April 30, 2017

Reinstatement of Removal of Federal Protections for Gray Wolves in Wyoming

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are issuing 
this final rule to comply with a court order that reinstates the 
removal of Federal protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in 
Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Pursuant 
to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 
Circuit order dated March 3, 2017, and mandate dated April 25, 2017, 
this rule again removes gray wolves in Wyoming from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

DATES: This action is effective May 1, 2017. The United States Court of 
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit order dated March 3, 2017, 
and mandate dated April 25, 2017, removing Federal protections for the 
gray wolf in Wyoming had legal effect immediately upon filing of the 
mandate.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available electronically at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2017-0025. It will also be 
available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours 
at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mountain-Prairie Regional Office, 
Ecological Services Division, 134 Union Blvd., Lakewood, CO 80228; 
telephone (303) 236-7400. Persons who use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on wolves in Wyoming, 
contact Tyler Abbott, Wyoming Field Office Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 5353 Yellowstone Rd., Suite 308A, Cheyenne, WY 82009; 
telephone (307) 772-2374. Individuals who are hearing impaired or 
speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8337 for 
TTY assistance.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List), 
which is authorized by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), is located in title 50 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations in part 17 (50 CFR 17.11(h)). On September 10, 
2012, we published a final rule to remove the gray wolf in Wyoming from 
the List and remove this population's status as a nonessential 
experimental population under the ESA (77 FR 55530; ``2012 final 
rule''). Additional background information on the gray wolf in Wyoming 
and on this decision, including previous Federal actions, can be found 
in our 2012 final rule at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-
R6-ES-2011-0039, or at https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/grayWolf.php.
    Various groups filed lawsuits challenging our 2012 final rule. On 
September 23, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of 
Columbia vacated and set aside our 2012 final rule (Defenders of 
Wildlife v. Jewell, 68 F. Supp. 3d 193 (D.D.C. 2014)) and reinstated 
our April 2, 2009 (74 FR 15123), final rule that protected gray wolves 
in Wyoming as a nonessential experimental population under the ESA. On 
December 1, 2014, the United States appealed the District Court's 
decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 
Circuit. Pending the appeal, and consistent with the District Court's 
September 23, 2014, order, we published a final rule reinstating the 
April 2, 2009, final rule protecting the gray wolf in Wyoming (80 FR 
9218, February 20, 2015).
    On March 3, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals, in a unanimous 
opinion, reversed the ruling of the U.S. District Court Defenders of 
Wildlife v. Zinke, No. 14-5300 (D.C. Cir. March 3, 2017). On April 25, 
2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued its mandate consistent with its 
March 3, 2017, opinion reversing the U.S. District Court's vacatur of 
our 2012 final rule for gray wolves in Wyoming. The issuance of the 
mandate makes the delisting go into effect. To the extent that a 
regulatory change is required to effectuate the delisting, we are doing 
so now. Therefore, this rule amends the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife by removing gray wolves in Wyoming.

Administrative Procedure

    This rulemaking is necessary to comply with the March 3, 2017, 
court order and April 25, 2017, mandate. Therefore, under these 
circumstances, the Director has determined, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(3)(B), that prior notice and opportunity for public comment are 
impractical and unnecessary. The Director has further determined, 
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), that the court order and mandate 
constitute good cause to make this rule effective upon publication.

Effects of the Rule

    Per the March 3, 2017, court order and April 25, 2017, mandate, the 
protections of the ESA are removed for gray wolves in Wyoming. 
Additionally, the regulations under section 10(j) of the ESA at 50 CFR 
17.84(i) and (n) designating Wyoming as a nonessential experimental 
population area are also removed.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

    To comply with the court order and mandate discussed above, we 
amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the CFR, as set 
forth below:

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245, 
unless otherwise noted.


Sec.  17.11   [Amended]

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by removing the entry for ``Wolf, gray 
[Northern Rocky Mountain DPS]'' under MAMMALS from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

[[Page 20285]]

Sec.  17.84   [Amended]

0
3. Amend Sec.  17.84 by removing and reserving paragraphs (i) and (n).

    Dated: March 28, 2017.
James K. Kurth,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-08720 Filed 4-28-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P

Removal of Wyoming’s Gray Wolves from Endangered Species List Final Step in Historic Recovery Across Northern Rockies

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

Action by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Response to D.C. Appeals Court Ruling Upholding Previous Delisting Determination

April 26, 2017

 

Recovery of the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains is one of our nation’s greatest conservation success stories. Today, that success was re-affirmed with the filing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of a notice again delisting the species in the state of Wyoming. Wolves have already been delisted throughout the rest of the Northern Rockies population.

“Our action today delisting the wolf in Wyoming puts the last puzzle piece of Northern Rocky Mountain wolf conservation back in place,” said Acting Service Director Jim Kurth. “The result is a complete picture of success in wolf conservation across the region, restoring management of this recovered population to the state’s wildlife professionals.”

The Service’s action was in response to a final decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturning an earlier U.S. District Court decision vacating the Service’s 2012 delisting rule for Wyoming wolves. The court’s decision recognizes the recovered status of gray wolves and affirms the Service’s determination that the state’s regulatory mechanisms are sufficient for conserving wolves under its authority.  The Service will continue to monitor the population for the next five years to ensure recovery criteria are met.

Noreen Walsh, Regional Director for the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region credited the considerable dedication of many partners, particularly the state of Wyoming, in helping recover Northern Rockies wolves.

“It is deeply gratifying that we can officially recognize the strong and diverse partnerships that made the vision of wolf recovery a reality,” said Walsh. “We particularly applaud the efforts of the State of Wyoming in implementing their gray wolf management plan and we are confident that they will continue to execute this plan moving forward. Their continued commitment to managing wolves will ensure we maintain a robust, stable and self-sustaining population into the future.”

The Service will be working closely with the State of Wyoming to transition wolf management post delisting. Meanwhile, the state’s annual wolf numbers reveal an enduring healthy population, with approximately 377 wolves in 52 packs with 25 breeding pairs. The Northern Rocky Mountain population as a whole continues to be self-sustaining, with numbers well above federal management objectives. Wolves have continued to expand their range westward into Oregon, Washington, northern California and Nevada.

Maybe The Proposed “Comprehensive Hunting License” is Not a Good Idea

George Smith, political activist and outdoor writer, probably perceived by many as a bad dose of pine pollen, is at it again. It seems that if he’s not hounding somebody about forcing Mainers to take up Sunday hunting, he’s beating their brow over creating what he calls a Comprehensive Hunting License. I’m not so sure that I can agree with a lot of Smith’s reasons why he thinks this is a good idea and I also wonder if he really understands why the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is fighting him on this proposed bill. And to those with little gray matter, I’m not suggesting in any way that Smith, or anybody else, stop exercising their right to petition the state. Good for him.

George, it’s all about the money, isn’t it? You say it’s a shame that something this good might not happen because of money. I don’t know that your proposal is that good, but it is a shame that decisions are made on whether or not it will add or subtract revenue to pay the salaries and retirement pensions of the growing number of retirees.

I understand your point of view about how simple it is to pay the extra cost for your comprehensive license because it’s no more than 10 or 12 gallons of gasoline, but I don’t agree with you. I also understand what you are saying about how it cost more to get to and come home from a hunt in North Dakota, but the reality is, how many of all the hunters in Maine can afford to do that? In short, they can’t relate to your reasoning.

You speak of how great and beneficial the Superpack License was to you UNTIL the state charged $200 for it. I didn’t think you grew up with a silver spoon but then again I know very little about you or your past. I grew up dirt poor. In the world I live in, facing that increase for a Superpack to $200 might loom as large as someone considering an increase of $13.00. In short, they can’t relate to your reasoning.

You say the increased cost would not only not deter anyone from hunting but that it would increase those who decide to take up hunting species they never tried before. Really? Does all the world think as you do – not that there is anything wrong with how you see things. It’s just I don’t think everyone sees things the same as you. I don’t…and that’s one.

Since giving up my Maine residency 20-some years ago, I have to purchase a nonresident hunting license to hunt deer in Maine. I don’t CHOOSE to hunt other species, accept maybe the few I can collect during deer season. The past 3 years I have really labored in my mind to justify spending $114.00 for a hunting license to walk in the woods and listen to coyotes howl at night. You have addressed that issue, however, seeing this as a future problem is not seeing the problem that stands before us now. The future is here.

From the MDIFW’s perspective, I believe they are, at least to some degree, protecting their income. I would do the same if I were in their positions. I may just choose to do it in different ways. If MDIFW understands they are between a rock and hard place because in many places in Maine the deer hunting sucks and the moose hunting, along with “opportunities,” is shrinking at a rate in which soon hunting of the lanky critter will be another item to read about in Maine’s historical documents, then perhaps they don’t want more people hunting. Instead, they want to advertise what a great place Maine is to hunt and dupe the public as long as they can by selling their “opportunities.” It’s called (stealthily) stroking the Golden Goose.

What I am confused about is that it appears you are coming down on both sides of this issue – or at least straddling the fence. If, as you seem to want to base a good part of your argument on, the increased cost of a “comprehensive license” is no big deal – meaning $13.00 or $30.00 is of no concern – and it would gain hunters rather than drive them away, then by the same reasoning, it’s no big deal to select and pay for only the species you want to hunt, even if it might cost you more money.

The consumer is an odd duck in some ways. My wife recently bought a brand new sewing machine as part of her retirement strategy. We both discussed the issue at length and we both agreed that she should purchase what she WANTED in a sewing machine, but not to buy one loaded with extras because it seemed a better deal. Maybe hunters in Maine don’t want a comprehensive hunting license. In the long run, to the smart shopper, maybe it’s not really a better deal. I’m not convinced it is and if I’m forced to try it, I might not even try it.

I understand how you like to throw out statistics from surveys, the most of which are designed to achieve desired results (I’ve written extensively about that), and report that 68% of those hunters who chose to return a survey (6% return) favored a comprehensive hunting license. That number means little unless we know all the details about the survey, including the wording of the questions and what the respondents believed to be an “all-inclusive” license and it’s cost. Surveys are easy to answer. Reality is always considerably different.

So, if you want to toss out survey results, here’s one that is often avoided because it doesn’t comfortably fit the narrative of those seeking to make changes in laws to satisfy their own ideals. In most of the latest surveys taken for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the number one reason people do not hunt is lack of time/time away from work.

If this is true, then perhaps MDIFW is on top of the ball and they understand this (am I really saying this?). If I had but two days to hunt deer in November, because that’s all the time off I could get, why would I want to spend another $13.00 to do what I can do for $25.00. After all, the sneaky-snake can say it’s only $13.00 but the thinking man sees it’s a better that 50% increase. Not everybody looks at things from the perspective of “gee, it’s only the price of half a tank of gas.” Many people look at this as wasting money. What then are my options? If I feel $13.00 is $13.00 I don’t want to needlessly spend, then my only two options are spend the money or don’t bother to try to get time off work to hunt. How is this increasing the number of hunters?

Maybe it’s also time that Maine got on the bandwagon and modernized it’s fishing license structure to allow fishermen to pay for only what they choose to fish and/or how they would like to fish for their desired species. I have fished in many states that provide a general fishing license and then you purchase a stamp (real or figurative) for each of the species you want to fish. If you never fish any other species but bass, why should I be forced to pay a higher fee to fish what I don’t want.

I guess it might depend on whether the glass is half full or half empty.

SAM’s Testimony on Right To Hunt Amendment, Makes Claims Not Entirely True

Recently I wrote about a proposed constitutional amendment in Maine that is being presented as an amendment to protect the “right” to hunt, trap and fish – LD 11. I also wrote that this proposal was one that I could support and I was wrong to have made the statement using the words that I did because I failed to succinctly express the full truth in my statement. Please let me explain.

Yesterday, I was reading David Trahan’s (Executive Director of the Sportman’s Alliance of Maine) testimony before the Legislative Committee in support of the proposed amendment.

To many, his words ring true, much because most of us have been taught certain things about our federal and state constitutions and the rights we have been granted under those constitution. Men don’t grant rights to anyone. They simply claim ownership of them and hand them back to us in some kind of limited form or fully deny us of such rights.

Trahan states that when this nation was founded, wildlife was “placed in the public trust” and as such we had the right to take it for sustenance. Therefore, Americans have always possessed the right to hunt, fish and trap. I will have to save for another day any debate on this so-called public trust and our inherent right to hunt, fish and trap. I will proceed from the perspective of most that they do have either a right or a privilege.

As Mr. Trahan also pointed out, man decided that in order to sustain game and other wildlife, they must construct laws to limit that activity. What happened to our inherent “right” to hunt, trap and fish when the limitations by law became enforced? Is anything really a “right” when it is controlled by man? We evidently believe so. When men, because they couldn’t maintain viable game populations through their own disciplines, called upon man-governments to do it for them, it began the process of destroying any semblance of a right to hunt. I ask once again, what happened to a so-called “right” to hunt wildlife “placed in the public trust” when at least some of that right was ceded over to government and restricted?

This is not that much different than the argument of sovereignty, in which most people do not understand sovereignty of an individual or a government agency. How are you a sovereign individual? Oh, you might say, “Nobody tells me what to do! I’m my own man!” But you are not. You might be a legend in your own mind, but you are not a sovereign individual. Once a man agrees to become part of a community, whether it is a small as a neighborhood or as large as a nation, they have agreed to relinquish that sovereignty and place it under the control of the government. Your act of relinquishment places decisions about your life into the hands of the controlling government agencies.

In Maine, at some point in time, the full right to hunt, trap and fish, was ceded to the State Government to control and make the decisions for us as to what, when and how we might harvest game. Trahan points this out in his testimony. In reality, the sportsmen have very little control over their perceived right to hunt. What has evolved since the creation of game and wildlife laws, is that the government agency formulated to oversee hunting, trapping and fishing, call the shots. Yup, proposals for new laws can be presented. Sometimes they get through a committee and most times not. You are heard before a committee but if you can’t get by the committee then what has become of your “right” to hunt, trap and fish. If you do get through committee you are at the mercy of the Legislature. Where then is your protected right?

Many believe that an amendment to the Constitution will guarantee, protect or create a “right” to hunt, trap and fish. They are wrong. I have written many times on this subject and stated that unless an amendment mandated or forced the government to do something, it is nothing more than words on a piece of paper.

The proposed LD 11 states, in reference to the right of the people of Maine to hunt, fish and trap, that this right: “may not be infringed.” (emboldening added) This is not a mandate. It does not force the Legislature, the Governor, Law Enforcement, or anybody else to stop any infringement of a person’s right to hunt, trap and fish. Go ask a lawyer – or at least an intelligent and honest one (yeah I know). Or go research it yourself. “May” is not a mandate – only a suggestion.

Further, the amendment says that this non infringement of the right to hunt, trap and fish is subject to “reasonable” laws enacted by the Legislature and “reasonable” rules adopted by the department in charge of management of game, fish and other wildlife. Is a “reasonable” law or rule an infringement? We’ve already established that the protection against infringement is non binding because the lawyers chose “may” instead of “must.”

So, who decides what “reasonable” means? I hope you are beginning to understand.

The amendment establishes that the department in reference is supposed to “promote wildlife conservation and management” and “maintain natural resources in trust for public use” (emboldening added) and this evidently will “preserve the future of hunting and fishing.” Nothing here is a mandate that forces anybody to do anything. What is wildlife conservation? As it is in operation today, wildlife conservation becomes a matter of which social entity has the most dollars and the loudest mouth to force their idealistic perceptions and conceptions of wildlife conservation.

The Department, according to this amendment will “maintain” natural resources. Maintain them how and to what levels of population that will guarantee, protect or create the “right” to hunt, trap and fish? This, of course, is left up to the Department, which is what takes places now. There is no mandate. There is no protection of any right.

The amendment further states that “public hunting and fishing are the preferred means…” (emboldening added) Where is the mandate here that will guarantee, protect or create a “right” to hunt, trap and fish? The Department might “prefer” to use hunting and fishing but what if they decide to import wolves to control populations of deer and moose? Where is the mandate? Where is the protection of any “right” to hunt, trap and fish? And would such a decision be “reasonable?”

The truth is, that while this is better language than previously proposed in other amendments, voters in Maine should not be misled to believe that this amendment, as written, will guarantee, protect or create for Maine citizens, the “right” to hunt, trap and fish.

And on the reverse of this, as I have already read in a few spreads of clap trap nonsense, such an amendment, as written will not destroy the process to petition the state. This should be obvious once you understand this proposal has nothing in it that is a mandate, forcing anybody to do anything.

When I said this amendment was something I could support, that statement was not accurate and I apologize for misleading people, if I did. First, I could not “support” such and amendment in the literal sense because I am not a legal resident of Maine and therefore could not vote for it if I wanted.

My thinking at the time was that while there still were no mandates in the proposal, perhaps the language was such that it might deter the onslaught of lawsuits and referendums that have been piled onto the Pine Tree State. It may, in fact, increase them. It is difficult to assess.

I will work harder to choose my words and the statements I make more carefully.

A Case of the Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Void of sensible argument, let’s just say for the purposes of this discussion, that the corporate “citizens” of this corporation, the United States of America, live in a democracy. Might as well say it because most think we do and vehemently support it. A democracy sucks…especially when you are the sheep in a three-way discussion with two wolves deciding what’s for lunch. When you combine the ills of the so-called democratic process, with the ignorance of taking the high ground on all things democratic, scientific and wildlife management, spelled out for us in bold letters is HYPOCRISY.

To make my point, gander at the article written in the Kennebec Journal extolling the virtues of Maine’s Constitution and the democratic process in deciding who’s going to make the menu for lunch….er, well, kind of – until the promoter of the democratic process discovers she might be headlining the menu.

The article itself is garbage and so I will not waste my time with a step by step process refuting the endless claims of nonsense strewn through the blather of nonsensical words and hypocritical proclamations shouted from the position of the only one holding the high ground on all matters of what this person calls “rights,” science and the management of wildlife.

It would appear the letter writer assumes the position that rights are granted by governments and that those granted rights are how things should be, as in the rule of law, so long as they are the totalitarian rules of law she chooses to subscribe to that promote her ideology and choice of lifestyle.

The day we are born, our Creator gives us all our rights. It is only man in his sin that takes those rights away and/or doles them out as a means of controlling the population and presenting themselves as an “exceptional” government creating an “exceptional” nation. Sound familiar? Perhaps you don’t recognize it.

For each and every law that it enacted, one more aspect of our God-given rights is being chiseled away. We have reached a point in our uncivilized, greedy, nasty, hate-filled nation, where democracy, manipulated by money and power, is used to force the wills of only the most powerful and affluent among our society. There is a different name for this other than democracy…but, don’t go look.

In our own blind ignorance, created by the same powerful and affluent through essentially brainwashing (controlling all forms of education and media) once anyone assumes the high ground on any issue, of course the other side is wrong and need to be stopped, even to the point of wanting the oppositions rights removed. This IS but one of the nasty elements of democracy that you must like.

Aside from the blather of the letter writer, can anyone see the idiocy in the defense of what this person considers her choice in how democracy and the rule of law are applied? I see this most often but I wonder how many others do, especially those bent on forcing their idealism and totalitarian ways onto all others.

With but limited “rights” left, as most all “rights” are either taken away or have been limited to some degree, one can only employ the “democratic” process available in hopes of changing those laws.

In Maine there is but one more attempt at amending the constitution in order to establish what the promoters are calling a constitutional protection to hunt, fish and trap. Incidentally and most relevant to an honest discussion, since Maine became a state, there have been 172 approved amendments to its Constitution. Should it come as a shock to people that the process taken to adopt these amendments was the “democratic” process established within the original Constitution as defined in Article X, Section 4.? If you love this democracy so much, I hope you at least understand how it works.

How, then, is seeking approval from the Maine Legislature, to present to the voters of that state, a chance to consider, debate and vote on this or any other amendment, wrong as it applies to things a person doesn’t approve of?

The letter writer claims that a constitutional amendment to protect the right to hunt, fish and trap will destroy the rights of others and prohibit them from having any legal recourse in affairs concerning wildlife management. What nonsense. No constitutional amendment, unless so written, will supersede any and all other articles and amendments within a constitution.

Not that long ago, some in Maine were promoting a law that would remove a person’s right to petition the state in wildlife management issues of which I opposed. The proposed amendment, as written, would not do that.

It appears that in the letter writer’s enthusiasm and hatred toward all things hunting, trapping and fishing, she is skewing the lines between offering substantiated reasons to oppose an amendment for its content, and the actual democratic process established within the constitution.

I assure everyone that of the 172 amendments to Maine’s Constitution, not everyone liked and voted for them. However, as I have stated, democracy sucks, especially when you are on the short end of the stick.

The process is established and as much as some would like even to change that process, which can be done by implementation of the democratic and legal processes established within the Constitution, it is a process that shouldn’t be used to somehow demonize anyone’s or group of anyone’s right to petition the state and/or use the legal process to, in fact, let the voters decide. That is after all, what most American’s think is the best way to do things. It’s a classic Jeffersonian process.

The person who wrote this letter obviously does not understand the state’s legal processes, as well as the not so legal processes, that are presented as a right to assure a citizen the process to legally change the laws. It is not only ironic, buy of a double standard, that anyone would, while attempting to bless the Maine Constitution, out of the corner of their mouths, wish to limit those rights to anyone she does not agree with or that doesn’t agree with her.

The process is there, whether we like it or not. If you support this process and believe in it, then put your money where your mouth is and let the process work. In the meantime, if you oppose or support the proposed constitutional amendment then provide valid reasons for or against. Don’t pretend to understand the process while doing everything in your power to destroy the process.

Then again, all of this could be just a charade.

 

Maine: Deer Baiting, Feeding, Crop Damage

If it is important enough that laws in the State of Maine be made tougher to extend and grow the penalties for hunting deer over “bait,” perhaps it would behoove the lawmakers to take the time first to define “bait.”

A proposed new law, LD 1083, would, “…makes the penalty for hunting over bait during an open season on deer a mandatory fine of $500. It also provides for the one-year suspension of a hunting license of a person convicted of doing so.”

The head of the Maine Warden Service supports this bill because, as he states, “the agency averages over 100 deer baiting cases per year.” 100 case per year, times $500, equals a nice little windfall, perhaps enough to pass out some raises. And, at a guaranteed $500 per case, doubling that to 200 is good profit.

The new proposal also states that, “A hunting license of a person convicted of placing or hunting over bait in violation of section 11452, subsection 1 must be revoked, and that person is ineligible to obtain a hunting license for a period of one year from the date of conviction.”

Taking a look at Title 12, 11452, subsection 1, we read,1. Prohibitions.  A person may not, during an open hunting season on deer: A. Place salt or any other bait or food in a place to entice deer to that place.”(emphasis added)

So, what is “bait?”
Part B of Subsection 1 describes the limits of hunting from a tree stand or an observation deck: It is prohibited to B. Hunt from an observation stand or blind overlooking salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer.” (This is inconsistent with the above prohibition.)
What’s inconsistent in this regulation is that Part A prohibits anyone during deer season, to put out things that will “entice deer to that place.” In Part B, there are limitations as to what a hunter can observe from a tree stand, i.e. he can’t hunt over “salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer.” This does not specify “bait.”
So, what is bait?
Can I climb my tree stand and hunt over “bait?”
So, what is “bait?”
It appears that the issue here, aside from the threat of the spread of disease, is that authorities don’t want hunters placing “bait” some place in the woods, which happens to be in front of their tree stand….or maybe not.
I know I sound like a fool, but, what is “bait?”
If the concern is over “baiting” a deer to the location in which a hunter awaits in ambush, then isn’t anything a hunter puts out, in, around his tree stand to “attract” deer, “bait?” The existing law states that you can’t use items that are known to be attractants for deer and lure them to a specific location. If so, then what is putting out scent attractants to draw deer to your stand?
Maine has to do a better job of making the work of law enforcement better but more importantly so that hunters fully understand what is legal and illegal and why. When we see exceptions to “baiting” it often times is a matter of a certain lobby fighting for their preferred methods of hunting at the expense of others. In case you aren’t keeping up, I might suggest that the manufacture of deer lures, scents, attractants and covers, is a giant money-making industry. Serious argument can be made as to whether those are “baits.”
It’s also very stupid that you can’t “bait” deer to a specific location, like a tree stand, but you can plant a “crop” and place your tree stand overlooking your “crop” – the result of a “standing crop” or “foods left as a result of normal agricultural operations…” (emphasis added)
So, what is “bait?” Your guess is as good as mine.
The other issue being discussed presently is what to do about deer and crop damage. I am a bit confused. Much of this debate takes place in Washington County, the eastern portion of the State of Maine, due to blueberry crops being destroyed by deer.
As anybody who has read much of my writings will know, I am as big a property rights supporter as there are. However, a scant few years ago, Washington County, along with many other parts of the state, had pretty much a non existent deer herd, much the result of too many coyotes and some tough winters. Efforts were put forth in the area to construct a systematic approach at reducing the coyote population in order to save the deer herd.
Killing coyotes helped the deer herd and now the blueberry farmers are complaining about crop damage. That’s understandable.
However, if one examines Maine’s history with blueberries and deer, both have existed since settlers first came here. I am willing to believe that at certain periods of time, deer were far more plentiful in blueberry country, and other areas of farmland where crops grow. What was done about that damage then?
I’m not opposed to doing what is reasonable to limit crop damage. I’m sure that same feeling has existed for decades. But, now the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is suggesting a bill that would give the Commissioner authority to establish deer killing zones around crop lands, even the blueberry patches in Washington County, where deer numbers are only beginning to recover. Something tells me that either some people want too many deer, or some want crops that are never harmed and they don’t want the responsibility to deal with it. Or something. Is it just the tolerance level of people has dwindled so low that nothing is to be put up with? It seems we only bitch and complain and propose another law to stop somebody else from doing something somebody doesn’t like.
From testimony before the Committee, we are told that the Food Safety Modernization Act prohibits the harvesting of crops where animals have eaten or defecated. Obviously the Act is a Leftist nightmare creation, never intending to implement public health and safety but to destroy our food crops. But, that’s another book. How can we harvest any crops anywhere if any animal has excreted their waste there? What have we become?
Some want to kill deer to mitigate crop damage, complaining that deer defecate in the crops, while others want to protect the coyotes, to kill the deer, with no concern about the coyotes defecating in the fields. I’ll guarantee you that coyote scat is far more dangerous to our health than deer scat. This is a sure sign of animal perversion over human well being, including the protection of private property.
This morning I was listening to rubbish on television, when a news anchor asked a senator why they took so much time off. His answer was that some people would like it that Congress didn’t meet. I concur. We are so brainwashed to think that all legislation, at every level, must make laws and keep making laws. Why? The existing laws are incomprehensible, designed by lawyers for lawyers, and are either unenforceable or lacking the manpower to enforce them. And yet, we keep piling them on, as is the case here in Maine.
I believe that with increased levels of anger, hatred and intolerance, we can only expect that the number of totalitarian-type legislative proposals will inundate our politicians, who scramble to take care of only those that feed them money for reelection.

Antler Point Restrictions Eliminates Still Hunting/Stalking

As is often the case, Quality Deer Management and their associates, continue to push for antler point restrictions on whitetail bucks for what I see as mostly satisfying the selfish trophy hunter determined to fill the woods with larger antlered deer. I think the decision should be based on biology and management goals, which I think the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is attempting to do.

When you stop and think about the proposed antler point restrictions, at least three points longer than one inch on at least one side of the antlers, one is almost exclusively regulated to tree stand “hunting” or hunting from a blind. I’ve hunted for many years in Maine, long before the “bucks only” law, or the issuance of “Any-Deer Permits” were formulated. Whether stalking, still hunting, in a tree stand or a ground blind, it’s relatively easy to determine if a deer has horns longer than 3 1/2 inches. In other words, if you see your target long enough to make that recognition, you are therefore, sure of your target, which is the law. It is also my assumption that this length of antler restrictions was decided upon because typically a deer that has antlers longer than 3 1/2 inches, the length is longer due to age. If a fawn (button buck) has started to grow antlers, they are typically just knobs. A 1 1/2 year-old-buck would generally have larger antlers but not necessarily three points of at least one inch. Yes, there are exceptions to that observation.

If you were to change the law to require 3 points of at least one inch in length, that requires the hunter to be in a position where they can see a standing deer long enough to assess the antler points and length, i.e. a tree stand or blind. This would, by default, remove one tactic of hunting and severely limit a hunter’s opportunity to harvest a deer.

I don’t like that idea very much because I am and always have been more of a still hunter/stalker than a sitter. Occasionally I might sit in a ground blind but never in a tree stand because of physical difficulty in climbing.

However, I would support an antler point restriction, different from what it is now, if and when somebody can give me the science to support the need, rather than the want,  in Maine. I have read most of the literature and I just don’t see much of it applying to the State of Maine and its deer herd. But I’m ready to see more proof of need.

On a related note, I read where Maine is in year one of a five your deer study on land in northern Maine owned by the major land owners. Why is stuff like this not announced except as an aside to other issues?

In the same article where I read that, I also read, “The deer are not rebounding the way we think they should despite protection of deer yards.” Now that’s something to think about for all you that blame loss of habitat and global warming for the demise of Maine’s deer herd.

Right to Hunt, Fish Proposed Constitutional Amendment Perhaps Best Language…So Far

The proposed Constitutional Amendment in Maine, LD 11, the right to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish, may provide the best language so far of any proposed amendments. Passage of this amendment would be good for everyone and for the management of fish and wildlife, although opponents cannot and will never see it that way.

The amendment, often only seen from one side as providing protection to kill animals, not only would help in protecting the long-held heritage of hunting, trapping and fishing in Maine, but will help to insure that hunting, trapping and fishing are used as tools to manage and perpetuate healthy game and other wildlife populations.

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is a proven method of conserving and perpetuating healthy numbers of wild animal species. That model calls for the employment of hunting, trapping and fishing as a means of controlling and perpetuating the species but also provides millions of dollars in revenue needed to continue the responsible management of wild animals.

While this amendment may not be the absolute best, it is one that I can at least support. I hope readers will as well.

Below is Section 26 of the proposed amendment. That is followed by the complete proposal as is currently written.

Section 26. Right to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish. The right of the 6 people of this State to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish, including by the use of 7 traditional methods, may not be infringed, subject to reasonable laws enacted by the 8 Legislature and reasonable rules adopted by the state agency designated for fish and 9 wildlife management to promote wildlife conservation and management, to maintain 10 natural resources in trust for public use and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. 11 Public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. 12 This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to eminent 13 domain, trespass or property rights.

Maine 128 - HP 12 item 1

Anti-Foraging Bill Sponsor Doesn’t Want Bill to Pass

Yup! After all the hubbub about turning Mainer’s into hardened criminals for randomly picking a wild berry, the sponsor of a bill to ban foraging, while at the same time criminalizing anyone who might happen to be berry picking while carrying a weapon, has told the Department of Conservation Committee, he doesn’t want the bill to pass.

It’s nice to see that some can eventually see the stupidity of their ways. Thanks!

Are They the King’s Moose Or Are We Now Subsidizing Maine’s Sporting Camps

According to George Smith, he reports, “DIF&W, as it has on almost all the bills this session, testified in opposition to the change.” 

The change in question here is in regards to another elitist, socialism-type, subsidized effort to give an even larger percentage of moose hunting permits to sporting camps struggling to make a go of things. If things don’t stop, all hunting permits will go to special interest groups and preferred, elitist organizations. This often means those who most are in need of meat for food, can’t afford to play or don’t stack up to some good-ole-boy’s idea of who can hunt and who can’t.

Since when is Maine now responsible for subsidizing sporting camp owners? Free Enterprise dictates that you either got a good product that is in demand or you don’t. Only socialistic/communistic societies bilk the general tax payer to subsidize a business so that government can benefit. In this case, it’s not just a subsidization, it’s a case of being able to afford the King’s ransom.

We further read, “…two national hunting trip brokers, Worldwide Trophy Adventures (A Cabela’s Partner) and Huntin’ Fool, direct clients to send a couple hundred thousand dollars to the Department, in part based on the odds of getting a tag in Maine…” And this somehow is justification for the proposed bill?

So, according to this article, the odds of winning a lottery permit to hunt a moose has dropped by 50%. Yes, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has seen fit, despite the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of moose suffering and dying each year due to winter ticks, to reduce the number of permits issued for hunting moose, evidently to perpetuate the winter tick problem. This reduction not only involves nonresident moose hunters. It has the same effect on Maine residents, and yet some in the legislature and those totalitarian/socialists think it’s equitable to subsidize the sporting camp owners and to hell with the rest of the hunting industry, as well as the many hundreds, or thousands, of Maine residents wishing for a chance to hunt a moose.

Maine Guides and Camp Owners already dictate to the MDIFW how to run game management and hunting seasons. Perhaps it’s time to end the good ole boy’s club of elitist participation and return to a science-based management plan and an even odds chance for every Maine hunter to obtain a permit to hunt.

Evidently, some are pushing to move hunting, and in particular moose hunting, into an elitist event of which only the wealthy can participate.

Thank you MDIFW for opposing such nonsense, and many of the other preferentially biased bill proposals aimed at benefiting special interest groups.

I have sympathy for people’s business’s that take a hit for any reason. That doesn’t make it right to force license holders and tax payers to foot the bill to keep them solvent. I doubt government would subsidize my business.