April 30, 2017

Florida: Bear Hunting Is Essential to Management….Er, Except When Politics Rule

During the deliberation portion of their June 2016 meeting that resulted in the postponement of a bear hunt that year, dissenting FWC Commissioners claimed their wish was to polish the scientific data supporting a hunt which was to be presented this year. They had no desire to “kick the can down the road” or “study the issue to death.”

What did they do at the meeting last Wednesday? They decided to revise the bear management plan to incorporate the new data and hunting as a management tool. This updated plan will be presented to the Commission in two years. To the best of my understanding, 2019 will be the earliest bear hunting is considered again.

Can kicked. Issue studied and dead. For now.<<<Read More>>>

Saving Bear: Bravery or Stupidity?

It Happens Every Spring

Bears are Bigger Killers Than Thought

*Editor’s Note* – When media crafts these headlines, it would be nice if they were a bit more accurate and explicit in whom they are referring when they write: “Bears are Bigger Killers Than Thought.” Thought by whom? I didn’t think they were sparse eaters of such things as moose, caribou and even cannibalism. Perhaps maybe, scientists are catching on a little bit instead of relying on Bambi and Yogi Bear to determine who kills and eats what.  

Overall, the bears [just seven of them] killed an average of 34.4 moose and caribou calves over 45 days. That’s far higher than average kill rates from previous studies using other methods, including aerial observation. Compared with one 1988 study in which scientists counted an average of 5.4 moose calf kills from the air in a different part of Alaska, the new study found an average of 13.3 moose calf kills. The new study also found wide variation in the number of calves killed by any one bear, with one killing 44 calves in 25 days and another killing just seven in 27 days.<<<Read More>>>

I wonder what cameras on wolves would reveal?

Florida Representative Proposes Ten Year Ban on Bear Hunting

*Editor’s Note* – As we continue to see such legislation that strips wildlife managers of necessary tools to do the jobs they are commissioned to do, is there any wonder that other states, sick and tired of ignorant animal rights perverts and environmentalists crafting legislation to rule out science over emotional clap-trap, crafting some of their own bills that would prohibit any legislation of this kind pertaining to wildlife management. Where will this nonsense end? 

Press Release from the Sportsmen’s Alliance:

Take Action! Currently House Bill 491 is in House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee. Florida sportsmen should contact their state representatives and ask them to vote NO on House Bill 491. Members can use the Sportsmen’s Alliance Legislative Action Center to contact their state representative.

In Florida, Rep. Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) has proposed legislation that would place a ten-year ban on black bear hunting in Florida. House Bill 491 also requires bear-proof garbage cans, and restricts burning in habitats that could impact bears. The bill also would commission a study on the effectiveness of non-lethal means for the management of bears.

In 2016, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission paused plans to have a hunting season for bears after anti-hunting groups pressured both commissioners and legislators.

“HB 491 would set a terrible precedent by removing the management authority from the commission altogether and instead establishing an arbitrary timeline,” said Luke Houghton, the Sportsmen’s Alliance associate director of state services. “The Commission was created to make scientific decisions regarding wildlife, and House Bill 491 undermines that process and politicizes wildlife decision making.”

Taxpayers would also be on the hook for at least $1 million to pay for bear-proof trash cans, which local governments would then apply for funding from. HB 491 also mandates an end to any timbering of palmetto and oak trees in state forests. Rep. Mercado claims that bears will avoid garbage if there are more food sources available naturally.

“HB 491 substitute’s politics for science, ignoring the advice of Florida’s wildlife experts,” continued Houghton. “It sets a precedent that politicians can step on sound scientific wildlife management decisions when opponents of hunting become upset. HB 491 also poses a serious public safety risk, as Florida’s growing bear population expands unchecked.”

Another Proposed Maine Sunday Hunting Bill Defeated

According to information written and available, this was the 34th time a bill was proposed that would permit some form of Sunday hunting. This is a Dead Horse. Let’s bury it…or make some glue.

Below I am going to post the written comments, that were posted on George Smith’s website, by Tom Doak, Executive Director for the Maine Woodland Owners, in opposition to Sunday hunting. I believe his testimony is quite accurate and something I nearly completely agree with and support. First, I would like to express a couple of things that Mr. Doak either didn’t mention or was not fully explained, probably due to time constraints, etc..

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) manages for game, i.e. deer, moose, turkeys, bear. Those management plans involve predicting, as best they can, what the annual harvest of each species should be in order to meet the management goals, especially population controls. This estimation includes how many days of hunting, and what days of the week (including holidays) will produce the number of hunters necessary to harvest a sought after number of game animals. The theory is simple but pulling it off has a lot of variables that present challenges, to say the least.

If we examine more closely the deer season – because it is the biggest of all of them – MDIFW has a close estimate of how many deer and what sex will need to be killed in a given season to meet goals. If Sunday hunting should become a day of deer hunting added to the week, not only would the season length have to be shortened to prevent overkill, it would have to be shortened to compensate for the extra hunters that would hunt on that Sunday as opposed to any other day of the week. If Maine added 4 Sundays to its hunting season, certainly the entire deer hunting season would have to be shortened no less than one week, but I suspect more than that. The short of it would not give a net result of 4 Sundays but more than likely 1 or 2.

Trying to guess whether Sunday hunting would increase or decrease the number of deer hunters, what then will happen to the same, or greater number of hunters that would be crammed into two weeks of hunting vs. four? What would happen to deer kill rates? What would happen to the number of hunting accidents that would occur? Would hunting in Maine be the same attraction for out-of state hunters? Or even in-state hunters? How many other questions can you come up with?

The convenience of the current deer hunting season, minus any Sunday hunting, is that it spreads the season out and eases the pressure put on the deer, and in particular the already stressed bucks that are entering or in the middle of the annual rutting season.

The current format works well for two major reasons. 1.) As has been explained, and is explained further in Doak’s testimony, access to land for hunting and recreation is open unless posted by the landowner. This is a tremendous privilege for hunters and should be protected at all costs. 2.) Maine is not overrun with deer, with the exception of a few places in south-central Maine. According to Smith, the Executive Director of the Maine Farm Bureau was quoted as saying, “when the policy of Sunday hunting comes up, no matter where in the state the farmers live, there is little debate on Sunday hunting. Farmers are in agreement. They are opposed to Sunday hunting.” I wouldn’t pretend to question that statement. However, I wonder if those same farmers would feel the same way if Maine had too many deer, or other wild animals, that were destroying their crops, etc.? They might welcome more hunting.

I would have to agree with Mr. Doak. If this issue were simply a matter of providing more hunting opportunities, then lengthen the seasons, void of adding Sundays. But, it’s not simply a matter of providing more opportunities in all hunting seasons. When populations of game animals become in excess, then increase bag limits and/or lengthen the season. Simple enough…mostly.

Offering Sunday, might or might not provide “more opportunities” for hunting. I’m not so sure about deer hunting. If it did, I’m convinced the quality of those increased opportunities would diminish and I wouldn’t care much for that.

Here is Tom Doak’s written testimony in opposition to Sunday hunting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tom Doak’s Testimony

The issue of Sunday hunting is not new.  In fact, I believe this is the 33rd time in the last 41 years that the Legislature has considered the issue.  Each time, the Legislature has rejected Sunday hunting.

There is no single issue that would change the relationship more dramatically between Maine landowners and hunters; between hunters and the general public; and between hunters themselves, than Sunday hunting.  There is no single issue that would result in more loss of access to private land, for all purposes, than Sunday hunting. 

The issue of hunting on Sunday may have started as a “blue law,” but it has evolved over the last 130 years (that is how long hunting on Sunday has been prohibited) into an important landowner/hunter/general public accommodation. 

In most other states, you do not go on someone’s land to hunt without their permission.  In most other states, a hunter pays a fee to the landowner.  And in many other states, land is leased to individuals or hunting clubs.  Not in Maine.  Essentially here, unless told otherwise, it is assumed you can hunt on a person’s property – for free.  That is an incredible benefit afforded a hunter in Maine, which is too often not fully appreciated and is commonly taken for granted.

The primary reason there is not a law in Maine requiring landowner permission for all access to private land, including hunting, (so called reverse posting) is because landowners know they will have one day in seven to fully enjoy their property. Even active supporters of Sunday hunting have opposed bills requiring landowner permission, knowing that once permission is required for hunting in Maine, there would be a substantial loss of access.  They understand that any statute that requires permission for only Sunday will quickly transition into requiring permission for any day.

The importance of Sunday to landowners should not be underestimated.  I do not think hunters fully understand how many landowners count on that day to fully enjoy their property.  Many landowners even change their plans during the week to avoid disturbing someone else’s hunting experience.

The importance to the public of having Sunday should not be underestimated either.  That is the day many non-hunters enjoy private land free from hunters or infringing on hunting activities.  

One of the arguments for allowing hunting on Sunday is that many hunters work on Saturday or have children or grandchildren in school activities – so they need the opportunity to hunt on Sunday.  Just as many woodlot owners work on Saturday or care about school activities as well.  Sunday may be the one day a woodland owner gets to fully enjoy their own property.

As an organization, we support hunting and always have.  It is telling that the most forceful opposition to hunting on Sunday is not from those opposed to hunting, but from landowners and farmers. These are the very same people who provide more than 90% of the hunting opportunities in Maine – for free. And the same people that overwhelming support the tradition of hunting in general.

If the purpose of this bill is to enhance hunting opportunities or wildlife resource management, there is a simple way of doing that.  Lengthen the hunting seasons.  Earlier this session we supported expansion of turkey hunting opportunities.  In other legislative sessions, we have also supported creation of youth hunting days, expanded archery seasons, muzzle loader seasons, a spring turkey season and others.

Economic development is sometimes cited as a justification to allow Sunday hunting.  A Maine Office of Tourism & Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioned study showed that hunting contributes $338.7 million dollars to the Maine economy – an impressive figure.  Just as impressive is 90% or more of all that economic activity is predicated upon access to private land.  The $338.7 million dollars does not include the impact of snowmobiling, trapping, ATV riding, all provided through access to private land.  Approximately, 95% of 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails and 7,000 miles of ATV trails in Maine are located on private land.  Whether it is hunting or any of these other outdoor activities, landowners are providing those opportunities for free. 

Why put the outdoor economy of this state at risk over an activity that is based on free access to private land when, at best: only half the hunters in Maine support Sunday hunting;  the majority of landowners and farmers do not support Sunday hunting; and the public, overwhelmingly, opposes Sunday hunting?

Over the years, just about every possible scenario to get some type of Sunday hunting enacted has been tried. We believe that Sunday hunting in any form is bad for landowners; is bad for hunters; is bad for recreational users and perhaps, most importantly, is bad public policy. 

We are hard pressed to think of a policy change that could do more damage to landowner/user relations than Sunday hunting.

We urge you to oppose this bill.

Utah: Biologist Back With Family After Accident

*Editor’s Query* – Of course I have questions. Reading the information in this article, we see where a biologist is “accidentally” injected with a tranquiler (dart) intended for a yearling cub black bear – weighing how much? And how much did the biologist who got “accidentally” injected weigh?

The article doesn’t tell us the dosage the biologist received, only that they made note of that dosage to give to medical personnel. Are we to assume the dosage the biologist received was no more – perhaps less – than what was intended for the bear? If so, is there somehow a greater danger to the health of a man than that of the bear, or is this really not that newsworthy of an item?

I don’t know the procedures being used here but in some research methods, once the data is collected the animals are given and antidote that will counter the tranquilizer effects and soon the animal is going about his business. 

“Quick action and training are the reasons a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologist is resting comfortably at home with his family today.

The biologist, a 20-year veteran with the DWR, was released March 15 from the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. He was hospitalized after accidently being injected with a tranquilizer meant for a bear.”<<<Read More>>>

SAM Opposes Deer Baiting, Sells Wildlife Seeds to Grow Crops for Deer Baiting

WINK-WINK!

I wrote earlier today about how the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife disapproved a bill proposal that would have allowed baiting deer and shooting deer over bait. In that report I said there were differences between creating a bait station and hunting over that site and growing a crop of food for “wildlife,” and there are. For one, the crop growing site wouldn’t force so many deer, nose to nose, for those worrying about chronic wasting disease. Secondly, the sales pitch for growing the crops, whether beside or near “deer wintering areas,” would be because it provides nutrition for deer prior to and coming out of deer yards. From here you can conjure up any excuse you want for or against the action.

And there’s sort of a difference between hunting over a bait pile versus hunting over a crop grown to attract deer, but I can’t think of what it might be.

So, one has to wonder. According to the Portland Press Herald report, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) opposed the bill that would allow hunting deer over a bait pile. “David Trahan, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and Don Kleiner, director of the Maine Professional Guides Association, opposed the bill because it could put more hunting pressure on herds in areas where deer are relatively sparse, and there’s “no real biological or management-based reason to support (the bill),”

But they more than support growing deer crops and hunting over the crops, even if those crops are planted in areas where “deer are relatively sparse,” as can be seen from the advertisement below. Maybe the fear is that deer bait piles are not nutritious and would be bad for deer…but not for bears?

I doubt there is enough crop growing statewide that is having much of any influence over manipulating nutrition for deer. However, I think for the state to allow hunting over those crops, especially when you consider the location of some of these crops, they need to provide a better more explanation.

Maybe The New Education Secretary Knew More About Bears Than the Laughers

Outdoor Hub is reporting that the new Education Secretary may have been quite accurate when she stated that guns might be necessary in schools to protect students from bears.

WSFB TV in Connecticut reports that two schools in Southington were put in Lockdown due to the presence of bear(s). The report claims that when last seen the bear was headed East……….perhaps headed into Massachusetts looking for that Indian Senator?

Maine’s “Bear Team” at Work

The following link will take you to a pretty interesting story of some of the events that surround the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s “Bear Team.” The Team tracks down collared bears in the dead of winter to check on their progress, health, condition, including any offspring.

Read the story here.