RMEF supports returning gray wolf management to state agencies

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) fully supports removing the gray wolf from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife as proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

“Gray wolves have exceeded recovery goals in many states, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the western Great Lakes region,” wrote RMEF chief conservation officer Blake Henning in a public comment submitted to the USFWS. “The RMEF maintains that where wolves exist, they should be managed by state wildlife agencies just as they manage elk, bears, deer, mountain lions and other wildlife.”

Wolves are currently above objective in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and spreading into California, Oregon, Colorado, Washington and other states. In Idaho, Montana and Wyoming where the species is already under state management, populations range from 150 to 400 percent above minimum recovery goals.

“The recovery of the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains and the western Great Lakes has exceeded all expectations and it is time for wolf management to be turned over to the states,” Henning wrote.

For more information, visit the websites www.rmef.org and www.elknetwork.com.

FROM THE DNR

Walleye fishing opportunities abound on Lake Superior

A DNR walleye assessment in Chequamegon Bay this spring showed bountiful numbers of walleye along the Ashland shoreline, all ready to fill the livewells of lucky anglers.

Fisheries crews deployed four fyke nets along the shoreline April 27 to target and tag spawning walleye.

During the eight-day assessment, the crews sampled 3,560 walleye, a large number of them 19- to 22-inch females and the largest 31.9 inches.

Crews measured each walleye, placed a unique numbered yellow Floy tag just below the dorsal fin, and removed a dorsal spine from some fish for age estimates.

Anglers catching tagged fish can help with this research by contacting the Bayfield Fisheries Office (715-779-5051) with the tag color, letter-number combination, species, date, location and if they harvested the fish (leave the tag in released fish). Anglers will later receive all information the DNR has about the tagged fish.

Statewide birding report

Migration just will not give up across the north, says DNR conservation biologist Ryan Brady in Ashland.

“Warblers, flycatchers, thrushes and vireos continue to pass through about 7-10 days later than usual, including Tennessee, blackpoll, bay-breasted and Wilson’s warblers, Philadelphia vireo, Swainson’s thrush and most of the flycatchers, especially yellow-bellied, olive-sided and eastern wood-pewee.

“Red-headed woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, cedar waxwings and common nighthawks are also on the move, while black-billed cuckoos are notably scarce thus far. On the other hand, LeConte’s sparrows are showing especially well this year in northern grasslands.

“Shorebird migration carries on, as is typical of this time of year. Most prominent are semipalmated and white-rumped sandpipers, but notable sightings include red-necked and Wilson’s phalaropes, American golden-plover and Hudsonian godwit.

“Reports of American white pelicans are common across non-forested portions of the state, often involving flocks soaring on thermals as typically seen with vultures and birds of prey.

“Did you notice flocks of ‘molt migrant’ Canada geese in V formation heading north last week? These failed or non-breeders are heading to the Canadian tundra, where food resources are rich and predators are fewer, to grow new feathers.

“Breeding season has taken center stage, with the vast majority now singing to declare a territory and attract a mate; paired up and building nests; sitting on eggs; feeding nestlings; or already caring for fledged young.

“Rarities spotted last week included western kingbirds in Ashland and Bayfield counties. A beautiful male long-tailed duck in Lincoln County furnished an unusual record for this time of year in the interior portion of the state. Best of all may have been a hooded oriole photographed in Brown County, the third sighting of this southern species in the past few weeks after only one previous sighting in state history.

“Volunteers for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project are in the field for the fifth and final year of this important project. Visit the DNR website to find out how you can contribute.”

Report your finds and learn what others are seeing at www.ebird.org/wi.

Outdoor Report

People are enjoying the summer-like weather camping, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, but the DNR cautions swimmers and paddlers that many lakes and rivers are still cold and at higher than normal summer water levels.

There are now regular reports of fawns and other young wildlife critters from young bunnies and squirrels to bird chicks. It is great to look from a distance, but remember to keep wildlife wild.

Mosquitoes and ticks are out in large numbers in some areas, such as in the North Woods where there was a big hatch last week, but virtually non-existent in other areas.

In Flambeau River State Forest, visitors observed a beautiful cecropia moth (North America’s largest native moth) drying its large, spotted wings outside the Forest office. Observations also include robins, mourning doves, phoebes, tree swallows, yellow finches, house wrens, owls, woodcock, sandhill cranes, swans, rose-breasted grosbeaks, orioles, scarlet tanagers and Myrtle’s warblers. To reserve campsites at Lake of the Pines and Connors Lake campgrounds, call (888) 947-2757, visit www.wisconsin.goingtocamp.com, or stop at the Forest office to check into sites and purchase vehicle stickers. The Forest maintains 14 river sites that include a picnic table, fire ring, toilet facilities and up to three camping units. The river sites are free, but accessible only by watercraft. All walking/hiking trails are usable, but may have wet sections. Bring a compass in case you find yourself turned around. Mosquitoes and ticks are out, so come prepared with bug repellant and appropriate clothing. The ATV/UTV trails are open. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.

In Amnicon Falls State Park east of Superior, the foremost thought is water safety. Warmer days make the water more attractive, but in two unrelated events, 911 calls activated local emergency medical services for visitors swept over a waterfall in the state park. Swift water and steep, stone riverbanks make self-rescue difficult. While the park permits swimming in the river, there is no designated swim area or lifeguard on duty. It is illegal to jump or dive into the river within the park. Swimmers must continually monitor river conditions to decide if in-the-water activities are appropriate.

FISHING REPORTS

Happy Hooker (Pat): Quiet Lakes. Musky anglers report big fish follows, though no hook-ups. Slowly retrieve smaller bucktails, swimbaits and crankbaits along drop-offs around shallow weeds. Keep your lure in the water and do figure eights at the boat. Walleye fishing is good, with late afternoon into night best. Use jigs with minnows or plastics, or try ice-fishing lures with minnow heads. Northern pike fishing is good along shorelines on a variety of spoons, spinnerbaits and smaller swimbaits. Largemouth bass will spawn soon. Smallmouth action is steady, with some big fish coming off rock and other structure transitions. Smallmouth fishing is catch and release until June 15. Crappies are starting to haunt spawning grounds, utilizing whatever weed growth they can. We are seeing a mix of very colorful fish. The dark black crappies are males, which will hang with the bigger, colorful females. Crappie minnows and small plastics under bobbers are working well. Practice conservation when targeting these vulnerable fish. Bluegills will soon start spawning.

Minnow Jim’s (Jim): Nelson Lake. Walleye and northern pike anglers will find fish along shorelines, weed beds and in shallow after panfish. Use fatheads, leeches, crawlers, plugs and surface frogs. This past Sunday an angler caught and released a 26-inch walleye. Largemouth bass action is spotty, with weed beds just starting to develop with the late warm weather. Some crappies are shallow, while others are out from shore and still loaded with eggs. Best baits are crappie minnows, crawlers, leeches and Gulp! baits on plain hooks, jigs and small spinners. Finally (and finally!), the bluegills decided to spawn in the shallow, warm bays. Use waxies, worms, crawler chunks, panfish leeches and small poppers.

Jenk’s (Mike): Chippewa Flowage. Muskies turned on a bit recently, with a decent amount of fish on a variety of baits, most notably Crane baits. Start in areas rich with panfish, a major food source, but as temperatures increase, muskies will go deeper during midday. If the usual spring spots go quiet, try trolling. Walleye remain active, with minnows and leeches the baits of choice, but size is still small. In evenings and early mornings, target areas 6-12 feet around weed edges and bars. During the day, look for them in deeper brush or troll Flicker Shads. Northern pike are active on a wide range of baits, from live bait to spinners and spoons, with the west side best. Keep your limit every day to register and receive raffle tickets for Pike Improvement Project prizes. Crappies are biting, with anglers finding some fish shallow with eggs, some in deeper brush piles and cribs, and still others around deadfalls in 8-12 feet. Use slip bobbers.

The Wolter Report (Max Wolter, DNR fisheries biologist, Hayward): The “Pike Improvement Project” on the Chippewa Flowage aims to increase the size of northern pike by reducing abundance of smaller pike. This goal follows a recommendation from the 2006 Flowage fishery management plan. Anglers who harvest a pike can register it at one of nearly two-dozen resorts and bait shops participating in the Pike Improvement Project raffle project managed by the Lake Chippewa Flowage Resort Owners Association. Participating partners include Chippewa Flowage Area Property Owners Association, DNR, Lac Courte Oreilles Conservation Dept. and Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. The goal is to harvest 10,000 pike during 2019 and data from tickets turned in so far shows some promising early results. Anglers harvested 3,844 pike as of early June, with the average size 20.3 inches and 84 percent of them less than 24 inches. Harvesting many of the very abundant smaller pike in the flowage is the key to success of this initiative. So far, 805 anglers from 16 different states have registered at least one pike and we encourage anglers who harvest pike to enter their fish at a participating business (visit www.chippewaflowage.com for a list). Pike fishing on the Flowage should stay hot through early July, offering anglers a chance to win prizes and data collection to help track the initiative’s progress. Project partners will hold the raffle prize drawing in early October.

For comments, questions and suggestions, email ssuman@sawyercountyrecord.net.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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