Week of February 11, 2008

Words to Ponder


Beyond the Great Lakes

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Beyond the Great Lakes

Bear hunt raffle rewards high school band

Berwick, Maine – The band at Noble High School in Maine will

continue to raise money by raffling a black bear hunt in spite of opposition by anti-hunting foes.


Get Kids outside

Officials of the USFWS are meeting with health care professionals to create ways to get kids outside and involved with nature.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently held a landmark meeting with the health care industry to discuss the health of our nation’s children and  opportunities to get kids involved in outside activities. 


More than 100 health professionals and land mangers met at the “Let’s Go Outside for  Health” – Health Professionals’ Roundup Meeting in Arlington, VA on February 29 to help the Service develop strategies to create  enjoyable and meaningful experiences for Americans in the outdoors, improving their health and well-being and leading to life-long  connections to the environment. This issue is important because connecting families and children with nature will help to ensure the future  conservation of the natural world.


In 2007, Service Director Hall announced six top priorities for the Service to follow in the coming years. One of these top priorities is to connect  people with nature in an effort to ensure the future of conservation. With a land base encompassing more than 97 million acres in the National  Wildlife Refuge System, the Service is an excellent resource to provide outdoor experiences combining the values of natural resource  conservation, environmental quality and human health.  The motto for the Service’s initiative is Let’s Go Outside!


“There may be no greater legacy that the Service can leave for future generations,” said Hall.  “By providing support and

encouragement for  parents, educators and children to spend time outdoors, we are joining the nationwide movement to invite families to turn off their digital music  and video games and spend some quality family time outside.”


The Let’s Go Outside! initiative stems from a summit with Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods – Saving Our Children from  Nature-Deficit Disorder.”  Information shows the American people, especially children, are spending less time involved in outdoor recreational  activities than any previous generation.  Nature is important to children’s development - intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and  physically; and research indicates as children’s connection to and time spent with nature has diminished, childhood ailments and medical  problems have vastly increased.  Even the simple activity of playing outside helps children develop better motor skills, physical fitness and  general health, and can create a life-long appreciation of the for healthy, outdoor activities and the environment.


The Service already provides many public use opportunities.  However, working with others, the Service will refocus current programs or  design new programs to increase opportunities for all Americans, especially children, to forge a connection with nature.  These include  programs activities such as hunting, fishing, observing and photographing wildlife, or simply exploring and discovering nature on refuges or  creating schoolyard habitats to bring nature to children.


For more information on the Let’s Go Outside!  www.fws.gov/children/ .

NAS Study advocates against creation of a National Ballistic Imaging Database

National Academy of Sciences  urges Further Study of New Microstamping Technology

NEWTOWN, CT -- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) last week released an extensive study on the feasibility and reliability of  establishing a national ballistic imaging, sometimes misleadingly referred to as ballistic "fingerprinting," database.  The study concludes, "A  national database containing images of ballistic markings from all new and imported guns sold in the U.S. should not be created at this time".


The contemplated national ballistic imaging system would require that a fired cartridge casing from every newly manufactured and imported  firearm sold at retail in the United States be sent to a federal agency to be imaged and up-loaded into a massive government-run database.  In  theory this would allow law enforcement to collect ballistics evidence (i.e. fired cartridge cases) at crime scenes and search the database in  hopes of finding a match that might then allow law enforcement to identify the specific firearm used in the crime.


Forensic experts at the California Department of Justice raised questions about the feasibility of such a system in a study released in 2002  when the California legislature was considering establishing a statewide system like New York and Maryland. The researchers at the California  Department of Justice concluded, "Automated computer matching [ballistic imaging] systems do not provide conclusive results."  Heeding  that study's conclusions, the California legislature rejected the concept.


The Maryland and New York ballistic imaging programs have been in place for almost a decade but neither has produced a single arrest or  prosecution despite several million dollars of taxpayer funding. The Maryland State Police Department has called for their program to be  repealed and the funds redirected to other, more effective law enforcement measures.


In their study, the NAS researchers questioned the validity of the science underlying this technology.  "The fundamental assumption  underlying forensic firearms identification – that every gun leaves microscopic marks on bullets and cartridge cases that are unique to that  weapon and remain the same

over repeated firings – has not yet been fully demonstrated scientifically.  More research would be needed to  prove that firearms identification rests on firmer scientific footing."


"A great deal of misinformation about ballistics imaging has circulated in the media including referring to the technology as ‘ballistic  fingerprinting' or ‘ballistics DNA' which is completely misleading and widely overstates the technology's capability," said NSSF Senior Vice  President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane.  "As the NAS study proves, this is simply not true."


Keane noted that following the California Department of Justice study, "the firearms industry called for and fully supported a national study of  the feasibility of a national ballistics imaging database.  Industry members cooperated with the NAS researchers by providing factory tours  and answering their technical questions."


In the study released today researchers noted, "A number of problems would hinder the usefulness and accuracy of a national database.  Ballistic images from millions of guns could be entered each year, and many of the images would depict toolmarks that are very similar in their  gross characteristics.  Research suggests that current technology for collecting and comparing images may not reliably distinguish very fine  differences in large volumes of similar images, the report says.  Searches would likely turn up too many possible ‘matches' to be useful.  Also,  the type of ammunition actually used in a crime could differ from the type used when the gun was originally test-fired – a difference that could  lead to significant error in suggesting possible matches."


"The conclusions of the NAS researchers validate our industry's long-standing concerns about the feasibility of a national database," added  Keane.  "Our industry has always supported the use of ballistics imaging by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as  a potential law enforcement tool because that database is limited to ballistics evidence from crime scenes.  The fact that the ATF system, called  the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN),  is not cluttered with millions upon millions of images from firearms lawfully  possessed and used makes the program more efficient in identifying potential matches."


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for March 7, 2008

Weather Conditions

More heavy snow fell across the southern Great Lakes basin this week, pushing already above average snow totals even higher.  Some locations have received 2’ more snow this winter than average.  Snow depth across the northern Great Lakes is over 3 feet in some places.  Another major winter storm is expected across the southern Lakes Friday and Saturday.  New snowfall could top a foot, with blowing and drifting possible.   Warmer weather is expected early next week.

Lake Level Conditions

Lake Superior is 7 inches higher than it was at this time last year, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 5 inches lower than last year's level.  Lake St. Clair is 2 inches above its level of a year ago, whereas Lakes Erie and Ontario are 2 and 1 inches, respectively, below their levels of one year ago.  Lake Superior is predicted to remain steady over the next month.  Lake St. Clair is projected to drop an inch during the next 30 days, but ice or precipitation may cause it to fluctuate greatly.  Lakes Michigan-Huron, Erie, and Ontario are predicted to rise 2 to 4 inches.  Lake Superior is predicted to stay above last year's water levels through August, while the remaining lakes are forecasted to remain below their levels of a year ago over the next several months. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

Outflow from the St. Mary's and St. Clair Rivers was below

average for February.  Outflow from the Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers was slightly above average for last month.


Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum and forecasted to remain below datum through June and May, respectively.  Ice buildup in the connecting channels can cause large short-term water level fluctuations.  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.  Ice information can be found at the National Ice Center's webpage.





St. Clair



Level for Aug 4






Datum, in ft






Diff in inches






Diff last month






Diff from last yr






CG announces $37.5 million order for new boats

MARINETTE, Wis. - The Coast Guard last week  issued a delivery order for 18 new boats to Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC), Marinette,  WI. This delivery order represents a $37.5 million obligation by the Coast Guard.  Production at Marinette Marine Corp. is expected to  support the delivery of one response boat medium per month starting in September 2008. 


The first response boat from Marinette Marine Corp will be delivered to Coast Guard Station Milwaukee, Wis.  Upon delivery to Milwaukee it will be the first response boat located on any of the Great Lakes.

The Response Boat- Medium (RB-M) is a twin-engine, water jet propelled, 45’ boat which will be capable of exceeding 40 knots.  These  new boats will replace the Coast Guard's existing 41-foot utility boat, which have a maximum speed of 26 knots.  The response boats will also  improve mission capability through state of the art electronics, which include a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system, which will help the  four-person crew see better in conditions that are not normally conducive to searching like at night, in rain, sleet, snow or fog. 


The response boat's new design and enhanced safety features will allow boat crews to be more effective and lessen crew fatigue.

Words to Ponder

 Words to Ponder

“Gun control is constantly put forward by intellectually lazy politicians and do-gooder activists because attempting to restrict gun ownership is easier than taking on real criminals. More importantly, anti-gun laws enable politicians and activists to claim they are doing something to cure a problem that concerns voters and donors, even though restricting gun ownership among law-abiding citizens has no mitigating effect on violent crime.”    National Post, March 3, 2008


Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit stated in Silviera v. Lockyer that “tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.” Calling the Second Amendment a “doomsday provision,” Judge Kozinski warned that assuming you can never lose your freedom “is a mistake a free people get to make only once.” Those were the framers’ concerns when they wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights.


CWD Update

Ongoing surveillance for the presence of chronic wasting disease in wild deer in Illinois last fall and this winter has detected 24 deer testing  positive for CWD.  The IDNR has received results on tests of more than 4,100 deer which were harvested by hunters or taken by IDNR  personnel as part of the 2007-08 deer season sampling program.  The testing has identified the first positive case of CWD from Stephenson  County in northern Illinois. 


The other most recent cases of CWD were found in deer from Boone (7 deer), DeKalb (6) and Winnebago (10)  counties.  Results are still pending on more than 2,000 additional samples collected since last fall.  The first case of CWD

detected in  Stephenson County came from a deer taken west of Freeport.  IDNR staff members are collecting additional samples from deer in Stephenson  County to determine if other sick deer are present. 


The IDNR began more intensive sampling of deer for chronic wasting disease after the first  deer with CWD were found in Boone and Winnebago counties in 2002.  Since then, Illinois has recorded a total of 213 deer positive for the  disease in Winnebago (89 deer), Boone (82), DeKalb (22), McHenry (16), Ogle (2), LaSalle (1) and Stephenson (1) counties.   CWD is a fatal  neurological disease found in deer and elk.  It is not known to be contagious to livestock or humans.


Creel survey being conducted

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is conducting a comprehensive fish community survey at the Dugger Unit of Greene-Sullivan  State Forest this year.  The angler creel survey is part of a study that began March 3, and will run though October.  A DNR creel clerk will be  stationed at various lakes at the southwest Indiana property to conduct brief interviews as anglers end their fishing trips.  Angler  

participation  is a vital part of this study.


Interview data allow biologists to evaluate both the harvest and the catch-and-release of game species at these  lakes. Survey results enable biologists to better manage fish resources.  Along with the creel survey, a spring muskie survey and a general fish community survey will be conducted at the Dugger Unit throughout  spring and summer.


Maple syrup making programs coming soon to Minnesota state parks

March and April are the months when freeze/thaw conditions in Minnesota not only start the tree sap flowing, they also signal the start of a sweet rite of spring – maple syrup making, according to the Minnesota DNR.


Beginning March 8, visitors of all ages can attend any of more than 25 workshops and programs at Minnesota state parks to learn how to tap, collect and process tree sap into syrup and even sample the final product.  "The public interest in maple syrup making programs is growing," according to Dave Crawford, park naturalist at Wild River State Park. “Each spring we host eight or more programs on maple syrup making,” he said.


Program participants at Wild River will learn the history and method of tapping trees and making syrup. They can choose either to sit in on the programs to learn the process or register in advance for a more hand’s-on experience. Program registrants tap trees one week, return one time to empty the sap pails, and attend a final workshop a couple of weeks later to cook the sap into syrup and taste the results. As an added bonus, visitors who participate in the hands-on programs also get to take home a share of the syrup.


Several other state parks also have programs that teach visitors how to tap trees and make syrup. At Fort Snelling State Park, naturalist Linda Radimecky has taught many visitors how to tap their own trees. “The workshop, called ‘Maple Syruping in Your Backyard,’ has been the park’s most popular

program over the years,” Radimecky said. “We’ve taught hundreds and hundreds of people how to do it. The program has been especially popular with grandparents and their grandchildren” 


“The process of tapping the trees, collecting the sap and making syrup and sugar has not changed in hundreds of years,” Radimecky added. “The one thing that has changed is the equipment. Metal or plastic taps are now used instead of wood taps.” Most people are surprised at how time-consuming it is to tap and process the sap into sugar and syrup. "The buckets usually are emptied once a day into a larger container and then boiled to evaporate the excess water and concentrate the natural sugars contained in the sap," Radimecky said. "Even more surprising to visitors, depending on the maple species tapped, is that it may require 40 to 60 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. One tree, 12 inches in diameter, can provide about 15 gallons of sap in a typical season. We use the syrup from silver maples since that is the predominant type of maple in Fort Snelling State Park.”


Weather conditions determine when it's time to tap the trees. The temperature must be above freezing during the day and dip into the 20s at night.  “You need the freeze-thaw cycle that continues for seven to 10 days for a really good sap collection season,” said Radimecky. “Typically, March is the month we host maple syruping programs at Fort Snelling, further north it may be mid-March to mid-April when programs are held.”   Full details at www.mnstateparks.inf

Lake Mille Lacs walleye slot set for 2008

Anglers who fish Lake Mille Lacs during the 2008 fishing season will be able to keep four walleye up to 18 inches in length. The bag limit of four may include one trophy more than 28”.


The regulation, which begins May 10 and requires anglers to

release all walleye from 18-to 28”, was set by the Minnesota DNR following input from Mille Lacs area resort, angling and related interests. The regulation aims to ensure that the state angler harvest falls within the state’s 2008 allocation of 307,500 lbs of walleye. Eight Chippewa Indian bands from Minnesota and Wisconsin may take 122,500 lbs of walleye.


New York

Attorney General defends state's rights to protect Great Lakes from invasive species

New York joins five states in amicus brief regarding ballast water discharges

ALBANY, NY-- Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has joined with several other states in supporting the right to regulate ballast water discharges – a major source of aquatic invasive species threatening the environmental stability of the Great Lakes and other bodies of water.


New York has signed onto an amicus brief in support of Michigan’s Ballast Water statute to control invasive species pollution by vessels, which was challenged in a federal lawsuit by various shipping companies. Michigan won the challenge in district court, but the case is under appeal. The amicus brief outlines the states’ agreement with the district court’s determination that Michigan’s Ballast Water statute is not preempted by federal law. Besides New York, other states supporting Michigan include Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana – all of which border the Great Lakes.


“As the state’s attorney, I am committed to using all legal tools available to protect our waterways,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “The natural environmental infrastructure of the Great Lakes has been threatened by invasive species transported through ballast water. New York’s role in defending the natural resources is well-established, and we stand with these other states to defend the right to preserve the ongoing fruition and viability of these important bodies of water.”


Ballast water discharges occur when a vessel is moved from one body of water to another, carrying with it water from the original body. The discharges could transport invasive species that disrupt the natural ecosystem in the second body of water.


Species introduced to the Great Lakes from untreated vessel ballast water discharges have had an increasingly destructive effect over the past few decades. Harmful species believed to have been introduced to the Great Lakes through ballast water discharge include Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), Eurasian Ruffe, Round Goby, and Zebra Mussels.

1         These species compete with and prey upon native species, resulting in population declines and harm to commercial and recreational fisheries. 

2         Zebra mussels cause costly damage to public water

and energy generating infrastructure by clogging intake pipes. They also threaten the Lakes’ food web by over-consuming microorganisms and contributing to algae blooms that cause taste and odor problems and increased treatment costs for municipal water supplies. 

3  The invasive VHS virus causes fish to hemorrhage and bleed to death, which, along with other harmful viruses carried through ballast water, also affects both commercial and recreational fishing industries.


“New York has a strong interest in protecting the Great Lakes from the harmful effects of aquatic invasive species discharged in vessel ballast water,” the states claim in the brief.  “New York has regulatory jurisdiction over parts of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.  Aquatic invasive species have already had damaging, costly impacts on these waters …New York has existing legal authority to regulate ballast water discharges… and a strong interest in maintaining such authority.  It is undisputed that vessel ballast water discharges are the main source of aquatic invasive species introductions to the Great Lakes.” 


David (Woody) Woodworth, President of Southtowns Walleye Association of WNY Inc., said “We have lauded Michigan's bold step to exert its authority over the shipping industry to stop the introduction of aquatic invasive species. Michigan's ballast law has set the stage for New York State and others to exert their jurisdictional authority. Ballast water has the potential to harm the ecosystem and impact human health. New York should send a clear message to the shipping industry that we will protect our waters and citizens. The future of the world's largest fresh water system is at stake and what we do today will impact generations to come. Enforcement of our laws is essential to protect our waters.”


With over 3500 members, The Southtowns Walleye Association of WNY is one of the largest angling groups in the eastern U.S. and is an active member of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council from New York.


The states recommend a combination of efforts with the federal government to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species through ballast water discharges.


DEC announces "State of Lake Ontario" Meetings

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced three upcoming public meetings to discuss Lake Ontario fisheries. The tenth annual “State of Lake Ontario” public meetings will be held in Monroe, Niagara, and Oswego counties.


Lake Ontario’s embayments and tributaries support thriving populations of fish to satisfy anglers, including a variety of trout and salmon, bass, walleye, yellow perch and panfish.   New York’s Lake Ontario waters comprise over 2.7 million acres, and a 1996 statewide angler survey estimated that over 2.8 million angler days are expended on Lake Ontario and the three major tributaries.  The estimated value of these fisheries to the New York economy exceeded $95 million.      


DEC is committed to sound management of Lake Ontario fisheries, to maintain high-quality angling opportunities and associated economic benefits.  The State of Lake Ontario meetings provide an excellent opportunity for individuals interested in the lake to interact with the scientists who study Lake Ontario fisheries. The meeting dates are as follows: 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008: 7 - 10 p.m. at the Ingel Auditorium, in Building 4 (Student Union) on the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) campus, Rochester, Monroe County. The meeting is co-hosted by RIT and the Monroe County Fishery Advisory Board.


Thursday, March 13, 2008: 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Building, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport, Niagara County.


DEC and United States Geological Survey biologists will make presentations on: proposed changes to regulations; the status of forage fish stocks; changes to 2008 salmon stocking; provide updates on the Lake Ontario fishing boat and tributary surveys; status of the Salmon River salmon and steelhead fisheries; status of sea lamprey control; and Lake Ontario water level regulation.


There will be time provided at the end of the scheduled program for the audience to interact with the presenters. For more information about Lake Ontario fisheries research, go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7969.html on the DEC website.


ODNR conducting online survey regarding inland lake and Reservoir fishing regulations

Agency solicits angler input relating to sportfish sizes and numbers harvested

COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio DNR is inviting anglers to provide input regarding fishing regulations for Ohio's public inland lakes and reservoirs by visiting ohiodnr.com/creel on the Internet. The online angler survey solicits opinions on length and creel (daily harvest) limits for several species, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, walleye and saugeye.


"This survey is an opportunity for anglers to let us know how they feel about regulations governing the size and harvest limits for Ohio's popular sportfish in inland lakes and reservoirs," said Kevin Page, fisheries biologist with the Division of Wildlife. Page oversees Ohio's inland creel surveys.

Angler opinions will be used to evaluate current fishing regulations on Ohio's inland lakes and reservoirs. ODNR biologists will use the online survey results and data collected from traditional inland creel surveys and fish population assessments to determine if fishing could be improved in inland lakes and reservoirs by adjusting current regulations.

"This information helps us evaluate current regulations and explore opportunities to enhance fishing by capitalizing on attributes of specific fish populations in our inland lakes and reservoirs," said Jonathan Sieber Denlinger, supervisor at the Inland Fisheries Research Unit at ODNR.


The online angler survey will run through October 1. Following completion of the survey, fisheries biologists and administrators will review data from anglers and fish populations for use in the development of future regulations for Ohio's inland fisheries.

Ohio Archery in the schools tournament a success

Maysville Schools take overall team titles in elementary, middle and high school divisions

COLUMBUS, OH - For the second year in a row, Maysville High School in Muskingum County earned first-place overall team honors, as well as numerous individual awards, at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) state tournament. The tournament was held February 29 in Columbus in conjunction with the Arnold Sports Festival, spearheaded by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Maysville High School team also won the Spirit Award, which recognized their enthusiasm and support of fellow archers in the tournament. Schwarzenegger addressed the crowd and handed out the Spirit Award.

More than 650 students from 29 schools participated in the state tournament. Each competitor could score a maximum of 300 points by shooting arrows as close to the center of a target as possible. Awards were given for both teams and individuals who competed well in the elementary, middle, and high school divisions.


Eighteen Ohio teams received qualifying scores, making them eligible to attend the NASP National Invitational Tournament, scheduled for May 10 in Kentucky. NASP teaches target archery right in the school gym. The curriculum covers archery, safety, equipment, technique, concentration skills and self-improvement. For more information on the program, visit www.ohionasp.com.

Poaching in Ohio will lead to stiffer penalties

New system calculates values that incorporate population status, aesthetics and other factors

 COLUMBUS, OH - Legislation raising the restitution value of wildlife taken illegally took effect today, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. 


"The new standard reflects the present-day value of Ohio's wildlife," said Jim Lehman, law enforcement administrator for the Division of Wildlife. "The monetary value of most of our wildlife can range anywhere from $20 to nearly $2,500, depending on criteria and weighting factors. Trophy deer are an exception; their value can range much higher."


The new restitution schedule stems from legislation (HB238) passed by the Ohio General Assembly last year and was signed into law December 3. HB 238 revised provisions governing the restitution value of wild animals that are unlawfully held, taken, bought, sold or possessed. It is the first revision since 1994 and establishes a formula that reflects the current status and scarcity of various species.


Seven categories of value make up the new scoring criteria: recreational, aesthetic, educational, state-list designation,

economics, recruitment, and population dynamics. The new restitution values of wild animals taken illegally will result from the total score for each of the seven criteria. The criteria total is then multiplied by the weighting factor of species population status. An animal that is considered abundant has a lower weighting factor than does an endangered species.


Here are some examples comparing updated versus previous restitution values:

Species - new value (old value): trumpeter swan - $2,500 ($1,000); Eastern massasauga rattlesnake - $2,500 ($1,000); wild turkey - $500 ($300); white-tailed deer/antlerless - $250 ($400); white-tailed deer/antlered - $500 ($400); walleye - $50 ($10); largemouth bass - $50 ($10); and steelhead - $50 ($10).


The legislation also addressed increased values for "trophy" white-tailed deer. An additional progressive formula will be applied to bucks with a gross score more than 125 inches on the Boone and Crocket (B&C) scale. Antlered deer scoring under 125 B&C would be valued at $500. Poached deer scoring 125 B&C would have a restitution value of $1,531.25; 150 B&C would result in $4,625 restitution value; and a 170 B&C would call for a $8,585 restitution value


Still time to register for Peregrine Falcon workshop

HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Game Commission, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection and ZOOAMERICA, is offering a "WILD in the City" educator's workshop featuring the peregrine falcon, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday, April 3.  The workshop is being hosted by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg. 


The workshop will address the natural history, reintroduction and the current status of peregrine falcons in Pennsylvania, and include activities that can be used to help address state education standards.  Features of the workshop included a presentation by Dan Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Section Supervisor, and Dr. Art McMorris, Game Commission ornithologist and lead peregrine falcon biologist in the state.  Brauning spearheaded the peregrine reintroduction program in Pennsylvania.

This workshop is open to teachers, scout and youth group leaders, home school leaders and other educators.  The

workshop is informal.  Dress for the weather and bring binoculars, if possible. Extra binoculars will be available to borrow. There is no charge for the workshop and lunch is provided.  Participating teachers will receive 5.5 ACT 48 hours.


To register for "WILD in the City," educators should contact DEP's Environmental Education and Information Center at 717-772-1644 or email [email protected] by March 27.  Space is limited.


For more information about peregrine falcons, visit the Game Commission's webpage www.pgc.state.pa.us,  click on "Wildlife" then "Falcons."  The site includes general information about peregrine falcons, various video clips of peregrine falcon activities, and a link to DEP's "Falcon Page," which focuses on the falcon's nesting site in Harrisburg.


A primer on steelhead fishing for the novice angler

MILWAUKEE -- Fishing for steelhead can be one of the most exciting of Wisconsin’s many angling opportunities -- and some the best time for steelhead fishing is coming soon to Lake Michigan tributary streams.


Steelhead (pdf) also known as rainbow trout, spend most of their life far out in Lake Michigan but come within range of the fly or spinning rod for short time each spring when they swim up the lake tributaries to spawn. “How many chances do we have to catch a 10- to 15 lb trout in a small stream?” asks Randy Schumacher, DNR fisheries supervisor for southeastern Wisconsin and an avid fan of fishing “the run.”

Wisconsin stocks three different strains of steelhead and they each run at different times of the year. Two strains, the Ganaraska and Chambers Creek River, have later winter/early spring runs that typically occur between late February and mid-April. This year, the run might be later with the colder Wisconsin winter, Schumacher says. “As soon as we get the first warm up, they’ll be there.”


Anglers who like a challenge will love steelhead fishing. “It’s a mix of hunting and fishing all tied together,” he says.

The fish are very wary so getting them to bite is a challenge. They spend their lives in huge waters, and their run up small tributaries has them uncomfortable and easily spooked.

“You have to be very quiet and careful and stalk them,” he says. “They usually only bite if they are fairly sure no predator is going to pounce on them. So it’s quite an accomplishment to get one to bite.” Reeling the fish in is also a fight. On his last steelhead trip last spring, Schumacher had four fish break 10 pound lines before he caught a fifth fish. “If you hook a big one, a15- to 18-pounder, you gotta be ready to run,” he says.

Wisconsin has many Lake Mighigan tributary streams that support fine steelhead runs. The most popular streams for steelhead fishing along Lake Michigan include the Kewaunee, Root, Oconto, Manitowoc, Menominee, Milwaukee, East Twin, Peshtigo, Ahnapee, and West Twin rivers. Smaller steelhead streams include the Pigeon, Little, Pike, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers; Stony, Oak, Heins, Sauk, Whitefish Bay, Fischer, Silver, and Reibolts creeks.


“To me, it’s amazing that we have the opportunity to catch a 15-pound trout in the shadow of a downtown Milwaukee skyscraper or Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers,” Schumacher says.


Although there is no substitute for experience and getting to know each stream you fish, these pointers should get any novice steelhead angler going at the sport:

• When to go: Although spring rains bring steelhead into our streams, they are hard to catch until water levels recede and

clarity increases to the point where you can see the fish, they can see your bait, and they have enough water depth to feel comfortable in a “small” tributary stream. When water levels are “just right,” make sure you're out fishing. Start early, best fishing is at just daybreak.


• What to bring: You're going to need waders and a landing net of at least two feet in diameter. A fishing vest with lots of pockets is great to have. Use a magnet-style, landing net holder that keeps your net on your back and out of the way while you’re fishing but within easy reach when you need it.


• What to use when you can’t see the fish: A long spinning rod spooled with at least a 10-pound test is best for fishing runs and pools where the fish congregate. Try drifting a spawn-sac or small tube jig suspended by a bobber so that your bait floats just off the stream bottom. Add sinkers sufficient to get your bait just rolling along the stream bottom. Your goal should be to drift your bait right into the face of that unseen steelhead lying along the bottom. Set the hook at the slightest unusual movement of your bobber. Many anglers tip their jig with a wax worm or two.


• What to use when you can see the fish: A long and stiff fly rod with at least a 2X (10-pound) leader works best. Watch for fish in early mornings and evenings as they build their “redds” or gravel spawning nests at the head of riffles. Keep your profile low, use polarizing sunglasses and wear dark clothes. Steelhead can see color and are easily spooked. Quietly and slowly get into position below and off to the side of the fish you see. Tease the fish with a fly or spawn sac by repeatedly tossing your fly upstream and letting the fly drift as close to the fish as possible. Commonly-used flies are the egg-sucking leach as well as any brightly-colored spawn sac imitation. Use sinkers on your leader if necessary to get the fly at the exact level occupied by the trout. Local bait shops will easily help you select the “hot” flies to use. Be courteous and don’t intrude into another angler’s territory or spook any fish he or she may hunting.


•Keep your expectations realistic. Like all fish, sometimes steelhead bite and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes their strike is quite reserved; other times they literally jerk the rod out of your hand. Don’t get discouraged. Even the best steelhead anglers are constantly trying new methods to meet the conditions they face. Watch successful anglers and imitate their methods. Should you finally hook one, be prepared for a downstream run across an uneven and rocky stream bottom

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the GLSFC, its officers or staff. 

Reproduction of any material by paid-up members of the GLSFC is encouraged but appropriate credit must be given. 

Reproduction by others without written permission is prohibited.

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