August 20, 2019

Secretary Zinke Applauds Presidential Action Supporting Public Lands Outfitters and Guides

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s exemption from Executive Order 13658 for Recreational Services on Federal Lands.

5/25/2018

Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s exemption from Executive Order 13658 for Recreational Services on Federal Lands. The Presidential exemption applies only to outfitters and guides who operate on Federal lands and does not apply to lodging, food service, or other businesses that operate on Federal lands, such as national parks, monuments, recreation areas, and other areas. The order was signed ahead of Memorial Day weekend, which is the unofficial start to peak season for many guides and outfitters.

“President Donald J. Trump is a businessman and a job creator who knows that government one-size-fits-all approaches usually end up fitting nobody. The President’s Executive Order, ‘Exemption from Executive Order 13658 for Recreational Services on Federal Lands,’ gives more flexibility to small guides and outfitters that operate in National Parks and other public lands,” said Secretary Zinke. “The order will have a positive effect on rural economies and American families, allowing guides and outfitters to bring tourists out on multi-day hiking, fishing, hunting, and camping expeditions, without enduring costly burdens. The outdoor recreation sector is a multi-billion dollar economic engine, and the more people able to enjoy our public lands, the better.”

“Our sincere appreciation to President Trump and Secretary Zinke for this job-saving action. Because we are in the backcountry 24/7 and on duty much or all of that time, E.O. 13658 was ill-conceived for businesses who cannot bring on a second or third shift to control overtime,” said David Brown, Vice President, America Outdoors Association, a national association of outfitters and guides.

Outdoor recreation accounted for 2-percent of the United States economy, or $373.7 billion, in 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Of that, $59.4 billion in activity is attributed to recreational vehicles, motorcycle, and motorized recreation enthusiasts. More than $38 billion is generated from fishing and boating. Hunting, shooting, and trapping contributes more than $15 billion to the economy. In all, more than 4 million people are employed in industries related to outdoor recreation.

“Today’s action by President Trump and Secretary Zinke removed what was an impossible compliance issue and therefore a monumental liability for the nations Guides and Outfitters. Attending to the health safety and welfare of clients on an outfitted trip begins at the trailhead and ends days later when everyone has safely returned; compliance with time accounting measures required by E.O. 13658 was impossible in this work environment,” said Mac Minard, Executive Director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association and Chairman of the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America. “On behalf of the 5,000 Outfitter businesses represented by the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America we offer our appreciation for the leadership of Secretary Zinke and the action of President Donald Trump. Because of this action, thousands will be able to enjoy and experience the natural wonders found in our National Treasures that are our Federal Public Lands.”

“Fishing guides play a significant role in ensuring Americans have opportunities to enjoy our nation’s tremendous fisheries resources, and in helping to support recreational fishing’s $115 billion economic impact,” said Glenn Hughes, President of the American Sportfishing Association. “We applaud President Trump for ensuring these services are not subject to harmful and unnecessary regulations, and for his continued leadership in support of the entire outdoor recreation community.”

National Parks are major economic engines for local communities that generate around $36 billion in economic output and are responsible for $18 billion in visitor spending. Many parks support outfitter and guide operations for guided hikes, river trips, and other expeditions. Some recreational opportunities at national parks, especially in backcountry areas, require planning, experience, and special equipment. Authorized guides and outfitters make it possible for park visitors who do not have these resources or skills to enjoy activities like horseback riding, river rafting, or snowmobile tours in some of the more remote and scenic areas of national parks.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees 16 National Conservation Areas, like Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, 27 National Monuments, and other public lands like California’s 18-acre Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area. In 2017, BLM lands received more than 67.4 million recreation-related visits. In 2017, the BLM issued commercial permits to more than 1,000 outfitters and guides.

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Difficult to Share Buck Harvest Data If It’s Not Available

I was reading an article this morning that included tips on booking a guided deer hunt in Maine. I would suppose that the same tips might be applied to any state that offers guided deer hunts. One of the tips suggests that you talk with possible future guides to find out about deer size, quantity, and quality along with success rates.

I have no real issue with guides. They have a necessary role to fill. What I have an issue with is when guides dictate to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) what they want and get it. Sometimes those demands appear to be to the detriment of other hunters and hunting opportunities. I don’t like that. You shouldn’t either. The same goes for outfitters. I don’t begrudge their businesses but I do when privilege is given to guides and outfitters cutting short opportunities for the regular “Joe” licensed hunter.

It seems a bit odd then, that given that MDIFW often goes out of their way to cater to the whims of guides and outfitters, that a registered Maine guide would tell his readers and prospective clients that to get harvest data, including deer size, quantity, and quality to go to Quality Deer Management to find out. Why not to the MDIFW website? Or, for that matter, the Maine Guides website?

As most readers know, I’m not a huge fan of Quality Deer Management, mostly because of what they promote, but that’s really beside the point of this discussion. Why do interested prospective deer hunters have to go someplace other than the MDIFW or the Maine Guides to get harvest data to look at before deciding whether they want to hire a guide and deer hunt in Maine?

It would seem that if MDIFW is really looking out for their “buds,” the guides and outfitters, they would do a better job of providing deer harvest data to them and the rest of us. If, as one Maine guide points out, it is an important precursor to booking a guided hunt, this information would be readily available. Maybe it is and is already given preferentially to guides and withheld from the rest of the public. Perhaps MDIFW doesn’t really give a damn.

Other outdoor writers have shared their disappointments that Maine doesn’t do enough to promote Maine as a destination deer hunting state. If this is true, putting harvest data on their website one year after a game hunting season, substantiates such claims. It is also an odd way of helping out the situation of selling licenses and keeping the guides and outfitters operating in the black.

Doesn’t it send a wrong message to the prospect searching for a good place to go deer hunting, that they are recommended to a lopsided, trophy hunt pushing entity for data on Maine hunting? Maybe MDIFW is happy with that. Perhaps the Office of Tourism is not? What about the Governor’s Office?

From my perspective, I would prefer to look at the hard data on Maine deer hunting than get someone else’s interpretation of that data. But that’s me. Maybe it would be a good idea to place on the MDIFW website good helpful deer, bear, moose, turkey, and grouse information that might convince someone to come and hunt Maine. Maybe they don’t have any such information. Maybe they don’t care. Or, perhaps they don’t really want the hunting.

The advice and tips given are probably good, although I’ve never employed a guiding service and more than likely never will. However, at the rate Maine is going, before hunting ends completely, and it will, hiring a guide may be the only way a person will be able to hunt. Then, none of this will really matter.

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Record Bear Season? But What About the Deer?

The Seacoast Online is reporting that Maine will have a record-breaking bear hunting season. Wonderful! I hope they kill around 10,000 of them.

Maine hunting guides are telling state game officials that 2012 will go down in the record books as one of the best years ever to hunt bears in the state.

We know the cause for big bears being taken is because there is no natural food to eat. It has been explained to Maine citizens by wildlife officials, that when there is a shortage of natural food to eat, bears will eat early, get fat early and den up early. I’m not sure on what food source they eat early and fatten up early on if there isn’t any, other than a handful of bait sites. There appears to be no other explanation for a supposed record bear season other than lack of natural food.

Maine officials seem to confidently state that the state has a population of 31,000 black bears, all of which will apparently eat early, fatten up early and den early. I’ve yet to find this information in scientific studies but I’m still searching.

In the Seacoast article, it states that guides are seeing record numbers of bears as well as big fat bears. It is probably a waste of my time to argue about why the bears are fat right now, but there is little to dispute that there is a record number of bear in Maine at present. And there’s little to dispute that because of such, the bears are taking a toll on the deer population by targeting deer fawns soon after the bears come out of hibernation.

With little interest in reducing the bear herd, from officials and guides, the protection of one species at the expense of another is the order of business it would appear. This kind of thinking is akin to the predator protectors and animal rights perverts.

We are told that moose, of which the state officially boasts 76,000 of them (a record more than likely), compete with the whitetail deer for habitat and food resources and yet the state fails to offer more moose tags to keep the population in check and to give the deer a break at a time they need it most.

And bear kill deer fawns and adult deer if they can ambush them.

Again I repeat, Maine wildlife officials seem to have a firm grasp on the number of moose and bear that there are but can’t nail down anything better than a rough estimate on the deer population. Maybe that fact all by itself partly or mostly explains why the deer herd has gone to hell in a hand basket.

So long as Maine officials and guides fail to place the salvage of the deer population on a higher priority than it currently is, i.e. taking a back seat to bear and moose, the chances are slim and none that the deer will recover. If they do, it will be only by happenstance of weather and climate conditions.

Jokingly, I reported that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) was going to use “Black Bear Crows” to count deer as officials couldn’t seem to come up with any firm numbers from flying with helicopters and counting them. As one reader told me, “Using a mythological “black bear crow” to count deer isn’t any more far fetched than MDIFW coming up with an accurate deer count anytime soon.”

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