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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: December 2014
ODFW is on the lookout for avian influenza in wild birds in Oregon after the virus was detected in a small backyard poultry flock near Winston, Ore. (Douglas County).
ODFW is part of the State of Oregon’s multi-agency response to highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza, along with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Health Authority and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).
ODFW is asking the public to report dead wild birds, especially waterbirds (geese, ducks, shorebirds), to its Wildlife Health hotline at 866-968-2600.
The virus strain, known as H5N8, poses no immediate threat to human health. It has been circulating in Europe and East Asia and has not made people sick. However, the virus is contagious among birds and can be deadly to domestic birds and rarely, wild birds.
The H5N8 strain detected was found in a captive falcon earlier this week in Whatcom County, Washington state. Another avian influenza strain, H5N2, was also detected in a wild bird (northern pintail duck) in Washington state.
Wild birds have evolved with avian influenza and usually don’t die or exhibit signs of sickness from the virus. There have been no recent wild bird die-offs related to avian influenza in Oregon.
This time of year, migratory waterbirds (ducks, geese, shorebirds) undergo a major north-south migration along the Pacific Flyway, which extends from Alaska to South America. Wild birds coming in contact with susceptible domestic birds (chickens, turkeys, Guinea fowl) could spread the virus.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) strongly encourages backyard poultry producers to prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Any sick domestic birds should be reported to the State Veterinarian’s office at 1-800-347-7028 or USDA at 1-866-536-7593.
Hunters: practice safe bird handling
The strain of avian influenza identified in Oregon and Washington states is no immediate threat to human health. But hunters should always practice safe bird handling and cooking techniques:
Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling and cleaning game birds.
Do not eat, drink, smoke or touch your face when handling birds.
Keep the game bird and its juices away from other foods.
Thoroughly clean knives and any other equipment or surfaces that touch birds. Use a solution of one third cup of chlorine bleach per one gallon of water.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling birds (or with alcohol-based hand products if your hands are not visibly soiled).
Cook all game meat thoroughly (up to at least 165° F) to kill disease organisms and parasites. Use a food thermometer to ensure the inside of the bird has reached at least 165° F.
Upland bird and waterfowl (duck, goose) hunting seasons are open in Oregon through the end of January. Goose hunting is also open in parts of the state during February and March.
For more information on avian influenza in wild birds, visit USGS National Wildlife Health Center:
For information on avian influenza in domestic birds, visit ODA’s website: http://bit.do/ORbirdflu
Fresh News, week of December 19th
Waterfowl hunting continues to be tough with stagnant air which builds fog. Additionally, with our unseasonably warm weather temperatures every pond or secret hole is now completely free of ice with mostly open water. These conditions are perfect to jump shoot Northern Mallards and Lazy Canadian Honkers. Central Washington is covered with waterfowl from the North. As soon as our temperatures drop below freezing around the clock and we get a little wind the big water will harbor vast numbers of quality ducks and geese.
Each afternoon serious walleye anglers have been using blade baits and swim baits to catch limits of 18-22” walleye. Medicare Beach, the Lind Coulee Arm of Potholes Reservoir, the Goose Island Area and the face of the sand dunes on shallow humps continue to produce. We did receive a report from a fisherman who has visited the reservoir every month in 2014 and returned home with limits of walleye, each and every month. This week he was using smiley blades with a worm harness. His most productive spot was in front of the state park boat launch and he also had some luck along the cliffs on the east shoreline. The anglers are launching after our discouraging morning fog disappears.
California wildlife officer David Bess has been appointed the new chief of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham announced. The position was recently vacated by the retirement of 33-year veteran wildlife officer, Chief Michael P. Carion.
“California’s fish and wildlife and the sportsmen and sportswomen of this state owe Chief Carion a debt of gratitude for 33 years of selfless service,” said Director Bonham. “Along with his predecessor, Chief Nancy Foley, Chief Carion worked to increase the number of wildlife officers in the state. Today, the force is at its largest since 2000. We wish Chief Carion well in his retirement and look forward to continuing that progress with Chief Bess.”
Chief Bess gained a variety of experience in the Law Enforcement Division starting as a wildlife officer in Contra Costa County and the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. He then joined the Special Operations Unit (SOU) of undercover wildlife officers who focus on illegal commercialization of California’s fish and wildlife. He eventually promoted to lieutenant to lead SOU. He promoted to captain and then assistant chief working on a variety of administrative tasks, including managing the Professional Standards Unit and legislative and regulatory duties.
Chief Bess brings a wealth of experience from running several businesses for more than 20 years. He sold his businesses and at age 43 followed his dream of going to the warden academy and becoming a wildlife officer. Chief Bess has a forestry degree from Humboldt State University, a degree in natural sciences from Sierra College, and has a lifelong passion for hunting and fishing.
Two different strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses (H5N2 and H5N8) were isolated from two birds in northwestern Washington as reported on Tuesday, Dec. 16. HPAI has not been detected in domestic poultry or wild birds in California and there is no immediate public health concern with either of these viruses. The virus strains identified in Washington are not known to cause illness in humans. Additionally, there are no cases of infection in hunting dogs.
Influenza A viruses naturally circulate in wild bird populations, primarily in species that are associated with an aquatic habitat. These viruses rarely cause clinical signs in infected individual birds, and most circulating avian influenza strains in wild birds are low pathogenic. Viruses are classified as highly pathogenic or low pathogenic based on their ability to cause disease in domestic poultry.
Hunters are reminded to practice routine precautions when handling game. Hunters should wear rubber or disposable latex or nitrile gloves, wash their hands, and thoroughly clean knives, equipment and surfaces that come into contact with game. Wild game should be cooked thoroughly (internal temperature of 165° F). See the National Wildlife Health Center website for more information: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/wildlife_health_bulletins/WHB_05_03.jsp.
Between 2006 and 2011, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, collected samples from thousands of wild birds (primarily waterfowl) in California and tested them for avian influenza. No HPAI was detected in any of the samples. Additionally, over 450,000 migratory birds representing 284 species were tested throughout the United States during this time and no HPAI was detected in any of them. At that time, CDFW prepared a surveillance and response plan which can be found here: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/WIL/disease/avianflu/.
CDFW will continue to monitor for mortality events in California involving wild birds. Carcasses from these would be tested for avian influenza viruses as per routine protocol. Any specific HPAI surveillance would be conducted in collaboration with our state and federal partners.
Avian mortality events in California can be reported to the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab through the mortality reporting form located here: http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Laboratories/Wildlife-Investigations/Monitoring/Mortality-Report.
There has been a lot of complaining about some of the ODFW proposed fee increases for 2016. Here’s my take on the subject. When I qualified for my pioneer license, I felt that I had received a gift that I did not do anything special to earn. After all, Oregon is a great place to live and as for growing old, – it certainly beats the alternative.
I never assumed that this free license was was a never-ending promise from either the state of Oregon or the ODFW to me that I would never again have to pay for my combination hunting/fishing license. So when my free pioneer combination hunting/fishing license starts costing me $6.00 in 2016, I will gladly pay it and feel slightly less guilty about whether or not I am paying my fair share. I will consider it an incredible bargain.
The “outrage” over the upcoming increase in the cost of pioneer licenses reminds me of the similar “outrage” when the ODFW started charging for shellfish licenses more than ten years ago. From the amount of complaining I had to listen to while selling ODFW licenses at the Stockade Market in Winchester Bay, I would never have thought that we would have sold, over the years, more than a thousand annual shellfish licenses during the last two weeks of December.
In other words, all these people thought that they could get their value from a yearly shellfish license in only two weeks.
In a nutshell, here is my take on ODFW license fees. If you think they are worth it, buy them. If you don’t think they are worth it, don’t buy them. If you are on the fence, buy them anyway and then make a promise to yourself to use them even more than you normally would – to ensure that you get your money’s worth.
I am not an ODFW apologist. I definitely don’t agree with every decision the ODFW makes. But I never hear them given credit when they make a wise decision. They are not operating in a vacuum and are often constrained in what they can do by other state or federal agencies.
I got a phone call Friday morning from an angler that said he could catch and legally keep more than five non-finclipped spring Chinook this year even though the fishing regulations clearly state the season limit is five such fish. Here is how he said he could do it. He would catch and tag his five unclipped springers and then he would go fishing on “Free Fishing Weekend” which this year falls on June 6th and 7th and catch – his two springer daily limit each day. Since a combined angling tag isn’t required to fish for salmon during free fishing weekend and he’s smart enough to not to brag about his scheme, he most likely will get away with it But I’d like to see him catch four nonclipped spring Chinook during that weekend.
“However, the “scheme” clearly violates the intent of Oregon’s Free Fishing Weekend and I would hate to see such activity put the weekend in jeopardy. It’s a neat concept that is intended to sell more fishing and crabbing licenses. Ideally, the weekend is late enough in the year so that the weather will be good and there are lots of fishing options available, yet late enough that there is enough calendar year left, that if someone has a good time, they may actually purchase a fishing or crabbing license.
The annual Best of the Creek” steelhead derby held on Tenmile Creek will be a season-long contest this year rather than the two day event of years past. The derby winner will be the angler that weighs in the heaviest accumulative weight of finclipped steelhead at Ringo’s Lakeside Marina during the contest’s duration. For more details, visit or call Ringos at 541-759-3312.
State wildlife officials are temporarily feeding deer to protect orchards in the Pateros area but say widespread feeding of Okanogan County mule deer is not needed at this time.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) northcentral regional director Jim Brown said most deer are faring well thanks to mild weather and below-average snow cover in the wake of the largest wildfire in state history in July.
The Carlton Complex fire scorched tens of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, including some traditional mule deer winter range. But a mild, rainy fall has produced some of the best forage for deer in recent years, both inside and outside of the burn area, Brown said.
“Deer often concentrate during the winter near Pateros’ fruit tree orchards – independent of the effects of fire – and cause damage,” Brown said. “Until more deer fence is repaired, we are using feed to draw deer away from the orchards.”
Brown said the current feeding effort is designed to limit orchard damage without disrupting the deer’s normal diet and potentially causing health problems. WDFW uses specially-formulated feed to fulfill – on a short-term basis – the deer’s nutritional needs.
In general, WDFW and other wildlife managers discourage the public from winter feeding of deer and other wildlife because it can harm the animals, said Kristin Mansfield, WDFW wildlife veterinarian. Deer, for instance, need to feed on many different kinds of plants to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet. Mansfield noted that some well-intentioned people have been feeding deer fruits and grains.
“Fruit and grains are not a normal part of a deer’s diet at this time of year and can be extremely difficult for deer to digest,” Mansfield said, adding that a steady diet of such high-carbohydrate fare can elevate the animals’ stomach acid levels and cause serious illness and even death.
Mansfield said she appreciates people wanting to help animals in what seems like harsh conditions. “But most feeding just makes us feel good and can end up being bad for the animals,” she said. “Fruit is too high in carbohydrates and lacks the nutrients deer need to stay healthy. It’s a bit like letting your kids eat nothing but candy bars.”
Supplemental feeding also disrupts the natural foraging patterns of deer and concentrates the animals into one location, said Scott Fitkin, WDFW district wildlife biologist. Having too many deer in one area makes them vulnerable to disease, predation, poaching, and motor vehicle collisions if feeding stations are near roads.
Fitkin added that attempting to maintain a deer population out of proportion to its available habitat through supplemental feeding can be counterproductive to the animals’ long-term health.
“All those deer will mow down any shrubs trying to re-sprout, setting back both the quantity and quality of healthy winter range for years to come,” he said.
Nearly $10,000 raised last month by the Mule Deer Foundation through its Methow Valley chapter will all be used locally for range restoration activities such as shrub plantings and re-seeding the area burned by the Carlton Complex Fire.
About half of the deer fawns born annually don’t survive the winter in Okanogan County, Fitkin said. However, deer that are in good shape at the beginning of winter can generally survive on fat reserves for two to three months with minimal forage.
“The long range forecast for this winter bodes well for these deer — above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation,” Fitkin said. “We are prepared to provide supplemental feeding, on an emergency basis, if extreme weather conditions develop.”
For more information on winter wildlife feeding, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/winter_feeding/wildlife.html
A new six-year plan that will be used by the state to develop hunting seasons and guide management of game species was approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during its meeting Dec. 12-13 in Tumwater.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved the 2015-2021 Game Management Plan after an extensive public process.
The management plan outlines strategies to address a variety of issues, including:
Hunter recruitment and retention – Establish a new citizen advisory group to help identify and implement methods to encourage greater participation in hunting.
Predator/prey interactions – Follow new guidelines to help depressed deer and elk herds that are below population objectives due to predation by black bears, cougars, bobcats or coyotes.
Access to private timberlands – Work with private timberland owners to develop programs that maintain recreational access to their properties while minimizing direct costs to hunters.
Wolf recovery – Continue to follow the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, and work with the wolf advisory group to develop a new plan to manage wolves after they are no longer listed for protection.
Non-toxic ammunition – Consult with hunters to develop voluntary programs that reduce the use of lead ammunition, which can poison raptors and other birds that may ingest spent ammunition when feeding on the carcasses of animals that were shot.
The final plan will be posted in the next week on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01657/ .
In other business, the commission conducted a public hearing on draft options for a new policy to address conservation and fishery objectives for Willapa Bay salmon fisheries. State fishery managers plan to develop additional draft options in the next few weeks.
Key principles of the draft policy include:
Promoting the conservation and restoration of salmon and steelhead by working with partners, such as the Regional Fishery Enhancement Groups, to protect and restore habitat productivity, implement hatchery reform, and manage fisheries consistent with conservation objectives.
Developing fishing opportunities that are fairly distributed across fishing areas and reflect the diverse interests of fishers.
Structuring recreational and WDFW-managed commercial fisheries to minimize conflicts between the two gear types.
Seeking to enhance the overall economic well-being and stability of Willapa Bay fisheries.
Ensuring salmon management is timely, well documented, transparent, well communicated, and accountable.
To review the current draft policy options, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/willapa_bay_salmon/ .
The commission is scheduled to hold another public hearing on draft policy options during its January meeting, and is tentatively scheduled to make a final decision in February.
Also during the December meeting, the commission held a public hearing on proposed sportfishing rule changes. The rules are specific to the mainstem Columbia River, its tributaries and lakes within the basin.
The proposals – which cover fishing seasons, daily limits and other rules – are available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/ . The commission is scheduled to take action on the proposals during its January meeting.
The commission also discussed the recruitment for a new director of WDFW. Commissioners completed an initial set of interviews for the position last week, and are scheduled to consider hiring a new director during their meeting in January.
The current director, Phil Anderson, announced in August he is resigning from his position at the end of the year. However, at the commission’s request, he has agreed to remain on as the head of the agency until a new director is in place.
In other news, Rollie Schmitten, whose term as a commissioner expires at the end of the year, announced he is not seeking reappointment. However, he said will remain on the commission until a new director is hired.
A gray fox involved in a Dec. 11 biting incident in the Alazlea-Glen Road area (Douglas County) has tested positive for rabies.
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that attacks an infected animal’s nervous system. Rabies symptoms in wildlife, particularly foxes and raccoons, include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability or aggressiveness, disorientation, excessive drooling of saliva, and showing no fear of humans.
Rabies can be transmitted from infected wild mammals (bats, fox, coyotes, skunks, or raccoons) to unvaccinated pets and livestock, or to humans. The virus is present in the saliva of infected animals and is often transmitted through the bite or other contact with a rabid animal.
If you see any wild animals exhibiting strange behavior, call the ODFW Wildlife Health Lab toll-free at 866-968-2600 to report the animal to one of ODFW’s veterinary staff. (Or call your local ODFW district office during regular business hours.) If you see pets or stray cats or dogs acting strangely, contact Douglas County Animal Control at 541-440-4471.
People in the area should take extra caution not to approach wildlife or stray pets. If bitten or scratched by a wild animal or a stray, immediately wash the area with soap and water for at least five minutes and seek medical attention. The incident should be reported to your local health department or the Douglas County Environmental Health Program at 541-440-3574.
ODFW also reminds people in the area to not feed wildlife, to keep garbage in secure containers and to feed pets indoors. Wildlife can be excluded from living areas by sealing openings in attics, basements, porches, sheds, barns and screen chimneys that might provide access to bats and other wildlife.
Trapping seasons are also currently open for gray fox and other furbearers. Trappers in the area should take extra caution when checking traps.
The annual steehead derby this year will no longer be a weekend affair, but a season-long event with the winner decided by the cumulative weight of the steelhead weighed in. The one-time entry fee is $20.00. For more derby details contact Ringo’s Lakeside Marina or call: 541-759-3312.
“Best of the Creek”
Tenmile Creek Steelhead Derby
Derby Dates: December 13, 2014 – April 30, 2015
Weigh-in Station: Ringo’s Lakeside Marina
325 S. 8th Lakeside
A Onetime entry Fee= $20.00.
All fish entered in derby must be officially weighed and
photographed at Ringo’s Lakeside Marina
Tuesdays – Sundays between 9:00a.m – 4:00p.m.
No fish will be registered on MONDAYs.
Prizes are for contestants with the highest total season
weight. No limit of number of fish turned in.
ODFW rules apply.
1st: $250 Cash (minimum)
2nd: $100 Cash
3rd: $25 Cash
RINGO’S LAKESIDE MARINA
Tenmile Lake’s Basin Partnership