Week of February 21, 2005











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Fed Bill Re-Introduced  to Protect State Hunting and Fishing Rights

Washington, D.C. – Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson has re-introduced legislation to protect the rights of individual states to regulate hunting and fishing within their own borders.


Nelson teamed up with five other senators and members of the House of Representatives to re-introduce a bill that died when Congress adjourned last year. The bill is in response to a recent court ruling that could possibly undermine the ability of states to favor residents over non-residents when issuing hunting and fishing licenses.


States have traditionally regulated hunting and fishing within their own borders. However, a recent ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could undermine that right. The court called into question a states authority to set different tag limits for residents and non-residents.

“This boils down to a states’ rights issue and, speaking as a former governor, I don’t like it when the federal government gets involved in regulating the states abilities to set fees for hunting licenses. Our legislation will shoot down any future attempts by activist judges to have Uncle Sam interfere with state hunting and fishing rules,” said Nelson.


Co-sponsors of the legislation include Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senators John Ensign (R-NV), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Congressmen Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bill Otter (R-ID).


The bill would also affirm the traditional authority of individual states. The regulation of wildlife has traditionally been within a state’s purview and it is in the best interest of the state and federal governments to ensure that states retain the authority to regulate wildlife.

Young hunters have low Hunter Injury rates

Report shows youth supervised by adult mentors among the lowest injury rates

“The most important factor affecting youth hunting safety is the presence of a responsible, attentive adult hunter, which is often a parent,” said Jim Wentz of Silvertip Productions who compiled the report along with the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA). “The research shows that supervised young hunters are the safest even in states that don’t restrict hunting based on age.”


The Youth Hunting Report was funded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).  The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has led the charge in promoting youth hunting opportunities and has teamed up with the USSA and NSSF to do just that.


“Introducing our children to hunting is important for several reasons,” said Rob Keck, NWTF CEO. “First, hunting allows families to spend time outdoors and share quality time together. Second, research shows those who start hunting early in life are more likely to hunt as adults. With those positive outcomes and the proven safety record of young hunters, why would we prevent young people from hunting?”


According to the research, 20 states restrict youth participation in hunting. These restrictions include minimum ages for young people under 13 and rigid hunter education requirements before most participation is permitted.


“By making the opportunity to hunt so difficult, we’re taking potential hunters out of the game and by the time they can

legally hunt, they’re interested in other activities,” said Doug Painter, NSSF president.


The data also shows that youngsters are less likely to take up hunting in states that have the most restrictive requirements for youth participation. However, states that removed barriers to youth hunting have a much higher youth recruitment rate.


“This research proves what we have been saying for years,” said Bud Pidgeon, president and CEO of USSA. “States with strict age limits produce fewer young hunters and that means fewer adult hunters for the future. If we don’t start replenishing hunters now, we could let our heritage slip away. Then, who will shoulder the responsibility of conservation in the future?”


The time to recruit young hunters is now so we can take advantage of the large number of mentors available to introduce youth to hunting. The report shows that more than 45 percent of American hunters are between the ages of 35 and 54, an age group likely to have children old enough to mentor. However, there are considerably fewer hunters between the ages of 25 and 34, meaning in the future, there will be fewer people to pass on our hunting heritage.


States that have opened the door to young hunters are finding it’s a positive and safe experience. The Missouri Department of Conservation initiated a special youth turkey hunt in spring 2001 and then started a youth firearms deer hunt in the fall of the same year. These special seasons allow youth age 6 to 15 to purchase a permit where they can hunt with an adult who has passed a hunter safety course.

Officials call for reform of Endangered Species Act

Several Western governors have called for a reform of the federal Endangered Species Act that would promote conservation while giving states a greater say in how their lands are managed.


‘‘What I believe is we want to recover the species,'' said Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican. ‘‘Let's not use the act as a way to try to manage private and public properties. Let's use the act to help us learn how to recover the species.''


The 18 states that make up the Western Governors Association, which opened its winter meeting in San Diego last month, say they are uniquely affected by the 30-year-old law. Nearly 70% of the nation's endangered species are located in the West, according to the association.


Owens, the association's chair-man, supported efforts by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., to change the law. Pombo hoped to line up support for

his legislative effort to reform the act, which remains at the top of his agenda again when Congress reconvenes next month.


Pombo wants to require scientific peer review for any major decision under the act, including listing species. The congressman also wants critical habitat to be designated for species to be done more efficiently and with better scientific data. “These governors will be very important to his goal and their goal of improving and modernizing the act,'' said Brian Kennedy, a Pombo spokesman.


Republican Govs. Linda Lingle of Hawaii, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Kenny Guinn of Nevada and Judy Martz of Montana also joined the call for reform of the act at a news conference at the opening of the two-day session in San Diego.


Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) said a major overhaul of the Endangered Species Act wasn’t needed.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for February 18, 2005

Recent Weather: 

Very mild temperatures for this time of year occurred in the Great Lakes basin early this week.  Daily highs reached into the 50s in many locations across the southern basin on Tuesday.  These warm temperatures were in advance of a potent storm system that developed over the plains and brought heavy rain and snow showers to the region.  Temperatures more normal for February and scattered snow showers arrived in wake of the storm.


Current Lake Levels: 

All of the Great Lakes are 6 to 18 inches above last year’s levels.   Lake Superior is 1 inch below its long-term average, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 9 inches below its long-term average. Lake St. Clair is 9 inches above its long-term average, while Lakes Erie and Ontario are 12 and 11 inches above their long-term averages, respectively.

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be near average during the month of February.  Flow in the St. Clair River is also projected to be near average.  Flows in the Detroit, Niagara, and St. Lawrence

Rivers are all anticipated to be above average in February.


Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

Flurries and snow showers are possible through the weekend in the Great Lakes basin.  Areas prone to lake effect snow have the potential to receive significant amounts of snow. Temperatures will be near normal into early next week.


Forecasted Water Levels: 

Lake Superior is forecasted to continue its seasonal decline and decrease 1 inch over the next month.  Lake Michigan-Huron is nearing the end of its seasonal decline and is forecasted to rise 2 inches by March 18.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are all nearing the end of their seasonal declines and should rise 1 inch during the next month.  Note that ice conditions on Lake St. Clair may create rapid fluctuations in the levels over short periods.



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.


Another Canadian gun registry fiasco

One of the reasons we were told that we needed gun registration was to protect policemen. The registration of all guns would make life safer for the police who would know in advance whether they were being sent to a house that contained guns.


Mr. Garry Breitkreuz, a Conservative Member of Parliament from Saskatchewan advises us that as things turn out, it appears that this so-called benefit of gun registration is just as fictional as the suggestion that the cost of registering guns could be measured in the low hundreds of millions of dollars. We all know that the cost has climbed to the billion dollar mark, and we are now learning that the registration doesn't pinpoint the location of guns, even those that have been listed.


Last year alone the firearms centre lost track of 46,000 licensed gun owners. As reported in the National Post, this means that front-line police officers cannot trust the registration system with their lives or with the safety of the public.


What happened was this. The licenses issued for the first batch of guns that were registered are coming up for renewal. Since the firearms centre is literally up to its ears trying to sort out the initial registry records, officials decided to extend some 773,218 licenses, without charge to license holders, as a means of staggering the load of expected renewals.


The extensions were mailed out only to have more than six per cent, 46,000 renewals, returned as "undelivered" mail. In other words, six out of every 100 registered gun owners in Canada have gone missing.  Some owners may have moved without notifying the centre of their new addresses. Others may have died, and their heirs have not notified the



Whatever has happened, the bureaucrats in charge of gun control in Canada have learned that what they thought they knew about the location of guns is not necessarily so.


It was Breitkreuz who asked the question that prompted Public

Safety Minister Anne McLellan to release the number of missing gun owners.


The problem is much larger than the released figures indicate. What the firearms centre has identified may be only the tip of the problem. Trying to avoid a new logjam of renewal applications on top of its current logjam of existing applications, the centre used a computer to select, on a random basis, registered gun owners who would receive free extensions on their existing permits. Only when the post office was unable to deliver the gift extensions did the Firearms Centre learn that 46,000 of those randomly selected had, for practical purposes, disappeared.


The Canada Firearms Act requires license holders to notify the centre if they change addresses. It is a Criminal Code offence to ignore this directive, with penalties for conviction including a two-year prison sentence.


This undermines support for legislation that appears to be more intent on creating criminals than controlling firearms. Thousands of Canadians became criminals when they missed the deadline for gun registration. It would now appear that those who avoided becoming criminals by registering their guns on time have since slipped into the criminal category by failing to notify the government of a change of address.


It is painfully apparent that the problem created by the firearms registry cannot be fixed by throwing money at it. It is clear that the matter remains controversial, with several western provinces simply refusing to prosecute offences under the Canadian Firearms Act.


It should be clear that, no matter how well intentioned, the legislation is not coming close to accomplishing its goals. The control mechanism is jammed now, and threatens to become more jammed as we proceed into what should be a program to renew licenses.



Canada’s Kyoto implementation plan not ready

The Canadian government has admitted it has no plan in place to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, which Canada ratified in 2002 and came into effect internationally last week. The Globe and Mail said Ottawa had promised to have a comprehensive implementation plan ready, complete with the regulatory or tax measures needed to meet the Kyoto targets for greenhouse gas emissions.


However, Environment Minister Stéphane Dion said it will be "several more weeks" before anything is ready. Cabinet ministers have made no firm decisions, he said.


Senior decision makers are still fighting over how to spend billions of dollars on Kyoto projects and can't agree on how to get auto makers and other industries to assume part of the treaty's burden. One key issue, government sources say, is whether to enact federal regulations to force the auto industry to improve the fuel efficiency of new vehicles.


Transport Minister Jean Lapierre pushed for regulations of the auto industry but met resistance from Natural Resources

Minister John Efford and Industry Minister David Emerson, who prefer a voluntary agreement, the source said. In ratifying the Kyoto pact in 2002, Canada joined 140 other countries in a program to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which are believed to cause global warming.


Reminded in an interview that it has been more than two years since ratification, Mr. Dion said his predecessors found it difficult to persuade key economic ministers to get with the program.


Although the Kyoto plan is not ready, Prime Minister Paul Martin scheduled a trip to Montreal today to announce that the city will play host to the next international conference on climate change in November. Holding the conference in Montreal signals the seriousness of Canada's commitment, a senior official said.


Under the protocol, Canada is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 6 per cent a year below 1990 levels. This target is supposed to be reached by 2008 and maintained through 2012.


California Appeals Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Firearm Mfgs

The gun-prohibitionists in California continue to shoot blanks

In a unanimous decision last week, a California Appellate Court upheld an earlier Superior Court decision dismissing a junk lawsuit filed by Los Angeles, San Francisco and 12 other California cities and counties. The municipalities had alleged that the manufacturers were designing, marketing, and distributing firearms in an "unfair, deceptive and fraudulent" manner that "facilitates the weapon to be used in violent crimes."


A San Diego County Superior Court judge dismissed the case in 2003 on the grounds that the plaintiffs could not establish a link between the manufacturers` business practices and criminals acquiring firearms. In that decision, Judge Vincent P. DiFiglia said, "There is no competent evidence before the Court that any criminal acquisition can be attributed to conduct by the [gun industry defendants]."

Affirming Judge DiFiglia`s decision, California Appellate Court Judge James Marchiano said, "The only business practice the defendants in this case have engaged in is marketing their products in a lawful manner to federally licensed dealers. No evidence in this case hints that any of the manufacturer defendants provided weapons to criminals or failed to properly record sales or did any of the other acts that plaintiffs characterize as high-risk business practices. They did not control the wrongful acts or encourage others to engage in questionable acts. Neither did they change their business practices to avoid proposed regulations or advise retailers on ways to circumvent the law. Even plaintiffs` experts could not present an evidentiary link between the manufacturer of a firearm and a retail gun dealer who sold guns that ended up in criminal circumstances."


The Appellate Court’s unanimous ruling represents yet another serious blow to the anti-gunners` efforts to litigate the gun industry out of business, but does not mitigate the need for passage of a federal law to end these suits.

Game Commission Votes down Lead Ammo Ban

By a 3-1 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission rejected a petition to ban the use of lead ammunition for hunting. A hearing was held on the petition February 4 and the Commission voted that day. The ban would have been imposed in condor habitat, in the southern region of the state, but the petition also called for an eventual statewide ban. The petition was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity. The petition was filed based on studies showing that condors are highly susceptible to lead poisoning as the result of ingesting even minute fragments of lead ammunition found in the carcasses of animals shot and not recovered, or in gut piles left after field dressing an animal.


The deaths of only a few condors have been attributed to the

 ingestion of lead ammunition. However, most condors living

in  the wild are being exposed to lead to varying degrees on an ongoing basis. The California Condor Recovery Team attempts to capture all birds twice yearly to measure their blood lead levels. Those exhibiting signs of lead poisoning are treated and then returned to the wild. Because protecting condors from lead poisoning is labor intensive and costly, the Recovery Team approached the NRA and other hunting and conservation organizations seeking assistance. Even though the Recovery Team has been successful in training captive-reared birds to avoid hazards fatal to them, the solution to the lead poisoning problem was seen as a change in human, rather than condor, behavior.


According to the Sacramento Bee, the petitioners intend to pursue their cause through the legislature or courts. A ballot initiative is also possible.

Worms hooked on fishing feel no pain

OSLO (Reuters) - Worms squirming on a fishhook feel no pain -- nor do lobsters and crabs cooked in boiling water, a scientific study funded by the Norwegian government has found.


"The common earthworm has a very simple nervous system -- it can be cut in two and continue with its business," Professor Wenche Farstad, who chaired the panel that drew up the report, said last week.


Norway might have considered banning the use of live worms as fish bait if the study had found they felt pain, but Farstad said "It seems to be only reflex curling when put on the hook ... They might sense something, but it is not painful and does not compromise their well-being."  The government called for the

study on pain, discomfort and stress in invertebrates to help in

the planned revision of Norway's animal protection law. Invertebrates cover a range of creatures from insects and spiders to mollusks and crustaceans.


Farstad said most invertebrates, including lobsters and crabs boiled alive, do not feel pain because, unlike mammals, they do not have a big brain to read the signals.


Some more advanced kinds of insects, such as honeybees which display social behavior and a capacity to learn and cooperate, deserve special care, she said.  "We have particular responsibility for animals that we have in our custody. That is not a scientific opinion, but the ethical side of the issue," Farstad said.


DNR adding carp species to Injurious Species List

The Illinois DNR is modifying its Ad Rule amendment  by adding bighead and silver carp to injurious species list. The

addition will be effective May 1.  For more info contact Steven J. Shults, Program Manager Aquaculture and Aquatic Nuisance Species 309-968-7531  [email protected]l.us

IL to participate in new wildlife grant program

Funds Available to Aid Endangered Species, Habitats

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - The Illinois DNR last week announced the availability of State Wildlife Grant funds provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The program provides funding to every state and territory to support cost effective conservation aimed at keeping wildlife from becoming endangered and is administered in Illinois by the IDNR Office of Resource Conservation.


Illinois' allocation of these funds for Fiscal Year 2005 is approximately $2 million.  Projects funded as part of the competitive grant program will address wildlife species and habitat needs identified in the new Illinois Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan.


"These federal funds are critical for protecting wildlife and habitat in Illinois," said IDNR Director Joel Brunsvold.  "The projects we hope to fund through this program will be linked directly to the goals being outlined by our biologists, other state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, scientists and citizens as part of our comprehensive plan to protect and enhance wildlife in the state."


The grant program will fund projects that help implement the CWCP, such as wildlife protection and stewardship projects,

those that improve land and water resources, and planning projects such as applied wildlife research, monitoring, evaluation and data management.


"This new grant program will help us put more federal dollars to work on behalf of wildlife in Illinois," Brunsvold added.  "Using the foundation of our new Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan, we'll invest our people and resources in ways that can achieve our goals of improving wildlife and wildlife habitat in the state."


A preliminary draft of the Illinois Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan - which is scheduled to be completed later this year - is available for public review and comment.   While the CWCP is being finalized, the IDNR will begin accepting pre-applications for State Wildlife Grant projects. 


The preliminary draft of the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan and information on pre-application for the State Wildlife Grant program are available on the IDNR web site at http://dnr.state.il.us/orc/wildliferesources/theplan/swgGrant/   or by contacting the IDNR Watershed Protection Section, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271, phone 217/785-8266, e-mail [email protected].

Commercial Fishing Drawing: 

The drawing for six Rock/Pecatonica River commercial fishing contracts will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, February 24 at the Illinois DNR regional office located at 2317 E. Lincolnway, Sterling. 


Any licensed commercial fisherman with a minimum of 15 hoop nets or three 100-yard trammel nets with a bar mesh size of 2-3/4 inches or larger, has not been found guilty of a Fish and Aquatic Life Code or Fish Administrative Rules violation within the past 12 months, and can post a $300 bond is eligible for the Rock/Pecatonica contract drawing.  Fishermen must be in attendance when contracts are

awarded on a first draw-first choice basis. The Rock/Pecatonica River contracts are for the period April 1, 2005 through March 31, 2006. Contractor or crewmembers may use hoop nets or trammel nets having a bar mesh size of 2-3/4 inches or larger. 


All gear must be licensed by the contractor.  Species that may be harvested on contracts are carp, buffalo, freshwater drum, suckers, carpsuckers, gar, bowfin, grass carp, Asian carp and gizzard shad. All other fish species including catfish and bullheads must be released immediately.  For further information, contact Rob Maher at 618/466-3451.

Waukegan Harbor cleanup under way

First step to re-development of lakefront

Waukegan, Ill. – A $27 million cleanup has started near Waukegan Harbor, where 36 acres are contaminated with dangerous chemical waste. City officials hope to develop the area into a residential neighborhood when the two-year project is complete.


The USEPA, a Citizens Advisory Committee and the City of Waukegan have been involved the in this IJC designated Area of Concern for decades, following the dumping of PCS from the now defunct Outboard Marine Corporation. The site also formerly housed a coke manufacturing plant that shut down more than 30 years ago when it was purchased by OMC, which used the property to test outboard motors and boats it manufactured.


Soil laced with high levels of contaminants and organic

compounds will be sent to an out-of-state regulated utility to

be burned for power generation. Soil with lower levels of contamination will be buried in a Zion landfill. The contaminated ground water will be pumped to an on-site treatment plant to filter out the arsenic and other dangerous toxins. Then ground-water quality under the site will be monitored for at least 30 years, officials said.


A federal consent decree signed October 13 in U.S. District Court in Chicago requires North Shore Gas, General Motors and other former owners of the site to pay for the cleanup, an EPA announcement said.


Plans call for workers to remove 30,000 to 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil before covering the land with 6 inches of clean topsoil. The soil cleanup will be followed next fall with removal of contaminated ground water.

Sparta Shooting Complex to be Completed in FY 2006;

More efficient, economical licensing system to be implemented

SPRINGFIELD * From bike paths to the most magnificent shooting sports complex in the world, Illinois residents will enjoy new recreational opportunities, in Governor Rod Blagojevich's recommended Fiscal Year 2006 budget for the Illinois DNR.  The budget also includes a more efficient system for licensing hunters and anglers, and strengthens funding for conservation programs.


The proposed FY ‘06 budget for the DNR is $192.8 million dollars, a $2.8 million increase from fiscal year 2005 appropriations.  The proposed budget includes $1.2 million dollars to fund operations at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, and $2.2 million dollars to fund 50 state park site technicians.


The governor is calling on the General Assembly to restore of funding of Conservation 2000, and the public museum grant program. The governor's budget also funds DNR's new one-stop system that will allow customers to make more efficient license and permit transactions.  It finances the Park and Conservation Bike Path Grants Program.

In fiscal year 2006, DNR is expected to complete construction on the World Shooting and Recreation Complex in Sparta.  As part of Governor Blagojevich's Opportunity Returns initiative for southwestern Illinois, the Complex will generate revenue and create jobs throughout the area. The venue will be the first in the United States to provide sportsmen a wide array of  opportunities, including 120 trap shooting stations, skeet stations, sporting clays, rifle and pistol ranges, and a 3-D archery range.  It will also feature campsites, and opportunities for fishing and picnicking.


In keeping with the IDNR mission to provide resource-compatible recreational opportunities, Governor Blagojevich also is recommending $2.5 Million in grants, which provide financial support of DNR's Park and Conservation Bike Path Grant Program and the Park and Conservation Recreational Trails Program. Funding of these programs supports development of bike trails, acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public, motorized and non-motorized pathways, and related support services.  Hikers, cyclists, snowmobilers, and others use trails. DNR has more than 200 sites containing improvements ranging from boat ramps, docks and picnic areas to laboratories, lodges, and administrative offices.


Williams Dam open for fishing

The Indiana DNR is reopening Williams Dam on the East Fork of the White River in Lawrence County to anglers and sightseers. The area around the dam had been closed since September for repair work to the face of the dam.


Construction equipment will be removed from the area over the winter, which will allow additional access for fishing and boating upstream and downstream of the dam. New signs have been installed in the area advising anglers and boaters of changes.


DNR patched a 9- by-14-foot hole in the downstream face of the concrete dam. Minor surface repair will be completed in August 2005 when river water levels are expected to again drop to workable stages. The project cost $406,600. "The 

most important part of the project, repair of the hole, has been completed. The remaining work is minor surface repairs," said DNR Chief Engineer Tom Hohman. 


Williams Dam was built in 1910 and for many years was part of a hydroelectric plant. Bedford uses water impounded by the dam as a source for drinking water. Williams Dam Public Fishing Area is in Williams, Ind., nine miles southwest of Bedford on State Road 450. The public fishing site includes a boat launch and is noted for drum, catfish and panfish fishing.


The site is also a good place to try fishing for late-winter sauger. Wait for a clearing and dropping river and fish with chartreuse or white 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jigs downstream of the dam where these camouflaged members of the perch family congregate during spawning migrations.

Register for outdoor women's workshop

Registration begins March 1 for the Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop.

Learn outdoor skills, such as ATV riding, camping, shooting sports or canoeing, at the three-day workshop, May 13-15 at Ross Camp near West Lafayette.   Becoming an Outdoor Woman introduces women to more than 30 outdoor sports and skills in a safe, non-competitive environment. The hands-on sessions promote learning and boost the confidence of women trying new sports or improving existing skills.


"I had so much fun and the workshop was empowering," said Becky Mauser, past workshop participant. "I had always  wanted to try fly fishing, but never had the courage to try. And,

there was no one to show me how. I learned and practiced the skills well enough to go out and fly fish myself."


Registration begins March 1 and workshop enrollment is limited.  The $165 workshop fee covers lodging, meals and equipment. Some partial scholarships are available for students, single parents and low-income, first-time participants.  Participants must be 18 years or older.


The workshops are sponsored by the Indiana DNR and the Indiana Hunter Education Association. For more info or to register online:  http://www.IN.gov/dnr/outdoorwoman/    Or contact Dawn Krause at (317) 232-4095.


Anglers worried that splake stocking program may be halted

 MUNISING, Mich. (AP) --The Alger County Fish and Game Alliance  is urging the Michigan DNR not to dismantle a program that stocks Lake Superior with splake.  "We don't want to lose another game fish," Doug Miron, of Munising, president the fishing group there.


Splake are popular with anglers in many area harbors. But when the DNR began stocking them, they weren't expected to spawn. Research now suggests the hybrid may be threatening brook trout populations by spawning with them, creating genetic back-crosses.  "We're reviewing the Great Lakes splake program right now, and we're putting together some facts," said Steve Scott, the DNR Lake Superior Basin coordinator.


The back-crosses are a particular concern because of efforts to boost coaster brook trout numbers in nearby Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


Coasters, which look like ordinary brook trout when young, get

their name from the adult fish's habit of living in the coastal waters of Lake Superior. They commonly grow to 26 inches or more -- bigger than typical brook trout -- and are believed to use tributary streams for laying eggs, feeding and cover.


Biologists are studying coaster fingerlings that have been placed in three streams as well as Lake Superior. They say a small number of fish show evidence of back-crossing, which could affect the coaster brook trout experiment.   Anglers fear the DNR review of the splake stocking initiative could be jeopardized if back-crossing is confirmed. The review also will cover the cost of the program and how successful the stocking efforts have been. Results are expected later this year.


Miron said his Alger County group would seek alliances with other sporting organizations to protect the splake program. He said they have no opposition to the coaster brook trout reintroduction, as long as the splake stocking continues.


"Do whatever you want with your coasters, just don't take away our splake," Miron said. "It's a great fishery. It's improving every year."


Minnesota Bill Seeks To Obstruct Law-Abiding Hunters

A new bill in Minnesota would require all hunters to undergo a background check when purchasing a hunting license.  SF 781 would require a background check to determine if the

purchaser was ineligible to posses a firearm.  Obviously, criminals who are going to violate the law by possessing a gun aren’t going to bother to buy a hunting license, only law abiding citizens would be impacted by this legislation.

New York

Bills Lower Age Restrictions for Bowhunters and Shooters

Four New York bills will make it easier for young people to participate in shooting sports and hunting activities.  Youth involvement in outdoor sports is critically important to the future of our outdoor heritage.  


Assembly Bill 628, introduced by Assemblyman William Magee, D-Cazenovia, and Senate Bill 125, introduced by Sen. James L. Seward, R-Milford, will lower the minimum age to possess or shoot a rifle or shotgun at a shooting range from 12 to 8 years old.  The child must be supervised by a parent, guardian, or adult over 18 with a certificate of responsible hunting relations issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation.  This will apply to indoor and outdoor shooting ranges.


If AB 628 or SB 125 passes, the law will take effect immediately. 


Two other bills, AB 1537, introduced by Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Niagara Falls, and SB 120, introduced by Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Lockport, reduce the minimum age for bowhunting from 14 to 12 years old.  Both bills entitle youth ages 12 and over to hunt deer and bear in a special

archery season along with the regular season.  The young hunters must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.


The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation and National Wild Turkey Federation are leading the charge to promote youth hunting opportunities.  The organizations recently released findings from a report that shows supervised youth hunters are America’s safest sportsmen.


“The numbers show that young hunters are safe hunters,” said Bud Pidgeon, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance president.  “New York’s efforts to lower age restrictions so that young people, under adult supervision, may participate in outdoor sports will allow more children to get involved at an earlier age and help replenish sportsmen’s numbers.”


Take Action! New York sportsmen should ask their representatives and senators to support AB 628, AB 1537, SB 125, and SB 120.  Explain that revising the age restrictions on hunting licenses and shooting ranges will benefit the future of hunting.  To contact your representative or senator, call (518) 455-2800.  Sportsmen can also find their legislators using the Legislative Action Center at www.ussportsmen.org.


Game Commission releases final '04 bear harvest figures

HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Game Commission's final harvest report for the statewide three-day black bear season and extended season shows hunters took 2,972 bears and recorded the state's fourth largest bear kill since the agency began keeping harvest records in 1915.


"With the exception of one year in the past seven, bear hunting in Pennsylvania has been absolutely exceptional," said Vern Ross, agency executive director. "The state's six largest bear harvests - all exceeding 2,500 bears - have occurred during this seven-year span. The lean year was 1999, when hunters took 1,740 bears.


"Pennsylvania has become one of America's top black bear hunting states, both for the incredible size some of our black 

bears attain and for their increasing availability here. Today, bears are being taken in 50 or more counties annually."


Hunters took 2,425 bears during the three-day season, and 547 during the extended season.  Lycoming County led the state with a bear harvest of 244, followed by Clinton, 218; Pike, 155; Luzerne 138; Wayne, 135; Tioga, 119; and McKean, 103.


A total of 56 bears weighing 500 lbs or more were taken in the harvest. The largest was an 834 lb (estimated live weight) male taken by 17-year-old Jeremy B. Kresge of Blakeslee, in Tunkhannock Township, Monroe County. Other top bears taken in the harvest included 671 lb taken by Ray H. Reed of Howard, in Howard Township, Centre County; a 660 lb taken in Goshen Township, Clearfield County, by Ritchie L. Kitchen of Clearfield; and a 660 lb, in Black Creek Township, Luzerne County, by David A. Benjamin Sr. of Weston.

Inseason Stocking Schedules Posted     

A total of 600 streams and 123 lakes will be stocked as part of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) 2005 inseason adult trout stocking program and for the first time in nearly 30 years, the exact day those waters will be stocked is being announced in most instances.


A complete inseason adult trout stocking schedule is available on the PFBC web site at www.fish.state.pa.us .


While the PFBC has long provided details like the date, time and location of preseason adult trout stockings (those that occur while the trout fishing season is closed) it has limited the information publicized on inseason trout stockings.  Since 1978, the Commission practice has been to announce only the week period that waters would receive inseason stockings.  Over the years, however, the Commission has considered a number of ideas for modifying stocking information.  In 1991, the Commission included questions about stocking announcements in a study of the state’s trout anglers and confirmed there was interest among anglers in obtaining more detailed stocking information.  Certain groups – particularly youngsters, beginning anglers and those who don’t have much time to pursue the sport – were among those identified as potential beneficiaries of more liberal inseason stocking data.  Toward that end, the Commission introduced a

pilot program of announced inseason trout stockings at select public lakes in 1997.


The Saturday lake stocking program was well received and in subsequent years, expanded to include more waters.  That led in 2002 to experimenting with announced stockings during the week on a handful of streams.  Public reaction was again favorable.  That fall, the notion of increasing the availability of inseason stocking information was identified as a potential opportunity for engaging more anglers by participants at a Trout Summit sponsored by the agency.  More waters were included into the pilot program the next two years, including some under utilized waters toward which the agency hoped to direct additional fishing pressure.  Based on those successes, the Commission has opted for publicizing the day of stocking on most waters across the state.


Because of concerns with traffic safety, some dates are not being released and the Commission is not widely publicizing the exact spots stocking trucks will stop along stream sections.


And noting the many wild trout fishing opportunities that exist, Commission biologists are quick to point out that anglers shouldn’t develop the notion that the only time to fish for trout is when the stocking truck is nearby.


Clean Boats, Clean Waters Workshop Opportunity

Stopping the spread of invasive species…how you can help!

With the growing concern over the spread of aquatic invasive species to Wisconsin’s inland lakes, many lake association members and other concerned citizens are looking for ways to get involved. The Clean Boats, Clean Waters volunteer watercraft inspection program is offering training and resource kits for volunteers at boat landings. These materials help volunteers establish a volunteer watercraft inspection program for their lake.


In 2004, 14 workshops trained over 350 volunteers take a frontline defense against aquatic invasive species. Volunteer stationed at boat landings educated boaters on how and where invasive species are most likely to hitch a ride into waterbodies by performing watercraft inspections.


The results of this effort revealed boaters are not aware of the role they play in moving aquatic plants and animals from one waterbody to another. Watercraft inspection efforts often uncovered hidden plants on the boat trailers and other recreational equipment. With each inspection, volunteers discussed the prevention steps boaters need to take each time they leave a waterbody. More training is needed if Wisconsin hopes to end the spread of invasive species.  


To register or learn more about the workshops, contact Laura Felda-Marquardt by e-mail,  [email protected], or at the following telephone numbers: UW-Extension Lakes Program, (715) 346-3366, or the Rhinelander office, (715) 365-2659 or visit the new website at: www.uwsp.edu/cnr/uwexlakes .


2005 Aquatic Invasive Species Workshop Dates and Locations:

·       • April 5, St. Germain, 5-7 p.m., Sisters Saloon, for marine business only, Vilas County


·      •  April 9 , Spooner, 8:30- 12 noon, Agriculture Research Station, Washburn County

         April 13, Crandon, , 6-9 p.m., Crandon Library, Forest County

·      •  April 16, Barnes, 8:30-12 noon, Barnes Town Hall, Bayfield County

·      • April 23, Mercer, 8:30-12 noon, Community Center, Iron County

·      •  April 28, Green Bay , 6-9 p.m., Wisconsin’s Lake Convention, Brown County

·      • April 30, Green Bay, 8-11 a.m., Wisconsin’s Lakes Convention, Brown County

·      • May 4, Manitowish Waters, 6-9 p.m. North Lakeland Elementary School, Vilas County

·      • May 10, Rhinelander, 6-9 p.m., Nicolet College, Oneida County

·      • May 14, Ashland, time TBA , Great Lakes Visitor Center, Ashland County

·      • May 17, Amherst Junction, , 5-8:30 p.m., Lake Emily Park Center, Portage County

·      • May 19, Elkhorn, 4-7:30 p.m., Government Center, Walworth County

·      • May 21, Waukesha, 8:30-12 noon, DNR Service Center, Waukesha County

·      • May 26, Eagle River, 6-9 p.m., Northland Pines Middle School, Vilas County

·      • June 2, Minocqua, 6-9 p.m., Nicolet Lakeland Campus, Oneida County

·      • June 11, Florence, 8:30-12 a.m., Florence Resource Center, Florence County

·      • June 16, Madison, , 2-5 p.m., Big Splash Angler Ed., Madison Campus, Dane County

·      • June 18, Barron, 8:30-12 noon, location TBA

·      •  June 21, Eagle River, 1-4 p.m., Big Splash Angler Ed.,Trees For Tomorrow, Vilas Co.

·      •  June 23, Cable, 1:30-5 pm., Northwest Wis. Lakes Conference, Bayfield County

       July 9, Lady Smith, 8:30-12 noon, location TBA

Hearings set on proposed rules for wolf damage payments Feb 15 to 17

Payments would cover loss of livestock and pets to wolves

MADISON – The public will be able to comment for the record on proposed rules regarding payment of damages to livestock, hunting dogs and pets caused by endangered and threatened wildlife species and gray wolves in hearings scheduled for five locations across the state Feb 15 to 17.


The Department of Natural Resources – Bureau of Endangered Resources has since 1985 been making payments for damages gray wolves cause to livestock, hunting dogs and pets without administrative rules. In recent years, claims for wolf damage have increased, thus creating the need for rules.


The proposed rules would: set caps for maximum payments per livestock animal type; a reimbursement cap of $15,000 per claimant per year; and a deductible of $250 per claim. These payment caps and conditions are similar to those of the wildlife damage claims program.


All the hearings will begin at 6 p.m. on the following dates at the locations listed:


February 15

Spooner - Spooner High School Cafeteria, 500 College St.

Black River Falls - GLI Room, Black River Falls Middle School, 1202 Pierce St.


February 16

Rhinelander - James Williams Jr. High School Cafeteria, 915 Acacia Lane.


February 17

Green Bay - Room 114. Ag and Extension Service Center, 1150 Bellevue St.

Madison - UW Madison Union South, 227 North Randall Ave. (parking is available in UW lots located between University Avenue and Johnson Street north of Union South)


The review rules and comments submitted: http://adminrules.wisconsin.gov - Exit DNR. Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted via U.S. Mail to Tim Cooke, Bureau of Endangered Resources, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707. Comments may be submitted until Feb. 18, 2005


FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Jurewicz - (608) 267-7507


Harm to fish at power plant is feared

At hearing, foes criticize proposed cooling system

Oak Creek - The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel reports concerns over whether water discharges would harm fish in Lake Michigan arose Wednesday at a public hearing over the proposed Wisconsin Energy Corp. coal-fired power plant.


Among those submitting written testimony was Peter Howe, a biologist for the Environmental Protection Agency who had criticized the project in an internal agency memorandum last summer.  Howe acknowledged that his views did not reflect those of his employer, the EPA. He repeated his opinion that insufficient studies have been done over the impact a proposed water intake and discharge system would have on Lake Michigan fish and other aquatic life.


The impact to the lake would be less severe, Howe wrote, if the plant was required to have cooling towers, instead of the open-cycle cooling system proposed by Wisconsin Energy. "Other Lake Michigan states have established regulations to prevent this type of activity in their Lake Michigan waters," Howe wrote. "If Wisconsin required close cycle cooling as do Illinois and Indiana, major impacts to the yellow perch would be eliminated."


The water system is a key component of the $2.15 billion coal-fired plant that the utility wants to build at the site of the existing Oak Creek power plant.


The utility says the new plant will play a key role in meeting increasing demand for electricity. At the same time, it expects to enjoy sizable growth in its earnings later this decade as it recoups its investment in the project through customers' electricity bills.  It did not respond to comments made that the water intake could harm Lake Michigan Fish.


All power plants built in the last two decades have used cooling towers, but Wisconsin Energy is eligible to avoid using that system because of a federal rule issued last year by the

EPA. That rule, however, has been challenged by the environmental groups in federal court.


The EPA hasn't finalized its official response to proposed permits to Wisconsin Energy last month for the water intake and discharge system, said Charles Hammer, a lawyer with the state Department of Natural Resources who presided over Wednesday's hearing.


Wisconsin Energy said it prefers the open-cycle cooling system because it allows a coal plant to run more efficiently, reducing air pollution. In addition, the company said it redesigned its water intake system after discussions with regulators.  The DNR, meanwhile, said the proposed location of the intake pipe doesn't threaten yellow perch.


The hearing marked the latest episode in a years-long saga pitting the utility against opponents led by S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. of Racine and the environmental groups Clean Wisconsin, Citizens for Responsible Power and the Sierra Club. The utility hopes to begin construction this year, but opponents object to the use of coal to make electricity and raised concerns about the water issues.


"This underwater experiment is just that, and we can't afford to gamble with our precious lake resource," said Ann Brodek of Wind Point. She called on the DNR to conduct its own studies rather than just accept the utility's analyses.


The agency has issued a proposed permit and expects to issue a final permit next month. Opponents are expected to challenge that permit, which would put the case before a state administrative law judge.


The plant still needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and lacks a valid permit from the state Public Service Commission. That permit was yanked by a Dane County judge last fall, and the matter is now before the state Supreme Court.

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