In the field notes: Here’s a roundup of state-related hunting and fishing news.
Another Lake Positive for Zebra Mussels
Lake Austin is now classified as positive for invasive zebra mussels after Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists discovered them in the reservoir last week. Lake Austin is the third Central Texas reservoir where zebra mussels have been found this year, and the second in the Colorado River basin.
After a single zebra mussel larva was identified from a plankton sample collected near Tom Miller Dam and later verified by DNA testing, staff from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries and the City of Austin searched for zebra mussels on hard surfaces around the lake. They identified several half-inch adult zebra mussels on multiple marina floatation devices and a barge near the Walsh Boat Landing Aug. 9.
Although the adult zebra mussels were found just a little over a month after upstream Lake Travis was found to have an established, reproducing population, biologists cannot determine whether the Lake Austin zebra mussel presence is the result of downstream spread from Lake Travis or whether it’s the result of an infested boat coming into the lake.
Invasive Mussels Found in Carter Lake
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is watching Carter Lake after juvenile zebra mussels were recently found in a water sample collected by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff. However, recent sampling did not find any adult zebra mussels.
Carter Lake, a border water, is jointly managed by the Iowa and Nebraska agencies, which collect water samples and use settlement samplers in lakes across each state every summer to monitor for the invasive zebra mussel. Water samples have been collected twice a month in Carter Lake since May. Additional samples are waiting to be analyzed. Both agencies will closely monitor Carter Lake this summer and fall to determine if it has an established population of zebra mussels.
Turn In Poachers Program Paying Off
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks is asking citizens to make the call to the Turn In Poachers (TIPs) hotline if they observe illegal hunting, fishing or trapping activity.
“During the annual reporting period from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, the TIPs program resulted in 364 investigations leading to 227 arrests, $32,000 in fines and $17,600 in liquidated civil damages,” GFP conservation officer specialist Joe Keeton said in a news release. “Although the number of TIPs calls declined from the previous year, the number of arrests was the highest in program history.”
This past year 364 citizens called in to report wildlife crimes, and the TIPs program rewarded those individuals with over $7,500.
No Bag Limits at Thief Valley
Dry conditions in Eastern Oregon and declining water levels in Thief Valley Reservoir have prompted local fish biologists to remove daily bag and possession limits on the reservoir starting until Sept. 30. Size and harvest method restrictions are also lifted so anglers will be able to take any size fish with a rod, a net or by hand.
Thief Valley Reservoir on the Powder River is currently holding significant water, but the storage level is declining at a rate that would have it at “dead storage” level by the middle of September. ODFW biologist Tim Bailey said in a news release that removing the bag limit now will give anglers a better opportunity to harvest trout that will die later when the reservoir is drained.
“When the water level reaches ‘dead storage’, large numbers of trout get trapped in isolated pools,” said Bailey. “Most fish will be stressed in the warm, turbid water and die. Conditions when the reservoir is at ‘dead storage’ are also not conducive to the harvesting of fish.”