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Sportsmen’s Heritage Legislation H.R. 1825 Secures 100th Co-sponsor

July 29, 2013

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An important milestone has been reached as 100 co-sponsors have now signed onto the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, H.R. 1825, introduced by Congressman Dan Benishek of Michigan. The legislation received bi-partisan support when it was voted out of the U.S. House...

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Washington Commission Will Consider Hunting Rules, Discuss Additional Octopus Protection

April 4, 2013

Washington Commission Will Consider Hunting Rules, Discuss Additional Octopus Protection

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting 17 new hunting rules for the upcoming season and receive a briefing on options for extending greater protection to Puget Sound’s giant Pacific octopus population at a public meeting next week in Olympia.

The commission, a nine-member citizen panel the sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene April 12-13 on the Capitol Campus in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. An agenda is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2013/ .

One new hunting rule under consideration by the commission would allow bow hunters to use illuminated arrow nocks, which can be helpful in finding and retrieving arrows. Another would restore antlerless elk opportunities for archery hunters in Yakima County, specifically in game management units 352 (Nile) and 356 (Bumping).

Those and other hunting proposals scheduled for a vote are available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/regulations/development.html#12-19-007 .

WDFW fishery managers will also brief the commission on options recommended by an ad hoc advisory group for increasing protection for the giant Pacific octopus population in Puget Sound. Last November, the commission received three petitions requesting amendments to sportfishing rules after a giant Pacific octopus was legally harvested from the waters of a popular dive site at Seacrest Park in West Elliot Bay.

The commission is not scheduled to take action on octopus rules at the upcoming meeting, but may do so at a later meeting.

In other business, WDFW staff will brief the commission on:

  • The proposed transfer of the department’s Hunter Education Division and certain wildlife-conflict responsibilities from the Enforcement Program to the Wildlife Program.
  • The 2012 Puget Sound crab season.
  • WDFW’s Americans with Disabilities Advisory Committee

Read and join the discussion on Washington Commission Will Consider Hunting Rules, Discuss Additional Octopus Protection at OutdoorHub.com.

Approved Actions by Alabama Conservation Advisory Board

March 17, 2013

Approved Actions by Alabama Conservation Advisory Board

The Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Board met in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, March 9, 2013, to receive public comments on all pending matters. The Board considered and responded to the following for the 2013-2014 hunting seasons:

  1. In Alabama, it is unlawful to hunt in an “area” where bait or feed has been placed in an attempt to lure or attract an animal with the intent to take or kill them (Section 9-11 -244, Code of Alabama). In an effort to clarify the Statute concerning hunting with the aid of feed, the CAB unanimously approved a motion to define that “area.” The delineation of an area beyond which there would be a rebuttable presumption that feed would not be a lure or attraction over the area being hunted was approved. The text of the approved regulation would be as follows: “For the purposes of Section 9-11-244, Code of Alabama 1975, and Rule 220-2-.11, Alabama Administrative Code, as it applies to the hunting of deer and feral swine, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that any bait or feed (as defined in Section 9-11-244) located beyond 100 yards from the hunter and not within the line of sight of the hunter, is not a lure, attraction or enticement to, on or over the area where the hunter is attempting to kill or take the deer or feral swine. For the purpose of this regulation, “not within the line of sight” means being hidden from view by natural vegetation or naturally occurring terrain features. This regulation shall not apply on public lands.”
  2. The CAB unanimously approved the shifting of the end of the deer hunting season in southwest Alabama to February 10. In an effort to keep the number of days consistent throughout the entire state, the deer season will be closed from December 2-11 in the area of the state that is allowed to hunt into February. The counties and areas involved are all of Baldwin, Escambia, Mobile, and Washington Counties and parts of Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Covington, Monroe and Wilcox counties, as shown on the attached map.
  3. The CAB unanimously approved the establishment of a restricted unantlered deer season in portions of north Alabama during the period of November 23-January 31. The bag limit in this portion of North Alabama has been reduced to one unantlered deer per day. The counties involved are all of Limestone, and parts of Blount, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Madison, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties, as shown on the attached map.
  4. The CAB unanimously approved the establishment of a mandatory game check system for the 2013-2014 deer hunting season. In addition to completing the Alabama Harvest Record upon the harvest of an antlered buck or turkey, hunters will be required to record their harvest into a game check database and obtain a harvest confirmation number for each animal taken. There are three ways to record the harvest and receive the harvest confirmation number: through the Outdoor Alabama website, the Outdoor Alabama App for both Droid and iPhone, or by calling a 1-800 number. All deer, antlered and unantlered, and turkey must be registered within 24 hours of harvest.

The CAB also approved the following:

  1. The reopening of a previously closed area of southwest Mobile County south of interstate 10 to turkey hunting.
  2. The shifting of the dates of the south zone dove season back one day to include the Friday after Thanksgiving.
  3. The elimination of all fall turkey hunting seasons in Alabama.
  4. The closing of the dog deer hunting season in a portion of Elmore County, except by permit.
  5. The closing of the dog deer hunting season in Wilcox County, except by permit.
  6. The revisions for the use of certain arms and ammunition, including allowing the use of laser sights by legally blind hunters who are accompanied by licensed sighted assistants.
  7. The revision of legal arms and ammunition to allow for the use of air guns .30 caliber or larger for deer.
  8. The opening of bobcat and fox season to year round hunting with no bag limits.
  9. The reduction of the Sauger creel limit to five.
  10. The closure of walleye fishing in parts of Clay County.
  11. The closure of Shoal bass fishing in Halawakee, Uchee and Wacoochee creeks in southeast Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .

Read and join the discussion on Approved Actions by Alabama Conservation Advisory Board at OutdoorHub.com.

Montana FWP to Abandon Yellowstone Wolf Hunting Limits

February 5, 2013

Montana FWP to Abandon Yellowstone Wolf Hunting Limits

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced Monday that they were discontinuing efforts to stop gray wolf hunting and trapping near Yellowstone National Park.

The agency had previously suspended hunting because several collared wolves had been found shot outside the park. Hunters argued that not enough notice was given before the closure took effect, and a local judge agreed by issuing an injunction against the hunting closure.

FWP commission chairman Bob Ream said it would take several weeks at least before the agency could challenge the injunction, by which Montana’s wolf season would’ve long ended. FWP officials say that while there are concerns, the unexpectedly high amount of wolves harvested shouldn’t have an effect on the park’s overall population. Hunters have amounted to 108 wolves taken statewide while trappers claimed 66 for a combined total of 174 so far. Montana’s wolf season ends February 28.

The FWP hopes to cull the local wolf population by 200 or so animals because of attacks on both livestock and natural prey animals like elk. The gray wolf only recently returned to Montana and roughly 650 of the animals live near the Yellowstone area.

Read and join the discussion on Montana FWP to Abandon Yellowstone Wolf Hunting Limits at OutdoorHub.com.

Safari Club International Recognizes Congressman Paul Ryan as the 2013 Federal Legislator of the Year

January 17, 2013

Safari Club International Recognizes Congressman Paul Ryan as the 2013 Federal Legislator of the Year

Safari Club International (SCI) is pleased to recognize Representative Paul Ryan (Wisc.) as the 2013 SCI Federal Legislator of the Year. The award will be presented during the evening banquet on Jan. 25, 2013 at the world’s greatest convention dedicated to North American and international hunting, the 41st Annual Safari Club International Hunters’ Convention.

“No other legislator is more deserving of this award after the 2012 election cycle than Congressman Paul Ryan,” said SCI President John Whipple. “Being an avid hunter, Congressman Ryan was a champion to our cause, and put the preservation of hunting heritage in the national spotlight during his 2012 vice-presidential campaign. Be it in a business suit or full field attire, voters across the country saw the indelible image of him, with his bow at full draw; showing indisputable evidence of his commitment to being the voice for sportsmen and women both on the campaign trail and in the 112th Congress. SCI is proud to honor Representative Ryan as the 2013 SCI Federal Legislator of the Year.”

“It is an honor to be recognized by Safari Club International and its members as the 2013 Federal Legislator of the Year. I’m grateful to win this award and even more excited to be able to pass on to my children the hunting traditions and values that SCI stands for,” Ryan said. “The values of sportsmen and women have been a focus throughout my career and I will continue to support the hunting traditions and rights we cherish.”

Aside from his legislative work in Congress and with Safari Club International, Ryan is a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), having previously served as co-chairman for CSC in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011.

Read and join the discussion on Safari Club International Recognizes Congressman Paul Ryan as the 2013 Federal Legislator of the Year at OutdoorHub.com.

Pennsylvania to Remove Wild Boar Protection, Hoping to Eradicate the Invasive Species

January 17, 2013

Pennsylvania to Remove Wild Boar Protection, Hoping to Eradicate the Invasive Species

The Pennsylvania Game Commission will soon vote on a measure to remove protections currently in place for wild boars in the state. The animal is a a nuisance and invasive species, although certain ranches do sell hunts for the animals.

If the board approves the measure to remove boars’ protections, it would ban their importation, possession and release into the wild, among other things. An importation ban would be effective July 2013, and possession in July 2014.

Feral swine and boars have been a problem in Pennsylvania for some time, and similar measures have been proposed before, but none have been taken so seriously as the current measure before the board. Commission Executive Director Carl Roe proposed the idea to remove protections for the boar last spring and it went out for public comment. Mostly hunting preserve owners responded saying not to move forward with the order because the boars are “an important commodity.”

The commission does not believe their importance to business outweighs environmental conservation concerns. The commission’s official position on feral swine states, ”Feral swine are not native to Pennsylvania and present many problems to wildlife and people. They can cause tremendous damage to habitat and property, and pose an ever-present threat to wildlife and the biosecurity of the state‘s multi-million-dollar pork industry. Pennsylvania would be a better place without these swine, and the Game Commission is committed to their eradication.”

A 2009 article in Weekly Press, a Philadelphia community newspaper, on feral swine in Pennsylvania states, “Feral pigs are incredibly invasive, and do immense environmental damage. They destroy habitat for turkey, grouse, deer and other critters, by rooting and digging up the soil for food. They will eat nearly anything: tubers, roots, stems, leaves, fruit, bark, and their favorite — acorns — competing for mast crops with native wildlife. They also eat bird eggs and trample and kill native birds.”

There are about 20 to 30 preserves that offer feral swine hunting in Pennsylvania.

Read and join the discussion on Pennsylvania to Remove Wild Boar Protection, Hoping to Eradicate the Invasive Species at OutdoorHub.com.

Michigan Natural Resources Commission Hears Wolf Status Update

January 11, 2013

Michigan Natural Resources Commission Hears Wolf Status Update

A presentation during the January meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission outlined a process that could produce recommendations by early summer for a potential wolf season. Public Act 520 of 2012 (Senate Bill 1350) designated wolves as a game species in Michigan when it was signed into law in December.

“We commend the DNR for acting swiftly to outline a transparent and scientific process for moving forward with a wolf season,” said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

The update, which was requested by new NRC Chairman J.R. Richardson, was given by Adam Bump of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. In his presentation, Bump covered the history of wolves in Michigan and the forthcoming process for determining how a public hunting and trapping opportunity could be structured.

After being extirpated in Michigan, wolves were granted state protection in 1965 and designated an Endangered Species in 1973. They began returning to the Upper Peninsula from Wisconsin and Canada in the 1980s. Wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species List and management returned to the state early in 2012, after more than tripling the original recovery population goal of 200. A Wolf Management Plan was created in 2008 by representatives from diverse stakeholder groups, which recognized public hunting as an acceptable management method, particularly where population density was linked to wolf-human conflict, such as livestock or pet depredation.

According to the presentation, there has been a correlation between wolf density and livestock depredation events in the Upper Peninsula, warranting consideration of a possible wolf season. Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason stated that the Wolf Management Plan would be closely followed. The presentation outlined some recommended next steps that may be instructive in forecasting when any wolf season might be implemented.

This month, the DNR will begin a wolf abundance survey and meet with tribal biologists per the 1836 Consent Decree. Tribal consultation will continue throughout the process. In February, there will be a Wolf Forum meeting, followed by public engagement through a series of meetings in March. Another Wolf Forum meeting will be held in April, as well as completion of the abundance survey and a summary of depredation and human/wolf conflicts. A recommended wolf season structure could be proposed in May or June.

MUCC supported passage of the Wolf Bill, having adopted a policy resolution at its 2011 Annual Convention to support the creation of a wolf hunting and/or trapping season.

Read and join the discussion on Michigan Natural Resources Commission Hears Wolf Status Update at OutdoorHub.com.

Arizona Game and Fish Commission Meets January 11

January 10, 2013

Arizona Game and Fish Commission Meets January 11

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will hold its scheduled meeting tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 11), at the Game and Fish Department headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway in Phoenix (1.5 miles west of I-17). The public is invited to attend the Friday meeting in Phoenix, as well as the Saturday afternoon (Jan. 12) “Meet the Commission” event in Carefree (more information below).

The Friday, Jan. 11 meeting begins at 8 a.m. Items on the agenda include:

  • Briefing on state and federal legislation.  
  • Overview of the department’s process for establishing research priorities to address programmatic management information needs. 
  • Review of a draft commission policy establishing the commission’s position regarding access to and across public lands held by the Forest Service and BLM.  
  • Presentation on the pilot Big Boquillas Ranch Access Project and Agreement, and an update on the landowner compact that will be incorporated into the program.  
  • Briefing on the purposes and uses of Section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act to facilitate establishment, recovery and management of repatriated populations of listed species. 
  • Notice of Final Rulemaking and Economic Impact Statement amending rules within Article 1 and Article 3, addressing the taking and handling of wildlife.
  • Notice of Exempt Rulemaking amending rules within Article 8, addressing wildlife areas and commission property.
  • Notice of Final Rulemaking and Economic Impact Statement amending Article 7 rules addressing Heritage Grants and Article 9 rules addressing Arizona Wildlife Conservation Fund Grants.
  • Hearings on license revocations for violations of Game and Fish codes and civil assessments for the illegal taking and/or possession of wildlife (time certain at 2 p.m.). 
  • Election of the commission chair and vice-chair for 2013 and election of positions and appointments to standing committees. 

The public can view the meeting either by: (1) attending in person in Phoenix, (2) via live streaming video at Game and Fish regional offices (except for the Yuma regional office, which is temporarily unavailable due to construction), or (3) online at www.azgfd.gov/commissioncam. Members of the public may submit Speaker Cards (Blue Cards) if they wish to speak to the commission at the Phoenix meeting or from the regional Game and Fish offices. Public comment is not available for those viewing the webcast online.

For a copy of the meeting agenda, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission and click on the “commission agenda” link.

On Saturday, Jan. 12, the public is encouraged to attend the “Meet the Commission” event beginning at 4 p.m., at the Carefree Resort and Conference Center (Cholla 1 Room), 37220 Mule Train Road in Carefree, Ariz.. This is the public’s chance to meet the members of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and will last approximately one hour. The event opens with the director’s welcome and commissioner introductions, followed by open discussion and questions/answers with members of the commission. The event will conclude with the ceremonial presentation of the gavel to the commission chair. The “Meet the Commission” event will not be webcast.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is the policy-setting board overseeing the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It is composed of five members (serving staggered five-year terms) appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. No more than one commissioner may be from any one county. No more than three may be from the same political party. Since its inception in 1929, this organizational structure has served as a buffer for the best interests of science-driven wildlife conservation during eight decades of back-and-forth political change.

For more information on the commission, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission.

Read and join the discussion on Arizona Game and Fish Commission Meets January 11 at OutdoorHub.com.

SCI Hunter Defense Fund – Working to Keep Hunters Afield

January 8, 2013

SCI Hunter Defense Fund – Working to Keep Hunters Afield

I recently had the opportunity to interview Nelson Freeman of Safari Club International (SCI) about the organizations dedication to protecting the freedom to hunt, lobbying and advocacy work, and the new Super-PAC, Hunter Defense Fund (HDF). He was kind enough to answer questions on the subject 

Question: With hunting increasingly under attack, what is Safari Club International doing to help keep hunters in the field?

Answer: Safari Club is the only pro-hunting organization with an office in Washington, D.C. On a day to day basis, we speak with members of Congress and their staff to outline the threats we see to hunting in North America and internationally. Anti-hunting organizations like the “League of Conservation Voters,” the Humane Society of the United States have a well-greased political operation where they work to influence policy makers. We see it often in the current executive administration where back-room deals are cut with the anti-hunting special interests.

What sets SCI apart from every other hunter-conservation NGO is the organization’s full time staff of policy experts, in-house legal counsel and certified wildlife biologists dedicated to the protection of hunting both in the U.S. and abroad. SCI’s staff of professionals and lobbyists works with members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and the International Conservation Caucus to protect the millions of U.S. and international hunters. SCI advocates for necessary legislation to guarantee hunting on U.S. public lands, to reform the Endangered Species Act, and to protect all sporting firearms.

Question: SCI is taking an unprecedented step to form a Super-PAC. For many in the hunting community, we will have only heard of Super-PACs on T.V. What are the advantages of a Super-PAC?

Answer: The newly formed Super-PAC is called the Hunter Defense Fund. Many in the hunting community will recognize this name because it has been a singular message of SCI’s advocacy and lobbying mission for the past 10 years. The Hunter Defense Fund Super-PAC, does more than a traditional PAC, and does more for the individual hunter than most traditional NGO’s can provide.

Every two years in Washington there are elections, and each year environmentalist organizations like Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and others, attack many of the pro-hunting legislators, Republican and Democrat. These organizations attack the legislators who are one of us, sportsmen and women who stand up each Congress to protect our hunting freedoms. To date, no hunting organization has had the financial backing to do direct media campaigns to protect the legislators who protect us.

The Hunter Defense Fund is going to be the voice of all hunters, standing up for the legislators who support hunting, calling out anti-hunting organizations for what they really are. We hope that every hunter, business that supports hunters, and other NGO’s recognize that the Hunter Defense Fund is the First Line of Defense for Hunting.

Question: With the 113th Congress beginning this January, what plans does SCI have for the leaders of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus?

Answer: The Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) is a bi-partisan and bi-cameral group of legislators, over 300 members in fact, last congress. We are sure this number will be achieved again in the 113th Congress. SCI will work with the leadership of the Caucus which consists of two members of each party, from both the Senate and House of Representatives. Without both parties working together, the average hunter will be left unrepresented.

SCI’s policy goals remain consistent from last year. The House of Representatives passed a bi-partisan bill that among many things guaranteed hunting, fishing, trapping, and sport-target shooting were required recreational activities on Forest Service and BLM lands. This was a major win for all hunters. It demonstrated that hunting should be a protected heritage for all Americans. Though the U.S. Senate never took action on this legislation, SCI and our colleague will continue to the fight to protect our hunting heritage for the next generation of public land hunters.

Question: Besides the halls of Congress, where else has SCI’s lobbying and advocacy helped to improve hunting opportunities?

Answer: As recently as November, SCI pressured U.S. Airways to reverse very anti-hunting policies. U.S. Airways had arbitrarily decided to not allow firearms to be transported to Spain. Though this may seem to be an organization specific problem, once one airline makes an anti-hunting decision, it is only a matter of time until the next one does too. Since 2008, SCI has pressured American Airlines, United Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines to all reverse luggage restrictions that were negatively affecting hunters. 

Question: It sounds like the SCI is deeply involved on all levels protecting hunters’ rights. How can people support the Hunter Defense Fund?

Answer: The Hunter Defense Fund is the strongest way for the average hunter to influence legislators who support hunting. The campaign efforts that the Hunter Defense Fund will undertake ensure that anti-hunting organizations like the League of Conservation Voters, the Humane Society of the United States and others are effectively defeated. These organizations and others are active in limiting hunting opportunities at every juncture.

As long as there are threats to hunting, no matter where they are based, the SCI Hunter Defense Fund will continue to fight for hunter’s rights. Anyone interested in the Hunter Defense Fund should attend the inaugural luncheon at the 41st Annual SCI Hunters’ Convention in Reno, Nev. on Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. The event’s special guest is world renowned hunter Jim Shockey and you can purchase tickets to hear him speak at www.ShowSCI.org.

Read and join the discussion on SCI Hunter Defense Fund – Working to Keep Hunters Afield at OutdoorHub.com.

Siberian Republic Declares War on Wolves, Promises Six-figure Reward to Top Hunters

January 7, 2013

Siberia (Russia) Declares War on Wolves, Promises Six-figure Reward to Top Hunters

The Siberian republic of Yakutia in the Russian Federation has been experiencing an escalating wolf problem. In 2012 alone, the region reported that more than 16,000 domestic reindeer and some 300 horses had been eaten by the canines. Damages from wolf predation have been said to cost households in the region more than 157 million rubles ($5 million) last year.

The number of rabbits, hares, and squirrels–the wolves’ usual diet–in the region has decreased, leading to the increased attack on livestock.

The local government has therefore ordered the extermination of some 3,000 wolves. Officials estimate there are more than 3,500 wolves living in Yakutia, but they would like to see only 500 roaming the region. Yakutian President Yegor Borisov announced a state of emergency and a plan to act as swiftly as possible.

He has called for hunters to get rid of the 3,000 wolves by mid-April, although wolf hunting will be open year-round until 3,000 are eliminated. The top three hunters will reportedly receive a six-figure monetary reward while thousands more dollars will be paid out to other hunters, although the government will determine the final amount.

The hunt is scheduled to begin January 15.

Read and join the discussion on Siberian Republic Declares War on Wolves, Promises Six-figure Reward to Top Hunters at OutdoorHub.com.

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