Week of November 17, 2008

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Michigan
Pennsylvania
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National

The Edmund Fitzgerald sank 33 years ago     

November 10, 2008 11:03 marks the 33rd anniversary of the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior.

 

On the evening of Nov. 10, 1975, the 729-foot ore carrier went down with a full cargo of taconite pellets during a severe storm. The ship sank approximately 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay, Mich. All 29 crewmen on board

died.  The tragedy resulted in a requirement for, and Coast Guard approval of, exposure (now immersion) suits on Great Lakes vessels and later all commercial vessels and fishing vessels operating on “cold waters.”

 

The following link to the Coast Guard’s report was provided by Holland & Knight, a law firm whose practice areas include maritime law.  Click here to read the report.


Regional

Governors weigh in on Carp Barrier

The following is a letter a letter from Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle on behalf of the Council of Great Lakes Governors to Secretary Gates and Secretary Chertoff regarding the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal dispersal barrier. The letter was prompted by a recent article written by investigative journalist Dan Egan in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel over the delay and reluctance of the US Coast Guard and US Army Corps of Engineers (Chicago office) to turn on Barrier IIA: 

 

See Article -  Low-volt jolt: Carp barrier ready, but can't be operated at peak strength

 

The Second letter is from the Chairman of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to the editors of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel also weighing  in on the urgency needed to complete and operate the barrier at maximum force.

 

October 31, 2008

 

Secretary Robert M. Gates

U.S. Department of Defense

Washington, D.C. 20301-1400

Secretary Michael Chertoff

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, D.C. 20528

 

Dear Secretary Gates and Secretary Chertoff:

 

As you know, the Great Lakes are at risk from the grave threat posed by Asian carp and other harmful aquatic invasive species. Without the completion and operation of an effective barrier system in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Asian carp may soon enter the Lakes through the Illinois and Chicago River systems. These carp potentially threaten public safety and the ecological integrity of the world’s largest

freshwater system.

 

The Great Lakes Governors, Mayors, Members of Congress and many others have worked tirelessly to secure Federal support for the barrier, and each of the Great Lakes States have made financial contributions to support the barrier when construction was delayed due to Federal funding shortfalls. Nearly one year has passed since Congress enacted the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which provided the necessaryauthorization and appropriations to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for completion of the barrier. Yet despite these enormous efforts, the Great Lakes still remain

vulnerable as the U.S. Coast Guard performs additional tests and delays continue to prevent the full operation of the new barrier system. While we recognize there are safety concerns related to the barrier, these concerns must be more quickly assessed and resolved.

 

We therefore ask you to provide us with a detailed work plan and timeline to complete barrier construction and testing, and

then to begin operation at full capacity as soon as possible. More than 35 million Americans depend on the Great Lakes, and our region’s commercial and sport fishing industries contribute significantly to our regional economy. Our region, and our nation, cannot afford continued delay.

 

Sincerely,

Jim Doyle

Governor of Wisconsin

Chair, Council of Great Lakes Governors

 

CC: Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, Chair, Great Lakes Interagency Task Force;

Great Lakes Congressional Task Force

 

************

And From Dr. Michael Hansen, Chairman of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission:

 

Dear Mr. Kaiser,

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has exhibited true leadership during the past several years in dealing with the major invasive species problem posed by the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, an artificial connection between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. 

 

However, Journal-Sentinel reporter Dan Egan’s article (November 10) reflects growing disappointment and frustration among many over the excessive amount of time taken to fully activate the new high-powered electrical barrier on the canal.  As designed, the new barrier is much stronger than the experimental barrier, and such strength is needed to block the migration of fish like the Asian carp.  Unfortunately, it has been proposed that the barrier be operated at only a fraction of its potential.  Those of us who have supported the project have always expected the corps to operate the barrier at full strength. 

 

Carp are voracious feeders and could destroy the Great Lakes’ fragile food web if they were permitted to enter.  As they have demonstrated on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, the carp also pack a powerful punch by flying out of the water when startled and inflicting serious harm on people and property. This barrier is needed now to protect the Great Lakes’ environment and to protect millions of people who boat and water ski on the lakes from these “flying” fish.  We have only one chance to get this right.  For what are we waiting?

 

Dr. Michael Hansen, Chairman

Great Lakes Fishery Commission and

Professor, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for Nov. 14, 2008

Weather Conditions

Cooler temperatures arrived in the Great Lakes basin this week on the heels of a strong cold front.  Daytime highs only reached the mid 30s in some locations on Monday and Tuesday, before rebounding a bit Wednesday.  Wet weather returned by the end of the week and will persist through the weekend.  Sharply colder temperatures are expected Saturday and Sunday following another strong frontal system.

Lake Level Conditions

Currently, Lake Superior is 3 inches higher than last year, while Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 6 to 9 inches above last year's levels.  All of the Great Lakes are forecasted to continue their periods of seasonal decline and fall 2 to 3 inches during the next month.  Through April, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are expected to remain above their levels of a year ago.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are forecasted to remain above last year's levels through December and then fall below last years levels in January. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

In October, the outflows through the St. Mary's and St. Clair Rivers were below average.  The outflows through the Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers were near their respective

October averages.

Alerts

Lake Michigan-Huron's water level is currently below chart datum and is expected to remain below datum through April. 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 Nov 14

601.3

577.4

 

573.3

570.6

244.4

Datum, in ft

 

601.1

 

577.5

 

572.3

 

569.2

 

243.3

Diff in inches

 

 +2

 

 -1

 

+12

 

+17

 

+13

Diff last month

 

-2

 

 -4

 

-4

 

 -4

 

 -4

Diff from last yr

 

+3

 

+9

 

+8

 

 +6

 

+8


Illinois

Register Now for Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt

Phone-in Registration Deadline for Youth Hunt Lottery Drawing is Dec. 5

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Registration is now open for the 8th annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt. This event providing youngsters with a  chance to hunt at private waterfowl hunting clubs in Peoria, Fulton and Knox counties during the holiday break on Dec. 26-27.  The hunt is  sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 

Participation in the hunt is limited. Youth hunters will be selected by a lottery drawing among all interested youth who phone in to register by  Friday, Dec. 5.  First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing.  The lottery drawing will be held on  Monday, Dec. 8, and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail.

 

The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt.  All applicants must have successfully completed a hunter safety education  course, possess a valid Illinois

hunting or sportsman's license, have a Harvest Information

Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20  gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner's  identification (FOID) card. 

 

To register for the hunt or for more info, call Joe Robinson at 217/785-8060 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.  Raffle tickets are available to support the Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt, as well as youth waterfowl hunts throughout the state. Only 500  tickets will be sold at $10 each to benefit the youth hunts.

 

Prizes available include a Remington 870 Super Mag 3 ½ in. shotgun, a Lifetime  Hunting License (which is transferable), and a Mossberg .22 rifle. Winners will be drawn at the Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt banquet on  Dec. 26. Raffle participants need not be present to win. For tickets or more information, call 217/785-8060.


Michigan

Stacy Welling Named DNR U.P. Field Deputy

Stacy J. Welling, a native of Powers, has been named the Department of Natural Resources' Upper Peninsula Field Deputy by DNR Director  Rebecca Humphries. Welling will begin her duties effective December 1, 2008.

 

"I am very pleased that Stacy Welling has agreed to return to Michigan to help the DNR build stronger relationships with the U.P. citizens it  serves," Humphries said. "Stacy's experience on both the state and federal levels, along with her lifelong love of the outdoors, will help the  DNR and the U.P."

 

Welling, the granddaughter of a former DNR conservation officer, most recently served as the campaign manager for

U.S. Congressman Bart  Stupak. Welling also served as Governor Jennifer M. Granholm's northern Michigan representative, working with stakeholders and individuals  throughout the U.P. and northern lower Michigan on numerous natural resource related issues. In 2005, Welling received the "Friend of  Timberman" legislative award for her work with the timber industry.

 

Welling holds a master's degree in public administration from Northern Michigan University in Marquette and a bachelor's degree in business  management/public relations from NMU as well. As U.P. field deputy, Welling will oversee DNR operations throughout the U.P.  She will work  from the DNR's Marquette Operations Service Center.


Fisheries Visitor Center Winter Program Schedule

The Michigan Fisheries Visitor Center has announced its weekend program schedule for this coming winter, beginning Dec. 6. The center is  located at 3377 US-31 in Oden, approximately five miles east of Petoskey. All programs are free.

*  Saturday, Dec. 6: Snowshoe-building Workshop; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Weave your own pair of authentic "Drift Busters" or Michigan-style snowshoes. $160 for the lessons and the pair. Space is limited;  preregistration is required. Call Maureen Jacobs at (231) 348-0998 for details.

*  Saturday Dec. 13: Get Jiggy With It; at noon. Youngsters will create their own colorful take-home lead-free jig! Meets at the visitor center.  Warm refreshments served.

*  Saturday, Dec. 20: Fly-tying for Nymphs; at noon. Kids' fly-tying program.

*  Saturday, Jan. 10: Winter Animal Tracking; at noon. Warm refreshments served.

*  Saturday Jan. 24: Ice Fishing on Crooked Lake; meets at the center at 10 a.m. All ages are welcome and there is no fee. There will be a limited  amount of ice fishing equipment available. Fishing licenses needed for participants, 17 and older, may be purchased at the center before the  program. Warm refreshments served.

*  Saturday, Feb. 14 (Free Fishing Weekend): Ice Fishing on Crooked Lake; meets at the center at 10 a.m. No fishing license needed for this  weekend. There will be a limited amount of ice fishing equipment available. Warm refreshments served.

*  Saturday, Feb. 28: Snowshoeing; at noon. Warm refreshments served.

 

For more call (231) 348-0998


Hunters Reminded to Shoot Feral Swine

LANSING - The Michigan departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Natural Resources (DNR) are urging hunters to shoot feral swine and  reminded them to report any sightings. Feral swine are defined as free-ranging populations of wild pigs, not owned by any person. During the  2007-2008 hunting season, 65 feral swine were taken by Michigan hunters.

 

"We are asking hunters who hold a valid license to continue to shoot swine when sighted," said Russ Mason, DNR's Wildlife Division Chief.  "Free ranging swine displace wildlife, and severely impact Michigan's natural resources. By shooting feral swine, hunters are preserving  Michigan's natural beauty for future generations to enjoy."

 

In Michigan, hunters with a valid hunting license of any type can shoot feral swine through March 31, 2009.  For a list of counties where  shooting feral swine is permitted, please visit www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases

 

"Free ranging swine - both domestic and exotic - have the ability to not only carry disease such as Pseudorabies, but also cause extensive crop  damage for Michigan farming families," said Dr. Steven Halstead, MDA's State Veterinarian. "Hunters can help prevent disease transmission  by shooting

swine running at large. I urge any owners of swine running at large should gather them immediately if they don't want to be fined."

 

Pseudorabies (PRV) is a viral disease most prevalent in swine, often causing newborn piglets to die. Older pigs can survive infection, becoming  carriers of the virus for life. Infected cattle and sheep can first show signs of PRV infection by scratching and biting themselves. In dogs and  cats, PRV can cause sudden death. The virus does not cause illness in humans.

 

"It is highly unlikely a person will contract an illness by eating thoroughly cooked meat of feral swine," said Halstead.  "Pathogens and  parasites found in meats are killed by cooking to an internal temperature of 170.6 degrees F."

 

Shooters are encouraged to bring the carcass to a DNR Field Station where the heads will be removed for testing. Those who plan to have the  swine mounted should ask the taxidermist to submit the heads to the DNR.  If you see or shoot any feral swine please contact: DNR at (517)  336-5030 or via email brownkr@michigan.gov ; MDA at 1-800-292-3939 and press "4" for the Animal Industry Division; or USDA Wildlife  Services at (517) 336-1928.


Hartwick Pines State Park Snowshoe-Making Workshops, Dec 13-14, Feb 28-Mar 1

Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling is hosting two snowshoe-making workshops this winter at the Michigan Forest Visitor Center. The first  of the weekend workshops is Dec. 13-14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the second workshop will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 28-March 1.

 

Snowshoe styles available will be the 46-inch Huron Snowshoe and the 36-inch Green Mountain Bearpaw. While making their shoes,  participants will learn about the history of snowshoes and why their popularity is growing. The workshops are very informal; participants are  encouraged to wear comfortable clothes and bring a sack lunch. The visitor center will provide a variety of hot beverages.

  

Class sizes are limited and reservations are needed. The $160 registration fee includes all materials and equipment needed to make one pair of  snowshoes. A $25 deposit is required and the reservation deadline for the December workshop is Dec. 3. For more information and to request a  registration packet, please call (989) 348-2537 or e-mail burgr@michigan.gov.

 

Hartwick Pines is offering several other programs this winter.

These include cross-country skiing by lantern light Jan. 3, 17, 31 and Feb. 14 and  28, and guided snowshoe hikes Jan. 24, and Feb. 7 and 21.

 

The park also will be hosting a "Winter Trails Day" snowshoeing event Jan. 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to come out and  try a variety of snowshoes for a guided snowshoe hike or attend an interesting nature program.

 

Also plan to attend the winter lecture series of historical topics to be held on the following Sunday afternoons: Dec. 21, Jan. 18, Feb. 15 and  March 8. Times to be announced. For more information, please call (989) 348-2537 or go online at www.michigan.gov/hartwickpines  or  www.michigan.gov/loggingmuseum.

 

Hartwick Pines State Park is located on M-93 (Hartwick Pines Road), two miles east of I-75, exit 259. All motor vehicles entering a Michigan  State Park or Recreation Area must display a 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.


Pennsylvania

Trapping and Predator Hunting Seasons underway

HARRISBURG – Many of the state’s furbearer trapping and hunting seasons are underway and, based on comments from Pennsylvania Game  Commission field officers, hunters and trappers should have a good year.  The general trapping season - for coyotes, foxes, raccoons,  opossums, skunks and weasels - opened Oct. 26 and runs through Feb. 22. The season for mink and muskrats is Nov. 22 to Jan. 11; beavers,  Dec. 26 to March 31.

 

Raccoon hunting season began Oct. 25 and closes Feb. 21, and the season for skunks, possums and weasels runs from July 1 to June 30,  except for Sundays.  Red and gray foxes hunting season opened Oct. 25 and runs through Feb. 21, including Sundays.  Coyotes have a  year-round season (July 1-June 30) and can be hunted on Sundays, too.

 

Pennsylvania also has bobcat hunting and trapping seasons in nine Wildlife Management Units (WMUs 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and  4D) for the 1,435 individuals who were selected in the Game Commission's annual bobcat permit drawing. The bobcat hunting season started  Oct. 25 and closes to Feb. 21, except for Sundays.  The bobcat trapping season opened Oct. 26 and runs through Feb. 22.

 

Variable fur prices spurred a decline in the ranks of fur-takers nationwide in the 1990s. Trappers had difficulty recovering their expenses, and  inflation further compounded the problem. The result was a reduction in furbearer harvest and

an increase in conflicts. To get a feel for the  drop off in harvest that occurred, consider this: In 1996, more than 200,000 raccoons were taken in Pennsylvania; in 2007, the raccoon harvest  totaled about 121,500.

 

In 2006, there was a noticeable increase in trapping pressure and furbearer harvests corresponded. License sales increased from 23,941 in 2005  to 26,589. Then, last year, license sales rose again to 28,033.  But the harvest of most furbearers dropped, excepting red foxes, coyotes and  weasels.

 

Most Pennsylvania trappers and furtakers market their pelts through local fur-buyers and regional auctions held by the Pennsylvania Trappers'  Association, and international auction houses. Some furtakers also process some of their pelts for personal use. The average prices paid for  Pennsylvania furbearers in 2007 were: raccoon, $16.90 ($12.88 in 2006); red fox, $15.65 ($20.84); gray fox, $37.89 ($43.84); coyote, $21.59 ($20.02);  muskrat, $3.05 ($3.20); mink, $10.87 (12.88); skunk, $4.77 ($4.04); opossum, $2.60 ($2.45); and beaver, $21.67 ($22.14).

 

The 2007 Game-Take and Furtaker Surveys estimated that fur-takers took 121,446 raccoons (138,640 in 2006); 121,446 muskrats (121,161); 41,168  opossums (48,102); 52,000 red foxes (45,512); 13,360 coyotes (11,879); 18,613 gray foxes (20,754); 9,818 skunks (10,687); and 10,004 mink  (12,680). 


Elk Hunters Harvest 42 Elk In 2008

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today announced that 40 of the 45 licensed elk hunters  harvested an elk during the season that was held Nov. 3-8.  Additionally, of the 10 licensed elk hunters who participated in the September  season, two harvested an elk.

 

“Elk are one of North America’s premier big game animals,” Roe said.  “Pennsylvania is privileged to offer this unique hunting opportunity, a  product of successful wildlife management that helps to finance wildlife conservation and supports Pennsylvania’s rich hunting heritage.  It’s  an unparalleled experience for hunters, particularly those who can’t afford to go on an expensive one- or two-week guided elk hunt out West.”

 

Along with extracting samples needed for disease testing, the agency also collected samples necessary to examine food

preferences and  habitat use by elk.  Also, hunters collected liver samples that will be evaluated for mineral contents. The largest antlered elk was taken by  Susan Luce, of Aaronsburg, Centre County.  She took a 799-pound, 7x7 on Nov. 3, in Covington Township, Clearfield County. 

 

The heaviest antlerless elk was taken by James Misti, of Lyndonville, New York, who harvested a 435-pound antlerless elk on Nov. 4, in West  Keating, Clinton County. 

 

For the September 2008 hunt, which was held September 1-27, two elk were harvested. Dale Schmidt, of Germansville, Lehigh County, and Cark  Kemp, of Leechburg, Armstrong County, each harvested an antlerless elk.

 

For more information on elk in Pennsylvania, visit the Game Commission’s website www.pgc.state.pa.us choose “Hunting,” then click on the  photograph of an elk.


Wisconsin

2008 Venison donation program

MADISON -- The 2008 Venison Donation Program in Wisconsin is up and running with 120 cooperating meat processors in 53 counties signed up. Hunters participating in the 2008 regular gun deer hunting seasons that runs Nov. 22-30 as well as the Dec. 1-10 muzzleloader hunt can check the Department of Natural Resources Web site for processors in their area.

 

During the 2007 season, hunters donated 9,200 deer to food pantries. A network of 126 processors in 54 counties butchered and ground the venison into more than 414,000 pounds of packaged venison

 

“The process for donating extra venison hasn’t changed from previous years,” said Laurie Fike, DNR venison donation program coordinator. “If you think you’d like to donate to the program there are only a few simple steps you need to know.

“First, call ahead to the processor to be sure of their hours and workload. Then harvest, tag, field dress and register the deer as you normally would. Once it’s registered simply bring it to

the processor. There is no cost to the hunter other than transporting the deer and it puts high quality meat in food pantries for needy families.”

 

“Donating deer to the program does more than provide food to families,” Keith Warnke, DNR big game ecologist. “By harvesting additional deer you also help reduce crop damages, deer-vehicle collisions and the impacts of selective deer browsing on the forest.”

 

Since the fall hunting season of 2000, hunters have donated more than 63,200 deer, which have provided over 2.8 million pounds of venison to needy people across the state. A large network of volunteers including sports groups, church groups, civic organizations, Hunt for the Hungry and food pantry staff work together to distribute the meat from the processor to the food pantries. USDA – Wildlife Services staff, Department of Natural Resources staff and county wildlife damage staff also help administer the program.

For More Info: Laurie Fike – - (608) 267-7974


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