- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Patuxent River chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCA MD) has vowed to help restore the river’s oyster population.

As anyone who enjoys the tasty bivalves knows, oysters are in trouble all over Maryland and in neighboring states’ waters, but the CCA chapter hopes to bring together recreational anglers, aquaculturists and volunteers to grow them. The oyster is the Chesapeake Bay’s primary filtering organism.

“While this project is not a single solution to restore oysters and the health of the Chesapeake, we do believe it’s a significant step to restore oysters in one area of the bay with the potential to be used in other areas,” said Robert Glenn, the executive director of the CCA MD.

Scott McGuire, president of the Patuxent River chapter of the CCA, points out that oysters are an invaluable resource to the health of our Bay, with a single oyster potentially filtering 50 to 55 gallons of water every day.

“To not support native oysters in the Chesapeake is a criminal act against a healthy Bay,” he said.

An agreement was signed between the CCA MD, the Circle C Oyster Ranch and St. Thomas Creek Oyster Company to place 25,000 oysters on floats at St. Thomas Creek Oyster Company, where they will grow for two years before being transferred to a permanent oyster sanctuary on the Patuxent.

Other parts of the restoration project include encouraging waterfront homeowners to raise oysters and publishing a manual on how this project can be replicated to allow other organizations and individuals to raise oysters throughout the Chesapeake watershed.

Don’t forget — The National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited will have its annual Angling Show on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda. The featured guest will be Ed Jaworowski, who will give presentations on “The Changing Faces of Salt Water Fly Fishing” and “Trout Fishing 301.”

There also will be special programs to get you started in fly-fishing and a riverkeepers’ panel on the best local smallmouth bass waters. See fly-casting and tying demonstrations and sit in on clinics. Check out the rod and gear swap, license sales, fly-fishing guides and vendors of fine tackle. For more information or directions, go to ncc-tu.com.

Deer kill numbers up, down — Maryland deer hunters shot 92,208 deer during the 2007-08 season, an increase of less than 1 percent over last year’s total of 91,930.

“Another deer season with a strong antlerless harvest is positive news as we work to balance our deer population with the woods, waters and residents of the state,” Deer Project leader Brian Eyler said.

By the way, in the late 1950s, Maryland deer hunters were lucky if they got 9,000 whitetails statewide.

In Virginia, 223,198 deer were reported killed by hunters. The total includes 106,595 antlered bucks, 19,652 button bucks and 96,951 does — an increase over the 215,082 deer shot last year. Across the state, deer kill levels were stable in the Northern Mountains, down in the Northern Piedmont and up in the Southern Mountains, the Southern Piedmont and the Tidewater area.

In Pennsylvania — The Game Commission reported an estimated 323,070 deer were killed during the 2007-08 seasons. That’s down 11 percent from the previous seasons’ harvest. In the recent season, hunters shot 109,200 antlered deer, down 19 percent from the previous license year’s buck kill of 135,290. Hunters also got 213,870 antlerless deer, but that was a 5 percent drop over the 2006 season.

In West Virginia — The two-week West Virginia deer gun season resulted in 67,505 whitetails bagged, but when archery and muzzleloader success were added, 145,577 deer were shot by the Mountaineers. The top three counties were Preston, Hampshire and Greenbrier, but mixed results are seen by the biologists. Twenty-nine counties reported increased deer kills; 22 counties saw a decrease.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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