Week of August 3, 2009

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About that Global Warming thing...

Average Chicago temperature throughout July: 69.4

 


Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

Washington State Anglers now allowed up to 2 Chinook in Daily Limits

Sport anglers fishing for salmon off the coast of Washington will be able to increase their daily limit to two chinook salmon,

effective August 1 .Since the season began, anglers were limited to one chinook per day, but after a month of fishing, 75% of the chinook quota remains, which is enough to ease the one-chinook limit.


King salmon vanishing in Alaska, smokehouses empty

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -Yukon River smokehouses should be filled this summer with oil-rich strips of king salmon — long used by Alaska Natives as a high-energy food to get through the long Alaska winters. But they're mostly empty.

 

The kings failed to show up, and not just in the Yukon.

 

One Alaska river after another has been closed to king fishing

this summer because significant numbers of fish failed to

return to spawn. The dismally weak return follows weak runs last summer and poor runs in 2007, which also resulted in emergency fishing closures.  "It is going to be a tough winter, no two ways about it," said Leslie Hunter, a 67-year-old store owner and commercial fisherman from the Yup'ik Eskimo village of Marshall in western Alaska. Federal and state fisheries biologists are looking into the mystery.

 


World news

Shooters set to take on the world

FORT BENNING, GA ― The U.S. Military Shooting team is set to take on the world's best at the 44th Conseil International Du Sport Militaire (CISM) World Shooting Championships in Zagreb, Croatia August 12-16.  Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit out of Fort Benning comprise the majority of the team, along with a Coast Guardsman, a Sailor, and one Army Reservist.

 

"This is a veteran-laden team," said Michael Behnke, team captain and USAMU chief of competition. "Except for one member, all have been to a CISM, some more than others."

 

There was a series of tryouts this year to invite non-USAMU members from other services to provide them an opportunity to be on the team, Behnke said. Because of deployments and opportunities throughout the year it's very difficult for other services to do so. The U.S. team consists of USAMU Soldiers Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Rose; Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft; Sgt. 1st Class Janet Sokolowski; Staff Sgt. Armando Ayala; Staff Sgt. Kelly Dove; Staff Sgt. Robert Park II; Sgt. Michael McPhail; Sgt. Nicole Allaire; and Cpl. Brad Balsley.

 

Army Reservist Lt. Col. Rhonda Bright made the team, as did

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sandra Uptagrafft and Coast

Guard Lt. Jennifer Leong. The coaches are Thomas Tamas, Glenn Sulser, and Ray Arredondo. The chief of mission is Lt. Col. Daniel Hodne, USAMU commander, and jury members are Wanda Jewell and Richard Hawkins.

 

The U.S. team has had a very successful past at CISM. The highest award given at the competition, Best Nation, is named the U.S. Army Challenge Trophy. The U.S. team had won the best nation award so many times that CISM permanently gave the award to the U.S. in 1972.

 

A pair of dueling silver antique pistols donated by King Paul of Greece in 1957, the U.S. handed the trophy back to CISM to serve as a perpetual trophy at featured CISM matches. After losing out on the trophy for two years, the U.S. won the coveted trophy in 2008 for the 24th time and will defend it this year.

 

"Shooting is the center of all armies," Behnke said. "This is a military skill set in a military competition."  "We go to win, we don't go to participate," Behnke said. "We are going there to defend our title."

 


Beyond the Great Lakes

Florida Continues Collection of Burmese Pythons

A 17-foot-2-inch Burmese python was caught and destroyed on private property in Okeechobee County, Florida last Thursday afternoon, July 30.  The male snake weighed 207 lbs, and measured 26 inches in diameter.

 

Its stomach contents were examined, but nothing identifiable was found inside.  Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) scanned the python but did not find a microchip. As a Reptile of Concern, Burmese pythons must be licensed by FWC's Captive Wildlife Section and implanted with a microchip to be kept as a pet.

 

FWC worked with the Florida Legislature and the reptile industry to establish and implement tighter restrictions in 2007 to help prevent the escape or release of these exotic species. The new rule requires an annual $100 license and

mandatory caging requirements. In addition, Burmese

pythons more than 2 inches in diameter must be implanted with a microchip that identifies the origin of the animal. This rule applies to all Reptiles of Concern, which include Burmese pythons, Indian pythons, reticulated pythons, African rock pythons, amethystine or scrub pythons, green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards. It is unlawful to allow one to escape or to release one into the wild.

 

"The capture of this large python shows us how well these snakes can thrive in the wild and create a dangerous situation after illegal release or escape," said FWC Chairman Rodney Barrett. "It also illustrates why the FWC is partnering with other agencies to implement python control measures in South Florida. We will continue to push for additional measures to control the spread of Burmese pythons in the Everglades where they are reproducing in large numbers."


National

Customs Officially Backs Off of new knife rules

Customs and Border Protection has officially backed off their proposed revocations and rulemaking in recognition of the Amendment that was passed by the Senate which would add a new exception to the Switchblade Act covering assisted and one-hand opening knives. In a letter to Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) Homeland Security informed him the agency had added a new exception to the Switchblade Act covering assisted and one-hand opening knives, at least until the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill is acted upon in Conference Committee.

 

You can read the letter here, but the key paragraph reads "The amendment would effectively obviate the need for CBP's proposed revocations and render the current issue moot. Additionally, due to the numerous comments received in response to the proposed revocation, it is unlikely that CBP will take any further action prior to passage of the Appropriations Act.

 

This is about as close to a victory as we can come at this time. It may not be over until the fat lady sings, and we actually get the Amendment through Conference Committee, but for all practical purposes, we shouldn't have to worry about Customs reaching into your pockets for your pocket knives anytime soon. Do take note that Customs has included some ambiguous wording in their letter, leaving their options open, no surprise. But, make no mistake, they have gotten the

message; don't mess with our pocket knives!

 

You'll note mention of the "numerous comments received."  That is entirely because of all your efforts to write and mail those comments in. You got their attention, and you got Congress' attention with all your emails, letters and faxes to your Senators and Representatives. We are very pleased to have been a part of the coalition of advocacy groups that have helped bring this effort to this point.  None of us could have done it alone and everyone involved made key contributions.  We want to thank AKTI, NRA, the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms for their cooperation and support for this intense fight. I'd also like to give recognition to Les de Asis and Benchmade's own legislative team who have played a significant role in the coalition efforts.   

 

We still need to get this Amendment through the Conference Committee, but that becomes much easier with each passing day as the pieces, such as this, fall into place. We'll continue to work in cooperation with the other advocacy groups to line up support in the House to accomplish that after the August Recess. As we noted in an email earlier this week, for the moment, just sit back, celebrate this victory and bask in the knowledge that we have come together to overcome great odds to get to this point. YOU did this, the voice of the people; the system sometimes still works.


Governors Sportsmen's Caucus Formed

The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation recently announced the formation of a bi-partisan caucus of governors that will work to protect the interest of America's hunters and anglers, and advance sound wildlife management policy. Guided by a bi-partisan leadership team of governors and staffed through the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the Governors Sportsmen's Caucus will complement and enhance both the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus and

the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses.

 

Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV.) and Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD) have been selected as the inaugural co-chairmen. Gov. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) and Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D-WY) will serve as the inaugural vice-chairmen. Sixteen governors from across the country have joined the caucus as inaugural members.


USFWS Announces Changes in Senior Leadership Team

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that two members of its senior leadership team will trade positions. Bryan Arroyo, currently assistant director for Endangered Species, will become assistant director for Fisheries and Habitat Conservation, while Gary Frazer, currently assistant director for Fisheries and Habitat Conservation, will assume management of the Endangered Species Program.

 

Rowan Gould, acting director of the Fish and Wildlife Service,

noted that the switch will return Frazer to the Endangered Species Program he headed for five years, and enable Arroyo to manage the Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Program using expertise he gained in the Service’s Southwest Region. The switch will become effective immediately.

 

Frazer, who has been the assistant director for Fisheries and Habitat Conservation since January 2008, will be responsible for carrying out policy development and management of all aspects of the Endangered Species program. He previously served as assistant director for Endangered Species from 1999 through 2004.


Regional

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Ohio Advisory Board to Meet Aug 6

The Ohio Advisory board of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact will meet on August 6, 2009 at the Ohio DNR Assembly Center.  The Advisory Board

will establish recommendations on how Ohio should

implement the recently enacted Great Lakes Compact, as it pertains to establishing a baseline of current Lake Erie basin water users, water conservation and efficiency programs, and a regulatory program for water withdrawals.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for July 31, 2009

Weather Conditions

The Great Lakes basin experienced seasonable temperatures and showers throughout this past week, but as a whole, the basin has received below average precipitation for the month of July. During the upcoming weekend, some of the northern regions of the basin may experience showers. Throughout next week, the temperatures may cool a few degrees for the start of August. The weather should be clear for most of the region, but the northern and western regions of the basin may also encounter isolated thunderstorms throughout the week.

Lake Level Conditions

Lake Superior is 3 inches below the level it was a year ago while Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair and Erie are 7, 5 and 3 inches, respectively, higher than their levels of a year ago.  Lake Ontario is 2 inches below last year's level.  Lake Superior is expected to rise 2 inches over the next month. Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are predicted to decline 2, 5, 5, and 7 inches respectively over the next 30 days. Over the next several months, Lake Superior is predicted to be near its level of a year ago. Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie are forecasted to remain at or above last year's levels during the same time period. Lake Ontario is forecasted to be at or below its levels of a year ago over the next six months. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

In June, the outflow from Lake Superior through the St. Mary's

River was near average, while the outflow from Lake Michigan-

Huron through the St. Clair River was below average. The Detroit and Niagara Rivers carried near average flows during June. The outflow from Lake Ontario through the St. Lawrence River was above average. 

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. 

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Level for July 31

601.61

578.87

 

574.84

572.15

246.39

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

 +6

   +16

+30

+35

+37

Diff last month

+2

    -1

-2

-3

-2

Diff from last yr

-3

+7

+5

+3

-2

 


2nd Amendment issues

Gun Rights Policy Conference slated for Sept. 25-27

The 24th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference, sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), will take place Friday, Sept. 25, - Sunday, Sept. 27, at the Airport Renaissance in St.  Louis, Mo. More than 50 speakers, including

representatives from NSSF, NRA, SAF, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and other individuals will address attendees. Learn more and register online - http://www.saf.org/


General

Suburban Gardening for Wildlife

A not-so-new-concept in Wildlife management, attract wildlife in a suburban environment. Kentucky has scheduled a two day workshop covering the basics of landscaping for wildlife in a suburban environment. There they will teach how to use a natural community as a model for the habitat garden; and how

to design a wildlife-friendly landscape from scratch. Additional topics will include exotic invasive plants, seed propagation, soil and composting. 

 

For more info, go to:  fw.ky.gov.


Lake Michigan

Effects of Increasing Chinook Salmon Bag Limits on Alewife Abundance

Implications for Lake Michigan Management Goals

http://afsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1577/M08-129.1

To predict effects of modifying the daily bag limit (DBL) on management of Chinook salmon and alewives, we analyzed harvest and effort data collected from both charter and noncharter anglers during 1997–2005 in Michigan waters of Lake Michigan.

 

Overall, the percent of anglers who caught the DBL of three Chinook salmon was low for charter (10.2%) and noncharter (3.3%) angler groups. However, during 1997–2005, the percent of anglers that caught their DBL increased from 3.3% to 26.5% for charter anglers and from 0.5% to 7.8% for noncharter anglers. To predict harvest under a higher DBL, we fit a discrete negative binomial distribution to the observed daily harvest distribution under the current DBL of three fish. We then used the fitted negative binomial to predict the daily

harvest distribution under a DBL of five fish. Using this

approach, the potential increase in the number of fish harvested with the higher DBL was minimal, but the additional harvest showed an increasing 1997–2005 trend from 315 to 7,301 fish for charter anglers and from 450 to 18,151 fish for noncharter anglers.

 

There was a positive linear relationship between proportion of anglers harvesting the current DBL and harvest rates, which indicates that angler success is a function of Chinook salmon abundance. Using an age-structured deterministic population model and the production-conversion efficiency method, we estimated potential reduction in annual lakewide consumption of alewives by Chinook salmon resulting from a higher DBL. The reduction in consumption averaged 313 metric tons and increased from 28 (1997) to 935 metric tons (2005). We conclude that higher DBLs would have a relatively minor impact on lakewide forage fish abundance but would be more consistent with current management objectives.


Lake Huron

Lake Huron Predator diet study update

USGS scientist Jeff Schaeffer tells us the study is going well! The USGS has averaged about 200 stomachs collected per month, and more are arriving weekly. "Ed and I have supplemented volunteer angler collections by visiting tournaments and some of the more active launch ramps".

 

"We have a team of three students working up the stomachs under our guidance, so the laboratory processing has begun. This work will proceed slowly for a few weeks until people develop skill at identifying partially digested fish, but it has started. I put together an identification guide for fish remains that summarizes key characters.

"I am not sure that we mentioned this before, but Great Lakes Science Center has been completely supportive of this project, and has helped us get the resources we needed to start the project this summer. Next weekend we plan to collect walleye stomachs at Linwood, MI, and will try to sample some of the northern Lake Huron salmon tournaments over the next few weeks."

 

Good fishing!

 

Jeff Schaeffer

USGS Great Lakes Science Center


Illinois

IDNR Waterfowl Hunting 2009-2010 Seasons Announced

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations Committee Approves Illinois Seasons

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations Committee, last week, approved Illinois DNR recommendations for 60-day duck seasons in each of the state’s three waterfowl hunting zones, along with Canada goose hunting seasons of 85 days in the North and Central zones and 66 days in the South Zone for the 2009-2010 waterfowl season. 

 

The Illinois seasons, based on a five-year plan for waterfowl hunting in the state that was implemented beginning in 2006, include opening  the regular duck and Canada goose seasons on Oct. 17 in the North Zone and Oct. 31 in the Central Zone.  The duck and Canada goose seasons will open on Nov. 14 in the South Zone. 

 

The state’s regulations, which were reviewed by the IDNR Natural Resources Advisory Board, are subject to final formal approval by the USFWS later this summer. 

 

The USFWS Adaptive Harvest Management Report selected a 60-day duck season with a daily bag limit of six ducks not to include more than four mallards (two of which can be hens), three wood ducks, two redheads, two scaup (entire 60-day season this year), one canvasback (full 60-day season this year), one black duck, and one pintail (full 60-day season this year).  The duck breeding population in the midcontinent area of North America of 42 million ducks was the fourth highest recorded since 1955. 

 

In addition to the dates for the regular waterfowl hunting seasons this fall, the IDNR also announced regulations for teal hunting and early Canada goose hunting in September. 

 

The early-season goose hunt is scheduled for Sept. 1-15, while the teal season is Sept. 5-20.

Preliminary results of the 2008 Illinois Waterfowl Hunter Survey, a random survey of approximately 5,000 waterfowl hunters, indicate that 58% of hunters in the North Zone and 60% of hunters in the Central Zone felt last year’s duck season dates were about right.  In the South Zone, 43% of hunters believed last year’s duck season dates were about right when the season opened on Thanksgiving Day.   The survey indicated that 50 percent of South Zone hunters prefer that the season start on Nov. 14 or earlier, compared with 43% who want the season to start on Nov. 26.  IDNR is recommending the earlier start to the season in the South Zone after four consecutive years of later starts.  Nearly two-thirds of South Zone hunters surveyed object to the season opening the same weekend as the first firearm deer season (the first weekend of firearm deer hunting this fall will be Nov. 20-22). 

 

The 2009-2010 regular Canada goose seasons include a continuous 85-day season in the North Zone (Oct. 17-Jan. 9), a split 85-day season in  the Central Zone (Oct. 31-Nov. 15 and Nov. 24-Jan. 31), and a split 66-day season in the South Zone (Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 29-Jan. 31).

 

The Illinois snow goose seasons for 2009-2010 will open on the same dates as the regular waterfowl seasons and run continuously through the end of each zone’s regular Canada goose season.  The Conservation Order snow goose hunting seasons will begin the day after the  regular Canada goose season ends in each zone and continue through next Mar. 31.

 

The September 2009 Canada goose season (Sept. 1-15) includes a daily bag limit of five geese in the Northeast, North and Central zones and  two geese per day in the South Zone (possession limits are twice the daily bag limit). 

 

Illinois’ 16-day teal hunting season will be Sept. 5-20, with a daily limit of four teal (possession limit of eight).  Federal rules allow for a 16-day teal season when the blue-winged teal breeding population is more than 4.7 million.


Indiana

Don't dump aquariums into local waters

Aquarium owners who are moving and can't take their aquarium's contents with them should avoid dumping the contents in local waters. Most of the fish won't survive the winter, and the plants can thrive and cause serious environmental damage.  Dumping aquarium fish into public waters without a stocking permit is a Class C misdemeanor that can carry a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail, plus court costs.

 

If an aquarium owner cannot find someone who will take the fish, the DNR recommends sealing the fish in a plastic bag, putting them in a freezer, and then disposing of them in the trash. They should never be flushed down a toilet or dumped

into local lakes, ponds, streams or rivers.

 

Alternatives for those who don’t want their fish to die as a result of their move include:

Giving the fish to another aquarium owner

Donating the fish to a local aquarium society

Contacting aquarium stores for possible return

 

The plastic-bag technique also is the best option for getting rid of unwanted aquarium plants. Unlike the fish, many aquarium plants thrive in local waters, crowding out native plants and adversely affecting fishing, boating and the water's appearance; and can cost thousands to eradicate.


Michigan

Michigan plans drawing for multi-species hunt

LANSING, MI - Three hunters will get a rare opportunity to pursue four species of game animal next year under a new program called the Pure Michigan Hunt. The winners will be allowed to hunt elk, bear, spring and fall wild turkeys and antlerless deer. They'll get their choice of hunting sites at managed waterfowl areas.

 

Hunters can apply as many times as they like. Each 

application costs $4 and can be purchased at license retailers through December. Winners will be selected during a random computer drawing in January. Lt. Gov. John Cherry bought an application as the program got under way. He says it's a good way to boost the state's hunting and conservation heritage.

 

They'll still have to buy licenses for each game animal they pursue.


Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Offers U.P. Rock Climbing Workshop Sept. 25-27

Women interested in improving their rock climbing skills can sign up now for a rock climbing workshop in the Upper Peninsula, Sept. 25-27.

 

The workshop, sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources' Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program, is a "Beyond BOW" event, designed for women with some previous rock climbing experience, although beginners are also welcome.

 

Participants will receive classroom instruction in rock climbing techniques Friday, with hands-on climbing experience Saturday and Sunday at various climbing sites located in Big Bay, Marquette and Negaunee. Cost per participant is $175, which includes instruction and gear, lodging at the historic Thunder Bay Inn in Big Bay, and breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Enrollment is limited to nine and early applications are encouraged.

“We are excited to offer this weekend of rock climbing instruction in a fun and safe atmosphere,” said DNR Upper Peninsula BOW chairperson Sharon Pitz. “Our BOW rock climbing classes have always been very popular. This Beyond BOW workshop offers the chance to move beyond basic skills and become even more comfortable in the harness.”

 

Topics to be covered during the rock climbing workshop include safety, tying into a harness, belaying, rappelling, rock climbing knots, basic anchoring and gear selection. Instructors will provide all necessary gear, but participants with their own helmets and harnesses may bring them for a safety inspection.

 

For more information on this event, contact Sharon Pitz at 906-228-6561. Registration packets and additional information about the workshop can be found online at www.michigan.gov/bow.

 


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