West Virginia Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook Available

October 10, 2012

West Virginia Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook Available

The 2012 “Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook” is available on the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ website and at DNR offices across the state, according to Chris Ryan, supervisor of Game Management Services for the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. Since 1970, the Wildlife Resources Section, in cooperation with volunteers from numerous other agencies, has conducted a fall mast survey to determine the abundance of mast produced by 18 species of trees and shrubs.

“The availability of fall foods has a significant impact on wildlife populations and harvests,” said Ryan. “Our biologists have used the mast survey data to demonstrate the strong correlation between mast conditions and deer, bear and turkey harvests. In addition to the impact on harvests, the amount of food available each year can affect the reproductive success of numerous species which will affect population sizes in the following years.”

Production of acorns is well above the 42-year average and will have noticeable effects on the 2012–2013 hunting seasons. However, beechnuts and walnuts were below their long-term average.

“It is very important for hunters to scout and consider the type and amount of food available in the areas that they hunt,” added Ryan. “One of the primary traits in this year’s mast crop is the spotty or inconsistent areas that had abundant or scarce production. Hunters can find a wealth of facts in the ‘Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook’ and it should provide them valuable information before heading into the field.”

Copies of the 2012 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook may be found on the DNR website at under “Hunting.”  Information analyzing mast conditions and wildlife harvests also is available on the website.

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Private Landowner Shuts Off Access to Hunting Land Due to Decreased Tax Break

September 28, 2012

Private Landowner Shuts Off Access to Hunting Land Due to Decreased Tax Break

On the cusp of hunting season, the largest private property owner in Minnesota is blocking access to 128,000 acres of property previously open for hunting and snowmobiling. The landowner, Molpus Woodlands Group, based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is a timber supplier.

Molpus actually owns 286,000 acres of Minnesota forest, 128,000 of which was enrolled in the Sustainable Forestry Incentives Act program. Under the program, the company’s tax break was at $2 million to maintain the land used by the public, but in 2010, the state capped payments for the program and Molpus saw its annual tax break cut down to $100,000.

The company has posted “Keep Out” signs and barred motorized access to the hunting land and snowmobiling trails popular with residents and visitors. Molpus’ land stands in between hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails.

Rep. Dave Dill, D-Crane Lake, is working toward restoring the tax incentive or reaching another deal with Molpus to reopen their land which is crucial to the local economy.

“We have hundreds of crossings on their land. This is going to shut down snowmobiling in that area if we don’t get this changed,” Dill told the Duluth News Tribune. “This is bigger than just deer hunting. If those snowmobile trails don’t open, they [snowmobilers] will just go somewhere else. It’s a big hit to the economy.”

The legislature convenes again in January to discuss further options, but it’s likely the matter will not change until then.

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Early Season Fire Safety in Montana

August 13, 2012

Early Season Fire Safety in Montana

It’s hot, it’s dry and wildfire prevention must be the top priority for all early season hunters in Montana.

“As early season hunters take to the field we are especially concerned about accidental fire starts caused when dry vegetation accumulates in a vehicle’s skid plate or catalytic converter,” said Ron Aasheim, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesman in Helena. “Hot temperatures have cured summer’s lush vegetation, increasing the likelihood of grass fires.”

While about 5,000 Montana archery hunters can head afield Aug. 15 with their 900 series hunting licenses, Montana’s archery-only hunting season for deer, elk, antelope, black bear, wolf and mountain lion begins Sept. 1. Most upland game birds seasons also open Sept. 1. The bighorn sheep archery season begins Sept. 5.

Hunters driving on roads with drying vegetation along the edges or growing down the middle of a two-track road can cause autumn fire starts and that keeps landowners and managers on edge this time of year.

“Hunters have an especially big responsibility to be fire conscious,” Aasheim said. “It is a matter of human safety and protecting private property and the resources of Montana.”

Hunters should:

  • Drive only on established roads.
  • Avoid roads with tall vegetation in the middle track.
  • Never park over dry grass and other vegetation.
  • Carry a fire extinguisher—or water-filled weed sprayer—shovel, axe, and, a cell phone for communications in addition to other outdoor safety gear.
  • Restrict camping activities to designated camping areas.
  • Not build campfires.
  • Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.

Being able to respond is essential in the first few seconds of a fire start when it is small and easily extinguished.

“It is also important for hunters to know when to back off and who to call for help if you come upon a fire or accidentally cause one that is too big to easily put out,” Aasheim said. “Have a personal action plan when outdoors, for fire starts as well as for other types of accidents, severe injuries and other emergencies.”

For up-to-date details on fire and drought-related restrictions and closures, visit FWP’s website at Click Drought & Fire.

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Wyoming Seeks to Remove Grizzly Bear from Federal Protection List, Potentially Open Hunting Season

June 4, 2012

Wyoming Seeks to Remove Bear from Federal Protection List; Open a Hunting Season

The Governor of Wyoming, Matt Mead, recently wrote a letter to Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to remove the federal protection awarded to grizzly bears under the Endangered Species Act. Mead also asked the DOI to expedite the review for federal protections for Yellowstone bear populations to under two years.

Mead quotes grizzly bear scientists and other experts when he says the species has “unquestionably recovered within the Yellowstone Ecosystem,” as he wrote in the letter to the DOI.

The bear count within Yellowstone Park and in adjacent recovery areas is estimated to be at about 600 grizzlies.

Mead wants the state of Wyoming to regain full control of managing its bear population. He says bear recovery is costly in Wyoming; in two senses of the word. For one, Wyoming’s investment in the recovery effort has already totaled $35 million over the past 28 years. Currently, the average annual cost to conserve grizzlies approaches $2 million. But finances are not the only costly repercussion.

Mead also cited four fatal Yellowstone bear incidents in the last two years that occurred in or near the park. He also mentioned bear-related property damage that was “disturbing and costly.”

Those who want to keep the bear federally protected cite the widespread infection of whitebark pine tree disease. Whitebark pine seeds is an important food source for grizzly bear and bear advocates are concerned that if the tree is wiped out by the disease, the bear population could go with it. State and federal wildlife managers say grizzlies appear to be adapting fine by finding other food sources, as mentioned in the Yellowstone Gate.

In his letter, Gov. Mead addresses the concerns about whitebark pine trees and points out that although there was a committee directed to study how the whitebark pine relates to grizzly bear populations, it would take two years to complete the study which is “too long and the cost is too great.”

Allowing the state to control its grizzly population would open the prospect of a new hunting season. Critics of delisting the animal want the bear to remain under federal protection until Yellowstone bear populations rebound to a greater degree. They expressed concern that hunting the grizzly bear might hinder grizzlies’ continuing recovery.

Click here to view the letter from Gov. Mead to Sec. Salazar. (pdf)

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Seized Marijuana Grow Operation Land Opens Up 1,000 Acres for Hunting, Hiking and Habitat Conservation

June 1, 2012

Former Marijuana Operation Now Public Land Open for Hunting

The fields are ripe for hunting. Almost 1,000 acres of land in Tennessee used to cultivate marijuana plants for more than a decade were seized several years ago from two people running a million-dollar multi-state wholesale drug distribution ring and are now open for use by outdoorsmen and women of all pursuits.

In 2006, Jeffory Carl Young, 55, of Cannon County, Tennessee and Morris Roller, 59, of Warren County were arrested in a sting by five law enforcement agencies, including local, state and federal authorities.

They were convicted in 2008 and since that time, debate had ensued as to what should be done with the reclaimed land on Short Mountain in Cannon County. The pristine land on one of Tennessee’s tallest mountains in a remote part of the state is home to certain species of wildlife not found elsewhere. Two species of crayfish, salamanders and beetles are unique to the area.

After the pair’s arrest, Neal Appelbaum, president of the Stones River Watershed Association immediately set in motion conservation propositions for the land. Keeping former marijuana-growing land open for the public and free from development following seizure is an unusual outcome (except for when the land-owners are unaware of the operation). It has no precedent in Tennessee.

“It’s irreplaceable land, it’s irreplaceable habitat, it’s unique to Tennessee,” said Neal Appelbaum to 9News. “The idea that this would have been sold off and developed never really made sense. But everybody had to come to the agreement that this is the right thing to do. Lots of people could have had reasons not to.”

Preservation of the land was not guaranteed until all agreements were made and deeds were signed April 10. Designation of the land as state land was the culmination of five and a half years of discussion, debate, negotiation, paperwork, process and ownership. In the end, state wildlife, environmental officials, sportsmen and conservationists alike were pleased with the outcome.

Now, all but a few parcels of the land already designated to a bible camp and a farming collective is open to hikers and hunters.

View the report from 9News along with scenery from the reclaimed land on Short Mountain below.

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Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development Criticize New Bills That Would Roll Back Leasing Reforms

April 20, 2012

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development Criticize New Bills That Would Roll Back Leasing Reforms

New legislation aimed at speeding up public lands energy development would undercut common-sense leasing reforms and safeguards for fish and wildlife at a time when oil and gas production is already on the rise, a coalition of hunting and angling groups said Thursday.

The three bills, H.R. 4381, H.R. 4382 and H.R. 4383, introduced this week by members of Colorado’s U.S. House delegation, would undermine federal leasing reforms that encourage responsible planning and reduce the number of lease protests, said Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development. The reforms require federal officials to address potential conflicts upfront when considering impacts on fish, wildlife and habitat.

“ Common-sense leasing reforms have helped restore balance to energy development on public lands,’’ said Brad Powell, energy director for Trout Unlimited. “We’ve seen how facing potential conflicts head-on has reduced the number of lease protests and has given the industry more certainty. We shouldn’t roll back the safeguards for our public lands.’’

The sportsmen’s coalition is led by the National Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited.

Another provision in the bills would allow development to proceed before resource management plans can be revised or adjusted. These plans analyze where development can and should occur while considering the potential effects of energy projects on resources such as air and water quality, fish and wildlife.

“By the time the BLM gets around to updating resource management plans, they’re so old they don’t reflect current, on-the-ground reality. Sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts support responsible energy development, which means BLM must take a hard look at critical fish and wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and the potential cumulative impacts on both,” said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.

The push to accelerate development on public lands comes amid record natural gas production and high rates of oil production, according to federal statistics. The Bureau of Land Management reports that 4,244 drilling permits were approved on federal lands last year, compared with 3,260 new wells drilled during the same time.

Meanwhile, the BLM states that of the 38.4 million acres of public land under lease in fiscal 2011, just 12.3 million acres – or less than one third – were in production.

“Some members of the energy industry claim that inadequate opportunities exist to develop and drill public lands,” said Tom Franklin, senior director of science and policy for the TRCP. “The numbers, however, tell a different story. Sportsmen support the responsible development of our public lands energy resources, but we believe that before new leases are issued, particularly those that are located in areas important to fish and wildlife, industry should develop leases that already exist.”

Besides jeopardizing public lands fishing, hunting and recreation that help sustain rural economies, several provisions in the bills would restrict the public’s ability to weigh in on decisions affecting public lands, said Michael Saul, an attorney with the National Wildlife Federation. Saul noted that under the bills, it would cost a person $5,000 for every protest of a lease or permit.

“These bills are yet another giveaway to the booming, generously subsidized oil and gas industry by, among other things, erecting insurmountable financial barriers to the public’s right to object to leasing and permitting decisions,’’ Saul added. “The bills also would restrict, perhaps unconstitutionally, courts’ abilities to remedy illegal agency actions and would pointlessly revoke sensible Interior Department reforms.

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Realtree Nursery Food Plot Trees Now Available at Wal-Mart

April 16, 2012

Realtree Nursery Food Plot Trees Now Available at Wal-Mart

Realtree Nursery Food Plot Trees are now available at select Wal-Mart stores throughout the country. You can find Dunstan Chestnuts, Sawtooth Oaks, American Persimmons and Native Crabapples in Wal-Marts in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.

Two-year-old, 3-gallon-sized trees will be available in the Wal-Mart Garden Centers for the retail price of $24.95. Look for the Realtree Nursery tags and pot wraps.

Dunstan Chestnuts are the most widely planted chestnuts in America. These blight-resistant trees have produced the best quality nuts by commercial orchardists all over the U.S. for the past 30 years. They bear in only two to four years and produce more high quality nutrition per acre than any oak species or hybrid. In fact, one tree will bear 10 to 20 lbs of nuts by the time it is 10 years old, before most oaks even start to bear. The sweet-tasting nuts are high in carbohydrates and protein, and have no bitter-tasting tannin like oaks, which make them irresistible to deer. They are the best food plot tree, period.

The Sawtooth Oak is a rapid-growing tree that is native to China. It begins to bear in four to six years and its very productive acorn crop is excellent for deer and wildlife. It bears up to 100 lbs/tree at maturity. It has been widely planted because of its prolific and early bearing for an oak tree. The Sawtooth Oak is adapted to a variety of soil conditions.

American Persimmon is a great deer and wildlife attractant. Deer actively seek out persimmon trees and eat every fruit that is within reach or when it hits the ground. The fruit has a rich, nutty, amaretto flavor, but is astringent until completely ripe. Its black corrugated bark looks like alligator hide and its foliage is orange-red in the fall. The American Persimmon grows in a wide variety of conditions, from wet to sandy soils, lowlands to uplands. Trees are either male or female, so you should plant 3-10 trees in a block, to insure pollination.

The Native Crabapple is a small tree with beautiful pink apple blossoms in the spring and small red-green crabapples that are a favorite food for deer and wildlife in the fall. It also produces colorful fall foliage.

For a complete list or Google Map of Wal-Mart Stores, check out

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South Dakota Hunters Warned of Spring Fire Danger

March 23, 2012

Fire danger is often a concern for hunters taking the field in the autumn, but conditions this spring in South Dakota have officials warning turkey hunters to help prevent forest and range fires.

“We are experiencing very dry conditions across most of South Dakota,” said Emmett Keyser, assistant director of the Wildlife Division in the Department of Game, Fish and Parks. “This is especially true in the Black Hills. Hunters and other outdoor recreation users can be of great assistance in our efforts to prevent fires, and just as importantly, provide extra eyes to watch for any fire activity.”

Fire danger is extremely high in the Black Hills and fires have already occurred. It is illegal to have open fires or campfires in the Black Hills away from designated areas without a permit.

Keyser said hunters can help prevent wildfires by adding the following preparations to their hunting plans:

  • Carry a cell phone with a list of emergency contact numbers, and keep track of where good cell coverage is available
  • Keep in close contact with private landowners to know what concerns and restrictions are in place when hunting their land
  • Park vehicles in designated parking areas and away from tall vegetation
  • Ensure that catalytic converters and mufflers are in good repair
  • Walk in to hunting areas and walk out, including retrieval of game whenever possible
  • Restrict driving to established roads and trails
  • Camp only in designated camping areas and restrict use of campfires
  • Bring extra water, a bucket, a shovel, and other firefighting equipment
  • Hunt in the early morning when high humidity holds down fire danger
  • Restrict smoking to vehicles and extinguish cigarettes in the vehicle’s ashtray

“The key to fire safety is awareness,” Keyser said. “Hunters just need to use common sense and be aware of the potential for wildfires no matter what the conditions are. A responsible person’s actions can make a huge difference in protecting both property and wildlife resources.”

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DNR Urges Caution as Wildfire Season Returns to Wisconsin

March 15, 2012

It’s early, and we need everyone’s help. The wild fire season is upon us.

Nearly all the snow has melted and Wisconsin’s recent warm, windy days have contributed to 70 wildfires burning 100acres in southern and central portions of the state. Department of Natural Resources officials urge residents and visitors to use extreme caution before engaging in outdoor activities with the potential for wildfire.

Due to the snow-free conditions, burning permits are now required in DNR Protection areas. Burning permits are free and are available from local Emergency Fire Wardens, over the phone1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876), or on the internet at and enter the keyword “fire”.

With a permit in hand it is still necessary to call the toll-free 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or visit the DNR website and enter the keyword “fire” each day you intend to burn to learn of any restrictions on open burning in place for your location on that day. The webpage and the phone messages are updated daily at 11 a.m.

“We’ve been seeing a trend right now, people are getting their required annual burning permit, but failing to call or check online for the daily burn restrictions,” says Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist. “Checking conditions daily is an important step in the DNR’s new automated burning permit system. Daytime burns when higher temperatures, lower humidity and stronger winds increase the risk of an escaped forest fire. Burning outside the permit requirements can result in a citation for illegal burning.”

Typically, the DNR allows burning after 6 pm when winds are calm and the humidity rises. However, this time of year, burning permits can also be suspended from day-to-day when the fire danger elevates due to a lack in precipitation or prolonged drought conditions.

“Especially in the spring, it’s extremely important that people check our toll-free hotline or visit our internet page after 11 am each day for the daily fire restrictions, before burning,” says Koele.

The DNR also recommends fire-safe alternatives, such as hauling debris to a designated disposal site or chipping instead of burning. Other ideas such as composting, recycling, or leaving the debris in the woods for wildlife habitat to enjoy eliminates the risk of wildfire altogether and it reduces exposure to unhealthy smoke.

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