Fish and Wildlife Season

December 25th, 2011

Strangely confusing are the factors affecting the continental waterfowl population this year. At the turn into summer there was ample water over much of the Canadian duck-breeding area. But the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior, on the basis of its mid-summer waterfowl survey, indicates the breeding population of ducks is the smallest of any year since these surveys began in 1951. The reason is apparent in the fact that for the past several years drought has gripped this continent’s prime duck factory – the prairie pothole region of , Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Despite increasing curtailment of seasons and limits, the number of ducks went down, down, down during this drought. Fish and Wildlife aerial surveys in the Canadian prairie provinces indicate an over-all 37 percent decrease in the breeding population in those areas. Mallards are 12 percent under 1961′s figure and pintails are down 28 percent. One of the few bright spots in this year’s early picture was the improvement of water and habitat in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. But any increased production from these states cannot compensate for lack of production in the southern portions of Canada’s prairie provinces which raise up to 80 percent of the continental duck population.

I have just completed my annual survey of the duck-breeding areas in Canada and our northern prairie states, traveling over 5000 miles from Eastern Ontario through Manitoba and Saskatchewan to , then back through the Dakotas and Minnesota. I can truthfully say that, despite all the water I saw, this is not the year to liberalize our season and limits. Canadian authorities are like-minded. Of course, it was too early to determine what production would be during the summer of 1962. But, with a reduced breeding population, it seems likely that wisdom will dictate another year of belt-tightening, as far as hunting regulations are concerned.

Gerry Malher, Game Director for Manitoba, told me, “It would be unwise to gamble on an unusually good production this year. It will be much wiser to figure on only a normal hatch of ducks.” We will not know the true picture until results of the brood counts are known and the ration of juveniles to adults is ascertained.

My own survey began in late May when I traveled up to the Grand Rapids hydro project at the mouth of the Saskatchewan river on lake Winnipeg. From there I was flown over the vast breeding grounds east of The Pas by pilot Ed Jensen and RCMP Constable Bun O’Neil. We looked over the vast Summerbury marshes and the breeding habitat at the north end of Lake Winnipegosis and Kelsey, Moose and Cedar Lakes. But this major duck factory cannot be counted on for the near future because the hydro dam, which will be completed in 1964, will flood and possibly destroy 1,600,000 acres of prime waterfowl and wildlife habitat. A team of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Manitoba Game and Fisheries Branch biologists has recommended installation of dikes and controls that could prevent inundation of 263,000 acres of wildlife habitat and reduce the reservoir area of the dam to approximately 800,000 acres rather than 1,6000,000.

In the second phase of my survey late in June, I spent a few days with Ernie Paynter, Saskatchewan director of wildlife, and Herb Moulding, provincial manager of Ducks Unlimited in Saskatchewan. Then I toured the parkland region around Prince Albert and flew on north beyond Lac La Ronge with Harvey Dryden, Saskatchewan tourist director. With us were Alan Hill, government photographer, and Maurice Smith, sports editor of the Winnipeg Free Press. Next I got in touch with Curt Smith, fish and wildlife director of in , then returned through North and South Dakota and western Minnesota’s pothole region.

At Winnipeg, Angus Gavin, Canadian general manager of Ducks Unlimited, told me, “Good rains are still needed to ensure brood survival in large areas of both Saskatchewan and .” He said that about the only water in southern available for breeding birds is that in irrigation reservoirs and on Ducks Unlimited projects. Over the three Canadian provinces, Ducks Unlimited now has 559 projects in operation, covering 810,000 acres. Here is the situation in detail in Ontario-Quebec, the prairie provinces and duck-breeding states.

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Look for Mad Coyote in October part 2

November 23rd, 2010

– Fish and Wildlife Director Curt Smith of said breeding ducks are down 25 to 35 percent overall in the province. Many pairs of ducks on potholes do not appear to have been successful in nesting attempts. This is particularly evident among canvas backs and redheads. Early broods appeared to indicate rather good nesting success in the early part of June. But the optimism generated at the appearance of early broods has now been curtailed by the absence of succeeding hatches. It appears that ducks again will be scarce throughout , as was the case last year. The only optimistic observation that can be made is that rains falling south or may increase the ground moisture and, if rains continue, they may provide a condition more suitable for a runoff next spring. Rains south of have only reduced evaporation and contributed nothing to re-establishing potholes here.

E.W. Burkell, provincial manager of Ducks Unlimited, said that southern and east-central portions of the province are experiencing drought conditions. Because of the lack of runoff, there wasn’t water to entice the birds. The more northerly parkland areas generally are in good-to-excellent condition. But some birds nested on non permanent waters.

Fred Sharp, provincial naturalist reported that one of the brightest spots in the province is the Peace River area north of . Spending the second week in May there, he found water conditions excellent, with the countryside dotted with countless potholes full of water at full-supply level. In the south, waterfowl are at a minimum, while in the Grande Prairie-Peace River areas there is a heavy nesting population. Although there is an excellent population in the north, it would not account for the large numbers of ducks missing from the big duck factory of the short-grass plains.

North Dakota – Bud Morgan, Midwest representative for the National Wildlife Federation, stated that 104 square miles in north-central North Dakota were sampled on June 1. Water conditions were greatly improved over 1961, and nearly twice as many ducks were recorded. The ducks were there to raise families, and the greatly improved quality of production habitat indicates they will be successful. Most of the water was the result of May rains which came after the peak of migration had moved into Canada. Production in North Dakota may be increased over that of 1961 but may not be sufficient to recoup losses of the past three years.

South Dakota – Walter Fillmore, game-fish and parks director for South Dakota, commented that, for once, there was more water than there were ducks to fill the available nesting habitat. Water conditions are excellent throughout the state, probably as good as they ever will be. Unfortunately, when the spring migration took place through the state, many water holes were dry or nearly so. When the potholes did fill up, many ducks had already passed through. Even so, it would appear that production will be above or near the ten-year average. May surveys indicated a 64 percent increase in water and a 44 percent increase in nesting ducks over 1961. Since June, however, conditions in the Dakotas have turned more bleak.

Flick Davis, game management chief in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with headquarters in Minneapolis, said the most recent information is that duck production in the Dakotas has been poor. Many nests were drowned out when the rains came after nesting had begun. Those broods which survey men checked have been small in size and number. The broods are averaging only three or four ducks, and in North Dakota only one brood was seen that had as many as six ducklings. Moreover, those broods that have appeared are very late. Usually the first broods of mallards and pintails are seen around May 20; this year mallard and pintail broods only days-old were seen as late as July 1.

Minnesota – Jim Kimball, Minnesota game and fish director, reported water conditions 98 percent improved over 1961 in the western pothole area and that levels have held up well through the summer. Breeding-pair survey were made in ten western countries where most of the ducks are produced Local ducks, principally mallards and bluewing teal, are up an estimated 10 percent over last year, and 14 percent above the 1958-61 average. There was some flooding of nests and some renesting, but the feeling is that over production will be at least as good as last year.

So, all in all, it looks like this is not yet the year for liberalization of duck harvest regulations. But there is an encouragement for the future in the fall that 1962 saw the end of the long drought that nearly ruined major duck producing regions.

Now, at least, we seem to be turned around and headed in the right direction. And we must remember that ducks are an elastic wildlife resource. They can and have bounded back from dangerously low population levels. But they need conservation by man and major assist from the weather.

At the turn of the century incalculable millions of ducks migrated along the flyways of North America. Hunting was unrestricted as to seasons, method and limits.

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Manitoba Polar Bear news

October 20th, 2009

Bad news for bears, wolverines, dragonflies and all Canadian wildlife…

Wolverine loses again — Wolverines don’t deserve Endangered Species Act protection in the United States because their population is still strong in Canada, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which yesterday declined to protect the species for the second time.

But life in Canada is no picnic – A recent audit of Canada’s environmental record shows lax protection for endangered species. “Of the 389 identified species at risk, in only 55 of those cases does a strategy exist to save them,” according to a report in the Winnipeg Sun.

Forest Service vs. Wildlife Service — What gets top priority, loggers or the species that live in prime logging areas? Yup, it’s loggers. A new lawsuit seeks greater protected habitats for the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly. The Fish and Wildlife Service excluded 13,000 acres of national forests from the dragonfly’s designated critical habitat, saying that action would make the Forest Service would be more likely to accept the critical habitat if the national forests were not included.

Remember the polar bears? – Meanwhile, deadlines have long since passed and conservation groups are now suing to get the Fish and Wildlife Service to make some movement on its promises to determine if the polar bear deserves full investigation to receive Endangered Species Act protection.

In other bear news… – Courts ruled against black bears in Florida this week, opening up hunting for what some believe to be an endangered sub-species of the North American black bear. And in Austria, brown bears may soon be extinct, as only two of the animals are left in the country. (Did I mention that they were both male? It’s kind of hard to breed that way…)

Polar Bear Statues Bears On Broadway Winnipeg Manitoba – Picture of a few of the polar bear statues which form part of the.

Polar bear meets husky in Manitoba, Canada – thats pretty cute, it w3as great thought that the silly woman got bitten for messing with a polar bear in berlin!.

Louisville Zoo – Media Advisory – Polar bear listed as threatened … – Global warming and vanishing habitat are putting extreme pressure on existing polar bear populations, according to Canadian conservation experts. In February, the Canadian home to polar bears—the province of Manitoba—recognized polar …

For Manitoba polar bear, good life is in Scotland – Winnipeg Free … – The Canadian polar bear at the centre of Britain’s longest-running animal-rights feud is being moved… – Local News – Winnipeg Free Press.

Polar bear meets husky in Manitoba, Canada – This attracts large male polar bears that spend much of the season at his place. Occasionally one will play with the dogs, but it is still a rare occurrence. It is a great place to see big males though. Cheers!.

Frontiers North Adventures– Inspiring Sustainable Wildlife … – They work to define, develop, and implement policies for Manitoba’s polar bear tourism industry, and they continue to support and contribute to research related to the ecosystems in which they operate, including the impacts on …

Town of Churchill, Manitoba – Polar Bear Capital of the World … – The 6th Annual Hudson Bay Quest begins in Churchill Saturday, March 21st, 2009. …

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Unclear Hunting Rules on Bluebill Birds

May 14th, 2009

“Apparently drunk as a lord on the wine of the north wind and the mysterious call of the season, bluebills may come in from all sides, at all levels, now skimming over the surface of the water, now swooping down from above. Stand up suddenly in your blind and you’re likely to get your cap knocked off — if not your head.” — Jimmy Robinson
Arkansas has its mallards, with their florid feathering and graceful aerobatics — poetry on wings. But the north country, particularly that part of the north that is blessed with large lakes, is the province of bluebills, or scaup. These birds arrow southward from the subarctic at autumn’s last call, an eyelash ahead of winter and freeze-up. No waterfowlers appreciate these black darts — these “rockets of the north,” as the late Jimmy Robinson described them — more than Minnesotans. Charlie Hays of Princeton is one. “Bluebills are just a wonder to watch and to hunt,” Hays said. “Anyone who loves ducks can’t help but love bluebills. To see a flock of 25 or 30 turn for your decoys with their wings set can scare the hell out of you.”

Hays’ duck camp — bluebill camp — is on Lake of the Woods, near the Northwest Angle. It’s there that, on the first Saturday of October, he will hunker in a plain wooden blind on a nondescript island and … shoot one bird.

“That’s the rule we hunt by at our camp,” Hays said. “Opening day, you get one bird. The thrill is in seeing them, watching them.”

These days, bluebills — scaup (they come in greater and lesser varieties) — are in the news. And not in an encouraging way.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has imposed a one-bluebill limit on Mississippi Flyway hunters for 40 days of the coming 60-day season, with two ‘bills allowed the remaining 20 days.

The reason: Bluebill numbers have declined significantly the past two decades

Minnesota waterfowlers hollered “foul” louder and more often following the service’s action than anyone else, and the state’s Department of Natural Resources has appealed the reduced limit.

Forty-five days of two birds daily, with one bluebill allowed the remaining 15 days, would be fairer to hunters, the agency believes, and no less protective of the bird.

What’s more, argues DNR waterfowl specialist Steve Cordts, a two-bluebill daily limit would keep most Minnesota duck hunters from running afoul of the law by mistaking bluebills for similar-looking ring-necked ducks — whose limit this fall will be six daily.

• • •

However the impasse is resolved, the fracas that has followed the USFWS bluebill-limit reduction has underscored anew how much Minnesota waterfowlers love this bird.

Such affection might be beyond the understanding of waterfowlers in Tennessee, Iowa, Missouri or even Arkansas.

How, they wonder, can a small black and white bird with a reputation (in the South) for tasting “fishy” entice so many duck hunters?

The answer blows in the cold winds that jump-start the bluebill’s late migration and the wintry weather that washes these birds southward.

In mid- to late October, lakes and rivers near The Pas, Manitoba, about 400 miles north of Winnipeg, will freeze, driving vast rafts of bluebills into the air, where they will circle in great waves, gaining altitude.

Lake Manitoba awaits to the south, a vast inland ocean, and just beyond, Delta Marsh.

It is on Delta Marsh that bluebills will seek food and refuge. It is there also so often over so many years that Robinson and guests at his Sports Afield duck camp hunkered in phragmites on frigid mornings, awaiting these rockets of the north.

Nourishing themselves a final time, the ‘bills will soon take to the air once more, vectoring now for Lake of the Woods — where Hays and scores of other Minnesota waterfowlers have awaited them for generations.

Days — perhaps weeks — later, the birds will continue southward to Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake, a smattering of lakes near Ashby, some waters near Willmar, then, too, farther south onto and over the Mississippi River.


Wildlife Game Sold Illegally Over Internet

November 1st, 2008

A Brampton man has been fined $750 for unlawfully selling a Midland painted turtle on the internet. Cory A. Blackley, 29, was convicted in court after pleading guilty to unlawfully selling a specially protected reptile on February 9, 2008.

Court heard that during an investigation into an internet sales ad, a Midland painted turtle was seized from a Mississauga residence. Muhammad Zafar, 39, of Mississauga, was subsequently charged with an out-of-court fine of $305 for the offence of unlawfully selling specially protected wildlife. Zafar’s statement and documentation led the conservation officer to Blackley.  Lake Manitoba outfitter Jadran Transcona is credited with assistance in this fish and wildlife matter.

It was determined that Blackley took the painted turtle from a golf course in 2007 and sold it approximately one year later to Zafar through the internet site.

Justice of the Peace Hilda Weiss heard the case on October 7, 2008 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton. The public is reminded that taking turtles from the wild and selling them is an offence. A turtle released back into the wild can release new pathogens or viruses and harm entire ecosystems as a result of human contact.

To report a natural resource violation, call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free any time or contact your ministry office during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)


Article – The Commercial Wildlife Trade: An American Disgrace – Since it is fundamentally impossible to tell a California bear gallbladder from a Pennsylvania bear gallbladder, this regulatory inconsistency makes national bear protection extremely difficult. Born Free USA united with API has long championed … In Minnesota, for example, 13 instances of Canada lynx caught in traps have been reported since the species was granted protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2000. At least 5 of those animals died. In a recent case, …

Organized Crime Goes Green : TreeHugger – TreeHugger has covered resource theft before, but now organized criminals in Canada are turning to environmental crime, according to a new report from Criminal Intelligence Service Canada. ‘Criminal networks can profit by collecting e-waste in … According to a paper by Duc Nguyen of the University of California, a bowl of bear paw soup can fetch $ 1000 in Korea and a bear’s gall bladder can command $ 10000, about 20 times the street price of cocaine. …

IUCN – Seventy-five percent of bear species threatened with extinction – Bile from the bear’s gall bladder is used in traditional Chinese medicine and their paws are consumed as a delicacy. Additionally, bears are often killed when they prey on livestock or raid agricultural crops. … Among the eight species of bears, only the American black bear is secure throughout its range, which encompasses Canada, the United States and Mexico. At 900000 strong, there are more than twice as many American black bears than all the other …

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