OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: More salmon stocking ... Crane mortality ... First cougar killed ... more

More salmon stocking set RIVERDALE, N.D. -- Fisheries crews from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department are electrofishing in Lake Sakakawea and the Garrison Tailrace to collect salmon for spawning efforts. Dave Fryda, Missouri River System su...

More salmon stocking set

RIVERDALE, N.D. -- Fisheries crews from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department are electrofishing in Lake Sakakawea and the Garrison Tailrace to collect salmon for spawning efforts.

Dave Fryda, Missouri River System supervisor for Game and Fish in Riverdale, said improved habitat and forage conditions have allowed the department to stock more salmon this year, and that will continue next year.

Salmon begin their spawning run in early October, and crews will collect salmon eggs most of the month, Fryda said.

Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend several months in the hatchery before they are stocked back into Lake Sakakawea and the Garrison Tailrace, generally in spring.


FWS sheds light on crane mortality

A switch from overhead power lines to underground cable in North Dakota might not have a huge impact on reducing bird mortality, but every bit helps, a federal wildlife official said.

In late September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a news release saying it had provided funding for electric cooperatives to bury 22 miles of lines knocked out by severe storms last winter.

The secondary benefit, the news release said, was to protect endangered whooping cranes and other birds that might have flown into the overhead lines.

A FEMA spokeswoman in Bismarck said the new underground lines are located in Grant, Oliver, Morton, Burleigh and Adams counties and vary from as little as one mile to as long as seven miles.

Jeff Towner, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck, said he doesn't have any numbers on whooping crane mortality in North Dakota.

But since officials began keeping data in the late 1950s, there have been 47 documented cases across the country of the birds flying into power lines and dying, Towner said.

He said power line collisions are the greatest cause of mortality to the cranes.


"We don't have a lot of data, but we do know that replacing the lines with underground removes the hazard," he said. "Any reduction we can get is a benefit to cranes."

Cranes were nearly driven to extinction, and by 1940, only 16 whoopers remained in the wild.

Today, the country's only self-sustaining flock in the wild has 247 birds, some of which will be migrating through North Dakota during the next few weeks.

First mountain lion of season killed

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Game and Fish Department said the first mountain lion of the season has been killed, in Dunn County.

The 2- to 3-year-old adult female weighing about 85 pounds was shot Sept. 27 in the Killdeer Mountains.

Furbearer biologist Stephanie Tucker said the cat was shot by an area rancher who was scouting elk.

The mountain lion was killed in Zone 1, which roughly encompasses the Badlands and has a quota of 10 lions. Zone 2 covers the rest of the state and has no limit.


The mountain lion season runs through March 31.

S.D. raises quota for cougar hunts

SPEARFISH, S.D. -- The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has voted to increase the number of mountain lions that can be killed during the upcoming cougar hunting season in the Black Hills.

KEVN-TV said the maximum will be raised from 40 to 50.

That number includes five big cats in Custer State Park, where lion hunting was not allowed before, and an additional five outside the park.

A proposal to allow hunters to use dogs was rejected.

The lion season is open to South Dakota residents from Jan. 1 to March 31 but will end sooner if the quota of 50 total lions or 30 females is reached.

Zebra mussels found in Gull Lake


ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said biologists have confirmed a report of zebra mussels in Gull Lake near Brainerd.

The DNR said a Brainerd area dock removal service discovered zebra mussels attached to a boat lift pulled from the lake.

The agency checked and found zebra mussels attached to several other boat lifts.

The DNR said the mussels' young age suggests a reproducing population likely has been in the lake for at least a year.

In response, the agency is stepping up watercraft inspections on Gull Lake and requiring draining of all water, including bait containers.

It's the second time in four months that zebra mussels have been found in a popular Minnesota lake.

The DNR found the aquatic pest in Lake Minnetonka in July.

Feds deny wolf hunt request


HELENA, Mont. -- Federal officials have denied Montana's request to hunt endangered gray wolves in response to the predators' increasing attacks on livestock and big-game herds.

The state hoped to exploit a loophole in the federal Endangered Species Act and hold a "conservation hunt" for up to 186 wolves this fall.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy DirectoDaniel Ashe denied the request Thursday, saying his agency supports sport hunting of wolves but would not expect approval of Montana's proposal to survive a legal challenge.

A federal judge in August restored wolves in Montana and Idaho to the endangered species list after a lawsuit from environmentalists.

Canada joins U.S. in carp project

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Canadian and U.S. scientists announced this past week the launch of a joint study that will look at the likelihood that Asian carp will spread across the Great Lakes and decimate the fish populations if allowed to gain a foothold.

The 18-month study will be the first joint effort by the two nations to evaluate possible consequences of an invasion by bighead and silver carp -- Asian species threatening to enter Lake Michigan through Chicago-area rivers and canals.

"We have seen the destructive behavior" of Asian carp in parts of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, where they have disrupted the food web by hogging the plankton on which many fish depend, said Becky Cudmore, senior research scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. "We are not taking the threat to the Great Lakes lightly."


Asian carp were imported in the early 1970s to cleanse algae from Southern fish farms and sewage treatment plants.

They escaped into the Mississippi River and have migrated northward ever since.

The carp have advanced to within about 25 miles of Lake Michigan, where their path is blocked by two electronic barriers on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

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