HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced in January that up to 35 Columbian white-tailed deer from Puget Island in Washington will be relocated to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge 10 miles downstream from the Portland/Vancouver area and the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge near Cathlamet to support recovery of the endangered Columbian white-tailed deer.
The relocation will occur through April 15. An additional 20 deer could be relocated in 2015.
Jackie Ferrier, manager of the Hansen refuge, said, “Previous relocations have expanded the Columbian white-tailed deer population from Cathlamet and Westport to the Columbia River Valley as far as Ridgefield, bringing the species closer to possibility being removed from the endangered species list.” Since establishment of the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge, the probability of Columbian white–tailed deer extinction has been reduced by 10 times. A USFWS five-year review of the white-tailed population recently recommended downlisting the deer from endangered to threatened. A USFWS spokesperson said this is a rulemaking process and is presently underway.
The Columbian white-tailed deer is the western-most subspecies of white-tailed deer which occurs throughout North America. Early records indicate the species were once quite numerous from the Cascade Mountains to the ocean and from Puget Sound to the Umpoqua River Basin in southern Oregon.
The species became endangered through its range due to habitat modification by human activities, such as farming, logging, commercial and residential development, over hunting and poaching. The species was listed as endangered in1968.
Razor clams or squid?
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has tentatively scheduled a razor clam dig for Feb. 26- 28 if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.
If clam digging isn’t your forte, jigging for squid might be a good alternative, as this is prime time for squid fishing in Puget Sound. It is a nighttime sport that requires inexpensive fishing tackle. Prime spots include the Elliot Bay Pier in Seattle, the Edmond Pier, Point Defiance Park Pier in Tacoma, and the Indianola Pier in Kitsap County.
The most common species of squid found in Washington waters are known as market squid and measure less than 12 inches in size. They are also known as calamari when prepared as food. All squid anglers 15 years or older must carry a current Washington fishing license.
Fish managers are forecasting a strong run of 308,000 adult spring chinook will return to the Columbia River this year – a significant increase from last year’s run of 195,200 fish. Salmon fishing is open below the Interstate 5 bridge. Anglers are reminded barbless hooks are required and any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released.
Bonneville Pool and John Day Pool have been producing legal size sturgeon for boat anglers, but not for bank anglers. It has been slow for legal size fish in The Dalles Pool.
Fishing has also been slow throughout the Cowlitz Rver. Fish checkers reported that during Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 27 bank anglers kept four winter steelhead. All of the catch was sampled at the trout hatchery.
In case not everyone has gotten the word, smelt fishing opened Feb. 8 on the Cowlitz. Dipping from the bank will be allowed from 6 a.m. until noon every Saturday through March 1. Each netter may retain 10 pounds of smelt per day.
Fishing in the Skookumchuck has been fair with moderate angler activity. The late coho run is just about over, but steelhead are starting to show and some are being caught. Water conditions are low and clear. Charles McElroy of Sunbirds in Chehalis said there are fish up and down the Chehalis River, but water levels are low. Fishing results have been mixed.
Did you know one of the largest crow roosts in Washington is located in King County, just east of the University of Washington’s Bothell campus on North Creek? Each night, approximately 10,000 crows from as far east as Sultan, north to Everett and south to Kirkland use the roost.
Jamie Bails, WDFW habitat biologist, said the massive roost is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 1997, the university began a stream restoration project on North Creek. Students planted cottonwoods, alders and willows which eventually grew large enough to provide nightly shelter for the crows.
Crows are the best-known and studied communal roosting species in Washington.
Bob Brown can be contacted at “firstname.lastname@example.org