Saturday, February 21, 2015

Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge Gets New Management Plan

Posted By on Sat, Feb 21, 2015 at 4:18 PM

Pelicans, as well as ducks, geese, bald eagles, herons and various songbirds, make Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge their home. - U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Pelicans, as well as ducks, geese, bald eagles, herons and various songbirds, make Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge their home.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, an 11,400-acre protected area encompassing Lake Lowell and 101 islands along the Snake River.

The 15-year refuge management plan allows continued recreational activities on and around Lake Lowell, including fishing, hunting, boating, hiking and environmental education programs, while making improvements to wildlife habitat.

The new plan does keep seasonal closures in place to mitigate impacts of disturbances to the wildlife. Lake Lowell will remain closed to motorized boats from Oct. 1-April 14 for the sake of migrating and overwintering waterfowl. Ice fishing and hunting activities can still continue, though.

Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge was founded by President Theodore Roosevelt on Feb. 25, 1909. It's one of the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

"When Deer Flat Refuge was established, it was an oasis for wildlife in a very dry area," stated refuge manager Annette de Knijf in a news release. "Today, it continues to be an oasis in the midst of an increasingly urban environment."

A copy of the new management plan can be viewed here.
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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Times-News: Outrage Over Trophy Buck Poaching

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2015 at 11:41 AM

Photo of the much admired buck taken by Twin Falls resident Lauren Hatch days before the poaching report. - LAUREN HATCH/TWIN FALLS TIMES-NEWS
  • Lauren Hatch/Twin Falls Times-News
  • Photo of the much admired buck taken by Twin Falls resident Lauren Hatch days before the poaching report.

The trophy-class mule deer buck had been called a "local celebrity." Spending its life in the Rock Creek Canyon near the Amalgamated Sugar Factory in Twin Falls, the animal's huge antlers and tame attitude made it a photogenic attraction for neighbors and an object of appreciation among hunters. However, because it roamed within city limits, no one hunted it. Until—maybe—now.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports that the community is outraged after evidence surfaced last week that someone poached a buck matching the description of the well known specimen. Now as much as $2,800 is being offered for information.

According to the Times-News, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game opened an investigation Jan. 29 into the poaching of a trophy-class mule deer buck within city limits sometime on Jan. 26 or Jan. 27. The paper reported that some of the meat was taken as well as the head and antlers.

While anger over the out-of-season killing has centered on the Rock Creek Canyon buck—which has since disappeared from its usual grazing areas—it's still unclear whether the animal in question really was the celebrated buck. Investigators won't know for certain until they can find evidence more identifiable than the headless carcass.

"We are still encouraging the public to call in as we are still looking for the proverbial smoking gun," Regional Conservation Officer Josh Royse told the Times-News. "We still believe someone saw this deer show up in somebody’s possession last week. We need to talk to those folks.” 

"We need some help on this one," Senior Conservation Officer Jim Stirling stated in a news release. 

Call Fish and Game at 208-324-4359 or Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999 with any information related to the poaching incident. Callers can remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward should their information lead to a conviction.
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Monday, January 5, 2015

Wolf-Kill Derby Closes, Claiming 30 Coyote Deaths, No Wolves

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 10:46 AM

A predator-hunting "derby" targeting wolves and coyotes near Salmon is over, and hunters this year brought back to base camp 30 coyotes—but no wolves.

In a Facebook post, event organizer and promoter Idaho for Wildlife closed out the derby by thanking participants and confirming the number of wolves and coyotes that had been killed during this year's event. Facebook user Spencer Jensen left a comment, "Looking forward to it next year!"

The derby wrapped up Jan. 4. In 2014, 230 hunters of all ages killed a total of 21 coyotes and no wolves. This year, Idaho for Wildlife Executive Director Steve Adler told Newsweek that more than 125 hunters entered the 2015 contest, which awarded a $1,000 cash prizes for most animals killed. Other prizes were awarded to hunters 10-13 years old and 14-17 years old. 

IFW's derby garnered international controversy when the Bureau of Land Management barred the derby from its property, causing organizers to move the event to privately held land. Idaho State Director for the Humane Society of America Lisa Kauffman told Newsweek that "Rewarding shooters, including young children, with prizes takes us back to an earlier era of wanton killing that so many of us thought was an ugly, ignorant and closed chapter in our history."

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Officials: Elk Hunters Exhibited 'Unethical' Behavior

Posted By on Sun, Nov 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Citations are being handed out in the shadow of what Montana officials are calling some stunning behavior by "unethical" hunters.

The Independent Record in Helena, Mont., is reporting that the incident occurred on public land this past week, on the second day of the state's general big game season. According to the paper, hunters quickly began communicating with one another when a large herd of elk was discovered near the White Gulch area near Canyon Reservoir. In short order, scores of hunters appeared on the scene, some of them using their trucks to herd the animals into open space so that other hunters could take clear shots of the elk. By the end of the day, 30 elk from the herd lay dead and an unknown number were injured.

“Unfortunately a situation like that brings out the worst in unethical hunter behavior,” Warden Sgt. Dave Loewen told the Independent Record. “If I could emphasize one thing, it’s that type of activity drains local game wardens babysitting elk and unethical hunters. I wouldn’t even consider it hunting.”

Law enforcement said more hunters arrived on the scene throughout the day "to join the fray," according to the Independent Record, and a number of them used their vehicles to control the herd. But Montana Code prohibits, "Use of a self-propelled vehicle to intentionally concentrate, drive, rally, stir up, or harass wildlife, except predators of this state."

The Independent Record reports some hunters have been cited in connection with the incident, but law enforcement said they couldn't catch up with all of the violators..

“We issued a whole lot of verbal warnings,” Warden Justin Feddes told the Independent Record. “It’s a drain with three of us up there all day long, tying us all down.”
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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Idaho Birds 'On the Brink' In Dire Audubon Society Report

Posted By on Sun, Oct 5, 2014 at 11:23 AM

A first-of-its-kind study from the Audubon Society forecasts a stunning impact of climate change on North American birds. 

According to the report, nearly 40 species that are common to Idaho are expected to be all but devastated by the change.

The Audubon Society studied 588 North American bird species and more than half are likely to be in trouble. Scientists used three decades of observations to define "climatic suitability" for each species—the range of temperatures, precipitation and seasonal changes each species needs to survive—and then laid that information atop internationally-recognized greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

Idaho is part of the so-called "central flyway," running from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and, in particular, the survey predicts that 11 species that fly through the Gem State will lose between 90-100 percent of their summer range due to climate change, including:

- Trumpeter Swans, 100 percent of summer range lost
- Bohemian Waxwing, 100 percent lost
- Merlin, 98 percent
- California Gull, 98 percent
- Evening Grosbeak, 98 percent
- Barrow's Goldeneye, 97 percent
- Ring-necked Duck, 93 percent
- Gadwall, 92 percent
- Hooded Merganser, 92 percent
- Townsend's Solitaire, 92 percent
- Prairie Falcon, 90 percent

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CdA Press: N. Idaho Deer Being Tested For Possible Poisoning

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:58 AM

  • Coeur d'Alene Press
Samples from the organs of a yearling doe are being sent to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game wildlife health lab in Caldwell for analysis after several deer have been found dead in Dalton Gardens near Coeur d'Alene, Coeur d'Alene Press reports

The organs come from a deer that was shot by a Kootenai County Sheriff's deputy Sept. 21, after the deer showed signs of difficulty standing and walking straight. According to police, the deer also had foam around its mouth.

"When [the officer] approached it, it struggled to stand up, and then it began to walk diagonally," said Lt. Stu Miller of the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office. "The deer than ran into several lawn decorations and finally lay down on the southeast corner of the yard."

Residents of the neighborhood where the deer was found told police that four does have been found dead in the area in the last two weeks. The does leave behind four to eight orphaned fawns that are being weaned. 

Law enforcement began to suspect poisoning after the dead animals showed no signs of physical injury.
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Big Increase in Number of Chinook Salmon Returning to Columbia River

Posted By on Sun, Sep 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM

  • Wikimedia Commons

Wildlife officials were well please this weekend, when 107,000 Chinook salmon climbed the Bonneville Dam fish ladder, Boise State Public Radio reports.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
Sara Thompson, a spokesperson for the Columbia Inter Tribal Fish Commission, said the high numbers of returning fish is excellent news for Columbia River tribes and fisheries. She said the improved numbers come from several factors, including "improved fish passage, good ocean conditions ... great work by the Nez Perce Tribe and Snake River fall Chinook."

Ratios of wild versus hatchery fish haven't been determined yet, but the number of wild fish expected to make it all the way to the Snake River may exceed hatchery numbers.

So far, 520,706 fall Chinook have passed the Bonneville Dam this year. A daily fish counter can be viewed here.
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Environmental Groups Launch Lawsuit against U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Over Idaho 'Killing Programs'

Posted By on Sun, Sep 14, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Environmental conservation group Western Watersheds Project—with field offices in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and California—filed a Notice of Intent to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services on Sept. 8. 

With attorneys at Advocates for the West, WWP filed the notice to sue the agency for not properly analyzing the use of traps and poison, and its impacts on endangered species such as grizzly bears, lynx and bull trout. 

The lawsuit focuses primarily on Idaho, where the wildlife group claims no analysis of federal "killing programs" has been performed for more than a decade. It points specifically to recently added beaver dam destruction activities that have never gone through thorough review. 

A news release from the group states that in 2013, Wildlife Services killed more than 3,000 mammals in the state using aerial gunning, neck snares, foothold traps and poison—with the intention of protecting livestock and agricultural interests. The group said black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats and foxes have fallen victim in the "gruesome war on native wildlife." 

The Wildlife Services has a 60-day period to respond before the lawsuit is filed.
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Friday, August 8, 2014

Severe Weather Kills 1,200 Chinook Salmon

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 3:36 PM

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

Severe thunderstorms developed rapidly near the South Fork of the Salmon River Aug. 6, and within minutes, heavy rain pushed large amounts of sediment into the stream, choking it. Idaho Department Fish and Game fisheries managers are now assessing damage to the summer Chinook stocks. 

According to a news release, sediment flowed into holding ponds at the South Fork Salmon trapping facility, depriving the fish of oxygen. Fish and Game and Nez Perce Tribe workers rushed tanker trucks to the facility to save as many Chinook salmon as they could, but they were only able to save about 200 adult salmon. An estimated 1,200 Chinook were lost.

"Broodstock losses will significantly impact the number of eggs for the IDFG McCall hatchery program and the Nez Perce Tribe's Johnson Creek program in 2014," said Sam Sharr, an anadromous fisheries coordinator. The Johnson Creek Artificial Propagation Enhancement Program spawns wild and hatchery-reared salmon together in central Idaho, helping salmon populations reach healthy numbers.

With this loss however, significantly less adult Chinook will return to the South Fork of the Salmon River in 2018—as summer Chinook typically fulfill a four-year cycle, returning from the ocean to where they were spawned four years earlier.

Surviving fish were transferred to the Rapid River Hatchery near Riggins. Fishery managers will spawn them there over the next several weeks, trying to mitigate the impact of the loss. Managers at the trapping facility are now working with tribal representatives to minimize the impact of wild Chinooks in the South Fork drainage. 
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Idaho Power Reels in Quite a Catch

Posted By on Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Idaho Power biologists Clayton Waller and Chad Reininger pose their prize. - IDAHO POWER
  • Idaho Power
  • Idaho Power biologists Clayton Waller and Chad Reininger pose their prize.

When you catch a fish and your buddy takes a picture, the trick is to fully extend your arms so the fish is closer to the camera than you—that makes a small fish look big. But two Idaho Power biologists who recently caught a giant sturgeon didn't have to worry about that.

The sturgeon caught below Hells Canyon Dam measures 10 feet in length and weighs an estimated 470 pounds. Biologists measured, tagged and released the giant female fish as part of a three-year survey of sturgeon populations below the dam. She's estimated to be more than 75 years old.

A recent news release stated that the survey is part of Idaho Power's efforts to preserve and protect white sturgeon in the Snake River. The federal licenses that allow the power company to operate its hydroelectric projects require environmental surveys such as these. This sturgeon was one of the largest caught during the survey. 

She was released unharmed right after this photo was taken.
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