Week of July 5 , 2004

National

Regional

Illinois

Indiana

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

Ontario

       Weekly News Archives

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National

FBI warns of ‘debris’ near marinas
The Marina Operators Association of America is advising boaters not to panic in the wake of an FBI warning to law enforcement officials last week that explosive devices could be disguised as floating debris. The warning, reported by CNN and some newspapers, was sent to police departments around the country, urging them to be on the alert for floating trash near marinas that could contain explosives.


“My guess is that this was among many warnings included in

the FBI report cited in the press,” Jim Frye, MOAA executive director, said. “These kinds of booby traps can be found anywhere, not just among floating debris,” said Frye. “Marina operators and boaters should add this concern to the vigilance that they are keeping already in all aspects of their waterfront experiences.”

 

“Anything suspicious should be reported to the appropriate authorities — either the Coast Guard or local law enforcement,” Frye says.


Saving the Pacific Northwest’s Wild Salmon

Wild Salmon and the stated benefits for recreation and eating are the primary reasons conservationists are trying to save these treasured fish.  Fishing is not only a tradition and a great recreation, but it is a way of life and a primary source of income for many Northwesterners.  

The Columbia and Snake River basins were once the home to 16 million salmon each year; and the region boasted the greatest salmon fishery in the world.  Now twenty-seven stocks of salmon and steelhead on the west coast are threatened or endangered with extinction. Though they survived ice ages and volcanoes, salmon have not been able to withstand the impact of mismanaged rivers.

In 1978 (only three years after the completion of the fourth of four Lower Snake River dams), wild salmon returns on the Snake River plummeted by almost 90 %. Since then, salmon runs have averaged nowhere near what scientists say is needed for recovery.

Today, the fishing industry is suffering.  Many jobs have been lost in Northwest sportfishing since the Lower Snake River dams went in.  In fact, nearly 10,000 sportfishing jobs were terminated just between 1991 and 1996.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  

In 2001, the Columbia Basin enjoyed the largest Upper Columbia spring Chinook return since record-keeping began in the late 1930s - a whopping 410,000 fish. This was due to good river outflows in 1998 and 1999 when the juveniles were outmigrating and good ocean conditions thereafter. With each trip averaging about $103 to the economy, according to the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, the 2001 mainstem fishery contributed to Washington and Oregon about $15.4 million. That number does not include fish caught in the tributaries of the Columbia.

In addition, economic studies from Idaho estimated the value of salmon fishing on the Snake River during the 2001 season at $90 million to Idaho alone. River communities like Lewiston, Orofino and Riggins were the major beneficiaries but profits trickled down to off-river communities like Grangeville, McCall and Cascade too. In Riggins, anglers spent $10.1 million representing 23% of the total sale of all goods in town.

In a major step backward for salmon recovery, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has proposed a cut in spill during the summer of 2004. Sport fishing, commercial fishing and tribal fishing communities all came together to denounce BPA’s proposal.  “Spill” is the term used to describe the safest method of getting young salmon past hydroelectric dams on their migration downstream to the ocean. It literally means

spilling water - and young salmon along with it - over the dam’s spillway, thus sparing the salmon of a deadly journey through a dam’s turbines.

 

The damage to salmon caused by stopping spill is well documented. During the 2001 drought, BPA eliminated spill on the Columbia and Snake rivers to maximize hydroelectric generation. This caused the deadliest juvenile salmon migration since the fish were listed under the Endangered Species Act. Now, these salmon are returning as adults, and early figures indicate that the 2001 spill reduction and drought had an impact on adult returns.

 

This spring, Chinook salmon returned in numbers at only half what was forecasted, leading to early ends in several fisheries.  And the 2004 return of jack salmon - fish spending just one year in the ocean - indicates the 2005 return, and fisheries, will be lower still.  Preliminary evidence suggests that the combined effect of the 2001 drought and the elimination of spill took a heavy toll on fish that migrated that year.  

 

The dams on the Lower Snake River were built for barge transportation, but Congress wouldn’t appropriate money for them for that purpose alone.  So they made those four dams hydropower dams thinking that they would eventually become money-making dams.  Today the dams provide about 4% of the regions energy and continue to provide barge transportation for 140 miles from Lewiston, Idaho to the Tri-Cities in Washington.

Conservationists are proposing to remove those four dams.  The RAND Corporation did an energy study on the Columbia Basin and found that the energy lost could easily be made up with renewable energy like wind and geothermal.  And as for the transportation aspect, it is envisioned farmers moving their goods to market by a combination of trucking and using the existing rail line that runs along the river.  Some improvements to rail system are needed but they are still cheaper than the cost of maintaining salmon populations with the dams in place.

 

Over $4.2 billion dollars has been spent on ineffective salmon recovery to date.  And if the current plan for salmon was funded completely, we could be spending a billion dollars per year pretty soon.  Removing the dams and fixing up the rail is a one time cost of about one billion dollars.  It’s cheaper and the salmon would come back.   

The plan is considered cost effective, scientifically credible, and it ensures abundant, harvestable populations of salmon for fishing.  And we can still have plenty of electricity and easy transportation to ports.


FWS Selects New Assistant Director for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that Mitch King has been selected to fill the Service's first Assistant Director for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration position.

 

King is currently Deputy Regional Director for the Service's Southeast Region and has over 27 years of service with the agency. King will be responsible for the management of the Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration programs (Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux programs). The programs provide millions of dollars from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment,

fishing tackle and related products to state fish and wildlife agencies for fish and wildlife conservation.

 

The Service created the Assistant Director position to enact the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Improvement Act of 2000 to ensure greater accountability in administering these critical programs

FWS Director Steve Williams said of King "He is widely respected by both the hunting and fishing community in the southeast and by his peers in the Fish and Wildlife Service. He will be a tremendous addition to my office in Washington."


Eco-Terror Leader Wants to Hide Out in Canada

A fugitive wanted by the FBI for his alleged involvement in an Oregon eco-terror attack is seeking refuge in Canada.  Canadian officials will decide whether he is eligible for such status.

 

The fugitive is environmental extremist Tre Arrow.  He claims he wants to live in Canada forever and that he is “branded as guilty in the United States.” Arrow is wanted for his alleged role in a 2001 firebombing of logging and cement trucks in Oregon.  The FBI says Arrow is associated with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a group that it recognizes as one of the most active domestic terror organizations.

Arrow faces federal charges in Oregon of using a fire to commit a felony, destroying vehicles used in interstate commerce and using incendiary devises in a crime of violence.  The charges carry combined penalties of up to 80 years in prison.  He was also arrested by Canadian authorities in March after allegedly stealing bolt-cutters from a home improvement store in British Columbia.

 

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board began hearings on June 18 to determine whether Arrow would be admissible to apply for refugee status.  For this to happen, the panel must find that the ELF is not a terrorist organization or that Arrow has no links to the group.


Regional

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for July 2,  2004

Current Lake Levels: 

Lake Superior is currently 6 inches above last year’s level, but 6 inches below its long-term average for July.  Lake Michigan-Huron is 13 inches above its level of a year ago but is 10 inches below long-term average.  Lake St. Clair is currently 9 inches higher than this time last year, however, it is 2 inches below long-term average.  Lake Erie is 8 inches above last year’s level and 2 inches above average, while Lake Ontario is 1 inch above the level of a year ago and 5 inches above average.


Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be near average during the month of July.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are expected to be below average. The Niagara and St. Lawrence River flows are projected to be near average for the month of July.

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook:

 Seasonably warm temperatures are expected over the holiday

weekend with high temperatures in the 70s and low 80s basin wide.  There is a good chance of rain moving across the basin Saturday and Sunday, with thunderstorms likely.  More rain may is expected to return to the basin by the middle of next week. 

 

Forecasted Water Levels: 

Lake Superior will continue its seasonal rise over the next month, increasing by approximately 1 inch.  Lake Michigan-Huron is approaching its seasonal peak while lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario will continue their seasonal decline during the next month. Lake St. Clair is expected to drop 2 inches, while lake Erie and Ontario have a predicted 3 and 4 inch decline over the next month, respectively.

 

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.


Regional Cormorant Control updates

Ontario

Ontario is culling Cormorants.  Canada is now involved in cormorant control by being allowed to shoot 6,000 birds.  3199 were shot in the fist 10 days on High Bluff.  Canada will also oil eggs. 

 

New York

NYSDEC Biologists killed 20 Adult Cormorants on Little Galloo Island. McCullough, Region 6 biologist stated more

could be killed next year depending on what is allowed.  Birds on Calf Island had to be shot because the trees are so high.

 

Henderson Fish and Game Protective Association announced that the club will host the First Annual “Cormorant Clay Target Shoot” the last Saturday in July.  The twofold purpose of the event is to raise money for conservation in general and to keep fishing and the devastation done by cormorants in people’s minds.  The all-day event will begin at 8 AM.  There will be a fee to shoot the clay targets, one of them being black.


UN report says dead zones growing global problem

Lake Erie one of 150 low-oxygen spots around world

Fisheries worldwide are increasingly under threat from growing areas of very low oxygen in the world's rivers, oceans and seas, according to a recent United Nationals Environmental Program report, and Lake Erie is not alone when it comes to this concern.

 

The report states there are now nearly 150 marine "dead zones" around the world. Robert Diaz, report co-author and marine science professor at the College of William and Mary's Virginia Institute of marine Science, says fish stocks will face increasing challenges in the zones.

 

"The question turns to how much area will the fish stocks lose in feeding grounds, effort spent in escaping the dead zone, and how will they adapt?" Diaz says. "I don't think they will be able to adapt very well. If this doesn't change we will see major fish kills."

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone, which grows and shrinks seasonally, now encompasses 22,000 square miles of water. The Baltic Sea has the largest area at 27,000 square miles and experiences fish kills. Low-oxygen dead zones like those in the Gulf of Mexico could suffocate fisheries and keep gulf fishing boats tied up at the docks.

 

The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network reports, and the United Nationals Environmental Program concurs Great Lakes and other world dead zones are caused by runoff from too many nutrients such as agricultural fertilizers, including nitrogen, as well as vehicle and factory emissions, and sewage wastes.

 

Most of these areas are created not only by point and non-point sources of pollution in the water, but also the pollution in the atmosphere.  Some scientists are saying more the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act need to be modified, while others are saying their full status needs to be implemented.


Illinois

Early Waterfowl season dates determined
The Natural Resources Advisory Board has approved dates for the early waterfowl seasons. The statewide September Canada goose hunting season is set for Sept. 1-15 and a statewide teal hunting season will be Sept. 11-19.

The September Canada goose season includes a daily bag limit of five geese in the state’s northeast zone and two geese in the remainder of the state (possession limits are double the daily bag limit). The daily bag limit of five geese is allowed in northeast Illinois because of the large resident giant Canada goose population in the region. The September

season allows hunters to harvest resident giant Canada geese before migrant geese arrive in the state. Canada geese taken during the September season do not count toward the state’s regular goose season harvest quota. A 2004 population estimate indicates that there may be more than 100,000 giant Canada geese in Illinois, an increase of more than 26 percent compared with last year.

 

For the 9-day September teal hunting season a daily bag limit of four teal and a possession limit of eight teal will be allowed. The season dates are based on aerial duck surveys and hunter preferences expressed in statewide surveys.


Indiana

Anglers find parasites

Fish parasites common

SYRACUSE, IN - When Brian Glover caught a bluegill at Lake Wawasee in early June, he noticed a tiny, crab-like parasite hanging on the fish. "The bluegill had a red sore spot where the parasite was attached," Glover said. "I wasn't sure what it was, but thought it might be a problem."

 

Glover contacted DNR fisheries biologist Brad Fink. "It was a parasitic copepod," said Fink. "Parasitic copepods are small crustaceans that are fairly common in Indiana lakes. They are also called water lice."  Fink says water lice, like many other parasites, can stress fish but rarely cause death.

 

Indiana lakes and streams are homes for a variety of fish parasites. As fishing activity increases during the summer, Hoosier anglers often call the DNR after encountering these miniature freeloaders on or in fish. Most are part of the normal ecology of Indiana waters and do not harm individual fish or fish populations.

 

Fish parasites vary in size from microscopic organisms to large, clearly visible leeches. Some are found on the external parts of fish attached to fins, gills or other body parts. Other parasites are internal, found in muscle tissue and organs.

Water lice are about the size of a person's small fingernail. They attach to fish with tiny suction cups and small hooks. They are clear to light in color, making them difficult to see on a fish or in the water. The two most common fish parasites are trematodes called yellow grub and Neascus. Both are tiny, worm-like organisms and have similar life cycles.

 

"Yellow grubs sometimes show up in meat tissue when a fish is filleted," said Fink. "They are usually about a quarter-inch long and look like a miniature maggot. Neascus is usually found on the outside of a fish and shows up as a tiny black-spot about the size of a BB, It's often called black-spot disease, even though it's actually a parasite."

 

Yellow grubs and Neascus start their life as eggs, hatch into tiny larva and swim about, attaching themselves to snails.

The organisms undergo changes within the snail and are released back into the water. They penetrate a fish's skin and show up as grubs and black spots. To complete their life cycle, great blue herons eat the infested fish. The adults develop in the bird and releases eggs back into the water.

 

Fink says fish with these parasites are safe to eat, although they may not appear very appetizing.  "Cold from freezing and heat from cooking kill them."


Michigan

Court action on Indian inland hunting and fishing rights

Prompts Sportsmen offensive to seek “friend of Court” status

Although all is quiet on the public front concerning the pending court action on Indian inland hunting and fishing rights, sportsmen are quietly going on the offensive to make sure they're heard.

 

The Michigan Fisheries Resources Conservation Coalition (MFRCC), which has friend of the court status in the suit, is asking the court to upgrade its status to make it a party to the case. MFRCC says its members have issues in this case that the Michigan DNR might not consider as it strives for a settlement.

 

The MFRCC is made up a handful of local/regional fishing associations (Grand Traverse Bay, Walloon Lake, Burt Lake, etc.), the state Chamber of Commerce, Trout Unlimited and the Federation Fly Fishers. Recently, the Michigan Bear Hunters Association voted to join, too.

 

The issue is the Treaty of 1837, which preserves Indian rights to hunt, fish and gather in an area that follows the Grand River from Lake Michigan to midstate, then runs on a diagonal to Alpena, and includes most of the eastern Upper Peninsula. The Great Lakes portion of the dispute has been settled (twice, in fact) through negotiation. But the inland portion of the argument persists because of the way the two camps view the language.

 

Unlike most Indian treaties, 1837 contains a clause that says the tribal rights exist "until the land is required for settlement." That's the crux of the case: The state maintains the land has been settled and those rights are extinguished.

 

MFRCC, which agrees with the state's position, wants active status in the negotiations largely because it says private property rights are involved. If the Indians claim hunting/gathering rights on lands that are open to the public, does that include, say, Commercial Forest Act land, which is

open to the public for hunting and fishing purposes but remains private property? Or could tribal members, under the claim of fishing rights on an inland lake, stake nets out in front of someone's cottage?

 

These concerns will disappear if the state's position prevails. Virtually all the state lands in Michigan have, at one time or another, been settled. The state took title to much of it because of tax reversion and it has purchased much more. (Federal land is another matter entirely.)  But if a settlement is negotiated between the state and the tribes (as it was for Great Lakes fishing), then MFRCC wants to be at the table.

 

There is precedent for MFRCC's wish to be included. MFRCC was a "participating amicus" in the Great Lakes settlement. And, in what should come as no surprise, the amici objected strenuously to the DNR's first proposed settlement during 2000 Great Lakes negotiations. Further negotiations resulted in a better situation for sportsmen, almost all agree. "If we had not been participating amici, that deal would have been done and signed and we would have all been stuck with it," said Rich Bowman, executive director of Trout Unlimited.

 

Steve Schultz, MFRCC's attorney, says that if the Indians acknowledge all the concerns about private property rights, his group might be satisfied to turn the reigns back over to the DNR to handle the resource negotiations. But there are many thorny issues, he says.  If the Indians are ultimately allowed to set their own hunting and fishing regulations on public land, what happens to limited-access species (bear and elk, for instance)? Could the tribes set seasons that allow them to harvest the entire surplus before the sportsmen get a chance? What about public safety issues if a tribal season is going on when ordinary citizens might be out and about, oblivious to it?

 

The case is in the early stages and isn't expected to go before the judge (Federal District Court in Kalamazoo) until 2006 at the soonest. In the meantime, depositions are beginning. Sportsmen will be pleased that their representatives are seeking a place at the negotiating table. The way of life of Michigan residents is very much at stake.


2004 Michigan antlerless deer applications available

The Michigan DNR reminded hunters that July 1 through Aug. 1 is the application period for a public land

antlerless deer license for the 2004 deer hunting season.

 

Hunters may apply online at www.michigan.gov/dnr  or at any authorized license agent. There is a $4, nonrefundable application fee. Drawing results will be available Sept. 9, on the DNR website. Successful applicants who did not apply online will receive postcard notification, mailed by Sept. 11. Others should check drawing results online after Sept. 9.

 

Public land antlerless licenses are only available through the drawing process. Beginning Sept. 27 at 10 a.m., leftover public land licenses for Deer Management Units 001, 004, 020, 060, 068, 069, 071, and 452 will be available over the counter at any authorized license agent. No other DMUs will have leftover public land licenses available.

Private land antlerless licenses will be available over the counter beginning Aug. 2 at 10 a.m. There is no minimum acreage requirement or the need for a tax ID number to purchase a private land antlerless license. Hunters may purchase one antlerless license per day until the DMU quota is filled. There is no limit to the number of private land antlerless licenses an individual hunter may purchase.

 

Hunters ages 12 to 16 may purchase one antlerless license over the counter (public or private) July 1 through Aug. 1. No application fee or drawing is required. A youth must appear in person with a parent or guardian to purchase a Junior Antlerless Deer Hunting License.

 

For more information see the 2004 Michigan Antlerless Deer Hunting Guide available in stores or online at www.michigan.gov/dnr .


Fall turkey hunt applications available

The Michigan DNR reminded turkey hunters the period to apply for a 2004 Michigan fall turkey hunting license is July 1 through Aug. 1.  A total of 40,800 licenses are available through a lottery for the 2004 fall turkey hunting season. Last fall, hunters spent 79,163 days pursuing turkeys and harvested about 5,000 birds.

 

“Wild turkey hunting in the fall enables wildlife managers to stabilize or reduce wild turkey numbers in certain areas of the state to meet local goals based on habitat conditions and public attitudes,” said Al Stewart, DNR Upland Game Bird Specialist.

 

Hunters may apply for a turkey hunting license at any of more than 1,700 authorized license dealers statewide, DNR customer service kiosks, DNR Operation Service Centers, and online at www.michigan.gov/dnr . The cost to apply for a fall turkey hunting license is $4. This nonrefundable application fee must be paid at the time of application and does not include the cost of the license. When applying online at the DNR's e-license system, hunters may use MasterCard and

Visa to charge their purchase, and applications can be purchased through e-license 24 hours a day during the application period.

 

All applicants, except those who applied online, are mailed a postcard by Aug. 26. Drawing results will be posted Aug. 23 on the DNR web site. If any licenses remain after the drawing, unsuccessful applicants may purchase one leftover license in person at any license dealer on a first-come, first-served basis for a one-week period beginning Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. (EDT). Any licenses that remain as of Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. (EDT) will be available for purchase over the counter by any hunter, including individuals who did not apply for a fall wild turkey license. These licenses will be sold until the quota is met.

 

If hunters encounter problems with their fall wild turkey application, purchasing a license, or if they have not received a notification card, or located their name online by Aug. 26, 2004, they can obtain assistance by calling (517) 373-3904 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.


More Ruffe out of Escanaba (Little Bay De Noc) in Lake Michigan

Michigan DNR recently completed its June assessment in Little and Big Bays de Noc for the Ruffe.  Each survey involves 5 10-minute trawls and a one-night set of one 250' experimental mesh gill net in 10' of water and another in 20'.

 

Biologists captured 3 Ruffe in Little Bay de Noc and none in Big Bay de Noc.  Two of the Ruffe were caught in their 10' gill net, and measured 5.3" and 4.2".  Both were males.  The third

Ruffe was caught in the trawl and was a 4.3" female that was loaded with eggs.  All Ruffe were eating hexagenia (May Flies), and were presently preserved and available for further examination. 

 

Only one Ruffe was caught in all of their sampling last year, and it appears the Bay de Noc population is expanding. Fisheries Research Biologist Troy Zorn said “it will be interesting to see how this summer goes.”


Minnesota

DNR extends pheasant season for 2004

Minnesota's pheasant hunters will have additional hunting opportunities this year, thanks to a DNR decision to extend the 2004 season through Dec. 31. Under the previous season framework, the 2004 season would have closed Dec. 19.

 

"The extended season will offer more opportunities for families and friends to hunt pheasants over the holidays, without harming pheasant populations," said Ed Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division policy chief. "While we recognize that some hunters did not favor this extension out of a concern for pheasants, the biology of pheasant populations supports this change, and the DNR has emergency authorities to close or reduce seasons if necessary."

    

Based on the best scientific information available, the extension should slightly increase harvest without affecting pheasant numbers during the following year, according to Kurt Haroldson, DNR wildlife biologist in Madelia. Although Haroldson said hen pheasants flushed by hunters from prime

winter cover could experience some increased mortality,     such mortality should be compensated by reduced winter mortality and increased nest success for the surviving hens.  Both sexes of other small game species, such as grouse, are harvested and all small game populations can withstand some hunting mortality of females.

 

Studies of pheasant mortality from the 1940s, when hen pheasants were part of the legal bag, showed that pre-hunting season hen abundance declined when the previous year's hen harvest exceeded 45 percent, Haroldson said. Hen numbers increased when the previous year's hen harvest was less than 20 percent. Although hen pheasants cannot be

legally harvested in Minnesota, the DNR estimates that 11 percent of hen pheasants are killed -accidentally or deliberately shot - during the hunting season.     

 

More than 100,000 people hunt pheasants in Minnesota. This year's season will begin on Oct. 16. A small game license and a $7.50 habitat stamp are required.


DNR training for instructors for ATV safety and bowhunters education

The Minnesota DNRS will hold clinics to train and certify volunteer instructors for ATV safety and for bowhunter

education at the following times and locations.

 

ATV Instructor Clinic

July 14, 2004, 6:00 - 9:00 pm

DNR Area Office, Two Harbors

 

ATV Instructor Clinic

July 17, 2004, 9:00am-12:00n

Haypoint-Jackpine Savages Snowmobile Club

Hwy 200 and Cedar ST. South,  Hill City

Bow Hunter Ed Instructor Clinic

July 31, 2004, 12:00n - 4:00 pm

Lunch provided and bow shooting after clinic (bring your bow and arrows - not required)

Grand Rapids Archery Club, Grand Rapids

 

 

Participants must be at least 18 years old and must bring their drivers licenses. Also bring a pen.

 

There is no fee for these clinics, however, pre-registration is necessary by contacting Lt. Shelly Patten at 218-897-5132 or  shelly.patten@dnr.state.mn.us


New York

Second Milestone Reached in Buffalo River Walleye Restoration

By Tom Marks

On June 24, 2004 The Wall-I-Guys, a group of sportsmen from the Southtowns Walleye Association, Bison City Rod and Gun Club, East Aurora Fish & Game Club, Alden Rod and Gun Club, Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Erie County Fish Advisory Board, Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (Spencer Schofield) and the New York DEC, (Bill Culligan, Don Einhouse, Mike Wilkenson and staff), today stocked young walleye in the Buffalo River as part of the Buffalo River Walleye Restoration Project. The stocking took place at the Seneca Street Bridge in South Buffalo.

 

The first milestone was in the first week of May when the first walleye eggs were collected to start the stocking phase of this project. The walleye restoration project was started in 2002 when the Wall-I-Guys was formed.

 

Region 9 DEC Director Gerald Mikol, who was on hand for this initial stocking in the seven-year project, said, "Walleye are one of the most popular sportfish in Western New York. This stocking marks the beginning of a journey to establish a self-sustaining population of walleye in this urban river."

 

Spencer Schofield who, along with the DEC was instrumental in getting this project off the ground remarked with excitement what a great day it was for our local fishery and sportsmen. The weather was perfect and the river conditions could not have been better.

 

The eggs for this first stocking were collected from adult walleye caught in Cattaraugus Creek this past spring. The DEC’s Chautauqua Hatchery provided the use of one pond to raise the fingerlings for the Buffalo River stocking. The Cattaraugus Creek walleye, a river spawning fish, which spend most of their lives in the lake, were selected as the egg source because they return to the creek each spring to spawn.

 

The 28,000 fingerlings about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, were

 transported to the Buffalo River and released. It is hoped that these walleye will imprint on the Buffalo River and return to spawn as their parents do on the Cattaraugus Creek. The Wall-I-Guys and the DEC would like to establish

a Buffalo River walleye population that lives in Lake Erie and spawns in the river each spring. It is believed that the Buffalo River once supported such a river spawning population of walleye.

 

Approximately 105,000 walleye fry the excess from the initial egg collection were stocked in the river in May. The first adult walleye from this initial stocking are not expected to return until 2008. The stocking of the river is planned for the next six years. It is hoped by the year 2010 to achieve 5000 adult walleye returning. It is a goal of the group to restore a naturally reproducing, self-sustaining walleye population in the Buffalo River. If the project is successful we should see a more stable abundant walleye population in the in the Buffalo River and adjacent areas of Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River.

 

Historically the Buffalo River had a river spawning population of walleye. However, by the early 1900’s, the river had become too polluted to support any viable fishery. Heavy industry along and dredging of the lower river destroyed much of the suitable spawning habitat. In recent years, the pollution has been abated and the water quality is much improved. It is believed that fish can reach the suitable spawning habitat further upstream. The Restoration Project includes construction of a walleye-rearing pond on Erie County property adjacent to the river. Walleye will be raised in this pond by volunteer labor and with DEC supervision. When ready the fingerlings will be released directly in to the river, this will reduce transport injury to the fish. Water from the river will be used in the pond to increase the potential for imprinting.

 

Success is not guaranteed for this project there will be a lot of work in the future. However, the team and all involved are very optimistic.


Pennsylvania

Sporting Interests rally to keep PFBC      

Something a little outside the ordinary happened in Harrisburg June 15 when a group of interested citizens massed at the Capitol.  While rallies there are commonplace, it’s not every day the assemblage tells legislators they’re asking to pay higher fees.  Considering, however, the exceptional group was made up of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women – the state’s original conservationists, with a long history of supporting fishing, boating and aquatic resource protection – perhaps it’s not really all that surprising.

      

 “We’re extremely gratified by the leadership role the state’s sportsmen and women have taken in seeking appropriate operating funds for fishing and boating programs and in seeking dedicated funding for related infrastructure,” said Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) Executive Director Dr. Douglas Austen.  “Rallies like this one punctuate the message that adequate funding is not just an agency issue, it is a matter of real importance to the 2.5 million Pennsylvanians who fish and boat & the 14,000 Pennsylvania citizens whose jobs are supported by these activities.”

      

House Bill 2155 proposes modest user fee increases of boat registrations and fishing licenses.  Those gathered at the rally also spoke in favor a dedicated source of funding for the state-owned dams, fish hatcheries and public access areas that serve as the backbone for fishing and boating in the state.  

       

In Pennsylvania, promoting and managing fishing and boating activity falls to the PFBC.  Unlike most state agencies, the (PFBC) does not receive general fund tax revenue for its operations. Instead, the vast majority of its operating funds come directly and indirectly from user fees in the form of fishing licenses and boat registrations. 

       

 While the PFBC relies on these funds, the General Assembly

is the body that establishes the fee types and amounts.  There has not been a general license fee increase in Pennsylvania since 1996.  Boating registration fees have held at the same level since 1991.  Over the same period, however, the basic costs of doing business have risen dramatically forcing the PFBC to strain its resources to provide the programs and services that Pennsylvanians have come to expect and demand.

 

Likewise, there have been no general Commonwealth funds committed to the state-owned infrastructure managed by the PFBC in three decades.  As a result, a backlog of more than $100 million in projects at state hatcheries, dams and public access areas has built up.  License and registration fees were never intended to cover the cost of these projects.

 

The Keep Pennsylvania Fishing and Boating rally was designed to focus legislative attention on the funding issues and demonstrate that sporting interests are also active politically.  In addition to the participating in the rally, conservation groups, sportsmen’s clubs and individual anglers and boaters have sent legislators hundreds of letters supporting operating and infrastructure funding. (Samples of these letters are available at www.fish.state.pa.

 

“The state’s sportsmen and women not shy about making sure their voices are heard by their elected officials.  The message they sent at the rally was certainly clear: once again they are willing to pull the freight to ensure fishing, boating and aquatic protections programs can continue. Pennsylvanians has a rich history of fishing and boating.  Hopefully passage of House Bill 2155 and the creation of a dedicated funding source for fishing and boating infrastructure will assure them of a productive future as well,” said Austen.

 


Nesting Bald Eagle population increases

Seven new nests identified in Commonwealth

HARRISBURG - The chance for vacationers and picnickers to see the nation's symbol of freedom soaring above over the Fourth of July weekend is better than ever as Pennsylvania's bald eagle nesting population continues to grow.

 

Preliminary census work completed recently by the Pennsylvania Game Commission documents at least 75 known bald eagle nests in the Commonwealth. That compares with preliminary count of 68 in 2003; 63 in 2002; 55 in 2001; and 48 in 2000. As recently as three decades ago, bald eagle nesting was limited to a couple of nests in the Pymatuning region of Crawford County.

 

"Seeing a bald eagle in the wild is enough to excite just about anyone," noted Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director. "But given the bald eagle's heightened significance as Americans continue to show and display their support for their country, makes the experience all the more gratifying and moving.

 

DDT - a pesticide that was widely used until it was banned in 1972 – nearly wiped out bald eagles, as well as ospreys, peregrine falcons and other bird species, in the 1950s and '60s. Reintroduction efforts involving the USFWS, Canadian provinces and state fish and wildlife agencies, including the Game Commission, spurred the bald eagle's recovery after DDT was banned. Today, the bald eagle is listed nationally as a threatened species and in Pennsylvania as an endangered species.

 

New eagle nests have been found in Armstrong, Berks, Centre, Erie, Lycoming and McKean counties. Other counties where eagles have established known nests include: Bradford, Butler, Cameron, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Forest, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Mercer, Monroe, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Wayne, Westmoreland and York.

 

Pennsylvania's bald eagle reintroduction began in 1983, when agency employees flew to Saskatchewan, Canada, and

received permission to remove 12 eaglets from nests. Once in Pennsylvania, the eaglets were placed in elevated nesting structures - called hack boxes - on Haldeman Island in Dauphin County and near Shohola Falls in Pike County. The seven-year project, which was financed by the Richard King Mellon Foundation of Pittsburgh and the federal Endangered Species Fund, eventually led to the release of 88 Canadian eagles in Penn's Woods. The reintroduction was buoyed by improving water quality and other environmental conditions; increased law enforcement efforts targeting wildlife black market operations; and eagle reintroductions in neighboring states.

 

Nationally, bald eagles were upgraded from an endangered to threatened species in 1995. There is considerable anticipation that the species soon will be removed from the "threatened" species list. Bald eagles were first put on the national endangered species list in 1967, when it was believed fewer than 500 nests were found in the lower 48 states. Today, the Chesapeake Bay has more than 600 nesting pairs; the lower 48, more than 6,000 nesting pairs.

 

The Game Commission first listed the bald eagle as an endangered species in 1978, and it remains a state endangered species today.

 

Each year, about 20% of Pennsylvania's eagle nests fail for reasons such as disturbances, predators and harsh weather. In some cases, bald eagles have been shot illegally. Bald eagles are protected under the federal Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940. Nesting losses, at least in recent years, have been offset by the proliferation of new nests.

 

The state's largest concentrations of bald eagles are found in three geographic areas:  Crawford County; along the lower Susquehanna River in Lancaster and York counties; and Pike County.  For years, Crawford County - particularly the Pymatuning region - had represented the state's last stand for and largest concentration of bald eagles. This year, Crawford has 12 active nests, as does the lower Susquehanna River.  Pike County, however, currently has the state's fastest-growing nesting population with 9 nests. In 1992, it had only one.


Wisconsin

State Anglers caught nearly 1.2 million walleye in 2003

MADISON – Anglers in northern Wisconsin in 2003 enjoyed some of the best walleye fishing in the past 15 years, catching nearly 1.2 million fish in the Ceded Territory, more than doubling the previous year’s total, according to thousands of recently compiled angler interviews.

 

Total angler catch was 1,195,268 walleye, exceeding 1 million fish for the first time since 1997, and well above the 530,458 walleye anglers reported catching in the Ceded Territory in 2002. Anglers kept 263,496 walleye, or 22 percent of the total they caught.

 

Catch rates also were the second best in 15 years, with anglers taking an average of three hours to catch one walleye, compared to the long-term average of four hours for one walleye.

 

“I think the most striking finding is the total number of fish caught – it’s so much higher than any year since 1997,” says Joe Hennessy, a DNR fisheries biologist who analyzed the angler reports. “That total reflects the fantastic natural reproduction of walleye in 2001 and 2002, and that those fish were becoming catchable size in 2003.”

 

Hennessy says the total catch – which exceeded by hundreds of thousands the total in each of the previous five years -- perfectly illustrates the boom and bust cycle of walleye populations.  “Right now, I think we’re hitting the peak for one of the booms and we should have excellent walleye fishing again this year. But it’s not something people should expect to last for years on end because we know that walleye populations are notoriously unstable.”

 

Hennessy said that the other really striking statistic to emerge from the more than 5,000 angler interviews, which are part of DNR’s creel survey program, was how much the excellent fishing was due to natural reproduction, not stocking.

“The second thing that’s really striking is, of the 1.2 million fish caught in 2003, just over 1 million of them came from lakes sustained by natural reproduction,” he says. “That underscores that stocking isn’t a magic bullet – it’s not what leads to a strong fishery, habitat is. There has to be good spawning habitat, good habitat for the larval stage of the fish, and a good food supply and hiding places for their critical first year.”

 

The creel surveys were conducted from May 03, 2003 to March 31, 2004 on lakes in northern Wisconsin. They are a critical part of DNR’s management program to meet the state’s legal obligation to accommodate the tribal fishery and provide a

 quality sport fishery, says Dennis Scholl, DNR fisheries

 supervisor who coordinates the population and creel surveys.
 
A 1983 ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed that the Chippewa maintained their right to hunt, fish and gather on all or portions of 30 Wisconsin counties covered by treaties six Chippewa bands signed with the U.S. Government in 1837 or 1842. Starting in 1985, the Chippewa have exercised their rights in the spring of each year under a highly regulated system that sets the number of fish they can spear.
 
Sport angler harvest increases in 2003

In 2003, the tribes harvested 27,502 walleye, in line with their long-term average of harvesting 25,000 to 30,000 fish. Of the 1.195 million walleye that sport anglers caught, they kept -- or harvested -- 263,496 walleye in 2003, or about 22 percent. That harvest total is up slightly from the previous two years.

 

Sport catch averaged 950,000 walleye between 1980 and 1987 and catch rates averaged 1 fish for every 5.9 hours for anglers specifically targeting walleye during that time, the years before tribal harvest began in earnest. Since 1990, the sport angler catch has varied from a low of 530,458 in 2002, to a high of 2,206,372 in 1996, Hennessy says. The sport harvest has varied from a low of 132,067 in 2002 to a high of 385,144 in 1997, and it has actually been better overall in the 14 years since 1990, Hennessy says.

 

Results from individual lakes are available on the DNR Web site on the “Ceded Territory” “data and reports.” page.

Here are some interesting findings from the 2003 creel survey on waters in the ceded territory.

  • Sport anglers in 2003 spent 3.6 million hours pursuing walleye in the Ceded Territory, down a bit from the early 1990s, but stable over the last decade.

  • Stocked fish comprise only 10 to 15 percent of the total number of walleye caught and harvested in the Ceded Territory.

  • Anglers tended to keep a larger proportion of the fish they catch in lakes sustained by natural reproduction because these lakes often have more liberal length limits.

  • Sixty-four percent of walleye lakes are sustained by natural reproduction.

  • Catch rates are much lower in stocked lakes. It typically takes about 10 hours of effort for an angler to catch a walleye in a lake with a population sustained primarily by stocked fish.

A small percentage of anglers are still much more successful than the rest - the adage that 10 percent of the people catch 90 percent of the walleye is based in fact.

 


Ontario

Canadian Commercial busted for over quota

Lake Erie walleye greed costs $20,647

WINDSOR — A Kingsville, Ontario commercial fisherman has been fined $3,000 and the licence holder $5,500 after they plead guilty to three counts of exceeding their 2003 walleye quota by 524 kilograms (1155 lbs>. In addition, the company has paid $12,147.50 in restitution for all the excess fish caught.

 

Christopher Murray, 30, of Kingsville, captain of the ‘Harry Purvis’, had caught the walleye (also known as yellow pickerel) quota on a commercial fishing licence owned by D.W. Murray Fisheries Ltd., of Kingsville, by December 1, 2003.  Murray continued to fish for walleye until December 16.

 

When a commercial fisher goes over quota, the extra fish

must be separated from the rest of the catch, recorded on the Daily Catch Report and turned over to a fishery officer during inspection. If an officer is not there, the extra fish must not be landed until an officer has been contacted for direction on their disposal. Over quota fish still alive are to be released back to the lake.

 

Exceeding the licence quota is a serious concern to Lake Erie fishery managers. When a quota is caught, all fishing for that species is to stop. Any additional harvest is to be surrendered to ensure no profit comes from the excess harvest.

 

The case was heard by Justice of the Peace Tracy on June 28, 2004 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor.

 


Government encourages everyone to go fishing
No Licence Required For Annual Family Fishing Weekend

TORONTO — The Ontario government is inviting everyone to participate in the 11th annual Ontario Family Fishing Weekend, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay said.  "We'd like everyone to get hooked on the joys of fishing," said Ramsay. "The Family Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity to learn more about fishing and fishing conservation practices."

 

Canadian residents can fish licence-free in Ontario from Friday, July 9, to Sunday, July 11. Anglers must still follow the Conservation Licence limits set out in the 2004 Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary. Basic tackle and live bait will be provided at the more than 70 public fishing events across the province. At many of these events, anglers can also borrow rods and reels at no charge.

Anglers in the Greater Toronto Area can take part in one of five Urban Fishing Festivals, sponsored by the Ministry of Natural Resources and its partners. These festivals, at Toogood Pond in Unionville, Frenchman's Bay in Pickering, Fairy Lake in Newmarket, Lake Aquitaine in Mississauga and, for the first time, Toronto Island, give urban anglers a chance to cast a line close to home.

 

"Angling contributes more than $1 billion to the Ontario economy annually," said Ramsay. "More than two million people will fish in Ontario at least once this year."

 

For more information visit www.familyfishingweekend.com  or call the Natural Resources Info Centre at 800-667-1940 (English), or 1-800-667-1840 (French).   These festivities take place during National Fishing Week, which runs from July 3 to 11.


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