Tag Archives: wdfw

WA Ocean Salmon Fishing Report (8-16-17)

THE FOLLOWING REPORT IS FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY, WDFW

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 7,052 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 1,667 Chinook and 5,578 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 5,747 Chinook (44% of the area guideline) and 16,581 coho (79% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

 

Westport

 

A total of 4,339 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 796 Chinook and 2,995 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 5,828 Chinook (27% of the area guideline) and 13,766 coho (76% of the revised area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 287 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 78 Chinook and 369 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 337 Chinook (14% of the area guideline) and 763 coho (70% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 476 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 273 Chinook and 167 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 7,116 Chinook (90% of the area guideline) and 2,378 coho (54% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

 

4 Wells Hatchery Workers Fired Following Investigation Into Activities

A high-ranking state lawmaker and a Fish and Wildlife Commissioner are calling for changes within WDFW after reports surfaced that a highly sexualized culture also existed at an Eastern Washington hatchery, where four workers were fired last week.

Two stories out this morning paint an ugly picture of goings-on at the Wells Hatchery on the Upper Columbia, where the manager and three top hatchery specialists allegedly “routinely talked about sex and asked explicit sexual questions of coworkers” and made remarks about “the bodies of women who visited the hatchery.”

The pieces are reported by Walker Orenstein of The News Tribune of Tacoma and Austin Jenkins of the Northwest News Network.

They’re based on a 30-page report by Daphne R. Schneider and Associates commissioned this March after workers at a nearby hatchery expressed their concerns about alleged behavior at Wells to a WDFW officer.

Northwest Sportsman has filed a public disclosure request for the document, but in the meanwhile the reporters’ articles paint a picture of both the alleged activities and the workers’ defense.

The four men who were fired passed their conversations off as “locker room talk,” but it was allegedly so bad for one coworker that she left for a position elsewhere.

WDFW said that it is not pursuing criminal charges against the quartet “because their misconduct did not appear to rise to that level, agency spokesman Bruce Botka said. Also, the consulting firm did not conclude anyone had been sexually harassed,” Orenstein reported.

They can appeal their removal.

For WDFW, the latest story is effectively a one-two punch.

Early last week, Orenstein and Jenkins reported about a law firm’s investigation of sexual harassment claims at the agency’s Olympia headquarters.

Afterwards, Botka told Northwest Sportsman that “Director Jim Unsworth again today said he has no tolerance for the sorts of allegations that have surfaced in these stories and in this case.”

JIM UNSWORTH. (WDFW)

This latest incident left Unsworth “startled and taken aback” and he felt that the firing of the four would send a strong message throughout WDFW’s 1,500-plus employees.

Certainly, a problem was identified, investigated and action was taken, but some are calling for even more.

Rep. Brian Blake, the chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which many WDFW-related bills go through, called on WDFW’s overseers to put their foot down.

REP. BRIAN BLAKE, D-ABERDEEN. (TVW)

“The [Fish and Wildlife] Commission who governs this agency needs to step up and through the director communicate very strongly that there needs to be somebody in charge that does have this expertise in the ability to change cultures,” Blake told the newspaper and radio reporters.

One of those members, Commissioner Barbara Baker, who was appointed earlier this year by Governor Jay Inslee, said that even more stringent training is needed, it was reported.

IN THIS TVW SCREENGRAB, WASHINGTON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONER BARBARA BAKER SPEAKS BEFORE THE SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES AND PARKS COMMITTEE PUBLIC HEARING ON HER APPOINTMENT TO THE PANEL, SET TO RUN AT LEAST THROUGH 2022. (TVW)

Wells Hatchery is owned by Douglas County PUD and operated by WDFW. It rears hundreds of thousands of summer steelhead, summer Chinook, trout and kokanee for fisheries, as well as sturgeon for conservation programs.

Troublingly, Jenkins’s report mentions possible misuse of state equipment by the former manager, while Orenstein’s article says that the WDFW officer’s initial report suggested hatchery workers had been “coached to provide false numbers for fish stocking records.”

This is not the first time WDFW hatcheries have been in the news for sex-related activities.

In 2012,  Carl E. Jouper, the former manager of the George Adams Hatchery in Mason County, was jailed for 90 days after pleading guilty to voyeurism, putting a camera in the women’s bathroom there.

Good News For Early Season NW Duck Hunters In Annual Survey

Silver lining to all of last winter and spring’s rain? Plenty of water for waterfowl to do their thing — and boy howdy did they ever.

Nearly twice as many ducks were counted in Washington compared to last year, according to a federal survey released today.

WATERFOWLERS LIKE LES CUMMINGS AND LES LOGSDON SHOULD SEE MORE MALLARDS AND WOODS DUCKS THIS FALL, THANKS TO STELLAR PRODUCTION IN WASHINGTON AND LIKELY GOOD PRODUCTION IN OREGON. THE DUO LIMITED AT THE BARKER RANCH NEAR RICHLAND EARLY LAST FALL WHILE PARTICIPATING IN A DISABLED VETERANS HUNT PUT ON THERE EACH OCTOBER. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

That’s good news for hunting in the early season, which is typically fueled by local production until migrating northern birds arrive.

“In Washington the total duck estimate was 99% higher than the 2016 estimate, and 44% above the long-term average (2010–2016),” reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

They may not have the bright-orange legs of their Alberta brethren, but Evergreen State mallards did well, up 72 percent over last year and 29 percent above the 1978-2016 average, USFWS adds.

To the south, Oregon’s 2017 total duck and mallard estimates were similar to 2016 and the long-term average, though greenheads were down 21 percent over the long haul.

But there may not really be any reason for Beaver State waterfowlers to get their waders in a bunch over that.

For our September issue’s fall flight forecast, MD Johnson interviewed ODFW’s duck boss Brandon Rieshus.

“Normally, we count the best of the best – the Willamette Valley and the wetlands in Eastern Oregon – as examples. Maybe the birds were scattered across the basin in places we don’t count. But from a habitat standpoint, it looked very good. The best it’s been in four or five years. (My guess is) production will be pretty good,” Rieshus told Johnson.

The USFWS report backs that notion.

“Habitat conditions in Oregon were much improved relative to the past several years and were good to excellent in all surveyed areas. Some areas of southcentral and southeastern Oregon had basins and playas with water for the first time in a decade or more. Many playas and dugout ponds throughout the High Desert were flooded as well,” the agency stated.

It was even wetter to the north.

“In Washington, overall water availability was the among wettest seen in 20 years according to state wildlife area staff and others, particularly through the Potholes and Channeled Scablands region, where potholes and ponds were plentiful. Reservoirs throughout east­ern Washington were at or above 100% capacity with associated flooding of fields and pastures. In early May, significant snowmelt runoff was still occurring throughout the Okanogan and Northeast Highlands,” USFWS reported.

A U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MAP FOR WASHINGTON STREAM FLOWS SHOWS THAT CREEKS AND RIVERS IN EASTERN WASHINGTON STILL RUNNING AT ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS, INCLUDING CRAB CREEK, AND THE PALOUSE AND WALLA WALLA RIVERS. (USGS)

In terms of hard numbers, Washington’s mallard population was estimated at 103,400, well above 2016’s 60,000 (overall ducks: 242,000 vs. 121,500.

Oregon’s duck population was 239,900, up from last year’s 213,600.

Looking across the rest of North America, Ducks Unlimited reports that the overall estimate of 47.3 million breeding ducks in traditional survey zones is less than a million birds below 2016’s count, but still 34 percent above the 60-year average.

While mallards are down 11.3 percent, DU points to dry conditions in the Canadians “Parklands” of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

 

New Procedure For Bringing Canadian-side Salmon Back To Sekiu, PA

Biggest misnomer in Northwest salmon fishing this season?

That Sekiu’s closed for coho.

While US waters are indeed off limits in September and October, not so the Canadian side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, making this über-fishy port a prime jumping-off point for intercepting silvers heading for Puget Sound and southwest British Columbia rivers.

YOU MIGHT SET A COURSE FOR SEKIU AFTER ALL THIS SEASON — RULES HAVE BEEN AMENDED TO MAKE IT EASIER TO LAND STATESIDE WITH SALMON CAUGHT IN CANADIAN WATERS. (NOAA)

Yes, you’ll have to bone up on the brand-spankin’ new rules for bringing fish back from the Great White North’s waters — and yes it’ll be worth it, thanks to a bigger forecast than 2016 when it was “on fire.”

Mark Yuasa, formerly of The Seattle Times, makes his debut in our pages with a September issue piece about heading Strait across for silvers.

“There isn’t a reason to say the town of Sekiu is closed while salmon fishing is thriving in Canada, and it’s so easy for an angler to still get out and fish,” Brandon Mason, owner of Mason’s Olson Resort (olsons-resort.com) in Sekiu, told Yuasa. “By boat it’s a short 7-mile (25- to 30-minute) ride to find some great fishing opportunities.”

In the lead-up to the fishery, WDFW has just issued an emergency rule-change notice that updates how to bring salmon landed in BC back to Sekiu.

To wit:

Amends Canadian-origin salmon transportation rule

Action: Changes the method for obtaining clearance for transporting Canadian-caught salmon into Washington waters from a Canadian phone line to an online form available on WDFW’s website.

Effective Date:  Effective 12:01 a.m., Aug. 16, until further notice.

Species affected: Salmon.

Location: Washington marine areas.

Reason for action: Canadian Customs and Border Security regulations related to requirement for obtaining a customs clearance number have recently changed. This regulation is needed to provide an alternate means for persons seeking to possess and/or land Canadian caught fish in Washington waters or ports of call.

Other information: Visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/canadian_catch.php to obtain a confirmation code. The form requests basic trip and contact information from the party leader that must be submitted prior to leaving Washington with the intent of fishing for salmon in Canada. The party leader will receive an email from WDFW with your confirmation code.

Information contact: Fish Program: Ryan Lothrop, (360) 902-2808; Enforcement Program: Dan Chadwick, 360-249-4628, ex 1253.

Mason Co., North Sound GMUs Added To Elk Hoof Restriction Zone

Hoof rot in Western Washington elk is back in the news after the Fish and Wildlife Commission earlier this month expanded the area where hooves must be left in the field, while an advisory panel is set to hold a work session tomorrow in a hard hit part of the state.

Starting with next month’s archery season, elk hunters will need to leave the hooves of any wapiti they harvest in two Mason County game management units and four in the North Sound at the site of the kill.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS AREAS OF WESTERN WASHINGTON WHERE ELK HUNTERS PREVIOUSLY (GREEN) HAD TO LEAVE THEIR KILLS’ HOOVES IN THE FIELD AS WELL AS SIX NEW UNITS (BLUE) WHERE THEY WILL HAVE TO BEGINNING THIS YEAR. (WDFW

Not many elk were killed in GMUs 633 and 636 last year — just five, according to WDFW stats — but a total of 127 were taken in 407, 418, 437, and 454, North Sound, Nooksack, Sauk and Issaquah.

The move follows on similar previous efforts in Southwest Washington, where hoof rot was first reported. It’s believed to be caused by a bacteria common to the livestock world and is spread as elk move around. The condition makes it increasingly difficult for elk to walk, leading to them limping around the landscape. TAHD, or treponeme-associated hoof disease, has been confirmed in all six of the new GMUs.

As for that work session, WDFW’s advisory Elk Hoof Disease Public Working Group is holding that from 1 to 4 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 15, at WDFW’s new Region 5 office in Ridgefield (5525 11th St.).

The public is welcome to attend, but comments are limited to the end of the meeting.

For more on the working group, go here.

For more on elk hoof disease, go here.

Shark Week Addendum: AZ Angler’s WA Blue Shark Sets State Record

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

An Arizona angler fishing out of Westport has established the sport fish record for the largest blue shark caught in Washington waters, fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed today.

ZACHARY JACKSON HOLDS WASHINGTON’S STATE RECORD BLUE SHARK, THE FIRST IN ITS CATEGORY. (WDFW)

Zachary Jackson, from Show Low, Arizona, caught the 27.63-pound blue shark on July 30. Jackson caught the fish, which measured 55 ¾ inches, while fishing for albacore tuna using anchovies as bait.

“We were mainly trying to keep the bait away from the shark,” said Jackson. “The shark bit my friend’s line, then I noticed my line going in the wrong direction and kept thinking he would cut it, but eventually I slowly brought him to the boat.”

This was the first blue shark submitted for a state record in Washington. Jackson was fishing in the Pacific Ocean 57 miles off Washington’s coast.

Jackson makes the trip to Washington to fish for albacore tuna out of Westport about every other year, and describes Westport as “one of the more consistent places to catch albacore on the West Coast.”

WDFW Offering Free Bird Hunting Clinics, Mentored Hunts

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Hunter Education program is offering free hunting clinics geared towards teaching participants the basics of hunting turkey, waterfowl and upland game birds in southcentral and southwest Washington.

THE CHAMPOUX FAMILY OF THE YAKIMA VALLEY SHOW OFF THEIR HARVEST FOLLOWING A LATE 2015 UPLAND BIRD HUNTING CLINIC AND MENTORED HUNT PUT ON BY WDFW. (WDFW)

The clinics, which run on various dates through Oct. 31, will last two to four hours and cover the basics of hunting. In addition to classroom time, the clinics may include range time for patterning shotguns, said Aaron Garcia, WDFW Hunter Education coordinator.

Some clinics provide opportunities for beginning hunters to learn under the guidance of volunteer hunter education instructors, Master Hunters, and local hunting organizations. Participants in these mentored hunts must have valid hunting licenses.

Classes can fill fast and registration is first come, first served online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/huntered/clinics.

The schedule is as follows:

Aug.12, 2 p.m. – Fall Turkey Clinic at Cabelas in Union Gap, Yakima County in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Aug. 13, 2 p.m.  – Fall Turkey Clinic at Cabelas in Union Gap, Yakima County in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Aug. 27, 12-noon – Waterfowl Hunting Clinic at the Vancouver Trap Club in Clark County.

Sept. 2, 6 a.m. – Mentored Dove Hunting at the Sunnyside Wildlife Area Headquarters Unit in southeast Yakima County.

Sept. 23, 6 a.m. – Mentored Upland Bird Hunting for youth only (15 and under). Mentors with dogs will be at the Sunnyside Wildlife Area pheasant release sites in southeast Yakima County.

Sept. 23, 6 a.m. – Mentored Upland Bird Hunting for youth only (15 and under). Mentors with dogs will be at the Cottonwoods pheasant release site on the Wenas Wildlife Area in Kittitas County.

Sept. 23 – Oct. 31, Mentored Early Fall Turkey Hunts on multiple days at multiple locations across the state. WDFW is matching registrants with First Hunt Foundation (http://www.firsthuntfoundation.com/) mentors.

Sept. 30, 7 a.m. – Mentored Pheasant Hunt for youth only (15 and under), followed by Upland Bird Hunting Clinic, at Reds Fly Shop/Canyon River Ranch in Ellensburg, Kittitas County.  The clinic after the youth hunt is open to all age registrants.

Garcia notes that youth hunters who attend with adult guardians and their own bird dogs, and do not require help from WDFW mentors can register for the Sept. 23 pheasant hunts at Sunnyside and Cottonwoods release sites.

WDFW: ‘No Tolerance’ For Activities Detailed In News Reports

WDFW is reacting to a pair of news stories about a report that claims a “sexualized culture” existed among a few at upper levels of the agency before a rape allegation surfaced against a former wildlife manager there more than two years ago.

“The bottom line for me is, this was a couple years ago, we’re a big agency. We had some folks who behaved inappropriately and we take that seriously and have taken action to resolve it,” Deputy Director Joe Stohr told Northwest Sportsman this afternoon.

“Director Jim Unsworth again today said he has no tolerance for the sorts of allegations that have surfaced in these stories and in this case,” added Bruce Botka, WDFW spokesman.

In their joint reporting, The News Tribune of Tacoma and public radio’s Northwest News Network focus on a report from a Snohomish County law firm that contains accounts from several individuals, including Gregory A. Schirato, 55, who was charged with second-degree rape and first-degree burglary in April 2015.

Schirato has pleaded not guilty to the alleged crimes, and his attorney told the Tribune‘s Walker Orenstein his client would be found innocent at his upcoming trial, which appears to have been moved to September. Schirato had been with the agency from 1983 into 2015, when he was fired.

The 29-page report from MFR Law Group was commissioned two years by WDFW to look into allegations of sexual harassment made by both Schirato and his alleged victim, according to radio reporter Austin Jenkins.

According to Orenstein, it found “a group of workers in the agency’s upper echelon often held or tolerated sexually explicit conversations at work. Some engaged in other inappropriate behavior both on the clock and after hours.”

For WDFW, yesterday’s news reopens a wound that will fester.

Stohr called it all a “sad and tragic occurrence” and said that WDFW has done a number of things to support staff members.

Botka said that speaking with people at regional offices, the feedback he’s getting is that “the vast majority in this agency have never heard of that or sensed anything like that.”

Stohr lauded WDFW employees, saying they’re “dedicated to protecting the resource.”

Trio Attempt To Steal Many Big Chinook From State Hatchery

You probably spent the Fourth of July fishing, grilling burgers, maybe firing off some bottle rockets and otherwise celebrating Independence Day.

Three men, however, thought it would be a good time to allegedly steal a bunch of summer Chinook from a Washington hatchery.

(WDFW)

According to a WDFW report, Officer Michael McQuoid spotted the trio acting suspiciously near the Wallace Salmon Hatchery west of Gold Bar, and upon contacting them, two ran off.

For good reason — they had allegedly hauled 19 kings out of the holding pond.

The next day another 15 were found hidden in the brush.

Those waters and the hatchery are closed to fishing, and the Wallace is not open for Chinook.

WDFW reports that one of the runners was a “well-known offender” from up Skagit County way. He was picked up by deputies while walking down the highway in his waders.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is “partnering” in the investigation. A WDFW photo shows that a number of the Chinook appear to be wild, based on intact adipose fins.

Salmon anglers enjoyed a good season on the Skykomish, where hatchery kings can be retained from the mouth of the river up to the mouth of the Wallace.

Fortunately, this year’s Chinook returns to the system are decent, with 2,370 back to the hatchery so far, much more than during 2015’s drought-affected return when only 631 had at the same point.

The incident comes from WDFW Director Jim Unsworth’s report last weekend to the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Though it may not be as newsworthy as his previous one, which alleged hundreds of thousands of pounds of overharvest of sea cucumbers, it does contain a couple other cases of note.

To wit:

A WHOLE DAMN BATCH OF BAD APPLES

While patrolling local Department access sites, officers inspected six individuals fishing. The Officers quickly found out that not a single person had a fishing license. To make matters worse, there wasn’t a single valid driver license between the bunch, although they had two cars parked at the access site. All six individuals had outstanding warrants for their arrest, to include one felony Department of Corrections warrant for escaping community custody. While investigating, another individual drove up to pick up some of the violators (after finding none of the local jails would accept aside from the felony). Officers attempted to obtain the man’s name to check for a valid driver’s license, but the man continued to lie about his identity. When the officer finally obtained his name, he found the subject’s driving privileges had been revoked as a habitual offender. The driver was taken into custody and the car impounded. The man with the felony warrant was booked into jail.

SOME KIND OF “GUIDE”

A Department officer observed three men fishing from a raft near the Sol Duc hatchery. As the officer checked licenses and gear, he asked the men how they all knew each other. The man at the oars said “friends,” while the other two pointed at the guy at the oars and said “guide.” The clients were asked how much the trip cost, and they responded they had paid $100 so far as a deposit. The “friend” jumped in at this point and claimed that it was just for gas. The clients and “friend” were then separated. The clients who were visiting from Texas told the sergeant that their wives had found the guide via his website and had surprised them with a fishing trip. The men possessed two adult hatchery Chinook and one juvenile Chinook. The fish had fresh wounds on their sides consistent with snagged fish. Sergeant Rosenberger asked the men where they had hooked the fish, in the body or the head, and both stated the body. The two men were very surprised when notified that it was unlawful to retain snagged fish, and that they were fishing with an unlicensed guide. The guide was interviewed further and admitted to having a fishing guide’s license the year prior, but had not purchased one for this year. Charges against the guide are forthcoming for guiding without a license, failure to record salmon, and complicity in possessing snagged fish.

WDFW In Evaluation Period With Smackouts After 2 Removals; No New Depredations Reported

A weekly update from Washington wolf managers yesterday afternoon indicates that, for the moment, things have quieted down in the northeastern corner of the state.

WDFW reports it is now in an evaluation period with the Smackout Pack to see if lethally removing two members following a series of calf depredations that stretch back to late last September can head off more livestock attacks.

A MEMBER OF THE SMACKOUT WOLF PACK OF STEVENS AND PEND OREILLE COUNTIES AWAKES AFTER BEING DRUGGED, EAR TAGGED AND WEIGHED IN LATE MAY 2012. (WDFW)

“The duration of this phase is largely dependent on the behavior of the wolves,” the Aug. 3 update states.

It began July 31.

The agency says there have been no new depredations since July 22, but if another occurs, it may go back in and take out more wolves.

WDFW continues to keep details from northern Stevens County quiet, saying only that it killed the two wolves between July 20, when the operation was announced, and July 30.

Under its lethal removal protocols, incremental removals can be authorized after three confirmed depredations (or two confirmed and a probable) in a rolling 30-day period or four confirmed across a year.

WDFW says that all three producers whose calves have been gnawed on continue to try and keep their stock and wolves from tangling, including the use of range riders, taking dead, sick or injured animals away from the main herd, using fladry or strobe lights and checking on their cattle.

Apparently things have also been quiet with the Sherman Pack, which is sitting on three depredations since June 12.