Week of December 10, 2012

Beyond the Great Lakes
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Beyond the Great Lakes

Florida Python Hunting Contest starts January 12

For a month-long period early next year, the public will have the chance to compete for two prizes worth $1,000 and $1,500 in an effort to remove the invasive Burmese Python species from Florida�s wilds. The 2013 Python Challenge will entail an educational seminar for all registered hunters to help them identify the species and teach them how to kill the snakes humanely.


Hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Python Challenge kicks off on January 12 at the University of Florida�s Davie campus, where a daylong open house will take place on Burmese Pythons and other invasive species. Hunting will commence afterward and conclude on February 10. Six days later, on Feb. 16, the winners will be announced at Zoo Miami. A $1,000 prize goes to the hunter who harvests the largest python while $1,500 is reserved for the hunter who bags the most snakes.

The competition is open to anyone. You do not have to be a resident of Florida, nor do you have to hold a hunting license (with the exception of participants under 18, who must hold a valid license). Wildlife officials believe there are currently anywhere between 5,000 and 180,000 Burmese Pythons living in the Everglades alone.


�Part of the goal of the Python Challenge is to educate the public to understand why nonnative species like Burmese Pythons should never be released into the wild and encourage people to report sightings of exotic species,� said Kristen Sommers, head of the FWC�s Exotic Species Coordination Section, in a press release. �We also expect the competitive harvesting of Burmese Pythons to result in additional information on the python population in south Florida and enhance our research and management efforts.�


Registration is $25, for more info: www.PythonChallenge.org.

Bass Pro Shop to open Mega Store in Tampa area

Store Will Serve the Greater Brandon/Tampa Market

Brandon, FL � Bass Pro Shops, America�s most popular outdoor store, will open a 140,000 square foot Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World� store in Hillsborough County, Florida to serve the greater Tampa market. The new destination store will be located at a very high-profile site directly on I-75 at Adamo Drive and is targeted to open in 2014.

The Tampa Outdoor World store will feature the much-acclaimed Uncle Buck�s Fishbowl and Grill. This nautical-themed entity located within the store, features a truly unique atmosphere and design geared for family fun and dining. Sixteen uniquely themed bowling lanes, divided into two separate areas of 8 lanes each, offer customers the chance to bowl �in the ocean.�  Casual family dining will be available in the Grill where customers may select from a menu featuring a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and burgers.


The Tampa Outdoor World store will feature the much-acclaimed Uncle Buck�s Fishbowl and Grill. This nautical-themed entity located within the store, features a truly unique atmosphere and design geared for family fun and dining. Sixteen uniquely themed bowling lanes, divided into two separate areas of 8 lanes each, offer customers the chance to bowl �in the ocean.�  Casual family dining will be available in the Grill where customers may select from a menu featuring a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and burgers.


�The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida are pleased to hear Bass Pro Shops is now opening a new store in the Tampa area!  We already have a great working

relationship with Bass Pro Shops, from support for our youth conservation programs to our exciting new TrophyCatch program promoting catch and

release of trophy bass in Florida.  They have always been a pleasure to work with and continue to show outstanding leadership and support for fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation in Florida.  Bass Pro Shops has been an enthusiastic and innovative conservation partner with FWC, and now they are in Tampa it will only help make our working relationship in Florida that much stronger.  Welcome to Tampa!� stated Nick Wiley Executive Director of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.


Bass Pro Shops is proud to be the lead sponsor of the new Florida TrophyCatch program and looks forward to continuing to partner with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida on youth education/outreach and fisheries enhancement efforts.  Johnny Morris is the inspirational leader for Conservation initiatives at Bass Pro Shops and was recently recognized by the state of Florida and the other 49 Fish and Wildlife Agencies through the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies as the Citizen Conservationist of the year. Bass Pro Shops is the all time leading donor of the National Wild Turkey Federation and is a significant contributor to many other fish and wildlife conservation efforts.


The store will initially generate approximately 250 jobs which will be offered to the many outdoor enthusiasts in the Tampa area.

Bass Pro Shops will host over 120 million people visiting its 77 stores and Tracker Marine Centers across America and Canada this year.


Additionally new Bass Pro Shops outdoor stores have been announced for Tallahassee, FL; Anchorage, Alaska; Loveland, CO; Colorado Springs, CO; Atlantic City, NJ; Bristol, TN; Little Rock, AR; Memphis, TN; Bridgeport, CT and Sayreville, NJ.


Argonne goal: Batteries five times more powerful, five times cheaper

A recent press release from nearby Argonne, IL incredibly says "Homes �immune� from blackouts without costly generators; Cell phone batteries that allow you to talk twice as long between charges; and Electric cars that cost less to buy and re-charge."


Those are just some of the potential consumer benefits, now that the U.S. Department of Energy has chosen Argonne National Laboratory to keep the U.S. �at the cutting edge of battery technology.�


For anglers the potential is even more fascinating if not unlimited: trolling motors that run for five days without charging and smaller and lighter engines that now run on electricity offering smaller gas tanks and lighter boat loads. Our cell phones will also work longer and carry a signal farther � not to speak of graphs that pick up new, previously unachievable details. We won�t have time to work!


In exchange for up to $120 million in research grants over the next five years and the potential for a five-year renewal, Argonne and its self-described �dream team� of academic and industry partners have put themselves on the clock.

The Sun-Times puts it this way.


�We have a very ambitious goal, which is five-five-five...We�re gonna develop batteries that are five times more powerful [and] five times cheaper within five years,� Argonne Director Eric Isaacs told a news conference last week in Chicago�s downtown area. �A factor of two is great. It can be engineered, and we�re gonna work on that. That�ll be the milestones along the way. But really factors of five are what we need to transform both the power grid and transportation.�


If the Joint Center of Energy Storage Research at Argonne � affectionately known as J-CESAR � achieves those �5X� goals, the grant will definitely be renewed, said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. �We looked very carefully at where the price points are, and it actually turns out to be only 4X. But I like five better...If they get to those price points, then kaboom. Whole new industries. That�s why this is so exciting,� he




A Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Chu then talked about what �five-times-cheaper, five-times-more-powerful� batteries within five years would mean to consumers. �They mean you can go to a Costco or Sears...and buy a battery that you can store three or four kilowatts in your home. That battery can be your local source,� Chu said.


�If you want to put solar panels on your roof, it can be toggling back and forth at time-of-day pricing. It does energy arbitrage for you. It [stores energy] at night and delivers it to you in the expensive air-conditioning times. It takes a big load off the utilities...You would have a much more efficient grid � something much less susceptible to surges and blackouts.�


He added, �I did a little calculation recently during a blackout in my home where, if you have half the number of solar panels on your roof but you have a battery, you could be 80 % self-sufficient; Blackout immune. And if the prices are less than $10,000 to get that, I would pay for it.�

Chu also talked about cheaper plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles and about longer-lasting cell phone batteries.


�I don�t know if you want to talk twice as much� between chargings, �but that�s another example. Batteries are ubiquitous in your life.�

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the Argonne center a �game-changer� for consumers and job-seekers.


�Besides obviously, the electric vehicles that [are] promising here, one of the big riddles that has to be solved... is, how do you store the energy that either solar or wind produces for later use at another time?� Emanuel said.


�Once somebody figures that out, then obviously what you do with the renewables is a game-changer. And Chicago and the state of Illinois will be at the epicenter of where that research is going and all the potential companies that will come from that and all the potential investments that will come from that.�

Congress rejects weak Ballast bill

The Senate and House of Representatives rejected a provision that would have weakened an important anti-invasive species regulation in New York State. Federal legislation that was created to combat the growing problem of invasive species in the Great Lakes was defeated in Congress on December 5, as critics said the measure was too weak.


Rep. Louise Slaughter, co-chair of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, said language in the legislation was flawed and would have endangered the ability of New York State to enforce more stringent standards on vessels that dump their ballast water stored in tanks. The tanks are often filled in international waters, where species not native to the United State are collected, and are then released into local lakes and rivers. 


While the fight to improve regulations has been ongoing for more than a decade, environmental groups have called the proposed legislation weak and ineffective. Slaughter agreed, stating that it would raise environmental and economic health concerns in the Great Lakes region. 

�Previously proposed standards ... would have prevented New York and other states from effectively fighting invasive species like Asian carp, which would cost taxpayers billions,� she said. �The Great Lakes provide

20 percent of the world�s fresh water and directly support over 1.5 million

jobs, generating $62 billion in wages every year. For those of us who live on its shores, we must be able to set effective standards to protect this valuable economic and natural treasure.� 


Slaughter offered an amendment to language of the bill, which failed in the House earlier this year. 


In November 2011, Slaughter joined a bipartisan coalition and wrote to Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., commandant of the United States Coast Guard, to urge the implementation of alternative standards that would provide states like New York flexibility to protect their waters. The Coast Guard�s final rule was published in March. 


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and environmental groups such as Great Lakes United have been critical of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency for proposals that they contend would not go far enough in fighting non-native plants and wildlife, while also proposing that the state instill its own stricter standards. 


The bill will now return to the U.S. Senate, where it is expected to be cleared for enactment.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for Dec 7, 2012 


This past week, above average temperatures were accompanied by precipitation across the entire Great Lakes basin. The Lake Erie and Ontario basins have received over a half inch of precipitation so far in December. Over the course of the week, temperatures dropped but remained above seasonal averages. There is snow in the forecast for the Lake Superior basin and rain is expected across the lower Great Lakes this weekend. This trend is expected to continue into next week.


The water level of Lake Superior is 1 inch lower than its level of one year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 17 inches lower than its level from last year. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 25, 23, and 14 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are each forecasted to drop 3 inches from their current levels. The water level of Lake St. Clair is expected to remain at its current level. Lake Erie is expected to decline 1 inch and Lake Ontario is predicted to rise 2 inches over the next thirty days.


Lake Superior's outflow through the St. Marys River is projected to be below average for the month of December. Lake Huron's outflow into the St. Clair River and the outflow from Lake St. Clair into the Detroit River are

also expected to be below average throughout the month of December.

Lake Erie's outflow through the Niagara River and the outflow of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River are predicted to be below average in December.


Official records are based on monthly average water levels and not daily water levels. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum. 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.





St. Clair



Level for Dec 7






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Diff in inches






Diff last month






Diff from last yr







Quinn Gun Ban Defeated in Springfield

Veto now protects online FOID purchase of ammunition

Last week, Illinois Governor Quinn�s procedural maneuver to enact a gun ban was defeated by the Illinois House of Representatives as they convened for a veto session.  The Governor had tried to us his Amendatory Veto Powers to turn SB681 in a �so-called assault weapons� ban,  The ISRA believes this was an Illegal use of the Governor�s Amendatory Veto Powers. 


In a 78�28 vote, an overwhelming majority of state Representatives

overrode Governor Quinn�s amendatory veto to Senate Bill 681.  Now,   Senate Bill 681 as it was initially written and originally passed by overwhelming majorities in the state Senate and House has been enacted and is in effect, protecting online FOID purchase of ammunition using delivery services which are federally authorized to ship ammunition.


In spite of his loss in the state House and Senate, Quinn will continue to shop around for a new semi-auto ban for future introduction in the Illinois General Assembly. 


More Atlantic salmon in Michigan waters

Michigan became world-famous when it made a daring effort to revitalize the Great Lakes sport fishery by stocking Pacific salmon in the 1960s. While Chinook and Coho fishing still is very good overall, Michigan is now looking at residents of the other ocean to beef up the Great Lakes fishery: Atlantic salmon.


Highly prized around the world for their sporting characteristics, Atlantic salmon are currently thriving in the St. Marys River, the

connecting water that drains Lake Superior and flows into Lake Huron. Michigan DNR personnel hope to expand the Atlantic salmon fishery further into Lake Huron.   Atlantics already have a presence in Lake Huron, often turning up for sport fishermen in a number of ports. At times, the Atlantic salmon catch surpasses the Pacific salmon catch at some locations, such as De Tour.


�We�re not replacing Pacific salmon with Atlantics,� explained Todd Grischke, the DNR�s Lake Huron Basin coordinator. �We�re trying to bolster the existing fishery and create an additional river-return fishery in other locations.  �And we�re adapting to the changes in the ecosystem. Since the invasion of quagga mussels, the lake no longer produces the alewives that are necessary to support a large Chinook population.  �Atlantic salmon return to creel at a higher rate than any of our other stocked salmonoids,� Grischke continued. �We�re hoping to play off that success. The St. Marys fishery works. We want to make it even better, and we want to bolster the off-shore fishery, too.�


Although the DNR has been working with Atlantic salmon for decades, their presence in the St. Marys River falls to Lake Superior State University�s Aquatic Research Laboratory. The lab churns out the 25,000 Atlantic salmon annually that have created the fishery.


Originally begun as a way to give students hands-on training, the lab started with a grant from the Michigan Fish Producers Association to research whitefish. The lab began working with Atlantics in the 1980s when it received a shipment of eggs from Gull Lake, where the DNR was stocking Atlantics, as explained by Roger Greil, who runs the lab.


Despite several false starts � Atlantics are delicate fish, vulnerable to disease and environmental constraints � Lake Superior State University�s lab used the Michigan fish, and additional eggs obtained from Maine, to establish the Atlantics. The lab saw the first returns of the program in 1990 and soon began taking eggs from the returning salmon. By 2004, the lab began using only St. Marys River Atlantics for broodstock (mature male and female fish that are kept separate for breeding purposes).   Since then, the lab has been self-sustaining.


On site at the power house owned by a local power cooperative in Sault Ste. Marie, the lab not only produces the 25,000 Atlantics needed at the St. Marys River, but has also been sending surplus fish to the DNR for stocking in Torch Lake. Now the DNR is experimentally raising Atlantics at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery with an eye toward stocking Lake Huron.


�This year, for the first time, the fish are healthy, growing well and disease-free,� Grischke said. �We are attempting to produce 80,000 yearlings, which we�ll be stocking into Lake Huron. We�re still in the process of learning how to best rear this species at the hatchery, and still deciding how those fish will be allocated.�


Adult Atlantics usually begin showing up in the St. Marys River in June and are present in good numbers by the time the Aquatic Research Lab begins egg-take in the fall.  �We try setting our gill nets the last three days of October and we�ll hold the fish in our raceways,� explained Greil. �Normally our egg-take starts around Nov. 4 and is wrapped up by Nov. 14. We do two or three egg-takes a week, usually 25 to 30 females each time. Our goal is to do 100 pairs a year.  �We don�t have a lot of problems collecting the fish we need for egg-take. We capture what we can handle.�


Once captured, the fish are stripped of their reproductive products by hand and are fertilized on a one-to-one basis. The fertilized eggs are placed in egg trays.  By mid-December, Greil said staff starts seeing �eye-up� � a growth stage at which the eggs are determined to be viable � and hatching generally follows by the first of January. By mid-February, they�re moved into indoor raceways, and in June are transferred to larger rearing containers. The yearlings have to be moved out in June in order to make room in the larger raceways for the younger fish; otherwise, it gets awfully crowded.


The raceways that hold the fish can be drained directly into the river.  �Just being reared in the same water is what gives us a fairly high return rate,� Greil said. �We don�t see a lot of wandering, if any. They�ve been reported in the river up in Georgian Bay in the spring of the year, but I believe they are in there chasing smelt.�


�The only thing that�s transported is our surplus fish,� he added. That reduction in transportation is a big plus to the operation.


Greil is pleased with the Atlantic salmon-rearing program and optimistic about its future expansion. That�s good news for the resident and visiting sport fishermen eager to add Atlantics to their catch in coming seasons. �It seems to be a good fishery,� he said. �We get people coming from all over to fish for them.�   For more info: www.lssu.edu/arl and www.michigan.gov/hatcheries.

DNR Shooting Ranges open 5days/wk

This is a reminder that the DNR shooting ranges are open five days per week, Thursday through Monday. The muzzleloading deer season is December 7-23 in Zone 3, so now is the time to sight-in your muzzleloader for a successful hunt.  


For the Christmas holiday, we will close the ranges from December 23-26 and reopen on December 27. For the New Year's holiday, the ranges are closed from December 30-January 2 and will reopen on January 3.

The Sharonville and Rose Lake range hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Ortonville and Pontiac Lake range hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are range fees at Ortonville and Pontiac Lake, but there is no fee at Sharonville and Rose Lake. 


 Visit the DNR shooting range website at www.michigan.gov/shootingranges.



Ohio Passport to Fishing Workshop      

Attend a free training to become a Certified Fishing Instructor

The Ohio DNR is inviting any adult, group, or conservation club who has a sincere interest in taking kids fishing to become a certified Passport to Fishing Instructor. A free workshop is available on Wednesday January 9, 2013 9 - 3:00 p.m. and will take place at Wildlife District One, 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus.

Passport to Fishing is a one-day instructor training program that qualifies individuals to become Division of Wildlife certified fishing instructors, similar to a hunter education instructor.

Passport to Fishing was developed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


and adopted by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.
Workshops teach volunteers the basics of fishing and how to run a four-station fishing program with a fishing event. These instructors then go back to their communities, with a written curriculum and training aids, to teach youngsters and beginning anglers the basics of fishing.


By becoming a certified instructor, you will not only be able to help in reconnecting students with the outdoors, but you will also have the skills and resources to help you do it in a more successful way. Resources available include grants, equipment, brochures, and training. 
To register, call (614)644-3925. For additional class information, visit www.wildohio.com.

Castalia State Hatchery offers new Lottery Application Dates for Anglers

CASTALIA, OH � The application dates have changed for controlled trout-fishing permits at Cold Creek at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery, according to the Ohio DNR.

Anglers may apply for the controlled trout fishing random drawing from March 1-31. This is a change from previous years, when the application period was from the beginning of December to the end of January. The date change was made so anglers can apply for the drawing and fish at Castalia State Fish Hatchery in the same license year. Applicants must

still purchase an Ohio fishing license to apply for the drawing.

Anglers interested in fishing in the creek must apply online at wildohio.com in March and pay a non-refundable $3 application fee in order to be eligible for the random drawing. Random drawings for permit selection will be held in April, and fishing begins in May.  An Ohio resident annual fishing license costs $19; a one-day fishing license costs $11. Individuals who purchase a one-day fishing license may later return it to a license agent to receive credit toward the purchase of an annual fishing license.


Ideas for distributing chinook in Lake Michigan accepted until Dec. 17

CLEVELAND � Lake Michigan anglers and others have until Dec. 17, 2012, to submit ideas for how the state should distribute among Lake Michigan ports the chinook salmon it will be stocking in 2013 under an agreement among the states surrounding the lake.


The states and Michigan tribes agreed to adjust stocking levels to sustain great fishing on the lake by restoring the balance between game fish and their prey. Low levels of the main prey fish and strong natural reproduction by chinook in Michigan tributaries spurred the agreement to reduce chinook stocking lake wide by half. Wisconsin will lower stocking by 38 percent, sending 724,000 chinook to ports in the spring. Michigan will take a much larger cut.


�If you could not attend the Dec. 1 meeting about chinook distribution, or would like to provide additional comments to what you gave us already, we�ll be accepting comments until December 17 via email, phone or letter,� says Brad Eggold, DNR supervisor for southern Lake Michigan.

Comments can go to Brad Eggold, Wisconsin DNR, 600 E. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53204 or [email protected] or 414-382-7921.


Eggold and other DNR fisheries managers heard ideas on how to distribute the fish planned for stocking from anglers and others attending the Dec. 1 meeting of the Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum. The Forum is an independent group of interested stakeholders facilitated by UW-Sea Grant. DNR fisheries biologists presented information about how DNR has distributed fish in the past, along with information regarding suggestions anglers made earlier this year to factor license sales into the equation and reduce stocking in Strawberry Creek in Door County.


The materials presented at that meeting are available by searching the DNR website for "Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum" and clicking on the link for management reports." More documents will be added over coming days so check back again, Eggold says.


Other Breaking News Items

(Click on title or URL to read full article)

Process of limiting chinook salmon stocking next year begins
Wisconsin and other Lake Michigan states agreed earlier to reduce stocking of Chinook salmon by 50% next year to better balance the populations of predator and prey fish and preserve the world-class trout and salmon fishing on the lake.

Salmon to blame for upstream contaminants
Research by University of Notre Dame has revealed that salmon, as they travel upstream to spawn and die, carry industrial pollutants into Great Lakes streams and tributaries.

World War II plane retrieved from lake
Almost 68 years after a failed training mission left it at the bottom of Lake Michigan, crews pulled a World War II fighter plane from Waukegan Harbor, Ill


State moves to stock with Atlantic salmon
Michigan state fish managers plan to ramp up Lake Huron� stocking of Atlantic salmon.

Court tosses suit asking for barriers to keep out Asian Carp

CHICAGO -- A federal judge Monday threw out a lawsuit filed by five states that want barriers placed in Chicago-area waterways to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes, but said he would consider new arguments if the case were filed again.



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