Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

February 29, 08: Bunker on the beach; Column responses

(NOTE: On March 15, a beachfront remembrance will be held for Ric O Brien. It will take place at 1 p.m. at the pavilion at the ocean end of 5th Street in Beach Haven. Afterwards, light refreshments will be served at the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club.)

Friday, February 29, 2008:
Large bunker are being found along the beachfront. They’re’ not sick, just being hit hard -- by whatever. It is simply too early for large bass to be panicking the bunker onto the beach so you can take your guess at the likely suspects. Let me know.

I am researching the Pot/Artificial Reef Bill and will have some data (and opinions) for the upcoming weekly column.

It’s been fun seeing folks break out of the winter funk. I had half a dozen responses to my intentionally provocative weekly column. Somewhat surpassingly, almost all have agreed with the oddness of blaming the wildlife for what mainly man has wrought. I also had calls at work about the weekly fishing column and they were a tad overboard in support. No, they weren’t PETA types but definitely non-sportsman types. Still that’s what democracy is all about.

A few emails:
just some thoughts on the cormorant issue. I cant recall seeing a C on barnegat bay up until about 20 years ago and the numbers increase each year.
the number of birds is quite large in the florida keys and the population has increased significantly the last 20 years down there. these are winter birds that migrate north in the spring
the impact on small fish pops has to be significant. i have watched a single bird fish in front of the dock on florida bay and catch 5-6 fish in an hour. multiply that by the 1000s of birds and it has to have an impact. they are a pest when fishing. actually had a C go after a mullet bait i had out for tarpon!! that i can live with and laugh! do you have any idea where they breed?
bud wigmore
loveladies harbor

as for the coyote issue, these are big animals 40 lbs plus and need their body weight in food each week to do well.( western coyotes are much smaller.) that’s a lot of rodents, game birds, etc. worse they target pet dogs and cats in suburban areas. I would also think twice about allowing small children out alone in some areas. I shot a 40 lb plus coyote in pa this last deer season and we heard many more yelping at night. I have no doubt that animal could take a fawn or small deer. many biologists believe the coyote we see now is a cross between the western dog and the eastern red wolf still living in Canada. would like to see some genetic data on that.”

( Good points, J.W.
I actually did research to see recent counts of cormorant and the species is barely up to what it had been midway through its precipitous decline -- down to near extirpation -- due to DDT. That modest rebound is why you're seeing them now -- as part of the recovery of many shorebirds and diving birds in the past couple decades. And, yes, they do eat fish. I just worry when I see thousands upon thousands of anglers catching fish at the same time yet somehow the birds get a target on their back. Simply put, there are numerous pressures on the fishes, many natural, many manmade. It's tough to say which is worse.

You are right about the coyote being larger in the East. That is simply the availability of foodstuff, namely astounding amounts of roadkill -- and rodents, too. Get this: The state of NJ no longer collects road kill but contracts that out to a Florida firm. We're lucky they get one percent of what used to be collected by road departments. However, many road departments do drag the carcasses of DOAs into nearby woods. Talk about a match made in coyote heaven. By the by, all canine DNA is identical so there is no way to determine hybridism short of observational and anecdotal evidence. J-Mann)

Your story brought back a funny memory from this past fall. On one of the many challenging fishing weekends this past fall I had my son and his friend with me and both were anxious to catch stripers. We gave it hell fishing all weekend to make it happen, from mid-island south through Holgate pitching baits, lures etc… Attention spans being what they are for 11-12 year olds, it soon became apparent that we would not be knocking them dead. The boys did their best to amuse themselves throwing the football and wrestling in the sand while trying not to freeze. After several fishless hours the first day my son got a short, still nothing for his buddy. The next day looked like a repeat until one of the rods went down hard, then another rod went down and I thought fish on! Well it was pulling hard, but not like a fish… Soon enough, (much to my disgust and the boys’ amusement), in came a cormorant all wrapped up in both lines. Not exactly the answer to my fishing prayers. After I cut it loose as it snapped at me and I cursed the bird, it swam away none worse for the wear. I did end up putting our guest onto a lone short before we quit, but… as I learned later, the memory he brought back from the trip and the story he told to his families’ laughter was not about the bass, but about the bird and flustered and pissed off I was dealing with the whole disappointing episode of catching a bird on a surf rod that pulled harder than either bass. We will get em’ next time. Paul

Sorry to disappoint you , but I totally agree with your outlook on coyotes lobsters and cormorants. Have you considered the population of cormorants increasing here do to a shift in the migration because of temp. change from GLOBAL WARMING. And what was the cost to the NJ state taxpayer to remove deer ROAD KILL prior to the repopulation of COYOTES to NJ? As far as LOBSTERS are concerned I LOVE THEM! how many new RED LOBSTERS opened up in the past decade? OH I don't remember seeing SEALS on the LBI coast as a kid but, I sure enjoy watching them now," OK their CUTE" so I said it.

Groups Seek Emergency Listing of Red Knot
Under Endangered Species Act
Data in scientific report highlights need for immediate action
(Washington, D.C. – February 28, 2008) Emergency protections are needed to prevent further catastrophic declines in numbers of red knots, warns a letter submitted to federal officials yesterday by American Bird Conservancy and eight other conservation groups.
“The Endangered Species Act has repeatedly proven* that with its resources and conservation tools, even the most imperiled birds, such as the California Condor and Whooping Crane, can recover and thrive once again,” said Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy’s Executive Director of Conservation Advocacy. “We urge the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Department of Interior to address the imminent danger of extinction facing the red knot, and enact our emergency listing petition without delay.”
The letter, from American Bird Conservancy, American Littoral Society, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Defenders of Wildlife, Delaware Audubon, Delaware Nature Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, National Audubon Society, and New Jersey Audubon Society comes on the heels of a new report by 20 shorebird biologists from around the world, which details the rapid and ongoing decline of the migratory shorebird’s populations in the Western Hemisphere.
“The science was clear years ago that the red knot faces imminent extinction yet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to list this bird. The causes of the red knot’s decline have only gotten worse in the two years since that decision. The most recent information leaves no doubt that the Service should list it immediately,” said Jason Rylander, staff attorney, Defenders of Wildlife.
The letter from the conservation organizations was submitted to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dale Hall, and asks that the federal agencies use emergency authorities to list two subspecies of red knot under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The letter cites a new scientific report also submitted to FWS today, titled “Update to the Status of the Red Knot Calidris canutus in the Western Hemisphere, February 2008.” A similar letter signed by Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-M.D.) was also sent to Secretary Kempthorne urging him to place the rufa subspecies of the red knot under the protection of the ESA.
The new report confirms that both the rufa and roselaari species of red knot in the United States need immediate protection or risk further decline and extinction. In addition to the evidence showing decreased populations of both subspecies of red knot, the report also found that weights of red knots caught in the Delaware Bay during their spring stopover have suffered significantly due to the reduced availability of horseshoe crab eggs that are needed to sustain the shorebird on the last leg of their migration to breeding grounds in the Arctic. Delaware and New Jersey currently do not have strong enough conservation measures in place to ensure adequate numbers of horseshoe crabs, and the Department of the Interior has failed to request the funds necessary to deal with the growing number of candidates – now totaling 282.
Two years ago the FWS denied a listing petition for rufa on an emergency basis but eventually issued a 12-month finding on the petition through its 2006 Candidate Notice of Review. FWS specifically stated that “the threats, in particular the modification of habitat through harvesting of horseshoe crabs to such an extent that it puts the viability of the knot at substantial risk, are of a high magnitude.” It also concluded that the substantial risks did not warrant listing, however, because the risks were “nonimminent because of reductions and restrictions on harvesting horseshoe crabs.” The rufa subspecies was assigned a listing priority number of six and categorized as “warranted but precluded” by species with higher conservation priority.
Not only has the Interior Department not made protecting endangered species a priority, they have in fact asked for an 11% decrease in funds for candidate conservation in their FY09 budget. Federal officials need to prioritize the protection of vulnerable species in the region or species such as the red knot will continue to face the imminent danger of extinction.
“New Jersey is proud to host this international traveling bird, the red knot, and we should do all we can to give it a hospitable welcome,” said Senator Menendez. “Putting the red knot on the endangered species list is an important step we should take to preserve our endangered biodiversity; this should be part of a larger effort to support sustainability. Recognizing the importance of this shorebird is recognizing that all life on this planet is connected.”
A copy of the petition letter, the Senators’ letter and the report can be found at http://www.defenders.org/programs_and_policy/wildlife_conservation/imperiled_species/red_knot/management_and_policy/index.php.
* The American Bird Conservancy report, "American Birds - an Endangered Species Act Success Story” (http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/AmBirdConservancy_ESAreport.pdf), found that of the 43 bird species listed under the ESA that breed in the continental United States, 63% have increasing or stable populations, several of which have grown more than tenfold since being listed.

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