August 19, 2019

Cantwell To Trump Administration: Don’t Cut Taxes For Corporations By Raising Entrance Fees To National Parks

Press Release from the office of Sen. Cantwell, member of the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources:

Seattle, Washington – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) joined with leading outdoor enthusiasts and small businesses to call on the Trump Administration and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke to withdraw the National Park Service’s (NPS) proposal to nearly triple national park entrance fees.

On October 24, the National Park Service announced a proposal to almost triple the peak season entrance fees at 17 of the most popular national parks. Beginning in 2018, fees to enter these parks during the 5-most-popular months would jump from $25-$30 to $70 per vehicle. The entrance fee increases would impact: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah, and Joshua Tree National Parks.

“We are here today because the Park Service plans to almost triple the entrance fees at the 17 most visited and most iconic national parks across the country – including Mt. Rainier and Olympic,” said Senator Cantwell. “As corporate tax breaks are also being discussed, I don’t know why park fees then have to be raised. To me this price increase is unconscionable.” 

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation is a major economic driver. In Washington state alone, outdoor recreation accounts for more than 201,000 direct jobs, $26.2 billion in annual consumer spending, $7.6 billion in wages and salaries, and $2.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.

“With the Park Service Centennial just last year, we have begun a big conversation about how to get more people into the parks – and more people enjoying the outdoor economy. Increasing the fee, is not exactly what I think will do that. These are wonderful places, and they are public lands, and should be affordable for everyone,” said Senator Cantwell.

During the event, REI released a statement saying, “REI stands firmly by our longstanding, nonpartisan view of the outdoors. For 80 years, we have worked with leaders from both parties to protect America’s iconic outdoor places and create access to transformative outdoor experiences.”

The fee increases proposed by Secretary Zinke will price out many visitors and deny American families, veterans, young people, and seniors the opportunity to visit and experience some of our nation’s most popular and iconic national parks.

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MDIFW Avoided the Cash Rewards

In George Smith’s article in the Bangor Daily News, he writes of a question he was asked by a reader as to why, “Maine essentially close[d] the bear season to non-residents during deer season?”, and querying as to why the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) and/or the Legislature won’t open the November deer hunting season to harvesting bear by non-residents in the same fashion as Maine residents can do during the deer season.

The MDIFW offers an answer to that question but doesn’t really address the real issue with managing bears or explain their cash windfall by charging non-resident deer hunters an additional $74.00 for a special tag in order to harvest a bear during deer season. (Maine residents must pay an additional $27.00 for a bear permit to hunt bear outside of deer season.)

As Smith explains and has explained, MDIFW is in the process of establishing revised 15-year management plans for big game species that include bear, deer, moose and turkey. Part of the plan for bear involves what the Department can do to create a greater interest in bear hunting in order to better keep in check a still growing bear population.

The explanation as to why non-residents can’t inclusively hunt bear during deer season without a $74.00 tag, does not include why MDIFW or the Maine Legislature decided to create the exemption in the first place. If the MDIFW is certainly interested in keeping hunters happy, providing for the best management of bears, while at the same time looking for ways to increase the bear harvest, they sure have a strange way of going about it.

MDIFW says that after implementation of the bear hunt exemption, non-resident deer hunters continue to lay out $74.00 for a bear tag, even though the success rate is slim to none – barely over a dozen bears harvested. MDIFW says those bear permits range from 700 – 1,000 each season – or a cash windfall to MDIFW of between $51,800 and $74,000 dollars per year. In the grand scheme of government gouging for every tax dollar they can swindle out of the public, this is not a lot of money, but we do need to change the attitudes of tax payers and stop giving these bureaucrats more money so they can find more ways to limit hunter’s ways to harvest game.

The explanation given by MDIFW about the small harvest totals of bears during the deer season is understandable but it doesn’t address the issue of what to do about the Department’s ability to better control the bear population. In the explanation, MDIFW’s bear biologist writes, “…we will consider a variety of options for meeting our management needs that includes reviewing our permit system and making changes if appropriate.”

I understand that in this particular incident MDIFW was addressing the question asked and therefore there was no need to explain more about the proposed bear management plan.

As I said above, MDIFW has an odd way of addressing how to generate more bear kills to control the population. The first mistake, in my opinion, they made was to require bear hunters to pay for a special bear hunting permit ($27.00 for residents, $74.00 for non residents), in addition to the Big Game Hunting License ($26.00 for residents, $115.00 for non residents). Not everyone is made of money and in a time when all governments are out of control and clueless about stealing more and more of people’s money, they fail to realize that two things can happen with this scenario. First, fewer people can and will cough up the money to purchase a bear permit. Second, those still wishing to harvest a bear, will do it illegally. In addition, I tire from listening to lame excuses such as the fees required in Maine are a lot cheaper than in other states. Fine! But we are not talking about other states and never is there any discussion about demographics and other factors that go into the setting of fees for hunting, fishing and trapping. I grew up in Maine and I certainly understand, from my own past, that for some people buying a license is a chore. Is it not discriminatory to set fees that take away some people’s opportunities to hunt, fish or trap?

MDIFW grants Maine residents permission to harvest a bear, at no extra charge, during deer season with the purchase of a Big Game Hunting License ($27.00). How big of them, considering, as shown in the explanation in discussion, very few bears are taken during deer season because the bears are most often in hibernation. But they did put it to the non-residents asking for and additional $74.00 (in addition to the $115.00). While the bear harvest by non-residents before and after is seemingly negligible, a handful of harvested bears versus the cash windfall might be worth losing a few more bears.

If MDIFW wanted more bears harvested, why ask Maine hunters to pay for a permit? Makes no sense. Out one side of their mouths they cry about what they are going to do to curb the bear population. While doing that they stick their hand into hunter’s back pockets and pick them clean with no justification other than they wanted more money. It certainly does nothing to help control bear numbers.

Of the bear hunters that exist and do try to harvest bear, why not offer some means of allowing hunters or trappers to take more than one bear? MDIFW really went all out when they said a person could take one bear by trapping and one by hunting (sarcasm in case you weren’t keen). I bet that knocked down the bear population in a hurry!

We know that bears are big killers of deer fawns. MDIFW attempts to use smoke and mirrors to convince people that there are now tons of deer (due to one mild winter, wink, wink), and yet, the deer harvest essentially has remained at historic lows for at least the last 10 years. MDIFW has done nothing to remedy this problem with the exception of coughing up a couple dollars to do some sporadic predator control.

If bear populations are a problem, anyone with a brain should be able to logically conclude that with bears being fawn killers, two birds could be killed with one shot here. Increasing the bag limit on bear, in turn might help grow a deer herd instead of relying on Al Gore and his fake Global Warming.

But wait! MDIFW probably won’t do that because they are owned by the Maine Guides Association. Near as I can tell the guides tell MDIFW what they will and will not do when it comes to bear hunting. Granted, I’m not as stupid as some may think, bear hunting is a cash cow for the guides and they don’t want anybody spoiling their fun. But, at what expense?

It appears from reports I’ve heard and read about, MDIFW is looking at ways of creating more “interest” in bear hunting, hoping this will lower the bear population. Seriously? Again, strange ways of generating an interest in bear hunting. Maine should implement a 2-bear bag limit for one season and then reassess. While they are at it, they should seriously increase the number of moose permits and take a real proactive approach at dealing with an overgrown moose herd that is killing itself with disease and pests – Mother Nature in action.

If MDIFW is only looking for ways of fattening up their cash cow, why not be transparent and go to the hunters, trappers and fishermen, who have paid MDIFW’s way for decades and tell them what they need, what they are going to do with the money and how it will benefit the sportsman. MDIFW might be surprised at the response they get. But, instead, they limit the opportunities for bear hunters while at the same time attempting to gouge their wallets and then wonder what can they do to generate interest.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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Editorial: Raising fees is no way to fund Fish and Game

*Editor’s Note* – It is not my intention, at this time anyway, to debate what is the best way to fund New Hampshire’s fish and game department. There is, however, a couple of issues in the linked-to editorial that I wish to add some clarity, if not corrections, so that readers can more accurately decide for themselves.

The author states how that raising license fees will drive hunters away from the sport, thus leaving the department with fewer licenses, i.e. revenue, and the loss in revenue would be greater than the projected increase in revenue from a license fee hike.

Personally, I reject license fee increases without first a good and accurate accounting of every penny being spent. There is an historic accounting that should be mentioned concerning this claim. Historically, the raising of license fees, has shown that in the short term, there may be a decrease in license purchases, thus participation in hunting. In the long run, it has little or no effect unless the increase is unrealistically too high.

New Hampshire’s proposal is to raise the fee from $33.00 annually to $43.00. The state claims it hasn’t raised rates since 2003. From that perspective perhaps a $10 increase isn’t “too” high, but then again, it makes New Hampshire one of the most costly licenses to purchase compared nationally.

The point here is that a flat claim that raising license fees diminishes the number of hunters and thus there’s a loss of revenue, is not completely accurate when factoring in long-term demographics.

The second issue has to do with the author’s claim that, ” Cultural changes and the increased development of forests and agricultural lands have caused a decline in the sale of hunting licenses.” At the same time the author states that in New Hampshire license sales have remained flat. According to the National Survey of Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife (2011 edition), hunting licenses for that year totaled 13.7 million (nationally), as compared to 12.5 million in 2006.

New Hampshire license purchases from the years 1996 – 2011, according to the same report, shows a continued decrease. Perhaps New Hampshire has a game management problem that’s not necessarily going to be cured with more money. In addition, further evaluation of reasons given that hunters stopped hunting, shows the number one reason being lack of time, followed closely by lack of access to huntable land.

Generally speaking, revenue shortfalls with fish and game departments come as a result of increases in pay, benefits and retirement to employees. Seldom does any increase in revenue from any source directly result in the improvement of wildlife management. Maybe improved management would cure the revenue problem.

I am opposed to funding fish and game departments with general taxation money. However, this author’s suggestion that a portion of taxes collected from the sale of targeted hunting/fishing products, seems worthy of further discussion.

The latest proposal by the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game to raise license fees to combat its perennial budget shortfall will add to that collection of artifacts. It will also cost the state more money than it nets for one of the only self-funded departments of its kind.

Source: Editorial: Raising fees is no way to fund Fish and Game | Concord Monitor

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Cost to Hunt Rising Presence of Game Shrinking

*Editor’s Note* Below is an article, republished here by permission, from George Doval, editor of The Outdoorsman. While the focus of his article is on the state of Idaho, please read the piece and simply inject your state, your game, your license fees, your opportunities, etc., and you will soon discover that much of what Dovel writes, he could just as easily be writing about your state.

More Examples of State Officials Ignoring the Destruction of Our Rural Livelihood and Lifestyles

By George Doval (republished with permission)


Author and great-granddaughter, Tiana, returning from a ride observing antelope in the foothills above the Jerusalem Valley in September 2012.

When my great-granddaughter Tiana, now a multi-talented senior at Vallivue High School in Caldwell, turned 12, she was an enthusiastic graduate of IDFG Hunter Ed. Her mother gave me a call and asked if I would take her hunting on the mountain where most of my sons grew up and killed their mule deer on opening day.

I explained to her that my wife and I had recently hunted mule deer there, both on horseback – and afoot as my sons had. But the influx of wolves plus hordes of hunters cruising the mountainside on four-wheelers, prohibited the chance to enjoy a pleasant hunt – with a possibility of a standing shot on a mule deer at a reasonable range for a first time deer hunter.

Instead, I suggested she hunt with one of her uncles in a unit where taking her first deer would be easier. But as happens with most youngsters in Idaho, despite her abilities and desire, and hunting several years with experienced hunters, she has only shot one small yearling buck in Owyhee County three years ago.

On our recent ride, she described seeing the antelope up close as a really neat experience. Yet the odds of her applying for and receiving a coveted permit allowing her to hunt before experienced archery or rifle hunters have scattered the spooky mule deer are very remote.

How North American Model of Wildlife Conservation Was Quietly Destroyed by State Wildlife Managers

The three large Owyhee County units where IDFG offers 15 days of October general season mule deer hunting for two-point bucks only, had an estimated 2011 harvest of 928 two-points, plus 168 females by youth hunters*. With 28.5% hunter success, it required an average of 10.8 days of hunting for each two-point buck or female mule deer killed. (* youth general season for females ended in 2011)

Although these units are touted by IDFG as being one of the better opportunities for juveniles to harvest a mule deer, they are actually proof of the lousy odds for the average juvenile hunter. How does a youngster manage to miss school for up to 10 days in mid-October for three years in order to hunt the average of 11 days each year for the chance to kill just one small buck in 3-1/2 years?

When I pointed this out to an IDFG official, he responded that the real value of hunting these units was the special draw hunt for “big” bucks during the November rut. If you entered the lottery drawing for the 195 Unit 40 buck permits in 2005, there were 2,690 applicants and the odds of drawing were 1-in-14 (the average wait was 14 years before you drew a permit).

But seven years later, in 2012, there were 4,299 applicants for the same 195 permits and the average wait has increased to 22 years. If you started drawing in 1994 when Conley implemented the special late buck hunt in Unit 40, the odds are you probably won’t draw a permit until 2016.

But by 2016, as bucks become increasingly scarce, the drawing odds will be much higher and the only group that benefits from this will be IDFG. Discouraged young hunters, and others who do not support the IDFG scheme to charge still more money to harvest even fewer animals, will simply quit hunting.

In his widely circulated September 7, 2012 op-ed response to the Wildlife Summit criticisms published in the Idaho State Journal, F&G Commission Chairman Randy Budge wrote; “The purpose of the Wildlife Summit was not to change the (North) American Model of Wildlife Management (Conservation)…” Of course it wasn’t.

Wildlife Becoming “Playthings for the Wealthy”

Budge and his fellow Commissioners, including those who preceded them in recent years, have already destroyed several of the seven provisions of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. As Canadian big game expert Dr. Valerius Geist so eloquently explained in a “Bugle” interview a decade ago:
“The miracle of North American conservation is that it is basically a blue-collar system, grounded in the political and financial support and the active participation of large numbers of middle-class citizens who bring their basic honesty and decency to bear on important issues. This is just the opposite of the elitist system that has existed throughout Europe for centuries and is spreading like cancer around the world today, even right here at home.

“There is a tendency afoot today in North America to follow the European pattern, where wildlife become playthings for the wealthy and powerful. Under such a system, game is protected from the public in favor of the privileged few.

“I personally can’t stomach the idea that my grandchildren might not be able to buy a license and go hunting on public land and enjoy the great privilege of putting wild meat on the table, as we have always done.”

“Liberal” Harvest Regulations Destroyed Idaho Deer

Although my grandchildren and their children can still buy a license and go hunting on public land in Idaho, putting wild meat on the table is no longer an option unless they are either wealthy or lucky. When IDFG changed to what I&E Chief Martel Morache called “liberal” harvest regulations in 1988 – F&G included multiple antlerless mule deer harvests – and hunters were told it was because there were too many deer for their natural food supply.

Yet six years later, general season antlerless mule deer hunting had been replaced with limited special draw antlerless permits, which continued to harvest fewer deer but generated several hundred thousand more dollars in extra application and license revenue. In 2001, juvenile hunters were given the opportunity to kill mule deer does or fawns during the general buck season in all but the outfitter units and that remains in most units today.

But hunting scarce deer that have been pursued by archery hunters for 32 days and by hordes of rifle hunters in the same October season, rarely offers a decent chance for a one-shot kill. Most youngsters with no experience at hunting small game or “varmints”, either miss a running or long range shot, or hit the animal outside of its vital areas.

IDFG’s Michele Beucler Objects to Widespread Recruitment and Retention of Hunters

In her presentation titled “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall; Reflections from a Non-hunter,” IDFG Human Dimensions Specialist Michele Beucler cites statistics from 2001 when only 57% of hunter ed. graduates bought a hunting license. And after that first year, the number who bought a license steadily declined.
Beucler cited a 2007 national study showing that declines in hunter recruitment or retention between 1990 and 2005 occurred only in the nearly half of Idaho households where family income was below $40,000. Some of the youths and parents she questioned said that IDFG should change seasons that intimidated them, and also make hunting cheaper.

But instead of recommending IDFG return to obeying Idaho Wildlife Policy in I.C. Sec. 36-103 (i.e. to provide continued supplies of wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping) Beucler brazenly ignored the law and insisted this Policy had destroyed nongame species, damaged ecosystems and undermined Idaho’s Public Trust Doctrine.

“We think that some degree of recruiting citizens into hunting is good business. However, we also feel that it has become misdirected and overemphasized. As a result, recruitment and retention efforts may be ineffective and may be distracting state wildlife agencies from engaging non-hunters and broadening wildlife conservation.”

Her False Claim That Wildlife Values Have Shifted

Beucler then said that states should reduce recruitment and retention efforts because they are a symptom of the need for wildlife managers to adapt to changing public attitudes. She insisted wildlife values have shifted from wildlife use to wildlife protection.

That may be true in Washington, D.C. but it’s certainly not true in Idaho. After more than a dozen years of IDFG using one underhanded trick after another to stop the legislature from allowing Idaho citizens to vote on making it a Constitutional right to hunt, fish and trap, it was finally approved by both houses and placed on the ballot in 2012.

Despite environmental activist Rocky Barker’s Idaho Statesman article, quoting a retired IDFG employee falsely claiming that our right to hunt is not threatened, Idaho citizens passed it by an overwhelming 77% of those who voted! Following Barker’s effort, “Right to Hunt…” still received 66% of the vote in Ada County, and passed by 77% of the vote in neighboring Canyon County – the second highest county population in the state!

Predictably, the only Idaho County where it failed to pass was the wealthy population in Blaine County where it only received 47% of the vote. A media campaign to defeat it because it also protected trapping may have contributed to its defeat by the small margin.

Her False Claim That Hunters Are Declining

Beucler and her bedfellows in state fish and game agencies ignored recent industry surveys showing an increase in the number of hunters nationwide. After presenting her “Mirror, Mirror” attack on hunting to the Wildlife Management Institute Annual Workshop in Phoenix in 2008, and the Idaho Chapter of the Wildlife Society meeting in Moscow in 2009, Beucler authored an article in the Spring 2010 issue of Management Tracks titled, “The Death of Wildlife Management?”

Published by the Organization of Wildlife Planners with Beucler serving as its President, her article states:
“For some time now, I’ve heard the siren call of ‘declining participation in hunting and fishing’ and what it might mean to the future of fish and wildlife management. Yet, despite a plethora of recruitment and retention efforts, annual participation rates continue to decline across much of the nation, and state fish and wildlife agencies are struggling to address 21st century conservation challenges such as rapid growth and development in key habitats, climate change, and nature-deficit disorder.

“Hunting and fishing will remain important threads of the American tapestry regardless of how many people participate – it is too much a part of human DNA, too much a symbol of American freedom, bounty, and wildness to fade away. Are we courageous enough to say that traditional fish and wildlife management must die?

“…we can choose to consider this death as part of a natural evolutionary cycle, as transformation, and not something that disappears forever. Ultimately, state fish and wildlife agencies may not have a choice—the risk of inaction is death by ballot initiatives, lawsuits, and irrelevance.”


IDFG Project Manager for Idaho Wildlife Summit Michele Beucler wears many hats, claims managing wildlife to provide continued supplies of game for hunters, fishermen and trappers undermines the Idaho Public Trust Doctrine (Facebook photo).

IDFG leadership has been working closely with Michele Beucler for several years and Director Moore quietly appointed her as Project Manager for the recent Idaho Wildlife Summit. She and her co-conspirators have worked behind the scenes for years while reasonable harvest opportunity was removed from grassroots hunting families and given to wealthy hunters.

Wealthy Hunters versus “Second Class Hunters”

One of the schemes IDFG uses is selling lottery chances for what it calls “superhunts”, which permit the “lucky” few who draw the permits to hunt in any open hunt for that species in Idaho. When my three oldest sons began hunting, all they needed to hunt small game, upland birds, predators and deer anywhere in Idaho was a hunting license and a deer tag – total cost $5. If they also wanted an elk it cost $3 more.

IDFG presently charges both adults and youngsters $117.25 for a “Sportsman’s Package” to hunt the same animals they could hunt for $8 in 1969. That is more than double the total inflation since then and still does not allow the hunters to participate in hunts with better odds of harvesting. Instead, IDFG encourages big game hunters to buy multiple chances for the superhunt permits so the rich hunter can buy dozens or even several hundred chances to improve his odds of drawing a permit.

He can also afford to pay people to locate a trophy animal, monitor its movements with fixed-wing or helicopter, and pay the guide who arranges the opportunity to shoot it. If the antler score is high enough, he may pay tens of thousands of dollars total to the state F&G agency and all the people who helped him kill the illegal “trophy”.

And like the auction tags, sometimes referred to as “Governor’s Tags”, establishing such extreme values requires that the “second class” general season hunters be limited to mid-October seasons. Even for an experienced hunter, the “Indian Summer” seasons are usually the most difficult time to locate and outsmart an older male animal.

Trophy Hunts Cause Overcrowded Hunters

But even if you beat the superhunt lottery odds of up to 1-in-2000 and receive a permit, it is no guarantee that you will harvest an elk or a mule deer with a large rack – much less a bona fide trophy. Although the IDFG website shows elaborate color photos of two bucks and two bulls taken by hunters with superhunt tags in recent years, none of them scored high enough for listing in the Boone & Crockett “Records of North American Big Game.”

The move throughout Idaho to further restrict the ability to harvest an animal in general season hunts, and then add so-called late-season “trophy” hunts in one or more units in each region, is forcing thousands of hunters who don’t draw a permit to either move to other already overcrowded general season units – or else give up hunting. No wonder these exploited license buyers are referred to as “second class hunters.”

The 2012 Panhandle Region Crisis

For the first time in its history, predation has reduced elk calf survival in the Panhandle Region so much that the Region’s wildlife managers have eliminated all general season cow elk hunts. Shortening the “any elk” seasons dramatically did not stop the decline for the 18,880 A and B tag purchasers in 2011, so in 2012 it offered them the chance to compete for 900 either-sex elk tags in units 1, 2, 3 and 5, plus 50 late antlerless tags in a part of Unit 5.

That meant that only five percent of hunters who had some opportunity to kill antlerless elk in the Panhandle in 2011 had a similar chance this year. Each of the four units now include a limited-participation 25-day Sept. archery season, followed by a 15-day mid-Oct. rifle season, plus a Dec. cow/calf season for the portion of Unit 5.

Unlike the southern Idaho F&G employees who travel to the Panhandle to hunt either-sex elk and/or either-sex whitetails, my great-granddaughter Tiana and her cousins lack the wherewithal to make that trip. Yet by offering a reasonable chance to harvest in an area close to home only to those hunters who pay them extra money, F&G forces the youngsters to forget harvesting game.

The “Sacred Cow” in the State Sage Grouse Plans

Every legitimate scientific study of the multiple causes of sage grouse declines has implicated predation as a major factor causing the decline. Yet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sample Sage Grouse Plan does not include Predation as a direct cause of grouse decline and the plans approved by the various state governors do not address predator control.

Instead they blame human activity such as building roads, fences, windmills, transmission lines or other potential predator perches, operating landfills and clearing sagebrush to grow crops for the decline. Outdoorsman readers may remember when FWS Rocky Mountain Wolf Project Leader Ed Bangs published the claim in the Federal Register that wolves and other predators are never the primary cause of prey declines.

The article on Pages 13-14 of this issue titled, “The Introduction of Agriculture and its Impact on Sage Grouse,” is the second article I have published by Nevada Assemblyman Ira Hansen. It provides historical facts to counteract the unsupported claim by FWS and non-governmental groups that water development and livestock grazing are destroying sage grouse populations.

The article was provided to Reno Gazette-Journal reporter Jeff DeLong, who, in a July 18, 2012 article, said that some (people) insist ravens are causing sage grouse declines. He said the experts at Nevada Department of Wildlife admit ravens are an issue – but not a big one.

NDOW Sage Grouse expert Shawn Espinosa admitted the 500-600 percent increase in raven numbers throughout the West has created a problem but said the raven increase is caused by human activity. Wildlife Services is removing 2,000 ravens each year But Asm. Hansen reportedly said that is not enough to reverse the damage.

NDOW Director Ken Mayer was critical of Hansen, saying the Service (USFWS) has not identified predation as a threat and said, “Focusing on the predator issue now could be dangerous when attention must focus on the key issues such as the impact of wildfire and invading vegetation on habitat. Those issues are generally recognized as the most important ones when it comes to loss and fragmentation of sagebrush landscape in Nevada.

“The Carpenters of the world could actually facilitate the listing of the bird. We don’t have the time and the resources to focus on things that are not driving the listing process for the Fish and Wildlife Service.”

(Back when Idaho’s wolf oversight committee ignored reality and approved IDFG copying the FWS Wolf Plan without addressing predator control, Idaho Legislators refused to consider their plan for another 10 years. But now that the governors have adopted the FWS Sage Grouse Plan, which also fails to address predator control, the state legislators are silent and appropriate millions of dollars to implement a plan that will not restore sage grouse.-ED)

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A Leading-Edge Method of Funding Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

While it would appear my cries over the years to separate non game functions at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) from the game functions is never going to happen, perhaps it’s time to get creative and think up ways in which better funding can be accomplished without having to jump into bed with environmental and animal rights groups falsely believing we are all in this together with the same goals for the future as some sportsmen have been suckered into believing.

Historic accounts support the notion that, while initially the quaint partnership between hunting and fishing and environmentalists might work, they seldom do. If you think yours is working, give it time. For a most recent example of how environmentalism and the filth of money and the hunting community cannot and will not ever get along, the Olaus Murie family has notified the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (a very moderate conservation organization) that it will no longer provide funding for awards because of the RMEF’s stance of gray wolves. To read the complete story, follow this link.

But this is not the subject of this article. Make no mistake about it, MDIFW, like so many other fish and game departments, have chosen to and/or are being forced away from game management of game species and into preserving non game species for such things as bird watching, or simple wildlife viewing. Each of these activities directly draws resources away from game programs. The result of this attenuation of resources can be seen in a whitetail deer herd that is hurting badly in many parts of the state.

To date, the majority of funding for the MDIFW has come from license buyers and excise taxes collected from the sale of certain sporting goods and meted back out to the states according to some contrived formula partly based on how many licenses are sold. What has transpired is license buyers have been robbed and their monies used for programs many of them have little no interest in. We have also seen for decades now, those people enjoying the investment dollars of outdoor sportsmen and not anteing up one dime for that enjoyment.

Some have suggested that it is time to begin funding MDIFW out of general taxation. While this may appear as a simple solution to a complex problem, it presents a couple of major issues. One issue will be representation. With the demands for general taxation to fund MDIFW will also come the demands that environmentalists want representation on fish and wildlife boards and ultimately the commissioner’s job, appointed by the Governor.

The second issue is the equitableness of such a move. It would be no more fair to ask general taxpayers to fund all hunting, trapping and fishing activities than it would be to ask all hunters, trappers and fishermen to fund all outdoor activities. Therefore, we need some creativeness and so, I have been giving this some thought. I would like to share with you some of my ideas and look forward to your comments and feedback. I’m looking for positive ways to make this beneficial for everyone not all the reasons nothing will work.

As hunters are required to purchase varying licenses for the activities they wish to indulge in, so too should outdoor recreationalists. The same can be said for fishing and trapping licenses. After all, wasn’t the need for license fees to offset the costs of management and maintenance of species, etc. in order to provide opportunities for the sportsmen?

I suggest that certain outdoor activities be grouped into categories that will work together. For instance, hiking and bird watching could go hand in hand. That could require a license and fee. We could label it a color or letter. Another license might be for boating and boat access use. General wildlife watching might be a tough one but at least we could implement a requirement that anyone accessing any state-owned land must possess a license in order to view wildlife, hike, boat, etc. on that land. Cost of such licenses would be determined against the cost of what is being done presently to ensure that people have access to land for hiking, bird watching, boating, etc., i.e. the cost of building and maintaining boat and water access probably outweighs that of bird watching interests.

The first hurdle that will stump many will be the fact of how you require people to buy these licenses and then enforce the requirement to have it to participate. Granted it would be essentially impossible to do. Much like the “volunteer” but not so voluntary pay to use areas where people are supposed to stuff money in a pipe anchored in concrete, not all people actually pay but some do. Some money is better than no money and perhaps over time more and more people will see the benefits and be more willing to pay. Those not willing to pay will always run the risk of being caught participating without a license.

It’s time for the freeloaders to pay. I am required to pay more than my share to participate and so should all others. Each should pay for what they are interested in doing much the same way that I am for hunting, others are for fishing and trapping. Let’s end the foolishness of trying to convince the people that everyone should pay something, even if they never take advantage, and start at the beginning with a program that begins generating some extra revenue.

Once this programs has been implemented, the MDIFW will be required to annually present a very detailed report of who paid what and for how much and exactly where every dollar taken in went. A very necessary part of this program that will help make it work is that there must be absolute restrictions and separation of each license tag revenues. They must be collected separately and spent separately while being accounted for separately. That should not be a difficult thing to do and will help people better see the benefits of how their money is being spent and that a kayaker isn’t funding bird watching without choice to do so. This will generate more interest in people willing to pay their fair share.

Please present your ideas below in the comment section.

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