Out & About

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

Published:

 

Vancouver Wildlife League to hear about Columbia salmon recovery

The Vancouver Wildlife League will meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 2 at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2108 Grand Blvd.

Jeff Breckel, executive director of the Lower Columbia River Fish Recovery Board, will be the guest speaker.

The public is welcome.

Enrollment to open for state’s master hunter permit program

OLYMPIA — Applications will be accepted from Jan. 1 through Feb. 15 for the state’s Master Hunter Permit Program.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife enlists master hunter for controlled hunts to remove problem animals that damage property.

Master hunters also volunteer for projects involving increasing access to private lands, habitat enhancement, data collection, hunter education and landowner relations.

Hunters enrolling in the program must pay a $50 application fee, pass a criminal background check, pass a written test, demonstrate shooting proficiency and provide at least 20 hours of approved volunteer service.

David Whipple, hunter education division manager, encouraged applicants to prepare well for the written test because only one re-take is allowed.

Washington has about 1,850 certified master hunters. Enrollment was closed in 2013 to allow the agency time to review the program, clarify its role and identify strategies to engage members in high priority volunteer work.

Federal recreation fees to be waived Jan. 20 for MLK Jr. Day

Fees will be waived at most U.S. Forest Service day-use recreation sites on Jan. 20 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The other scheduled fee-free days observed by the Forest Service are President’s Day weekend on Feb. 15 to 17, National Get Outdoors Day on June 14, National Public Lands Day on Sept. 27 and Veterans Day weekend from Nov. 8 through 11.

Legislation would increase cost of federal duck stamp

Legislation has been introduced into the U.S. Senate to increase the price of a federal duck stamp to $25.

The current price of $15 was set in 1991.

“We are committed to seeing this legislation signed into law,’’ said Dale Hall, chief executive officer of Ducks Unlimited, a non-profit waterfowl conservation group.

Waterfowl hunters are required to buy the federal stamp. Since the program started in 1934, it has protected more than 6 million acres of wetlands through expenditures of more than $750 million.

Ducks Unlimited says the buying power of the stamp has never been lower over its 79-year history

“Once again, sportsmen and women have demonstrated their willingness to pay for conservation by supporting a long-overdue increase from $15 to $25,’’ Hall said.

Idaho hires wolf hunter to help stop decline of elk herds

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho wildlife officials trying to aid the recovery of elk populations have hired a hunter to track down and kill wolves from two packs roaming federal wilderness in the middle of the state.

Hiring a professional hunter and trapper will help determine if it’s a cost-effective method for managing wolves, said Jeff Gould, wildlife bureau chief for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The targeted wolves roam in areas of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness that are rarely reached by sport hunters. Pro-wolf groups are protesting the move.

In 2012, the state paid $22,500 for aerial killing of 14 wolves in the Lolo area in northern Idaho.

Agency research shows the wolf population continues to be a factor in the decline of Idaho’s prized elk herds and created a slowdown in the sales of hunting tags and economics of elk hunting.

Idaho proposing fishing, hunting license fee changes

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Fish and Game is proposing fee increases on most resident licenses, tags and fees between $1 and $6.

To make the increases easier to swallow, the state wildlife agency is also proposing a fee lock for Idahoans who consistently buy annual licenses.

Under the proposed legislation, hunters and anglers would be able to lock in the price of their license for the next three to five years.

Officials are hoping hunters and anglers will like the idea of a fee lock and that it will help raise revenue. Idaho resident license fees are the same today as they were in 2005.

Instead of calling for a traditional fee hike, Fish and Game is proposing a two-part plan that gives hunters and anglers the choice to lock in the price of a license against a possible fee increase, or not.

The agency will present two proposals to the Legislature:

• One seeks authority for the Fish and Game Commission to discount license and tag fees.

• The second seeks to raise fees on most resident licenses, tags and fees.