BY ANGELA BARAN, GENOA NFH
Late this winter, staff from Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) traveled to Vermillion, South Dakota to meet with students and faculty studying the Hines Emerald Dragonfly at the University of South Dakota. The hatchery was contacted by the Green Bay and Chicago Ecological Services Field Offices to see if it would be possible to raise the dragonfly larvae on a larger scale than in the university setting.
Genoa NFH seems to be an almost ideal setting for possible dragonfly culture with access to the hatchery’s natural wetland and the multiple food sources utilized by the many species raised at the hatchery. Sitting down with the students and staff at the university allowed for an open discussion about possible ways to take what has been learned about the species and develop large scale efforts to culture this species. It also helped to frame up what new questions and methods need to be tested to take the next step for this species. For example, how my larvae can occupy a specific space without cannibalism or causing illness? How fast can they be grown without compromising life history or behaviors? The next step will be to see if there are funding sources available to begin working with this species and the staff and students at the university will be visiting Genoa NFH to see if the site will work for dragonfly culture.
BY COLBY WRASSE, COLUMBIA FWCO
Each year of gill netting on the Missouri River presents challenges. In past years, flooding, ice flows, or very warm temperatures have hindered progress. This season, the extremely low water levels threw us a curveball.
The low water left many boat ramps unusable or hazardous to use, which led to longer travel times to sample sites. Also, accessing many of the habitats we normally sample proved trying at time. Despite these obstacles, by March we had completed standard gill netting for the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Project. We deployed 250 gill nets, equaling more than nine miles of net, and captured 19 pallid sturgeon. Most of the pallid sturgeon we collected were adult size, with 15 of the pallid sturgeon measuring greater than 30 inches. We also captured six lake sturgeon, with the largest weighing over 20 pounds. Other species of interest included shovelnose sturgeon (more than 3,000 individuals) and blue sucker (more than 100 individuals).
The gill net effort is part of the larger Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Project which uses a suite of gears to sample pallid sturgeon and the fish community of the Missouri River. This is the eleventh year we have deployed gill nets for this long term monitoring project. Our 2013 pallid sturgeon total for gill nets represents the second highest annual total we have recorded. Although we commonly collect hatchery reared (stocked) pallid sturgeon, truly wild pallid sturgeon remain exceedingly rare in our samples.
BY TIMOTHY FALCONER, PENDILLS CREEK FWCO
According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog (Marmota monax) emerges from its burrow on Groundhog Day (February 2nd), then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.
This year the prognosticating rodent Punxsutawney Phil was wrong as a weatherman. At 7:28 am Eastern time on February 2, 2013, the “King of the Groundhogs, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, Weather Prophet without Peer”, as titled by the people interested in keeping this tradition alive, was summoned from his ceremonial burrow at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. After emerging from his den into the 8 degree Fahrenheit (F ) (-13° Celsius) morning air and overcast skies, Phil failed to see his shadow, signaling that weather for the remainder of winter will be mild and spring-like.
According to some sources close to the groundhog’s inner sanctum, Phil’s predictions are correct 100% of the time, even though statistically Punxsutawney Phil's winter prognostications have been correct only 39% of the time. On a day in which the weather features a mix of sun and clouds, it's conceivable that Phil could come up with both predictions depending on the hour. This year is one of only 17 occasions on which Phil has not seen his shadow. Since the first prediction in 1887, he has seen his shadow 100 times. Nine years of predictions are either unknown or missing.
Currently in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the UP), we are still dealing with snowy conditions that have delayed the distribution of lake trout into the Great Lakes. During the month of April at Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery, we have seen air temperatures as high as 44 degrees F and as low as 16 degrees F. That is not too unusual for spring, with the cool nights giving way to some sunny days, but as of April 15th, we have also had a total of nearly 15 inches of snow, averaging out to about an inch of snow every day.
With this being my first winter in the UP in over a decade, I need to get used to all this snow and cold weather again, but, according to a friendly little ball of fur known as Punxsutawney Phil, this really must be what “spring” is like in the UP.