Week of April 5, 2010
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Russell Dunn, a former branch chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Highly Migratory Species Management Division, has been appointed as NOAA's National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries. As
National Advisor, Dunn will serve as the coordinating liaison between the recreational fishing community and NOAA's federal marine fisheries management system. Dunn will report directly to NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Eric Schwaab.
Question is Federal interpretation of Constitution
The biggest issue that seems to be showing up on more radar screens is the "Commerce Clause" found in Article 1, Section 8, paragraph 3 of the Constitution.
In the Congressional interpretation, legislators claim they have virtually limitless power to regulate anything that even begins to impact interstate commerce. It is one of the underlying planks in their theory of governance. Increasingly, however, they're finding that when it comes to firearms, the states have a differing viewpoint. That's the idea that a product made in a state, sold in a state and residing and used solely in that state is not subject to interstate commerce regulations -
nor subject to other federal jurisdictions.
In other words, if it's stamped "Made in Alabama", sold only in Alabama, and used only in Alabama, it's Alabama's business, not Washington’s. That's based on the Tenth Amendment and the people's unenumerated rights under the Ninth Amendment. Already, Montana, Tennessee, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah have passed what are being called Firearms Freedom Bills.
Last week, the Idaho Firearms Freedom Act passed the state's Senate. It's now headed to the desk of Idaho governor Butch Otter for his expected signature, bringing the total number of states with Firearms Freedom Acts to six.
Chicago(AP) — An initial six-week mission to catch and kill Asian carp lurking on the Great Lakes' doorstep turned up none of the despised fish, suggesting few if any have eluded an electric barrier designed to block their path to Lake Michigan, officials said last week
Beginning in mid-February, teams of biologists and commercial fishermen combed a network of Chicago-area rivers and canals where Asian carp DNA has been detected
in numerous spots over the past year. They spread netting across large areas and used electric stunning prods where they believed the carp were most likely to gather, said Chris McCloud, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Field crews set approximately 5.6 miles of net and sampled
for a total of 60 hours using electrofishing gear in the main
channels,barge slips, marinas and other channel areas.
Speciescollected in highest abundance were common carp (1,000) and gizzard shad(+1,000. Other species observed or collected included bluntnose
minnow, drum, pumpkinseed sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, channel catfish, yellow perch, green sunfish and
yellow bullhead. All fish collected were returned to the channel.
No silver or bighead carp were found.
"What this tells us is if they are present above the barrier, they are in very low numbers as we've said before," McCloud said. The barrier's effectiveness is a key issue in the debate over whether to close shipping locks in the waterways to keep the invasive carp from entering Lake Michigan, as sport fishing interests and most states along the Great Lakes would like.
In order to validate the sampling techniques upstream, field crews also sampled in areas far below the electric
barrier where Asian carppopulations are present. DNR
biologists recovered 36 Silver carp and four Bighead carp
near Starved Rock Lock and Dam,approximately 70 miles
downstream from the electric barrier.
The Regional Coordinating Committee is developing a
three month monitoring plan to extend sampling efforts.
Illinois and the Obama administration oppose closing the locks, siding with Chicago barge and tour boat companies who say doing so would devastate their businesses. They contend the electric barrier is performing well and closing the leak-prone locks wouldn't be a foolproof measure.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused for a second time Michigan's request to order the locks closed.
Early sampling efforts were focused on areas where warm water was being discharged from industrial operations, including power plants and wastewater treatment plants. Fish tend to congregate near warmer water during winter. As spring approached and ice receded, the search area was broadened.
Ashley Spratt, a spokeswoman for the fish and wildlife service, acknowledged the failure to catch any Asian carp above the barrier didn't necessarily mean none were there. "They are hard to catch and this is a big area we're looking at," she said.
John Sellek, a spokesman for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, said Monday that although no Asian carp were found, Michigan still wants the locks closed. "What did they expect? (Illinois') own court filings say they are not likely to catch Asian carp using nets or electro-fishing," Sellek said.
Biologists plan to continue searching over the next three months as part of a $78.5 million Asian carp control strategy.
"Intensifying our sampling and monitoring efforts in high-risk areas for Asian carp provides us with critical data on population dynamics, potential range expansion and movement of the species," said Charlie Wooley, deputy regional director for the USFWS.
With the exception of the Lake Ontario basin, this last week was fairly dry with plenty of sunshine throughout the Great Lakes region. Precipitation during the month of March was well below the average for all of the Great Lakes. Unseasonably warm weather has returned to the Great Lakes basin pushing temperatures into the 70s in most areas. There is a chance for showers and a few thunderstorms on Saturday as a frontal system advances on the region. On Sunday, temperatures are expected to begin dropping but will likely still remain above the average for this time of year.
Lake Level Conditions
Currently, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are both 2 inches below their levels of one year ago. Lake St. Clair is 8 inches below its April 2009 level while Lakes Erie and Ontario are 12 and 15 inches, respectively, below their levels of a year ago. The St. Clair River system is now completely ice free and Lake St. Clair's levels have rebounded as a result. Much of the difference between last year's and this year's levels of Lakes Erie and Ontario can be attributed to the significant amount of snow that fell in 2009 versus what has fallen this year. Over the next month, the water levels of Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are expected to increase by 2 and 4 inches respectively. Lake St. Clair is predicted to rise 5 inches over the next thirty days while Lakes Erie and Ontario are expected to rise approximately 5 and 8 inches, respectively, over the same timeframe. Over the next few months, all of the Great Lakes are expected to be below their levels of a year ago with the exception of Lake Superior which will be near the prior year's level..
Forecasted March Outflows/Channel Conditions
The outflow from Lake Superior into the St. Mary's River is forecasted to be below average. The outflows from both Lake Huron into the St. Clair River as well as the Detroit River are, also, forecasted to be below average. Near average flows are expected for the Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River.
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.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued regulations that allow for additional control measures, apart from harassment techniques and traditional hunting, to help address nuisance goose problems.
The Canada goose is an adaptable bird and can live in a variety of locations, including open farmland and rural reservoirs to suburban neighborhood ponds, office complexes, parks and other developed areas. As the goose population increases and they become more common in urban areas so does the increase in nuisance complaints.
Landowners who don't want geese on their property can first try a variety of "harassment" techniques, including chemical repellents, mylar balloons, wire/string barriers and noise makers. These methods are proven to help reduce goose problems. However, they do require consistency from the property owner and are not always 100 percent effective.
In response to these concerns, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued regulations that allow for additional control measures, apart from harassment techniques and traditional
hunting, to help address nuisance goose problems. One of
those regulations is a permit for reducing goose reproduction through nest and egg destruction OR egg addling or oiling which prevent the eggs from hatching.
These permits are easy to attain, and can be useful in certain situations - such as a homeowner that may have geese nesting close to home. Additionally, it is a way to keep a minimum number of adult geese on the property without the population growing too large through years of unchecked reproduction. The permits are available at: www.fws.gov/permits. The website also contains useful information on the methods for addling or oiling the eggs or destroying the nests and when each method may be appropriate.
The nesting season for geese is underway now, and landowners and land managers who have problems with geese (homeowners, golf course managers, city/county managers, etc.) - especially during the summer molting season - may be able to act now and reduce their nuisance problems later this year. For more info: www.fws.gov/permits.
COLUMBUS, OH - Lake Erie anglers should experience another year of diverse fishing opportunities during 2010, according to biologists with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.
"We expect fishing to be generally good this year, especially if you are willing to take advantage of the best opportunities," said Roger Knight, Lake Erie fisheries program manager for the Division of Wildlife. "While fishing success will vary among species and seasons, the lake's populations of walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, white bass and steelhead are in fair to excellent condition."
Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system that involves Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction regulates their catches to comply with their quotas and minimize the risk of over-fishing these species. Quotas for the upcoming fishing season are determined through consensus agreement by these jurisdictions through the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and are announced publicly in late March of each year.
Beginning this year, walleye and yellow perch bag limits will be set after the quota announcement, and will go into effect May 1, 2010. The daily bag limit for walleye remains four fish per person during March and April, 2010. As a result of the 2010 quota allocation, the walleye bag limit will be six from May 1, 2010 to February 28, 2011, and four from March 1, 2011 to April 30, 2011. A 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season.
The daily bag limit is 25 yellow perch per angler in the waters west of Huron and 30 perch per angler from Huron eastward to the Pennsylvania border through April 30, 2010. As a result of the 2010 quota allocation, the yellow perch bag limit will be 30 perch per angler lake wide from May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011. There is no minimum size limit on yellow perch. Lake Erie anglers can find walleye and yellow perch bag limit information at ODNR offices, in special publications at bait and tackle shops, and on the Web at wildohio.com.
Lake Erie anglers have great access to fishing in the Western and Central basins due to the numerous public boat ramps, private marinas and shoreline areas. They also benefit from having the largest charter boat industry in the Great Lakes.
Ohio walleye anglers will catch fish mostly from the 2007 and 2003 hatches, with some contributions from the 2001, 2005 and 1999 hatches. Walleye from the moderate 2007 hatch will range from 14-19 inches long and will complement the larger 20- to 28-inch fish from the strong 2003 hatch as the major contributors to the Ohio catch. Fish from the fair 2005 hatch should be in the 19- to 23-inch range. Large walleye from strong hatches in the 1980s and mid-1990s still persist in the population, providing "Fish Ohio" (more than 28 inches) opportunities.
"Fish from the 2007 hatch grew faster than expected last year and showed up prominently in our fishery in 2009 and they should dominate the west basin catch this summer," said Knight. "The 2003 hatch is still holding strong and will likely carry most of the Central Basin fisheries, particularly as the waters warm up and large fish migrate eastward to cooler waters."
Perch anglers should encounter fish ranging from 7- to 13-inch fish from the 2007, 2008, 2005 and 2003 hatches in this year's fishery. Lake wide, perch numbers should be similar to levels observed in 2009 in the Western and Central basins. Small fish from the weak 2009 hatch may show up in the fishery in the fall.
"Overall, we expect to have good perch fishing in 2010, with the largest fish coming from the eastern part of the Central Basin," said Knight.
Smallmouth bass fishing in 2010 is expected to be fair. Although bass abundance remains below desired levels, those caught should be of excellent size (15 to 22 inches, weighing 2 to 6 pounds). Bass fishing is best in areas with good bottom structure, which is available across much of the entire Ohio near shore area.
A closed season remains in effect from May 1 through June 25, 2010, during which all black bass (smallmouth and largemouth) must be immediately released. Beginning June 26, 2010, the daily bag limit for bass will remain at five fish, with a 14-inch minimum length limit.
Steelhead anglers should enjoy another year of great fishing in Ohio's Lake Erie tributaries throughout the fall, winter and spring months. Good fishing opportunities will also exist on the open lake when schools of fish can be located. Peak summer steelhead action on Lake Erie can be found offshore from June through August between Vermilion and Conneaut, with catches measuring 17 to 29 inches. Most Lake Erie anglers troll for steelhead in deep waters using spoons with dipsy divers or downriggers. The daily bag limit remains at five fish per person from May 16 to August 31, and two fish per angler between September 1 and May 15, with a 12-inch minimum size limit throughout the year.
White bass will continue to provide excellent seasonal fishing opportunities in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers and in the open lake. The catch will be dominated by hatches from 2003 and 2005, which will include many 13- to 16-inch fish. The 2006 and 2007 hatches were moderate and should contribute 10- to 14-inch fish to the fishery. Anglers should focus on major Western Basin tributaries during May and June and near shore areas of the open lake during summer months. There is no daily bag or size limit on white bass.
Anglers are also advised of numerous fishing opportunities in the bays and harbors on the Ohio shoreline. These inlets offer excellent fishing for panfish including crappie and bluegill, as well as largemouth bass. In early spring, anglers may also catch an occasional Northern pike or muskellunge in vegetated areas.
Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions on Lake Erie can change hourly and adjustments are often necessary to improve success. Anglers should take into account factors such as water temperature, cloud cover, water clarity, boat traffic, wave action, structure and the amount of baitfish in the area. Anglers are also reminded to carefully monitor Lake Erie weather and to seek safe harbor before storms approach.
Updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available online at www.wildohio.com and by calling 1-888-HOOKFISH.
An outdoor cooking workshop will be offered at Indiana's Mississinewa Reservoir by Upper Wabash Interpretive Services on Saturday, April 17. The program includes hands-on instruction and tips by the Kokomo Kookers Dutch Oven cooking club. Participants will cook and eat their own lunch, and could win door prizes from Bozarth Country Store.
Program fee is $10 per person. Space is limited, and advance registration by calling (260) 468-2127 is required. After lunch, participants can swap recipes or make a charcoal starter to use on future meals. "Participants will find it easy and fun to
cook in a Dutch oven over the campfire," said Teresa Rody, interpretive naturalist for the UWIS. "I'm sure that some will take the opportunity to camp the weekend and try their hand at a few more campfire meals."
Mississinewa Reservoir's DNR office is located in the Miami State Recreation Area west of U.S. 31 on 500S. It is 8 miles from Peru, and 30 miles from Logansport and Kokomo. From Wabash, take Highway 124 to Miami County Road 675 East for a 15-mile route to the program. See www.in.gov/dnr/uwis/ or call (260) 468-2127 for more info.
Michigan’s New Recreation Passport will benefit many State Parks, Forests, Campgrounds, Trails and Local Parks
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm on March 31 signed into law the “Recreation Passport” legislation, which creates a new funding source for Michigan’s state parks, state recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized trails and pathways and local parks.
The new law takes effect Oct. 1, 2010, meaning citizens who want to visit state parks this year will still need a 2010 Motor Vehicle Permit.
“This new method will create a sustainable funding source that will support our state parks and forests, as well as local recreational facilities,” said DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries. “It also makes accessing recreational opportunities easier and more affordable for Michigan citizens.”
The Recreation Passport replaces the traditional state park and boating Motor Vehicle Permit (MVP), or “window sticker,” system in place now at state parks, recreation areas and boat launches. Motorists may choose to pay a $10 fee when they renew their vehicle plate registration. This fee will authorize entry into state parks and boat launches for the usual one-year period of the registration. Camping fees will remain in place.
When residents opt to pay the $10 passport fee, they’ll enjoy a per-vehicle savings of 42 percent over the current $24 annual Motor Vehicle Permit fee. “It is our hope that the less expensive fee will encourage all Michigan residents to buy the Recreation Passport for every vehicle they register,” said Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson. “Supporters will be integral in restoring the infrastructure of an aging state park and forest system, while supporting local parks and recreation systems at the same time.”
The DNRE’s Recreation Division lost all taxpayer support for its programs in 2004. Since then, park operations have been funded primarily from user fees. Currently, we are able to address less than 1 percent of the critical infrastructure repair needs annually ($38 million needed), and are about $4.8
million short of adequately funding day-to-day park
operations. Without an alternative funding structure in place, drastic cuts to park programs and services were inevitable, Olson said.
Revenue generated from the Recreation Passport depends on the level of participation from the public, Olson said.
Projected revenue based on participation includes:
- 25 percent participation generates $18,060,000
- 50 percent participation generates $36,120,000
- 75 percent participation generates $55,180,000
- 100 percent participation generates $72,240,000
This Recreation Passport initiative grew out of a proposal developed by the Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks, to provide a more stable, sustainable funding source for state parks, which lost all general taxpayer support in 2004. Since then, state parks and recreation areas have operated primarily on user fees and by borrowing from funds intended for capital repairs and improvements.
For the 2010 calendar year, a Motor Vehicle Permit will still be required for entry to state parks, recreation areas and boating access sites. As citizens renew their vehicle registrations on and after Oct. 1, 2010, they will be offered the option to support state parks and recreation areas, state forests and boating access sites by paying an additional $10 toward their vehicle registration fee.
Out-of-state residents will still be required to purchase a $29 annual Motor Vehicle Permit, or $8 Daily permit.
According to Olson, the signing of this new law is timely. In 2011, all fund balances in the restricted funds that operate state parks will be exhausted. “There are $38 million in annual unmet needs for failing infrastructure at our state parks that the current system cannot generate enough revenue to cover,” he said. “This new system will prevent the further decline of the state park and state forest system.”
Visit www.michigan.gov/stateparks for more info or call the DNRE 517-373-9900.
By Danielle Emerson
LANSING, Mich. – When Shiloh Waldon, a blacksmith from Hillsdale County, moved into his home a year and a half ago, he thought, “a lot of deer” caused the occasional property damage until it persisted and got worse.
What Waldon was about to find out is that the problem was much more critical than he expected: feral pigs had invaded his property. “When my buddy and I had gone out looking in the woods behind me, you could tell they had been here a while. When you walk through the woods, it’s like someone went through it with a rototiller,” he said. Waldon killed eight feral pigs in January and February alone. Two of them weighed more than 400 lbs.
Feral pigs are free-ranging animals that can break through fences because of their size and aggressive nature. “They will even climb on top of other pigs to climb over the fence,” said Kristine Brown, lab technician at the Michigan DNRE Environment Wildlife Disease Laboratory.
Patrick Rusz, director of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, said that the average size of an adult feral pig is between 200 and 300 pounds. Hogs more than 300 pounds are rare. State conservation officials recently reported that Gladwin County has seen packs of 20 or more pigs, and 150 were counted in Arenac County.
Feral (free-ranging) swine are not among the native wildlife of Michigan. The feral swine population that exists today is a combination of free-ranging pigs that have been captured elsewhere and illegally released for the purpose of starting local wild, free-living populations; escaped or neglected domestic swine; and/or Eurasian wild boar that originated on farms, privately owned cervidae (POC) facilities, game ranches, wild game breeding facilities, and other enclosed hunting ranches.
Feral pigs – which look like wild boar – are a combination of free-ranging pigs that were captured elsewhere and illegally released, escaped or neglected domestic animals, and Eurasian wild boar that originated on farms and privately owned game facilities. “We have a lot higher percentage of animals that look and act like classic Russian wild boars compared to other states,” Rusz said.
The population of feral swine is highest in Arenac, Gladwin,
Midland, Gratiot and Washtenaw counties, according to the DNRE.
The pigs are considered a nuisance for several reasons – they have caused significant crop damage in 20 counties, including Alpena, Arenac, Berrien, Gladwin, Kent, Marquette and Otsego.
Rusz said feral pigs have a global track record of causing environmental damage, especially because of their eating habits. The pigs “root,” or dig up, ground a foot or more beyond surface level in search of grubs. Rusz said the pigs feed on a wide variety of livestock and other animals as well. For example, they are best known in south Florida for killing newborn calves. “If they can catch it, they can eat it,” said Rusz.
Feral pigs also can carry diseases such as pseudorabies – a disease that attacks the central nervous system and can sometimes be fatal in cattle or sheep. When transferred by the pig’s saliva or nasal secretions, the disease can stay in well water for up to seven hours or in grass and soil for up to two days.
Rusz said Michigan has been pseudorabies-free since 2000 but that feral pigs are renewing concern, especially among pork producers, over transmission of the disease to domestic pigs. Nine swine killed in Saginaw and Gratiot counties have tested positive for pseudorabies in the past five years, Brown said.
Two of 20 swine found in Mescosta County tested positive for toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be transmitted to humans if meat isn’t fully cooked. Until now, feral pigs have been considered livestock at large and there were legal restricting on shooting them. However, as the problem progressed, many county prosecutors agreed not to charge hunters who shoot feral pigs as long as they have permission of the landowner or a hunting license.
Legislation to legalize the shooting of feral pigs across the state has passed the House and the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Bioeconomy. The House legislation is sponsored by Reps. Mike Huckleberry, D-Greenville; Sharon Tyler, R-Niles; and Andy Neumann, D-Alpena. It’s now waiting in the Senate to be voted on.
Other Breaking News Items
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The numbers are staggering: 60 million fish - 46 million of them adults - are killed each year by the intake of FirstEnergy Corp.'s coal-fired Bay Shore power plant in Oregon. The intake also destroys 209 million fish eggs and 2,247 million fish in their larval form annually by pulling them through screens and into the plant, according to a 2009 report generated by one of the utility's paid consultants
Wayne County, New York, says no to an offshore wind farm
Lake Erie fishery hit hard by falling quotas
Michigan releases 325,000 Coho salmon into Grand River
Biologists combat disease in state hatcheries
Kingsville residents come out in droves to say no to turbines
Wind turbines to be built in Lake Erie by 2012, group says
COMMENTARY: Great Lakes DNRs need to unite
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