May 25, 2019

Secretary Zinke Proposes Expansion of Hunting and Fishing Opportunities at 30 of America’s National Wildlife Refuges

Press Release from the Department of Interior:

WASHINGTON – Continuing his efforts to increase access to public lands, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today announced a proposal to open more than 248,000 acres to new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 30 national wildlife refuges.

Opportunities include places like Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois and Wisconsin, and deer hunting in Philadelphia at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge being proposed for the first time. The proposal also outlines expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 136 national wildlife refuges. If finalized, this would bring the number of units of the National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 377, and the number where fishing would be permitted to 312.

“As stewards of our public lands, Interior is committed to opening access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down this American heritage,” Zinke said. “These 30 refuges will provide incredible opportunities for American sportsmen and women across the country to access the land and connect with wildlife.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) proposal would open more new acres to hunting and fishing than in the past and takes steps to simplify regulations to more closely match state hunting and fishing regulations. The changes would be implemented in time for the upcoming 2018-2019 hunting seasons.

Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016 according to the Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 101 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population 16 and older – pursue wildlife-related recreation – such as hunting, fishing and birding.

“Ensuring public lands are open for multiple uses supports local economies and provides important opportunities for recreation. Further, this proposal means that families and individuals across our nation will be better able to participate in our nation’s tradition of hunting and fishing. We appreciate Secretary Zinke and the Interior Department for advancing this priority, and we will continue to work to improve access to public lands for our sportsmen,” said Senator John Hoeven.

“Public lands should be open for the public to enjoy,” said Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah. “The Department of the Interior’s latest decision to expand acreage and access for hunting and fishing on wildlife refuges was the right move. Secretary Zinke’s decision will help our economy grow and enable those who hunt and fish to spend more time catching game and less time caught in red tape.”

“North Dakota is a sportsman’s paradise. The decision to expand access to public lands by opening more than 248,000 acres across the nation to hunting and fishing will provide new economic opportunities for local communities as well as open up new areas for anglers and hunters,” said Congressman Kevin Cramer. “For the first time, the J. Clark Salyer and Lostwood National Wildlife Refuges will be open to moose hunting. I commend the Secretary’s decision and look forward to working with the department.”

“Hunters, anglers and shooting sports enthusiasts play a crucial role in funding the management and conservation of North America’s wildlife,” said Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan. “We are providing sportsmen and women with more access to our national wildlife refuges and streamlining regulations to more closely align with our state partners. And that’s good news for our customers.”

The Service manages hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations while also offering other traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands, such as wildlife watching and photography. The Refuge System is an unparalleled network of 566 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.

“The proposed expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities through working partnership with the states is a demonstration of Secretary Zinke’s commitment to our nation’s outdoor heritage and the conservation community,” said Virgil Moore, President of the Association of the Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “These efforts reaffirm the tremendous value of quality wildlife habitat and outdoor recreational opportunities, including hunting and fishing, in connecting millions of Americans to the outdoors.”

“We applaud Secretary Zinke and the Fish and Wildlife Service for their continued commitment to increasing opportunities for hunting and fishing within the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Interior on increasing access for sportsmen and women.”

Hunting and/or fishing will expand or be opened on the following refuges:

Arkansas

California

Florida

Illinois

Illinois and Missouri

Illinois and Wisconsin

Indiana

Maine

Maine and New Hampshire

Maryland

Michigan

Minnesota

Montana

New Jersey

New Jersey and New York

New Mexico

North Dakota

Ohio

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Utah

Wisconsin

  • Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge: Open hunting of certain gamebirds, small mammals and furbearers for the first time, and expand existing migratory game bird and big game hunting.

The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 30 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register in coming days. The notice will be available at www.regulations.gov, docket no. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2018-0020, and will include details on how to submit your comments. An interim copy of the proposed rule is now available at https://www.fws.gov/home/pdfs/Proposed_2018-2019_Hunt_Fish_Rule_signed.pdf.

More than 53 million Americans visit refuges every year. National wildlife refuges provide vital habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and boating to nature watching, photography and environmental education. In doing so, they support regional economies to the tune of $2.4 billion dollars per year and support more than 35,000 jobs.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation, including wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation, when they are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is currently permitted on 337 wildlife refuges and 37 wetland management districts. Fishing is currently permitted on 277 wildlife refuges and 34 wetland management districts.

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Intensive Management in Alaska

From the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Harvesting wild game is extremely important to many Alaskan families. Participating in the hunt and sharing the bounty of economical, wild-grown meat are long-standing traditions.

The Alaska Legislature recognized the importance of wild game meat to Alaskans when it passed the Intensive Management Law in 1994. This law requires the Alaska Board of Game to identify moose, caribou, and deer populations that are especially important food sources for Alaskans and to insure that these populations remain large enough to allow for adequate and sustained harvest.

If the selected moose, caribou, or deer populations drop below what the Board of Game (Board) determines is needed to meet people’s needs, the Board directs the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to undertake intensive management of that population. Intensive management is a process that starts with investigating the causes of low moose, caribou, or deer numbers, and then involves steps to increase their numbers. This can include restricting hunting seasons and bag limits, improving habitat, and predation control.

ADF&G is committed to maintaining healthy populations of all our resources, including moose, caribou, deer, wolves, and bears. The department will continue to manage Alaska’s wildlife populations with the health of all wildlife, sustainable harvests, and conservation as our guiding principles.

Understanding Predator Management

Wolves and bears are very effective and efficient predators on caribou, moose, deer, and other wildlife. In most of Alaska, humans also rely on the same species for food. Predators often kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, while humans take less than 10 percent. In much of the state, predation holds prey populations at levels far below what could be supported by the habitat in the area. Predation is an important part of the ecosystem, and all ADF&G management programs, including control programs, are designed to sustain predator populations in the future.

General Information

Press Releases

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Vermont to Issue 13 Moose Hunting Permits…But Not Really

Vermont says it will allot 13 moose hunting permits. However, unless you are a military veteran, have a terminal illness or are filthy rich, you will not have a chance at obtaining one of these permits. But that is only one issue.

With all the money and research done on moose, this is the best we can come up with?

According to Vermont officials, the state has decided that it will attempt to maintain the moose population, the majority of which is found in the very northeast corner of the state, at 1 moose per square mile in order to “reduce the effects of winter ticks.”

I have an idea there will be few people happy about this move but if now the wildlife managers are going to put more focus on the “health” of wildlife rather than population estimates, it’s difficult to know what to expect into the future.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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This Infographic Shows How 14 Million Hunters Help Fuel the U.S. Economy

This hunting infographic gives you a visual idea of how much sportsmen and women spend each year. Hunting definitely funds conservation and helps the economy.

Sure, most of us already know that hunters are the primary funding source for conservation. But it’s interesting to see how it breaks down by demographic, game animal, and dollar amounts.<<<Read More>>>

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Or Maybe We Are All Gonna Die: Possible Grizzly Bear Hunts on the Horizon

Panic is setting in with the environmentalists and animal rights perverts as they learn of two public hearings scheduled to receive input about possibly having limited grizzly bear hunts. Disaster and a slaughter of the grizzly’s population in Idaho will happen, according to bear lovers, because it plans on allowing ONE male bear to be killed…ONE!

“The formula for the number of bears that can be hunted in each state involves a region surrounding Yellowstone National Park called the Demographic Monitoring Area. The number of bears for each state is based on how much land area is in the monitoring area. The number of bears allowed to be hunted in total is based on mortality studies. The result is that this year, Idaho can hunt one male bear and Montana six male bears. Wyoming can hunt 10 male bears and two female bears.”<<<Read More>>>

Officials say they will “educate” hunters on how to identify a male grizzly from a female grizzly. Isn’t it risky to get close enough to a grizzly bear to be able to tell which genitalia they may be sporting? Perhaps if you wait and watch long enough you can watch one of them urinating in order to tell the difference.

But seriously, how difficult is it to identify male and female outside of the obvious? I’ve never hunted them. For that matter, I don’t recall that I’ve ever encountered a grizzly up close and personal. But, I think I could tell a fully mature adult male grizzly from a female. Like with today’s young ‘uns it’s difficult to tell the difference in sexes in immature bears.

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Maine Governor Vetoes Two Hunting Related Bills

Maine Governor Paul LePage has vetoed two hunting-related bills – LD 1816 and LD 1823.

LD 1816 is a bill that would reduce the second offense penalty for hunting deer over bait from a lifetime license ban back to a two-year suspension. Here is the statement Governor LePage made public for his reason for vetoing the new bill.

LD 1816

Governor LePage cited a reason for keeping the lifetime license suspension as punishment for a second offense as being a strong deterrent to stop illegal hunting of deer over bait. With unclear definitions as to what determines “bait”, it would appear that abuse by law enforcement and the courts could make for as much trouble as the handful of those charged with hunting over bait now.

Until such time as Maine can get their act together to better lay out the exact definition of “bait” and at the same time rid the conflicts between growing “crops” and hunting over those and hunting over bait placed by a hunter – as though growing a crop to hunt over is any different than dumping a bag of apples under a tree stand – I cannot agree with LePage’s veto of this bill.

It would appear that while it may be a strong deterrent, the punishment may not fit the crime when comparatives are made with all laws and punishments in Maine.

LD 1823 is a bill that made permanent a temporary law that allowed nonresidents to hunt on the “Residents Only” Saturday prior to the open season on deer, provided that nonresident owned at least 25 acres of land in the state. Here is the Governor’s reason for the veto.

LD 1823

I never liked the bill in the first place. While it seems a good thing to make hunting opportunity available whenever possible, this kind of legislation simply reeks of preferred treatment, discrimination, and elitism.

Hunting should never be meted out in any fashion when determined by social status. Simply because a person is wealthy enough, or through inheritance, to own land equalling at least 25 acres shouldn’t give them privilege over someone else who doesn’t.

While LePage believes the Residents Day Only is special for Maine residents and should remain that way, consideration of making it also open to nonresidents should be all or nothing.

Let the discriminatory bill sunset. The veto was good.

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Vermont Continues To Reduce Moose Permit Allotments

It appears that the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife has decided, once again, to cut back on moose hunting permits. Where once there were 25 permits issued, authorities are recommending only 14 be issued this year.

A news article said the decision is based on the continued reduction of the moose herd because of, “…infestations of ticks and brain worms believed to be caused by the warming climate.”

If this was a game where you could buy a clue, the clue to buy would be this: So long as fish and wildlife departments continue to wallow in the deep manure pile of “global warming” they will never find any real answers to wildlife management problems.

Evidently, that’s the easiest mode of operation and are we to now believe the most lucrative?

 

 

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Our outdoor heritage faces an uncertain future

When it comes to Maine’s fabled outdoor heritage, you don’t have to be a social scientist or a statistician to sense what is going on. Changing times are leaving a mark on our culture in countless ways. If you visit a few rod and gun clubs around the state, a common theme shows itself: a predominance of wrinkled gray-haired members and a glaring absence of bright-eyed, fresh-scrubbed youth among the club rolls.

Equally apparent, if you are an older sportsman yourself, who still spends time in the deer woods or on the fishing waters of this state, is that there seems to be a significant absence of active sportsmen like yourself.<<<Read More>>>

 

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Hunting Is Conservation

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Animal Rights: Bunkum and Balderdash

Some people simply do not like hunting and trapping or the idea that other people do. Perhaps it’s time to get a life and get over it. There are many things in life that all of us don’t like, but does that mean we spend our time forcing our own idealism onto others? Evidently, that is true in some cases.

I have no issues with another who is opposed to hunting and trapping. I don’t try to get them to change their life over it. I only expect the same respect in return. Did I say respect? Pfffft!

What I do have an issue with is when ignorant and severely misguided excuses are given to defend one’s position on the dislike of the activity. Given the direction the American Society has taken in recent years, there is no guilt association with lying nor is there any need to present honest facts. This practice has become null and void and runs rampant throughout.

Recently two Letters to the Editor in Maine newspapers came from obvious despisers of hunting and trapping. As they go hand in hand, it is safe to say that these same people have a perverse perspective of the roles animals, both wild and domestic, play in man’s existence.

The first letter I’d like to address comes from someone who wants to stop the use of bait as a tool to harvest black bears. For the record, so would I. I don’t like baiting (I’ll save the reasons for another show). However, I can reasonably understand that without baiting the success rate for taking a bear would drop significantly, seriously hampering the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) ability to maintain the bear population at healthy levels.

But factual information is void in such conversations with animal lovers.

I’ve heard the argument before that baiting unnaturally over-feeds bears, causing a false increase in the number of offspring and that baiting habituates bears to human conditions, i.e. food and smells. The letter writer states: “One of the worst things that can be done to manage a bear population is to artificially increase the amount of available food in the environment and accustom them to human food and smells…”

Under different conditions, this may be true but I don’t think so in this case. If baiting was seriously widespread, in other words, that there actually is an artificial increase in food in the environment (not just at bait stations), throughout the entire habitat of Maine, artificially feeding bears would probably cause a problem.

According to the MDIFW’s website, bears in Maine number as high as 36,000: “Maine’s bear population remained fairly stable through 2005, but has been increasing over the last 5 years and our current estimate is between 24,000 and 36,000 bears.”

We also can find that in 2016 Maine’s bear harvest totaled 2,859. The same data tells us that 68% or 1,936 bears were taken over bait. From previous information found at various sources, it has been estimated that bear hunting success rate is around 30%. For Maine to have harvested 2,859, the number of licensed hunters probably approached 9,000. 62% of all bears harvested was done by out-of-state (guided) hunters.

How does all this translate into the number of bait piles and where they were located geographically? I dunno, but it would certainly appear that the process of baiting may have affected only a very small portion of the bear population, if at all, regardless of how one might fudge the numbers. Even if it were biologically correct to state that artificial feeding increases bear populations, baiting bears does not and cannot have any real effect on the growth of bears.

We also know that bears much prefer natural foods. During high-yield mast crop years, attracting bears to baiting stations is a difficult task to accomplish.

This is a poor argument to use against the use of bait for bears and is always simply a play on the emotions of readers.

The second letter is an excellent example of bunkum and balderdash. The diatribe begins with an attempt at likening bobcat hunting to an unfair advantage for the hunter over the animal because it doesn’t have a helmet, protective padding and shoes….or something.: “Most of us like some kind of sports by either following them, participating in them or both. Whatever ones we prefer, we expect that players or teams be more or less evenly matched in terms of skill and equipment.

We’d protest, for instance, if the tennis players we were rooting for were not allowed to use rackets, and we’d be in an uproar if the quarterbacks and linemen on our favorite team were denied helmets, protective padding and shoes.

Why? Because we require a level playing field and we believe in fairness, as well as giving those we contend against a sporting chance.”

Oh, my! This might deserve the Golden Horse Excrement Award.

Let’s put it this way. If the letter writer wants a “level playing field” wouldn’t that mean that each team would have an even chance, 50-50, of winning? This sounds more like “each participant gets a trophy.” How is it a level playing field when MDIFW has determined that a better than average chance at a bobcat hunter being successful, i.e. winning, runs at not much better than 9%?

But we soon discover the real reason for the whining and complaining: “…we believe that the consequence of defeat should not be the forfeiture of life itself.” Okay, so everyone DOES get a trophy. As I said, I don’t have an issue with people who don’t like to see animals die. I understand this but they don’t understand that the perpetuation of life insists that something must die in order for life to continue. But I digress.

The writer then goes on questioning the MDIFW’s bobcat management practices of which I have no problem. After all, I spend a great deal of time questioning their wildlife management practices. The letter writer states that MDIFW has no idea how many bobcats are in the state of Maine. This may be somewhat true but they do have a system, although it may be antiquated (I haven’t studied the plans and formulas used), where bobcat populations are estimated (like every other game species) and harvest requirements formulated from that information. See the plan here.

(Note: The writer honestly doesn’t see any difference between hunters and trappers legally taking wild animals for various reasons and MDIFW’s prohibition on hunters and trappers killing domestic animals. Where does one go from here?)

Then the writer gets back to the real meat and potatoes as to why he wants bobcat hunting to end: “Hunting bobcats is cruel and abusive.” And let’s not forget it’s “inhumane.”

What the writer rambles on about at this point is mostly pointless to discuss as it becomes obvious the writer places animals at an existence equal to or greater than that of man, giving them the attributes of man: “The word humane is derived from the world [word?] humanity, but until that connection is understood and practiced, what we have is really nothing less than state-sanctioned cruelty…”

The word “humanity” (an Evolution term) first appears in the late 14th century. All definitions and attributes are given to the existence of man…not animals. “Human” and “humane” were used interchangeably for centuries all in reference to characteristics of man…not animals.

Few know that “humane societies” were first established to save drowning people.

Any sense of humaneness pertaining to animals should only be derived from a value-weighted perception of the man toward the animal. It is certainly debatable as to whether or not an animal thinks, acts, and feels the same as a man. It is when we project our own “human” qualities onto animals, we get into some real serious issues.

I really do not understand what the author is saying when he says that “until that connection is understood.” Assuming he means a connection between human and humanity, I fail to see any connection that pertains to the existence of animals.

Not that many animal lovers would care to learn from the Scriptures, but perhaps I can give a better understanding of the role our Creator intended between man and beast (all animals, i.e. birds, fish, mammals, etc.). Genesis 1:26 tells us at the time in which He was going to “create man in our image,” “and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over the beasts, and over all the earth, and over everything that creepeth and moveth on the earth.”

In verse 28, Yaweh instructs Adam to “Bring forth fruit, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over every beast that moveth upon the earth.”

After the Great Flood, Yaweh once again gave Noah and his sons the same instructions. We find them in Genesis 9: 1-5: Also the fear of you, and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the heaven, upon all that moveth on the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into your hand are they delivered.

Everything that moveth and liveth, shall be meat for you: as the green herb, have I given you all things.”

Clearly, the role of the animal toward man’s existence is clearly defined. An animal, of any kind, is not and does not have the same existence as that of man. It was intended for food, the same as plants.

Unfortunately, these verses and others are too often taken out of context to mean that man can do anything he wishes to an animal. Proverbs 12:10 tells us: “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the mercies of the wicked are cruel.” The original Hebrew word for “regardeth” is “yada.” It carries many meanings, mostly in reference to acknowledging “the life of the beast.” It also carries the meaning “to respect.”

Yaweh gave us all the plants and animals of the Earth. After the flood, He told Noah and his sons that animals “shall be meat (food) for you.” His Scripture also tells us to be knowledgeable about the beasts and give them respect. Obviously, this didn’t mean to the point that animals are protected beyond that which might ensure their existence or to the detriment of man.

My advice to the animal lovers and those who hate hunting and trapping, tell us how upset you are because someone is killing an animal, but save the bunkum and balderdash about equal playing fields and “inhumane” treatment of animals.

As an aside: The author quotes someone who says, “Bobcats are worth more for wildlife watching and tracking opportunities than they are as pelts.” Wildlife watching? Tracking? Seriously? I have lived in Maine for going on 66 years. I have “wildlife watched” a bobcat once in my life and that was while visiting a park in Florida. It would appear that this person places little value on the life of a bobcat. Shame.

 

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