Week of November 22 , 2004

National

Regional

Illinois

Minnesota

New York

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

       Weekly News Archives

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National

Court Rules that New Jersey Bear Hunt Will Proceed

(Trenton) – A New Jersey Appellate Court ruled today that bear hunting permits will be issued, clearing the way for the start of the upcoming, December 6-11, bear season.

 

The court ruled that Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley Campbell does not have the authority to veto state Fish and Game Council decisions authorizing hunting seasons.  The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation's Sportsmen's Legal Defense Fund (SLDF) and other sportsmen brought a lawsuit challenging the attempt to block the 2004 black bear hunt.

 

The suit was filed October 14 in response to Commissioner Campbell’s order that the state not release 2004 bear hunt   permit applications and to not issue permits for the hunt.

Campbell argued that he had the authority to overrule hunting seasons authorized by the Fish and Game Council. 

 

On October 27, Appellate Court Judge Jane Grall ordered the DEP to accept bear permit applications for the 2004 hunt.

 

“The ruling establishes that the rules of the Fish and Game Council are not to be subverted by political appointees with a bone to pick with hunting,” said U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance President Bud Pidgeon.  “We are happy that the system has worked for sportsmen and for the best interests of New Jersey’s wildlife.”

 

Wildlife biologists have determined that a limited hunt is necessary to control the burgeoning bear population in the state.

 


New Jersey Bear Hunt to Remain Open on State Land

(Trenton) – New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey has indicated that state lands will remain open to bear hunting.

 

Gannett News Service State Bureau in New Jersey quoted the governor upon learning that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would withhold $2 million in federal conservation funding if the scheduled bear hunt is prohibited on state lands, as has been threatened by an administration official.

 

The federal agency’s decision is in response to Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley Campbell’s decision to close specific state lands to bear hunting.

 

Federal wildlife officials have warned the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife that closing state lands that were intended

for hunting and had been purchased or maintained with federal sportsmen’s dollars constitutes a violation that puts the state in jeopardy of losing federal funding.

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service distributes excise taxes on sporting arms and ammunition to state wildlife agencies to aid in habitat restoration and other wildlife conservation programs.

 

“It is a welcome sign that Governor Codey is not willing to sacrifice conservation programs to support the DEP Commissioner’s private war to rule the New Jersey Fish and Game Council,” said Rob Sexton U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation’s vice president for government affairs.  “Perhaps now the door is open for the new governor to meet with sportsmen leaders to discuss the future of fish and wildlife programs including hunting and angling.”

 


The Patriot Act – and John Ashcroft

AS Attorney General John Ashcroft concludes his duties, Americans should applaud him for using the Patriot Act to

charge 372 suspected terrorists and convict 194 of them since 9/11.

 


Regional

Asian Carp Prevention - The effort continues

Our Asian Carp fund drive continues, and with many clubs beginning to hold their monthly meetings again, our drive picks up momentum.  But we need your help.  We still need $600,000 to keep this program alive, and we are the ones that will feel the impact of any invasion of Asian carp.  It’s our resource – and recreation, that will be affected.

 

We need everyone to help.

 

 Asian Carp and other invasive species are approaching the Great Lakes via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. You may have seen video clips of these jumping fish on TV. These large plankton-eating fish have the potential to wreak havoc on the Great Lakes ecology and our recreational fisheries. Although it is unlikely they would be come abundant in the middle of the lake, they almost certainly would do well in near shore areas, river mouths and shallow productive bays. Not only would this add an undesirable component to the ecosystem but these fish add an element of personal risk to boaters and others using recreational watercraft. We must do whatever we can to keep these fish out of the Great Lakes.

           

The electric fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal stops the passage of large fish. The U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers built this as a temporary project with only a three-year life span.   The three electrodes in this barrier are expected to wear out in about April 2005. One is already gone, the second will probably break down by the end of the year.

           

Asian carp have been captured only 22 miles downstream of the barrier. Involved agencies have a monitoring plan in place to determine the leading edge of the Asian carp population as they move closer to the barrier site and are working on a rapid response plan to kill the fish if they begin to accumulate in number below the barrier.

 

The Second Barrier        

A second larger, more powerful barrier has been designed and after a year of false starts construction is now scheduled to begin next week and completed by April 2005. However, the cost of the barrier design to stop Asian carp from entering the lake still exceeds the available funds by $600,000. We need more funding to help support construction of the barrier and to help pay for the rapid response plan if it has to be used.

                     

We are applying to other sources for the needed funds, but every contribution from any non-federal source will help.

 

Asian Carp Rapid Response

A Rapid response Committee has developed a Rapid Response Plan to address the presence of Asian carp in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal if they begin to congregate below the existing barrier before the second barrier is completed.

The Asian Carp Rapid Response Plan would involve eliminating Asian carp from 5.5 miles of the Sanitary and Ship Canal. Current estimates for implementation of the plan place the cost at about $450,000. There are 18 agencies involved in the response planning effort but none of them has the funds to enact the plan if it is needed. Funding for the plan is not covered in any Congressional Act or other agency mission. The response plan is a vital action which must be used if the carp appear in the Canal before Barrier II is in place.

           

We need your financial support to help keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The most immediate need is to gather enough money to make the rapid response happen if it is needed. The large-scale response if needed would most likely occur this fall. Once Barrier II is online the response would be scaled back to treat the 1000 ft distance between the barriers if fish were found between the barriers.

           

The second use for the funds would be to maintain and improve Barrier I. Barrier I will still be needed after Barrier II is built. We need your help to ask Congress to extend that authorization indefinitely and to provide the Corps with the directive to construct improvements to Barrier I. These improvements would increase the effectiveness of Barrier I and the service life of the project. Right now, the Corps of Engineers does not have the authority to operate Barrier I after September 2005.

 

Use of Contributed Funds

The collected funds will be held by the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council and will be distributed based on the direction of a board of non-agency trustees including the president of the GLSFC. All contributions are tax deductible and 100 %  of the contributions will be used towards Asian carp prevention. Contributions will be used to:

1)         Implement the Asian Carp Rapid Response Plan

2)         Construct Barrier II

3)         Improve or operate Barrier I

The funds will not be used for agency labor or overhead and will not be used for research. Collected donations will be used to pay for barrier construction, carp control chemicals or if absolutely necessary, for operating expenses of the barrier.

 

 

 

Send your donations to:

GLSFC – carp fund

P.O. Box 297

Elmhurst, IL  60126

 

Or use our PayPal for credit card donations.  Go to www.great-lakes.org/carp


Carp Fund Barometer

Donation          Ranking

$    1 – 10   Alewife

 

$  11 – 20  Yellow Perch

 

$  21 – 50   Black Bass

     Berg, Jeffrey W.

     Cozzie, Ken

     Fuka, John J.

     Gold Coast Charter Service

 

$  51 – 100   Coho Salmon

     Couston, Tom

     Yahara Fishing Club

$  101 – 200   Walleye

     Chagrin River Salmon Association

 

$  201 – 500   Brown Trout

     Northeast Wis. GL Sport Fishermen

     Detroit Area Steelheaders 

$  501 – 1000   Steelhead

 

$  1001 – 5000   Chinook Salmon

 

$  5001 – UP   Lake Trout

 

_____________________

Current Total= $1,015.00


Asian carp carcass found below electronic barrier

Discovery raises new fears of infestation

Chicago—Illinois DNR representatives last week displayed the photo of a severely decomposed silver carp they had found 2 miles below the first electronic barrier raising new fears of infestation.  The dead fish found in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal last week raised new concerns the Asian carp are

closer to Lake Michigan.

 

Last Wednesday, Illinois’ Lake Michigan DNR Program manager Tom Trudeau notified the Chicago Waterway Barrier Committee that it was a 32”, 5 lb silver carp. Trudeau said the DNR conducted some testing in the canal near where the dead fish was found did not turn up any other Asian carp.

 


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for November 19, 2004

Current Lake Levels: 

All of the Great Lakes except Lake Ontario are 5 to 9 inches above last year’s levels.  Lake Ontario is 7 inches below its level of a year ago.  Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron and St. Clair remain below their long-term averages by 2, 13 and 5 inches, respectively. Lake Erie is at its long-term average and Lake Ontario has dropped below its long-term average by 3 inches. 


Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be above average during the month of November.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are expected to be below average in November. The Niagara and St. Lawrence River flows are projected to be near average for the month of November.

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

A storm developing in the southern plains is forecasted to push into the Great Lakes Basin for the weekend.  This system will bring the chance for rain on Saturday and Sunday.  Much colder air will follow this storm system, leading to a slight chance of snow early next week. 

 

Forecasted Water Levels: 

Lake Superior and Michigan-Huron are in their seasonal declines and the levels are expected to fall 3 and 2 inches, respectively, over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are continuing their seasonal decline and expected to drop by 1, 1 and 2 inches, respectively.

 

Alerts:

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.

 


Won't sign Great Lakes water deal, Ontario says

 The Ontario government has refused to sign draft agreements that seek to preserve the Great Lakes, insisting the proposed deals were not strong enough to protect water from being siphoned out.

 

Ontario's Globe and Mail reports as Canadian and U.S. negotiators were sitting down in Chicago last week, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced that the province would not sign the current drafts of the Great Lakes Charter Annex after they met with a cool reception with environmentalists and First Nations groups during public consultations over the past three months.

 

While the proposed agreements among Ontario, Quebec and the eight U.S. states that border the Great Lakes basin would regulate diversions of water from the lakes, the minister said that Ontario will stick to current provincial legislation that outlaws water diversions altogether. The province would be willing to sign an agreement that followed a proposal of the International Joint Commission -- the bilateral body that monitors the cross-border flow of water -- that 95 per cent of water removed be returned in the same or better condition.

"That's the standard we'd like to see, and the Great Lakes Charter Annex doesn't hold to that standard," Mr. Ramsay said. "And over time, it allows for small diversions. But over time, the cumulative impact of that, we think, would be a danger." Still, Ontario plans to return to the table when talks are scheduled to resume in January to make a deal that would protect the water -- which meets the needs of 40 million people on both sides of the border -- through binding agreements.

 

Environmentalists -- who hardly dared hope the province was listening during consultations when they criticized the draft agreements for allowing diversions -- are elated.  "I'm very, very pleased because this could shift things on the whole agreement across North America," said Elizabeth May, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada.

 

A preliminary version of the Great Lakes Charter Annex was signed in 2001, after a public outcry over a permit issued by the Harris government to a company proposing to export up to 600 million litres of water a year from Lake Superior to sell in Asian markets.  It is not clear whether the parties will return to the talks, given Ontario's position, or if the states will write an agreement of their own.


Illinois

Waukegan Harbor cleanup under way

First step to re-development of lakefront

Waukegan - A $27 million cleanup started last week 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.

A federal consent decree signed Oct. 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.

 

The USEPA adds soil contaminated 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.


Governor’s Veto on gun bill shot down

SPRINGFIELD -- Rejecting the governor's veto, Illinois lawmakers last week overwhelmingly voted to give new legal protection to homeowners who use a banned handgun to shoot burglars. The House voted 85-30 last Tuesday to override Gov. Rod Blagojevich's veto. The Senate had approved the bill earlier, so it now becomes law.

 

The bill's supporters saw it as a statement of support for the basic concept that people should be able to defend themselves in their own homes. Opponents viewed it as an attempt to undercut local gun laws.

 

It was inspired by the case of Hale DeMar, a Wilmette restaurant owner who shot a burglar who had broken into his

home twice. County prosecutors declined to press charges for the shooting, but Wilmette officials charged DeMar with breaking the city's ban on handguns.

 

Under the new state law, someone who shoots an intruder on his or her property could not be convicted of violating a local gun ban. The new law does not, however, prevent state charges if prosecutors believe the shooting itself was a crime.

 

Blagojevich, a Chicago Democrat, vetoed the bill earlier this year, arguing it would encourage people to defy local gun laws. There was no debate Tuesday in the House, but the bill's supporters say people forced to defend their home should not then be put through the trauma of facing charges.


Illinois Supreme Court Frees Gun Makers of Liability

Gun Makers Say Decision Shows Urgent Need for Lawsuit Protection Act

Chicago—A unanimous Illinois Supreme Court rejected the City of Chicago's attempt to blame gun makers for the criminal misuse of firearms within the city. In rejecting Chicago's case the court ruled that gun makers do not owe a “duty to the city of Chicago or its residents to prevent their firearms from ending up in the hands of persons who use and possess them illegally.”

 

The court concluded that the “matter of regulating the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearms” was best left to the legislature, not the courts.

 

“Today's decision is the latest in a long list of appellate court decisions that have rejected politically motivated 'junk' lawsuits that have tried to blame the makers of well-made, lawfully sold firearms for the actions of criminals,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry's trade association. “Chicago's reckless lawsuit was premised on a thoroughly discredited legal theory.”

 

Chicago now joins a list of other cities that have failed in their suits against gun makers. Other cities include Boston,

Cincinnati, Newark and Jersey City.

 

While members of the firearm industry are no longer at risk of immediate bankruptcy from Chicago's case that sought over $430 million in damages plus untold millions in punitive damages, the legal threats to the continued existence of the industry are far from over. The costs of mounting repeated defenses to junk lawsuits are staggering. Keane estimates that the industry has spent almost $200 million dollars to defend itself with no end in sight.

 

“We are pleased by today's ruling, of course. But our industry has been forced since the late 1990s to repeatedly defend itself at tremendous cost and expense against harassment from anti-gun zealots filing bogus lawsuits. The only thing that's been proven is that it’s all just a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money,” said Keane.

 

“Chicago's case is just the latest example of why Congress must act swiftly to enact common sense legal reform to end once and for all these predatory suits,” said Keane. He was referring to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a federal bill that would end suits that seek to impose liability on manufacturers and sellers of firearms for the criminal misuse of non-defective, lawfully sold firearms. Keane noted that over 30 states have already enacted similar legislation. The bill is strongly supported by President Bush.

 


Minnesota

Deer harvest likely to be among highest on record     

The number of deer harvested during the 2004 firearms season will likely be among the highest on record, according to preliminary estimates from the Minnesota DNR.

   

Using preliminary data from the electronic registration database, the 2004 harvest is down about eight percent compared with 2003, the highest harvest on record. The harvest may exceed 2002, when 197,000 deer were registered during the firearms season, the second highest total on record.

    

"The nice weather this past weekend apparently made some difference," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "We had lots of hunters in the woods and many took advantage of permit options that allowed them to harvest multiple deer."

    

Sales of firearms deer licenses through Monday totaled 420,321, slightly below last year's total of 422,376 at the same time. License sales in 2002 were 412,913 following the second weekend of the season.

    

Cornicelli said this season's deer harvest, when fully totaled, will likely be lower than the 2003 record of 290,525 but ahead of 2002 total of 222,050. "We didn't expect to set a new record

this year," he said. "We're very pleased with the number of deer harvested."

 

The DNR completed collection of lymph node samples to be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The samples were collected from harvested wild deer this year at more than 130 big game registration stations in 60 permit areas located in parts of the northwest, north central, east central and southwest portions of the state.

    

Hunters who allowed DNR staff to sample their deer were entered in a raffle for 30 guns and bows. The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will conduct the drawing and winners will be announced in December.

 

This is the third and final year of DNR testing for CWD in Minnesota's wild deer population. During the 2002 and 2003 deer hunting seasons, the DNR collected and tested 14,450 deer, none of which tested positive for CWD. Testing results for deer harvested in the 2004 season will be available at the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us as results for each permit area are completed.

    

Deer hunting season remains open from Nov. 20-28 in southeast Minnesota. Muzzleloader season will be held statewide from Nov. 27-Dec. 12 and archery deer season continues through Dec. 31.


Deadline approaching to apply for spring wild turkey hunt – Dec 3

All resident Minnesota wild turkey hunters interested in hunting this spring must apply electronically no later than Friday, Dec. 3, at any of the 1,800 Electronic License System (ELLS) agents at businesses across the state. A nonrefundable $3 application fee must be paid at the time of application.

     

This spring's wild turkey hunt will consist of six five-day and two seven-day seasons between April 13 and May 26 in 60 wild turkey permit areas.   More hunters than ever will be able to pursue Minnesota's wild turkeys this year, as an additional 4,300 permits will be available in the lottery for 2005 spring turkey season.

    

The decision to increase permits, which is supported by the National Wild Turkey Federation, was based on current hunter densities, hunter satisfaction and the amount of turkey habitat available.

    

"There's no question that our wild turkey population can withstand more hunting," said Bill Penning, Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) farmland wildlife program leader. "But we don't want hunters to feel crowded in the woods. "With the additional permits, hunter density will increase from one to about 1.6 hunters per square mile of turkey habitat, still well below the three to four hunters per square mile common in southern and some Midwest states."

    

Hunters will be asked for the first time this year to state a second choice in the last three seasons if they aren't successful in the lottery for their first choice. If a hunter is successful in the lottery for second-choice and purchases a

license, they will lose their preference points for future drawings.

 

Hunters who are unsuccessful in the second-choice drawing or choose not to purchase a second-choice tag will not lose preference points for future drawings. They will be eligible to purchase a surplus turkey permit, which are sold, on a first-come, first-served basis in mid-March.

    

Also new this year is an archery spring turkey license for residents and nonresidents. Archery spring turkey licenses may be purchased for the last two time periods only for any permit area with 50 or more applicants. Applicants who are successful in the spring permit lottery are exempt from the spring archery license.

 

All wild turkey hunters seeking to hunt in spring 2005 must obtain an application booklet at one of the ELLS agents or an application worksheet on the DNR Web site under wild turkey hunting at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting . The application booklet contains maps of open wild turkey permit areas, permit quotas, dates and an application worksheet.

    

The application worksheet should be filled out in advance to ease completion of the application process at an ELS agent. Turkey hunting licenses are made available by a preference system drawing.

    

A special landowner-tenant preference drawing for up to 20 percent of the permits is also a part of this system. Starting this year, licenses issued under this special drawing are restricted to land owner or leased by the license holder. Successful applicants in the drawing will be mailed the 2005 Spring Wild Turkey Hunt Book by Feb. 15.


New York

Southern Zone Deer Hunting begins Nov 22

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty announced that the 2004 regular deer hunting season opens at sunrise on Monday, November 22, 2004, in New York State’s Southern Zone. The regular Southern Zone big game hunting season closes at sunset on Tuesday, December 14, 2004.

 

The deer harvest of 253,000 in 2003 was a decline from recent high harvests, primarily because of loses that occurred during the harsh winter of 2002-03. Last winter saw a return to more typical winter weather in most areas of New York, and deer numbers have begun to recover.

 

New York’s deer management program strives to maintain deer herds at levels compatible with people’s use of the land, while minimizing negative impacts and providing  high-quality hunting opportunities. To aid in determining deer population sizes, local Citizen Task Forces are convened by DEC to represent a broad range of public interests and are charged with developing a desired deer population level for the area in which they live. 

 

The Southern Zone includes most of upstate New York outside of the Northern Zone, except for Westchester County.  In the Northern Zone, which generally includes the Adirondacks, the Tug Hill Plateau, the Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened October 23 and closes December 5, 2004.                                                                       

 

In the Southern Zone, a five-day late archery season opens December 15 and closes at sunset on December 19, 2004.  A seven-day late muzzleloading season in the Southern Zone also begins December 15 and concludes on December 21, 2004.   Hunters taking part in either of the late seasons must possess either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges and they may use their bowhunting/ muzzleloading tags. They may also use their deer management permits to take an antlerless deer and additionally they may also take a deer of either sex with an unused regular season big game tag.                     

Hunters are also reminded that Southern Zone bear hunting seasons do not open at the same time as deer season. Black bear season opens November 27 in the Catskill region and on November 29, 2004, in the Allegany region in western New York.  Specific descriptions of areas that are open for bear hunting are listed on page 24 in the 2004-05 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide and at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/guide/guide.html on the DEC website.

 

Although not included in the 2004-05 Hunting and Trapping Guide, changes in DEC regulations (effective November 24, 2004) will open several additional areas to bear hunting this year.  These changes, which were subject to a 45-day public comment period, will allow bear hunting in WMUs 4O and 4P in the Catskill regions and in WMUs 9J, 9K, 9M, 9N, 9P, and 9W in the Allegany region.  Firearm bear hunting in those regions begins on November 27 in the Catskill region and November 29, 2004, in the Allegany region. More details about the season dates can be found at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/guide/bear.html on the DEC website.

 

DEC has also proposed a number of changes to the Southern Zone deer hunting seasons for 2005.  Included among these changes are an expansion of the special archery season by moving the opening date earlier, changing the opening day of the regular season to a Saturday instead of the traditional Monday and creating a new special antlerless-only muzzleloader season in mid-October for black powder enthusiasts. Based on numerous comments received during the last two years, DEC has proposed these changes to enhance hunter satisfaction, increase participation, especially for young hunters, and increase antlerless deer harvests where needed.  A statewide outreach program regarding these proposals will occur in February 2005. Information regarding the proposed season restructuring can be found on the DEC website at        www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/guide/2005back.html

 

 


Pennsylvania

50th annual Eastern Sports/Outdoor Show Bring Hunting Greats to Harrisburg Feb 5 -13

HARRISBURG--Hunters Chuck Adams, David E. Petzal, Jim Shockey, and Jim Zumbo, will be featured seminar speakers at the 2005 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, February 5-13, in Harrisburg, PA.

   

The Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show is the largest consumer event of its kind in North America. Attracting outdoor sports enthusiasts from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West

Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Washington, DC to view hunting and fishing products, plan outdoor sports and camping vacations, shop for boats, RVs, SUVs, motorcycles and ATVs, and participate in a wide range of family entertainment.

 

For seminar times and more info, or to buy tickets on-line: www.easternsportshow.com  or call 800-511-8376. Online tickets will be on sale after December 1, 2004.

 


Elk Hunters have great season

HARRISBURG - As part of the state's fourth modern-day elk season, which ran from Nov. 8-13, the 40 hunters awarded elk licenses harvested a total of 34 elk: 12 antlered and 22 antlerless.  The licenses were selected in a public drawing on Sept. 25, from a field of more than 22,750 entrants.

 

"Elk are one of North America's premier big game animals," said Vern Ross, Pennsylvania Game Commission executive director.  "Pennsylvania is privileged to offer this unique hunting opportunity, which is important in maintaining and showcasing our state's rich hunting heritage.  And, as an independent agency, this hunt also is a credit to our wildlife management program."

 

The elk license allocation for the 2004 elk hunt was designed to scale back the number of licenses and focus hunter pressure on the units where landowners continue to face conflicts with elk.  The allocation also was set to allow the herd to grow in those elk management areas where there is adequate habitat and where conflicts are minimal.

 

Last year, the 100 licensed hunters took 18 antlered and 50 antlerless elk.  In 2002, 70 licensed hunters took 32 antlered elk and 29 antlerless elk.  In 2001, 30 licensed hunters took 14 antlered and 13 antlerless elk in the state's first modern-day elk hunt.

 

The heaviest bull elk was taken by Harmon Silloway, age 39, of Sandy Lake, Mercer County.  He took an 806-pound, 7x7 at 7 a.m. on Nov. 8, in Elk Management Area 9, Jay Township, Elk County.

 

The bull elk with the largest rack was taken by Timothy Harvey,

age 34, of Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County.  He took a 753-pound, 9x8 at 7:10 a.m. on Nov. 8, in Elk Management Area 10, Jay Township, Elk County.

 

The heaviest antlerless elk was taken by Mark Peet, age 41, of Liberty, Tioga County.  He took a 606-pound antlerless elk at 4 p.m. on Nov. 10, in Elk Management Area 3, Gibson Township, Cameron County.

 

The youngest hunter was 15-year-old Cody Cogan, of Weedville, Elk County.  Cogan took a 722-pound, 6x6 bull elk at 8:50 a.m. on Nov. 11, in Elk Management Area 2, Jay Township, Elk County.

 

The most senior hunter was 71-year-old Richard Schilling, of Lancaster, New York.  He took a 481-pound antlerless elk at 3:20 p.m. on Nov. 9, in Elk Management Area 3, Shippen Township, Cameron County.

 

The only female hunter, Kimberly Doms, of Worthington, Armstrong County, took a 527-pound antlerless elk at 9:05 a.m. on Nov. 9, in Elk Management Area 8, Gibson Township, Cameron County.

 

Cal DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director, said the Game Commission is planning for a 2005 elk hunt. Pending review of harvest and population data, agency staff will discuss plans for a 2005 elk hunt and make recommendations to the Board of Game Commissioners meeting in January," DuBrock said.

 

For more info, go to: (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on "Wildlife," then choose "Elk."


General Assembly Passes License/Registration Package

Awaits Governor's signature

By a 46-1 vote, the State Senate last Thursday passed legislation that would increase operating revenues for the Commonwealth’s fishing and boating programs. 

 

The measure – House Bill 2155 – has already passed the House and now goes to Governor Edward Rendell for signature.  When signed into law, the increase will go into effect January 1, 2005.

          

The bill provides much-needed operating revenue for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) through modest increases in the fees charged for fishing licenses and boat registrations.  HB 2155 also includes new forms of licenses and permits including a Lake Erie stamp, a combo Lake Erie/Trout stamp and charter boat/fishing guide permits.

       

Unlike most state agencies, the PFBC does not receive General Fund tax revenues for its day-to-day operations, relying instead almost exclusively on the revenues generated from registration and license sales.

       

PFBC Executive Director Douglas Austen hailed passage of HB 2155 as a major victory for the state’s anglers and boaters.  “Members of the General Assembly listened to their constituents when they said funding for preserving fishing and boating programs was important to them.  In fact, this new fee structure was originally developed by a consortium of fishing and boating groups working with the chairs of the House Game & Fisheries Committee, Representative Bruce Smith and Representative Ed Staback.   They recognized the financial needs of the Commission and actively worked together on this legislation as part of the solution.”

       

The fee structure established in HB 2155 evolved from the input of the state’s major sporting and boating organizations, including the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Pennsylvania Boating Association of Southeast PA, Pennsylvania Trout, Pennsylvania B.A.S.S., Pennsylvania Boating Association of Southwest PA, Coalition of Concerned Anglers and Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania.

       

 “Nobody likes to pay higher fees for anything, but once again the state’s sportsmen have made it clear they are willing to pay reasonable prices for the programs and services they enjoy,” noted Austen.   “By not only agreeing to pay slightly

more, but actively pushing for a fee increase, anglers and boaters indicated they recognize the quality of the aquatic resources in Pennsylvania and they want to see the programs to manage and protect those resources continue to flourish.”

 

Fishing license fees in Pennsylvania have not changed since 1996.  Some permits, like the Trout Stamp and boat registrations have remained unchanged since 1991.  Even the most basic costs of doing business have risen dramatically over that timeframe, however.  The PFBC stretched its limited resources through tight budgeting, delaying equipment purchases and trimming staff.

 

The Commission will continue this history of wise fiscal management.  The revenue increase will enable the PFBC to maintain programs and undertake new initiatives including a customer-friendly computerized license sales system, payment of debt service on top priority projects, completing a Waterways Conservation Officer school, and fisheries management efforts.  The PFBC will be able to continue to grow and stock fish, keep law enforcement officers on the water, show people how and where to fish and boat safely.  Some of the new Boat Fund revenue can be used to support improvements to launch ramps and dams, as well as enhanced boating programs.

 

While HB 2155 addresses the pressing need for revenues for the PFBC’s daily operations, the question of funding for state-owned infrastructure managed by the agency continues to loom large.  There is an estimated $110 million (and growing) backlog at state lakes, fish hatcheries and boat launches managed by the Commission.  A separate dedicated, long-term source of funding – not license and registration dollars – is needed to address these issues.

       

“HB 2155 will enable us to continue managing the state’s fisheries, create improved fish habitat, keep waterways conservation officers on patrol, maintain boating safety programs, provide aquatic education programs and much more,” said Austen.  “But it’s not a magic pill.  It doesn’t overcome all the challenges that fishing and boating face in Pennsylvania. 

 

We’re thankful that the Legislature took prompt action on the fee package.  We look forward to working with the members to find practical, long-term solutions to address the needs at lakes, hatcheries and boat launches.”


Wisconsin

Fall fish surveys wrapping up statewide

MADISON -- With water temperatures heading south, work is wrapping up statewide to survey inland lakes to assess how well fish reproduced last spring and how other ages and sizes of fish fared.

 

The fall fish surveys are part of the Wisconsin DNR's evolving baseline monitoring program that every year assesses fish populations in up to 200 inland lakes using the same equipment and same techniques at the same time. Such fall work has gained added importance because the agency now conducts its most comprehensive fish surveys at this time, looking for different fish species and sizes, not just targeting a specific species or size.

 

DNR fisheries managers have been conducting fish surveys in the fall, spring and summer for decades for many of the same reasons. What's new about the baseline monitoring program is the uniformity in how and when fish managers conduct the surveys, the reliability and comparability of the information, and the broader uses for such information, according to Tim Simonson, who coordinates lake monitoring for the DNR fisheries program.

 

"Baseline monitoring gives us more of a systematic way than we've had in the past of making sure we get into the major lakes and are not just sampling a few favorite lakes over and over," Simonson says. "It allows us to see how an individual fishery has changed over time and how it stacks up against other similar lakes."

 

In addition, baseline monitoring gives fisheries officials a gauge of whether the management actions on a specific water or across similar waters are working, tips them off to problems that require more extensive investigation, and provides an overall sense of the lakes' health and condition over time. Other DNR staff use information from baseline monitoring to determine what kind of fish community the water is capable of supporting for purposes of determining the water quality standards that wastewater dischargers must meet, Simonson says.

 

The baseline monitoring program focuses on lakes with public access, with most of the sampling concentrated on lakes 100 acres or larger. Lakes less than 100 acres are sampled to a lesser degree. Sampling occurs at different times during the year for different reasons. Spring sampling focuses on spawning runs on several lakes throughout the state to determine abundance, age, and growth of adult game fish. Summer sampling seeks smaller fish species, many of which reflect water quality, habitat conditions, and forage abundance, are sampled. Fall sampling seeks to determine the abundance, size, and growth rates of fish, as well as the number that hatched in the spring and survived to fall. This last measurement is a future indicator of how good the fishing will be, Simonson says.

 

In the fall, fisheries crews sample when the water temperature is between 50 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, Simonson says. They use big electrofishing boats, often called "boomshockers," that deliver an electrical current to the water that temporarily stun the fish and make them easier to capture. The crews work after dark since fish move up in the shallow water areas in the evening to feed, where the electrofishing rig is most efficient. Working under bright lights attached to their boat, crew members in the boat pick up the stunned fish with dip nets, identify the fish by species, measure them and return them to the water.

 

DNR shifted its comprehensive surveys to fall to collect a more representative sample of fish sizes, to conduct work when fisheries crews have fewer other duties demanding their time, and to have a longer time frame for collecting fish, Simonson says.

 

Here's a sampling of fall survey results from some of the fisheries managers who have completed their sampling and started analyzing the information.

 

Lake Superior

The Lake Superior Fisheries Team just finished the annual lake trout spawning assessments on Gull Island Shoal, Sand Cut Reef and Devils Island Shoal. During eight days of netting, 1,841 lake trout were captured with more than 95 percent of those being unclipped, native fish. Spawning lake trout abundance has increased dramatically since the early 1960s, when almost no females were caught during the spawning assessments. The lake trout were tagged and released to estimate the spawning stock size and investigate seasonal fish movement patterns. Tagging lake trout over the years has also demonstrated the slow growth of lake trout in Lake Superior. Many tagged trout that have been recaptured have only grown several inches since the 1970s. During sampling, the staff from the Bayfield Hatchery also collected eggs for the lake trout and splake stocking programs. - Michael J. Seider, fisheries biologist, Bayfield

 

Northern Rusk and Sawyer counties

We conducted the most comprehensive fall survey schedule in history, due to recent re-emphasis of fall boomshocking in monitoring survey protocol. Waters visited: Sand, Nelson, Black Dan, Island, Windigo, Ashegon, Christner, Round, Chippewa Flowage, Blueberry, Chetac, and Hayward lakes, all in Sawyer County and Potato Lake in Rusk County. Streams visited this summer included the Couderay, Wiergor, and Thornapple systems in both counties. In general, the fall surveys indicate very poor reproduction/survival of young of most species, which given the late spring and subsequent "non-summer," is about what would have been predicted.

 

Walleye reproduction in most wild walleye lakes and survival of 2-inch fingerlings in many stocked lakes followed that general pattern. Notable exceptions: phenomenal walleye reproduction in Grindstone Lake, Sawyer County; very good survival of 2-inch fingerlings and/or wild young-of-year (YOY) in Chetac and Sand lakes, Sawyer County; good hatches of YOY yellow perch in Sand, Chetac, Nelson lakes. That's good news since perch are the base of the fish food web and probably explains good walleye survival in first two lakes. Indications from very small average-size of those perch are that spawning/hatch must have been unusually late this year. Evaluation of the experimental brown trout stocking program in Round Lake, Sawyer County, showed that trophy objectives are being obtained. Brown trout from the first year of stocking, 2003, have already achieved the 18-inch minimum size. Expect big things from this newly established two-story fishery in 2005. On the stream stocking/evaluation side: the stocking of wild strain Timber Coulee brown trout in Couderay River, Devils Creek (Rusk), and Big and Little Weirgor systems in Sawyer and Rusk counties appears to be working, where previously, stocking domestic strain in these streams had been a near-total failure.

 

Ongoing results of musky stocking evaluations continue to suggest that stocking large numbers of large fingerlings may not be as critical to sustaining the fishery as it once was. (When the fishery was overexploited and before re-establishment of old/large size/age structure.) - Frank B. Pratt, senior fisheries biologist, Hayward.

 

Bayfield, Ashland, Price, and Forest counties

Fall night-time boomshocker surveys on lakes within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest indicated variable results for game fish year-class production. In general, largemouth bass had a good hatch this year with most lakes experiencing good numbers of young-of-year largemouth. However, the fish were smaller than average, with many of the juvenile bass in the 1.8 to 2.5-inch size. This appears to be a result of the late spring and later spawning season. Smallmouth bass experienced a fair to mediocre hatch, but the young-of-year were a little better size than the largemouth (smallmouth YOY mode at 2.5 to 3.0 inches).

 

Walleye young-of-year production was really variable, with

some lakes producing a good year-class of fish and other lakes experiencing a poor year-class, with even some stocked lakes showing poor survival of stocked walleye. Size of the

young-of-year walleye was average, with the fish generally ranging from 5 to 6 inches. Musky year-class production was generally stable. Numbers of young-of-year fish were not real high but their size was excellent (size range of 10 to 11.5 inches compared to the usual average size of 8 to 10 inches). On the panfish side, yellow perch hatches were fair to good, the crappie hatch was fair, and the bluegill hatch was poor.- Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls.

 

Florence, Forest, Lincoln, Langlade, Onieda and Vilas counties

Electrofishing surveys were conducted this fall on about 40 waters in northeastern Wisconsin. Out of the Woodruff area, three shocker boats were running each night from early September to mid-October. In general, walleye spawning appeared to be poor. On the majority of waters, few young-of-year walleye were observed and those that were captured appeared to be in poor condition. The long cool spring was a contributing factor to this. Fisheries biologists are not concerned at this point since year-classes are highly variable from year to year; typically, excellent hatches are experienced every three to five years and those year-classes support our fisheries. Bluegill also experienced poor spawning conditions this spring. The cool weather in May forced fish to spawn much later than normal, with some local anglers reporting seeing bluegill spawning in late July. Few, if any, young-of-year bluegill were noted in fall surveys.

 

Modest numbers of young-of-year bass, northern pike and muskellunge were collected indicating some limited spawning success for these species. Specific results: Langlade and Lincoln counties - We found above average walleye reproduction on the Spirit Reservoir in Lincoln County this fall as we captured 33 young-of-the-year (YOY) walleye per mile electrofished. This is slightly down from 2003 when we captured 41 per mile, but still above average for northern Wisconsin lakes with naturally reproducing walleye populations. The banner 2002 walleye year-class (188 per mile) should be 10 to 12 inches next summer (2005) and should become legal size (15 inches) in 2007-08. Merrill Flowage on the Wisconsin River and Tug Lake, both in Lincoln County, had some limited walleye natural reproduction. We captured 10 YOY walleye per mile electrofished on Merrill Flowage and 2 per mile on Tug Lake. We found no walleye reproduction, supporting the current walleye stocking programs on the following lakes in Lincoln and Langlade counties: Seven Island, Somo, Squaw, and Upper Post. Despite being stocked with 100 fingerling walleye per acre in June, we did not find any YOY walleye in Moccasin Lake in Langlade County and Pesabic Lake in Lincoln County indicating poor survival of stocked fingerlings in these lakes. Oneida County - DNR conducted fall surveys on 17 Oneida County lakes during 2004.

 

After a very cool summer, walleye recruitment success was mixed, largemouth and smallmouth bass showed good numbers, bluegill recruitment was poor to nonexistent, while yellow perch pulled off a bumper year-class in many lakes. Most Oneida County lakes with natural reproduction had moderate numbers of young-of-year walleye -- better than the poor showing in 2003 but not a banner year-class. Walleye size was also variable among lakes. Young-of-year walleye were only 3.5 to 4.5 inches in some lakes, while in other lakes they were 6 to 8 inches long. - John Kubisiak, fisheries biologist, Rhinelander; Dave Seibel, fisheries biologist, Antigo; Mike Vogelsang, fisheries team leader, Woodruff.

 

Sheboygan County

Fall baseline surveys were conducted on Crystal, Random and Little Elkhart lakes in fall 2004. As expected, fish populations in Crystal Lake looked healthy. Largemouth bass and bluegills were relatively abundant and consisted generally of good-sized fish. Random Lake produced the normal small panfish, a scattering of largemouth bass and some very nice walleyes along with three legal size muskies. Little Elkhart had generally small panfish and a nice size range of largemouth bass. - John Nelson, senior fisheries biologist, Plymouth.

 

Washington County

Fall baseline surveys were conducted on Little Cedar, Big Cedar, Pike and Friess Lakes. The catch on Little Cedar Lake was disappointing with small panfish and small Northern pike with some nice bass. Big Cedar Lake produced a nice catch of fair to large size panfish, a normal catch of largemouth bass, a good size range of walleye and a size range of Northern pike which included several fingerling Northerns from this spring's hatch. Pike Lake produced some nice bluegills, crappies and perch along with a fair number of largemouth bass and a nice catch of walleyes. Friess Lake produced some nice panfish and a good catch of largemouth bass, which were mainly fingerlings from this summer's hatch. - John Nelson, senior fisheries biologist, Plymouth

 

Fond du Lac County

We surveyed Long Lake and Forest Lake this fall. The fish population of Forest Lake was disappointing with an overabundance of small bluegills but, a few nice bass and a couple of northern pike. Long Lake produced a good catch of nice panfish, largemouth bass and a number of mostly small northern pike. A few nice walleyes were also observed on Long Lake. - John Nelson, senior fisheries biologist, Plymouth.

 

Walworth, Racine, Kenosha counties

Some of the lakes we conducted fish surveys on this fall were Vern Wolf, Tripp, Whitewater, Lauderdale, Delavan, Hooker, Potters, and Browns. The fish population in Vern Wolf Lake is progressing nicely since it was chemically treated 2001. The lake supports bluegills, pumpkinseeds, black crappie, yellow perch, largemouth bass, and northern pike. Bluegills and yellow perch are the most abundant fish in the lake and most of them are between 4 and 6 inches long and growing. Some 7-inch fish are present. Few northern pike and largemouth bass are legal size yet (26 inches for northerns and 18 inches for bass), but they are growing.

 

Tripp Lake has a nice largemouth bass population with fish up to 17 inches long. The dominant game fish in Whitewater Lake is largemouth bass. Several year classes are present and growth rates are excellent. Our smallmouth bass stocking efforts on the Lauderdale Lakes are beginning to pay off. We sampled 22 smallmouth. These fish aren't legal size yet (14 inches), but growth appears to be good. If this project is successful, anglers can look forward to another smallmouth bass angling opportunity in southeast Wisconsin. Delavan Lake still supports excellent populations of walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and northern pike. We sampled walleyes up to 23 inches in length, and bass up to 18 inches long. Potters and Hooker lakes also support bass up to 18 inches in length. We have been stocking walleyes into Browns Lake since 2002. Our fish survey this fall sampled 12 of those fish. None were legal size (15 inches). - Douglas Welch, senior fisheries biologist, Sturtevant.

 

La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford and Monroe counties

Our surveys have found that trout numbers are down from previous years, probably from the low water levels we've had to deal with the last couple of years. There was spotty recruitment with some streams having more young of the year than others. This was due to the localized flooding that occurred this spring. Streams that did not have high water had good numbers of small trout, while streams that flooded did not. Our water levels are back up to normal in most streams so I would expect to see a significant increase in natural reproduction next year (from this falls spawning), barring any major spring flooding. We did have some nice brook and brown trout show up, with several brook trout in the 15-16 inch range and a good number of browns in the 16-18 range. Best brown we had was 24.4 inches long. - Dave Vetrano, fisheries supervisor, La Crosse.

 


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