Caribou Reported In Northwest Montana

Just days after British Columbia wildlife managers announced they would round up the last two members of a mountain caribou herd that haunts the international border country, Montana officials are reporting sightings in the northwestern corner of their state.


“The multiple sightings include the potential for a bull and a cow in separate locations,” Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported in a press release out yesterday.

As hunting seasons in the area continued, the agency urged sportsmen to be sure of their targets, as both sexes of adult caribou carry antlers.


The border-crossing South Selkirk herd has declined in recent years, with a particularly sharp drop reported earlier this year.

Where there were a dozen animals in late winter 2017, only a trio — all cows — were spotted during an intensive three-day survey this past March.

Kalispel Tribe biologist Bart George speculated that it was possible other members had been hit by an avalanche or there was a vehicle strike on the main Canadian highway through the mountains, though he didn’t hear of one.

Perhaps some struck out on their own instead.

The plan is to capture the two South Selkirk cows — the third was killed by a cougar this summer — and put with the last three bulls and a cow from the South Purcell herd in a pen 100 miles north of the border.

It’s hoped the animals will breed and a subpopulation could return to the Lower 48, according to a Spokane Spokesman-Review article out over the weekend.

It’s believed that clearcutting in mountain caribou habitat created plentiful browse for moose and other deer species to colonize the heights, and that in turn brought up more cougars, bears and wolves.

Unlike their cousins on the tundra, these caribou apparently didn’t recognize the predators as threats and have declined sharply as a result.

US, Canada Agree To New West Coast Salmon Treaty

Updated 4:29 p.m. Sept. 17, 2018

US and Canadian salmon managers have reached a new 10-year agreement on Chinook harvest and conservation, one that must still be approved in the countries’ capitals but calls for reduced northern interceptions when runs are poor.


Fisheries off Southeast Alaska would be cut as much as 7.5 percent from 2009-15 levels in those years, while those off the west coast of Vancouver Island would be pruned up to 12.5 percent.

Those are key areas that Washington- and Columbia River-bound kings travel through during their ocean sojourn and a bone of contention for managers at all levels.

“I think that thorniness is why it took the countries two and a half years and numerous negotiation sessions,” said John Field, the executive secretary of the Pacific Salmon Commission.

The update to the international treaty would run from Jan. 1, 2019 through 2028 and be in effect down to Cape Falcon, Oregon. It also covers chums, sockeye, pinks and coho.

Field termed the section on Chinook a “long and complicated chapter” and said that all parties are acknowledging that the species isn’t recovering as well as we’d like, so the burden of harvest cuts is being spread out.

According to Governor Jay Inslee’s office, “Fisheries in Washington will remain tightly constrained unless runs exceed management objectives.”

Alaska salmon managers report that Washington and Oregon fisheries could see reductions from 5 to 15 percent.

Washington’s member of the salmon commission, Phil Anderson, the retired WDFW director, said the plan would “create a better future for salmon in Washington.”

Field, who counts himself as a sports fishermen, said that fellow anglers can rest assured that Chinook management will be improved with “augmentations” in the treaty, including improved tagging for mark-selective fisheries, a 10-year schedule to upgrade monitoring of “sentinel” stocks and a review after five years to see if the reductions are actually yielding better king runs.

The importance of Chinook has been in the spotlight of late with the plight of southern resident killer whales and the likely death of yet another one, J50.

According to Inslee’s office, US salmon commissioners will seek out more money from Washington DC for habitat and hatchery work.

“Additional federal funding is essential in order to make the key conservation work possible to recover salmon, and in turn, our orca,” Inslee said.

“Successful updates to the Pacific Salmon Treaty through 2028 will help ensure long-term sustainable and healthy salmon populations that are vital to the people of the Pacific Northwest, and to the entire ecosystem,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown in a press release.


Northwest Duck Production Up, Annual USFWS Survey Reports

Northwest waterfowlers should see more mallards and other ducks for the youth hunting weekends next month and when the general season begins in October, but potentially fewer later in fall and winter as northern birds arrive.

Those are some of the bullet points from a federal survey released today.

It reports that Oregon numbers are up 23 percent over last year while Washington counts rose 16 percent.


While the bulk of our flocks fly in from British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and Alaska, local production sustains early hunting before cold weather pushes northern birds south.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 294,000 ducks were counted this year in Oregon, up from 240,000 last year, while 281,000 were tallied in Washington, a rise of 39,000 from 2017.

Those are 12 and 59 percent above the long-term averages, respectively.

Mallard counts were also up in both states, from 72,000 to 93,000 in the former and 103,000 to 125,000 in the latter. Those figures are 7 and 51 percent above the average.

USFWS reported that while habitat conditions declined in Oregon compared to 2017, they were still considered “fair to good” because of 2016-17’s wet winter. A wet April helped keep ponds up in Washington, biologists reported.


Idaho: Area 1 (all counties except Valley, western half of Power and Southeast Idaho): Oct. 13-Jan. 25; Area 2: Oct. 6-Jan. 18

Oregon: Zone 1 (Western, Northcentral counties): Oct. 13-28, Oct. 31-Jan. 27; Zone 2 (Central, Eastern Counties): Oct. 6-Nov. 25, Nov. 28-Jan. 20; Statewide youth weekend: Sept. 22-23; Note: several state and federal refuges also offer youth hunting days; see the regs for dates, application deadlines

Washington: Oct. 13-31, Nov. 3-Jan. 27; Westside youth weekend: Sept. 22-23; Eastside youth weekend: Sept. 29-30

In the “prime” breeding grounds of southern and interior British Columbia, habitat conditions were “very good” to “good,” leading to a slight rise in mallard numbers.

Surveys further north, however, found fewer ducks. Numbers in Alaska and the Yukon declined 15 percent over 2017 and fell below the long-term average, while in northern BC, northern and central Alberta and the Northwest Territory, they dropped 13 percent.

Southern Alberta flocks fell 14 percent while those in Montana and North and South Dakota were essentially unchanged.

Ducks Unlimited reported that, overall, U.S. and Canadian duck numbers were down 13 percent over last year but were still 17 percent above the longterm average.

“The dip in the population for prairie-breeding puddle ducks is not unexpected and by no means unprecedented given that conditions on the prairies this spring were drier than last year,” said DU Chief Scientist Tom Moorman in a press release. “This year’s breeding population decline is a reminder of the need to sustain the capacity of breeding habitats, particularly in the prairies as we go through natural variation in wetland conditions. Waterfowl populations are adapted well to short-term swings in habitat conditions, but we must continue to guard against the long-term loss of prairie breeding habitat.”

Grand scheme, North American mallard, gadwall, green- and blue-winged teal, shoveler and redhead numbers are all declining year to year but still above average, widgeon and canvasback numbers are about average, while pintail and scaup are below average and declining, according to USFWS.


Seattle Chapter members of Ducks Unlimited are looking to build on their phenomenal support of waterfowl and their habitat with another blockbuster annual banquet early next month.

“We’ve raised more over the past decade than any other Ducks Unlimited chapter in the US,” says organizer and longtime waterfowler Greg James. “We are the first chapter to go over $300,000 net at a dinner, and then the first one to go over $400,000 net.”

In 2016, Seattle DU was honored with a place on the Chairman’s Roll of Honor chapters list, for those that raise $250,000 to $1 million.

Last year’s banquet raised $400,000 for wetlands conservation, James says, and as a DU newsletter states, the chapter’s efforts are showing “that the Emerald City can be known for something other than coffee, jets, and software.”

The 2018 edition is set for Oct. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The evening features a five-star dinner, wines, entertainment and an auction.

For more, contact Karin Dow-Martinez at (206) 524-5300 or karin@kdmanagement.net.

New Book Tells Story Of Woman Who Co-owned Rivers Inlet Salmon Fishing Resort

Each December we feature the Real Women of Northwest Fishing, and recently British Columbia fishing resort owner Pat Ardley wrote a book about her many years running the lodge with her husband George.

Grizzlies, Gales and Giant Salmon: Life at a Rivers Inlet Fishing Lodge is “the story of a woman who overcame her fears and stepped far outside her realm of comforts, as well as a touching tribute to raising a family and life in BC’s secluded wilderness,” according to Harbour Publishing, which published Ardley’s book last month.


It is available through Amazon and elsewhere.

The following is excerpted by permission from Harbour Publishing.

by Pat Ardley

Our First Crossing

The front of the boat plowed into the huge swell of water, and the wave crashed over the bow, washed up and over the windshield and along the top. I was cringing in my seat, holding on for dear life. We rose up on the next swell and the water moved on, leaving our boat suspended in air. We crashed down into the hollow between swells and the entire thirty- foot length shuddered as it seemed to haul itself back up for breath. I kept wondering how long this boat could take such pounding. The waves were relentless. How long can I take this pounding? I’m sorry, Mom, kept going around and around in my head.


We were running the boat from Finn Bay to Port Hardy for John Buck. He had headed out in his smaller and faster speedboat and was possibly already in town. There had been a terrible storm over the last few days and the fifteen-foot swell was what was left of it as we headed out early in the morning. Because of the poor water condition, we had to go very slow, with the speed barely registering, and we had about fifty miles to travel across Queen Charlotte Sound, which was open water all the way to Japan. By the time we were almost halfway across, the wind started to strengthen and there was a large chop on top of the swells. I wanted to go back. George couldn’t turn the boat around or we would have been swamped between the swells. We were already going as slow as he dared to go but we had to keep some forward speed to control the direction of the boat and keep it from wallowing and possibly sinking. At this point I was thinking, If I die out here, Dad’s going to kill me! Wave after wave crashed over us, and the boat shuddered and shook, squealed and groaned. Or was that last part just me? I couldn’t tell anymore.


While I can’t say that George was exactly happy that we were in this predicament, he was very confident in his ability, and he viewed the waves and swell as a challenge. He has a profound sense that boats are made to float while I had simply acquired a pathological fear of boats and water and drowning. I could taste it. Salty and desperate and I’m sorry Mom, if I’d known this could happen I would never have agreed to be here! The water was a dark, angry grey, and now large whitecaps were forming on top of the waves on top of the swells.

When the waves washed over the top there was a feeling that the boat was going down. Tons of water held the boat like a huge hand pushing down on us. We didn’t talk, we couldn’t talk. The noise of the wind and waves was thunderous. The wind shrieked in the crack in the window that I kept trying to push closed but most of the time couldn’t coordinate with all the jerking and crashing. I kept trying because salt water was forcing its way in with each wave and I was getting soaked with freezing cold water. We pounded with every wave and now the tops were being blown off the whitecaps. Tops are blown off when the wind is over thirty-five miles per hour. “Please make this stop!” was now my mantra. I said it over and over, mixed with “Please send me a skyhook that can pluck me out of this boat and put me on dry land!”


There were no other boats out here. Everyone else must have listened to the weather report. No one crosses the sound when a storm is forecast, which is something I know now, but especially not in a slow boat. The weather can change a lot in the six hours that a normal trip would take. And it did. When we rose to the top of a swell I could just make out the lighthouse on Pine Island through the mist. I knew that just ahead of Pine Island was a stretch called the Storm Islands and then the relative safety of Goletas Channel. I had to hold on for a while yet. I dug down deep inside me and brought out more reserves of strength and determination and started deep-breathing to maintain control of myself so I didn’t end up a pool of jellyfish sloshing around on the floor of the boat. Then I started singing in my head. I was too worn out and still being slammed around to be able to sing out loud. I sang every word to every Christmas song and every folk song and every pop tune that I could remember, and then I sang them again. This deep-breathing and singing is what I now call my “safe place,” which I have gone to many times over the years to get through some pretty harrowing situations.


We were passing Pine Island very slowly, and we were making very little headway. But wave by wave we plowed our way forward and headed into what I hoped would be the relief of Goletas Channel. There is a lighthouse at Scarlett Point, right at the corner of Christie Pass, which leads into Goletas Channel, and as we passed it I could see several people waving encouragement to us from the deck of the tower. The water was different here, with very little swell, but the waves were higher and coming faster. I had hoped for a feeling of safety when we turned into the channel but we were still in danger. We were no longer dropping heavily between swells, but now we were crashing and crashing through the waves. The sky started darkening, and I felt my heart plunge again. How can we do this in the dark?


The last hour of the trip from the channel into Hardy Bay and finally to the dock was agonizingly slow. Every bone in my body was aching, I could hardly hold my head up and I was numb and chilled to the bone. I had not even been able to reach for anything to put over my shoulders to fight the frigid onslaught of spray. It was pitch dark until we turned the corner into the bay and could see the lights of Port Hardy, nestled safely onshore. George’s eyes were fried from focusing so hard on the water and his arms were ready to fall off. Later we discovered a blister that covered his whole hand from working the throttle for twelve gruelling hours. We finally tied up at the government wharf in Port Hardy and stumbled up the dock.

What kind of life had I gotten myself into?

None Of Last 3 South Selkirk Caribou Were Pregnant

More grim news about the last herd of mountain caribou known to frequent the Lower 48: Pregnancy tests on the remaining three females all came back negative.

That means the subpopulation of North America’s southernmost caribou is dangerously close to becoming extirpated from Washington and Idaho.


The news has left wildlife biologists wondering what to do next.

“We don’t really know,” said Bart George with the Kalispel Tribe north of Spokane. “We’re trying to figure that out, talking to our Canadian counterparts.”

The only three members of the South Selkirk Herd seen during a three-day March survey, biological samples were taken from the cows during capture and collar operations, and George had been hopeful that they’d been bred the previous fall.

But the negative results now suggest that the other animals all died between late winter 2017’s count of 11 and last October’s and November’s rut.

“I don’t know where we would’ve missed them,” George said of this year’s search.

He points to changed predator-prey dynamics in the heights where the caribou feed on lichen that grows on old-growth timber, which is being logged, opening up browse for deer, moose and elk, which brought up bears, cougars and increasingly, wolves.

George said that the three South Selkirk females are otherwise in their prime breeding years.

“They should have been bred” if there was another bull in the area, he said.

It’s now bitterly ironic, but last fall a maternity pen was constructed specifically for these females to be able to rear calves in a predator-proof enclosure.

Another recent survey found just four mountain caribou in the South Purcell herd, which roams near Kimberley, BC, about 40 miles north of the international border.

George said it’s possible that that quartet — all bulls — could end up together with the South Selkirk trio.

Recent news coverage of the dramatic decline in the herd focused on the word extinction, but that’s not really the correct term.

“If this herd is extirpated, it’s a pretty significant range constriction for southern mountain caribou,” said George.

But he’s still not ready to give up hope.

“We’re still going to be managing caribou one way or another. We’re going to do our best for this herd and try getting caribou back on the landscape,” he said.

Only 3 South Selkirk Caribou Left, Intensive Survey Finds

There may be only three mountain caribou left in Washington’s, Idaho’s and British Columbia’s herd — a 75-percent decline since last year.


Mid-March’s intensive three-day winter survey found only cows as well.

“It’s a tough situation for caribou in the South Selkirks,” says Bart George, a wildlife biologist for the Kalispel Tribe in Cusick, north of Spokane.

It marks a new low for a herd challenged by large-scale habitat alterations and new predators, wolves, arriving in the heights.

At one time mountain caribou were as numerous as “bugs,” according to a First Nations man interviewed for Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest, a film that made the rounds in the region last summer.

George says that the three cows, which are fairly young animals of seven years or less, were all captured and given GPS collars.

They were also tested to see if they were pregnant.

Those results just arrived in Vancouver and “hopefully” will be available soon, he says, but if the animals are pregnant, that would mean there may still be a bull or two somewhere out there on the landscape, or at least was last fall.

And if the cows successfully bear calves, the herd could possibly rebuild to six later this spring, George says.

If not, managers may need to supplement with caribou from farther north — though that may also depend on what surveys in the Purcell Mountains turn up.

“We’re not going to just let three animals, especially cows, die in the Selkirks,” George vows.

This winter has been pretty solid in this mountainous country, with snowpack at 150 percent of average — “great for caribou” — but it also buried a maternity pen that was built especially for the cows, rendering it useless for protection from predators.

It’s also too late to safely recapture the cows if they are pregnant, George says.

He plans to intensify his monitoring of the herd with a spotting scope, maybe even drones, in hopes of finding that they had calves.

The collars may also lead them to other caribou that somehow were overlooked during the fixed-wing and helicopter surveys last month.

“We were hoping for 12 again,” George says.

As for why the herd’s numbers dropped so precipitously from a dozen in March 2017, he says it’s possible that other members had been hit by an avalanche or there was a vehicle strike on the main highway through the mountains, though he didn’t hear of one.

“We’re still going to move forward as if there are caribou on the landscape, and go ahead with wolf control actions” on the BC side of the herd’s range, George says.

He notes that there’s a collar on one of Washington’s Salmo Pack, which numbers six and overlaps with the ungulate’s recovery zone.

Though the caribou primarily stay in Canada, the southernmost herd in North America still make occasional forays into Washington and Idaho, according to collar data, George says.


Correction: The Kalispel Tribe’s name and headquarters were incorrect in the original version of this post. They are based in Cusick, not Ione, further north on the Pend Oreille River.

2018 Northwest Sportsmen’s And Boat Show Schedule

The countdown’s on: The first of 2018’s Northwest fishing, hunting and boat shows is not that far down the road.


Here’s the schedule for shows being held in January, February, March and April in Idaho, western Montana, Oregon, southern British Columbia and Washington:

Jan. 5-7 Great Rockies Sport Show, Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds, Helena; greatrockiesshow.com

Jan. 10-14 Portland Boat Show, Expo Center, Portland; otshows.com

Jan. 17-21 Vancouver International Boat Show, BC Place, Granville Island; vancouverboatshow.ca

Jan. 19-21 Great Rockies Sport Show, MetraPark ExpoCenter, Billings; greatrockiesshow.com

Jan. 19-21 Tri-Cities Sportsmen Show, TRAC Center, Pasco; shuylerproductions.com

Jan. 20-Feb. 10 Spokane Valley Boat Show at Elephant Boys 2018, Elephant Boys, Spokane Valley, spokanevalleyboatshow.com

Jan. 24-28 Washington Sportsmen’s Show & Sport Fishing Boat Show, Puyallup Fair & Events Center; otshows.com


Jan. 26-Feb. 3 Seattle Boat Show, CenturyLink Field Event Center and South Lake Union, Bell Harbor, Seattle; seattleboatshow.com

Feb. 2-4 KEZI Eugene Boat & Sportsmen’s Show, Lane County Convention Center, Eugene; exposureshows.com


Feb. 7-11 Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show & Sport Fishing Boat Show, Expo Center, Portland; otshows.com

Feb. 16-18 Central Washington Sportsmen Show, SunDome, Yakima; shuylerproductions.com

Feb. 16-18 Servpro Douglas County Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show, Douglas County Fairgrounds, Roseburg, Ore.; exposureshows.com

Feb. 16-18 Victoria Boat and Fishing Show, Pearkes Recreational Centre, Victoria, British Columbia; victoriaboatshow.com

Feb. 17-18 Willamette Sportsman Show, Linn County Expo Center, Albany, Oregon; willamettesportsmanshow.com

Feb. 23-25 Great Rockies Sport Show, Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, Bozeman, Mont.; greatrockiesshow.com


Feb. 23-25 KDRV Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show, Jackson County Expo, Medford; exposureshows.com

Feb. 23-25 The Wenatchee Valley Sportsmen Show, Town Toyota Center, Wenatchee; shuylerproductions.com

Feb. 24-25 Saltwater Sportsmen’s Show, Oregon State Fairgrounds, Salem; saltwatersportsmensshow.com


March 1-4 Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show, Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, Redmond; otshows.com

March 1-4 Idaho Sportsman Show, Expo Idaho, Boise; idahosportsmanshow.com

March 2-4 BC Boat & Sportsmen’s Show, TRADEX, Abbotsford; bcboatandsportsmenshow.ca

March 9-10 Northwest Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo, Linn County Expo Center, Albany; nwexpo.com

March 15-18 Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show, Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds, Spokane; bighornshow.com


March 16-18 Great Rockies Sport Show, Adams Center, Missoula, Mont.; greatrockiesshow.com

April 19-22 Mid-Columbia Boat Show, Columbia Point Park & Marina, Richland, Washington, midcolumbiaboatshow.com

April 20-22 The Monroe Sportsman Show, Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Monroe, Washington; monroesportsmanshow.com

May 17-20 Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show, Port of Anacortes’ Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes, Washington; anacortesboatandyachtshow.com