESCHUTES RIVER RANCH WOULD PROVIDE A LARGER CONTIGUOUS CORRIDOR OF PUBLIC LAND ALONG WEST BANK OF THE FAMED NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON STREAM. (ODFW)

The parcel contains several key Oregon Conservation Strategy habitats, including the easternmost remnant stand of oak woodlands left in Oregon. ODFW would work to protect and restore these habitats while also providing hunting, wildlife viewing and fishing opportunities to the public.

ODFW staff are working with TPL establish a purchase and sale agreement for ODFW to purchase the land from TPL. A final agreement will require ODFW completion of state due diligence requirements, Fish and Wildlife Commission approval and legislative budget approval.

Funds for the purchase have been obtained through the TPL and multiple outside grant sources. ODFW would also use internal mitigation funds and Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds administered by US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Members of the public may come to the meeting on Feb. 26 to learn more and provide comment. Comments can also be emailed to odfw.comments@state.or.us, faxed to 541-298-4993 or mailed to ODFW, 3701 W 13th Street, The Dalles, OR 97058

For more information please contact Jeremy Thompson at 541-296-4628.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Turns Out Blackmouth Are Still Biting On BC Side Of The San Juans

Editor’s notes: Over the weekend, while one gang of blackmouth anglers in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca reported catching an immature Chinook that had dined on somewhat exotic butterfish, another from the San Juans crossed into Canadian waters to continue the season’s good fishing. Here’s the report from the latter group:

REPORT COURTESY KEVIN KLEIN, SJI-PSA

With Marine Area 7 closed for the season, we decided to head over to Canada for the weekend to take advantage of the great weather. Well, guess what, the fishing was pretty darn good on clipped hatchery fish from  the U.S. That’s right, our Blackmouth are right across the border.

The Canadian hatcheries, for the most part, don’t clip their smolts, so we know they’re U.S. fish. Figures, go where you can keep unclipped Chinook, and all you catch is clean shaven clippers. Oh, well, you gave us round bacon, we can spare our brothers to the North some fish, I guess.

Pictures:

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Carol Holman and Vicki Telford made a run for the border that yielded some smooth backed Omega-3 delivery systems, made in the U.S. A.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

The ladies pretty much just do it all these days. Makes it nice, no pesky reeling or netting, just kick back and relax. Maybe drive the boat.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Carol puts one in the bag. Is that Gucci or Louis? No, looks like Frabill to me. The hat matches the electronics, no red carpet faux pas here.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

The Silver Horde San Juan Islands gang represents in the Two Five Oh. Tailwagger’s and Coho Killer’s were the hot ticket, just like home.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Hey, that boat looks familiar! Chuck Payne and Frank Guard made it over for the day from Friday Harbor.