Week of November 21, 2005





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Northern snakehead appears established in Potomac say experts

RICHMOND, VA (AP). -- The predatory northern snakehead has found a home in the Potomac River, biologists say, and the there is little they can do to slow the spread of the Asian import.


The 300 snakeheads caught in a Potomac River tributary last month is evidence enough the fish has established itself at the top of the river's food chain.   "I caught 62 in two hours, they

were that thick," John Odenkirk, a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologist said.


With the battle to eradicate fish lost, Virginia and Maryland biologists and federal wildlife officials hope the snakehead will find a place in the Potomac's ecosystem without damaging the other species there. Of special concern is its potential to diminish the population of largemouth bass, a species that fuels a multimillion-dollar tourism and fishing industry.

World's largest aquarium set to open in Atlanta

When Atlanta's new aquarium opens Nov. 23, it will officially become the world's largest by all major standards. It will hold 8 million gallons of water and be home to more than 100,000 fish. By comparison, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago — the nation's largest indoor aquarium for decades — has 5 million gallons and about 20,000 fish.


The Atlanta aquarium's pair of juvenile whale sharks, which  could grow to more than 40 feet long, will give visitors a rare

glimpse at the world's largest fish. Also featured will be five beluga whales that will take up residence in an 800,000-gallon tank.


The aquarium will be the centerpiece of a downtown Atlanta revival. Already neighboring Centennial Olympic Park and across the street from CNN Center and the Georgia Dome, the aquarium will be joined in 2007 by a new World of Coca-Cola museum next door.

Angler banned for life

An angler on the BASS tour has been suspended for life and faces possible prosecution after he admitted to cheating in last weekend's Bassmaster Central Open in Natchitoches, La.


Paul Tormanen of Lees Summit, Mo. admitted to a Louisiana Department of  Wildlife and Fisheries warden that while pre-fishing the Red River, he caught bass and attached them to a stringer in the lake. On the second day of the tournament, he allegedly went to those spots, boated them and then claimed

them as caught during the tournament's weigh-in. Tormanen was questioned by authorities, and admitted to the scheme, according to the incident report and media reports. He faces up to a year in prison and up to $3,000 in fines for committing "contest fraud" if convicted.


"He was banned for life because he admitted to it," said BASS' Christine Baumann, who was at the tournament.  "There was no need to wait."


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for November 18, 2005

Lake Level Conditions:

All of the Great Lakes, except Lake Ontario, are 4 to 6 inches below the levels of a year ago.  Lake Ontario is 6 inches higher than it was a year ago.  Lake Superior is expected to fall 3 inches over the next month, but will remain above chart datum in December.  Lake Michigan-Huron is below chart datum and should decline 2 inches over the next 30 days.  Lake St. Clair is projected to drop by an inch in the next month.  Lakes Erie and Ontario are expected to fall 2 and 3 inches, respectively, over the next 30 days.  Levels over the next few months on all the Great Lakes, with the exception of Lake Ontario, are expected to remain lower than 2004/2005.   Evaporation rates this fall may be higher than average due to warmer surface water temperatures. See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.


Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is projected to be near average during the month of November.  Flow in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are anticipated to be below average during November.  Flow in the Niagara River is predicted to be near average during this month.  St. Lawrence River flow is projected to be below

average in November.



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.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels Data Summary





St. Clair



Expected water level for Nov 18 in ft






Chart datum, in ft






Diff from chart datum, in inches






Diff from last month, in inches






Diff from last year in inches







$527 Million wasted on gun registry computer contracts

Ottawa – Garry Breitkreuz, M.P. for Yorkton-Melville and Conservative Firearms Critic, last week released a 14-page document listing more than $527 million in computer contracts issued by the Canada Firearms Centre since 1997. The 133 contracts and contract amendments were issued to five companies. “How can the gun registry computer systems possibly cost more than half a billion dollars?” asked Breitkreuz. “The size of these numbers never ceases to amaze me. After all, it cost only $8 million to register 40 million cows and that registry actually works.”

“This isn’t all the computer contracts, but these are the biggest players in the gun registration scheme,” said Breitkreuz. “Major sub-contractors on the project include Bell, NexInnovations, Aliant, and Compaq, but we don’t know the total value of their contracts yet.”


We hope the Auditor General will answer many of our fiscal questions when she tables the financial update of the firearms fiasco in February. Failing that, I’m afraid it’s going to take another public enquiry to get to the bottom of this mess,” concluded Breitkreuz.



Angler banned for life

An angler on the BASS tour has been suspended for life and faces possible prosecution after he admitted to cheating in last weekend's Bassmaster Central Open in Natchitoches, La.


Paul Tormanen of Lees Summit, Mo. admitted to a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries warden that while pre-fishing the Red River, he caught bass and attached them to a stringer in the lake. On the second day of the tournament, he allegedly went to those spots, boated them and then claimed

them as caught during the tournament's weigh-in. Tormanen was questioned by authorities, and admitted to the scheme, according to the incident report and media reports. He faces up to a year in prison and up to $3,000 in fines for committing "contest fraud" if convicted.


"He was banned for life because he admitted to it," said BASS' Christine Baumann, who was at the tournament.  "There was no need to wait."


Lake Erie

Lake Erie fishing indictments, case dispositions

Operation Yellow Gold a dark day for poachers 

Prosecutors and DNR conservation officers have struck major blows against Lake Erie's commercial fishermen in the largest criminal case brought by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.


A total of five fishing companies and 14 commercial fishermen have been charged under the Ohio Felony Act. The state laws here are more severe than Natural Resource regulations and charges include racketeering, money laundering, theft, forgery, tampering with evidence, receiving stolen property, and possession of criminal tools.


Ohio DNR enforcement Supervisor Kevin Ramsey first received a tip on November, 2002 that some commercials caught and sold tons of yellow perch in excess of their quotas. His investigation team ultimately documented 40 tons of yellow perch, with a value of nearly $1 million, being caught and sold in excess of quotas in 2002 and 2003.


"Their incentive to cheat is unbelievable," said Charter Captain Jerry Abele, an officer of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and a veteran of 40 years on the lake. "That culture has been going on since they installed the quotas." That was in 1996 after Lake Erie's perch and walleye populations crashed.


To date the following have pleaded guilty to some or all of the above state charges with court dispositions in place: Joseph and Elizabeth Smith, Sandusky, owners of Smith Fisheries; Roy Greene, Vermilion, deckhand on the Smith fishing boat; Vito and Darlene Ernande, Vermilion, owners of Westwater Fisheries; Craig Carr, Oak Harbor, co-owner of Lake Fish, Sandusky; Gary Rowan, Painesville, owner of State Fish, Cleveland


Court imposed penalties include: probation for five years, house confinement for 6 months, forfeitures, restitution and fines totaling almost $90,000 and confiscation of all catch seized in the sting operation.  Additionally, any violation of the

probation agreement will result in the forfeiture of a commercial fishing license.  Approximately 80% of all monies will go to the Ohio Dept of Wildlife.


However, the feds have yet to be heard from.  The IRS is reportedly interested in possible evasion of federal income taxes, and charges could be also brought against the group under the federal RICO Act.


Four defendants that pleaded guilty have agreed to testify against three others, who face up to 10 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines if they are convicted. Their trial is scheduled for Dec. 5.  They are:


Dale Trent, Port Clinton, co-owner of Lake Fish, Orville Stinson, Port Clinton, and his son, Richard, 41, Castalia, are co-owners of Port Clinton Fish;   Lori Colvin, Oak Harbor, secretary of Port Clinton Fish; Billy Mitchell, Port Clinton, boat captain for Port Clinton Fish, and his son, Mark, 31, a deckhand and Michael Maloney, Port Clinton, a deckhand. 


A second case is moving more slowly, with no trial date set. Ramsey said more charges are expected.  "We're not even half done," Ramsey said. "There's some bigger criminal cases pending." If convicted, some of the state's 12 commercial fishermen may be forced to forfeit their licenses - precious papers that could be worth more than $1 million on the open market, Ramsey said.


In a really thoughtless action some commercials struck back. Last month, after word spread that some of the poachers were cooperating with investigators someone strung a noose around a stuffed monkey and hung it from a boat at a dock in Vermilion. A sign with a veiled message was tied to the tail: "Good Luck Fishing." Forensic investigators lifted fingerprints from the sign. Charges of witness intimidation are pending.


In 1984, state officials bought out Ohio's commercial fishing companies that used gill nets, leaving 24 trap net licensees plying Ohio Lake Erie waters.  That may just be 24 too many commercial licensees still remaining.


Firearm deer registration reminder

Deer firearm hunters in Illinois are reminded that in most counties they will register their harvest by telephone or online through the IDNR web site during the firearm season, muzzleloader-only season and January season. This new registration process began with the 2005-06 archery deer season on Oct. 1. Harvest reporting through county check stations this fall will be conducted only during the firearm deer season in those counties where the IDNR will be doing surveillance sampling for chronic wasting disease (see list below).


Hunters should carefully review their deer permit(s) for the contact phone number and web site details, and for details on the kinds of information they'll need to provide.


IDNR suggests that those calling in their harvest registration not use a cellular phone while in the field - but wait to call when they're sure they have a good cellular signal or by using a land line.  Cellular phone drop off has been a problem for some archery phone-in registration this fall.  Hunters have until 10 p.m. on the day they take deer to register their harvest. 

2005 Firearm Deer Check Stations in CWD-Sampling Counties

(Firearm hunters register deer by phone or web site in all other counties)


Boone County - Boone County Fairgrounds, Illinois Rt. 76 and Business Rt. 20, Belvidere

DeKalb County - Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona

Kane County - Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona

McHenry County - Sportsman's Choice, Intersection of Illinois Routes 14 and 47, Woodstock

Ogle County - Castle Rock State Park, Illinois Rt. 2, three miles south of Oregon

Stephenson County - County Fairgrounds, Illinois Rt. 26 and Fairgrounds Road, Freeport

Winnebago County - Rockford Speedway, Illinois Rt. 173 at Forest Hills Road




Fish and wildlife rules public meeting Nov. 29

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to Indiana's fish and wildlife administrative rules on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area near Edinburgh.


The DNR is proposing rule changes to help protect wildlife and ease fish and wildlife rule enforcement. Legal and social concerns will also be discussed.


Proposed rule changes involve farmland hunting license exemptions used by corporations and companies; deer tagging requirements; legal muzzleloaders for deer hunting; coyote trapping season starting time; removal of the bobcat, badger and river otter from the state's endangered species list; Harvest Information Program registration for migratory bird hunters; mute swans; groundhogs; tagging requirements for wild turkeys; special purpose turtle possession permits for

eastern box turtles; taxidermy licenses; fur buyer licenses and wild animal possession permits for bobcats.


A summary of the rule changes that were preliminarily adopted by the Natural Resources Commission, along with the proposed rule language, are available at: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/about


The public hearing on Nov. 29 starts at 5 p.m. at Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area, 7970 South Rowe Street, Edinburgh, Ind. (Johnson County). Written comments can be sent to: Hearing Officer, Natural Resources Commission, 402 W. Washington Street, W272

Indianapolis, IN 46204. Or send comments to: [email protected]


Written comments must be received by Dec. 2.


Wisconsin resident found guilty of illegal deer harvest

John Peter Thekan, 44, of Florence, Wis., Monday pleaded guilty in Iron County District Court to charges that included two counts each of illegal possession of two deer, hunting deer without a license and using the kill tag of another person. Thekan appeared before Judge Joseph Schwedler in the 95th District Court of Iron County, MI.


After receiving a tip that a record deer had been shot illegally in Iron County, the officers located a large 12 point deer at a local meat processor. The investigation then led Painter and Aho to recover another 10 point buck at a different location. The COs used the DNR retail sales system and other records to identify

three individuals who officers believed were involved in the illegal tagging and possession of these trophy animals.


Iron County Prosecutor Joseph Sartorelli on Nov. 8 authorized warrants with a total of nine counts against Thekan and the two others involved in the case, who were cited for loaning deer licenses. Another individual was charged with aiding in the illegal tagging of these animals. Arraignment for these individuals, all Michigan residents, is pending.


The penalty for the illegal possession of deer is a fine of $200 to $1,000, five to 90 days in jail, loss of hunting privileges and restitution of $1,000 per deer.



Alaskan poacher pleads guilty to over limit of walleye

Cooperation between Minnesota and Ontario conservation officers landed a poacher from Eagle River, Alaska, with a $5,000 fine for an over limit of walleye.


Andrew James Piekarski, 60, who pleaded guilty on Nov. 4, was banned from fishing in Ontario for a year and his fish were forfeited to Canadian officials. The Canadian court heard that on July 24, 2004, after a call to the Minnesota Turn-in-Poacher (TIP) hotline, officers from Ontario and Minnesota checked Piekarski as he fished on Rainy Lake, Ontario, in the Sand Bay area. After inspecting a boat and the angler's camp, they found Piekarski with a substantial overlimit of walleye, including some of prohibited length.


Officers from Ontario and Minnesota work together along the international border to combat poaching and protect natural



During the investigation, Minnesota conservation officers Lloyd Steen of Ray and Jim Guida of Brainerd contacted Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources officers, informing them of their observations of the violation.


The Canadian officers moved in closer, using GPS coordinates and map position indicating Piekarski's boat was clearly on the Ontario side of the International Boundary Line dividing Canada from the United States. The Canadian officers checked Piekarski's boat, seizing several walleyes before visiting his cabin located on the Ontario side of Rainy Lake. 


"This case was made because of the excellent cooperation between Ontario and Minnesota," said Steen. "This wouldn't have happened without each other."


$20 Million to aid Monday Creek Watershed Cleanup project

COLUMBUS, OH - Efforts to clean up the 235-acre Monday Creek Watershed in southeast Ohio should soon get up to $20 million in state and federal funding, according to the Ohio DNR.


Earlier this fall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Review Board unanimously approved the Monday Creek Feasibility Report prepared by the Huntington District of the Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with 11 other federal, local and state agencies from Ohio and West Virginia. The Ohio DNR served as the non-federal sponsor for the report, providing funding and technical support. The report identifies ways to clean up the creek’s aquatic ecosystem that has been severely impacted by abandoned underground coalmines in the area.

Restoration efforts are expected to be authorized and funded under the 2005 Water Resources Development Act. As the non-federal sponsor of the project, ODNR will provide 35 percent in matching funds.  At the same time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the report for implementation under the federal Clean Water Act.  Monday Creek is a 27-mile long tributary of the Hocking River. Its watershed drains a 116-square mile area, with streams winding through portions of Athens, Hocking and Perry counties.


Historical underground mining practices have resulted in years of acid mine drainage into the creek, adversely affecting its aquatic life. The report identifies sources of the acid mine drainage, as well as locations of subsided areas, recommending alternatives to restore the aquatic ecosystem.

OH honors boating educators and volunteers

COLUMBUS, OH - Eight local boating education organizations and 12 individual Ohioans were recognized recently by the Ohio DNR Division of Watercraft for their achievements this year in promoting boating safety education.


Lake County Metro Parks received the 2005 Outstanding Boating Program Achievement Award in recognition of its boating safety education program. Prominent Achievement in Boating Safety Awards went to the Cleveland-based Spirit of America Foundation, Cleveland Metro Parks, City of Mentor, Rocky River Power Squadron, Mineral City Elementary School, Toledo Power Squadron, and Miami Conservancy District.


Twelve Ohioans received special awards for volunteer service to the ODNR Division of Watercraft and its statewide boating programs. They included:     

ODNR employee Warren Shupp of Springfield, who was honored for providing 6,750 hours of volunteer service dating

from 1983 when the division’s volunteer program began.  William Green, also of Springfield, received a 2,000-Hour Volunteer Award. Cecilia Duer of Mentor-on-the-Lake, who serves as executive director of the American Water Safety Congress and the Spirit of America Foundation, was honored with a 750-Hour Volunteer Award. Mike Schabeck of Toledo received the 500-Hour Volunteer Award. Columbus residents Bob Burns and Marva McCall each received the 250-Hour Volunteer Award.


Recipients of the 100-Hour Volunteer Award included: Rick Brees of Hamilton, George Christ of Bay Village, Nancy Fuller of Medina, Elaine and Robert Mravetz of Sharon Center, and Jane Stites of Sunbury. McCall and Stites also are ODNR Division of Watercraft employees.


The awards were presented during a statewide boating conference held November 2-4 at Salt Fork State Park Lodge and Conference Center in Guernsey County.

Deer-Gun Season opens statewide Nov 28

COLUMBUS, OH -Ohio’s popular deer-gun season opens statewide on Monday, November 28. Deer hunters will see some of the most liberal deer hunting regulations ever offered, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.


The deer-gun season will be open from Monday, November 28, through Sunday, December 4, from one half-hour before sunrise to sunset. With a pre-hunting season population estimate of 650,000 white-tailed deer, the Division of Wildlife anticipates a kill of 120,000 to 130,000 deer during the week-long hunt. Approximately 400,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year’s season, including a record number of out-of-state hunters. 


Hunters may take only one antlered deer, regardless of zone, hunting method or season. A deer permit is required in addition to a valid Ohio hunting license.  Additional hunting regulations and maps of the state's deer zones are contained

in the 2005-2006 Ohio Hunting Regulations. This free publication is available wherever hunting licenses are sold, online at www.ohiodnr.com or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.


During the 2004-05 deer hunting season, Ohio recorded 14 deer racks scoring more than 200 Boone and Crockett points each. In comparison, Pennsylvania has only five deer in the Boone and Crockett record book scoring over 200 since 1950.  Evidence of Ohio’s quality deer herd is reflected in the Buckeye Big Buck Club, which has recorded more than one-half of its top 20 entries for both typical and non-typical deer during the last 10 years.


Ohio’s trophy bucks have also gained national attention. The famous 39-point Beatty Buck was taken in Greene County in the fall of 2000. With a rack score of 304 6/8, it stands as the world's largest non-typical, white-tailed deer ever taken by a bow hunter. A typical white-tailed deer killed last fall in Warren County, known as the Jerman Buck, became an Ohio record with a score of 201 1/8.

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