Fri07252014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

   2014 39.95 HSD w VIDor PH-Banner2-500-x-125

VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries opens comment period

Check out https://www3.dgif.virginia.gov/web/issues-2014/recommendations.asp to get the details about Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (VDGIF) public comment period for fishing, nongame wildlife, and boating proposals. The agency really does go through the comments. I took a look at the proposals and noted some that might be of interest to local readers.

 

UNDER FISHERIES:
“Northern Snakehead are classified as ‘nongame fish’ and thus currently fall under the ‘blanket’ or default creel limit of 20 per day. Efforts are still underway to limit the spread of this species to other Virginia drainages, and enabling anglers to harvest more than 20 per day may help slow colonization and reduce populations. Northern Snakehead creel limits should be changed to ‘unlimited numbers from inland waters statewide’.”

“Restrict the stocking of Blue Catfish in private and public waters statewide - VDGIF approval is required to stock any species of fish into any inland waters except in privately-owned ponds and lakes. Blue Catfish have become established in several drainages, and they have the potential (if established) to do severe damage to rare species in the upper TN watershed, as well as others. The proposed change would restrict this species from being stocked by the public in private or public waters statewide.”

“In recent years, tagging equipment for personal use has been readily available to anglers. Specifically, anglers can purchase inexpensive ‘floy’ tagging guns and tag fish for their individual goals. Such equipment can damage or kill fish if inserted incorrectly, and tags that lack information on them can be confusing to the public and mean nothing to agency researchers. We propose that tagging not be allowed without the permission of DGIF biologists.”

20140305out1UNDER NONGAME WILDLIFE:
“Feral hogs are classified in DGIF regulation section 4VAC15-20-160 as ‘a nuisance species’, and are referenced in Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ regulation section 2VAC5-141-0 within the description of ‘commercial and non-commercial swine’. Domestic swine are defined in DGIF regulation section 4VAC15-20-50, and as ‘livestock’ in agriculture code (§ 3.2-5400 of the Code of Virginia). However, there is no legal definition stating the identity of feral hogs from that of a domestic hog or domestic swine. Both belong to the genus, species Sus scrofa. The unintended consequence of these various codes and regulations without a clear definition of feral hogs makes it difficult for the public to effectively eradicate feral hogs and mitigate landowner conflicts and litigation.”

Staff is considering the following to address this issue: Define in DGIF regulation, “a feral hog is any hog that is roaming freely, living on its own in the wild and that cannot be claimed and identified by an owner.”

Feral hogs are incredibly destructive. I have seen the damage they have done in my travels around the country.

There is an established population in Culpeper now, and the damage done to agricultural fields is tremendous. They20140305out2 also ruin habitat for both game and non-game animals.

There are plenty of other issues on the website there to view. For instance, if you are a trout angler, I encourage you to visit the site. I only put things in this article that impact us locally.

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE (CWD) FOUND IN TWO MORE DEER
For those of you who travel north to the mountains to deer hunt, you might want to be aware of the fact that last season, CWD has been found again in two more deer in Frederick County. A 2 ½-year-old doe was taken on Nov. 30, very near where the previous five deer were taken that had tested positive. This was not surprising to biologists, but a 1½-year-old buck that was taken ten miles southeast of the previous location is raising eyebrows of some hunters. However, biologists and those that have studied deer awhile do know that young bucks very often travel a long way after they are born and leave their mothers. Keep in mind that the rut was also occurring during this time when the buck was taken. The problem is that the buck was near the eastern edge of the so-called “containment area” that VDGIF had set up to slow the spread of this disease by both keeping tabs on deer by testing them and putting restrictions in place on carcass exports, etc. Because this buck was so close to the boundary, VDGIF says they anticipate changes to the boundaries and hence, possibly expanding the areas where restrictions will be in place regarding deer parts, movement of carcasses, and so on. If you hunt in northern Virginia, please keep up to date on the restrictions, particularly before the next deer season comes in.

More information on CWD can be found on the VDGIF website at: www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd/.

BIRDHOUSES
Now would be a good time (after this nasty snow leaves us!) to put up some birdhouses. Spring is nearly here, even though it seems so hard to believe, given our weather. I’ve noticed some bluebirds entering our birdhouse. If you have birdhouses, take the time to clean them out. Building a birdhouse with your kids or grandkids is not only fun, but also educational. Be sure to make the appropriate-sized box and hole (research online if you need to) for the birds that you want to use your birdhouse. Some birds need a certain-sized hole, distance from the hole to the bottom, and even certain directions that the birdhouse needs to face for sunlight and temperature purposes. Take care to put the birdhouse in a place where cats cannot get to it, and also try to put it where you can keep an eye on it (if possible) to keep snakes out of it. I make mine with easily removable lids, so we can thoroughly clean them. I also try to place them where I can quietly approach and watch the birds going to and from the birdhouse.


—Mark Fike

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