Monthly Archives: October 2014

Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Recreation Report

The end of October, Halloween, and early November means fall is in the air. The beginning of the northern flights of waterfowl, lunker walleye on Potholes Reservoir, and especially Goose Hunting in fields are all activities outdoor enthusiasts enjoy this time of year. The water level on Potholes Reservoir has risen almost 8 feet since the lowest level of 2014. On 10-29-14 the pool height of Potholes Reservoir was 1033.6, the lowest level it was this year was 1027.2. The first large group of northern ducks has arrived on Potholes Reservoir this week. Now is the time, with higher water level and new birds in the area, to enjoy a guided or non-guided hunt on the duck taxi. (www.ducktaxi.com)

Walleye action remains excellent with many limits being reported at the MarDon Tackle Shop. The tackle shop is open from 9am-6pm week days and we are open from 7am-7pm Saturday and 7am-6pm on Sunday. Please call (509) 346-2651 if you have any questions.

The MarDon Dock continues to show good Crappie, Perch and Bass Action. Anglers are using simple baits for Perch, a hook and a worm. Crappie Anglers are using mini-jigs tipped with maggots or the new dock bait this year, a Trout Magnet. This lure is from West Virginia and it resembles a crappie jig. Many bass have been caught accidentally on Perch and Crappie Baits. Plastic Grubs, Tube Skirts, and Plastic Lizards are also producing bass at the MarDon Dock. Any day now we expect the pre-spawn walleye to begin to show on the face of O’Sullivan Dam. This phase in the walleye’s behavior magnetizes them to the fish under the MarDon Dock as a winter food source. We have already had one fisher catch and release 9 walleye using a jig and night-crawler while dock fishing. Soon Old Weed Waders secret weapon The Blade Bait will be an excellent walleye tactic. Swim baits 4, 5, and 6 inches in length are also excellent lures to target walleye from the rock wall known as the face of O’Sullivan Dam as well as the MarDon Dock.

Pheasant Hunting is now open and if you are looking for some land access for a fee you might consider joining the Royal Hunt Club. It offers 25,000 acres of farm land donated for fee hunting options. This land runs along the Royal Slope area and you can look at a map by stopping by the MarDon Store during 9am-6pm daily. You can either purchase a season pass or you can purchase a 3 day pass, the price for a season pass is $300 for the year and a 3 day pass will run you $120. For more information please call (509) 346-2651.

Casey Langley and Mark Shelton

Casey Langley of Ephrata and Mark Shelton of Moses Lake enjoyed a short day of walleye fishing on Potholes Reservoir and collected these quality walleye.

Charlie Lunn

Charlie Lunn of Ellensburg was having a relaxing day of dock fishing at MarDon Resort. He was targeting Perch with a size 6 bait hook and a night-crawler when his pole doubled over with a 5 lb 9 oz jumbo smallmouth bass. After a challenging fight and a lot of joy Charlie brought in his biggest smallmouth bass ever.

2004-01-01 00.01.58

One of the most sought after draw deer tags in the Pacific Northwest is the draw for the Desert and Desert A Mule Deer Tag. Those of us that live in the Potholes Recreation Area frequently see these magnificent animals all year round.

Here Heather Dungey of West Port shows a 5 point Mule Deer Buck in Velvet. This was harvested in the Desert Unit 290 on Saturday, October 25, 2014.

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Washington Fishing – Razor Clam Digging Starting Nov. 4th

Clam diggers can return to coastal beaches starting Tuesday, Nov. 4, to dig razor clams during the first of two planned openings in November.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the latest round of evening digs after marine toxin test results showed the clams are safe to eat. Digging is not allowed on any beach before noon.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said the best digging typically occurs one to two hours before low tide.

“With daylight saving time ending Sunday, diggers will have even less daylight to dig by and should bring lanterns or headlamps,” Ayres said.

Digging days and evening low tides during the upcoming opening are:

Nov. 4, Tuesday; 4:26 p.m., -0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 5, Wednesday; 5:14 p.m., -0.7 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 6, Thursday; 5:59 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 7, Friday; 6:42 p.m., -1.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 8, Saturday; 7:24 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Nov. 9, Sunday; 8:05 p.m., -0.7 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 10, Monday; 8:47 p.m., -0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 11, Tuesday; 9:31 p.m., 0.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2014-15 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state. A WDFW video, which demonstrates how to teach your kids to harvest razor clams, is available at http://youtu.be/gl9p_PparVk .

Ayres suggested that diggers also should check the forecast before heading out to the beaches.

“Clamming has been good when the weather hasn’t chased diggers away,” he said.

WDFW also has proposed another dig in November, tentatively set to begin Nov. 20 if marine toxin tests are favorable. That dig is tentatively scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

Nov. 20, Thursday; 5:06 p.m., 0.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 21, Friday; 5:45 p.m., -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 22, Saturday; 6:24 p.m., -0.8 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Nov. 23, Sunday; 7:05 p.m., -1.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 24, Monday; 7:47 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 25, Tuesday; 8:32 p.m., -0.9 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 26, Wednesday; 9:19 p.m., -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Comprehensive information about razor clams – from updates on tentative digs to how-to advice on digging and cooking – is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/

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California Fishing – Final Poacher Sentenced In 2013 Abalone Sting

After almost a year of court procedures, the last of 18 abalone poachers arrested in a 2013 sting has been sentenced. All 18 suspects were found guilty or pled no contest to the charges.

On Aug. 29, 2013, California wildlife officers simultaneously served 13 search/arrest warrants throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento on 18 suspected abalone poachers. The last of the 18, Dung Tri Bui of San Leandro, was recently found guilty in Mendocino County Superior Court after a week long jury trial. Bui was convicted of three misdemeanor counts, including take of abalone for commercial use, conspiracy to take abalone for commercial purposes and take of abalone greater than the daily limit. He was sentenced to 36 months summary probation, $15,000 fine and a lifetime ban on fishing (including the take of abalone). Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Daniel Madow presented the case.

In total, $139,883 in fines and 11 fishing license revocations were handed out to the 18 subjects. All of the subjects received summary probation ranging from one to three years. All seized dive gear was ordered forfeited by the court. Mendocino DDAs Heidi Larson and Tim Stoen and support staff also spent a tremendous amount of time on these cases along with numerous staff from the Sacramento District Attorney’s office.

“We had excellent support from the respective District Attorney’s offices for taking these crimes seriously and prosecuting the poachers to the full extent of the law,” said Asst. Chief Brian Naslund of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division. “The gear forfeiture, fines and lifetime fishing license revocations for California’s worst poaching offenders will hopefully put them out of the poaching business permanently.”

Poachers    Charges    Revoked    Fine    Probation
SF Bay Area
Khoa Dang Nguyen    5521.5    Life fish/hunt    $15,000    36 months
Chinh Quan Le    5521.5    Life fish/hunt    $15,000    36 months
Hung Vo    5521.5    Lifetime fishing    $15,000    24 months
Toi Van Nguyen    5521.5    Life fish/hunt    $15,000    24 months
Dung Tri Bui    5521.5, PC 182, 29.15[c]    Lifetime fishing    $15,000    36 months
Hai Van Ha    5521.5, PC 182,    Lifetime abalone    $1,353.50    24 months
Duoc Van Nguyen    5521.5, PC 182    Lifetime abalone    $1,353.50    24 months
Andy Phan    2000/29.15 [c]    Lifetime abalone    $1,537    24 months
Charlie Le    PC 182    No    $1,420    24 months
Nhan Trung Le    PC 182, 2000/29.15[c]    No    $1,888    24 months
Suong Hung Tran    29.15[c]    No    $1,771    24 months
Chuyen Van Bui    1052[f]    No    $1,303    24 months
Diep van Nguyen    2000/29.15[c]    No    $1,537    12 months
Khoa Ngoc Nguyen    29.16[b]    No    $1,420    12 months
Sacramento
Dung Van Nguyen    5521.5, PC 115 (a) (F)    Lifetime fishing    $15,000    32 mo State prison
Tho Thanh Phan    5521.5    Lifetime fishing    $15,000    24 months
Hiep Ho    5521.5    Lifetime fishing    $20,000    26 months
Hung Van Le    2000, 29.16(a)    No    $1,303    24 months
PC 115 Forgery of government documents
PC 182 Conspiracy to commit a crime
F&G Code 5521.5 Unlawful to take abalone for commercial purposes
F&G Code 2000 Unlawful possession of California’s fish and wildlife
F&G Code 1052 Unlawful use of another’s hunting/fishing license
Title 14 – 29.15 abalone overlimit
Title 14 – 29.16 abalone report card violations

The original press release announcing the bust can be found at
http://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/cdfw-officers-arrest-13-poaching-suspects-in-oakland-and-sacramento/.

The case was investigated by the CDFW Special Operations Unit, a specialized team of wildlife officers tasked with investigating illegal black market sales of California’s fish and wildlife resources.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 10/29/2014

Although the streams that have been producing salmon for the last few months still have fish in them, smaller streams are now offering the best success. There are salmon in both the Elk and Sixes rivers and fishing has been good subject to water conditions It’s a rather fine line for there to be enough water to get fish into these rivers, yet not so much water that the streams become high, muddy and unfishable.

It will most likely take another rainstorm, or two, to get salmon into Floras Creek and some of the smaller south coast salmon fisheries.

Siltcoos Lake and that portion of the Siltcoos River outlet open to salmon fishing produced very good coho fishing last week. When there was enough water in the fish ladder  to allow the salmon hanging below the dam to move up into the upper portion of the outlet and the lake and become accessible to anglers – fishing was very good for several days before leveling off somewhat.

Once the salmon enter the lake on good numbers, they will stack up in the Fiddle Creek and Maple Creek arms of the lake prior to entering the creeks to spawn. Fiddle Creek Arm usually has the best numbers of coho, while the Maple Creek Arm is known for big salmon. Oregon’s state record coho salmon was pulled from Maple Creek Arm way back in 1966. The 25 pound 5.25 ounce coho was caught by Ed Martin.

Ringo, at Lakeside Marina, reported Sunday that an angler marked a number of large fish in the lake that he thought were salmon, but was unable to hook any. The area where Tenmile Creek enters the ocean appears blown out enough for salmon to enter the creek. Anglers need to be aware that Tenmile’s cohos are not legal to fish for until they reach the bridge on Hilltop Drive just below the lake. The channel connecting North Tenmile and South Tenmile lakes is not open for salmon fishing.

As someone who, several years ago, was selling duplicate salmon tags to anglers who had almost filled their original tags and correctly anticipated the resulting loss of the right to sell duplicate tags by ODFW licensing agents, I can see a similar  and growing problem in the near future.

And that problem is that an increasing number of salmon anglers are getting around the individual season limits on wild or unclipped coho salmon by purchasing daily or short term fishing licenses that are also a tag.

While such behavior clearly violates the spirit of the “law”, I cannot see any effective way to stop it as long as the ODFW is willing to sell short term fishing licenses to anglers that have already purchased a yearly fishing license.

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California Fishing – Report Details Major Changes In Delta Ecosystem

A recent study produced by the San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center and funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) identifies the dramatic ecological transformation of the Delta over the past 150 years.

Developed by a group of scientists and resource managers, “A Delta Transformed” explains the relationship between specific landscape features and ecological functions, and compares historic conditions with the present. It identifies the restoration framework needed to design landscapes that will support native wildlife and hold up to the threats presented by climate change and invasive species. The complete report can be found at http://sfei.li/deltametrics.

“The Delta no longer functions as a delta and is now a network of deep, engineered channels with declining abundances of native wildlife, particularly fish species, and increasing numbers of invasive species,” said Carl Wilcox, CDFW Policy Advisor to the Director for the Bay-Delta. “This critical report contributes a missing dimension to Delta planning by providing a landscape-scale perspective that illustrates how restoration in the Delta should be implemented to support native habitat and species.”

Presently, the Delta estuary is in a highly altered condition and struggling. Study participants identified a variety of landscape changes in the Delta that have impacted its ecological function over the years. These primary changes include loss of connectivity among habitat, degradation of habitat quality and loss of complexity. The knowledge gained from this project will be used to identify specific elements of the landscape that can be restored to meet the needs of native species.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is part of the largest natural estuary on the west coast of North America. It is home to more than 750 native species and supplies water to more than 25 million Californians as well as 3 million acres of farmland.

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Idaho Fishing – New State Record Coho Caught

Angler Ethan Crawford, of Moscow, Idaho, landed this 9.1-pound, 31-inch female coho over the weekend. Crawford’s catch beat the previous state record, a six-pounder caught in the Cascade Reservoir in 1992.

Ethan Crawford, a biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, caught the beefy coho with a spinner. He told reporters that he’s glad the state opened the new monthlong season for sea-run coho.
“It’s kind of neat,” Crawford said. “It’s just cool we have this season and opportunity to catch coho.”
Last week, Idaho wildlife officials approved a monthlong coho fishing season on the Clearwater River that will run through Nov. 16. The new fishing season is part of a decades-long effort by the Nez Perce Tribe to restore coho to the Clearwater River.
Coho disappeared from the river in 1985. In 1995, the tribe began introducing coho eggs and salmon back into the river. Earlier this month, 15,000 cohos passed through a section of the river, prompting officials to allow a monthlong coho fishing season.
Joe DuPont, a fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said he thinks anglers have already caught coho larger than the new record, but haven’t bothered turning them in for verification.
“They are bonking them and eating them and not even thinking about it,” said DuPont.
Some anglers just like to fish.

Since the previous state record was a landlocked coho from Cascade Reservoir – which typically do not get as big as searun cohos, one can expect this record to be broken several times in the near future.

Angler Ethan Crawford, of Moscow, Idaho, landed this 9.1-pound, 31-inch female coho over the weekend. Crawford’s catch beat the previous state record, a six-pounder caught in the Cascade Reservoir in 1992.

Angler Ethan Crawford, of Moscow, Idaho, landed this 9.1-pound, 31-inch female coho over the weekend. Crawford’s catch beat the previous state record, a six-pounder caught in the Cascade Reservoir in 1992.

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California Fishing News – Improved Online Fishing Guide Now Available

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has  launched an improved online Fishing Guide to help novice and experienced anglers plan successful fishing trips. The new guide is faster and provides detailed information about fish plants and fishing locations.

The new version of the guide can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Guide.

The map-based Fishing Guide allows users to research information about specific fishing locations by selecting from a drop down menu, clicking directly on the map or by searching for a specific address, city or zip code. Specific information about each location includes planting schedule, historical fishing information and comments about the terrain, local amenities, fish known to the location and links to lodging, camping and dining options.

Other information displayed includes a link to driving directions, locations known to have quagga mussels and links to other pages, including fish planting information, regulations, license sales, boat launch facilities and a ‘safe to eat’ portal. The safe to eat portal displays advisories about contaminants known to the fish in a specific location.

In the coming year, CDFW plans to expand the Fishing Guide to include direct access to fishing regulations, license sales locations and boating facilities.

“We put a lot of effort into creating successful fishing opportunities across the state,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Stafford Lehr. “The new Fishing Guide will be a major tool that lets us share the useful information we have with the public and to help anglers of the state find new places to enjoy the sport.”

CDFW welcomes comments or suggestions to improve the guide. Contact information and the new version of the guide can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Guide.

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California Sport Crabbing Opens Nov. 1st

California’s Dungeness crab sport fishery opens statewide this Saturday, Nov. 1. Every year at this time, recreational crab fishers eagerly set out in pursuit of these tasty crustaceans. Some set hoop nets and crab traps from boats and piers while others fish crab loop traps on the end of a fishing rod. Still others will dive in to take the crabs by hand. Regardless of the method, Dungeness crabs are one of California’s most popular shellfish.

“Dungeness crab catches tend to be cyclic with several years of high crab numbers followed by a few years of lower catches,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz. “Recent seasons have been characterized by high Dungeness crab production so we may begin to see more average catches in the near future.”

The most popular methods for catching the crustaceans are with crab pots (or traps), loop traps and hoop nets. There is no limit to the number of pots or nets that can be fished recreationally, except when fishing from a public fishing pier where only two fishing appliances may be used. Recreational crabbers may keep up to 10 Dungeness crabs per day of either sex, or six crabs if fishing from a party boat south of Mendocino County. No one may possess more than one daily bag limit, and no Dungeness crab may be taken from San Francisco or San Pablo bays, which are important crab nursery areas.

CDFW reminds sport crabbers that traps and nets for Dungeness crab may not be set before 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1. Those fishing with hoop nets should remember that regulations require raising the nets to the surface to inspect the contents at least every two hours. Any undersized crabs or other species that are accidentally caught can be more quickly released. This regulation ensures that fishermen closely monitor their gear and do not allow any equipment to be abandoned in state waters. Trap fishermen should also closely monitor their traps because lost trap gear can become a self-baiting crab killer.

The recreational size limit for Dungeness crab is five and three-quarter inches measured across the shell, directly in front of and excluding the lateral spines. Crab taken from party boats south of Mendocino County must measure at least six inches across. For a measurement diagram, please see the CDFW website at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=36325&inline=true.

Unlike rock crab species that are fished along rocky reefs, Dungeness crab are usually found on sandy or sand-mud bottoms. Dungeness crabs generally prefer cooler northern and central California waters and are uncommon south of Point Conception. They are typically found at depths of less than 300 feet, although they have been documented down to 750 feet.

For more information regarding recreational Dungeness crab fishing regulations and other crab species, please visit the CDFW Marine Region website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/crabs.asp.

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Potholes Reservoir / Mardon Resort Fishing Report

Irrigation season has come to an end and the Potholes Canal has been shut off. Now Potholes Reservoir will rise very rapidly. Giving waterfowl duck hunters and fishers much better access to the sand dune area. (Always use extreme caution when boating in the sand dunes in Potholes Reservoir.) We continue to have daily reports of walleye limits.   With our recent rain most eastern Washington residents are hiding inside tying lures and it never ceases to amaze me how fishers from the West Side of our state don’t hesitate to enjoy a day outside rain, wind or shine.

Jumbo crappie 12 inches and larger have been caught by many fishers trolling at the mouth of Crab Creek and the face of the sand dunes using walleye tactics. Sand dune bass fishers are reporting good largemouth action from the Crab Creek Area, Goose Island, and the face of O’Sullivan Dam. The Lind Coulee is also showing some nice smallmouth bass action. One group of bass anglers enjoyed a catch and release bass trip on Tuesday where they caught and released 62 large-mouth up to 4 pounds.

Recent storm fronts have provided good waterfowl action in the sand dunes with a good hatch of local birds. We are beginning to see small numbers of early flights of birds from the North. Possibly from as far North as Brewster, Washington. Last weekend hunting was tough on the lake with a calm day with no wind and sunny blue bird conditions. This week we are experiencing normal temperatures for this time of year with some rain and wind so hunting conditions will only improve from last weekend. We have witnessed on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge on Royal Lake, the first of the Northern Migration with arctic Lesser’s and some Northern Canadian Geese beginning to show. We are also seeing groups of over 50 Snow Geese in the Royal Slope Area. We have also seen some cacklers that will move out of our area with the first frigid temperatures.

Pheasant Hunting is now open and if you are looking for some land access for a fee you might consider joining the Royal Hunt Club. It offers 28,000 acres of farm land donated for fee hunting options. This land runs along the Royal Slope area and you can look at a map by stopping by the MarDon Office during 9am-6pm daily. You can either purchase a season pass or you can purchase a 3 day pass, the price for a season pass is $300 for the year and a 3 day pass will run you $120. For more information please call (509) 346-2651.

10 year old Benjamin Wu of Seattle, Wa enjoyed some excellent Perch and crappie fishing off the MarDon Dock with his parents and grandparents.  Young mister Wu was the most entertaining young man because he kept everyone watching him continually catching fish.  He caught the bug and is a fisherman for life.

10 year old Benjamin Wu of Seattle, Wa enjoyed some excellent Perch and crappie fishing off the MarDon Dock with his parents and grandparents. Young mister Wu was the most entertaining young man because he kept everyone watching him continually catching fish. He caught the bug and is a fisherman for life.

Adam Wyble, 1997 Roayl High School Graduate, returned home to Potholes Reservoir after finishing his work on the East Coast and over-seas.  He enjoyed a great couple days of bass fishing with his good friend Levi Meseberg.

Adam Wyble, 1997 Roayl High School Graduate, returned home to Potholes Reservoir after finishing his work on the East Coast and over-seas. He enjoyed a great couple days of bass fishing with his good friend Levi Meseberg.

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Washington Outdoor News – Domestic Cats Major Problem For Small Wildlife

It was almost like a scene out of Halloween movie.

Backyard wildlife enthusiasts in western Washington reported finding six dead bats scattered on their porch and lawn.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologist Chris Anderson, based in the North Puget Sound region office in Mill Creek, explored the possibilities with the concerned reporting party.

The neighborhood was full of birds, bats, raccoons, squirrels, and cats, Anderson learned. When he first suggested there might be a situation that allowed a house cat – a potentially very effective predator – to take advantage of the local bats, there wasn’t initially much belief.

But when the property owners set up a night watch to learn what was happening, the results were as educational as scary….

They keyed in on a locally-familiar, free-ranging, homeless cat hiding by their flowering yucca plant.

Yuccas flower both day and night and are great nectar sources for butterflies and moths. They hadn’t realized until that night how attractive yucca nectar is to night-flying moths, and they watched many coming in to feed.

And then nature’s food chain displayed itself.

The feeding moths attracted hungry bats, swooping in to grab a meal of moth. The feeding bats, in turn, were killed by the quietly waiting cat.

With two more dead bats left by the cat on their lawn, two things became clear: the cat wasn’t necessarily hunting out of hunger, and for the sake of the neighborhood’s wildlife, it needed to be removed from the area.

The situation was relayed to neighbors, some who may have been feeding the homeless but tame cat, and then it was taken to a shelter for care and adoption by a cat lover who will keep it indoors.

“These folks gave both the bats and the stray cat itself a break,” Anderson said. “It was really the best option. And the situation helped them realize that free-ranging domestic cats are deadly to wildlife.”

Americans’ most popular pet is also one of the most harmful to backyard wildlife.

Our 84 million or so pet cats, plus perhaps at least that many homeless feral cats, kill billions of birds, small mammals and other wildlife each year.

Anderson is a cat owner who believes we can have both in our lives.

“Research shows that spending time with pets and spending time watching wildlife both lower stress levels,” Anderson said. “So why not have both?”

Anderson walks his cat outdoors on a leash with a harness, but otherwise keeps it indoors. “He didn’t like the leash when we first adopted him,” he said, “but he adjusted to it and my two dogs. Now my cat enjoys the outdoors safely, both for him and for wildlife.”

The lives of free-roaming pet cats are often cut short by vehicle collisions, disease, poisoning, parasites, territorial fighting, and predation. According to the Humane Society, indoor cats and those confined or controlled when outdoors can average at least three times the lifespan of free-ranging cats.

Wildlife definitely benefits from keeping cats indoors and under control when outdoors.

Extensive studies of the feeding habits of free-roaming domestic cats have been conducted over the last 55 years throughout the world. These studies show the number and types of animals killed by cats varies greatly, depending on the individual cats, the time of year, and availability of prey. Roughly 60 to 70 percent of the wildlife cats kill are small mammals; 20 to 30 percent are birds; and up to 10 percent are amphibians, reptiles, and insects.

Some free-roaming domestic cats kill more than 100 animals each year. One well-fed cat that roamed a wildlife experiment station was recorded to have killed more than 1,600 animals (mostly small mammals) over 18 months. Rural cats take more prey than suburban or urban cats. Birds that nest or feed on the ground, such as California quail, are the most susceptible to cat predation, as are nestlings and fledglings of many other bird species.

Well-fed cats kill birds and other wildlife because the hunting instinct is independent of the urge to eat. In one study, six cats were presented with a live small rat while eating their preferred food. All six cats stopped eating the food, killed the rat, and then resumed eating the food.

Other studies have shown that bells on collars are not effective in preventing cats from killing birds or other wildlife. Birds do not necessarily associate the sound of a bell with danger, and cats with bells can learn to silently stalk their prey. Even if the bell on the collar rings, it may ring too late, and bells offer no protection for helpless nestlings and fledglings.

Wildlife rehabilitation centers report that most small animals injured by cats die. Cats carry many types of bacteria and viruses in their mouths, some of which can be transmitted to their victims. Even if treatment is administered immediately, only about 20 percent of these patients survive the ordeal. A victim that looks perfectly healthy may die from internal hemorrhaging or injury to vital organs.

Anderson noted that the idea of trapping, spaying/neutering, releasing, and leaving food out for feral cats is misguided.

Cats are solitary animals, but groups of feral cats often form around an artificial feeding source, such as garbage dumps or food put out for them. These populations can grow very quickly, even if most are spayed or neutered — it only takes one intact cat to start multiplying!

These feral cat colonies can have significant impacts on wildlife populations and feeding doesn’t prevent them from following predatory instincts. Feral cat colonies can also cause significant health risks to other cats and humans.

“Cats are good pets but lousy outdoor companions,” Anderson said. “It’s a cat’s nature to stalk prey, even when they’re well fed. We cat owners need to take responsibility for them and keep our wildlife safe.”

For more information see American Bird Conservancy’s “Cats Indoors” campaign at http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/

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