Animals

Sturgeon Poachers Angle For Caviar On The Columbia

20 hours ago
 The man in this photo has been charged with trying to sell an illegal sturgeon. Police say he used this cellphone photo of himself alongside the fish on the bank of the Columbia River to market the fish.
Courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The high value of caviar is driving poachers to an inventive way to cash in on giant sturgeon in the Columbia River:

They lash live fish with ropes to the riverbank for safe-keeping until black-market buyers can be located. Enforcement officials have also found sturgeon carcasses floating in the river with their bellies slit open to harvest their eggs.

The forensics lab in Ashland, Oregon, uses state-of-the-art technology to crack cases against endangered species and trafficked trees.
EarthFix/Katie Campbell

Laura Daugherty balances a small tray on one gloved hand, like a waiter at black-tie restaurant.

Today’s main course is ring-necked pheasant – freshly skinned and raw.

Her patrons are a teeming pile of flesh-eating beetles.

Makah whalers celebrate atop a dead gray whale after a successful hunt seen in this May 17, 1999, file photo, in Neah Bay, Wash.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Ross Reynolds talks to historian Joshua Reid about his new book, a history of the Makah tribe  titled, “The Sea is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs."   

The Makahs' tribal land occupies  the Northwest corner of Washington state.  They gained worldwide attention in 1999 when they resumed the traditional practice of hunting for grey whales. Reid's book takes a fresh look at the controversy seen through the  history of the Makahs.

Reid, a member of the Snohomish tribe, was born and raised in Washington. In the fall he’ll be at the University of Washington as an associate professor of history and American Indian Studies.

Troy Capps found deer antlers in central Oregon’s backcountry. Capps is a co-founder of Oregon Shed Hunters, a group that promotes ethical shed hunting. Credit: Courtney Flatt/EarthFix
EarthFix Photo/Courtney Flatt

REDMOND, Ore. -- Every year deer and elk shed their antlers, and every year people try to find them. 

The sport is called shed hunting, and it's often a family affair. But some people do more than just search for dropped antlers on the ground -- they chase elk and deer to stress them out, which often causes them to drop their antlers. 

Oregon State Fish and Wildlife troopers James Hayes, left, and Darin Bean patrol several thousand square miles in Central Oregon, where mule deer are in decline.
EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

LA PINE, Oregon – The doe wandered across the wrong property. What’s left of her was a blood stain in a bathtub.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Trooper Darin Bean found the remains in a house here in the high country. He had been searching for a man who had illegally shot a deer and had missed his court date.

Pinto abalone were near extinction by the end of the 1990s in Puget Sound. But with a little help from science, their wild populations are slowly rising.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

MUKILTEO, Wash. – In a dark fish tank at a government-run lab, a striking sea snail slowly inches from its hiding spot.

It’s a pinto abalone, and its numbers are dangerously low in Washington state after decades of overharvesting and poaching. This little-known animal is a delicacy, still served in U.S. restaurants, and its shell is a source of mother-of-pearl.

Inside Washington State’s Geoduck Auction

May 17, 2015
At this state geoduck auction, the winning bid was $333,000, which triggered a murmer of disbelief through the room.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Each year the Washington Department of Natural Resources auctions off permission to harvest geoduck (those long, rubber-necked shellfish) from certain areas throughout Puget Sound. The company with the highest bid earns the right to harvest a specific amount of geoduck at a set location during a defined time period.

Eagle feathers and parts are sent to the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository for redistribution to Native Americans for ceremonial use.
EarthFix/Kris Millgate

SWAN VALLEY, Idaho – It’s mud season in eastern Idaho. Winter is over. The reservoirs are filling, the ground is greening and the eagles are returning.

These birds are why researcher Michael Whitfield is in the woods.

The lion's mane jelly taken by KUOW reporter and diver Ann Dornfeld in 2010.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Little fish are disappearing from much of Puget Sound, according to a new study.

These are the fish that orcas and salmon depend on, and they’re being replaced by ballooning populations of jellyfish, which most fish and seabirds don't eat.

File photo of a commerical chicken farm
Flickr Photo/Chesapeake Bay Program (CC-BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde speaks with Oregonian reporter Lynne Terry about her recent story about salmonella outbreaks involving Foster Farms called "A Game of Chicken. "

Another Sea Lion Dies At Bonneville Dam

May 6, 2015

A Steller sea lion died after it got tangled Monday night between traps at the Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam.

Officials reported the death late Tuesday. It's the third trap-related sea lion death reported in the last week.

Rick Hargrave, a spokesman with the Oregon Department of Wildlife, said it was impossible to predict.

The Oregon-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is filing a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The charity's campaign to stop Japanese whaling is documented in the TV series, "Whale Wars."

Back in 2012 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction to stop the Sea Shepherd from going within 500 feet of a whaling ship.

Sea Shepherd Attorney Claire Davis says U.S. staff got off the Sea Shepherd, but were replaced with protesters from other countries who then took the ship within the 500 feet limit.

Two Sea Lions Die In Trap At Bonneville Dam

May 2, 2015

Two California sea lions died in a trap this week at the Columbia River's Bonneville Dam after a door closed prematurely, confining them for hours.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Rick Hargrave said a veterinarian has determined the two sea lions were likely crushed to death by a 1,500-pound Steller sea lion that was almost three times their size.

With the door closed, the smaller sea lions were unable to hop out of the way. The incident took place sometime between Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning.

Sitting in a stadium that seats 10,000, I look down at the ring and something I never thought I'd see in Asia: a bullfight.

But instead of pitting matador versus beast, two bulls face off in the South Korean version. And befitting a Buddhist country, the battle ends not in death, but in surrender. In some cases, one of the combatants simply turns and wanders off.

"In Korean bullfighting there is no mortal end in sight for these beasts of burden," my interpreter says.

Seattle billionaire Paul Allen is financing a campaign that could ask Washington voters to impose penalties for selling animal parts from certain endangered species.

The proposed ballot measure aims to protect 10 keystone species: elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, pangolins, marine turtles, sharks, and rays.

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