Outdoors briefs: Wintery conditions not harming wildlife

SPOKANE -- The snow and frigid temperatures of this past week should not have a detrimental effect on wildlife, unless cold and snowy conditions persist for some time, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"At this point in time, we're having winter in the Inland Northwest and the animals are adapted to that," said Madonna Luers, a department spokeswoman based in Spokane.

The department always fields phone calls when the first snows arrive about deer foraging on plants at lower elevations, Luers said.

Biologists discourage people from feeding them.

State delays action on spring chinook plan

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has deferred until January allocating the catch of Columbia River spring chinook salmon between sport and commercial fisheries.

The delay followed approval of a plan by the Oregon commission to provide more fishing opportunities for commercial fisheries than recommended by a bi-panel created to develop a joint approach to the catch-sharing issue.

Washington commissioners opted last week to delay action on both spring and summer chinook allocation plans until their next public meeting, scheduled Jan. 9-10 in Olympia.

According to a recent projection, nearly 300,000 spring chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River in 2009, which would make the run the third-highest on record.

The spring chinook fishery presents special challenges to fishery managers because the catch is highly prized by both sport and commercial anglers and because the run includes wild salmon listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, which tightly limits mortality rates for listed fish.