Whoops! Angler Enters Endangered Fish In Contest

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts, and wild tales from the outdoors

Jan. 28, 2009

A sharp-eyed California fisheries researcher perusing the Internet recently was
taken aback when he recognized the photo of an endangered and highly protected
salmon species — featured on a website spotlighting a tackle shop’s fishing
contest! We also bring you stories about a hunter-rights constitutional
amendment in Arkansas, and more!

Oh No! It’s A Coho!
The coho salmon is a species that has been severely impacted in recent years,
and its annual return to West Coast rivers for spawning has decreased to
alarmingly low numbers. In fact, on California’s Russian River, once known as prime
coho waters, only two of the species were documented last year.

J.R. Absher

It is a fish strictly protected and considered endangered by both the
federal and state governments.

That’s why a photo spotted by University of California-Davis Extension
Researcher Joe Pecharich on the Internet proved particularly shocking to him.
There, on the website of a Guerneville, Calif., tackle shop’s fishing contest,
was the picture of an angler with a large salmon, and it was a coho.

"When I first saw the picture, I was scrolling the website and said,
‘Oh no! That’s a coho!’" said Pecharich.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that Nick Wheeler, manager of King’s
Sport and Tackle, where the contest was based, said it was all a huge mistake.

"The coho are hard to distinguish between the steelhead and chinook,
and we have not had coho runs," said Wheeler. "I haven’t seen a coho,
other than that one."

The name of the angler who caught and entered the endangered fish has not
been made public. The endangered species act violation is punishable with fines
up to $1,000 and six months in jail. The infraction is currently under

Particularly troubling to Pecharich and others involved in the coho
restoration effort was the fact that the fish harvested by the contest angler was
a female, which could have potentially spawned and laid about 3,000 eggs.

The Press Democrat story notes that the state of California distributes
fliers to fishing shops that explain the differences between the coho and other
salmon species.

"The solution is to have good angler education so people who do go out
to fish really know the difference, so if they accidentally hook the coho they
can put it back in the water unharmed, with as little damage as possible,"
said Manfred Kittel, who heads the state coho recovery program.

Right-To-Hunt Measure Introduced In Arkansas
A measure to create a constitutional amendment in Arkansas that would protect
the right of residents to hunt and fish in accordance with state regulations
was introduced in the state senate last week.

Sponsored by State Senator Steve Faris (D-27), the proposed constitutional
amendment protects Arkansans’ "right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest game,
subject only to reasonable regulations prescribed by the Arkansas State Game
and Fish Commission."

The measure, SJR 3, was based upon model language provided by the National
Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislation Action (NRA-ILA), as was a
similar constitutional amendment approved by voters in neighboring Oklahoma in
the 2008 general election.

If lawmakers approve the Arkansas measure this session, it would go before
voters in the Razorback State in its next general election.

The bill was assigned to the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs
Committee, of which Faris serves as chairman.

"SJR 3 is the culmination of years of hard work by Senator Faris and
NRA, and we are committed to passing this amendment this year," said
Darren LaSorte, manager of hunting policy for the NRA-ILA.

Report: Saltwater Anglers Spent $31.4 Billion Annually
A report released last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) indicates that recreational saltwater anglers pumped more
than $31 billion into the U.S. economy in 2006, led by the state of Florida
with $16.7 billion.

Rounding out the top five states were Texas ($3.2 billion), California ($3
billion), Louisiana ($2.9 billion), and North Carolina ($2 billion).

The report noted that saltwater anglers spent $5.8 billion nationwide on
expenses related to their fishing trips, such as ice and bait. Another $25.6
billion was spent on fishing equipment. Expenditures made by saltwater anglers
supported nearly 534,000 jobs.

NOAA officials said expenditures for 2007 and 2008 will likely be somewhat
less because of an overall declining economy.

Record Number Of Utahns Apply For CCPs In 2008
A record 45,000 Utah residents applied for concealed weapons permits in 2008
–quadruple the state’s 2004 figure — with nearly 6,000 permit requests to the
Bureau of Criminal Identification in December alone.

With the dramatic increase, about one in every 25 Utahns over age 21 are
authorized to carry a concealed weapon, according to a Salt Lake Tribune
analysis of BCI numbers.

The December request number of 6,000 reflected the highest number ever, capping
a year with six record-breaking months.

The Tribune reported that about 71,000 Utahns have a license to pack a
concealed weapon. It is estimated that another 71,000 out-of-state residents
have a Utah permit.

Utah’s concealed weapons license offers its holders one of the highest
reciprocity rates in the country, with 33 other states honoring its permit.

Quote Of The Week
"We arose over ten thousand centuries ago from hunters who loped, with
weapons in hand and animal flesh on their minds, across the yellow plains, and
it may be every bit as long before the need to hunt is in any way quenched
within us. When, and if, it ever is, it will probably mean that for better or
worse we are no longer human but have become something quite different."
-Thomas McIntyre
“The Way of the Hunter,” 1988

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the
outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at jrabsher@outdoorpressroom.com.

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