Week of November 20, 2006

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World

USFWS sued for not listing foreign species

SAN FRANCISCO (ENS) - The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to provide protection for scores of the world’s most imperiled bird species, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

 

Listing for foreign endangered species restricts buying and selling imperiled wildlife. It can increase conservation funding and attention, and brings a higher level of scrutiny to projects proposed by the U.S. government and multilateral lending agencies such as the World Bank. The species include the rare Okinawa Woodpecker in Japan and 55 other vanishing birds from around the planet.

 

Endangered Species Act protection is crucial for the Okinawa woodpecker, due to ongoing destruction of its forest habitat. A small number of woodpeckers remain in undisturbed subtropical forests in the northern mountainous region of the island of Okinawa, Japan. The primary threat to woodpecker habitat is a joint U.S. and Japanese military proposal to construct additional helicopter training landing areas, including roads and infrastructure.

 

Also at issue is protection for five of the world’s rarest and most beautiful butterfly species, including the Harris’ Mimic

Swallowtail of Brazil, and Kaiser-I-Hind butterfly of Nepal and China.

 

At least 11 additional bird species not included in the lawsuit have already gone extinct due to long delays in protecting them, according to Peter Galvin, conservation director with the Center. Other bird species in the suit include the Giant Ibis of Laos and Cambodia, the blue-throated macaw of Bolivia, the black stilt of New Zealand, the caerulean paradise-flycatcher of Indonesia, and the slender-billed curlew of Russia, Europe and North Africa.

 

The lawsuit argues that the Service first determined that protection is warranted under the Endangered Species Act more than 20 years ago for many of these species. Two dozen of the bird species have been waiting for final action since 1984, and 27 have been waiting since 1994. It has been more than a decade since the USFWS received a petition to list the foreign butterflies.

 

"The U.S. has a responsibility to help protect these magnificent birds for future generations," says Galvin. "We can limit trade in these vanishing species, and better assist with conservation and recovery efforts if they are listed under the Endangered Species Act."


WRDA Passage to be reviewed in November

Funding of Electronic Barrier online

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The top U.S. House and Senate negotiators on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) legislation highlighted their commitment toward passing a comprehensive bipartisan bill when Congress returned in November.

                                     

For the first time in six years the House and the Senate have passed WRDA bills in the same Congress.  The Water 

Resources Development Act authorizes civil works projects for the Corps of Engineers.  These are navigation projects that keep U.S. ports and waterways open to commercial traffic, flood damage reduction projects that protect homes and businesses, and environmental restoration projects that enhance the quality of life. 

 

Most importantly the Act authorizes funding for the Chicago Waterway Electronic Barrier.


National

USDA amends VHS fish order

Now allows for interstate movement of VHS-susceptible live species of fish under certain conditions

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on November 14 modified an Oct. 24, 2006, emergency order prohibiting the importation of 37 species of live fish from two Canadian provinces into the United States and the interstate movement of the same species from the eight states bordering the Great Lakes.

 

These modifications will allow Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to move interstate live species of fish susceptible to viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) if they can meet certain conditions designed to prevent the spread of the disease, which isn’t harmful to people but can be deadly to fish.

 

The latest announcement acts on the recommendations presented to APHIS during the recent two-day state and industry meeting.  These new requirements allow fish industries in the eight Great Lake states to move susceptible species interstate while also protecting against the spread of VHS.

 

With the exception of Salmonids, the movement of susceptible species of live fish from Quebec and Ontario into the United States remain prohibited under the revised Federal Order.  APHIS will be drafting an interim rule to further address the movement of fish from Canada and the Great Lakes states.

 

Under the revised Federal Order, conditions for the interstate movement of VHS-susceptible species vary depending on

whether the live fish are being transported for slaughter,  

research or other purposes.

 

In order for VHS-susceptible species to move interstate for slaughter, the fish must be:

  Intended for human consumption

  Transported to a state-inspected slaughter facility that discharges waste water into a municipal sewage system that includes waste water treatment.  As an alternative, the facility can also dispose of waste water in a non-discharging, settling pond or a settling pond that disinfects according to federal and state requirements.  Offal, including carcasses, from the slaughter facility must be either rendered or composted.

  Accompanied by the proper USDA documentation for the movement of restricted animals if not tested for VHS.

 

In order to move VHS-susceptible species for purposes other than slaughter, research or diagnostics, the fish must be transported with documentation from appropriate state, tribal, or federal authorities for aquatic animal health stating that the fish have tested negative for the VHS virus under existing national and international standards specified in the Federal Order.

 

These restrictions do not apply to live species of VHS-susceptible fish originating from non-restricted states.  Fish from states not included in the Federal order can transit the affected Great Lakes states without oversight.

             

The modified and the original emergency orders putting these protections into place can be found on our Website at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/aqua/.


Regional

Maiden voyage on the M/V Spencer Baird

During the month of October, two cruises were made with the M/V Spencer F. Baird to perform annual lake trout spawning surveys on two offshore reefs in Lake Huron. On October 18th, the Baird departed the federal dock in Alpena and traveled to Six Fathom Bank. Three gangs of gill nets were deployed on this reef and retrieved on October 19th after anchoring for the night off the reef. On October 20th, the vessel departed for Yankee Reef where two gangs of gill net were deployed and lifted the following day after anchoring for the night off the reef. In recent years, it has been difficult to conduct the assessment 

at both reefs given the tumultuous weather that October brings and safety issues surrounding the aging vessel M/V Togue.

 

This year FWS biologists were able to complete surveys at both reefs in a single week while working off the more stable and comfortable work platform provided by the M/V Baird. The difference between the two vessels is night and day and the M/V Baird will be an excellent vessel for fulfilling the Fish and Wildlife Service obligations towards lake trout restoration and enhancing the ability to contribute to the lakewide assessment program.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for Nov 17, 2006

Lake Level Conditions: 

Lake Superior is currently 12 inches lower than it was a year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is at the same level as it was this time last year.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are all higher than the previous year.  Currently, all of the lakes are in their period of seasonal decline.  Over the next month, the water level in Lake Superior is projected to fall 3 inches while the level in Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to decline 2 inches. Lakes St. Clair and Erie are also predicted to drop 3 inches during the next 30 days while Lake Ontario is forecasted to fall 4 inches.  Over the next few months, Lake Superior is expected to remain well below last year’s levels, while Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are predicted to remain near or slightly above the water levels of a year ago.  See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be below average in November.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers also are expected to be below average during November.  Flow in the Niagara River, as well as the St. Lawrence River is expected to be above average.

Alerts:

Due to abnormally dry conditions over the last five months, Lake Superior 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 17

600.6

577.3

573.7

571.2

245.3

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

-6

-3

+17

+24

+24

Diff last month

-3

-1

+1

0

+2

Diff from last yr

-12

0

+11

+9

+6

 


USFWS Meets to discuss outlook for Alpena Federal Bldg

Alpena USFWS Project Leader Jerry McClain met with Mr. Harold Chase, District Office Manager for Senator Carl Levin, on Oct 25 to discuss the future of the Alpena Federal Building and progress in locating alternatives for housing the Alpena USFWS FRO.

 

Levin closed his office in the Alpena Federal Building in 2004 but remains concerned about the conditions for remaining tenants in the building. At the present time only the Alpena FRO and the U.S. Coast Guard are occupying space in the building and both are seeking alternate locations due to the deteriorating environmental and personnel safety conditions of the aging building. Chase held a similar meeting with the Coast Guard in early October.

Although the Senator is not seeking a specific resolution to the issue he has committed that his staff will assist the two agencies in working with GSA to meet their office needs. Mr. Chase indicated that he would be drafting a letter of inquiry for the Senator's signature that would go to GSA and the regional or district offices of the two agencies seeking an update on progress in the search for new space.

 

Continued interaction between the Alpena FRO and district congressional offices is important in keeping the legislators and their staff aware of the important work being done by Service staff in their districts and states. Meetings such as this are important for addressing the Service's Fisheries program Vision for the Future priorities of “Partnerships and Accountability” and “Workforce Management”.


Lt. Gov. John Cherry elected to chair Great Lakes Commission

ANN ARBOR – Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry has been elected chair of the Great Lakes Commission. Cherry was

elected by unanimous vote of his fellow Commissioners on October 25 at the close of the Commission’s 2006 Annual Meeting in Duluth, MN. Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was elected vice chair.


General

Bass Pro Shops to open 2nd Virginia store

Richmond, VA – Bass Pro Shops has announced plans to build an outdoor superstore at the intersection of I-95 and Lewistown Rd in Hanover County. It will anchor a 180 acre destination retail project being developed by Holladay

Properties. The store may also include their famous Islamorada Fish Company restaurant. More information about the store and date of opening will be released in the near future.


Illinois

DNR announces national safe boating contest

Deadline for entries is January 1

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is accepting entries for the second annual Boating Safety Sidekicks contest.  This year’s theme is “I’m a Safe Boater, Are You?”  The Boating Safety Sidekicks contest is sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC).  Expanding on the “Why I Wear My Life Jacket” contest from 2005, the NSBC has partnered with West Marine and Within Reach, NSBC member organizations, to expand the contest to include not only essay, but poster and video entries alerting others what kids can do to be safe on the water. 

 

Stories should be between 150 and 750 words in length and tell about a particular boating experience or safe boating habit in which you wear your life jacket and follow other practices to

be a safe boater.  Posters should be 8.5” x 11” or 8.5” x 14” and contain a simple message to inspire others to boat

safely.  Computer generated submissions must be submitted as one jpg, tiff or eps file.  Videos can range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length and must show life jacket wear.  They can be submitted as mpeg files on CD or DVD.  The title of all entries should be “I’m a Safe Boater, Are You?” and demonstrate what youth can do to be safer on the water.

 

Youth between the ages of 4 to 15 are eligible to enter anytime between now and January 1, 2007. First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded in each of three age groups.   First place winners will receive a $100 savings bond, a life jacket, one NSBC member donated prize, a Sidekicks cap and DVD and recognition on the Sidekicks website. For more info: www.boatingsidekicks.com .


Michigan

2007 Spring Wild Turkey Season Dates and Quotas Set

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC), at its regular monthly meeting last week, approved the dates and quotas for the 2007 spring wild turkey season. A total 118,440 licenses (53,440 general and 65,000 private) will be available through a lottery.

 

In the Upper Peninsula, Units M, MA, N and O have been combined into a single unit (M), and the legal hunting area has been expanded to include previously unhunted areas where turkeys now are established. In addition, new boundary lines follow major highways, making it easier for hunters to be certain of hunting locations. The season length in the U.P. also has been increased.

 

In southern Michigan, wild turkey populations continue to expand their ancestral range. Hunt units in this part of the state have been consolidated and quotas have been increased to provide fewer constraints to hunters in this region.

 

Statewide, approximately 48,702 square miles will be open for

the spring season.

 

“Wild turkey populations have expanded in much of Michigan, and hunters have requested more hunting opportunity,” said DNR Upland Game Bird Specialist Al Stewart, who added the recommendations approved by the NRC will provide additional recreational opportunity without impacting the quality of spring turkey hunting.

 

Hunters may apply for a general limited quota license or purchase a Guaranteed Hunt Period (Hunt No. 234) license between Jan. 1 and Feb. 1, 2007, to participate in the spring wild turkey hunting season. Hunters also may apply online at www.michigan.gov/dnr . Unsuccessful applicants in the limited quota units will be eligible to purchase a Guaranteed Hunt Period license or a leftover license in person at any license dealer on a first-come, first-served basis for a one-week period beginning March 8 at 10 a.m. EDT. Any limited quota licenses that remain as of March 15 at 10 a.m. EDT will be available for purchase over the counter by individuals who did not apply for a spring turkey license. These licenses will be sold until the quota is met. A hunter may purchase only one spring turkey hunting license.


NRC Approves Resolution on Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Control

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC), at its November meeting last week, issued a resolution that calls for the reversal of a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) that significantly restricts the interstate movement of fish within eight states bordering the Great Lakes, including Michigan.

 

The emergency federal order issued Oct. 24 by USDA-APHIS prohibits the movement of 37 fish species between the eight Great Lakes states and also prohibits the importation of those species into the U.S. fish from Ontario and Quebec. Intrastate movement of fish is permitted, along with the importation of fish into the Great Lakes region from areas outside the regulated zone. The order was issued to protect aquaculture facilities from the fish disease, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). This new disease in the Great Lakes has caused widespread fish kills in sensitive fish species but it is not harmful to humans.

 

“Although we are very concerned about VHS and its potential spread throughout the Great Lakes region, the federal order will significantly and unnecessarily disrupt fisheries management actions and commerce in Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes Basin,” said Dr. Kelley Smith, DNR Fisheries chief.

The NRC resolution requests the USDA-APHIS to 1) immediately amend the emergency order to allow a) the interstate movement of fish to slaughter facilities in any other state in the U.S. for subsequent human consumption only, so long as such facilities have appropriate waste treatment; b) the interstate movement of fish within the eight prohibited states based on the regulations of the receiving state; c) the interstate movement of fish to any other state in the U.S. provided that the state competent authority for aquatic animal health has certified the originating facility and that the testing program meets the requirements of the receiving state; and d) the movement of fish to research/diagnostic laboratories if the state competent authority for aquatic animal health approves of the movement and approves the facility into which the fish will be moved; and 2) immediately issue a second emergency order that bans the uptake of ballast water in any area of the Great Lakes where VHS has been found.

 

The resolution further requests the USDA-APHIS to work collaboratively and transparently with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Agriculture in the immediate development of an interim rule to replace the emergency order by March 1, 2007.

 

“These requests are of critical importance for ensuring that the interim rule is appropriately developed, and to eliminate a significant vector for the rapid transport of VHS throughout the Great Lakes Basin via ballast water” Smith said.


Ohio

Ohio's archery deer hunters off to a fast start

Harvest numbers up in first six weeks of deer hunting season

COLUMBUS, OH - For the third straight year, Ohio bow hunters set a record harvest during the first six weeks of the state’s deer-archery season, taking 45,733 whitetails. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, this year’s early archery season harvest is 9 percent higher than last year’s record of 41,859 deer.

       

“Bow hunting for deer has become very popular in Ohio. The season started in September for the first time this year as a way to provide a few more days of hunting. It will continue through February 4, making it Ohio’s longest archery season

on record,” said Steven A. Gray, chief of the Division of Wildlife.

 

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer brought to check stations were Tuscarawas - 1,724; Licking -1,679; Holmes - 1,624; Harrison - 1,140; Clermont -1,107; Knox - 1,085; Ashland and Coshocton - 1,084; Trumbull- 1,082; and Ashtabula - 1,034.

       

The statewide deer population was estimated to be 600,000 in early October. Approximately 300,000 bow hunters are expected to participate in the statewide deer-archery hunting season. Last year, bow hunters harvested a total of 60,090 deer during the four-month Ohio archery season.


Pennsylvania

Elk hunters have great season

HARRISBURG - As part of the state's sixth modern-day elk season, which ran from Nov. 6-11, 40 licensed elk hunters harvested 33 elk: 14 antlered and 19 antlerless.  The 40 hunters awarded licenses were selected at a public drawing from a field of nearly 19,000 entrants on Sept. 23.

 

"Elk are one of North America's premier big game animals," said Carl G. Roe, Pennsylvania Game Commission executive director.  "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."

 

Jon DeBerti, Game Commission elk biologist, said that this year's hunting season went well.  "Harvest was well distributed across the range," DeBerti said.  "It is important that we continue to harvest elk in areas where elk/human conflicts can arise, and keep elk densities at levels that will not degrade habitats. 

 

"While providing a recreational opportunity for sportsmen and sportswomen, hunting has been a useful management tool for reducing elk populations in areas that elk/human conflicts have been an issue in the past," DeBerti said.  "This year, we received very few complaints from residents within the elk management area."

The largest antlered elk, in terms of weight and the largest rack, was taken by John A. Shirk, of Goodville, Lancaster County.  He took an 849-pound, 10x8 on Nov. 6, in East Keating Township, Clinton County. The heaviest antlerless elk was taken by Sarah L. Campbell, Landisburg, Perry County, who harvested a 559-pound antlerless elk on Nov. 6, in Gibson Township, Cameron County.

 

DeBerti noted that Patrick M. Vivona, York, York County, took a 468-pound elk on Nov. 7, in Gibson Township, Cameron County.  This elk was at least 21 years old, and was originally captured in 1993. "This elk has been re-collared two times since 1993, and has been part of many Game Commission studies," DeBerti said.

 

For the September 2007 hunt, which will be held September 17-22, 2007, nine licenses were awarded to Pennsylvania hunters and one to a hunter from South Carolina, who received an antlerless elk license.  The two either-sex license recipients were from Allegheny County and Northumberland County.  Seven antlerless elk licenses were awarded to Pennsylvania hunters living in the following counties: Allegheny; Berks; Butler; Elk; Northumberland; Tioga; and Warren.

 

For more info: www.pgc.state.pa.us, choose "Hunting," then click on the photograph of an elk.

 

 


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