Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Politics of Hunting and Fishing Field and Stream Hal Herring


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The Politics of Hunting and Fishing

It’s time to vote for candidates who understand hunting, fishing, and conservation—and vote out the ones who don’t
montana stream access
Montana’s stream access laws are the gold standard in the U.S., in large part because of the sportsmen who fight for them.
Wiki Commons
It is a confusing time in the United States, especially for those of us who love the outdoors and hunting and fishing. There are so many changes coming at us so fast. From hunting access to clean water, we are losing ground to a surging population and a growing indifference—well, it might be better to call it what it is: a growing ignorance —about conservation and the environment. Land, water, air support not just our hunting and fishing, but our every endeavor.  The current state of our politics is perhaps the perfect example of where we have allowed our nation to stagger. We have achieved the unthinkable, allowing one political party—the Democrats—to be the sole representative of the decades-long American triumph in protecting wildlife habitat, clean water, wetlands, and public lands. The major problem with that? Most of us don’t seem to be Democrats. Many, if not most, hunters and fishermen that I know view Democrats as the party of identity politics, gun control, open borders, and an increasingly powerful and meddlesome federal nanny-state.
So what do we do? We vote for candidates from a Republican party that has declared war on everything from the wetlands protections that have restored American waterfowl hunting to the Clean Water Act that restored most of our fishing, to the public lands where most of us hunt, shoot, and camp. Don’t believe me? The actual platform of the GOP reads:
Congress should reconsider whether parts of the federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership… The enduring truth is that people best protect what they own.
(That last line may or may not be true. There are as many examples of people destroying their private lands as there are examples of outstanding stewardship. But what is almost certainly true is that if our public lands become private, you and I will no longer be hunting or camping on them. Whether those lands are stewarded or destroyed will be thoroughly beyond our control. And as far as that “ control of water ” mentioned there so glibly, well, 62 percent of all water in the arid West comes from snowpack on what are now federally managed public lands. It doesn’t take a business genius to see what kind of money and power would be on the table with a transfer of those water assets into the global marketplace.)
Contrast that GOP statement with the Democrats platform in 2016:
As a nation, we need policies and investments that will keep America’s public lands public, strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, protect species and wildlife, and harness the immense economic and social potential of our public lands and waters.
Which one would somebody like me, a Southern-born gun nut who has raised his family in the West precisely because of the access to hunting and fishing on public lands and waters, support?
The recent mid-term elections might have revealed that we, as a people, were tired of the stark power struggles between the two political parties—the winner-take-all, scorched-earth mudslinging and mendacity of the campaigns. Some writers I respect certainly thought so and it is true that one of America’s most moderate Democrats and champion of public lands, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, was re-elected over a Republican opponent who was once an outspoken advocate of transferring public lands to state control. But Tester didn’t win by much. Of the 504,374 people who voted, 48.4 percent cast their votes for the Republican, Matt Rosendale, a former land developer from Maryland. That’s 244,116 Montanans, many of them hunters and fishermen, who chose for their state—one of the most iconic public hunting and fishing bastions on earth—to be represented by a man with a demonstrated record of being anti-public lands and who, in his limited time in public service to the state, was known primarily for blocking critical and long-planned conservation easements that would have opened public hunting access to thousands of acres of private land and protected big game winter range and other wildlife habitat.
Who exactly are we?
Let’s go east and look at Florida.
From Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, south Florida is in ecological freefall. We published a long series on what was happening there just last year and tragically enough everything in the story—all of the worst-case scenarios—not only came to pass, but have turned out to be much, much worse than anyone could have predicted. Entire fisheries on both coasts are being poisoned by a red tide event that is fed by the surreal amounts of nutrient pollution being dumped east and west from Lake Okeechobee through manmade canals. Beaches are closed to swimming and fishing is at a standstill; an entire tourist economy, and all of the jobs and money it generates, is in imminent danger of collapse. The disaster is decades in the making—and during each decade, everybody who knew the waters there, from sport and commercial fishermen to surf-shop owners, said that the problem had to be fixed, that it was getting worse every year, yet their warnings were never heeded. And both political parties have been up to their ears in money from both the sugar industry and land development and agricultural interests that profit from not fixing the water pollution problems. (We’ve known exactly how to fix it for decades.)
blue green algae lake okeechobee
The blue-green algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee
Nasa Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens
But the administration of Republican Governor Rick Scott has been particularly negligent and eager to dismantle regulations that protected clean water, and to do the bidding of polluting industries. During the political campaigns leading up to the November elections, the common cry was “Vote your Water!” meaning, “Please do not vote for Rick Scott,” who was running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The list of the Scott administration’s failures, compiled during the water crises, which is still going on as I write this, was extremely damning. Nearly every newspaper in south Florida chronicled Scott’s direct responsibility for the disaster, including that his administration had cut $700 million from the budgets of the water-management districts tasked with monitoring and responding to disasters exactly like the one that is now unfolding.
The media was rife with stories about how the blue-green algae and the red tide and the obvious failures of the Scott administration, would result in a sure victory for Scott’s Democratic opponent, Bill Nelson, in the race for the Senate seat. But none of that happened. The race was tight, but a small majority of Floridians who voted—more than 4 million of them—did not “Vote Their Water!” Instead, they decided that Rick Scott, despite all that was happening to the economy and water and quality of life in south Florida, was the best man to represent them in Congress.
Given that Florida is one of the top fishing states in the U.S., many of those 4 million voters who chose Scott must have been serious fishermen—possibly even fishing guides—boat salesmen, and tackle store owners. Why would they vote for someone with Rick Scott’s record?
I don’t know.
I don’t care, either, any more than I care who originally decided to dam up Lake Okeechobee, turn it into a poisonous soup, spew the soup out east and west to wreck two coasts, all the while blocking the critical flows of water to the Everglades, the Biscayne aquifer, and Florida Bay.
It does not matter.
Whether someone is a Democrat or a Republican does not matter, either in this case. If a candidate has an A-rating from the NRA, but is anti public lands, believe me, we can find, or produce, a candidate with an A-rating from the NRA who is also pro public lands. In Montana, we have conservative politicians who would probably love to get rid of our expansive stream access law, viewing it as an affront to private property rights, but they have learned not to try and attack this extremely popular law if they want to be re-elected. We can have conservative leaders who are strong conservation advocates. We simply have not demanded that yet, and so we don’t have them. We’ve been lying down on the job, arguing over trifles, and dining on the fruits of the toil of those who came before us. The fruits are running out.
We have to get to work.
From this day forward, our environment, our American heritage of conservation, must not be the domain of any single political party. I don’t care if you are a Dittohead or a Maoist, you do not want a thousand tons of dead fish awash in a mat of toxic green algae in front of your house. No flat-earther wants their daughter or son to be poisoned by drinking a glass of water from the tap in the kitchen. Neither Republicans nor Democrats want to see the river in their town catch fire or hear their child wheezing from asthma.
The fishing and hunting that we love and spend some of the finest hours of our lives pursuing—that we will pass down to our children and theirs—are the interest on the principle of conserved and sustainably managed lands and waters. First, there must be conservation—strong, concrete policy, that prioritizes clean air and water, healthy lands, flowing rivers, topsoil, and forests. Then comes public access, wildlife habitat, fishing, hunting, boating, swimming, camping, food to eat and water to drink, tackle shops, and truck, gun, and ammunition sales.
If elected representatives do not understand that, then we must, as citizens and the ultimate stakeholders, inform them and do our part to dispel their ignorance. If those elected representatives, once informed, still do not act in our best interests, then they must be voted out of office as soon as possible, before more damage is done, as in Florida.
Too many of us on the conservative side of the spectrum have argued endlessly that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution means that the federal government should not impose environmental laws on the states, that the responsibility for protecting the environment belongs to the states and the citizens of those states. We ignore the extraordinary successes of federal law in restoring clean rivers, wetlands, air, oceans, fisheries, wildlife, and wildlife habitat (even while enjoying the benefits of that which we say we despise).

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Testing confirms chronic wasting disease in deer harvested in Liberty and Carbon counties

Testing confirms chronic wasting disease in deer harvested in Liberty and Carbon counties
Second tests on tissue samples from a white-tailed buck harvested in southern Liberty County and a mule deer doe harvested within the CWD-positive area in Carbon County came back positive for chronic wasting disease. The lab at Colorado State University confirmed the tests.
The whitetail in Liberty County was harvested in hunting district 400, but outside both the current CWD-positive area and the 2018 priority surveillance area, which includes the northern half of Liberty County. As a result, FWP expanded the CWD-positive area to include all of Liberty County. All of HD 400 is now included in the 2018 CWD surveillance effort.
The suspect deer in HD 575 was harvested northeast of Joliet in a current CWD-positive area, which encompasses Carbon County, east of U.S. Highway 212 and the Roberts-Cooney Road.
Information for hunters
With FWP establishing all of Liberty County as a CWD positive area, hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose within the county must adhere to the established Transport Restriction Zone (TRZ) rules, which means hunters cannot move brain or spinal column tissue outside of the TRZ. Hunters harvesting a deer within the expanded Liberty County positive area are also encouraged to have their animals tested prior to consuming the meat.
The TRZ for the Liberty County CWD positive area is all of Liberty, Hill and Toole Counties.
Hunters also need to be aware that by expanding the priority surveillance efforts to include all of HD 400, FWP is relying on collecting more samples from the area to determine CWD prevalence among the deer population and potential distribution of the disease. This information is critical for FWP in developing a plan for managing the disease.
HD 400 and neighboring HD 401 are unique in that they both have three-week deer seasons as opposed to the standard five-week season typical in the state.
FWP would like hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose within the priority surveillance area, which includes the Hi-Line from the Blackfeet Reservation to the North Dakota border and HDs 210, 212 and 217 in western Montana, to submit the animals for CWD testing. This can be done by visiting surveillance area check stations, which are open on weekends, or by contacting or visiting the FWP regional office in Great Falls at 406-454-5840, Glasgow at 406-228-3700, Havre at 406-265-6177, Missoula at 406-542-5500, or Billings at 406-247-2940 during the week.
Check station locations that will sample for CWD:
  • Scobey (first half of season) 
  • Glasgow (second half of season)
  • Hwy. 223 at the Teton River (Nov. 3, 7 and 11)
  • Malta
    • Hunters can also bring animals into the Havre and Glasgow offices during the week
  • Laurel
  • Chester
  • Shelby
  • Great Falls office during the week
  • South of Hall
  • South of Phillipsburg
There currently is no convincing evidence that the agent of CWD affects humans. However, public health officials recommend that human exposure to the CWD agent be avoided as they continue to evaluate any potential risk. Research indicates that it is unlikely that direct transmission of CWD from infected animals to humans occurs. However, the similarities between CWD, mad cow disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease are cause for concern, and appropriate precautions should be taken with harvested animals. Hunters should not harvest animals that appear sick, nor should they eat meat from suspect animals.
Animals that are suspected of having CWD should not be eaten. If you harvest an animal and are unsure whether it is safe to eat, contact your local FWP staff for guidance soon after the animal is harvested.
-fwp-

CwdHds_2018_11-5-2018.jpg

Friday, November 2, 2018

GET OUT AND VOTE FOR SPORTSMEN FRIENDLY CANDIDATES!

PLEASE VOTE


Once again we find ourselves bracing for another election. For a long time sportsmen/women have failed to elect sportsmen friendly candidates. In order to see things change....ITS IN THE VOTE!
As you chose candidates, look at their stands on issues critical for us. Are they Fed. Lands transfer advocates...Vote no! Has the candidate stood up for sportsmen in the past? Who is the candidate aligned with? Has this candidate participated in efforts to defund FWP? Vote NO! Has this candidate tried to manage wildlife as a politician with no background instead of using science? Vote no! Have they supported Habitat Montana and its charge? Is this candidate in favor of transferrable tags?? Vote No! Has this candidate been a mouthpiece for commercial interests over those of the public??? Vote No!

We have so many blow hards running and falsely claiming to represent resident Montana sportsmen that one must not take their word for it. BE PREPARED to vote for folks you are sure of. Feel free to visit our legislative scorecard(s) for that kind of info. 


http://www.montanasportsmenalliance.com/legislature.htm


No matter what, please get out and vote. Consider those issues important to you!  We can't help you if you vote in bad actors!

MSA Leadership Team

MSA PAC ENDORSED 2018 CANDIDATES



MSA PAC ENDORSED 2018 CANDIDATES
2016 Endorsed Candidates
Jon Tester US Senate
Kathleen Williams US Representative
Senate
Tom Jacobson SD 11
Carlie Boland SD 12
Jennifer Merecki SD 22
Mary McNally SD 24
Dan Vermillion SD 30
JP Pomnichowski SD 33
Janet Ellis SD 41
Jill Cohenour SD 42
Pat Flowers SD 32
House
Rachel Stansberry HD 29
Jessica Karjala HD 48
Margaret Gorski HD 88
Willis Curdy HD 98
Andy Shirtliff Public Service Commission #5
Tom Clark Flathead Co. Commissioner


Welcome to Montana Sportsmen Alliance PAC!
Our group was born out of the disastrous 62nd Montana Legislature. Sportsmen have gathered together to support the philosophy and programs we subscribe to.

ALERT: CWD Suspects

image001.png
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Nov. 1, 2018
CWD samples from regions 4 and 5 come back suspect
A white-tailed buck harvested in southern Liberty County was found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease.
In addition, a mule deer doe harvested within the CWD positive area in Carbon County was found to be suspect for CWD.
The lab at Colorado State University is running a confirmation test, with results expected next week.
The suspect deer in Liberty County was harvested in hunting district 400, but outside both the current CWD-positive area and the 2018 priority surveillance area, which includes the northern half of Liberty County. 
As a result, the CWD-positive area has been expanded to include all of Liberty County and FWP is now including all of HD 400 in the 2018 CWD surveillance effort.
The suspect deer in HD 575 was harvested northeast of Joliet in a current CWD-positive area, which encompasses Carbon County, east of U.S. Highway 212 and the Roberts-Cooney Road.
FWP has notified the hunters who submitted the suspect samples. Though the samples are considered suspect at this point, it is very rare that a suspect sample isn’t ultimately found positive. Therefore, FWP is moving forward as if both deer will ultimately be determined positive for CWD.
“Though this is disappointing news, it’s not a surprise,” said Gary Bertellotti, FWP’s Region 4 supervisor. “By expanding our surveillance efforts to include all of hunting district 400, we’re really emphasizing the need to get animals sampled from this area and the rest of our surveillance area.”
What hunters need to know
With FWP establishing all of Liberty County as a CWD positive area, hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose within the county must adhere to the established Transport Restriction Zone (TRZ) rules, which means hunters cannot move brain or spinal column tissue outside of the TRZ. Hunters harvesting a deer within the expanded Liberty County positive area are also encouraged to have their animals tested prior to consuming the meat.
The TRZ for the Liberty County CWD positive area is all of Liberty, Hill and Toole Counties.
Hunters also need to be aware that by expanding the priority surveillance efforts to include all of HD 400, FWP is relying on collecting more samples from the area to determine CWD prevalence among the deer population and potential distribution of the disease. This information is critical for FWP in developing a plan for managing the disease.
HD 400 and neighboring HD 401 are unique in that they both have three-week deer seasons as opposed to the standard five-week season typical in the state.
FWP would like hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose within the priority surveillance area, which includes the Hi-Line from the Blackfeet Reservation to the North Dakota border and HDs 210, 212 and 217 in western Montana, to submit the animals for CWD testing. This can be done by visiting surveillance area check stations, which are open on weekends, or by contacting or visiting the FWP regional office in Great Falls at 406-454-5840, Glasgow at 406-228-3700, Havre at 406-265-6177, Missoula at 406-542-5500, or Billings at 406-247-2940 during the week.
Check station locations that will sample for CWD:
  • Scobey (first half of season) 
  • Glasgow (second half of season)
  • Hwy. 223 at the Teton River (Nov. 3, 7 and 11)
  • Malta
    • Hunters can also bring animals into the Havre and Glasgow offices during the week
  • Laurel
  • Chester
  • Shelby
  • Great Falls office during the week
  • South of Hall
  • South of Phillipsburg

Background
CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. It is part of a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). TSEs are caused by infectious, mis-folded prion proteins, which cause normal prion proteins throughout a healthy animal’s body to mis-fold, resulting in organ damage and eventual death.  
CWD is a slow-moving disease. However, left unmanaged, it could result in long-term population declines within affected herds. All the states and provinces that border Montana, other than Idaho and British Columbia, have found CWD in their wild deer, elk and moose. The closest positive to Montana was in Wyoming, about 8 miles south of the Montana border and less than 50 miles southeast of where Montana’s suspect deer was harvested.
Though there is no evidence CWD is transmissible to humans, it is recommended to never ingest meat from animals that appear to be sick or are known to be CWD positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters who have harvested a deer, elk, or moose from a known CWD-infected area have the animal tested prior to consuming it. If hunters harvest an animal that appears to be sick, the best thing to do is contact FWP and have the animal inspected.
Some simple precautions should be taken when field dressing deer, elk or moose:
  • Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when field dressing.
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out of a carcass will essentially remove all of these parts.)
CWD was discovered in Montana in 2017. FWP is carrying out surveillance and management of the disease according to the agency's CWD management plan. 
For more information, including maps, detailed information on the disease and to look at test results, go online to fwp.mt.gov/CWD.
-fwp-

Monday, October 22, 2018

Bullock takes questions over conservation easements to the Montana Supreme Court





breakingtopicaltop story

Bullock takes questions over conservation easements to the Montana Supreme Court



Ranch land in the proposed Horse Creek conservation easement near Glendive, Mont.
Ranch land in the Horse Creek conservation easement near Glendive.
Whether the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission or the Montana State Board of Land Commissioners has the final say on state conservation easements is now in the hands of the Montana Supreme Court.
Gov. Steve Bullock and FWP Director Martha Williams filed petition with the court Monday morning, seeking to overturn a legally binding opinion made last week by Attorney General Tim Fox. The opinion faulted the Bullock administration for bypassing the Land Board earlier this year to allow FWP to close on the Horse Creek conservation easement in eastern Montana.
Monday’s petition asks the court to decide if the term “land acquisition” includes not only land purchases but the purchase of conservation easements.



Bullock believes the plain language of statute and legislative intent show that the law requiring Land Board approval of land acquisitions does not include easements, which typically allow public access while curbing subdivision.
After filing the attorney general’s opinion last week, Fox said in an interview that while he supported the easement, he believed Bullock, “decided to unilaterally ignore the law,” and found that the Land Board has the final legal say over state conservation easements. The opinion, which came at the request of Senate President Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, carries the weight of the law unless overturned by the court.

  • Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    Montana Sporting Groups Coalition

    Oct. 15, 2018
    Montana State Land Board
    1539 Eleventh Ave.
    Helena, MT 59601
    Dear Montana Land Board members,
    The Montana Sporting Coalition is comprised of a dozen hunting and angling organizations with tens of thousands of members in Montana. We were formed in 2015 over concerns about the Habitat Montana program. This program is now more than three decades old, and it has a strong track record of conserving wildlife habitat and providing public recreational access through targeted land purchases and conservation easements with willing private landowners. Habitat Montana is one of our state’s most successful conservation programs. It has conserved more than 400,000 acres and is a large part of why hunters in Montana enjoy the longest big game seasons in the West.
    In 2015, the Montana Legislature put restrictions on Habitat Montana that barred land purchases, making it clear that it wanted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to focus on private land conservation easements. These easements keep land in private ownership, often times making it easier for parents to pass ranches and farms down to the next generation. Easements help preserve the agricultural way-of-life, protect the land from development, and help provide public recreational access to public and private lands, while maintaining landowner control. Simply put, Habitat Montana is a prime example of the decades-long partnership between hunters and landowners that has helped build the abundance of wildlife in the state and increase opportunities for fishing, hunting and other recreation.
    The funding from Habitat Montana for conservation easements is a solid way of preserving our agricultural heritage. It allows landowners to plan for their economic future, expand their farming and/or ranching operations, and maintain quality wildlife habitat on their properties. Landowners spend years putting these agreements together. They usually start with serious conversations within the family before they approach FWP or another agency and/or land conservation organization. These deals take tremendous effort to put together, and often a landowner has invested thousands of dollars in attorney’s and accountant fees, appraisal costs, document preparation and other work to plan a project.
    While the Horse Creek Complex Conservation Easement has been completed, the disagreement over the necessity of Land Board approval for easements has put a halt to projects pending an Attorney General’s opinion. Currently, FWP has 12 pending easement projects totaling 86,000 acres, according to data provided by the agency. Several landowners have land exchanges and purchases pending approval of these easement projects. It is unfair to these landowners, who have typically entered the process with FWP years earlier, to hold up projects that benefit their
    farms, ranches and families. It’s also unfair to the hunters and anglers who pay for this program that provides so much benefit to wildlife, agriculture and local economies.
    The unfortunate controversies being played out around conservation easements do not simply impact one agency or elected officials. They impact Montanans who are trying to maintain traditional agricultural operations and ensure hunters, anglers, hikers and other recreationists always have a place to experience this special place like past generations have.
    Sincerely,
    Montana Wildlife Federation
    National Wildlife Federation
    Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
    Ducks Unlimited
    Montana Bowhunters Association
    Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
    Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
    Mule Deer Foundation
    Montana Wild Sheep Foundation
    Montana Sportsmen Alliance
    Pheasants Forever