Boone and Crockett Club: Sportsmen’s Act Back On Track

>MISSOULA, Mont. (April 4, 2017) – The Boone and Crockett Club, the oldest wildlife conservation group in the U.S., today praised the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s passage of S. 733, a bipartisan sportsmen’s package, by voice vote.

“This is good news for all sportsmen and sportswomen who list access to places to hunt, fish and recreate on public lands as their number one concern,” said Ben B. Hollingsworth, Jr., president of the B&C Club. “Where these activities happen, conservation happens, but sportsmen need access.”
The Sportsmen’s Act of 2017, which is built upon previous Sportsmen’s Acts, addresses many priorities for American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters. The House Natural Resources Committee has also indicated interest in introducing similar legislation during this session.Previous sportsmen’s bills have enjoyed broad bipartisan support but have stalled for various reasons, including other legislative priorities and the 2016 elections.
The Boone and Crockett Club and a long list of hunting, fishing, shooting and conservation organizations have long supported an increased focus on access to public lands, which is where millions of people go to participate in these traditional outdoor activities. This bill will pave the way for taking down an entanglement of barriers to federal land while also allowing land management agencies to enhance access.
“The bill also includes a Boone and Crockett top priority measure, the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act,” explained Hollingsworth, Jr. “This bill, which has already passed the House with no dissent, will be a key component of the sportsmen’s legislation. The measure would create an online public database of information on court cases against the U.S. government.”
For decades, environmental litigation and suing federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Forest Service has been forcing these agencies into no action, thereby blocking conservation opportunities from happening.
Hollingsworth, Jr.  said, “We thank Senator Lisa Murkowski and Members of Senate Energy Committee for their introduction of this critical legislation. This package is a testament of the strength and unity of the sportsmen’s community in Washington, D.C. In particular, we appreciate inclusion of the provision on EAJA. We’re concerned that litigation too often needlessly impedes the work of conservation agencies. Litigation is now a regular feature of environmental policy. Therefore, in the public interest, the full impacts of litigation must be transparent, understood and guided.”
The legislation also reauthorizes key conservation programs, permanently establishes the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee, allows for expanded wildlife management measures on National Park Service land, and amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allocate funds for construction and expansion of public target ranges on federal land.

About the Boone and Crockett Club
Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club promotes guardianship and visionary management of big game and associated wildlife in North America. The Club maintains the highest standards of fair chase sportsmanship and habitat stewardship. Member accomplishments include enlarging and protecting Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws. The Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, Montana. For details, visit www.boone-crockett.org.

Utah: Prairie Dogs Prosper Under State Management

Court ruling gives authority back to the federal government

Cedar City – For more than two years, Utah prairie dogs in southwestern Utah have prospered under the watchful eye of state wildlife biologists.

Now, those biologists are concerned. They say a recent court ruling—which gives management authority back to the federal government—could make it challenging to manage conflicts between prairie dogs and people.

On March 29, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court ruling made in November 2014. The district court ruling gave management authority—for Utah prairie dogs found on private land—to the state of Utah. The March 29 ruling gives that management authority back to the federal government.

Utah prairie dogs were listed as endangered shortly after the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973. Read more

Sportsmen’s Alliance Applauds Senate’s Overturning of Alaska Rules Changes

The Sportsmen’s Alliance applauds the U.S. Senate’s passage of House Joint Resolution 69, which reverses an Obama-administration rules change on National Wildlife Refuge System lands in Alaska.

The rule changes, which were adopted in September 2016, expanded the definition of predator control so that state hunting management decisions (season dates, bag limits, methods of take, etc.) fell within the expanded definition and under federal jurisdiction on refuge property. This overreaching federal action banned the most reasonable and restrained means of controlling wolf, black bear and grizzly bear populations. Controlling these apex predator populations is necessary to maintain sustainable populations of prey species such as caribou, moose and other ungulates, as well as the overall balance of the ecosystem. The changes handcuffed wildlife biologists and land managers, and usurped Alaska’s right to manage game species in accordance with state goals and traditions.

H.J. Res 69, introduced by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 225 to 193 and passed the Senate by a vote of 52-47, shepherded by Alaska’s U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski. The passage means that Alaska refuge administrators and biologists can once again manage wildlife unencumbered by federal bureaucracy and animal-rights-backed dogma.

Read more

Federal Legislation Would Ban Trapping on All Wildlife Refuges!

Take Action Today! Sportsmen’s Alliance members and all other outdoorsmen and woment should contact their Congressman or Congresswoman today and ask them to vote NO on HR 1438. HR 1438 has been assigned to the House Committee on Natural Resources. Members can contact their legislator by using the Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Legislative Action Center.

New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey, a longtime opponent of hunting rights, has introduced legislation that would ban trapping on national wildlife refuge lands. House Resolution 1438 known as the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, would ban body gripping, foothold and snare traps on more than 150 million acres of federal land.

In a statement released on her website, Lowey writes: “We must restore the true meaning of ‘refuge’ to the National Wildlife Refuge System.” Additionally, Lowey also quotes Born Free USA, a long-time anti-trapping organization. Their quote incorrectly states that “The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is clear: to be an inviolate sanctuary for our native wildlife.”

Despite the lofty rhetoric and misleading statements, the National Wildlife Refuge System was not designed to be sanctuary for animals; instead, it was specifically designed to include hunting, fishing and trapping. Moreover, in 1997 Congress approved the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act, which identified hunting, which includes trapping, as a priority use of refuge land. The law was signed by President Bill Clinton. In addition, trapping is an effective tool for controlling predators, which can negatively impact other wildlife on refuge lands.

“It’s clear from her statements that Representative Lowey does not have a firm handle on the purpose of these lands, or how the funds used to manage them for the benefit of all species are derived, ” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “It’s not surprising that such a distorted view would lead to legislation like this. And it’s no surprise that Representative Lowey is rated a ‘Humane Champion’ by the Humane Society of America’s Legislative Fund.”

Trapping is utilized across the United States, by both federal and state wildlife managers. Refuge land is managed in cooperation with state fish and wildlife agencies. HR 1438 would put a one-size-fits-all federal ban in place for refuges rather than allow state biologists do what is best for individual refuge properties. The traps that would be banned by HR 1438 are the most common and effective devices used by trappers. HR 1438 is a first step to ban hunting on all federal land and should be rejected.

 About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Oregon Court Accepts RMEF’s Brief in Wolf Lawsuit

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Oregon Court of Appeals granted the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s application to file a friend-of-the-Court brief in a lawsuit by animal rights groups seeking to eliminate state wildlife management in Oregon.

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, its professional biologists and wildlife managers, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission in carrying out their duty of managing all of Oregon’s wildlife,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Oregon’s science-based wolf plan indicates wolves reached delisting criteria five years ago.”

As of December 31, 2015, Oregon’s minimum wolf population estimate numbered 110, marking a 26 percent increase over the 2014 population and a 42 percent increase since 2013. Biologists also indicate the actual number of wolves currently in Oregon is likely greater than the minimum estimate.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to delist wolves from the state Endangered Species Act (ESA) in November of 2015. The Oregon legislature ratified the commission’s decision by passing a bill, which was later signed into law, removing wolves from the state’s endangered species list. Those moves had no immediate effect on wolf management yet animal rights groups still filed suit seeking to reverse the delisting. Read more

Sportsmen’s Alliance, Maine Trappers Victorious in Lynx Lawsuit

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, U.S. District Judge Jon Levy issued his ruling in a lawsuit that sought to revoke the state of Maine’s Incidental Take Permit (ITP), which would open individual trappers to Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations. Judge Levy ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s use and application of ITPs were lawful and in keeping with the requirements of the ESA.

The ruling is a clear victory for the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, trappers in Maine and the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife. In his ruling, Judge Levy found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “actions were in keeping with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act…the National Environmental Policy Act…and the Administrative Procedure Act…” Read more

HSUS Claims $11 Million Bribery Settlement was a Win

This from HumaneWatch.org

It’s been a rough end to the year for the Humane Society of the United States. We broke the news a few weeks back that HSUS laid off dozens of staffers in October and closed a wildlife center and, apparently, a horse rescue.

We can tell how damaging the news is because it seems HSUS is pitching journalists to write about how everything’s actually just dandy. Look no further than the Chronicle of Philanthropy publishing a groveling article this month written by freelancer Marc Gunther—a hack writer who has written fawningly of HSUS before. It takes HSUS dishonesty to a whole new level.

The piece essentially reads like it was written by HSUS’s PR department. HSUS’s decline in revenue, apparently $20 million or more, is whizzed by. The layoffs? A mere bump in the road. Never mind that HSUS says it can’t afford to run a $700,000 a year wildlife center. That signifies a financial crisis.

But the most laughable part of the piece was when HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle claimed that HSUS’s 2014 settlement of a fraud, bribery and racketeering lawsuit “set up a huge programmatic victory for us.”

A nearly $11 million settlement, negative news stories, and now years of litigation as HSUS tries to get its insurer to cover the full settlement—Pacelle considers that a win? That’s like arguing the Cleveland Browns are at the top of the class of this year’s NFL.

We shouldn’t be surprised—Pacelle himself made false statements before Congress last year. He’s certainly shown a willingness to bend the truth, whether it’s being a demagogue on the issues or raising money by deceiving millions of Americans who think donations to HSUS will primarily help pets.

Historically, HSUS has gotten a number of “D” and “C” grades from CharityWatch for wasting donor money. If anyone ever graded groups on trustworthiness, HSUS would get an “F.”

Football with Wolves

By Glen Wunderlich

To the dismay of animal-rights extremists, Michigan’s House of Representatives voted 69-39 last week to define wolves as a game species and to authorize the state to designate game species.  If this seems like deja vous, there’s a simple explanation:  It is.  This is the fourth time legislators have addressed wolf-hunting laws.

What has prompted this round of political football relates to a recent ruling by the state appeals court declaring the current law unconstitutional, because an attached-provision providing free hunting licenses to military members was deemed not to be related to scientifically managing wildlife. 

Just how we arrived at such a precarious juncture is worth recalling.  Michigan completed a Wolf Recovery and Management Plan in December 1997, which was revised in 2008. The Michigan plan recommends managing for a minimum of 200 wolves on the Upper Peninsula. The DNR’s goal is to ensure the wolf population remains viable and above a level that would require either federal or state reclassification as a threatened or endangered species.  This sensible plan, however, was rejected by an asinine federal court ruling that placed western Great Lakes states gray wolves back on the endangered species list in 2014, even though agreed-upon recovery goals have been far exceeded.  This decision is being appealed.

While the issue of hunting wolves remains in limbo in our region, Michigan’s legislature has paved the way to manage its wolf population according to sound science with the same sustainability that has been built in with every other game animal hunted. 

The elephant in the room is the struggle between disaffected voters and those citizens living with the devastating effects of wolf conflicts with livestock and companion/hunting dogs.  Never will the residents of the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula garner enough votes to overcome the fallacies of city-slicker voters; if wolves roamed the streets of Detroit, sentiment would certainly be different.

The plight of our Upper Peninsula residents would not be unlike that of our nation, had our forefathers not had the insight to adopt the Electoral College.  James Madison worried about what he called “factions,” which he defined as groups of citizens who have a common interest in some proposal that would either violate the rights of other citizens or would harm the nation as a whole.  Madison’s fear – which Alexis de Tocqueville later  dubbed “the tyranny of the majority” – was that a faction could grow to encompass more than 50 percent of the population, at which point it could “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.”

Little does all of this matter to groups like the Humane Society of the United States, which supports no hunting whatsoever, because it views the lives of animals as being equal to that of humans.

Senator, Tom Casperson, an Escanaba Republican who sponsored two earlier wolf hunting laws overturned by voters in 2014 following petition drives largely backed by the Humane Society of the United States had this to say:  “We didn’t have the money to counter, but we still have the problem up there,” Capserson said last week, referencing fears of human safety and livestock attacks in the Upper Peninsula, home to all of the state’s estimated 618 wolves. “It’s severe. Something’s going to happen one way or another.”

“Anti-hunting extremists will never accept a hunt for wolves, no matter how much damage the species does to other wildlife, livestock or pets,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Hats off to the brave politicians who understand the misdirected enemies of common sense.

How’s HSUS Faring Post-Election?

With the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA must have the execs at the Humane Society of the United States fuming. Pruitt was no fan of HSUS, putting out a public consumer alert against HSUS and opening a well-deserved inquiry into HSUS’s deceptive fundraising. Pruitt’s inquiry was also the subject of some tough questions HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle received from US Senator James Inhofe at a hearing last year. While the EPA and HSUS won’t cross paths too much, Pruitt’s going to have a nice, direct line to a President and other cabinet members.

Overall, election night was a big “L” for HSUS. HSUS’s political arm went in heavily against Donald Trump, calling him essentially the worst threat that could possibly happen to HSUS’s agenda. And he won.

The HSUS world generally supported Democrats. According to FEC filings, HSUS employees spent about $14,000 personally, 100% of which went to Democrats. HSUS’s political action committee made $370,000 in contributions, of which 67% went to Democrats. And HSUS’s legislative fund made about $1.1 million in independent expenditures, with 77% going to Democrats. Democrats are out of power. And of the few Republicans that the HSUS PAC did support, a number lost their bids, such as US Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Mark Kirk (IL). Read more

No Wolf Hunting in Michigan

This from Michigan United Conservation Clubs…

In some disappointing news, last week the Michigan Court of Appeals sided with the Humane Society of the United States and invalidated the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which we all worked so hard to initiate and pass in 2014. HSUS, through their Keep Michigan Wolves Protected front group, challenged the law in the Court of Claims, which upheld it. They appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeals, which ruled that the provision including free licenses for active military members was not related closely enough to scientific wildlife management to be included in the law, and struck the whole thing down.

We think they were in error on two points: 1) It is absurd to say that hunting and fishing licenses have no necessary connection with scientific wildlife management decisions when they literally fund the Department of Natural Resources in both implementing the scientific wildlife decisions of the Natural Resources Commission and the DNR’s time and research that goes into making those decisions. 2) Even if it was unrelated, the Michigan Constitution says that provisions of legislation found unconstitutional should be severed from the rest of the legislation, meaning that the ability of the NRC to make fisheries decisions and name game species using sound science should have been preserved, either way.

It is now up to the the Michigan Attorney General’s office, which represents the State in this case, to pursue an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. The AG’s office has been on top of this issue from the beginning and we hope they will continue to defend the State of Michigan’s ability to manage its fish and wildlife with sound science.

Help Michigan United Conservation Clubs defend your hunting rights by joining us at www.mucc.org/join_mucc!

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