Taking stock of fish, wolves and bears
BY ROGER SABOTA
Special to the Star Journal
I haven’t really spent too much time fishing lately but have been out several times looking for a variety of species. Judy and I headed out one morning before the crappies moved off the spawning areas. We caught a few; enough to bring us out again later that afternoon. The crappies had moved out of my favorite spots and we didn’t get out again that week.
I did a little walleye fishing on Boulder Lake in the Boulder Junction area several weekends ago with the Osseo Jinx (Tom Twesme) and another college friend, Jim Naylor. As usual, Tom was the one who caught several walleyes. Jim and I fished. He may be “The Jinx” but he is a lucky fisherman.
Recently our grandson, John Schroeder, fished from the dock for crappies. I don’t remember what he caught but there always seem to be fish around the dock that are waiting to bite. He seemed to think that minnows were out-performing leeches that day.
Last weekend I shared the boat with long-time friend, Maurice Micke. We were looking for muskies on a lake in the Phelps area. I had a follow-up which always makes musky fishermen think that the next cast may produce a strike; therefore we stayed too long and got thoroughly soaked in a downpour as we tried to get off the water.
We heard about a humorous adventure this past week. Our friend Bill had purchased a new four-cycle outboard mounted on his pontoon boat. The marina dealer delivered Bill to the landing with his new boat and motor and backed it into the water. Bill hollered at the dealer that he tried to start the motor and it wouldn’t start. The dealer’s reply was, “It’s already running!” The four-cycle engine was so quiet you couldn’t even hear it.
The following headline that I recently read sparked my interest, “Yellowstone Grizzly Bears to Lose Protection after 42 years on the Endangered Species List.” According to the information in the New York Times article that I read on the internet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the protection of the grizzlies would be lifted this summer. One source reported that it could happen in July.
Of course, this decision is controversial. The grizzly bears have been protected since 1975 when only 136 bears were in that area. With the population now about 700 grizzly bears it is felt that the population is no longer threatened. Those who continue to fight for the protection of the grizzly do not agree with this decision. Ranchers and hunters in the area surrounding Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are definitely in favor.
Of course I couldn’t help comparing this information to the struggle that is taking place in the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota concerning the management of the wolves, which are now protected by the Endangered Species Act. Many are in favor of returning the management of the wolves to the states. Others are in favor of not delisting the wolves.
The listing and delisting of the grizzly on the endangered species list has followed a similar pattern as the wolf in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The grizzlies, like the wolves, were taken off the threatened species list and then several years later put back on the list.
The headline that caught my interest is a bit misleading because grizzly bears inside Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park will remain protected. The bears that stray outside the Parks, according to this plan, will be managed by those states that border the parks, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, just as they manage other wildlife.
The grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have been closely monitored since 1975 when they were first put on the endangered species list.
There is also a substantial population of grizzlies living in northern Idaho and Montana near Glacier National Park and a very small number in the northern Cascades in Washington. Those bears will remain protected.
Those readers who have visited some of the national parks in the Western United States and been fortunate to observe grizzly bears, as we have, understand how exciting it is to actually see the beautiful bears. A number of years ago we were just leaving Grand Teton National Park on our way north to Yellowstone National Park when we came across an unusual sight; a grizzly close to the edge of the road. He was turning over big rocks looking for things to eat.
In past years we had sometimes observed grizzlies through binoculars that were quite a distance away from us in several of the different national parks but never that close. We were happy to sit in the car and watch this one bear but were not alone for long. That was a traffic stopper as often happens in the national parks when wildlife has been spotted.
Speaking of bears, a bear crossed the road in front of us as we were driving a back road in the area of Summit Lake. It looked like it was probably last year’s cub. After moving into the cover of the trees it stopped and watched us. Since there was no other traffic in the area we were able to watch for several minutes before it moved off. We had also seen an eagle’s nest with the baby eagle sitting next to it earlier today. For those who love wildlife we live in a great area!
Enjoy the Fourth of July and make sure your outdoor activities are safe.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.