Off the wire

Vast protected area approved off S. Calif. coast
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- State wildlife regulators voted Wednesday to create a zone of protected areas off the Southern California coast where fishing and other activities will be restricted or banned. The Fish and Game Commission listened to hours of public comment before approving the marine protected area along a 250-mile arc of coastline from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara County.
Read the complete story from Associated Press.

Record number of eagles counted at Pa. sanctuary
KEMPTON, Pa. -- Bird-watchers at a ridgetop preserve in eastern Pennsylvania counted a record number of migrating bald eagles this fall, another sign of the species' remarkable comeback following a century of decline. The huge flight of 407 eagles smashed the old record of 245 set two years ago at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, which has kept an annual tally of migrating hawks, eagles and falcons since its founding 76 years ago as the world's first refuge for birds of prey.
Read the complete story from Associated Press.

Hunter shoots unusually large coyote in Northwest Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY Mo -- DNA tests show that a 104-pound canine shot by a hunter in Carroll County Nov. 13 was an unusually large coyote. The hunter shot the big canine on opening day of Missouri's November firearms deer season, thinking it was a coyote. Coyotes are legal game during deer season.
Read the complete story from mdc online.

Columbia Falls girl back in school
The Columbia Falls High School junior who inadvertently brought a rifle to school is back in class today after school board trustees voted not to expel her. Demari DeReu, 16, faced an expulsion hearing Monday night after bringing an unloaded hunting rifle to school earlier this month. DeReu told school officials about the rifle and was, per district policy, suspended immediately.
Read the complete story from Daily Inter Lake.com.

DNR Chief Frank Standing Behind Efforts to Delist Gray Wolf
Federal officials continue to believe there are enough gray wolves in the Great Lakes region to warrant taking them off the endangered species list. And according to Wisconsin's outgoing natural resources secretary, the state is standing behind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's efforts. The DNR's Matt Frank says scientific evidence supports delisting the animals, which have been protected in the region since 1974.
Read the complete story from Wisconsin Ag Connection.

Trophy deer earns fine for McAlester state rep
McALESTER, Okla. --State Rep. Terry Harrison, while hunting in Scipio during rifle season, shot a piebald white-tailed deer. Harrison was truly excited about the hunt, but later learned he needed another permit to shoot the rare deer and subsequently turned himself in to pay a fine.
Read the complete story from McAlester News-Capital.

Pennsylvania's first archery bear hunt bags 224
The final tally won't be in for a couple of months, but the Pennsylvania Game Commission's preliminary bear count lists 224 taken during the state's first five-day archery bear season; 2,815 were killed during the three-day November season.

Read the complete story from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Hunting traditions sag as land, desire disappear
MADISON, Wis. -- Classroom desks and office cubicles stand empty. Hunters in blaze orange stand out like drops of bright paint against brown fields. Pub parking lots are crowded with pickup trucks draped with deer carcasses. This is Wisconsin's gun deer season, a tradition as engrained in this rugged state's identity as beer, brats and cheese. But as the years slide by, fewer people seem to care. Hunting's popularity has waned across much of the country as housing tracts replace forests, aging hunters hang up their guns and kids plop down in front of Facebook rather than venture outside.
Read the complete story from The Associated Press.

Nonwolf depredations spike in Montana
HELENA -- While most of the discussion and activities surrounding wild animals killing livestock has focused on gray wolves in recent years, numbers released Saturday are showing a dramatic increase in depredations from coyotes, grizzly bears, black bears and mountain lions.
Read the complete story from Billings Gazette.

Minnesota's gray wolves may come off endangered species list
Minnesota's burgeoning population of gray wolves may be coming off the federal endangered species list -- again. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced Friday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to remove the wolf population from the list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan by the end of next year.
Read the complete story from Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

'Fallin Skies' duck hunter charged with waterfowl violations
Jeff Foiles, one of the best-known professional duck hunters and callers in the United States, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Springfield on 23 counts connected to alleged illegal waterfowl hunts. From 2003 to 2007, according to the indictment, Foiles, 53, of Pleasant Hill, sold guided waterfowl hunts where hunters regularly violated daily bag limits of ducks and geese. The hunts took place at the Fallin Skies Strait Meat Duck Club in Pike County, the indictment says.
Read the complete story from SJ-R.com.