THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
An association of charter boat skippers is playing a vital role in helping the department monitor salmon fisheries, while a volunteer from Pend Oreille County has helped the department manage species ranging from moose to mountain lions.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recognized the contributions of these and other top volunteers during its 2018 citizen awards ceremony today in Olympia.
The Westport Charterboat Association (http://charterwestport.com) took home an Organization of the Year award for its work to monitor salmon, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the salmon encounter data provided by volunteers coast-wide this past year.
These data are used to determine overall impacts on salmon populations in mark-selective ocean salmon fisheries.
Mark-selective fisheries target salmon produced and marked at hatcheries to provide fish for harvest while supporting conservation of naturally spawning populations, said Wendy Beeghley, a WDFW fish biologist.
Data provided by the skippers and crews on both marked and non-marked fish have increased the department’s knowledge about salmon mark rates among all the salmon caught, including impacts of mark-selective salmon fisheries on unmarked populations.
“Over the past three years the Westport Charterboat Association skippers have really stepped up to help gather the data we need, supporting our science and management objectives in ways that are both economically efficient and effective,” said Beeghley.
The Lummi Nation was recognized with a Director’s Award for its swift response to Cooke Aquaculture’s accidental release of Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound last year.
“They were the first eyes on the water, providing the critical information Washington agencies needed to respond to this emergency,” said Joe Stohr, WDFW director. “Their fishers were on the scene immediately, working to contain the spill. We are grateful for their clarity of vision and expertise.”
Hank Jones, a land manager with the Calispel Duck Club, was recognized with a Volunteer of the Year award. Jones volunteers with the department to monitor wildlife–including moose, white-tailed deer and mountain lions by placing cameras and ground blinds to assist researchers.
“Hank’s willingness to volunteer his time, labor and considerable outdoor knowledge has benefited wildlife research on dozens of occasions,” said Jared Oyster, a WDFW wildlife biologist. “He has even helped moose researchers weather snow emergencies in the field, including freeing a stuck snowmobile and housing our moose technician when the power went down.”
Hank’s support for both our research and the people on our research team means that we understand predator-prey relationships better in Washington, Oyster said.
Other citizen awards announced by WDFW recognize volunteer educators, including the following:
· Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award: John Malek received the Terry Hoffer award for his contributions as a hunter education instructor. Malek’s work with teams of instructors in 21 separate hunter education classes from across the state resulted in certification of more than 500 students.
“John is a workhorse that goes the extra mile,” said Steve Dazey, a hunter education and volunteer coordinator with WDFW. From training new hunter education instructors, to conducting spring turkey hunting clinics, to assisting at our largest National Hunting and Fishing Day event, John is always there preparing the next generation of safe and ethical hunters.”
The award honors Wildlife Agent Terry Hoffer, who was fatally wounded by a hunter accidentally discharging his firearm in 1984.
· WDFW also recognized Educator of the Year, Marty Kotzke for his work to certify 227 new hunters in 15 classes, recruit new instructors, and train more than 400 young hunters through state and national Youth Hunter Education Challenge competitions (https://yhec.nra.org/).
“Marty’s passion to teach youth is paralleled by his willingness to assist the department. He volunteers a tremendous amount of time not only to hunter education, but also to the department’s wildlife program. Marty is always there for us when we need a hand,” said Dave Whipple, hunter education division manager.
Citizen volunteers around the state logged nearly 60,000 hours on WDFW projects in 2017. WDFW welcomes volunteer help to benefit fish, wildlife and habitat. For more information, visit the agency volunteer page at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/.