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Pheasant, gray partridge seasons discussed at Fish and Wildlife Board meeting

By Adriana Fehrs

Germaine White, CSKT Wildlife Information and Education, was the first to speak at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting on May 14. She was proud to announce the new fish-consumption-guidelines that were made for the ‘Mack Days’ fishing contest. To celebrate, she passed out hats to all of the board members. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Germaine White, CSKT Wildlife Information and Education, was the first to speak at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting on May 14. She was proud to announce the new fish-consumption-guidelines that were made for the ‘Mack Days’ fishing contest. To celebrate, she passed out hats to all of the board members. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

POLSON — The Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board met Wednesday, May 14 at the Polson City Library. The board discussed pheasant and gray partridge seasons and CSKT accomplishments for the past year under the Montana Fish and Wildlife and Tribal Wildlife agreement.

The board unanimously agreed on the new 2014-2015 shooting hours and limits for pheasants and gray partridge. Now, the hunting season for Hungarian Partridge is September 1 to January 1, and the hours will be from sunrise to sunset; bag limit is eight partridges per day, and 32 in possession after the fourth day of hunting season. Pheasant hunting season is now from October 11 to January 1, with shooting hours from sunrise to sunset; bag limit is three cock pheasants daily and nine cock pheasants in possession after third day of hunting season. Special youth hunting days are September 27 and 28, which includes hunters between the ages of twelve to fifteen.

Germaine White, CSKT Wildlife Information and Education, was the first to speak at the meeting. She was proud to announce the new fish-consumption-guidelines made for the ‘Mack Days’ fishing contest, which came to a close on May 19. The new guidelines were released on April 17 and are available in brochure or pocket book form for free.

Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board members Dean Vaugh (L) and Terry Tanner (R) take a second to check out the new fish consumption guidelines CSKT developed during their meeting on May 14. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board members Dean Vaugh (L) and Terry Tanner (R) take a second to check out the new fish consumption guidelines CSKT developed during their meeting on May 14. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Terry Tanner, Wildlife Board member, inquired if the boat check stations that will be in place next week will be voluntary. White explained that this year the boat check stations will be a required stop, and any boaters who do not check in will be fined.

White then moved on to talk about the other accomplishments. She informed the board that SKC was awarded one million dollars from NASA for climate change education.

Another accomplishment is the new mobile ‘app’ tribal wildlife created. White says, “It’s ‘Animal Tracker’ app. You can identify tracks and sounds with it. It can be used on amphibians, mammal, birds, and reptiles. It’s multilingual also – Salish, Kootenai, and English.”

Next, Art Soukkala, Tribal Wildlife Biologist, presented. CSKT Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation’s accomplishments that included Peregrine Falcon monitoring, Trumpeter Swan conservation, and leopard frog reintroduction.

The new Flathead Lake, Lake Trout Consumption guidelines were released on April 17 and are available in brochure or pocket book form for free. Germaine White, CSKT Wildlife Information and Education, announced their arrival at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting on May 14. (Photo courtesy of CSKT wildlife program and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.)  The new Flathead Lake, Lake Trout Consumption guidelines were released on April 17 and are available in brochure or pocket book form for free. Germaine White, CSKT Wildlife Information and Education, announced their arrival at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting on May 14. (Photo courtesy of CSKT wildlife program and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.)

In 2002 tribal wildlife began releasing Trumpeter Swans in Eureka, Look out pass, Glacier National Park, and British Columbia. By 2004, the swans began nesting. Soukkala mentioned that the 34 swans were released in one year, the most yet. In a September survey, they found there were 152 adults and 34 cygnets total, which was significantly lower than previous years. Soukkala contributes that to flooding in 2012.

The Leopard Frog reintroduction was another big accomplishment. In the 1980’s the Northern Leopard Frog went extinct on the Flathead Indian Reservation, and now the tribe is making efforts to populate ponds and still water areas East of Belknap. Previous efforts were made to reintroduce the native frog to the Pablo area, but tracking the species was almost impossible. Last year, over three egg clusters were found in the Belknap area, and two potential breeding spots were discovered.

Art Soukkala, Tribal Wildlife Biologist, presented some of CSKT’s accomplishments at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting last Wednesday. Peregrine Falcon monitoring, Trumpeter Swan conservation, and leopard frog reintroduction have been some the tribe’s ongoing projects. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  Art Soukkala, Tribal Wildlife Biologist, presented some of CSKT’s accomplishments at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting last Wednesday. Peregrine Falcon monitoring, Trumpeter Swan conservation, and leopard frog reintroduction have been some the tribe’s ongoing projects. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

CSKT has also done extensive native land restoration. Pond refilling and prescribe burns have been conducted at the Kicking Horse area in order to restore the native plant species. Knapweed flies that nest their larvae in the buds of the plant have been introduced to the area to kill off invasive plant species. Future plans for the area include conducting a prescribed burn on the south side of the reservoir in the spring of 2015.

Les Evarts, CSKT Fisheries Manager, talked about tribal fisheries accomplishments. Evarts says they are working on four different habitat protection projects, totaling 6,100 acres and 1.8 kilometers of stream protection. Currently, the department is working on negotiating with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for mitigation from the Hungry Horse Dam, “We want to settle the case, which will be in the ten’s of millions that will be awarded to us.”

Les Evarts, CSKT Fisheries Manager, (L) talked about tribal fisheries accomplishments at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting last Wednesday night. Evarts says they are working on four different habitat protection projects, totaling 6,100 acres and 1.8 kilometers of stream protection. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Les Evarts, CSKT Fisheries Manager, (L) talked about tribal fisheries accomplishments at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting last Wednesday night. Evarts says they are working on four different habitat protection projects, totaling 6,100 acres and 1.8 kilometers of stream protection. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Fisheries also completed phase two of the habitat restoration on the Jocko River. They are currently conducting maintenance “readjusting things,” such as: replanting vegetation and creating riverbank roughness to halt erosion.

For the future, Mission Creek and Dry Creek will undergo habitat restoration in the fall to aid in fish spawning habitat.

Next on the docket, the board discussed the Flathead Lake co-plan between Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and CSKT for managing the lake trout population. During ‘Mack Days’, a fishing event sponsored by the tribe, over 24,544 lake trout were harvested. Suppression netting was another method utilized: in an eight day span over 5,200 lake trout were captured, and 2,500 white fish – a bycatch- were also netted. Evarts says, “We are still in the experimental stage of the suppression netting; we have new equipment and new contractors.” The board expressed concern on bull trout bycatch for both the suppression netting and the Mack Days fishing event. “We used large netting to deter by catch; only one bull trout was netted, and we released it. As for Mack Days, only ten bull trout were misidentified, and those individuals were fined,” explained Evarts. Lee Anderson, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden, says, “I think the fines are too light. Repeat offenders should receive double the fines. If a young angler can identify a bull trout and quickly release it, other older fisherman should be able to do the same.”

Les Evarts, CSKT Fisheries Manager, (L) talked about tribal fisheries accomplishments at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting last Wednesday night. Evarts says they are working on four different habitat protection projects, totaling 6,100 acres and 1.8 kilometers of stream protection. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Les Evarts, CSKT Fisheries Manager, (L) talked about tribal fisheries accomplishments at the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting last Wednesday night. Evarts says they are working on four different habitat protection projects, totaling 6,100 acres and 1.8 kilometers of stream protection. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Les Bigcrane, CSKT Wildland Recreation Program Manager, was the last to speak to the board about their accomplishments. The program maintains over 83 recreation sites and 24 trails on the reservation. They have over 20 seasonal workers and two full time employees that maintain many of the trail and recreation sites, with many other trials that go beyond the reservation boarders. Bigcrane says, “Over 20,000 people visit Blue Bay every year, and we take care of the 55 camp sites there.” The biggest project they are currently working on is the well and water system at Blue Bay, “We hope to get it all up and running within the next month.” The program has also done extensive gravel beach restoration and dock reconstruction on the lower half the Flathead Lake.

For more information on the gray partridge hunting season contact John Fraley, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, (406) 751-4564 or at jfraley@state.mt.us, or Germaine White, CSKT Wildlife Information and Education, (406) 675-2700, ext. 7299 or at germainew@cskt.org.

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