From the Associated Press:
- ‘The law of unintended consequences’ kills fish yet again
- WVU’s Ginny Thrasher claims Olympic air rifle gold
- Study shows there is only one North American wolf
- Tiger at Chinese wildlife park kills one visitor, injures another
- At least the Pokemongers are doing their thing outdoors
Search this blog
From the Associated Press:
POTEAU, Okla. (AP) — A Poteau man is Oklahoma’s new record holder for a largemouth bass.
Angler Benny Williams Jr. was on a camping trip Friday near Cedar Lake in southeast Oklahoma when he caught the fish, which weighed 14 pounds and 12.3 ounces, and was 26 inches long. The previous state record of 14 pounds and 11.52 ounces has been held since 1999.
Gene Gilliland of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation told KJRH-TV that Cedar Lake has produced several fish that weigh in the double digits in the past five years.
Anglers who believe they may have hooked a record fish must weigh it on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale, and a Wildlife Department employee must verify the weight.
At least now your answers will be official. From the Associated Press:
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Starting Sunday, wildlife officials in three states began surveying anglers about what they’re catching in the Ohio River.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will continue that survey through Oct. 20.
Anglers will be asked to take five minutes to fill out the form, which will ask about the types and numbers of fish they’ve caught.
It will also ask about their residency, and about overall fishing habits and experiences.
The survey will provide information to help the states better manage the fishery and improve fishing opportunities.
More on this after I’ve had a chance to talk with DNR fisheries officials.
From the Associated Press:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Division of Natural Resources say recent samples of fish have revealed the presence of largemouth bass virus in four West Virginia lakes.
Assistant wildlife resources chief Bret Preston says the virus was found at East Lynn Lake in Wayne County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County, and Sutton Lake in Braxton County.
Preston says the virus hasn’t been linked to human health issues.
The DNR says bass populations infected with the virus have experienced summer die-offs, depressed growth and less than optimal health conditions.
To minimize the spread of the virus, the DNR encourages fishermen to avoid transferring live fish or water between water bodies, and properly clean and maintain all boats, live wells and tackle.
Apparently the U.S. government doesn’t grasp that concept. Three years ago the feds outlawed fishing in three U.S.-controlled areas of the Pacific Ocean, but have never put penalties in place to enforce the ban.
The story, from the Associated Press:
HONOLULU (AP) — An environmental group has petitioned the federal government to outline what fines or other penalties it will impose on companies that fish within three marine national monuments in the Pacific.
All commercial fishing was banned in the areas — which lie around Rose Atoll near American Samoa, the Marianas Trench near Saipan, and remote Pacific islands including Palmyra Atoll — when President George W. Bush created the monuments more than three years ago.
The Marine Conservation Institute, a Bellevue, Wash.-based group, said the government’s failure to draft rules explaining what kind of penalty it will impose for a violation is holding up its ability to enforce the ban.
The organization last week petitioned the two co-managers of the monuments, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to create such rules.
Fishermen or their boats could harm unique ecosystems, the petition said, such as when a fishing vessel sank and damaged coral at Kingman Reef near Palmyra in 2007, or when fishing boat ran aground and spilled 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel at Rose Atoll in 1993.
Nesting sea turtles and the world’s largest population of giant clams are at risk, the petition said.
William Chandler, the institute’s vice president for government affairs, said the group has been advocating for the regulations for years but were told they were under consideration and in the works.
“This is not supposed to be a three-year or four-year process. In one more year we’ll hit the four-year mark,” Chandler said. “People need to know these places don’t have the full panoply of legal protections that they could and that they’re supposed to.”
Wende Goo, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the agency is reviewing the petition.
Barry Stieglitz, refuge supervisor at the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuges, said he shares the institute’s “frustration.” But he said his agency has gained responsibilities without winning more funds to help fulfill them.
“The federal fiscal situation is such that we haven’t received any additional resources with which to work on implementing the marine national monument,” he said.
The agency would need to assign someone full-time to develop the rules, but people who could be given the job are focused on existing projects like getting rid of rats at Palmyra Atoll, he said.
Lesli Bales-Sherrod, a spokeswoman for NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, said there have been cases of commercial fishing in the monuments since 2009 when they were created and commercial fishing was banned.
NOAA enforces the prohibition with outreach, education and verbal warnings, as is the case with NOAA’s enforcement of many new regulations, she said.
Lt. Gene Maestas, 14th Coast Guard District spokesman, said the Coast Guard monitors ships in the monument and patrols the area with planes and ships.
The Coast Guard can cite U.S. flagged commercial vessels for fishing in the monuments, but it’s up to NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement to prosecute the citations.
Regulations banning commercial fishing went into effect quickly at the first marine monument Bush established, the Papahanaumokuakea monument northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands.
Stieglitz said that’s because officials had been working on the regulations already in anticipation the government would create a national marine sanctuary there. The rules were already drafted and only needed to be published when Bush issued a proclamation establishing a marine monument there in 2006.
Commercial fishing regulations must be created from scratch for the three monuments Bush established in 2009.
In a letter to NPS director Jon Jarvis, Manchin asked that federal officials put in writing that the proposed High Allegheny National Park and Preserve continue to allow hunting and trapping within its boundaries. Manchin also demanded that stockings of non-native rainbow and brown trout be allowed to continue, that small timber cuts be allowed to create wildlife clearings, and that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources remain the agency primarily responsible for fish and wildlife management on park grounds.
Manchin said in the letter he was less than pleased with answers he’d received from Park Service officials when he started asking questions about those issues. He added that he would pull his support for the park if his and his constituents’ hunting-, fishing- and trapping-related requests weren’t met.
The text of the letter can be found here.
Hat tip: Chris Lawrence at West Virginia MetroNews.
For more than 120 years, carp introduced by well-intentioned state agencies have gone virtually unmolested in United States waters. Maybe that’s about to change. From the Associated Press:
WABASHA, Minn. (AP) — An Australian company that processes carp will open its first U.S. facility in Wabasha Friday.
Carp may not be popular on menus in the U.S., but it’s widely eaten in Eastern Europe and Asia. Keith Bell of K & C Fisheries says in China, the carp is steamed with vegetables for the main meal. In Poland, Bell says the fish is canned with vegetables or is baked for Christmas dinner.
Bell and his wife, Cate, began exploring the upper Mississippi River as a place to grow their business after several years of drought in Australia made it difficult to harvest carp there.
Minnesota Public Radio News reports the common carp is native to Europe and Asia and was introduced in the Midwest as a game fish in the 1880s.
I understand why the trout had to be destroyed, but I mourn the loss of so much angling potential. From the Associated Press:
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is disposing of 434,000 lake trout from a Bethel fish hatchery because of fears that stocking them in the Great Lakes could spread the invasive algae known as “rock snot.”
Officials tried to find alternative locations where the 4-inch fingerlings could be stocked into waters already contaminated with the algae, known more formally as didymo, including lakes in Vermont and New Hampshire, but none could be found, said Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Terri Edwards.
“Everyone at the hatchery is upset. This is not the choice that we wanted to make,” she said. “We did not want to take the risk of introducing didymo into any environment.”
The decision to destroy the fish was made by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast regional director, Wendi Weber, who determined they could not be safely stocked in lakes Erie and Ontario — where they were supposed to be released — without posing a risk that didymo could be transported to those bodies of water.
Federal official asked counterparts in states across the Northeast and around the Great Lakes for a lake that had already been contaminated with didymo where the fish could be released.
“In the end, we were not able to place them,” Edwards said.
The fish are being taken out of their tanks and dumped into deep pits where they are covered with lime and buried. They pose no public health threat, Edwards said.
Didymo is believed to be transported by anglers moving from one body of water to another. It poses no threat to humans but can overwhelm cold water lakes and streams, threatening aquatic insect and fish populations by smothering food sources.
The hatchery is located on the banks of the White River, which is known to contain didymo, and was inundated by contaminated river water during flooding in August caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
Last month, about 3,000 larger Atlantic salmon breeding stock from the hatchery were cleaned and donated to several Native American tribes. Some tribes used them as part of religious rituals.
Once the lake trout have been removed from the hatchery, the tanks will be scrubbed and disinfected to be sure no threat of didymo remains. The water in the hatchery’s tanks comes from wells.
The fish originally were raised to be stocked in lakes Ontario and Erie next year. While the fish will be missed, over time their absence isn’t expected to hold back the stocking programs for the Great Lakes, Edwards said.
In 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service stocked more than 4 million lake trout in the Great Lakes.
It’s unclear how long the Bethel hatchery will be out of service or what its role will be once repairs have been completed. In addition to disinfecting the tanks, other repairs from Irene damage are also being carried out.
The loss of the Bethel hatchery comes as the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery in Warren, Pa., goes online after being out of service for several years. The Warren hatchery, originally established to produce rainbow, brook and brown trout for northwestern Pennsylvania streams, now is intended to produce lake trout for restoration in lake Erie and Ontario.
For decades, public lands paid for by hunting- and fishing-license money have been open for everyone’s use, free of charge.
Virginia state officials are changing that. Owners of hunting and fishing licenses will still get in free, but other folks will have to pay. From the Associated Press:
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will begin charging a limited $4 fee at its wildlife management areas and public fishing lakes starting Jan. 1.
The access fee will apply to visitors who do not possess a valid hunting, freshwater fishing or trapping license or a current state boat registration.
The department owns more than 201,000 acres and 35 public fishing lakes statewide. Most of the land and lakes were purchased primarily through revenue generated by those licenses. Those license-holders also support the upkeep of department-maintained roads, parking areas, kiosks and the management of those properties.
The access fee will be required for bird watchers, horseback riders and others outdoor lovers over 17 who use the department’s holdings.
The annual access permit will be $23.
Interesting. Unless I miss my guess, Virginia’s action will start a trend.
For this week’s Gazette-Mail column, I went to Judy Rodd, the principal source for the push to create a national park and preserve in West Virginia’s northeastern highlands. Judy was able to answer some of the existing questions, but not all. Here’s the column.