June 27, 2017

Department of Interior Announces Recovery and Delisting of Yellowstone Grizzly Population

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The U.S. Department of Interior announced the recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population as well as its intent to remove federal protections and return management to state agencies.

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports the delisting of grizzly bears,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “It’s been a long time coming and we think this is the appropriate move by Secretary Zinke and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

The Yellowstone population rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today. Confirmed sightings of grizzlies are taking place in locations where they have not previously been seen for more than 100 years as they extend their range in the Northern Rockies.

“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners,” said U.S, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “As a Montanan, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”

The Yellowstone grizzly population meets all delisting criteria. These factors include not only the number and distribution of bears throughout the ecosystem, but also the quantity and quality of the habitat available and the states’ commitments to manage the population from now on in a manner that maintains its healthy and secure status.

“We do caution everybody to manage their expectations about the potential of hunting grizzly bears. The reality is there will be very minimal hunting of grizzly bears for the next several years. Those who oppose the delisting are going to try and use ‘trophy hunting’ as a major obstacle and reason not to delist grizzly bears. It’s purely rhetoric and propaganda,” added Allen.

The final rule, and the supporting documents, will publish in coming days in the Federal Register and the rule will take effect 30 days after publication.

Press Release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Partners celebrate Endangered Species Act delisting following decades of collaboration

June 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – Due to the success of conservation efforts and collaboration among a variety of stakeholders, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced today that the Yellowstone population of the grizzly bear has been recovered to the point where federal protections can be removed and overall management can be returned to the states and tribes. The population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today and meets all the criteria for delisting.

“As a kid who grew up in Montana, I can tell you that this is a long time coming and very good news for many communities and advocates in the Yellowstone region,” said Secretary Zinke. “This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners. As a Montanan, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.”

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) consists of portions of northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho. Grizzly bear populations outside of this DPS in the lower 48 states will be treated separately under the ESA and will continue to be protected.

The GYE grizzly bear population is one of the best studied bear populations in the world thanks to the longstanding efforts of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST). Population and habitat monitoring efforts undertaken by the IGBST indicate that GYE Grizzly Bears have more than doubled their range since the mid-1970s. They now occupy more than 22,500 square miles, an area larger than the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. Stable population numbers for grizzly bears for more than a decade also suggest that the GYE is at or near its capacity to support grizzly bears. This decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was informed by over four decades of intensive, independent scientific efforts.

The GYE grizzly bear population was determined to be recovered because multiple factors indicate it is healthy and will be sustained into the future. These factors include not only the number and distribution of bears throughout the ecosystem, but also the quantity and quality of the habitat available and the states’ commitments to manage the population from now on in a manner that maintains its healthy and secure status.

In addition to this final rule, the USFWS will also release a final supplement to the 1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan for the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear population. The Conservation Strategy that describes management of the grizzly bear following delisting was finalized by the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the IGBC in December of 2016. That document can be found here: http://igbconline.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/161216_Final-Conservation-Strategy_signed.pdf.

The final rule, and the supporting documents, will publish in coming days in the Federal Register and the rule will take effect 30 days after publication. More information can be found here: https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/grizzlyBear.php.

Press Release from House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy:

Bishop: Grizzly Delisting Process Emblematic of Need for ESA Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2017

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be delisted from the endangered species list. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:

“I commend this Administration and the Department of the Interior for delisting the grizzly bear even though it  should have been done years ago. States are far more capable of managing the grizzly population than the federal government. The time it took to get this delisting is the latest evidence that reform of ESA is sorely needed. Recovery and delisting — and responsible state management that will prevent listings in the first place — must be the goals of ESA, not lifetime sentences on the endangered list fraught with frivolous litigation.”

Background:

Grizzly bears are currently listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Delisting the species will allow states the ability to manage populations within their borders.

The grizzly bear population was originally delisted in 2007, but relisted in 20009 following litigation. In 2016, FWS proposed to delist the grizzly bear population as former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar deemed the population “unquestionably recovered” in 2012. The population has remained either steady or increasing for close to a decade.

Share

If The Shoe Fits….

At first glance, I just assumed that some worthless politician must have been trying to figure out why the chicken crossed the road, then I realized I was seriously demeaning that poor bear.

By the looks of things this particular bear must not be struggling to find food, or this is what he kept inside of him during hibernation.

Share

Bear Visits Home: Obviously The Woman Failed to “Look Big”

“A resident of Stagecoach Road in Avon, Connecticut, received an unexpected visitor last week.

A black bear showed up on the woman’s back deck Wednesday morning while the homeowner was making brownies.

The woman said the bear spent about half an hour on the deck, standing up and putting its paws up on the glass sliding door leading to the kitchen.”<<<Read More>>>

Share

OPINION: MNRF takes the road of junk science to forward their agenda

In my younger years growing up in Sundridge, the moose season fell on every even year and lasted a week. You bought your moose license and shot a MOOSE. There were plenty of moose and trappers harvested wolves and hunters harvested spring bears and laws were based on science and time-proven management practices. During this time the powers that be were the Ontario Lands and Forests, later changed to Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Recently renamed Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  Much has changed over the past two decades within what I once considered Ontario`s flagship ministry, for without our rich resources what does Ontario have to offer?

I have been deeply concerned about the direction this ministry has been travelling for some years now as laws are now being based on emotion and driven by special interest and protectionist lobby groups.<<<Read More>>>

Share

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>>>

Share

Saving Bear: Bravery or Stupidity?

Share

It Happens Every Spring

Share

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?

Share

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.”

Share

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.

Share