Game Commission Eliminates the Washington Spring Bear Hunt

On November 18th, the Washington State Game Commission (Commission) voted 5 to 4 to stop a limited draw spring black bear hunt. A move contradictory to recommendations from the Washington public and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists.
The Washington spring bear hunt has been around for over 20 years and the bear population has remained sustainable at over 20,0001. Statistics suggest that approximately 25 percent of spring tag holders are successful, and the spring hunt accounts for less than 10 percent of the total annual black bear harvest, which averages around 1,600 bears statewide2.

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Wetland Conservation Proves Successful for Waterfowl

It’s hard to believe the statics, but monitoring has proven that over 3 billion migratory birds (25 percent) have vanished since 1970. Presently, 70 species teeter on the brink of population collapse, having lost 50 percent or more of their breeding populations in the past 50 years. These species are not yet listed under the Endangered Species Act, but may soon be candidates to join the other 89 species that have been listed as Threatened or Endangered.

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Florida Panther Predation Explains White-tailed Deer Decline

The Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi) was first considered a subspecies of the North American cougar in the late 19th Century, but a reclassification in 2005 lumped the Florida panther back in with the North American population (Puma concolor couguar)1. Nevertheless, the Florida cougars are the last remaining in the eastern United States and are still referred to as the Florida panther.

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A New Day for Grasslands Conservation

The early golden hour bathed the landscape in a peachy hue as the setters and I stood by the truck. It was somewhere around day number 200 that I had set foot on the grasslands between Waitsburg, WA and Minnesota since 2011. This day, we would embark on the Sheyenne National Grasslands in North Dakota. Sharp-tailed grouse were beginning to stir Somewhere in the expanse before us.

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Snowshoe Hare Extirpation Shifts Predation to Porcupines

The snowshoe hare is a widespread North American hare species that inhabits northern boreal and upper montane forests. Their “snowshoe” namesake come from having very large hind feet that have adapted to prevent them from sinking into the deep snow of their preferred habitats. Snowshoe hares rely on dense shrub understory for food and cover, and they serve as a keystone prey item for Canada lynx.

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Federal Agencies are Planning for the Infrastructure Bill

In August 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), also known as the “Infrastructure Bill”. While the $1.2 trillion dollar bill is geared toward improving roads, bridges, airports and ports, broadband internet, and water and energy systems across the nation, it also contains around $20 billion aimed at natural resources management, enhancement, education, and protection.

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The Quest for Columbia River Chukar

I knelt on the edge of the precipice with my knee dug into a sandy spot beneath a massive aromatic sagebrush while Finn ravenously lapped water from a small, green collapsible bowl. Behind and below us, the Columbia River wound lazily between lush, orderly, emerald orchards, rock faces, and scree slopes – a peaceful and extravagant scene. My friend Chas stood slightly downhill to my left with his upland vest in hand, packing away a massive wild chukar that he had come to harvest with a combination of Finn’s good work and a peck on the cheek from Lady Luck.

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Western Monarch Butterflies See an Inspiring Rebound

In April 2021, I wrote a piece for Harvesting Nature on what appeared to be the imminent extinction of the western Monarch butterfly population. Only about 2,000 butterflies arrived on their southern California winter range in 2020 where approximately five million once clouded the skies and trees. When a population sees decline of this magnitude, coming back from the brink is rare, particularly in one breeding season, but it seems there is more to the story on the western monarch butterfly.

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Chronic Wasting Disease Reaches Capitol Hill

asting Disease (CWD) was first identified in Colorado in captive mule deer in the late 1960s. Nearly 40 years later in approximately 2002, the first utterance of CWD was heard among the ranks of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR). With a case turning up in nearby West Virginia, the VDWR began research and planning to prevent the disease from crossing the state line. I was an employee at the time and recall sampling and the agency releasing regulations on transporting carcasses into the state, but it was likely too late. CWD was detected in Shenandoah County, Virginia within a year or two.

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Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon See Record High Returns

In a year when salmon and steelhead returns were seeing historic lows across the Pacific Basin, Bristol Bay, Alaska noted record-high sockeye salmon returns at over 66 million fish, shattering the 2018 record of nearly 63 million. Bristol Bay salmon returns have been studied since the 1940s, and this year was only the third time a sockeye return has broken 60 million fish. Conversely, Alaska’s Yukon River saw some of the lowest Chinook and chum salmon returns on record.

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