Week of May 8, 2006

National

Regional

General

Indiana

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

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National

Sportsmen Move to End Lawsuit to Ban Hunting on Refuges

(Columbus) - The U.S. Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund last week asked a federal judge to dismiss anti-hunters’ case seeking to outlaw hunting on 37 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

         

“The case is totally without merit,” said Rick Story, senior vice president for the USSA Foundation, which manages the Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund.  “We would have filed our motion to dismiss the suit sooner, but the anti-hunting plaintiffs kept amending it to seek hunting bans on more refuges.  It seems they’ve run out of ideas, so it’s time to end this debacle.”

         

The Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund collaborated with Safari Club Int’l on the motion. In addition, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Izaak Walton League and the California Waterfowl Association are also defendant interveners.

 

The case was filed in 2003 in the Washington, D.C. Federal District Court by the Fund for Animals, which has since merged with the Humane Society of the United States. It originally sought to ban hunting on 39 units of the 100 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System.  The case claimed the USFWS, which manages the refuges, failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires

extensive Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), prior to establishing hunting programs.

 

“In simplest terms, Congress in 1966 and again in 1997, expressly recognized the legitimacy of hunting on units of the (refuge system) and directed the (Fish and Wildlife Service) to facilitate and increase these opportunities whenever they are determined to be compatible,”  the Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund stated in it’s motion to dismiss the case.

 

The 1997 law mentioned in the motion refers to the Refuge Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Don Young and lobbied into law by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.  Federal courts in Vermont and New Jersey have ruled that hunting regulations of the USFWS are not governed by NEPA. 

 

“Even if NEPA could be held to apply to recreational hunting on refuge lands, the (service) … continues to carry out more than the functional equivalent of a comprehensive EIS and should not be forced to conduct burdensome, costly and unnecessary procedures simply to demonstrate perfunctory compliance with NEPA,” the motion stated.

 

“The suit demonstrates the lengths to which the anti-hunting movement will go to end hunting in America,” said Story.  “They are nothing if not insidiously creative and sportsmen must be vigilant to head off such threats.”


Help prevent garlic mustard from taking over woodlands

MADISON, WI – Many landowners and city dwellers who look forward each spring to heading out in search of early blooming wildflowers are finding their favorite wildflowers are losing out to a relatively new plant that is dominating forest floors.

 

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a highly invasive plant that has moved into many forests across Wisconsin (and other states), including many parks and other natural areas.

 

“Within only a few years garlic mustard can dominate a forest floor and displace most native wildflower species and tree seedlings,” says Kelly Kearns, a plant conservationist with the state DNR. “It is a major threat to the survival of Wisconsin's woodland plants and the wildlife that depend on them. Essentially every forest in the state is vulnerable and likely to become infested with this plant unless people keep a keen eye and remove it immediately.”

 

Garlic mustard is a biennial herb that ranges from 2 - 40” in height as an adult flowering plant. Seeds germinate in spring and are currently showing up as a carpet of small seedlings beneath the dead flowering stalks from last year. In its first year of growth the plant forms a basal rosette of rounded leaves with toothed edges. The rosettes remain green over winter, giving them a boost over native plants in the spring.

 

Second-year plants start growing as soon as the weather warms and develop flowering stems with numerous white flowers that each have four petals. In most areas of southern Wisconsin, the flower stalks are developing and the first flowers are opening in late April to early May.

 

“Garlic mustard can easily be recognized at this time of year because of its lush basal leaves and because it is the only plant of its height in forests that produces four-petaled white flowers in the spring,” Kearns says.  It is also easily recognized by its strong garlic smell when crushed. By mid-June the flowers will develop seed pods with hundreds of

seeds per plant. Seeds are often spread on animal fur and by human foot traffic.

 

The key to keeping garlic mustard, and most other invaders, from taking over land, Kearns says, is to never let them go to seed. Landowners need to get an early start on controlling garlic mustard.

 

“Hand-pulling is the easiest and most effective way to control new or small populations. It is important to pull up the entire root or new flowering stalks will emerge. If any flowers have begun to open, remove the plants from the woods or tear the open flowers off the plants; otherwise, the uprooted plants can still develop seeds,” she notes.

 

Pulled plants can be dried and burned or buried. Composting may not kill the seeds, so compost containing garlic mustard should be used with caution! Although garden waste is not usually allowed in landfills, there is a temporary exception for garlic mustard plants with seeds. The bags should be labeled: Garlic Mustard – Invasive Plant Approved for Landfilling.

 

Larger populations can be managed with a combination of hand-pulling, herbicide and/or fire. Prescribed fires in oak forests can kill rosettes and seedlings, but may result in a flush of new seedlings that develop and will need to be controlled. Landowners should never burn without proper training, equipment and permits.

 

Use of fire with a high BTU propane torch with a long wand applicator is also effective, but should be done only if there is no chance of the fire spreading (ideally after a rain or when the ground and leaves are moist). Herbicides such as glyphosate or 2,4-D are effective in killing basal rosettes in the spring or in the fall when rosettes are still active. Garlic mustard seeds can remain viable in the soil for 7–10 years, so any control effort must be monitored and repeated for many years. Wooded sites without garlic mustard should be inspected every year.

 

For more info on garlic mustard, including photos, go to: http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/fact/garlic.htm

 

Brochures on garlic mustard may be available at your local University of Wisconsin Extension office.


Regional

Bush appoints Ullrich of Chicago to Fishery Commission

ANN ARBOR, MI—President George W. Bush on April 26 announced the appointment of Mr. David A. Ullrich of Chicago to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Ullrich will serve a six-year, replacing former Chicago Alderman Bernard J. Hansen, who retired from the commission after  twelve years of service.

 

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is an international organization established by the United States and Canada through the 1954 Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries. The commission has the responsibility to coordinate fisheries research, control sea lampreys, and facilitate implementation of A Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries, a provincial, state, and tribal fisheries agreement for the Great Lakes.

 

Commissioners meet formally at least twice per year to formulate and execute the commission’s program. Members from the United States are appointed by the President of the United States. Members from Canada are appointed by Privy Council. For more information about the commission, visit www.glfc.org.

 

Ullrich is the Executive Director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. His responsibilities include working with U.S. and Canadian mayors from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin to advance the restoration and protection of the resource. The Initiative’s mission is to share

best practices and to enhance partnerships among the cities, towns, and counties of the basin. The Initiative also works on restoration legislation, planning, and implementation.

 

Prior to assuming his current position, Ullrich served for thirty years at the USEPA’s Great Lakes regional office in Chicago, working on environmental issues in the six states of the upper Midwest. He worked in many capacities over the years, including Acting Regional Administrator, Deputy Regional Administrator, Waste Management Division Director, Deputy Regional Counsel, Air Enforcement Chief, and Water Enforcement Attorney. For six years, he was the U.S. Chair of the Water Quality Board for the IJC, and was a founding member and chair of the Midwest Natural Resources Group. Ullrich earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, with an emphasis in environmental law.

 

“We welcome Mr. Ullrich to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and express our appreciation to President Bush for appointing someone of his caliber and expertise,” said commission chairman Gerald A. Barnhart of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “Mr. Ullrich has been a leader in Great Lakes issues for decades, most recently playing a pivotal role in the development of the Great Lakes restoration plan under the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. We look forward to working with Mr. Ullrich on issues that benefit the Canadian and U.S. Great Lakes fishery. We are particularly enthused about how this appointment

will enhance our partnership with cities throughout the basin.”


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for May 5, 2006

Lake Level Conditions:

All of the Great Lakes are 3 to 13 inches below the levels of a year ago.  Lake Superior is 1 inch below chart datum and is expected to rise 3 inches in the next month. Lake Michigan-Huron is 1 inch above chart datum and is expected to rise 3 inches over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair and Erie are expected to rise 1 inch and Lake Ontario is expected to rise 2 inches by the end of May.  All of the Great Lakes are into their annual seasonal rise.  Water levels over the next few months on all the Great Lakes are expected to remain similar to or slightly lower than 2005.  See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.
 
Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron was near average during the month of April.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers were both below average during April.  The Niagara River flow was near average and the St. Lawrence River flow was above average in April.

 

Alerts:

Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.

 

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels Data Summary

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Level for May 5

601.0

577.6

573.8

571.5

245.5

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

-1

+1

+18

+27

+27

Diff from last month, in inches

+2

+2

+2

+2

0

Diff from last yr

-3

-5

-8

-10

-13


General

Help prevent garlic mustard from taking over woodlands

MADISON, WI – Many landowners and city dwellers who look forward each spring to heading out in search of early blooming wildflowers are finding their favorite wildflowers are losing out to a relatively new plant that is dominating forest floors.

 

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a highly invasive plant that has moved into many forests across Wisconsin (and other states), including many parks and other natural areas.

 

“Within only a few years garlic mustard can dominate a forest floor and displace most native wildflower species and tree seedlings,” says Kelly Kearns, a plant conservationist with the state DNR. “It is a major threat to the survival of Wisconsin's woodland plants and the wildlife that depend on them. Essentially every forest in the state is vulnerable and likely to become infested with this plant unless people keep a keen eye and remove it immediately.”

 

Garlic mustard is a biennial herb that ranges from 2 - 40” in height as an adult flowering plant. Seeds germinate in spring and are currently showing up as a carpet of small seedlings beneath the dead flowering stalks from last year. In its first year of growth the plant forms a basal rosette of rounded leaves with toothed edges. The rosettes remain green over winter, giving them a boost over native plants in the spring.

 

Second-year plants start growing as soon as the weather warms and develop flowering stems with numerous white flowers that each have four petals. In most areas of southern Wisconsin, the flower stalks are developing and the first flowers are opening in late April to early May.

 

“Garlic mustard can easily be recognized at this time of year because of its lush basal leaves and because it is the only plant of its height in forests that produces four-petaled white flowers in the spring,” Kearns says.  It is also easily recognized by its strong garlic smell when crushed. By mid-June the flowers will develop seed pods with hundreds of

seeds per plant. Seeds are often spread on animal fur and by human foot traffic.

 

The key to keeping garlic mustard, and most other invaders, from taking over land, Kearns says, is to never let them go to seed. Landowners need to get an early start on controlling garlic mustard.

 

“Hand-pulling is the easiest and most effective way to control new or small populations. It is important to pull up the entire root or new flowering stalks will emerge. If any flowers have begun to open, remove the plants from the woods or tear the open flowers off the plants; otherwise, the uprooted plants can still develop seeds,” she notes.

 

Pulled plants can be dried and burned or buried. Composting may not kill the seeds, so compost containing garlic mustard should be used with caution! Although garden waste is not usually allowed in landfills, there is a temporary exception for garlic mustard plants with seeds. The bags should be labeled: Garlic Mustard – Invasive Plant Approved for Landfilling.

 

Larger populations can be managed with a combination of hand-pulling, herbicide and/or fire. Prescribed fires in oak forests can kill rosettes and seedlings, but may result in a flush of new seedlings that develop and will need to be controlled. Landowners should never burn without proper training, equipment and permits.

 

Use of fire with a high BTU propane torch with a long wand applicator is also effective, but should be done only if there is no chance of the fire spreading (ideally after a rain or when the ground and leaves are moist). Herbicides such as glyphosate or 2,4-D are effective in killing basal rosettes in the spring or in the fall when rosettes are still active. Garlic mustard seeds can remain viable in the soil for 7–10 years, so any control effort must be monitored and repeated for many years. Wooded sites without garlic mustard should be inspected every year.

 

For more info on garlic mustard, including photos, go to: http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/fact/garlic.htm

 

Brochures on garlic mustard may be available at your local University of Wisconsin Extension office.


 

Indiana

New Indiana state record brown trout

Dyer man boats Lake Michigan net buster

Indiana DNR has certified a 29.3 lb Lake Michigan brown trout, caught by Glen Duesing of Dyer, as a new state record fish.

 

On April 2, Duesing was fishing along the north wall of the State Line Power Plant near Whiting, when Indiana's biggest brown trout attacked his Smithwick Rogue crankbait.  "Our boat was trolling for Coho, but rough water and wind forced us to try fishing for browns along the power plant wall," said Duesing. There was a lot of warm water from the power plant flowing down the wall."

 

As Duesing and his crew tried to boat the big brown, the weight of the fish broke the net handle. "The fish wouldn't fit in the net, and then the net broke," said Duesing. "Luckily, hooks

on the lure stuck in the net mesh and we pulled the fish and

tangled mesh into the boat."

 

The champion angler weighed his catch on a state-certified scale at Howard and Sons Meat Market in Munster. The scale stopped spinning at 29.3 lbs. The fish stretched 39.75” . A tape wrapped around the fish's belly measured 23 inches of girth.  Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Janel Palla from the Lake Michigan DNR office in Michigan City verified the catch was a brown trout.

 

Because of the size, Indiana Fish Chief Bill James suspects the trout was a Seeforellen strain stocked by Wisconsin. Seeforellen browns are native to alpine lakes in Europe, where they are noted for their large size and long life spans.  Brown trout grow well in Lake Michigan. The Indiana state record brown trout record was topped once in 2001 and twice in 1999.


Michigan

DNR requests help of Spring Turkey Hunters

With the first hunting periods of the 2006 spring wild turkey hunting season coming to a close, the Department of Natural Resources reminds all turkey hunters of the online hunting and harvest reporting option available to them once their hunting season has ended.

 

Turkey hunters are encouraged to report their hunting activity on the Internet by visiting the Hunting section or Wild Turkey page at www.michigan.gov/dnr .  The survey is designed to record hunter participation, success and total harvest. Therefore, it is important that all turkey hunters contribute, even if they do not harvest a turkey, said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist.

"The short, online questionnaire is similar to the printed version that we send to a random sample of hunters each year," said Stewart. "Having the survey available online gives every turkey hunter the opportunity to report their hunting activity. This information is used to improve turkey management and ensure decisions regarding future hunting seasons are based on the best information available."

 

Final results of the survey will be posted on the DNR Web site later this summer, but hunters can visit the site now to find other important hunting-related news and information, including results of turkey harvest surveys from previous years.


Leave Wildlife in the Wild – Don’t Handle or Adopt Young Wildlife

As summer beckons, Michigan's wild birds and animals begin to produce the next generation of the state's living natural resources, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds outdoor enthusiasts to resist handling or adopting what appear to be orphaned baby animals.

 

Wild animals are protected by state regulations and may only be kept by those who possess wildlife rehabilitation permits.

 

"Often people find fledgling birds or fawns, and having the best of intentions, believe they are rescuing the animal," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Kelly Siciliano Carter. "Many people do not realize that most of the time, the mother is nearby. We want everyone to enjoy their time in the outdoors in Michigan,

but leave the animals in the wild."

 

Carter added that many biological and disease problems are associated with handling wild animals including rabies, distemper, parasites and mange. Raccoons, for example, are known to host a roundworm that can cause blindness and death in people. It is normal for many wild animal species to leave their young unattended for hours at a time. Deer, for instance, leave their fawns for up to eight hours before returning to nurse. Taking a fawn home is illegal, and usually results in death of the animal.

 

Citizens who suspect that a baby animal is abandoned should call their nearest DNR office. DNR personnel will assess the situation and refer the caller to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator when appropriate.


Volunteers Needed for Stewardship Workdays

 Slated for May in Southeast Michigan

A series of volunteer stewardship workdays will be held throughout May in southeast Michigan state parks and recreation areas, the Department of Natural Resources announced.  Volunteers are needed to plant native prairie and wetland plants in some parks and hand pull invasive species, like garlic mustard, in others. These efforts will help restore native ecosystems.

 

All volunteers are asked to register. Send an email with name, phone number and the event(s) you plan to attend to Laurel Malvitz at malvitzl@michigan.gov. Volunteers should bring appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, boots, gloves, eye protection and drinking water.

 

For information about the specific tasks at each location and to obtain directions, go to www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers

and click on "Be a Part of a Core Volunteer Steward Team."

 

Dates, times and locations:

*Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Saturday, May 13, 9 a.m. to noon (Oakland Co.)

*Waterloo Recreation Area, Saturday, May 20, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Washtenaw Co.)

*Sterling State Park, Saturday, May 20, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Monroe Co.)

*Pinckney Recreation Area, Sunday, May 21, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Washtenaw Co.)

*Brighton Recreation Area, Saturday, May 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Livingston Co.)

*Sterling State Park, Saturday, May 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Monroe Co.)

*Highland Recreation Area, Sunday, May 28, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Oakland Co.)


Volunteers needed at Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery Visitor Center on May 13

The Department of Natural Resources will host a Volunteer Day on Saturday, May 13, at the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery Visitor Center located in Mattawan. Volunteers are needed from 1 to 3 p.m. that day for outdoor projects. The visitor center is located at 34270 County Road 652.

 

Volunteers will help install a butterfly garden on the hatchery grounds. If time and weather permit, work on other outdoor projects, such as trail and grounds enhancement and a

general cleanup, will take place.

 

Tools, materials and instructions will be provided. The Audubon Society of Kalamazoo and Home Depot of Portage have donated time, expertise and materials for the project, said Shana McMillan, visitor center interpreter. Volunteers should dress in work clothes appropriate for the weather. Light refreshments will be provided. Persons interested in volunteering are encouraged to call the visitor center at 269-668-2876 to let staff know you can attend.


Minnesota

New Zealand Mudsnails Found in Duluth-Superior Harbor

The New Zealand mudsnail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) is another invasive species now living in the Duluth-Superior Harbor and St. Louis River Estuary. The announcement of the discovery by the USEPA near the opening of fishing season has natural resource officials from Minnesota and Wisconsin urging anglers and other river users to take steps to prevent accidentally spreading mudsnails.

 

Over 100 snails were collected last fall by a research team from the EPA's Mid-Continent Ecology Division in Duluth. The team was conducting a species survey as part of a project designed to look for new invaders in Great Lakes harbors. This is the first finding of the tiny snail in Minnesota and Wisconsin waters.

 

Following confirmation of the mudsnail's identity, the EPA disclosed preliminary results of the survey earlier this month. "I kind of expected to find them," said Igor Grigorovich of Wilson Environmental Laboratories, Inc., the contract scientist who was also first to find the species in Lake Superior near Thunder Bay, Ontario, in 2001. "The St. Louis River Estuary is a more suitable habitat for this snail species than Lake Superior because it's not as cold."

 

Grigorovich and the team discovered the infestation while analyzing bottom sediment samples. Grigorovich said the New Zealand mudsnail varies in appearance and that the snails he found in the harbor look different than the ones he found in Thunder Bay. "They possess a thicker and more opaque shell," Grigorovich said. "The Thunder Bay snails are semi-transparent, probably as a result of low calcium content in Lake Superior water."

 

New Zealand mudsnails cause concern because their sheer numbers can disrupt the ecosystem.

 

"They have adapted so well in Western rivers that they have pushed out almost all of the native insects, snails, and other invertebrates that are important food for fish," said Doug Jensen, aquatic invasive species program coordinator for Minnesota Sea Grant. "More than 700,000 snails per square meter cover the bottoms of some rivers. That's like having 585,000 snails in your bathtub!"

 

Another concern is that they can spread easily on aquatic plants, waders, and other gear used in infested waters. They are able to close their shells, allowing them to survive out of 

water for days. Also, they can start new infestations because they can reproduce without mating, essentially cloning themselves.

 

One snail and its offspring can form hundreds of thousands of clones per year. Native fish and wildfowl eat them, but because they are so prolific, nothing seems to control infestations in North America.

 

New Zealand mudsnails are tiny mollusks (about the size of a peppercorn) native to New Zealand. Their spiral-shaped shells are usually dark gray or dark brown to light brown with a right-handed coiling pattern and 5-6 whorls. Some native snails look similar to the mudsnail, which makes identification difficult.

 

They were first found in the U.S. in Idaho's Snake River (1987). It is believed they were accidentally introduced with stocked imported rainbow trout.  The snails have impacted Rocky Mountain trout streams, apparently spread by anglers. Researchers suspect they arrived in the Great Lakes via ship ballast water.

 

Anglers and others who may use gear in infested waters are encouraged to:

-Inspect and remove visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from waders, hip boots, and field gear before transporting.

-Rinse waders, hip boots, and gear with hot water (120 degrees F or 45 degrees C), OR

-Dry gear for five days before reuse.

 

If you suspect you've found a New Zealand mudsnail, preserve the specimen in rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and report your sighting. Call MN Sea Grant, (218) 726-8712 or the MN DNR Invasive Species Program 888-MINNDNR or (651) 259-5100. In Wisconsin Call the WI DNR, (608) 266-9270 or WI Sea Grant, (920) 683-4697.

 

Both DNRs are working to designate the New Zealand mudsnail as a prohibited invasive species. The designation means it will be illegal to import, transport, posses, and place mudsnails into other waters in the state, as it is with other prohibited species such as zebra mussels. An exception is if a person is bringing the mudsnail to the DNR for identification or reporting purposes.

 

The Minnesota DNR is working to designate Lake Superior and the St. Louis River below the Fond du Lac Dam as mudsnail-infested waters.


New York

DEC Announces Proposed Bay Scallop and Oyster Regulations

Public Encouraged to Comment on Draft Regulations until June 5, 2006

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan  announced proposed regulations for bay scallops and oysters. The proposed regulations establish conservation and management measures necessary for the protection, management and re-establishment of sustainable bay scallop and oyster populations in the Marine District.

 

The proposed rule follows the adoption of State legislation for conservation of bay scallops (Chapter 204, Laws of 2005) and oysters (Chapter 155, Laws of 2005) that provides the DEC with regulatory authority over these commercially important shellfish species. This rule is consistent with existing provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL).

 

The proposed regulations will establish the following conservation and management measures:

 

Bay Scallops:

Open Season - Bay scallops may be taken from the first Monday in November through March 31;

Harvest Restrictions, Size Limit, Annual Growth Line - Only those bay scallops having an annual growth line and measuring at least two and one-quarter inches from the middle of the hinge to the middle of the bill may be taken;

Scallops that are less than the legal size and do not possess an annual growth line may comprise no more than two percent of the catch when unavoidably taken;

Gear Restrictions - Bay scallops may be taken by dredge or scrape, having an opening of no more than 36 inches in width when towed by a boat, provided that the dredge or scrape is brought aboard by hand. Dredges or other devices operated by power may not be operated on Sundays;

 

Catch Limits

The bay scallop catch limit is no more than 10 bushels of scallops per person per day or no more than 20 bushels per boat per day when two or more persons occupy the same boat;

Possession and Sale - Scallops may not be possessed for sale for food purposes from April 1 to the first Monday in November. This does not apply to bay scallops harvested during the open season (first Monday in November through March 31) that have been shucked and packed in approved packages and frozen and kept in a frozen state;

 

Scallop Salvage and Relay

DEC may issue permits to transplant or salvage scallops of any age to protect them from destruction by predators, wind, tidal action or other factors;

 

Oysters:

Size Limit

 Establish a minimum size limit of 3 inches in longest diameter. This size limit shall not apply to oysters transplanted or cultured under permit from DEC. Oysters measuring less than three inches in its longest diameter may comprise no more than five percent of any bushel, package or container.

 

New York's bay scallop resource has experienced a 99 percent decline since 1985 due to repeated blooms of the Brown Tide which devastated bay scallop populations in Peconic and Gardiners Bays. Delaying the scallop season by one month and requiring scallops to possess both an annual growth line and be a minimum size of two and one-quarter inches will allow for spawning potential to be maximize to achieve the long-term survival of the bay scallop resource. The proposed rule is consistent with existing statutory requirements for management of bay scallops and is necessary to prevent any lapse in management measures required for the continued protection of this commercially important resource.

 

The eastern oyster, which was one of the most commercially abundant shellfish resources in New York prior to the 1950s, has also experience a significant decline in population. There is currently no size limit for the taking of oysters in state waters. However, most municipalities on Long Island have established minimum size limits for the taking of oysters from town-owned underwater lands. The proposed rule is needed to establish a minimum size limit for the taking of oysters, and thereby create consistency between state and town regulations for oyster harvest. Establishing a minimum size limit for oysters will also benefit the long-term viability of oyster populations in the Marine District.

 

The proposed regulations are available for public comment until June 5, 2006. Comments may be mailed to: NYSDEC, Bureau of Marine Resources, Shellfish Management Unit, 205 N Belle Mead Road, Suite #1, East Setauket, NY 11733, or can be e-mailed to fwmarine@gw.dec.state.ny.us . On any e-mail sent to this address, please include the subject head of "Proposed Bay Scallop and Oyster Regulations."

 

More information on the proposed regulations is available at the above address, or call (631) 444-0483. Copies of the proposed rules are available at: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/propregs/part49text.html


Ohio

Free Watercraft Inspections offered statewide in May

COLUMBUS, OH - Ohio boaters will again benefit from free safety inspections conducted during the month of May by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft and its boating partners, the U.S. Power Squadrons, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and some local marine patrol units.  The inspections are aimed at increasing boating safety awareness in observance of National Safe Boating Week, May 20-26.

       

“These free safety inspections are held at boat ramps across the state to ensure that boating remains a safe recreational pastime on the state’s waterways,” said Mike Quinn, acting chief of the ODNR Division of Watercraft.

       

Watercraft safety inspectors do not issue citations, but instead provide completed written inspections that allow boat owners and operators to make recommended improvements to the safety equipment on their boats. Officers and inspectors look for properly working equipment such as fire extinguishers, horns, navigational lights, distress signals and an adequate number of approved life jackets that are of the proper style, size and fit for any passengers who are likely to be aboard a

particular boat.

 

A limited number of floating key chains that are ideal for carrying a watercraft registration will be distributed to boaters whose vessels undergo the safety inspections. In addition, beginning May 19, watercraft officers will distribute a limited number of wrist bracelets inscribed with the words “Wear Your Life Jacket” to boaters they observe on the water who are properly wearing a life jacket.

 

The North American Safe Boating Week campaign began in 1957 and continues to increase boating safety awareness by encouraging boaters to always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket of the proper type and size, to take an approved boater education course, to participate in a free watercraft safety inspection and adopt other safe boating practices.

       

An estimated 3 million Ohioans enjoy recreational boating each year. Recreational boating in Ohio contributes an estimated $2.1 billion annually to the state’s economy and supports the fulltime equivalent of an estimated 19,000 jobs.


Ohio's Spring Turkey hunters find success     

Season continues through May 21

 COLUMBUS, OH - Ohio hunters killed 10,797 wild turkeys in the first seven days of the spring hunting season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. Last year 8,883 birds were harvested during the first week.

       

So far this season, the 10 counties harvesting the most turkeys are: Ashtabula (381), Harrison (375), Meigs (374), Guernsey (358), Athens (355), Coshocton (326), Tuscarawas (317), Jackson (311), Washington (306), and Belmont (275).

       

“Hunters still have three weeks of hunting to kill their gobbler,” said Dave Swanson, forest research biologist with the Division of Wildlife. “More birds can be found in our woods and fields this spring thanks to above average reproductive success in the last two years.”

       

Hunters age 17 and younger killed 1,872 birds during a

special youth-only season held April 22-23, compared to last year’s 1,612. Top youth counties this season were: Ashtabula (76), Washington (72), Ashland and Coshocton (63), Harrison and Jackson (60), Meigs (54), Monroe (53), and Brown and Columbiana (50).  

 

Opening day figures of 3,058 birds also are up from last year’s 2,824. The season remains open through May 21.

       

Spring wild turkey hunters may hunt in all 88 counties (except Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County). Turkey hunting is permitted one-half hour before sunrise until noon daily. Hunters may take two bearded turkeys per spring season. Shotguns using shot, crossbows, and longbows are legal during this season. A spring turkey permit is required along with an Ohio hunting license.

       

For more information about Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunting season, visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife


Pennsylvania

State acts to protect nesting colonies of Egrets & Herons

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Game Commission officials late last month announced that they, along with officials from the U.S.D.A's Wildlife Services, would soon begin a program to sustain and protect a historic nesting colony of great egrets and black-crowned night-herons - two state endangered species - on Wade Island, in the Susquehanna River.  However, this long-considered, last-resort option comes at the expense of the double-crested cormorants encroaching on this relatively unique nesting site.

 

"Wade Island is home to the state's largest nesting colony of black-crowned night-herons and great egrets, both of which are on Pennsylvania's endangered species list," said Dan Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Section supervisor.  "It isn't clear what brings these colony nesting birds to Wade Island, which has been recognized as an Important Bird Area by Audubon Pennsylvania.  Perhaps it is good food resources in the Susquehanna River or it's proximity to the Chesapeake Bay.  Whatever the reason, no other place in the state comes close when comparing the number of nesting sites of these magnificent birds.

 

"Unfortunately, cormorants - also colony nesters - have invaded the night-heron and egret nesting area, and the nesting activity of the cormorants has increasingly become a concern.  While cormorants were at one time rare in Pennsylvania, populations have steadily increased since the early 1980s and they have never been considered a candidate for the state's species of concern list."

 

Brauning noted that, during the mid 1990s, up to 1,000 cormorants were regularly seen at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.  Since then, their population has continued to expand and they are now common throughout the Commonwealth.  In fact, populations of double-crested cormorants have been increasing rapidly in many parts of the U.S. since the mid-1970s, and their abundance has led to increased conflicts with various biological and socioeconomic resources, including recreational fisheries, other birds, vegetation, and fish hatchery and commercial aquaculture production. 

 

Currently, more than 100 night-heron and 150 great egret nests are on Wade Island.  Cormorants were first confirmed nesting on Wade Island in July of 1996.  At that time, only a single nest was found.  Since then, though, the number of cormorant nests on Wade Island has increased dramatically.  In 2005, 59 cormorant nests were confirmed.

 

"Unfortunately, there is a limited number of nesting sites on Wade Island," Brauning said.  "This is a particular problem for great egrets, which prefer nest locations similar to those used by the cormorants.  Therefore, we are taking steps to initiate a culling operation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services to remove up to 50 cormorants using specialized air rifles and/or suppressed .22 caliber rifles."

 

USDA Wildlife Services has obtained all of the necessary permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct this operation under the direction of the Game Commission.  The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources owns Wade Island and has provided approval for this operation.  All culled cormorants will be turned over to the Game Commission for disposal.  

"During this operation, extreme care will be taken to not disturb the endangered species nesting on the island," said Harris Glass, USDA Wildlife Services Pennsylvania State Director and wildlife biologist.  "The exercise will be stopped immediately if it is perceived that activities are threatening the nesting of egrets or herons."

 

To ensure public safety, the Game Commission will provide law enforcement assistance or arrange for assistance from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission throughout the operation.  The equipment that will be used is designed to reduce any risks and it will be used in the safest manner possible.

 

Brauning noted that studies have shown that when nesting cormorants encroach upon colonies of other nesting birds, including both black-crowned night-herons and great egrets, they reduce the amount of nesting space for those other nesting species.  In addition, cormorants have been known to take over egret nests and also kill trees as a result of their nesting activity.  Several other cases found that cormorant droppings on the leaves and branches of nesting trees apparently caused egrets to abandon colonies.

 

"In addition to the competition for nesting sites, cormorants also may compete with the herons and egrets for food in the local area around Wade Island," Brauning said.  "All three birds feed on fish and while cormorants usually dive deeper than herons and egrets for their food, scientists believe that the feeding areas of the three species likely overlap in the shallow depths of the Susquehanna River."

 

Brauning stressed that culling a portion of the cormorants was not the first option explored.  He noted that in 2004 and 2005, the agency attempted to encourage nesting by egrets and night-herons on neighboring islands.  However, that effort was met with limited to no success.  For more information on this initial effort, please see "News Release #20-04" in the "Newsroom" of the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us ).

 

"Trying to lure some of Wade Island's herons and egrets to a nearby island was unsuccessful," Brauning said.  "Egret 'decoys' were placed on an island that neighbors Wade Island with hopes of attracting some birds away from the growing cormorant population.  The use of decoys will continue, but such efforts generally provide only mixed success and may attract cormorants as well.  Other methods to control the success of the cormorant nests (oiling of eggs, use of poles and high-pressure sprays) are not possible on Wade Island, because of the nest height. 

 

"Therefore, lethal removal of the cormorants was determined to be the safest, least-disruptive, most cost-efficient and promising control method."

 

In support of this conclusion, USDA Wildlife Services also has considered all available management options and the adverse effects associated with those options.  Wildlife Services has determined lethal control to be the most appropriate management option and does not foresee any significant negative impacts to the other wildlife or the public from this option.

 

 


Wisconsin

Anglers reminded to avoid spreading aquatic invasive species

MADISON – With the regular fishing season set to open Saturday, May 6, anglers are urged to take steps to avoid accidentally spreading aquatic invasive species in lakes and rivers to more waters. Despite boater surveys showing that 80 percent of boaters say they take the necessary steps to prevent their spread, in 2005 zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil were documented in 31 new waters, a typical rate of introduction in recent years.

 

“The good news is that boaters are changing their behavior – 80 percent are complying based on our 2003 boater survey, up from 39 percent in a similar survey in 1994,” says Ron Martin, who coordinates invasive species management efforts for the Department of Natural Resources.

 

“The vast majority of Wisconsin’s 15,000 lakes and 44,000 miles of streams don’t have the aquatic invasive species,” he

says. “But 20 percent of 600,000 boaters not complying is still a problem, and new infestations are a problem. All it takes is a couple of careless boaters and more waterbodies become infested.”

 

More than 160 invasive aquatic species have entered the Great Lakes over the last 150 years and some are spreading to inland waters where they can affect lake ecosystems and hamper recreation. The major way they spread is aboard boats and boat trailers, and in bait buckets and bilge water.

 

The most common and problematic invasive species in Wisconsin waters are the Eurasian water milfoil, a plant that grows thick mats just below the water’s surface that can interfere with boating and swimming, and zebra mussels, a small but prolific mussel which can disrupt ecosystems, clog boat engines and utility intakes, and whose sharp shells can cut the feet of beachgoers.


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