HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced it was accepting public comments through June 2 on its draft Willapa Hills Elk Herd Plan to guide future management of the herd. One of the largest in the state, the herd inhabits the region around Grays Harbor, south to the Columbia River and Interstate 5 west to the Pacific Ocean. It has a population estimated to be somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000, and also is one of two herds in Washington affected by hoof disease which has been rampart in the region since 2008.
Key goals of the department’s plan include maintaining the herb size, improving its habitat, minimizing crop damage and addressing the incidence of disease. The plan also addresses the importance of maintaining hunting opportunities and the need for coordination between area treaty tribes and the department in developing hunting seasons and other management activities.
The department will hold two public meetings this month – one in Montesano May 13 at its regional office, and the other in Longview May 15. WDFW will consider comments received in writing or during the public meetings in drafting a new version of the plan for public review, officials said. Final approval is expected this fall and will mark the completion of formal management plans for all 10 elk herds in the state.
The plan is posted on the department’s website. Written comments can be submitted on line or mailed to Willapa Hills Elk Herd Plan, Wildlife Program, WDFW, 600 Capital Way North, Olympia, WA 98501.
• Eight days of clam digging has been approved by WDFW, beginning May 13 at Twin Harbors through May 20. No digging will be allowed on any beach after noon. The agency also announced a list of proposed digs that would begin May 27 through June 1. Information regarding scheduled dig dates, beaches and low tides can be found on the department’s website.
• Tamera Fletcher of Tacoma Power reported 605 winter steelhead, five summer steelhead, 130 spring chinook and 26 jacks were recovered during April 28-May 4 at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Thirty-four spring chinook and seven jacks were also released into the Cispus River above Yellow Jacket Creek.
• It seems the word is out on the Bonneville Power Administration Northern Pikeminnow Sports Reward Program which opened May 1 in the Columbia and Snake rivers. During the first week, 753 anglers caught 3,744 pikeminnows with six tagged fish also in the catch. Best fishing was had at The Dalles where 218 anglers caught 1,253 pikes. Ninety-two anglers at Columbia Point hauled in 752 pikes and at PortCo (Marina Park) 21 anglers caught 329 pikeminnows.
The program pays for the first 100 pikeminnow anglers catch at $4 each; 101-400 fish caught pays $5 each; and $8 for each fish over 400. Tagged fish are worth $500 each. Last year, one angler caught 9,229 pikes and earned $76,478. Another angler earned $38,246.
Because pikeminnows eat millions of young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers, the reward fishery has as its goal a sustained annual exploitation of 10-20 percent of the northern pikeminnow population over nine inches long. The program doesn’t want to eliminate northern pikeminnows.
Additional information can be had by calling 1-360-906-6707.
• If you suddenly discover a skunk, raccoon or possum has taken up residency in your back yard and are fearful of a nasty encounter with the animal, the May 2014 edition of WDFW’s Crossing Paths News Notes has a couple of suggestions to take a look at before attempting removal of the animal.
Another option would be to hire someone to take care of the problem. Any WDFW office can refer you to a nuisance wildlife control operator. They are private enterprises licensed through the WDFW and must conform to department regulations. They are not state employees and set their own fees. Under the authority of their WDFW permit, they can trap, capture and transport raccoons, opossums, skunks and other wildlife species year-round. Native deer mice and non-native house mice and Old World rats are unclassified or unprotected species that can be trapped by anyone.
Bob Brown is a freelance outdoors writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org