So what’s been going on in the outdoors around the country? Here’s a look…
* In Oregon, more than 400,000 Chinook salmon “pre-smolts” – fish destined to be stocked for anglers – died in a state-run hatchery.
To blame is one particular fish.
According to officials with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, one of the fish got itself wedged into an intake pipe. That cut off the supply of fresh water entering the hatchery. Disaster followed.
Dan Meyer, Rock Creek Hatchery manager, said in a press release that the water flow didn’t drop low enough to trigger an alarm. An employee discovered the problem within an hour but with the water temperature in the raceway at about 68 degrees and no fresh water coming in, it was too late to salvage any live fish, he added.
A months-ago power outage may have started the whole mess, he said.
“We have a new intake and a new emergency valve we can open. If power to the screens is out, water to the hatchery is severed, and the emergency valve will get water to fish. It was opened for short time during a power outage a few months ago when the emergency generator failed, and we think the carcass may have gotten into the water line then,” Meyer said.
Fishermen will surely notice the loss of fish, officials said, between 2017 and 2019, with the most severe impacts felt in 2018.
* Are Pennsylvania lawmakers listening?
Another state is about to further ease restrictions on hunting on Sundays. On Wednesday, a bill that would expand Sunday hunting to firearms seasons passed the North Carolina general assembly. It’s now before the Governor for his signature.
North Carolina has allowed archery hunting on Sundays since 2009. The new law would allow for Sunday hunting with firearms on private property with written permission.
There would still be restrictions.
According to media reports, gun hunters couldn’t be in the woods from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Sundays, when church might be in service, and would have to stay at least 500 yards away from a church or house. Counties could opt out of Sunday hunting in 2017 if they so chose.
North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission has supported an end to the Sunday hunting ban, saying it serves no purpose for wildlife and is actually detrimental to recruiting and retaining hunters.
* One of the biggest dominoes in the white-tailed deer hunting world has finally fallen. Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, has been detected in white-tailed deer in Texas.
According to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, a farm-raised deer from Medina County tested positive for the disease. Officials called the discovery a “terribly unfortunate development.”
Texas has seen CWD before. A wild mule deer in the state’s far western reached tested positive for it in 2012. But it’s never before been found in whitetails, which support a massive hunting industry in the state.
Wildlife officials want to stop the spread of the disease into the wild white-tailed herd, of course, and have instituted a number of rules changes meant to prevent that.
“The health of our state’s wild and captive deer herds, as well as affiliated hunting, wildlife, and rural based economies, are vitally important to Texas hunters, communities, and landowners. As such, our primary objectives are to determine the source of the disease and to identify other deer breeding facilities and release sites that may have received deer from affected facilities,” said Carter Smith, the agency’s executive director.
* Another state is looking to slow the spread of CWD within its borders via a new rule, one that Pennsylvania Game Commissioners have thus far refused implement.
As of July 1, it’s illegal to use natural deer urine or other bodily fluids “while taking, attempting to take, attracting, or scouting wildlife” anywhere in Virginia.
The state already has CWD. Most recently, wildlife officials found three new cases of it in wild whitetails in February.
But it wants to keep the disease from spreading any faster than necessary, and the urine ban is seen as one step the agency can take.
In a news release, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries explained that natural urines could come from anywhere, and from healthy or sick deer herds, with no regulation, and cause problems.
“To make these commercial scents, urine from captive elk and/or deer kept outside of Virginia is collected over a grate system that does not prevent contamination from either feces or saliva. The ‘urine’ product is not treated chemically or with heat to kill the infectious proteins because these treatments would also secondarily destroy the desired scent characteristics,” the department wrote.
“The infectious proteins causing CWD are extremely resistant to degradation and may persist in the environment for years in contaminated soil, thereby posing a disease transmission risk to deer for extended lengths of time. Additionally, many of the facilities are located in areas or states with CWD. Deer in Virginia that taste or sniff these products may actually be exposing themselves to CWD harbored by deer living hundreds of miles away that were used to collect the infected urine.”
The ban is a proactive approach to protecting the state’s deer, they added.
Synthetic urine products remain legal.