HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking to list the North American wolverine as an endangered species and are seeking comments from the public and scientific community on the proposal. It is estimated there are approximately 250-300 wolverines in the lower 48 states. Unrestricted predator trapping and poisoning in the early 1900’s led to the near extinction of wolverines, but the species is slowly rebounding in part because states have started to protect them from unregulated trapping. Currently, wolverines can be found in the North Cascades Range and the Northern Rockies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and a small portion of Oregon (Wallowa Range).
Wolverines are dependent on areas in high mountains, near tree- lines where the conditions are cold year-round and snow cover persists well into May. The Service does not consider activities such as snowmobiling, skiing, and land management activities like timber harvesting and infrastructure development occurring within the high elevation habitat of the wolverine significant threats to the animal. Those activities would be allowed under Section 4(d) of the ESA and would be allowed to continue, but hunting and trapping would be prohibited.
“This proposal at long last gives the wolverine a fighting chance of survival in the lower 48 states,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso. “The most immediate need is to stop the threats to the species that we can control, including direct killing of wolverines through trapping.”
The Service opened a 90-day comment period (beginning February 4) to allow the public and stakeholders an opportunity to provide information or comments regarding the proposed listing. Comments will be accepted until May 6. For more information about wolverine conservation, copies of the proposal and details on public meetings and hearings can be found on the Service’s website.
The latest on sturgeon fishing
Oregon and Washington fishery managers have established new fishing rules for white sturgeon in the lower Columbia from Bonneville Dam to the mouth. They reduced the harvest allocation 15 percent lower than last year because of concerns about sturgeon numbers in the lower river and is the fourth straight year harvest rates have been reduced.
There has been a slight increase in the estimated number of legal-size sturgeon which is the first indication of an increase in population size in five years. As a result, the harvest guideline for the recreational sturgeon fishery below Bonneville will remain virtually unchanged at 7,790 fish. In other words, though the percentage of fish allowed to be harvested has been reduced, the increase in the legal -size population enables the actual number of fish to be harvested to stay at the same level.
Brad James, WDFW fish biologist, recommends anglers look closely at the new fishing rules, because fishing periods in some areas will change this year. The new regulations for white sturgeon and spring chinook has been posted on the department’s website “http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations” and will be incorporated into the 2013-14 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet. The pamphlet will be available in May. To keep this year’s catch within the new harvest guideline, the sturgeon fishery will end five days earlier than last year below the Wauna powerlines.
Joe Hymer, supervisory fish biologist, Pacific States Marine Fishery said “An estimated half million Columbia River coho are currently swimming in the ocean. However, last year’s actual return (170,300) fish was a little more than half the preseason forecast of 317,200. This year’s estimate is definitely an improvement over last year numbers a