Week of December 8 , 2003









New York





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E.U. proposes more cuts in fish catches but stops short of cod ban

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union's head office backed away from a total catch ban for popular fish like cod and hake but proposed reinforcing checks on fishermen next year to reverse rapidly depleting stocks.

In setting out proposed catch quotas for the 15-nation bloc, which have to be approved by E.U. governments in December, the European Commission ignored scientific advice for a total ban on cod fishing. But E.U. Agriculture and Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler said reduced fishing could continue if enforcement was beefed up to ensure quotas were not exceeded.

He called current enforcement of the E.U.'s conservation fishery rules "unsatisfactory" and said more had to be done by national inspectors to check catches both on fishing boats and in ports.  "Key demersal stocks continue to be in a precarious state and the whole industry pays the price," Fischler said in a statement.

Scientists as the Copenhagen-based International Council for the Exploration of the Sea have called for a total ban on the fishing of most cod stocks in Atlantic fisheries, fearing total collapse of the species there.  However, E.U. officials acknowledge that pushing a full ban now — strongly opposed by the fishing industry — would likely never get the backing of E.U. fishery ministers.

"We are not picking up the recommendation that there should be zero catches," said John Farnell, director of the Commission's fish conservation unit. "We have opted for a more realistic approach ... to allow fishing to continue at significantly reduced levels."


The new proposals do lay out further cuts to quotas and more

restrictions on the number of days fishing fleets can be out at sea. The Commission said its long-term aim was to allow severely depleted cod stocks to replenish by 30 percent in certain fishing areas.

For hake and sole, the Commission is calling for a cut in catches of up to 50 percent. And for North Sea cod, the Commission wants to keep last year's cuts in place, which saw reductions in catches of 45 percent. In addition controls on fish catches would be "enhanced" E.U.-wide.

E.U. fisheries ministers at their November meeting failed to make any headway to save the popular fish stocks from commercial extinction. As is the case almost every year, the ministers decided to delay a final decision on quotas until their December meeting.  Conservationists fear the ministers will water down the Commission's proposals, which they criticized as weak already.

The fishing industry is battling hard to keep the fishing grounds open, warning that the livelihoods of 200,000 people are at stake. 

In a study released this autumn ICES said North Sea and Skagerrak cod stocks reached 52,000 metric tons this year, less than a third of their minimum recommended size. It said the most dramatic drop was in the Atlantic waters west of Scotland. The estimated cod stock there stood at 2,500 tons only, while ICES sees 22,000 tons as a minimum recommended stock size. Whiting in the Irish Sea stood at 1,700 tons, while ICES set its mark at 7,000. There too, ICES calls for a halt in fishing.

Last year, the E.U. agreed on an unprecedented reform to keep boats in ports for longer periods of time. It further cut quotas and set subsidies for new boats to be cut after 2004.


Nat'l - Healthy Forests Initiative is Law

"Strongest environmental protection law signed since the Clean Water Act and the Clear Air Act," says Chairman Pombo


WASHINGTON - Marking one of the principal accomplishments of this Congress and a key tenet of the Bush Administration's environmental policy, Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) joined President Bush for the signing the Healthy Forests Restoration Act on December 3.  Pombo and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have been credited with negotiating the agreement that garnered final Congressional approval.


The final product will help maintain and enhance wildlife habitat through active forest management. Many species of wildlife, both game and non-game depend on a mosaic of different forest stand age classes and densities, including early succession habitats.


"This is the strongest environmental protection bill signed into law since the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act," Pombo said.  "The seventy million acres of land classified by the U.S. Forest Service as 'at extreme risk' of catastrophic fire represent one of the single greatest threats to our environment today."


"The unnaturally dense, diseased, and insect-infested conditions in our national forests fuel the catastrophic fires that have burned over thirty-two million acres since 1997," Pombo continued.  "These fires decimate wildlife and endangered species habitat, contaminate air quality and critical watersheds, and leave behind a path of destruction that leads to flooding and mudslides.  President Bush's signature on this bill today will send forest managers to work to prevent future catastrophic fires, protect the environment and our communities, and preserve our national forests for future generations."

"This law also creates a historic paradigm shift in the way federal courts consider legal challenges to hazardous fuels reduction projects," Chairman Pombo said.  "It adds accountability and certainty to the appeals process by forcing the courts to weigh the environmental consequences of inaction when the threat of catastrophic wildfire looms.  This will lessen the incidence of frivolous environmental litigation that keeps our experts behind desks dealing with paperwork instead of in the forests where we need them."


The environmental impact of catastrophic wildfire is astonishing and long lasting.  Colorado's Hayman Fire, which decimated one of the main watersheds for the City of Denver, burned so hot that it sterilized the soil.  Heavy rain following the fire created massive mudslides discarding mud and soot into Denver's largest supply of drinking water.  Additionally, the fire annihilated several thousand acres of endangered species habitat, while also producing the worst air-pollution conditions in Denver's recorded history. 


Other massive fires claimed a similarly irreversible environmental toll. Oregon's Biscuit fire destroyed 80,000 acres of prime habitat for the endangered Northern spotted owl, and Arizona's record-setting Rodeo-Chediski fire caused irreparable damage to the endangered Mexican spotted owl.  Expediting the treatment of 20 million acres of federal forest land at extreme risk of wildfire (provided for in the new law), is vital for protecting communities and wildlife.


The law signals a critical step in the effort to clean up America's forests and prevent catastrophic wildfire, the likes of which most recently burned more acreage and damaged more property than any other in California's history.  Thousands of acres of forestland and wildlife habitat were decimated, water supplies and air quality polluted, and family homes and human lives lost forever as a result of the fires that consumed California in October.


Canada - Anti-gun laws fail to reduce violent crime

In Australia, Canada or Great Britain, according to study....FRASER INSTITUTE

Restrictive firearm legislation has failed to reduce violent crime in Australia, Canada or Great Britain.  Moreover, the policy of confiscating guns has been an expensive failure. Ironically, criminal violence has not decreased, but instead, continues to increase, notes Gary Mauser (Fraser Institute).


Since the introduction of restrictive firearms laws more than 20 years ago, police statistics show that England and Wales are enduring a serious crime wave:


   ■   In the 1990s, the homicide rate jumped 50 percent, going from 10 per million in 1990 to 15 per million in 2000.

   ■   Violent crime has increased since the late 1980s and since 1996, has been more serious than in the U.S.


The recent firearm regulations have not made the streets of Australia any safer either:


    ■   The total homicide rate, after having remained basically flat from 1995 to 2001, has now begun climbing again.

    ■   Over the past six years, the overall rate of violent crime in

Australia has continued to increase; robbery and armed robbery rates continue to rise with armed robbery increasing 166 5 nationwide.


In Canada, the rate of violent crime has increased while costing the taxpayers an enormous sum:


    ■   Registering all firearms, originally claimed to cost only $2 million, will now top $1 billion - Auditor General.

    ■   Final costs are unknown but, if cost of enforcement included, total could easily reach $3 billion.


In contrast, violent crime rates, and homicide rates in particular, have been falling in the United States.  The drop in the American crime rate is even more impressive when compared with the rest of the world.  In 18 of the 25 countries surveyed by the British Home Office, violent crime increased during the 1990s.


Source: Gary A. Mauser, "The Failed Experiment: Gun Control and Public Safety in Canada, Australia, England and Wales," Public Policy Sources, No. 71, November 2003, Fraser Institute.


Regional - Weekly Great Lakes Water Level Update-Dec 5, 2003

Current Lake Levels:   Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, and St. Clair are 8, 19, and 9", respectively, below their long-term average.  Lake Erie is 4" below its long-term average while Lake Ontario is 8" above its long-term average.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are currently 3 and 2" respectively, below last year’s levels.  Lakes St. Clair and Erie are both 2" above their level of a year ago, while Lake Ontario is up 15" from last year.

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:  The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be below average during the month of December.  Flows in the St. Clair, Detroit, and Niagara Rivers are also expected to be below average, while flow in the St. Lawrence River is expected to be near average

in December.


Forecasted Water Levels:  Despite an unusual rise during the month of November in Lakes Michigan-Huron and Ontario, all of the lakes will return to their pattern of seasonal decline over the next four weeks.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are expected to decline 3 and 1", respectively.  Lake St. Clair is expected to remain fairly stable over the next four weeks, whereas Lakes Erie and Ontario are expected to decline 1 and 3", 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.


IL – DNR offers new web site

With a mission is to manage, protect and sustain Illinois' natural and cultural resources; provide resource-compatible recreational opportunities; and promote natural resource-related public safety, education, and science, the agency recently launched its new web site.


By exploring their website, you will learn about how you can enjoy the natural wonders of the state of Illinois, purchase a fishing or hunting license, tour state parks, link to exhibits at the state museum, or become a citizen scientist to help monitor Illinois’ environmental quality. Enjoy all that outdoor Illinois has to offer!

"Here you will learn about the diversity of the prairie state: from Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline to the fertile soils of the heartland, to the forests and wetlands of the state's southernmost boundaries, Illinois is rich with history, natural resources and scenic beauty," says Joel Brunsvold, DNR Director.


"Find out what's new at the Department, learn its history, follow legislation, download applications for licenses or permits, purchase conservation merchandise, or just learn more about the world around you. We hope you enjoy your visit and let them know what you think.     http://dnr.state.il.us/


IN - DNR seeks nominations for Indiana Trails Advisory Board

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is seeking nominations for five representatives to the Indiana Trails Advisory Board. The board members will advise John Goss, director of the DNR, on trail-related issues, including implementation of the state's Recreational Trails Fund.


The board is comprised of 16 volunteers who are active trail users and involved with trail-oriented organizations and who can represent that interest group.  Members each serve a three-year term.


The Indiana Trails Advisory Board advises Director Goss on trail related issues and meets an eligibility requirement for the State of Indiana to receive funding from the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal

Highway Administration. The fund source is a yearly portion of federal taxes on gasoline purchased by off-highway vehicles. RTP is used to acquire and develop multi-use trails for motorized and non-motorized use.


DNR is seeking nominations from the following interests: All terrain vehicles, Equestrians, Pedestrians, Snowmobiles and Four wheel vehicles. The DNR's Division of Outdoor Recreation will accept nominations for representatives to the board, and letters of support indicating why a nominee would be best representative of that user interest, until Jan. 9, 2004.


To receive a nomination form, call 317-232-4070, or e-mail [email protected] . Nomination forms may also be picked up in person or requested by mail at the Division of Outdoor Recreation, 402 West Washington, Room W271, Indianapolis, IN 46204-2782.

IN - outdoor gift ideas - Natural Hoosier Holiday Gifts

Holiday shopping for the outdoor enthusiast can be as easy as a click to the Indiana DNR Holiday Store. Offered are unique and thoughtful gifts for Indiana outdoor enthusiasts.   The Indiana DNR offers memorable and useful gifts such as:

- Annual entrance permits

- Hunting and fishing licenses

- State park inn gift certificates

- Outdoor Indiana magazine gift subscriptions

- Field guides, including "Snakes of Indiana"

- Smokey Bear products

- Nature pottery

- Lewis and Clark items

- Gift registration to Becoming an Outdoors-Woman camp

Click over to the DNR Holiday Store Web page at: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/dnr_store.htm


MI - Sunday Hunting Laws Now Uniform Across Michigan

Two bills that will bring consistency to Michigan Sunday hunting regulations have been signed into law.


Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed HB 4599 and HB 4011 on December 1.  House Bill 4599, sponsored by Rep. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, repeals local ordinances that ban Sunday hunting on private land in Hillsdale, Lenawee, St. Clair, and Tuscola counties.  It passed the House, 88-15, and

the Senate, 33-5.


House Bill 4011, introduced by Rep. Gene DeRossett, R-Manchester, repeals an act that prohibits Sunday hunting on another person’s property in Washtenaw County.  The bill passed the House, 78-27, and the Senate, 32-5.


Michigan sportsmen should thank their state legislators and Gov. Granholm for creating uniformity in Sunday hunting laws and expanding hunting opportunities by passing these bills.

MI - 2003 firearm deer season harvest estimates announced

The Department of Natural Resources on Dec 4 announced preliminary estimates of the 2003 Michigan firearm deer season harvest. The early estimate indicates approximately 277,000 deer were taken, of which 57% were antlered and 43% were antlerless.


Final deer harvest figures, which will be available in July, are based on a mail survey of approximately 50,000 of this year's deer hunters. The 2003 preliminary estimate is slightly below the 2002 estimated harvest of 299,000, calculated from the 2002 mail survey. The state's record firearm season harvest occurred in 1998, when an estimated 351,000 deer were taken.


An estimated 700,000 hunters took to the field during the Nov. 15-30 hunt. Total license sales through the firearm season were comparable to last year's sales (1,721,507 compared to 1,724,565). The weather conditions early in the firearm season were wet (rain, mist, fog) throughout most of the state, with mild temperatures creating marginal hunting conditions

throughout most of Michigan for the opener through Nov. 19. Historically, hunting success is highest in the first 3 days, and weather may have affected this year's harvest.


There was a decrease in the Lower Peninsula deer harvest from 2002. The preliminary harvest estimate is 231,000 animals compared to last year's estimated final harvest of 255,000. Upper Peninsula hunters took an estimated 46,000 deer this fall, slightly higher than last year's final harvest estimate of 44,000 deer. The Mackinac Bridge count of vehicles with deer crossing the bridge, throughout the firearm deer season, was up 7% from last year.


About 20% of the total 2003 deer harvest is expected to be taken during the remaining deer seasons. Archery deer hunting season continues through Jan. 1. Muzzleloading deer hunting season runs Dec. 5-14 in the UP and Dec. 12-21 in the LP. There also is a late firearm antlerless deer season, Dec. 22 through Jan. 1, on private land for antlerless deer in 20 deer management units in the LP (check the Hunting and Trapping Guide for open DMUs).

MI - Supplemental deer feeding illegal statewide

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials reminded Michigan residents that supplemental feeding of deer in Michigan is against the law in every county.


Supplemental feeding allows deer to exceed the carrying capacity of the environment. A deer population above the carrying capacity can cause habitat damage and becomes susceptible to disease. Chronic Wasting Disease, a

transmissible neurological disease, is known to be in Wisconsin and Illinois. With advice from biologists and veterinarians, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission last year enacted a ban on the supplemental feeding of deer.


Recreational feeding of deer is allowed under current regulations as long as the deer do not have access to more than two gallons of scattered food at any one time and the food is within 100 yards of a residence.

MI - Saugatuck Dunes State Park meeting – Dec 11

Department of Natural Resources stewardship officials will host a public information meeting Dec. 11 at Laketown Township Hall to explain ongoing ecological restoration efforts at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, including the removal of Austrian pine trees.

DATE: Thursday, Dec. 11, 2003

TIME: 7:30 - 9 p.m.

PLACE: Laketown Township Hall, 4338 Beeline Road,  Holland, MI    49423



MN - Ice fishing event for women planned on Lake Mille Lacs - Feb 20-22

The Minnesota Becoming An Outdoors Woman (BOW) program welcomes women to experience fishing in winter. On Feb. 20-22, the BOW program will be offering an ice-fishing trip to Lake Mille Lacs. Participants will stay on the ice in a fully equipped icehouse; bunks, bathroom, TV and cooking facilities are all part of the house.


"Here is a chance to live on the ice and fish when you want or when the fish are biting," said Jean Bergerson, coordinator of Minnesota's BOW program. "Everything is furnished including bait, food, fully furnished ice house and an instructor to spend

the week-end teaching you the techniques of fishing in winter."


The trip is limited to the first five who register. The cost is $175 per person, all-inclusive except for a fishing license. To register, women should call the DNR Info Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367). "This is the first year we are offering a winter fishing experience outside of our winter workshop," said Bergerson. "We hope the ladies will be as excited about it as we are."


The Minnesota Becoming An Outdoors Woman is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2004. "Ten years of helping women explore the outdoors," Bergerson noted.

New York

NY - Proposed Changes to Sportfishing Regulations for 2004-2006  

As part of the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA), proposed regulation changes are subject to public review and comment. NY has posted a listing of the proposed changes to New York State's freshwater fishing regulations for 2004-2006.  The proposed regs changes are posted at: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/fishregs/



To submit comments on any of the proposed changes,

simply send them the following e-mail: Proposed Freshwater Fishing Regulation Changes. To ensure they receive and can

properly review your comment(s), you must leave the subject line as it appears on the e-mail, and be sure to indicate the Proposal ID # (s) of the regulation(s) you are commenting on.


While they won't reply to individual submissions, all comments will be incorporated into a summary and addressed in their  Summary Assessment of Public Comment Regarding Fishing Regulations, which will be posted on the web when completed.


OH – $800,000 in Grants to Aid Coastal Restoration

Will improve water quality along Lake Erie

SANDUSKY, OH -- Seven groups along Ohio's Lake Erie coastline have received a total of $884,220 in Great Lakes Coastal Restoration Grants to help protect and improve the area's delicate ecology, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).


The money will help acquire more than 260 acres of land, protecting at least 16,000 feet of headwater streams and riparian habitat; secure conservation easements for 17.4 acres of riparian corridor; and preserve two acres of high-quality wetlands. Funding will also support a comprehensive study of the Walden Watershed, which is a tributary to the Cuyahoga River, and pay for an Internet Mapping and GIS 

project to help agencies prioritize critical habitat for preservation and restoration.


The federal Great Lakes Coastal Restoration Grants are funded through a competitive matching grant program, administered by the ODNR Office of Coastal Management. This grant funding is part of a one-time $30 million Congressional appropriation to improve the Great Lakes. Selected projects must be consistent with Ohio Coastal Management Program priorities and help implement the goals of the Lake Erie Protection and Restoration Plan.


Ohio's funding priorities are protection of critical coastal areas; water quality protection and coastal restoration; and sustainable development initiatives.


Pennsylvania Reorganizes Sportsmen's Caucus

On November 25, legislators met to revive a sportsmen's caucus within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Reps. Gary Haluska (D) and Martin Causer (R) will be co-chairs in the House. The leadership from the Senate has not yet been determined.


Rep. Douglas Reichley (R) will be the secretary and Rep. Dan

Surra (D) will serve as the caucus treasurer. The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation has worked with legislators in Pennsylvania since the summer to revive the state sportsmen's caucus in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The CSF is now working actively with 14 state legislative sportsmen's caucuses.


PA - Top 10 bears include three over 800 lbs.

The top 10 black bears taken so far in the bear seasons include three 800-pounders and two 700-pounders. In total, there were 17 bears exceeding 600 pounds. A listing of the top 10 bears and the hunters who took them, are:


- 864 lb male taken in Dingman Township, Pike Cty, on Dec. 1, by Douglas Kristiansen of Milford

- 837 lb male taken in Dingman Township, Pike Cty, on Dec. 1, by Ray R. Reper of Branchville, New Jersey

- 808 lb male taken in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe Cty, on Dec. 1 by Jason A. Taddeo of Bethlehem

- 739 lb male taken in Weatherly Township, Carbon Cty, on

Nov. 25, by Brian J. Coxe of Weatherly

- 725 lb male taken in Sweden Township, Potter Cty, on Nov. 24, by Benjamin A. Long of Coudersport

- 664 lb male taken in Greene Township, Pike Cty, on Dec. 2, by Thomas J. Young of Jacksonville, Florida

- 661 lb male taken in Tell Township, Huntingdon Cty, on Nov. 25, by Gregg E. Walls of Dry Run

- 648 lb male taken in Cherry Ridge Township, Wayne Cty, on Nov. 24, by Andrew G. Box of Honesdale

- 644 lb male taken in Knox Township, Clarion Cty, on Nov. 24, by Brandon S. Carson of Monongahela.

- 642 lb male taken in Beech Creek Township, Clinton Cty, on Nov. 25 by James S. Hoover of Lititz.

PA - 14 year-old takes 725 lb Potter County Bear

Despite four larger bears being harvested so far this year, one of the most interesting stories from the woods during the three-day statewide season involved a 14-year-old who shot a 725 lb black bear in Sweden Township, Potter County, on Nov. 24.  Benjamin A. Long of Coudersport lives to hunt, and until he took the big bear, his short hunting career had produced a couple of bucks and several handfuls of squirrels. In fact, four days after he shot his bear of a lifetime, Long was back in the woods hunting squirrels with his dad.


"I got two squirrels today (Nov. 28)!" said Long, in an interview with a PA Game Commission official. "But I'm still thinking about the bear. It's not an easy thing to put aside, even with deer season right around the corner."

On the first drive of the day, during Long's second time bear hunting, the bear was flushed from atop a wooded hill and ran down the side toward Long and his dad, Carl. "At first I couldn't see it, but I heard it running down toward me," Long said. "It ran about 75 yards in front of me and then stopped when it saw us." It was the first bear I ever saw while hunting.  If fact, when I first saw it, I didn't think he was a very big bear!"


Since he's taken the big bear, Long said life has changed somewhat. "Everyone's stopping and congratulating me now," Long said.  "But I'm looking forward to getting back in the woods to hunt deer. I love being out there and seeing all the animals."


PA - Hunters take enormous bears in recent seasons

HARRISBURG - The 2003 bear seasons may yet become the best harvest year Pennsylvania hunters have ever had, according to harvest reports from PA Game Commission check stations. Through Dec. 2, hunters had already taken 2,952 bears and still had four more days of extended season in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 3D to topple the state record of 3,075 bears set in 2000.


Equally intriguing is the incredible number of huge bears hunters are shooting this fall. This week, three bears exceeding 800 lbs were taken in Pike and Monroe counties. The largest was a hard-to-believe 864-pound male bear taken in Dingman Township, Pike County, on Dec. 1 at 9 a.m. by Douglas Kristiansen of Milford.


The Game Commission for the second consecutive year is holding an extended bear season in the Poconos to reduce the area's overabundant bear population in communities and resort areas. Last year, the season was held in Carbon, Monroe and Pike counties. This year it's being held in all or

parts of eight counties that comprise WMU 3D. The core area of the hunt remains in Pike and Monroe counties, but also includes portions of Wayne, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties.


 "Even if we don't break the harvest record this year, hunters have had an exceptional year of bear hunting in the Commonwealth. The huge black bears taken this fall rival anything taken on the continent -- past or present -- and surely will serve as examples of the exceptional size bears can attain under the right conditions.


"Our preliminary bear harvest figures show hunters took 2,845 in the statewide three-day season and 107 in the extended season in WMU 3D through Dec. 2. Last year, hunters took about 65 bears over the final four days of the extended season", said Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director.  "They'll need more than that this year to break the record, but with incoming snow preparing to blanket the Poconos, it's seems likely that hunters will be more successful."


WI - Root River Steelhead Facility Report 

The chart below reflects the final fall numbers of salmon and trout harvested at Wisconsin's Root River Weir.

DATE: November 17, 2003 RIVER TEMP: 40F
  Rainbow Trt Chinook Coho Brn Trout
Total Captured 236 149 198 53
Passed Upstream 6 149 126 53
DATE: November 17, 2003 RIVER TEMP: 40F
  Rainbow Trt Chinook Coho Brn Trout
Taken to Hatchery 230 0 0 0
Spawned at Facility 0 0 103 0
Egg Take 0 0 150,000 0

WI - Continuing reduced yellow perch bag limits proposed for Green Bay waters

Public hearings set on extending reduced bag limits – Dec 11

PESHTIGO – Green Bay’s yellow perch population would continue to be protected by reduced sport bag and commercial harvest limits in a proposal that's the subject of Dec. 11 public hearings in Peshtigo and Green Bay.


DNR fisheries biologists want to extend until June 30, 2006, rule provisions that limit the daily sport bag to 10, and the annual commercial harvest to 20,000 lbs, of yellow perch from Green Bay. Extending those protections would safeguard the remaining adults while increasing the odds that fish hatched in the last few years will reach maturity and help rebuild the struggling yellow perch population, says Justine Hasz, the DNR fisheries biologist in Peshtigo.


"We don’t think the adult population is strong enough to return to the more liberal limits in place in 2000, so we are proposing to continue with the 10 daily limit and the 20,000 lb annual commercial harvest with a sunset clause," Hasz says." “This will protect the adult population and give the fish from the 2001, 2002, and 2003 year classes protection to allow them to reach spawning age."


Under the proposal, the reduced bag and commercial limits would automatically end June 30, 2006.


The reduced bags and commercial harvest have been in place since June 2001 to protect the bay’s yellow perch population, which surveys suggest had plummeted 90% between 1988 and 2000. The estimated total biomass of yellow perch in Green Bay dropped from nearly 10 million lbs in 1988 to less than 1 million lbs in 2000. Estimated natural reproduction has been very low since 1991, except for 1998.


Biologists say that continuing to allow harvest at the same levels could remove the remaining adults from the population, decreasing the chances that the fishery could recover. So they sought and received the DNR  Board’s approval of an emergency rule establishing the lower limits, but with a sunset clause requiring the lower limits to automatically expire June 2004 unless the department took further action.


With that deadline fast approaching, fisheries biologists are seeking to extend the lower commercial harvest and sport bag limits. Continuing the lower limits will help protect the remaining adults from the 1998 year class, which has

continued to provide the bulk of the commercial and sport harvest, while allowing the 2001 and 2002 year classes, as well as some of the 2003 year class, to reach spawning age. Males reach sexual maturity at three years, females a year later. DNR’s annual trawling surveys have shown that the 2003 year class is much stronger than preceding classes. In fact, Hasz says, the class this year "is off the chart. We have not seen anything like this since we started sampling in 1978."


Fish crews hauled in an average of 7,866.5 young of year(YOY) yellow perch per hour spent trawling, well above the 5,717 total in 1986, the next highest year.


Hasz believes that near-perfect weather for the small number of spawning adults led to the bumper crop in 2003. "Spring water temperatures brought a slow, gradual warming that was just about perfect for survival of the eggs. We saw good numbers of fish come back to reproduce, and good egg survival."


However, Hasz cautions that large numbers of young-of-year don’t always generate large numbers of adults. Those fish that hatched this year have to survive their first winter, which she notes, represents another potential hurdle. That’s why, she says, it’s crucial to protect the young fish hatched in recent years so that they can reach sexual maturity.


In addition to proposing to continue the reduced sport and commercial harvests for another two years, the DNR is taking other steps to help restore the yellow perch population in Green Bay, according to Bill Horns, DNR Great Lakes fish specialist. Fisheries staff are carrying out recommendations that emerged from public workshops conducted in winter 2001-2002 to examine the yellow perch population crash and how to restore that population.


The state has updated the population model it uses, is allowing increased commercial harvest of white perch, a species some commercial fishers blamed for the drop in yellow perch, and has created a multi-agency research group to develop proposals and seek funding for conducting research to help uncover what caused the population crash.


The public hearings for the proposed rule will be held Dec. 11 at the following locations:

  • Peshtigo, 1:30 p.m., in the Council Chambers of the

  • Green Bay, 5:30 p.m. at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, 1660 E. Shore Drive. Bay.

WI - Spring turkey application deadline Dec. 10

More than 177,000 permits available for spring season

MADISON -- Turkey hunters have until Dec. 10 to apply for a permit for the 2004 Wisconsin spring turkey hunting season. Preliminary permit levels for the spring season are set at 177,470 permits available in the 43 turkey management zones, and 237 permits available for those state parks that are open for spring turkey hunting. This is an increase from 168,696 total permits issued for the 2003 spring season.


“The number of turkey permits for 2004 was increased roughly 5% based in part on what looks like very good production and survival of new birds this spring and summer,” said Keith Warnke, DNR upland game ecologist. “If things like the weather cooperate, I’d expect a hunter success rate at least equal to or a little better than last spring.”


Spring season success rates over the past few years have been in the 25% level, according to Warnke.


“This spring successful spring turkey permit applicants will notice an obvious change to their permits,” said Andrea Mezera, assistant upland game ecologist. “Permits will no longer be mailed to successful applicants. Instead, we will be sending a postcard notifying permit winners. Permit winners can then purchase a spring turkey license and stamp approval

at any license vendor. A tie-on carcass tag will be printed at the time of purchase along with the turkey license and stamp approval. This will be a more effective use of hunter dollars.”


Free turkey hunter education clinics will again be offered statewide, typically in February through April. Clinics cover turkey biology and behavior, hunting methods, regulations, safety precautions, and hunter/landowner ethics. Clinic sites and dates are still being finalized. Information on where clinics will be held is available at all license vendors, on the turkey hunting pages of the DNR Web site at DNR service centers or by calling (608) 261-8458, beginning about mid-December. Additional clinics may be added after the initial listing. Hunters that don’t find a clinic in their area at first should periodically check the Internet or at a DNR service center for updates.


The 2003 spring turkey season starts on April 14 and consists of six, 5-day time periods that end on May 23. Any applications postmarked after the Dec. 10 deadline or filled out incorrectly will not be considered for the drawing. Applications and the required $3 permit application fee may be purchased at all Wisconsin DNR service centers, ALIS vendors, at the DNR On-Line Service Center or by calling toll free 1-877-945-4236.


FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrea Mezera - (608) 261-8458 or Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023.

WI - 2004 State Park stickers & trail passes now on sale

MADISON – People shopping for that hard-to-buy-for outdoor enthusiast on their holiday gift list can give them a full year of fun and adventure by making them a gift of the 2004 Wisconsin State Parks admission sticker or Wisconsin state trails pass.


Annual admission stickers to Wisconsin State Parks and Forests and annual passes for Wisconsin State Trails give the recipient access to more than 575,000 acres of sparkling waters, hushed forests and scenic beauty.


"There is no better place to relax and recreate than in the Wisconsin State Park System," says Mike Willman, Wisconsin State Park System Director. The annual stickers are $20 each for vehicles with Wisconsin registration plates and $30 for license plates from other states, and each sticker allows one vehicle and everyone in it unlimited visits for the entire year to over 60 state parks, forests and recreation areas. Second vehicle and senior citizen stickers are also available.


A $15 annual trail pass gives the purchaser access to more than 30 scenic trails throughout Wisconsin. The passes are required for anyone who bicycles or horseback rides on the designated trails. In the winter, the trail is good for all state managed cross-country ski trails. Hikers and children under 16 years of age are granted free trail admission.

Trail pass fees have increased for 2004. This is the first increase since 1994, when annual trail pass fees were raised from $6 to $10, and when the pass applied to about 435 miles of rails to trails. Today, the pass is good on nearly 1,700 miles of state owned trails. The trail pass is good on all state managed trails, as well as some trails owned by the state, but managed by counties or other municipalities.


"Wisconsin’s state parks are natural treasures to be enjoyed by all," Willman says. Visitors to the Wisconsin State Park System properties can partake in various outdoor recreational activities including biking, boating, bird watching, hiking, picnicking, fishing and skiing. Interpretive displays and activities also teach visitors about Wisconsin’s natural resources.


"Wisconsin was recently named as having one of the nation’s best state park system," says Willman. "This recognition is a symbol of what we have already known, that Wisconsin is the home to the best properties, programs and staff in the country."


People may purchase 2004 Wisconsin state park stickers or annual trail passes at all state park system properties, DNR service centers or the Wisconsin State Park System office using a credit card by calling (608) 266-2181.



Ontario - MNR and Anishinabek Nation Renew Partnership

SAULT STE. MARIE — Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay and Grand Council Chief Earl Commanda today signed an agreement extending a successful partnership between the Anishinabek Nation and the Ministry of Natural Resources around natural resource management in Ontario.


Ramsay and Commanda co-signed a Memorandum of Understanding to continue the Anishinabek Ontario Resource Management Council (AORMC) for another three years. The council was formed three years ago as an advisory body to provide recommendations to the Minister and Grand Council Chief on how to manage natural resources affecting Anishinabek First Nations in Ontario.

The AORMC has facilitated discussions between Anishinabek Nation stakeholders and Ministry of Natural Resources personnel in the areas of enforcement policy, forestry, lands, water power management, and fish and wildlife. At present, the AORMC is co-chaired by Anishinabek Nation Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse and Ministry of Natural Resources Northeast Regional Director Rob Galloway.


The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The Union of Ontario Indians is a political advocate and secretariat for 43 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

Ontario - Minister releases Nuisance Bear Review Report

TORONTO — Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay late last month released the Nuisance Bear Review Committee report, which was commissioned last year by the former Tory government.


"The taxpayers of Ontario paid for this report and it’s essential that they have a chance to review the findings," said Ramsay. "Posting a report that the former government chose not to release when they received it more than two months ago underscores the McGuinty Government’s commitment to deliver open and accountable government to the people of Ontario."


The report makes recommendations about bear harvest

practices and nuisance bear management. A key finding of the

report is that the committee could find no evidence of a scientific link between nuisance bear activity and the Tories’ cancellation of the spring bear hunt.


Ramsay noted that the Ministry of Natural Resources is considering the report and added that the government’s response to the recommendations will be issued in the near future.


The nuisance bear review committee was appointed in September 2002 to review the biology, literature, and geographic and socio-economic factors related to nuisance bear problems in Ontario. To view the report of the nuisance bear review committee, visit the ministry’s web site at http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/ebr/nbrc/index.html.

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