Week of August 18, 2008

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Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

European Salmon numbers grow in wake of net ban

The European driftnet ban introduced on January 1st 2008 in the Baltic Sea has paid off after only six months. European anglers report more salmon have returned to the rivers and anglers have already begun reporting unusually large catches. The upstream migration of salmon took place in the rivers around the Baltic Sea in June and sources report more salmon numbers present than there has been for a number of years.

 

"The ban has a very positive effect on the return of spawning 

salmon from the Baltic Sea into the rivers. It is likely that weare talking about 100,000 more salmon compared to last year," says Hakan Carlstrand, an expert from the Swedish national sportfishing organization "Sportfiskarna" and a member of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA).

 

In previous years, around 300,000 salmon have been caught annually – around half of which caught by driftnetting. Swedish rivers could expect to see the return of an additional 50,000 to 100,000 salmon compared to past years numbers if the ban continues to work to its full potential.


Regional

Invasive snail found in Lake Michigan

New Zealand mud snail now in four of Great Lakes

Champaign (AP)--A rapidly reproducing, tiny invasive snail recently found in Lake Michigan could hurt the lake's ecosystem, say government research scientists.   The New Zealand mud snail joins a long and growing list of nonnative species moving into the Great Lakes, threatening to disrupt the food chain and change the aquatic environment.

 

Scientists checking Lake Michigan water samples earlier this summer found a population of the New Zealand mud snail, the Illinois Natural History Survey said. They grow to only a few millimeters — several dozen could sit on the surface of a dime — making them hard to spot.

 

The snails reproduce asexually and in large numbers, and have no natural predators in North America, Kevin Cummings, a Natural History Survey scientist said recently.  That means they could quickly spread, at high enough densities to out-compete native invertebrates for food and living space, he and other scientists say. 

 

"It's hard enough to contain a species once it makes its way into nonnative waters," Cummings said. "When each mud snail has the ability to produce large quantities of embryos without a partner, you've really got a problem."

 

Scientists won't know for some time how well the mud snail will do in Lake Michigan, but it has been in Lake Ontario since the early 1990s and lives in high numbers there and in Lakes Superior and Erie, said Dr. Rochelle Sturtevant, an ecologist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor, Mich.

 

The snail is native to New Zealand but is now found in several western states and all the Great Lakes except Lake Huron. It is carried in ships' ballast water and, once in lakes and

streams, hitches a ride on boats and even the clothes worn by human waders.

 

"Where they've gotten into streams in the western part of the country, they've caused a lot of problems," said Sturtevant. "They're taking over space that should have other native species living in it."

 

Plenty of invasive species have made homes for themselves in the Great Lakes. Zebra and quagga mussels are a threat to the region's $4 billion-a-year fishery, eating up algae that is the lowest link in the lakes' food chain.  And some invasive species make it possible for others to follow, Sturtevant said. The round goby, an aggressive fish native to Eurasia, now thrives in the Great Lakes because it eats zebra mussels.

 

Those are just a handful of what Sturtevant says are now at least 186 invasive species in the lakes.

 

The U.S. Geological Survey adds the tiny snail has been documented in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Superior. Now researchers have reported the species in Lake Michigan, and the waters flowing from Lake Ontario.

 

However, Hugh MacIsaac, a researcher at the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, said he remains unconvinced the New Zealand mud snail will wreak havoc. "It is concerning to see yet another addition to the Great Lakes," said MacIsaac. "But I cannot see how these snails can be anywhere as invasive in the Great Lakes as they are in streams.  "These snails are felt most in shallows."

 

Conservation groups are particularly critical of the role oceangoing ships play in introducing species like mussels to the lakes.  Ships that aren't loaded down with cargo fill their ballast tanks with water for better stability when they're on the ocean, then empty the tanks when they arrive in port. That ballast water often contains any number of species, from microscopic organisms to mussels and fish.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced a plan earlier this summer that would require ships to dump ballast water at least 200 miles from shore. But the plan, including a permit required to dump ballast water, includes an exemption for loaded ships. The angling community is particularly critical of the EPA's plan.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for August 15, 2008

Weather Conditions

Typical summer like weather occurred in the Great Lakes basin this week.   Lots of morning sunshine lead to scattered afternoon thunderstorms in many locations.  More scattered showers are expected Thursday.  To date in August, the Great Lakes basin as whole has seen 87% of its average precipitation.  High pressure will build in for the weekend leading to very nice weather.  Temperatures will top out near 80, under abundant sun.

 Lake Level Conditions

Currently, all of the Great Lakes are above their levels of a year ago.  Lake Superior is 17 inches above last year's level, while the remaining Great Lakes range from 6 to 15 inches above their levels of a year ago.  Lake Superior is forecasted to remain steady over the next 30 days, while Lake Michigan-Huron is predicted to decline an inch.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are in their periods of seasonal decline and are forecasted to fall 5 to 8 inches during the next month.  All of the Great Lakes, with the exception of Lake Erie, are expected to remain above their water levels of a year ago over the next few months.  Lake Erie is projected to be near last year's level starting in September.

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

In July, outflow through the St. Mary's River was slightly below

average, and outflows through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers were also below average. The Niagara River's outflow was slightly above average, while outflow from the St. Lawrence River was also 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 Aug 15

601.8

578.2

574.4

571.7

246.4

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

 +8

+8

+25

+30

+37

Diff last month

+1

  0

-2

 -5

 0

Diff from last yr

+17

+9

+8

+6

+15

 


Illinois

IDNR Announces Acquisition of 151 Acres of Forest Habitat in East-Central Illinois

Parcel near Allerton Park in Piatt County expands habitat protection and outdoor recreation opportunities

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced the acquisition of a 151-acre natural habitat area  near Allerton Park in Piatt County in east-central Illinois, providing enhanced wildlife conservation, waterway protection, and outdoor  recreation opportunities.

 

The property was acquired from the University of Illinois Foundation for $750,000 through the state’s Natural Areas Acquisition Fund.

 

"This acquisition means continued protection for an

outstanding habitat area of flood plain hardwood timber and a

significant stretch of the  Sangamon River at Allerton Park that is unique in central Illinois,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood.  “It means hawks, songbirds, deer,  turkey, and a number of important reptiles and aquatic species identified in the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan will continue to benefit from long  term habitat protection.”

 

The acquisition in Piatt County is the latest in a series of land acquisitions by the IDNR throughout Illinois during the past two years that have  added nearly 7,000 acres of natural areas and other open space for habitat protection, as well as hiking, hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and  other recreation and education opportunities.


Indiana

Salamonie Reservoir to host trapping camp for youth, Sept. 6-7

Salamonie Reservoir is partnering with Indiana State Trappers Association to host a youth trapper education course Sept. 6-7 at the Salamonie Interpretive Center.

 

The program begins Saturday, Sept. 6 at 9 a.m. and opens with trapping instructors talking about techniques, ethics, and regulations.   Lunch will be provided on Saturday. After lunch, youth will get a chance to trap furbearers under the supervision of an expert trapping instructor.

       

Participants will have the option of either leaving late Saturday afternoon or camping at the Lost Bridge West youth campground located near the Interpretive Center.  Beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7, youth will have the option of

accompanying trapping instructors to check traps and handle the fur of animals caught on the trap line.

 

Youth must register by Aug. 29. Registration is limited to the first 50 youth. To register or for more information: contact Ron Elliott, President of the Indiana Trappers Association, (219) 785-2972 or email thebirdieman@verizon.net . You can also contact Justin Harrington, Salamonie Reservoir, at (260) 468-2125.

 

There are no fees or costs to attend, and youth will not need a trapping license. The gate fee will be waived for all participants. The Salamonie Interpretive Center is located in the Lost Bridge West Recreation Area, west of Highway 105 in western Huntington County.


Michigan

Women’s Fly Fishing for Chinook Salmon Workshop Sept. 12-14

The Michigan DNR Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program is offering an exciting program, Sept. 12-14, for women who are interesting in experiencing the thrill of fishing the Pere Marquette River for big chinook salmon using a fly rod while fishing from a drift boat.

 

The Orvis-endorsed Pere Marquette River Lodge is one of the premium fishing destinations in the Upper Midwest. Women will arrive Friday night, Sept. 12, for a get-acquainted party and guest lecturer. On Saturday and Sunday there will be an intensive eight to 10 hours of fly fishing instruction from the boats. There will be two women per boat with one guide.

“Participants will learn more on this trip about what a chinook does when it is hooked and what it feels like to fight a big fish using light tackle,” said Lynn Marla, DNR BOW coordinator. “In addition to providing invaluable instruction, these world-class fishing guides also will prepare a gourmet shore lunch each day.”

 

The workshop, which is limited to 12 participants, is $500. This fee will cover all room costs for two nights, two continental breakfasts, gourmet shore lunches and the Saturday night dinner. Fly fishing equipment will be provided, but women are encouraged to bring their own if they have it.  Workshop info: www.michigan.gov/bow  and Lynn Marla at (517) 241-2225; marlal@michigan.gov.


Porcupine Mtns Wilderness State Park Hosting Hunter Harvest Festival Sept. 5-7

In recognition of Michigan’s strong hunting heritage and the upcoming fall hunting seasons, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park will be hosting the second annual Hunters Harvest Festival on Sept. 5-7. Activities for the weekend will focus on hunting, trapping, conservation, camping, other outdoor sports and much more. Both hunters and non-hunters are invited to take part in this Michigan State Park “GO-Get Outdoors” event.

 

Activities include:

Hunter Safety, pre-registration is required.

Kayaking Demos at Union Bay with Downwind Sports

Wilderness First Aid with Michigan DNR and Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital

Introductory Geocaching and Letterboxing programs

Trappers Table

Campfire Cooking Demonstrations

Plus, wildlife biologists and law enforcement officials will be on hand to answer questions and much more.

 

“This weekend is a great way for parents, grandparents or guardians to introduce young or beginning hunters to the life long pursuit of hunting,” said Park Administrator Robert

Sprague. “Bring your beginning hunter up for the hunter safety program, camp in the park, and take in some of the weekend activities. I can’t think of a better way to start a young hunter.” 

 

All programs are free; however, all motor vehicles entering a Michigan state park or recreation area must display a valid Motor Vehicle Permit, available for purchase at the park entrance. Cost is $24 for a resident annual and $6 for a resident daily. A nonresident annual is $29 and a nonresident daily is $8.

 

The hunter safety course has a limited number of openings. To register call Tom Stahl at (906) 884-2661 or Walt Toepfer at (906) 885-5334 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET.

 

For more information about the event, the park, accessibility at this park, or persons with disabilities needing accommodations to attend this event, contact the park by calling 906-885-5275 at least seven days prior to the event, or view information about the park at www.michigan/gov/porkies.

 

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is located near Silver City in Ontonagon County. Campsites are available for the weekend, and reservations can be made on-line at www.midnrreservations.com, or by calling 800-447-2757.


DNR Reminds Hunters of September Antlerless Deer Season

The Michigan DNR reminds hunters that the Natural Resources Commission approved a special five-day antlerless-only deer season for private land in southern Michigan and six counties in the northeast Lower Peninsula.  See the 2008 Hunting and Trapping Guide for specific areas open for this antlerless deer season.

 

The Sept. 18-22 antlerless deer season is a firearms season;

all usual firearms regulations apply.  A deer hunter must

possess a valid private land antlerless deer license to participate during this season.  Firearm and combination deer licenses are not valid during this season.

 

Private land antlerless licenses for the open areas go on sale Monday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. and will be available at all license dealers as well as online at www.michigan.gov/dnr .

 


Minnesota

Virulent Newcastle disease confirmed in water birds

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, reports that several wild water birds from two Minnesota lakes have tested  positive for the virulent form of Newcastle disease. This strain of virus can be highly contagious among double-crested cormorants, according  to the Minnesota DNR.

 

The birds that tested positive were from Minnesota Lake in Faribault County, Pigeon Lake in Meeker County, and Lake Kabetogama in  Voyageurs National Park, according to Dr. Erika Butler (DVM), DNR wildlife veterinarian.

 

The DNR is working closely on this issue with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH), the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the  Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The agency is also collaborating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Health  Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in alerting  surrounding states and provinces to the lab results.

 

There is little threat to humans from the disease.  “Newcastle rarely affects humans, generally causing conjunctivitis, a relatively mild inflammation of the inner eyelids. It is spread to humans by  close contact with sick birds,” says Joni Scheftel (DVM, MPH), MDH state public health veterinarian.  “The department recommends that people avoid touching dead birds. DNR staff required to collect the birds will follow biohealth guidelines.  Some of the dead bird collection areas

may also be off-limits to visitors until carcass cleanup is complete.”

 

Since first discovered in July, the DNR reported that more than 900 double-crested cormorants, with smaller numbers of American white  pelicans and other water birds were discovered dead or dying at Minnesota Lake and Pigeon Lake. Since then, DNR staff has found dead or  dying birds on the other lakes including Angle Island WMA (Wildlife Management Area) on Lake of the Woods, Marsh Lake, and Lake Mille  Lacs. Lab tests on these birds are pending and could take weeks.

 

Although poultry can catch the disease from wild birds, BAH reports that farm biosecurity measures help ensure that such a possibility is  highly unlikely.  “Even when the region experienced a high-mortality, multi-state Newcastle event in wild water birds in 1992, no Minnesota  poultry operations were affected,” said Dale Lauer (DVM), BAH Poultry Program director.

 

“However, because of the current Newcastle situation, BAH reminds poultry producers to practice elevated security measures,” added Lauer.”  These measures include monitoring their poultry flocks for signs of illness and taking steps to prevent wild birds from having contact with  domestic birds.  “If birds show signs of illness, producers should contact their own veterinarians or the Board of Animal Health at (320)  231-5170.”


New York

More discoveries of Didymo in famed NYS Fishing Rivers

Main Stem of Delaware River Now Considered Infested with the Aquatic Nuisance Algae

The New York State DEC announced the presence of the invasive algae didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) in the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream from the Cannonsville Reservoir, indicating that the main stem of the Delaware River is now infested as well.

 

This is the latest recorded incident of this aquatic nuisance species - also called "rock snot" - in New York State. Didymo has now been verified in the Batten Kill, the East Branch of the Delaware River downstream from the Pepacton Reservoir and the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream Cannonsville Reservoir. The main stem of the Delaware River is now also considered to be infested due to exposure from its East and West Branch tributaries. Currently, didymo is not known to be present in any other New York waterway.

 

The Delaware tailwaters are one of the premier trout fisheries on the East Coast, and are a popular destination for large numbers of anglers. The discovery of didymo in these waters is particularly troubling given their proximity to other famous trout streams, notably the Beaver Kill and Willowemoc Creek, and the tendency of anglers to fish multiple streams over the course of a day or weekend. The microscopic algae - an invasive species to New York - can survive for many days in

cool, damp conditions. Porous materials such as neoprene

waders and felt soles used by wading anglers are prime suspects in the spread of didymo among streams.

 

Didymo cells can produce large amounts of stalk material that forms thick mats on stream bottoms. The appearance of these mats has been compared to brown shag carpet, fiberglass insulation, or tissue paper (photo www.dec.ny.gov/environmentdec/36890.html ). During blooms these mats may completely cover long stretches of stream beds and persist for months. The stalk material produced by didymo is slow to break down and may persist for up to two months following its peak growth.

 

While didymo does not pose a threat to human health, it can alter stream conditions, choking out many of the organisms that live on the stream bottom, potentially causing a ripple effect up the food chain affecting trout and other fish. Didymo has historically been limited to cold, nutrient-poor, northern waters, but in recent decades has been expanding its range and its tolerance to warmer and more productive streams.

 

Once introduced to an area, didymo can rapidly spread to nearby streams. Anglers, kayakers, swimmers, canoeists, boaters and jet skiers can all unknowingly spread didymo by transporting the cells on boats, bodies and other gear. There are currently no known methods for controlling or eradicating didymo once it infests a water body.


Ohio

Squirrel season offers hunters preparation for fall hunting

Season Begins September 1 and runs through January 31

COLUMBUS, OH -- Ohio's squirrel season will open on September 1, providing hunters with an opportunity to take as many as six squirrels each day, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

 

A long-time tradition for many hunters, Ohio's squirrel season will offer ample hunting opportunities for fox and gray squirrels across the state.  It is a great time to get out in the woods and scout for the upcoming deer and fall wild turkey hunting seasons or take a youth hunting.  Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset daily. 

 

The season closes January 31. Squirrel season will be closed during the one-week statewide deer gun season that begins December 1 and runs through December 7, deer gun

weekend, December 20 and 21, and on the following areas during the Early Muzzleloader Deer Season, October 20-25: Salt Fork State Wildlife Area, Shawnee State Forest, and Wildcat Hollow.

 

The abundance of nut crops is a good indicator of squirrel numbers the following  year.  Squirrels have higher survival and reproduction after years with an ample supply of acorns and hickory nuts.  Statewide nut production ratings for fall 2007 were again above average and the squirrel hunting outlook for the 2008-09 season is good.

 

Hunters who wish to participate in the new squirrel hunting diary program, designed to track trends in nut crops and squirrel populations across the Buckeye State, should contact the Waterloo Wildlife Research Station 360 East State St., Athens OH 45701, for more information.


Pennsylvania

Lake Wilma closed

Harrisburg, PA, 8/13/08—The Lake Wilma portion of the Consol Energy land enrolled in the Pennsylvania Game Commission Farm Game  program was closed to the public yesterday until further notice. Lake Wilma (also known as Blacksville Lake) is a 19-acre lake located in Wayne  Township, Greene County.

 

According to Consol Energy, its request to have oversight of structure safety and integrity transferred from the Mine Safety and Health  Administration (MSHA) to Pennsylvania Dam Safety has not yet been addressed. MSHA is enforcing its authority and has requested that Lake  Wilma be posted as "no trespassing." The exemption it has proposed would require anyone who is fishing, walking on the dam, or

picnicking  to be hazard trained for this site and have appropriate safety gear (hard hat, safety glasses, boots, gloves, reflective vests, and life jackets).

 

Consol is unable to comply with the MSHA mandate to hazard train and provide safety equipment for the general recreational public and is  forced to close the area to public access. Anglers and boaters should avoid entrance into the Lake Wilma area. Beginning today, the property  will be closed and patrolled by security.

 

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans to discontinue any fish stocking at the lake until this matter is resolved.


Wisconsin

Register now for fall hunter education course

MADISON – Wisconsin hunters planning for the late-year seasons should register now for required hunter education certificate courses to avoid being sidelined due to lack of planning.

 

“Nearly all of the volunteer hunter education instructors are hunters themselves and enjoy hunting in the fall,” says Conservation Warden Tim Lawhern, who also serves as the state’s hunting education administrator. “The hunter education program offers about 1,200 courses every year, but very few of them are offered from October through December.”

 

Every year Lawhern fields calls two weeks before the gun-deer season with hunter-hopefuls looking to fulfill the mandatory hunter education course. “More than 99 % of our courses have already been offered well before the gun-deer season,” he

says.

 

Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, must have completed a hunter education course and show the certificate to purchase any hunting license in Wisconsin.

 

To find a course, visit the DNR Web page – www.dnr.wi.gov.  Look under the heading of Recreational Safety Course – Upcoming Classes. If unsuccessful, check back as courses are added to the listing as instructors alert the DNR.

 

“In Wisconsin, we’ve reduced hunting accidents by 90 % since the program began,” Lawhern says. “Hunting is safe -- and getting safer -- because of the volunteer instructors who teach hunter education and the number of our hunters who have now graduated from our courses. Sign up now while courses are being offered in your area.


Ontario

Leamington commercial fisher fined $2320

A Lake Erie commercial fishing boat captain has been fined $2,320 for breaking a number of fishing violations.  Emilio Mauricio, 48, of Leamington, captain of the commercial fishing vessel "MI-MARK", pleaded guilty and was fined $2,320 for four fishing violations. These included failing to submit an accurate and complete daily catch report to the Ministry of Natural Resources, fishing outside of his permitted fishing grounds and allowing approximately 200 lbs. of yellow perch to spoil and become unsuitable for human consumption.

 

Court was told that on August 21, 2007, conservation officers investigated an alleged incident of inaccurate information being reported on a daily catch report involving the commercial fishing vessel "MI-MARK" while it was fishing out of the port of

Erieau, on Lake Erie.  Further investigation also determined that the fishing vessel was fishing in Chatham-Kent waters and not Elgin County waters as reported by the captain, and that fish were permitted to spoil.

 

Justice of the Peace Babcock heard the federal charges in the Ontario Court of Justice in Chatham on July 17, 2008 and Justice of the Peace Hurst heard the provincial charges in the Ontario Court of Justice in Chatham on August 13, 2008.

 

To report a natural resources violation, call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free any time or contact your local ministry office during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


 

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