In the field notes: Here's a roundup of state outdoors news, which includes items on poaching, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease and discovery of a new non-native mollusk.
Black Market Abalone Bust Reported
California wildlife officers arrested four suspects this week for illegally selling abalone on the black market after they harvested them with recreational fishing licenses.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced in a news release that the arrests were the results of a five-month investigation of the suspects, some of whom had previous arrests.
Oakley resident Thepbangon Nonnarath, 48, El Sobrante resident Dennis Nonnarath, 45, and San Jose residents Thu Thi Tran, 45, and Cuong Huu Tran, 42, were all arrested and charged with poaching offenses.
The group first came to the attention of wildlife officers in November 2016, when Thepbangon and Dennis Nonnarath and two associates were cited for multiple abalone violations at Moat Creek, a popular abalone fishery. Thepbangon Nonnarath had previous abalone poaching convictions, the agency said.
Investigators suspected they were engaged in selling the abalone commercially, which is illegal.
Beginning in May 2017, officers saw suspicious activity by the group in several areas where recreational abalone diving is popular, and further investigation revealed "an extended group of people" that was allegedly selling abalone on the black market.
Crimes they allegedly carried out included unlawful sale of sport caught abalone, taking of abalone for personal profit, commercial possession of sport caught abalone, exceeding the seasonal limit of abalone, falsification of abalone tags and conspiracy to commit a crime.
The alleged crimes come at a time when abalone are facing significant threats to their populations due to environmental and biological impacts, and have resulted in the agency continuing emergency abalone regulations.
Read more from California Department of Fish and Wildlife
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Deer Found Dead Due to EHD
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has found deer in eight counties that have died due to Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), a disease that causes extensive bleeding.
The counties impacted were Boone, Brooke, Hancock, Lincoln, Marshall, Ohio, Tucker and Wayne, according to a news release. The agency said the disease has also been confirmed in deer herds in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia this year (and Michigan; see below). Hemorrhagic diseases can also be caused by the Blue Tongue Virus, but no BTV-infected deer have been detected in West Virginia.
The disease is not contagious to people and not related to Chronic Wasting Disease, the DNR said.
"The disease disappears with the first frost because the spread of the virus is dependent on small midges called culicoides, which are killed by cold temperatures," said Gary Foster, DNR's assistant chief in charge of game management.
Read more from West Virginia DNR
EHD Found in Free-Ranging Whitetail
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Disease Laboratory and Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed a free-ranging whitetail deer in Genesee County has died from Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.
EHD, which is transmitted by midges, is typically found in whitetails, mule deer and elk, but is not always fatal. There is no evidence humans can contract the disease's virus. Extensive internal bleeding and fluid accumulation are among the symptons.
"Although this has been a single deer death at this point, we are asking for hunters to look around as they hit the field to let us know if they find dead deer, especially any near water," Tom Cooley, DNR wildlife pathologist, said in a news release.
For more information on EHD, see mi.gov/wildlifedisease.
Read more from Michigan DNR
Invasive Mollusk Detected
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources confirmed the first known case of a new, non-native freshwater mollusk in the Gunpowder River.
The agency said the small snails were detected in early September and later confirmed as New Zealand mudsnails Biologists collected several hundred snails in a matter of minutes, according to a news release.
The New Zealand mudsnail is small, reaching only 4-6 millimeters and is identified by its unique color variations of gray, dark brown or light brown. It feeds on organic matter, preferring algae, bark and leaves for sustenance.
Read more from the Maryland DNR
Donation to Help Fight Poaching
Wyoming Game and Fish Department Mountain View Game Warden Allen Deru received some good news from the International Wildlife Crimestoppers, Inc. (IWC) recently in the form of a $1,400 check to help fight poaching.
Deru applied for the grant from IWC to pay for a new wildlife decoy to be used for wildlife law enforcement work in southwest Wyoming. "This grant is a good thing because the money will allow us to buy a new decoy and the decoy will provide game wardens another tool to help stop wildlife poaching," Deru said.
Read more from Wyoming Game and Fish