July 22, 2019

Old Hunter Says Action or No Action Has Consequences

Ironic, in a way and yet tragic. A guy sends a letter to a local Maine newspaper claiming, in part, that too many humans is what the problem is with bears.

All the while, I guess the letter writer should be somewhat relieved that one human, from his home state of New Jersey, is dead and not so much because the bear he wishes to protect was killed too.

As tragic as it was in the death of the individual, it is a sad commentary on the human condition that a human life is expendable to save that of an animal.

NewJerseyBear

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Do You Carry an AK-74 When You Go Hiking…….in Alaska?

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Fallout From Holding States Liable for Animal Attacks and Damages

Two days ago I wrote about how the state of Utah can be held liable for the death of an 11-year-old boy by a black bear, according to a ruling in the Utah Supreme Court. In that ruling the Supreme Court stated that bears are not part of the “natural condition” one expects to find in the forests and fields. In addition, the same ruling declared that the State of Utah established a “special relationship” with the family of the 11-year-old boy and campers in general because the state was carrying out several things in order to protect the campers from bears. However, the State of Utah can now be sued by the family and may be charged with negligence in carrying out their duties to keep campers safe.

I spoke of the precedent such a ruling may carry in that it raises the question as to how far the courts will go in holding states liable for attacks on humans by wild animals and the damages they can create. What I did not talk about in this article was the negative fallout that may result from this ruling.

There are at least two ways of looking at how states may choose to react to this ruling in Utah. The more obvious side would be to err on the side of caution, perhaps even to the extreme, and quickly move to shut down any and all campsites, for example, when any reports surface of the presence of bears or any other large predator. We may be seeing that now as one report out of Colorado today reveals that officials at the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, have banned all campers from sleeping in tents because of a reported bear in the area. Officials are attempting to trap the bear and if not successful, the campground will be closed.

Another example, one that doesn’t involve large predators, comes to us from California, where three campgrounds have been closed because squirrels have been found to be carrying bubonic plague.

A less obvious repercussion of the Utah court ruling could begin to appear should states attempt to ensure they are not establishing a “special relationship” with tax payers. If you may recall, the Utah Supreme Court granted the family of Sam Ives, the boy attacked and killed by the bear, standing to sue the State of Utah holding them also responsible for the boy’s death. That ruling was based on two things: one, that a black bear was not a “natural condition”, or an object that gave the state immunity from liability, and two, that the state had established a “special relationship” with the family.

This “special relationship”, at least how I understood the majority opinion, resulted in the state taking on the responsibility to ensure the safety of the campers and that officials had taken several steps to warn other campers and had spent several hours attempting to locate the bear that attacked the boy. Does this mean the state will not be liable if they do not establish a “special relationship?” How would that change the landscape when it comes to campers, hikers, etc.?

And what is not talked about in relation to this Utah incident is what becomes of the liability issue when the states participate in the introduction, reintroduction of moving of dangerous wild animals?

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Discounted Bear Spray for the Holiday Season

Going to Yellowstone? You might be able to get $10 off that can of ridiculous bear spray that normally retails for $45.00, so says Keystone Conservation as found in an article on Predator Xtreme.

I think it’s time to dust off this jewel for your viewing pleasure.

smellslikepepper

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Making Tracks – First Tracks

The photo below was taken with the intent of capturing bright sunshine on a beautifully snow drenched mountain in the Kenai Peninsula area of Alaska. The photographer, after getting home from his outing, examined the pictures and in this particular photo, he discovered that there were people hiking up the mountain, through waist deep snow. Some were skiing down as well.

Click on the image and with another click or two you should be able to view the larger photo. Seeing the ski tracks shouldn’t be too difficult. Picking out the black specks, that are actually the humans, is a bit more difficult.

Incredible photo, I think.

tracks

Photo by Al Remington

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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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