Washington wildlife managers considering passel of hunting rule changes

https://www.union-bulletin.com/news/state/washington-wildlife-managers-considering-passel-of-hunting-rule-changes/article_77af9beb-cc9c-59e2-9d66-fb9dc929969a.html?fbclid=IwAR2R45HW4koX7EVQlyyX9zAbUAII4El97Z6h29iG2bLIZSOf-w583VtnlF0

  • By ELI FRANCOVICH of The Spokesman-Review
  • Mar 22, 2021
hunt
Mark McClean searches for deer in a foggy field near Mount Spokane on Nov. 15, 2019. A bill that would have increased hunting and angling fees for the first time since 2011 was not approved by the Washington Legislature.Spokesman-Review file photo by ELI FRANCOVICH

Washington wildlife managers will consider a passel of changes to hunting rules next week, including limiting whitetail hunting opportunity in Northeast Washington and allowing hunters to use dogs to track injured game animals.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife commission meeting starts Thursday and ends Saturday with opportunity for public input throughout. The commission will vote on the proposals during its April meeting. The season-setting process happens every three years, with slight adjustments made year to year as needed.

“This is the big year,” WDFW commissioner Kim Thorburn from Spokane said.https://a04fa444d49f3821c59181a8582e5148.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The commission is also considering allowing 1x scopes on muzzleloading weapons and allowing hunters to shoot turkeys with rimfire rifles during the fall season, among other things.

Dogs tracking wounded game

The commission will also consider a proposal to allow hunters to use a dog to track injured game animals. If approved, the rule would allow the use of one dog, on a leash, to track an injured game animal within 72 hours of shooting it. Hunters would not be allowed to use dogs to track bears or cougars.

WDFW staff recommend the commission approve this proposal.

“A lot of hunters really like the idea, because you don’t want to lose a wounded animal,” Thorburn said.

Marie Neumiller, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council’s executive director, said members of the Spokane-based group had concerns initially about the dog proposal. The organization, however, supports the proposal as presented.

“You’re cutting down on waste,” she said. “And you’re enabling that hunter to find that animal.”

1x scopes on muzzleloaders

Under current Washington hunting regulations, muzzleloading firearms must have open or peep sights. Some hunters, however, have petitioned the department to allow 1x scopes and red dot scopes on muzzeloading firearms.

The commission will consider allowing 1x and red dot scopes.

“One-power scopes do not magnify the target, but rather provide a clearer sight window, in much the same way eyeglasses correct someone’s vision (for example, they make the target clearer, but don’t make it bigger),” according to a WDFW rule-making publication on the topic. “Common arguments against their use are typically related to the use of scopes not adhering to the spirit of primitive weapons.”https://a04fa444d49f3821c59181a8582e5148.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

WDFW staff is not opposed to the change because it would not “result in more animals being harvested.”

Some hunters are opposed to the proposed change because of the effect it would have on the primitive hunting season.

“Our membership generally wants to keep the traditional hunting devices as traditional as possible,” Neumiller said.

Turkeys and rimfire rifles

The commission will consider allowing hunters to shoot turkeys with rimfire rifles between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15. It’s illegal now to shoot a turkey with a rifle.

Some have petitioned WDFW to change the rule in efforts to control nuisance turkeys, Aoude said.

“As birds get smart, they’re just out of range of the shotgun,” he said. “This may give an opportunity to harvest a few more turkeys in those areas.” It would also allow hunters to hunt multiple small-game species with the same weapon.

Delay the start of forest grouse season

The commission will also consider shifting the start of forest grouse season. Under the proposal, the season would run from Sept. 15 to Jan. 15, which would delay the start by two weeks and add two weeks to the end. The proposed change is in response to long-term declines in the forest grouse population.

In September, brood hens are particularly vulnerable. Delaying the start of the season, biologists believe, may improve forest grouse populations by increasing the survival of brood hens.

Elk-hoof disease incentive

The agency is considering incentivizing the harvest of elk with elk-hoof disease. The proposal would establish special permit opportunities for master hunters in 500 through 600 GMU series to harvest elk displaying signs of elk hoof disease such as limping, lameness or hoof abnormalities.https://a04fa444d49f3821c59181a8582e5148.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“That may be a way to reduce the prevalence of the disease,” Aoude said.

The commission will consider two proposals for whitetail hunting in Game Management Units 101 (Sherman), 105 (Kellyhill), 108 (Douglas), 111 (Aladdin), 113 (Selkirk), 117 (49 Degrees North) and 121 (Huckleberry).

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider a number of hunting-rule proposals between March 25-27.

Commissioners will vote on the proposals during their April meeting.

To listen in and comment visit wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings/2021.

The first option, which is supported by WDFW staff, would make no change to the current, any buck season structure in Northeast Washington. Since 2019, there has been no antlerless whitetail opportunity in Northeast Washington. That restriction happened after hunters expressed concerns about faltering whitetail populations following an outbreak of bluetongue in 2015 and severe winter conditions in 2016 and 2017.

The second proposal would change season dates in GMUs 105-121 to a nine-day late season occurring Nov. 11-19. The late season now runs Nov. 7-19.

A vocal group of hunters in Northeast Washington has pushed for antlerpoint restrictions in that region. Between 2011 and 2014, there was a four-point minimum for whitetail deer in GMUs 117 and 121, despite WDFW staff not supporting the move. WDFW returned to all buck season in 2015.

Antlerpoint restrictions hope to build a higher-quality herd and provide higher-quality hunting opportunity by allowing hunters to bag only more mature bucks. It’s based on a type of game management that requires fairly heavy-handed human intervention, Thorburn said.https://a04fa444d49f3821c59181a8582e5148.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“It’s based on habitat manipulation,” she said. “It’s not dealing with natural biological stuff. It’s a lot of management, as it says.”

As part of the 2021-23 season-setting process, WDFW partnered with Washington State University and surveyed deer hunters in Washington. The survey was emailed to more than 44,000 hunters that reported hunting in GMUs with white-tailed deer. Approximately 13,000 responded.

Most respondents were unhappy with mature white-tailed buck opportunity in the state. Respondents also didn’t support implementing more restrictive regulations, according to WDFW. In particular, respondents were against a four-point restriction.

Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager, doesn’t believe an APR would improve quality. But at the end of the day the decision to not include an antlerpoint restriction in the proposals was due to the lack of public support.

“If everyone thought that was the way to go, we would have done it,” he said.

Dale Magart, the secretary of the Northeast Washington Wildlife Group, is a proponent of antlerpoint restrictions. He believes the department will have to adjust the rules in the next three years.

“If it gets bad enough (hunter opportunity), they will have to address it,” he said. “We’re hoping when they do decide to do something that’s (four-point restriction) something they decide to do.”

Wolverines spotted at Mount Rainier National Park for the first time in over 100 years

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/08/20/wolverines-return-mount-rainier-first-time-over-100-years/5621423002/?fbclid=IwAR1_EJzYa3IQdse2paktPRNBPbWlv0ORAB8ayB589Onx9bay5FipD_xEv_o

Jessica FloresUSA TODAY1:021:23https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.426.0_en.html#goog_1507986022

For the first time in more than 100 years, wolverines have returned to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state, the National Park Service announced Thursday.

The National Park Service and scientists with the conservation organization Cascades Carnivore Project spotted the female wolverine and her two offspring, also called kits.

“It’s really, really exciting,” Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins said.

“It tells us something about the condition of the park — that when we have such large-ranging carnivores present on the landscape that we’re doing a good job of managing our wilderness,” Jenkins said.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=usatoday&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1296507311800942593&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Fnews%2Fnation%2F2020%2F08%2F20%2Fwolverines-return-mount-rainier-first-time-over-100-years%2F5621423002%2F&siteScreenName=usatoday&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Wolverines are rare in the U.S. with less than 1,000 living in the lower 48 states, officials said. In Washington state, there are only about 20, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Scientists say climate change is presumably a threat to the species.

Wolverines are the largest members of the weasel family and weigh about 44 pounds. And they tend to live in mountainous areas.https://bc32a984cfdd20c4752c3f7dc3594512.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

But a recent sighting in the state caught scientists off guard. During Memorial Day weekend, a wolverine was spotted at a Pacific County beach, Q13 FOX reported.

“This is way outside the beaten path for the wolverines,” Jeff Lewis, a biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told CNN. “It’s not near the habitats they are usually at.”https://www.instagram.com/p/CEH0jI0gYDa/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=12&wp=1116&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A15502.115000039339%7D

The National Park Service says they have set up cameras throughout the park as more sightings have been reported throughout the state.

Officials are asking the public to report any wildlife observations or wolverine photos to the park’s database or to the Cascade Wolverine Project’s website to help scientists study wolverines’ return to the Cascade ecosystem.

“Wolverines are solitary animals and despite their reputation for aggressiveness in popular media, they pose no risk to park visitors,” National Park Service ecologist Dr. Tara Chestnut said.

Record number of daily new coronavirus cases reported in Washington state

 day ago

The majority of cases have been reported among the 20-39 age group

By Madeline Farber | Fox News

https://static.foxnews.com/static/orion/html/video/iframe/vod.html?v=20201106051818#uid=fnc-embed-1

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Washington state this week reported a record number of daily new coronavirus cases, according to official estimates. https://cb132b8aa97b9600bca28114fe01a577.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The Evergreen State on Tuesday recorded an additional 1,469 cases of the novel virus, a record, according to data from the Washington State Department of Health. In total, the state has reported some 111,480 cases of COVID-19 to date. 

Washington state this week reported a record number of daily new coronavirus cases, according to official estimates. (iStock)

Washington state this week reported a record number of daily new coronavirus cases, according to official estimates. (iStock)

Also as of Tuesday, an estimated 16 additional deaths were recorded, bringing the number of lives lost to the novel virus in the state to 2,416. 

The last record for daily new cases of the coronavirus was set on Oct. 30, when 1,047 new COVID-19 cases were reported in a single day, according to a news release from the health department at the time. Prior to that, the last daily record was set in mid-July, officials said. 

CORONAVIRUS-INFECTED COLLEGE STUDENT IN INDIANA DIES IN DORM ROOM, FAMILY SAYS

The majority of cases have been reported among the 20-39 age group (40%), while the 40-59 age group follows behind at 28%, per state health data. 

The news comes as the U.S. recorded 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day for the first time, surpassing a record set at the end of October when some 99,000 daily new cases were reported. 

Skamokawa couple face animal cruelty charges

By Diana Zimmerman 

 https://www.waheagle.com/story/2020/08/06/news/skamokawa-couple-face-animal-cruelty-charges/18132.html

August 6, 2020

Wahkiakum County Engineer Paul Lacy and his wife, Daria were scheduled to be in Wahkiakum District Court on Wednesday morning for a preliminary hearing. The pair have been charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty in the second degree and two counts of transporting or confining a domestic animal in an unsafe manner in a case that brought Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office to their Skamokawa property multiple times over the course of several months in 2019.

A brief overview, according to reports from the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office:

On May 2, 2019, WCSO received a complaint that several horses were loose in Skamokawa. When deputies responded, they found a small pig standing atop a larger decomposing pig carcass in a pig pen that was several inches deep in mud and feces. Nearby in a garage, they found several dogs standing shoulder to shoulder, unable to lay down in a kennel, along with a smaller cage containing more dogs. The dogs were without food and water. Two calves were found without water, and a dozen or more chicks were found without food or water.

On June 8, 2019, the WCSO received a report of possible animal cruelty at a property in Skamokawa.

A deputy found one horse up to its knees in mud and feces. There was an overturned water bucket nearby, and no feed. The horse had swollen knees and had lost patches of hair. Nearby in a horse area, he found four horses with untrimmed hooves and swollen knees. Several of the horses had ribs showing.

Paul Lacy said he had sold about 20 horses and still had about 18 remaining. He said it was not uncommon for horses to not get their hooves trimmed, stating that the Department of Natural Resources does not trim wild horses’ feet.

A witness provided photos of neglect, including a horse with visible ribs standing in a stall in mud up to its knees. A second photo showed a horse with overgrown hooves and visible ribs, and a third photo showed two horses with visible ribs.

On June 15, 2019, deputies and an animal control officer from Cowlitz County visited the Lacy home to inspect the animals. The animal control officer “found them to be in such bad conditions and health, according to her training and experience, that probable cause existed for Animal Cruelty.”

On June 18, 2019, deputies were told about an injured horse. A caller said she had witnessed people loading most of the horses onto a truck, but found a horse with a broken leg in a stall, bleeding out. Deputies responded. They found two horses in a muddy pen, one of which had clearly defined ribs, hips, and shoulder bones. Several pigs were in a large stall, laying in and wandering around in mud, feces, and bones. A horse with a leg injury was found deceased nearby, with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head.

On June 21, 2019, deputies returned to the farm. They found a horse with open wounds on its muzzle and face. Photographs were taken.

Paul Lacy said that the horse that had been euthanized had been buried in his back field, and that he had gotten rid of several dogs. He said that he did not want to get rid of any more, as he and his wife, Daria, planned to breed them to sell. He was advised that they would need a license.

Lacy was advised at that time that if he did not continue to improve the care of his current animals, he would be subject to criminal charges.

On June 24, 2019, Lacy said in a missive that he had reduced the number of horses from 18 to two, the number of dogs by five, the number of chickens by two, and the number of pigs by one, with a plan to auction three and harvest two.

On July 3, 2019, a neighbor reported that some of Lacy’s animals were on their property. The Lacys were given a warning. Deputies noted that the two remaining horses appeared to be in better condition, and that pigs were in a newly constructed pen with food and water available.

On December 15, 2019, a search warrant was served by the sheriff’s office in conjunction with the Cowlitz County Humane Society, which seized four pigs, one sow, five piglets, 15 sheep/goats, four ducks, four ducklings, one turkey, seven dogs, and 32 bird eggs in an incubator. Two dogs were found in a room, with evidence that they had attempted to gnaw and scratch their way out. The floor was smeared with feces, and there was no food or water. In the same room, they found a cage containing a duck and ducklings, the bottom of the cage full of liquid feces, resulting in a fetid odor. The animal control officer was heard to say that day that “this was one of the worst cases she has worked on.”

On December 19, they returned to collect the remaining animals, including 10 turkeys, 11 geese, 61 ducks, 42 chickens, one pack rat, and two pigeons. Every bird had a lice infestation, according to the report.

Seattle PD search warrant recovers explosives, baseball bats reportedly handed out at protests

 10 hours ago

One explosion blew a hole in the wall of a precinct, police said

By Stephanie Pagones | Fox News

https://static.foxnews.com/static/orion/html/video/iframe/vod.html?v=20200727220720#uid=fnc-embed-1

Elected officials pushing Seattle towards ‘lawless wasteland’: Solan

Mike Solan, Seattle Police Officers Guild, reacts to Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan claiming Trump sending in federal agents is a ‘dry run’ for martial law

Seattle police who executed a search warrant of a van abandoned near a series of weekend fires recovered pyrotechnics, weaponry and riot gear believed to have been used during demonstrations in the area, officials announced.https://3d58991a51101f01c4c3d89407f6fc83.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

During Saturday’s “large demonstration” in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood,  a crowd set construction trailers on fire, and damaged cars and businesses before making its way toward Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, police said Wednesday evening.https://www.youtube.com/embed/undefined

But as the crowd headed toward the precinct shortly before 4:30 p.m., a van followed and parked in front of the police building. It was facing the wrong direction in a traffic lane, and later abandoned, officials said.

FEDERAL FORCES SENT TO SEATTLE HAVE ‘DEMOBILIZED’ AND ‘LEFT,’ MAYOR ANNOUNCES

“At about the same time explosions occurred outside the precinct,” the press release states. “Individuals in the crowd threw explosives at officers. One explosion occurred along the north wall of the precinct (on Pine Street), which blew a hole in the wall of the building.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=true&id=1288626090823397376&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxnews.com%2Fus%2Fseattle-explosives-baseball-bats-reportedly-handed-out-at-protests&siteScreenName=foxnews&theme=light&widgetsVersion=223fc1c4%3A1596143124634&width=550px

A witness told police people had surrounded the van earlier in the day, while its back doors were open, to show “improvised shields, gas masks, baseball bats and a large assortment of pyrotechnic explosives inside the van,” officials said.

SEATTLE RESIDENTS SLAM ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’ AS ‘RADICAL EXPERIMENT’ DURING CITY BUDGET MEETING

After searching the vehicle, police said they found the following items inside, among others:https://3d58991a51101f01c4c3d89407f6fc83.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

  • firework pyrotechnics
  • improvised spike strips and nails
  • bear mace
  • gas masks
  • homemade shields
  • helmets, shin guards and additional types of body armor
  • nextImage 1 of 7Photo shows evidence recovered during Seattle Police Department search of van abandoned at demonstration on June 25, 2020 (Seattle Police Department).

On Wednesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told reporters police have “an obligation to disperse a crowd when dangers to public safety like explosives, fires, individuals intent on causing harm” are present, according to local affiliate Q13 Fox Seattle.

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“I think what we saw in our city last week in three separate protests, that there were individuals who were intent on causing harm. And the items seized from this van show exactly what they were planning, saw the results on our street,” Durkan reportedly said.

Police arrested at least 45 people as a result of Saturday’s demonstrations and 59 officers were hurt, KOMO News reported.

Seattle PD also released photographs and videos of the contraband, as well as the damage apparently caused by the explosive.

The department is still investigating its findings.

Orca who carried her dead calf for more than 1,000 miles is pregnant

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/orca-who-carried-dead-calf-1000-miles-is-pregnant/

JULY 28, 2020 / 6:32 AM / CBS/APhttps://www.cbsnews.com/embed/video/?v=a1868626732568dd7f4b07740245c7ea#1VZtb9xEEP4rliUQoGy8a%2Fv8clKFElpEoFShbZAgrk7r3fHdEr%2FhXSc5qvx3Zny%2Bu7T9UCgCCZ103peZ3ZlnZp7Zt74cXdfXcusv3TDCiX9rNHT%2B8q1vHDTWX16%2F9d22B3%2Fp33baP%2FGNxqGUsVBhFrKo4gsWi7xkZZZxJrlcaBULKOMQZZv%2B%2FiVUF6Rxddm03fYi%2FeXFj5CVP12cb%2F%2F49ffz1fflz6qUpVuhtK3HNUpCVXWDY65jG6h7pgbjjJJ1vWXQatmuYQDNukFJizrOuJpsezYpea7zSMk7KnlHJW%2BvpOEGVXBQjXX9SSco2XYtbb%2F%2BFG1nGrBONr2%2FFIsoSfIkTyPOOVo2DtKZrqWN8Dh9Lkuo8RYeLiPCtd7NWzQfA9LINViKmCWgN871dlkERaBK28KdFac4MHgfWnSquqYINmNZBKYIhiIIuciKgOdFIAR%2BkzjPhFCM50nK4oSnLJMxTiPF4ziCVHBeBG4zNmUrTV0ESczvowTXKimrUvCMR7zMJKR6IbRUEqIwVDIOQ7pDCEb29NJtmNqYtutumEgWizjlbD7o9Ld%2Bjf5t%2FnNHRJjx%2BzTExQRynkalSirgWpThIl6EsVJRleVRrjT8HU8eTvx%2BgFsDd1dD%2FY5Ltq%2BNglPZ1OtT0xWB7NGNW4RpKr8i%2BFi5FMF8cBH4h5p9dP7d3d3pDNsOqt0FCE1lanCdtej017YbBwVPTC81s24A2Zh2%2FTm59eSz8NsGtJH07e%2FxnwDGD8%2FxTwj6i0SaRyHPEeJ42hFitYdlNcOy2sGSrJws8d7TJhqzvcHh%2F8liLO9GOqK%2BnkI3lWUR3LOmh%2FXVy%2BcoMb4X4g8cmkP71%2Fltiq2xF03fWQeDv6xkbZGikbCNmiia6iSTUaqSRclUqWMWlwq5mOuEVSUHqcI0F2l2ZFeyiCrMwCAHtUHav96tvcFclQO07jWd%2FkI2RGvfnL968Vj6fLvbuN7tvMEEh97YTuOawDtAWiIvX9CFsG7wuN3G2GO%2BWntwAf09UwpXzutO3RyozF5ZGF6NpUVUStAHcdt3re2GvdwG7s%2BeQiXHmiLCT%2FDnT6vnx9UoP4kXJ4uc%2BHaQ6gbzhCDDSFjVDTCNMQORdxc8S5DS49nfOV7E8gkufUVX4qS1K%2BtWa0KFQrpbkf1Kkr8viuDMf0A0mvH%2Bcuh6GNz2B0Bw%2FTBOQctFgqmnxSLO41yEUSSjxH9AxBtwcmJuNNHBektjXNt0epdpmBHTsXPwKpBupPRQ1BiA2vHcm9FghIjgPvZEHGIN4eCQevcbZErV1TWoXf4e1LDK3jsbi83YVd2t16BXpn3Cic0eI2nss5ZKRO9fDnLARK7hbET7B2r6137EsQvoUrFEZpIJASHLtQgZx9KsIJOcl5wy7x3VfYrNxeN9sTFaQ%2BuV29q08OUj%2BellgU%2BRLOHRgqWZUixWeLzMS8F0HOWhSqXI09Q%2FqFyO5VN0jyLDQ86wMYSZJzj21SVPjmL7vk516N1tOk%2FJYTDYwzcweBqkxoW68rCSvQazyXMb2XriBJu41yBdWc9YDzN%2B3copJPtT98FqHWK%2BmlenF8kttoN5W4O9wRKfav8p3JKpPhXnei9AqKzoeUZVht%2FvDJHDtT9awoZWXu0CjLKjnYVmXaxCqiVzC94dlP5MJhOQVco1ZBHSRwjVLlgS33eMh8iTGaKc7qrpET9Mp9emMVhx8cHNVxNJ78iGeBxlykG2%2BrKWjnh0um2O7opsWx1dpul8%2BCxBV4KszdhQ1vVDR%2F3guE0KKAItAYW7mvL08D57v%2B9%2BQMo0KgIKM8MwsznMjELMKMQMXwqcTTFlxrJ9TCdqntrNZYcWINYzvjUqztH6V%2B%2BmC2ac%2FtlBEzV81NRP6V0PD38C

An orca known as Tahlequah, who raised worldwide concern when she carried her dead calf for 17 days and more than 1,000 miles almost two years ago, is pregnant, scientists said. Casey McLean, the executive director of Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research (SR3), confirmed the pregnancy, CBS affiliate KIRO-TV reported.

Tahlequah’s pregnancy carries special meaning for a region that grieved the death of her calf with her.

The southern residents frequent Puget Sound, are struggling to survive, and most pregnancies are not successful. Tahlequah’s baby was the first for the whales in three years. The southern residents have since had two more calves, in J pod and L pod. Both are still alive.

A baby orca whale is seen being pushed by her mother July 24, 2018, after being born off the Canadian coast near Victoria, British Columbia, in this photo provided by the Center for Whale Research.
A baby orca whale is seen being pushed by her mother July 24, 2018, after being born off the Canadian coast near Victoria, British Columbia, in this photo provided by the Center for Whale Research.DAVID ELLIFRIT/CENTER FOR WHALE RESEARCH VIA AP

The current population of the southern resident orcas is 72.

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post on the nonprofit’s website says that the majority of recent pregnancies have not resulted in successful births, due to a lack of access to Chinook salmon prey. About two-thirds of all southern resident pregnancies are typically lost, researcher Sam Wasser of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington has found.

pregnant-whale-photo-july-2020.jpg
L72 pregnancy photo courtesy SR3 – Sealife Response + Rehab + ResearchSR3 – SEALIFE RESPONSE + REHAB + RESEARCH

Several of the juveniles in the pods also are looking thin, Fearnbach said.

“There are stressed whales out there, critically stressed,” she said.

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Boaters should respect the whales’ space and give them the quiet they need, Fearnbach and Durban said. Whales use sound to hunt, and boat disturbance and underwater vessel noise is one of the three main threats to their survival, in addition to lack of adequate, available salmon and pollution.

First published on July 28, 2020 / 6:32 AM

Agencies to Begin Fourth and Final Round of Translocating Mountain Goats From the Olympics to the Cascades

Joint News ReleaseJuly 22, 2020Media Contacts:
Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park, 360-565-3005Samantha Montgomery, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 360-688-0721Susan Garner, Olympic National Forest, 360-956-2390Casey Andrews, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 541-645-0105Deborah Kelly, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, 509-664-9247

Starting July 27, a coalition of state and federal agencies, with support from local tribes, will begin the fourth and final two-week round of translocating mountain goats from Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to the northern Cascade Mountains to meet wildlife management goals in all three areas. Since September 2018, 275 mountain goats have been translocated. 
This effort is a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades while also removing non-native goats from the Olympic Mountains. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.
WDFW plans to release the mountain goats at 12 sites in the North Cascades national forests this round. Nine sites are in the Darrington, Preacher Mountain, Mt. Loop Highway, and Snoqualmie Pass areas of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Three release sites are in the Chikamin Ridge, Box Canyon, and Tower Mountain areas of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
“A project of this magnitude would be impossible without our partner agencies and the expertise and cooperation of hundreds of people,” said Olympic National Park Wildlife Branch Chief Dr. Patti Happe. “Because of this expertise and cooperation throughout the project, we anticipate reaching our objectives for capture and translocation in this final round.”
At the start of the translocation effort in 2018, the population of mountain goats was estimated at 725. Based on past removal efforts, it was estimated that approximately 50% of the mountain goat population, or 325-375 animals, could be safely captured over a total of four, two-week periods. To date, 275 mountain goats have been captured and translocated with a grand total of 326 removed from the population on the Olympic Peninsula. 
Overall Project Results (September 2018 to September 2019)Total Mountain Goats Removed: 326Translocated to Cascades: 275 Transferrred to Zoo: 16Capture Mortalities: 18Euthanized: 6Transport Mortalities: 3Lethally Removed: 8
Lethal removal will begin in fall 2020 after this final round of capture and translocation.
Trail Impacts and Road ClosuresThe staging area for the mountain goat capture operation is located beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park along Hurricane Hill Road and is closed to public access.
Hurricane Hill Road is closed completely beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center through August 9 for mobilization, capture operations, and demobilization. This closure includes the Hurricane Hill Trail, Little River Trail, and Wolf Creek Trail. Hurricane Ridge Road and all other area trails remain open. A map of the area trails is available on the project website at nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/mountain-goat-capture-and-translocation.htm.
No other closures will be in place for this project in Olympic National Park or the national forests.
Project BackgroundIn May 2018, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlined the effort to remove mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014.
“The mountain goat relocations not only augment resident populations, increasing population viability, but tracking the collared goats assists with our understanding of goats use of the habitat within the North Cascades” said Phyllis Reed, USFS Wildlife Biologist. 
While some mountain goat populations in the north Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent from many areas of its historic range.
Aerial capture operations are conducted through a contract with Leading Edge Aviation, a private company that specializes in the capture and transport of wild animals. The helicopter crew uses immobilizing darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transport them in specially-made slings to the staging areas.
The animals are cared for by veterinarians before WDFW wildlife managers transport them to staging areas in the north Cascades for release. To maximize success, goats are airlifted in their crates by helicopter directly to alpine habitats that have been selected for appropriate characteristics.
Mountain goats follow and approach hikers because they are attracted to the salt from their sweat, urine, and food. “The north Cascades is a vast landscape, that is less population-dense than Olympic National Park,” said Will Moore, a WDFW wildlife manager who specializes in mountain goats.
“We also know that the Cascades have natural salt licks, that mountain goats depend on,” added Moore. “Because of this, they won’t rely as much on humans to provide their salt fix.”
Area tribes that have supported the translocation plan in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes. Volunteers from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Point No Point Treaty Council, Quileute Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, Skokomish Indian Tribe, and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe have assisted with past operations at the staging areas in the Olympics.
For more information about mountain goats in Washington State, see WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/oreamnos-americanus.

Lawsuit threatened over about-face on grizzly reintroduction


by GENE JOHNSON Associated PressWednesday, July 15th 2020AA

FILE – In this May 26, 2020, file photo, a grizzly bear roams an exhibit at the Woodland Park Zoo, closed for nearly three months because of the coronavirus outbreak in Seattle. Grizzly bears once roamed the rugged landscape of the North Cascades in Washington state but few have been sighted in recent decades. The federal government is scrapping plans to reintroduce grizzly bears to the North Cascades ecosystem. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

https://komonews.com/news/local/lawsuit-threatened-over-about-face-on-grizzly-reintroduction-07-15-2020

SEATTLE (AP) — A conservation group is threatening to sue the Trump administration over its sudden reversal of plans to restore grizzly bears in the North Cascade mountain range of Washington state.

The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter Wednesday giving notice that it intends file a federal lawsuit in 60 days unless the Interior Department resumes its efforts to reintroduce the apex predator.

The group said the Endangered Species Act mandates the bears’ recovery.

The administration scrapped the plans this month, saying local residents made clear they opposed having more grizzlies in the region.

Feds scrap plans to reintroduce grizzlies to North Cascades

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated PressPublished: July 7, 2020, 12:10pmShare: 

A grizzly bear Photo copyright Jim Robertson

SPOKANE — The federal government on Tuesday decided to scrap plans to reintroduce grizzly bears to the North Cascades ecosystem in Washington state.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt told a meeting of community members in Omak, Washington, that his agency will not conduct the environmental impact statement needed to move forward with the plan.

“The Trump Administration is committed to being a good neighbor, and the people who live and work in north central Washington have made their voices clear that they do not want grizzly bears,” Bernhardt said in a news release.

“Grizzly bears are not in danger of extinction, and Interior will continue to build on its conservation successes managing healthy grizzly bear populations across their existing range,” he said.

The decision was hailed by U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, who represents the region in Congress.

“Homeowners, farmers, ranchers, and small business owners in our rural communities were loud and clear: We do not want grizzly bears in North Central Washington,” Newhouse said. “I have long advocated that local voices must be heard by the federal government on this issue.”

The Department of the Interior began planning the environmental review process in 2015 under the Obama administration.

The recovery of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states is an amazing success story, the agency said. Most of the efforts have focused on six areas of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and eastern Washington state.

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has been the primary focus of grizzly recovery efforts to date, and grizzly populations have increased to about 700 bears there since the animals were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1975.

The environmental group Conservation Northwest was disappointed by the decision, but did not think it was the final word on the bears.

“We are still confident they will be restored there,” spokesman Chase Gunnell said.

Gunnell said 80% of the people who provided public comments on the bears supported growing the population by bringing grizzlies to the back country in and around North Cascades National Park.

Gunnell said it was false that local residents overwhelmingly oppose reintroduction of the bears.

“This is not an issue that has just west side support,” Gunnell said, referring to more populous and liberal western Washington. “Public support is strong.”

Fewer than 10 grizzlies are thought to live across 9,800 square miles anchored by North Cascades National Park, Conservation Northwest said.

Given their isolation from other grizzly populations, the low number of bears, their very slow reproductive rate and other constraints, the North Cascades grizzly bear population is considered the most at-risk bear population in the United States, the environmental group said.

Grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species in 1975. They have slowly regained territory and increased in numbers in the ensuing decades, but they still occupy only a small portion of their historical range.

An estimated 50,000 bears once roamed the contiguous U.S. Government-sponsored programs led to most being poisoned, shot and trapped by the 1930s.

https://www.columbian.com/news/2020/jul/07/feds-scrap-plans-to-reintroduce-grizzlies-to-north-cascades/

Washington state sounds alarm over rising coronavirus cases

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Health officials in Washington are warning that the coronavirus is spreading more widely throughout the state, an increase likely driven by transmissions that took place over Memorial Day weekend.

In a report issued Saturday, the Washington State Department of Health pointed to two distinct hot spots, both of which are showing worrying signs of increased spreading.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising fastest in four counties east of the Cascade Mountains, mostly rural and agricultural areas that were spared from the first substantial outbreak in Washington.

Both cases and the rate at which tests are coming back positive are increasing in Yakima, Spokane, Franklin and Benton counties. Projections in three of those counties show they are at risk of recording hundreds of new cases a day by the end of the month; Yakima County is already recording cases at that rapid rate.

The outbreaks east of the Cascades are now comparable to the worst days of the coronavirus epidemic in King County, home to Seattle, in mid-March. Though they are much more sparsely populated, there are as many cases per capita now in the eastern counties as there were in Seattle during the height of its outbreak.

King County has a population 2.25 million and has recorded 8,611 coronavirus cases, according to state health department figures, or a little under four cases per 1,000 residents. Yakima County, population 250,000, has recorded 5,129 confirmed cases, a per capita ratio five times higher than King County.

The state health department also said it was concerned about a growing number of cases confirmed in western Washington. Models maintained by epidemiologists at the University of Washington show the estimated reproductive threshold — the average number of people someone infected with the virus infects — rising above the 1.0 threshold needed to keep cases on the decline.

Washington, the state that suffered the first confirmed coronavirus case back in January, is now beginning to reopen its economy. In a statement Saturday, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said the new report was cause for concern.

“The report estimates cases and deaths will soon increase substantially if COVID-19 continues to spread at current levels,” Inslee said. “This data will force us to look for some creative solutions and strengthen our strong local – state partnerships to address the disease activity.”

He asked Washingtonians to wear masks more vigilantly and to continue practicing social distancing.

“This is not the time to give up on efforts to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. We are still in the middle of a pandemic that is continuing to infect and kill Washingtonians,” Inslee said.

In a statement, Kathy Lofy, Washington state’s health officer, said the increased number of cases was likely a result of Memorial Day weekend festivities about three weeks ago. That stretch of time would give people a sufficient period in which to get sick, develop symptoms and progress to a state in which they seek treatment for their illness.

Lofy said the new cases are not indicative of any spread at protests over the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis. The protests that have been especially large in Seattle, Tacoma and other western Washington towns.

Any new cases among protesters probably have not had time to manifest in substantial ways yet and likely would not show up for at least another week.

After about a month at a stable plateau, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the country has started to rise. More than 20,000 new cases have been identified on each of the last four days, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Doctors confirmed nearly 24,000 cases on Thursday and more than 26,000 cases on Friday.

States that raced to reopen their economies, such as Texas, Florida, Arizona and the Carolinas, are seeing substantial increases. But so too are states such as Washington, where restrictions have been lifted more slowly.

More than 2,066,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. More than 115,000 have died, by far the highest total of any country in the world.