- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Since April 28, when researchers announced they had rediscovered the thought-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker, reports of ivory-billed sightings have flooded the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, as well as other organizations involved in the search.

In smaller measure I know what the Cornell scientists are talking about. We have received well-meaning e-mails here at The Washington Times from readers who would bet their last dime they have just seen an ivory-billed woodpecker — which is almost as rare as the mythical unicorn.

I had one e-mail from Fort Washington, and the sender said he had a pair of ivory-billeds pecking away around his porch. Another e-mailer said he was certain he had some living on his Montgomery County property.

Well, the ornithologists say those sightings usually turn out to be of pileated woodpeckers, another large woodpecker species that is much more common throughout North America.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology want to help identify ivory-billed woodpeckers and gather information from the public about potential sightings. Check out www.fws.gov/southeast or www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory.

About that $1 million fishing contest — Lady anglers are doing well in Maryland’s $1 million fishing extravaganza. Five women and two young sisters have caught tagged fish during the first four weeks of the $1 Million Fishing Challenge. Bobbie Jo Simmons (Fishing Creek), Amy Dwyer (Rock Hall), Stacey Goode (Callaway), Dawn Finkel (Annapolis), Paula Joy Wilson (Tilghman) and sisters Khadijha and Shariya Jones (Federalsburg) caught striped bass, croakers and largemouth bass among them.

The fishing challenge started June 3, and since then 45 largemouth bass, 20 striped bass, seven croaker and one white perch have been caught and certified by Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service biologists.

A million dollar winner will be drawn July 23 when all the names are put into a hat, so to speak. Runners-up will get assorted prizes. This fishing fun is sponsored by the state and the Boaters World Marine Centers. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a penny to enter as long as you abide by all Maryland fishing regulations and licensing requirements.

For information, go to www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries.

Women’s bass tour announced — The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) has announced the creation of the Women’s Bassmaster Tour, a five-event series debuting in 2006. It will follow a preview event planned for October of this year and culminate in the Women’s Bassmaster Championship in February 2007.

“We believe that the Women’s Bassmaster Tour will provide a superior outlet for the many women anglers who dream of fishing competitively,” said Don Rucks, general manager of BASS.

According to U.S. Fish & Wildlife statistics, 26 percent of the 28.4 million freshwater anglers in America are women.

Marylanders do well on turkeys — Everybody knows that Virginians and Pennsylvanians bag plenty of wild turkeys when the spring and autumn seasons come around, but who would have thought little Maryland could come up with 3,136 successful wild turkey hunters during the recently concluded spring season?

The number represented a state record and a 14 percent increase over the 2004 spring gobbler hunt.

Annual surveys conducted by the DNR indicated 2004 was a banner year for reproduction across the state. It showed that many young turkeys were produced last year, resulting in plenty of young gobblers available for hunters.

Happy birthday, U.S. Forest Service — A belated tip of the hat and all good wishes to the U.S. Forest Service, which celebrated 100 years of service June 24. The next 100 years will be filled with challenges, including dealing with fires, fuels, invasive species, loss of open space and unmanaged recreation, said Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth.

You will handle it, we’re sure, and we’re also glad you’re on the job.

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

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