July 8, 2020

Beware The Back Door Politics to End Hunting

Hunters, fishermen, and trappers have been faced with those opposed to what they do for some time. The reasons from the opposition are varied and often masked and hidden behind false or deceptive tactics to promote and achieve personal agendas. The bottom line for many like this is to end the long-time heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping.

The tactics used in persuing their goals are varied, sometimes hidden and will morph with changes in attitudes and the directions taken by the people, especially when they run into roadblocks. There are many instances that we read about or are directly involved in, where we must spend a lot of money to defend our sports.

Just a short couple of years ago, Maine had to fight a bear referendum to stop bear hunting. Oregon battled with anti-hunting and animal rights groups a few years ago and lost a fight that now bans dogs for hunting of any kind. They will in the near future be facing a similar fight about bear hunting. Utah now faces a lawsuit from animal rights activists to stop all hunting in all the state wildlife refuges. This list goes on.

These anti-hunting groups have learned that when they can’t seem to win over the majority in their bid to stop hunting in large chunks, they find other tactics such as raising the hunting age or other small things that will eventually diminish the interest, especially in young hunters, knowing that ultimately, the sport will die off.

There are other methods being employed all across America today that we need to be made aware of. Some of these methods seem harmless enough but the backdoor agenda is still present.

The one political wrangling that is going on in many places, involves the movement of who controls hunting, fishing and trapping. Most state’s game and wildlife are managed by a state wildlife department. Some departments are simple and others complex utilizing a game department, a seperate commission and in some cases a third entity of a board of directors. However the departments are set up, the funding has come through them and these departments have their own biologists and professionals to best manage our wildlife. These departments don’t have total free rein as they are watched over and kept in check by state legislators.

Science is generally what drives the fish and game departments to move to regulate laws, set hunting seasons, etc. with the idea that what they do is best for the animals. Now we are seeing a movement from some politicians and anti-hunting and animal rights groups, to take the authority away from fish and game departments and move it to local authorities.

These individuals and groups are bent on stopping hunting, fishing and trapping. They also know that many communities, especially larger towns and cities, will side with them. We are seeing it everyday. Towns face problems with over populations of deer and other wildlife problems because these communities have banned hunting.

When you have a situation where a large metropolitan area makes up the majority population of a county, the will of the city is imposed on those in the rural areas of that county. This is one example of how putting control of hunting, fishing and trapping into the hands of county officials, will for all intent and purposes end the sports.

Hang on to your hats and open your eyes because this is exactly what is taking place. Anti-hunting politicians are sponsoring bills nationwide that will move who controls hunting, to local authorities and away from the state. The idea for this is to allow the citizens within a community or county to decide what they want based on emotions, lack of science and supported by lies from the animal rights people.

Not only is this a bad idea from the perspective of removing hunting and trapping from the formula used by scientists to manage the wildlife but these towns or counties aren’t equipped in any way to deal with wildlife issues. They have no expertise in managing wild animals.

By moving control to local government, it completely puts wildlife management in the hands of politicians and removes science from the equation.

New York right now is looking at a bill that will do just as I have described. The politician who introduced the bill, Alexander Grannis (D) New York, is starting small with this bill but I guarantee the eventual goal is to encompass hunting and fishing. The bill would put the control of trapping in the Empire State in the hands of county officials.

The bill is AB1835 and has cleared the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee by a vote 17-11 and now heads to the general assembly. Sportsmen had been fighting the bill within the committee and thought that had it beaten or at least stalled but committee chairman Thomas DiNapoli (D) Nassau, quickly scheduled a vote on the bill.

This is backdoor anti-hunting anti-trapping legislation that we all need to be aware of. It is taking place in nearly every state to some degree and is nothing more than an attempt at whittling away at hunting, trapping and fishing with the ultimate goal of ending them. We need to fight back.

Tom Remington

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That Dad Gum Dumb Hunter

Hunters are profiled by outsiders everyday. We are thought of as dumb, evil, killers, poor…..well, you know what? You fill in the blank. I’m sure you’re good at it. Heck, I am. I’m being honest so you might as well. Profiling has saved our lives many times over.

Everyone has an opinion too. Some have too much opinion and I may be one of them but I guess if I’m going to continue paying for my slot of space on the World Wide Web, I’ll continue being opinionated. It keeps me from driving my wife crazy as well.

When it comes to the management of wildlife there are more opinions, theories and experiential knowledge and science than has ever been recorded in any amount of books. We are all good at expressing what we know to be fact and there are so many dang “experts” on the topics that, well, it just becomes really difficult to know who to believe.

Take the brand new controversy – don’t you love controversies? – out in the John Denver State. You know, that Colorado Rocky Mountain high place. In Rocky Mountain National Park they got an overpopulation of elk and they want to get rid of a whole bunch of them.

This proposal that has gone out for public comment, as if that really matters, is recent and so the debate has, as the late Karen Carpenter would have sung, “….only just begun”. But the opinions, facts and closet scientists and experts are showing up everywhere. There’s more of them then there are elk. Oh, hey! New thought. Let’s give them all an elk to take home…..forget it. It’s fun to read the opinion pieces and chuckle, as I know people do when they read mine. Besides, I have a right! Ha!

I get confused easily and I’m sure to most of these “experts” that are weighing in on what’s the right thing to do in RMNP, they would classify me as one of them “Dad gum dumb hunters”. I surmised that by reading some of the comments as the debate is beginning to rage. If you don’t have “credentials” don’t enter the conversation because, well, you’re just too dang dumb to offer anything any of them want to hear.

I am far from an expert on anything, except maybe spending too much time pounding on a keyboard that at times appears a futile effort. But, I do know one or two things. One thing I know is I can read and I can add (is that two things?) – provided the numbers don’t get too big. I also know when I’m presented with a contradiction provided I can understand the language it is written or spoken in. (crud! Now I think I know three things. TIme for a raise).

One the one hand you have a completely qualified expert who will tell you that (I’ll try to use layman’s terms because I’m dumb) a chunk of land can only feed so many critters. If there’s too many critters, they’re going to eat too much of the land up. That’s simple enough. Now what happens is what do we do? Well, in my ignorant way, I see two options. Make more food or get rid of some critters.

We have brilliant scientists who say that culling – that’s a kind way of saying killing – a herd of critters only makes them same critters get upset and start making more babies to make up for the ones we just killed. Makes sense to me, I guess.

We have brilliant scientists who say that ain’t so. They say that if animals got enough to eat and everything kind of stays normal for them, they’ll populate like crazy. All I know is this is just a big contradiction. Who you going to believe?

We have brilliant scientists, with credentials too, who say wolves can be brought in to control elk herd numbers. We have brilliant scientists, with credentials too, who say wolves won’t have an affect on the elk herd. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that another contradiction?

Wouldn’t it work just as well to capture a few of the elk and inject them with some fatal disease, something highly contagious? We can’t wait too long. We will have succeeded in reducing the population that’s for sure and yes, we have another problem on our hands – too many wolves….er, um, I mean a disease to stop. Same thing but what do I know.

My daddy was a dad gum dumb hunter who never said much but when he spoke you better be listening. One day I remember asking him how he decided who he was going to vote for. He said, “That’s easy. I take a quick look around, then I check the contents of my wallet.”

Dumb hunters look around and check the contents of their hunting grounds. They know when things change and they got a pretty good idea what’s causing the changes too. I don’t know how they know this. Many of them never been to college and never read up on wolves and elk, deer and turkeys. But somehow they know.

It’s not a complicated manuever on their part and usually they don’t spout off about it in the newspapers, magazines or on TV. They just know. They’re out there a lot more than most scientists and them educated sort need to listen. The problem in RMNP isn’t a complicated matter at all. Just ask them dad gum dumb hunters. They could remedy that problem quickly and wouldn’t cost anything. But what do they know?

When you’re profiled into the ranks of “that dad gum dumb hunter” you’re down near the bottom of the food chain. You got to have credentials, money and connections, then maybe someone will listen.

Like me, for example. I don’t know squat but if I can stay at this long enough, I know I can convince enough people that I do know something. I can call myself an expert because, well, I am. And I do know that if it’s written down somewhere, it’s the truth. (Oh dang it!! I think that means there’s something else I know. I lied when I said I only knew two things. I knew that would cause trouble. Oh, no! I’ve done it again) THE END.

Tom Remington

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Wanting It Both Ways

There are areas all across America where too many deer are a problem. I have written many times about these problems and the arguments for and against how to deal with it are getting old.

The first step in dealing with any issue like this is admitting there is a problem. This doesn’t always happen and often times happens in varying degrees. Some people refuse to admit that deer amassed in great numbers on small parcels of land, destroying vegetation and spreading disease, as well as killing each other by means of a slow, agonizing death through starvation and disease, isn’t a problem.

Some might see it as a problem of sorts but refuse to take any steps to correct it. Still others see it as a problem and want to throw money at in hopes it will go away. But whose money are they wanting to throw?

There are businesses (nurseries, foresters, farmers, etc.) and residents who admit there is a problem and demand the government do something about it but when the government tells them what the tried and true method, the only one that is proven to control deer populations in the long term, is hunting, they balk.

Here’s the real problem as I see it. First of all, it is a very small minority of people that oppose the use of hunting for deer management. Most support the method while others recognize it as a viable solution and don’t fight it. They may voice concerns about safety and that is understandable.

Secondly, why do game commissions cave in to the demands of a few vocal small groups, when their job is to manage wildlife? No governmental program is going to satisfy all individuals or groups. These are the same groups that oppose hunting of any kind, demand the government stop deer from eating their plants, pay for damages to their vehicles when they collide with the deer, and all at the same time insisting that the government ensure that they will see these beautiful animals in the woods in their backyards or when they go out on an outing. All of these demands are being made yet many of the same people are not paying one red cent toward the management of the deer or other wildlife.

Fish and game departments in many states are strapped for cash. Most states rely heavily, if not completely, on fees generated from hunting and fishing licenses to pay for wildlife management programs. Some states collect taxes from the sale of hunting and fishing related equipment sold. More and more demands are being placed on fish and wildlife departments by taxpayers who are insisting that animals be present everywhere. They also demand that our wildlife be healthy and that we use all the latest scientific means to fulfill those demands. All of this costs money and as the cost of managing wildlife goes up, the number of hunters and fishermen, isn’t increasing at the same rate. License fees are going up in nearly all states and in some cases more than doubling in one year.

So the question becomes, who should pay? The answer is simple, the solution may not be. Everyone should pay – it’s the democratic way! We all know the expression about “looking a gift horse in the mouth”. When I am given something at no cost to me, I certainly am not in a position to make demands of the giver. When I do, I should be prepared to spend my own money. The same holds true in this case. You can’t have it both ways.

People build their homes by cutting down trees, digging up the ground, etc. while encroaching on the animals that live there. They build in the country – at least that’s what they call it – and demand that they will see wildlife out their back doors. Often times people feed the wildlife. The homeowner plants luscious grasses and shrubs and when the deer move in and devour all the vegetation left in the surrounding woods, they move in and clean up the easy foraging of backyards.

The homeowner doesn’t want hunting anywhere near their home, yet they want something done about the deer. Some going so far as to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on sterilization and birth control programs that show time and again are ineffective.

The solution of levying the costs of wildlife management isn’t easy but certainly is doable. Some states are proposing a wildlife viewing card that needs to be bought before visiting areas to look at animals in the wild. There are creative ways of generating the income, the difficulty may come in deciding who pays what percentage. I believe that hunters and fishers need to continue to pay their fair share for the management of the game they strive for but those same two groups can’t continue to meet the costs coming from the demands of the general public.

People can’t have it both ways, particularly when they aren’t paying for it. These people need to start chipping in their fair share to help manage wildlife. They can no longer look the gift horse in the mouth.

Tom Remington

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There's More To Illegal Immigration Than Crossing the Border

Before you get all in a huff or think that I’m going political outside of hunting, hang on for a second. This is actually a follow-up on a story I did awhile back about a group cleaning up the deserts of Arizona. The organization was called Hunters Who Care and in short they have spent about 4 years cleaning up garbage left behind by illegals coming into this country. The trash has amounted to 6 1/2 tons. The illegals spend considerable time living in the desert areas waiting for information, connections, friends or relatives to pick them up etc.

I was watching Hannity and Colmes on Fox last night while waiting for my daughter to get home so I could be relieved of my babysitting duties. At some point in their program, they did an update on what was going on in Arizona near the border. I believe the story was about the citizen patrols (Minutemen) keeping an eye on activity at the border.

Cameras went out into the desert and filmed the trash left behind by the Mexicans. It was unbelievable! What a mess! What many people don’t realize is this is good hunting grounds. What that actually means is this is great, or maybe I should be using past tense here, habitat for many different species of wildlife. This link will let you view the video from Fox News.

Where are the eco-nuts? Where are the animal rights groups now? This is worse than anything a deer or bear hunter ever thought of doing to the environment. Why aren’t these groups that are spending so much time bothering innocent trappers in northern Maine who might errantly trap a lynx or a bald eagle, all up in arms and threatening lawsuits against Arizona or the Federal Government? Surely their time and money could be better spent putting a stop to this hideous destruction of our environment.

When I learned about the efforts of the Arizona group, Hunters Who Care, I guess I couldn’t visualize what they might be up against until I saw the film footage from Fox News. This group has collected 6 1/2 tons of trash in 4 years. I’ll bet in one area where they panned their cameras in about a quarter of an acre, one 12 yard dump truck wouldn’t have been able to haul the mess.

Maybe it’s time for the environmentalist to get involved in something worthwhile or maybe it’s not part of their agenda.

Tom Remington

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Why Can't We Protect Ourselves Everywhere?

State’s laws vary across America in who can own a gun, when, where and how many, as well as what type. Anti gunners make the argument that guns kill people therefore we need to rid the world of them. Gun rights people say that if more law abiding citizens were armed, fewer idiots would be robbing and murdering.

Even in states where gun rights are pretty liberal, there are places where you are not allowed to have a gun, even if you have a permit to carry concealed – school property, courthouses, state parks, etc.

In Florida, a bill is racing through the Legislature that would lift the ban on guns in state parks. This bill comes of the heals of the two campers who were murdered in the Ocala National Forest.

Proponents of the bill are saying that if the campers had been able to possess a weapon, they might have been able to defend themselves. Similar instances like this occur more often in parks than we might know. Last week a mother and her two children were attacked by a bear. One of the children, a six-year old girl, was killed. Shouldn’t this woman have had the opportunity to defend herself and protect her children?

I’ve already asked what would have happened, if anything at all, if passengers on planes had been armed on September 11, 2001.

I think the bill is a good idea. I believe that lawful citizens deserve the right to choose whether or not they can defend themselves. Opponents are saying that visitors to the park will now be in danger because guns are going to kill park recreationalists. Why is it that lawful people own and carry guns all the time responsibly and somehow if we let them have them in a park in an outdoor setting, these same responsible human beings are going to start acting badly and killing other people?

Give me a break! In Tennessee where the bear attacked the mother and two kids, there are bears everywhere. This is true in and around the Ocala National Forest. We hear time and again about people being attacked by bears. I wouldn’t argue with anyone that bears don’t roam about the forest seeking which humans they may devour. Humans usually carry food and bears are gluttons. Let’s stop telling the public that bear attacks on humans are very rare. In Alaska if you head into the woods to go fishing and you don’t bring a sidearm with you, you’ll more than likely lose your fish or your life. Bears don’t know whether they’re in the Kenai National Forest or the Ocala National Forest.

There are some places where it only makes sense that we the people should be able to protect ourselves, whether it be from hungry bears of psycho-maniacs out for a Saturday night murder.

It is easy for the anti-gunners to rant and rave about how awful guns are and we need to rid the world of them but it is not so easy if it is your family member mauled by a bear or murdered by some lunatic.

Any American who is a law abiding person and can legally carry or own a gun, should be able to choose how they want to protect themselves and their families and where.

We’ll keep an eye on this bill making its way through the Florida Legislature and see if it begins a domino affect across the rest of the nation.

Tom Remington

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Hunting For Meat or Hunting For Trophies?

Are you a meat hunter or a trophy hunter? Perhaps you fall somewhere in the middle, meaning that you go out intending to shoot that illusive trophy buck and end up settling for something smaller to fill the freezer.

This seems to have been the norm for decades all across America. You talk to a deer hunter from any state and ultimately they are going to tell you they go out with good intentions and more times than not come home with meat. Oh, there are exceptions. I personally know hunters who are diciplined and determined enough that they would not settle for anything other than a big buck. They have their reasons and I can respect that.

Me, I’m a meat hunter mostly, although early in the season I would probably pass on a small deer but the trend in this country seems to be changing. The demand from hunters is more bigger bucks. This appears to be where the money is coming from as well. It is no secret that hunters nationwide spent millions of dollars each year to hunt. The number of wealthy hunters willing to spend more dollars for chances at trophy deer seems to be on the increase as well.

Texas is an example of one state that seems to be changing their rules for buck harvesting. Whether these changes are coming as a result of the discovery of better quality deer management or giving in to the demands of the bigger buck seeker, remains to be seen. Their rule changes prohibits the taking of bucks until their antler spread exceeds 13 inches. This combined with permit allocations for antlerless deer, officials hope to not only manage deer population but produce more bigger male deer.

Quality Deer Management Association is an organization of about 40,000 members nationwide and growing. Growth rate runs about 30% annually. Their goal is similar to what Texas has undertaken. They believe that managing the deer herd numbers isn’t enough. They think it also needs to be done to produce quality deer. In other words, bigger bucks.

With a trend toward this kind of deer management, time will tell if it will be in the best interest of the deer. If science proves that managing deer in this manner can produce a higher quality of deer and at the same time management numbers and keep hunters happy, then it will be a good thing. If not, then money once again will win out.

Tom Remington

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Gun Control Advocates Fail to Attack the Problem

Murder takes place in the United States daily. This is nothing new and often times, unless it happens in your neighborhood, it goes unnoticed. There is an endless list of weapons of choice or whatever the murderer can get their hands on, to commit the crime. What might that list look like?

Automobile – continually we here about an angry person driving their car into a crowd or through a store window front. One of the more prominent cases was the woman who ran her husband over in their driveway – more than once.

Golf club – This is not a new instrument used to inflict harm and death on an individual. Often the news is filled with stories of death caused by blunt force trauma from a golf club. Which brings us to:

Baseball bat – Another weapon of choice for the murderer.

Butcher knife – A popular weapon that litters the kitchen counter tops of every kitchen in America. There are blocks that hold a variety of knives – big and small. Many cabinet drawers are filled with a huge assortment of knives. Add to this list very similar items like, hunting knives, machettes, axes, chainsaws, etc.

Wine bottle – We see this one on TV all the time, where the perp busts a bottle on the head of the victim or they break the bottle and then use the sharp edges of the broken glass to slice and dice their opponent to death.

These are but only a few of the creative ways a would-be murderer may choose to dispatch a victim. More times than not anger is the root of the problem not the weapon they grab. The most heinous of murders is the premeditated ones.

It is easy in our attempt to grasp the meaning of senseless murder, to blame anything and everything. One thing Americans do best is blame the weapon. In response to a murder that can reach deep into the emotions of many, we often run to the lawmakers and demand that they “pass a law”. This makes us feel better and we begin a process in our minds that helps us to deal with the grief by convincing ourselves that a new law will stop the senseless violence. If only it did.

I pulled this bit of information from an article I found this morning in the Epoch Times. The article is about another politician’s attempt at controlling guns to stop violence instead of addressing the real issue. Here’s what was written.

City Council Member David Yassky and gun control advocates say the shootings are just further evidence that gun dealers and gun manufacturers, who are often out of state, need to be held accountable for selling guns that end up being used to injure or kill innocent people.

“Whenever there’s a shooting, there’s almost always two people who are responsible, the one with the gun and the one who sold him the gun,” said Yassky, a Democrat representing Brooklyn, at a City Hall press conference on April 9.

Yassky has authored a bill that would direct the city to fine any member of the gun industry—in New York City or out of state—$100,000 for each violation of a code of conduct designed to protect New Yorkers from illegal firearms.

In all honesty, what will this accomplish? Yes, it is easy to get your hands on a gun whether you are a law abiding good person or a slithering, madman convicted felon. If a gun dealer is illegally selling guns, they need to be stopped. People like Yassky and Mayor Bloomberg think that the way to stop the illegal sale of guns by gun dealers is to go after the gun manufacturer. Think about this for a moment.

Let’s use the same reasoning and apply it to my list of murder weapons above. A man walks into a local pro shop and buys a set of Calloway golf clubs. Two years later, for whatever the reasons, he either in rage or premeditation, uses his pitching wedge to murder his next door neighbor. Do we blame and put half of the responsibility back on the owner of the pro shop or cleck who sold him the clubs? Or, do we go after Calloway for manufacturing something that could potentially kill somebody? Of course we don’t.

What about kitchen knives, baseball bats, automobiles, wine bottles, axes, chainsaws, machettes? These have been used to kill people. The automobile has been used more in the causes of death than perhaps anything else but do we hold the dealership or the maker of the car responsible?

So why are people picking on guns? There are several reasons, some of which are driven by fear and misunderstanding and let’s not forget the psychology behind those who just want to control everything. This is too complex to cover in one editorial.

Murder in this country isn’t a gun rights issue. When someone decides they are going to kill someone, there’s not much any of us are going to be able to do to stop them. We can’t systematically remove all potential weapons from our society. It would be impossible to do. The impulse murderer will grab whatever is in front of them.

Punishing people for things we have no control over is foolishness. These same types who insist that everyone else in the world is wrong and they are right are the same ones who want to blame fast food restaurants for being fat, they blame the manufacturers of cigarettes because they have lung cancer, the list goes on.

Americans have for a long time approached social problems by avoiding going after the root of the problem and attempting to somehow resolve issues by making laws and/or blaming someone else. We need to stop this senselessness, get criminals off the street, enforce the laws we have and stop blaming others.

Tom Remington

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Is Pennsylvania Getting It Right?

The states all line up with a common problem – too many deer in urban and suburban areas. Reason? No hunting allowed. Cure? Allow hunting. That was a simple solution to a growing problem now wasn’t it. There’s only one problem. Dealing with those who find hunting an unsafe and cruel means of deer management.

Pennsylvania is taking a more proactive approach in trying to put back into place a time-proven long-term cure for an overabundance of deer – hunting. I’m no rocket scientist nor am I a wildlife biologist but experience, combined with a lot of pudding containing proof and it becomes clear as to what works and what doesn’t.

Hunting deer has been the only long-term management tool that works. Biologists have tried periodic culling and occassional hunts with sharp shooters and the results, if affective at all, are short term. A regular hunting season takes care of the population problem now and into the future.

Open your eyes and look around at where there are problems with too many deer eating up people’s back yards, wrecking cars, disease and starvation and you’ll see it is where deer hunting is not allowed. These problems, at least to this degree, don’t exist in the rural areas.

In Pennsylvania, State Farm, the large national auto insurer, ranked them number one in vehicle-deer collisions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control ranks Pennsylvania number two in infection of Lyme disease. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau estimates that farmers lose $90 million in agricultural losses each year and nurseries suffer losses of about $20,000 annually in damage and costs associated with attempting to control deer damage.

The Game Commission is putting together a plan to go after the problem and they have not tried to hide the fact that hunting is their preferred method of management of population problems. They intend to create more opportunities for hunters to take the deer by extending seasons, opening up more area, allowing more archery permits, allocating more antlerless deer permits. They also intend to spend a lot of time with education programs to teach citizens and community leaders how to more effectively deal with deer problems.

The track record speaks for itself. Contrary to what some say, hunting is an extremely safe activity and it is affective when allowed to run in continuous cycles to control deer numbers. Pennsylvania appears to be headed in the right direction with this. I am sure they will have their hands full of the very small minority who fight hunting of any kind. Will the Game Commission and politicians cave in to the vocal minority who will oppose the plan? We’ll see.

Tom Remington

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Differing Views On What Conservation Is

I read a letter to the editor yesterday in the Kennebec Journal by Bill Randall of Winthrop. In it he derides the likes of George Smith and Edye Cronk of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, declaring that neither they, nor SAM, are conservationists. He goes on to cite past stands that SAM has taken on certain issues involving conservation. You can read them in his letter.

I am not here to support SAM or George Smith and Edye Cronk. I am also not here to ridicule Mr. Randall. What I would like to point out is that many people are conservationists whether they are a democrat or a republican, conservative or liberal, protestant or catholic. Conservation of our wildlife, which is what we are referencing here, is not unlike many social and political issues – various sides believe different methods should be used to achieve the same goals.

Randall questions whether SAM is a conservationist group because of its opposition to these issues he lists.

Does supporting Sunday hunting, advocating for a hunting season for doves, supporting the trapping of bear, supporting the abolishment of the referendum process on wildlife issues, expanding the moose hunting season, supporting the coyote snaring program and, last but not least, opposing the effort to keep the Allagash Wilderness Waterway a true wilderness waterway sound like conservation?

Randall has some good points and simply because someone advocates hunting, does that make them a non-conservationist? Many true conservationists believe that managing wildlife species by controlling populations is conserving and preserving. A healthy population of any species of wildlife is great conservation. Biologist will agree with this and will also say that hunting is the best means available to achieve that goal.

It is unfortunate that hunters get a bad rap that because we kill animals, we are not interested in conservation. This is simply not true but again it comes back to my opening statement that achieving the goals of good conservation can be accomplished by differing methods. Some people feel more strongly about their methods than some else’s. This is good democracy at work.

I could use the same bad argument that making 6,000 acres of land a wildlife preserve isn’t the absolute best way to be a conservationist. With the knowledge garnered and the science learned by our wildlife experts, we have discovered many useful and valuable ways to better manage our wildlife and habitat. Biologists again would agree that simply leaving 6,000 acres alone and wild may not be the best for the wildlife and the habitat but when humans demand that they want wilderness lands, certain sacrifices are and should be allowed.

Being a conservationist doesn’t mean that you just protect land and what’s on it by shutting out the rest of the world. In a perfect situation, without man interfering, Mother Nature would do a pretty good job. But man is here on this earth and we don’t always do a good job of preserving what we have. Thankfully our wildlife experts are learning how to do that. This is the science we are now left with to manage and conserve. It’s a cooperation between man and nature.

Because someone may believe that turning 6,000 acres of property around Katahdin Lake into wilderness, is the ultimate in conservation and I disagree, I wouldn’t call that person a non-conservationist. They want a wilderness setting. Does that mean then that they are using the best methods to conserve those resources?

Everyone who ventures into the outdoors has an impact on our environment in a negative way. Through education we learn to minimize those impacts. If hikers going up and down the trails leading to Mt. Katahdin, erode the vegetation under foot to where the bare ground is showing, are hikers seen as not being conservationists? What about the rest? – camping, sight-seeing, boating, fishing, etc.

The best way to prohibit environmental damage and be a pure conservationist would be to ban hiking. This of course is ridiculous so we learn how to build hiking trails that have the least amount of destruction to our environment. In some cases, we limit the number of people who can use a recreational resource to also help in minimizing negative impact. It isn’t perfect but it is a compromise.

Conservationists come in all shapes and sizes. In our minds, perhaps some of us are a purest when it comes to conservation. In reality this is not achievable. We use the best resources available to us to achieve the best results and you know what? Sometimes we don’t always agree with the methods.

Tom Remington

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The Shortsightedness of Maine's Leaders

What is it the proponents of the Baxter land deal refuse to see and understand about Baxtergate, the controversial, complicated and secretive land swap that would add 6,015 acres of land to Baxter State Park? As is the case all too often, hunters are being blamed for the deal being stalled.

Aside from the fact that the deal is simply poor business, which for some reason seems to be of little interest to anyone, it epitomizes the greediness of the land grabbers running rampant throughout this country. Too many Mainers or actually too many transplants who are determined to create their own exclusive mountain retreat, continue to use lame reasoning for pushing for the deal.

I am tired out from listening to the bashing of hunters and in particular the age old story of how hunters have millions of acres to hunt on and why is it we can’t give up 6,000 acres for wildlife sanctuary. Well, if it was that simple that would be one thing but it is not, yet those proposing this swap will only see what they want to see no matter at what expense.

Story after story in the news relates the same line – “Baxter land deal held up because of hunting access”, “Hunters refuse to compromise on Baxter land swap”, “Gov. Baxter wouldn’t have wanted hunting on this piece of land” – and on and on it goes. Why won’t anyone address the bigger picture? Simple answer: selfishness and shortsightedness.

Linda Rogers McKee, former chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of Baxter State Park, has an article in the Kennebec Journal this morning. She exemplifies selfishness and shortsightedness along with hypocricy.

First of all she pens a lie that is used by anti-hunters everywhere. This lie always begins with, “I am not against hunting but………” then it is followed by a statement that says the following.

Plain and simple, hunting and hiking just don’t mix. Just ask any parent who has to wait until Sunday to take the kids out for recreation in the woods during hunting season in our area. The safety issue should convince anyone that hunting should not be allowed.

What a crock! This kind of lie doesn’t even deserve a response but the lack of seeing anything beyond her perception that hunters are dangerous, free-wheeling, hip-shooting, idiots, angers me to no end. And she obviously doesn’t have the ability to see beyond the end of her nose. Here’s how she begins.

Let’s be clear. Most Mainers do accept hunting. What we don’t accept is the notion that every parcel of open land should be open to hunters, especially one of paramount importance like Katahdin Lake.

With more than 15 million acres of both public and private land available to hunters in our state, there are plenty of places to hunt — and better ones than the lake lands.

Oh, isn’t that nice. This statement certainly shows her ignorance of the facts and to think she chaired the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. Maine only has 480,000 acres of public lands and this deal will rob Maine residents of 7,400 of that. And what about ALL that private land hunters can hunt on?

McKee actually answers that question and she doesn’t even know it because of blinded hypocrisy. Read what she herself uses as a big reason why we need to approve this land swap.

There is a lot at stake here. Wild places are diminishing at an astonishing rate as development creeps northward. Unless we want this parcel dotted with McMansions and development, we must act quickly.

This statement is a rare truth in her entire article. This is one of the biggest reasons Maine hunters are opposed to excluding use of this land to other forms of recreation.

Biased news articles and statements made by some are attempting to relay to the general public and to influence other members of the Legislature that hunters are in favor of the original deal that would exclude them. I strongly disagree. I can make the same statement in the reverse that hunters are opposed to the deal. Rep. Donald Marean (R) from Hollis and a member of the committee said he has talked to about a dozen hunters in his district who all support the original plan. Birds of a feather flock together I guess.

But I really want to get back to the argument that Linda Rogers McKee has made along with countless others that Maine hunters have millions of acres available to them to hunt on. 10.4 million acres in Maine are in unorganized territory and the majority of that land is owned by timber and pulp and paper companies. We are fortunate that these companies have left their lands open to recreation. But is this going to last forever? In all honesty, it probably won’t last another 10 years at best.

The Washington Post had an article a while back that dealt with big timber company lands across America and what is happening with them. One area in California called the Big River tract and nearby Salmon Creek are huge expanses of forested timberland owned by timber companies. People in those areas knew that the companies would never sell these lands because they needed them for the lumber. How wrong they were. These parcels and other larger tracts of timberlands across much of America, totaling millions and millions of acres have either sold or are up for sale.

Big River, neighboring Salmon Creek and dozens of other forests across the nation have come on the market in recent years as timber companies shed holdings that are worth more as real estate than as a source of lumber. The trend has spurred a land rush that has conservation groups scrambling to raise money to buy environmentally sensitive tracts in competition with private investors seeking to snap up the land for development.

The U.S. Forest Service conducted a recent study in an attempt to figure out what was going on and how this massive land sell off was going to affect wildlife resources, etc.

A recent U.S. Forest Service study predicted that more than 44 million acres of private forest land, an area twice the size of Maine, will be sold over the next 25 years. The consulting firm U.S. Forest Capital estimates that half of all U.S. timberland has changed hands in the past decade.

Here’s a reaction from a conservation group president about what is going on.

“The nation has never seen anything like this,” said Conservation Fund President Lawrence A. Selzer, whose 20-year-old group is hoping to raise $48 million in the coming months to buy the 16,000 acres that make up Big River and Salmon Creek. “It has the potential to permanently and profoundly change the landscape of America.”

And if that isn’t enough, does this shock anyone? If it doesn’t it should. This is a wake-up call folks.

International Paper Co. spokeswoman Amy J. Sawyer said her company is “contemplating selling some or all” of its 6.8 million acres of forest land scattered across the country and focusing on producing more profitable products such as uncoated papers and packages.

“We’re exploring whether there’s more value in holding and operating the land or in selling it,” Sawyer said. “That’s what we’re weighing.”

And what is happening to some of this land that is being bought up by conservation groups?

….the Conservation Fund bought nearly 7,700 acres of the most sensitive lands along the headwaters of Maine’s Machias River. A month later, it bought 1,600 acres of land in Georgia, just a fraction of the roughly 300,000 acres timber giant Weyerhaeuser recently sold in the state. Fund officials resold the tract to state officials, who plan to turn the area into a nature preserve…..

If any of this is not helping to convince you that Maine’s private, unorganized territories aren’t in jeopardy, perhaps this last part from the article will do it.

Like Georgia, Maine reveals both the promise and the pitfalls of the forest land rush. Maine has the largest contiguous block of undeveloped forest east of the Mississippi — at least 10 million acres, or more than half of the state’s entire land mass. Most of it was once owned by paper companies, but this is shifting quickly. According to the Massachusetts-based Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, 20 million acres changed hands in Maine’s North Woods, north of Bangor, between 1980 and 2000.

To those who continue to insist that Maine hunters have enough land to hunt on, please open your eyes and look into the near future. The same arguments you are using to try to convince others that Baxter land needs to be preserved as a wildlife sanctuary are the same reasons why it shouldn’t be exclusionary.

The Katahdin Lake parcel is only a tiny part of Maine’s land and what appears on the surface as a small concession hunters might need to make, will become a huge loss in a few years. Maine residents need to be prepared to spend huge sums of money to buy up the large tracts of land when they become available on the market and we can’t watch the real estate ads. Smart people need to watch the same things the land grabbers are watching – Security and Exchange Commission filings for debt problems with land holding companies, stock market and buying and selling trends nation wide.

While Maine residents are arguing the complicated land deal, more of our forested properties are being sold off to private enterprise and developers.

Are we asking all the right questions about this deal? Are the questions being asked tough enough or are we just smug in our own little world that we think Maine is not being looked at by greedy, land hungry barrons looking for a quick buck? Has anyone asked about what Gardner Land Co. is going to do with the 12,000 plus acres of forestland once it has clear-cut it?

Shortsightedness is a disease that is going to destroy Maine and it’s hunting, fishing and outdoor heritage. It’s time to put the Baxter land swap deal in the history books and focus in on the much larger picture with all who love “Maine, The Way Life Should Be”, working together. Together, we can protect Maine’s resources from the land grabbers for all Maine residents, not just a select few.

*Previous Posts on Baxtergate*

Two Opposing Sides Speak Out on Baxtergate

Clearing Up Two Misconceptions About Baxtergate

Putting Maine’s Wilderness In Perspective or Fighting Fire With Fire

Baxtergate Debate Continues

Millinocket Continues Its Battle

Adding a Personal Touch to Baxtergate

Many Small Percentages = One Big Percentage

More on Baxtergate

Katahdin Lake to be Added to Baxter State Park

Land Swap Proposal to Increase Baxter State Park

Not Everyone Happy About Baxter Land Swap

Millinocket Wants To Be Heard In Regards To Baxter Land Swap

Monday Morning Podcast (audio podcast about the Baxter Land Swap)

Why The Baxter Land Swap Shouldn’t Happen

Maine’s Governmental Leaders Have Messed Up – The Saga of Baxtergate

More Information on Baxtergate

Baxter and the Anti-Hunting Crowd

Tom Remington

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