Small snail, big problem: Researchers track invasive New Zealand mudsnail in Michigan rivers


New video illustrates key identification points of this invaderA tiny invader is threatening prized trout streams in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula. A mere 1/8-inch long, the New Zealand mudsnail is barely distinguishable from a grain of sand, but over time its invasive habits can affect the quality and quantity of trout and other fish in the Au Sable, Pere Marquette and Boardman rivers where it has been found.New Zealand mudsnails were first discovered in the United States in Idaho’s Snake River in 1987. Since then, infestations have spread throughout the western states and into areas of the Great Lakes. The discovery of New Zealand mudsnails in the Pere Marquette River in August 2015 signaled the first detection in a Michigan inland waterway. Within the next year, populations were confirmed in the Boardman and Au Sable rivers. The U.S. Geological Survey has developed an animated map illustrating the New Zealand mudsnail’s movement through the states.What harm can a snail do? Read more

The Sportsmen’s Act of 2017 on the Move

By Glen Wunderlich

Americans deserve, have asked for, and were promised transparency in government.  Yet, over the past decade our government has purposely thwarted any legitimate attempts to uncover the whereabouts of millions of excise-tax dollars cleverly extracted from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) by extremist groups under the guise of environmentalism.   At long last, however, the U.S. Senate’s reintroduction of S. 733, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2017, would shed light on the issue, while providing access to federal lands by being “open unless closed” for fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, and other outdoor experiences.

The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) was enacted in 1980 and required an annual report of the number of cases processed and total attorney fees reimbursed.  EAJA allows plaintiffs to recover attorney fees and other expenses from the federal government when they prevail–average citizens who need help finding and paying for a lawyer to correct errors in earned benefits or to remedy mistaken penalties imposed by federal agencies.  That reporting ended in 1995.

Studies released independently by Notre Dame Law School and the Government Accountability Office show that environmental groups pad their claims for reimbursed legal fees using the EAJA.

A Notre Dame law review article shows that the law intended for seniors, veterans, and small businesses is utilized by environmental groups to get pay-backs for their lawsuits, as well. A GAO study shows that no one really knows how much money has been spent.  However, what we do know is that the original intent of the EAJA has been perverted to the extent that it threatens the financial foundation of genuine wildlife conservation as we’ve known it.

Adding agency reporting requirements to the Equal Access for Justice Act for monies spent in litigation settlements and awards are only one aspect of S 733, which should make it to the President Trump’s desk.  Here are other key provisions of the bill:

  • Specifically declaring the policy of the United States to include the enhancement of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands;
  • Continuing to recognize the States’ authority and responsibility for wildlife within their borders;
  • Establishing that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service lands are open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting unless specifically closed to those activities;
  • Placing limits on such closures and imposing requirements for the process for closing lands;
  • Requiring the creation of a list of federal public lands that allow hunting but for which access is a problem;  
  • Exempting commercial filming permits for film crews of three or fewer, or for news gathering purposes;
  • Amending the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allocate funds for construction and expansion of public target ranges on BLM and Forest Service lands;
  • Establishing a statutory Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting;
  • Allowing the transport across National Park Service (NPS) land of bows or crossbows that are “not ready for immediate use”; and
  • Confirming it is proper to use qualified volunteers from the hunting community to cull wildlife on NPS land.

Additionally, this legislation would create an online public database of information on court cases against the U.S. government and would ultimately free up financial resources for conservation measures entitled to those Americans, who in good faith, provide the funding.

Time has come to deliver the transparency in government we were all promised and rightfully deserve.

Volunteers Needed to Guard Michigan Sturgeon

Lake sturgeon are one of Michigan’s most valuable natural resources. These fish can weigh over 200 pounds and live for 100 years.

A Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries worker holds a lake sturgeon. Volunteers are being sought to guard these important Michigan fish in their spawning run on the Black River in Cheboygan County./

The Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow in Cheboygan County is seeking volunteers to join in its effort, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement and Fisheries Divisions, to help protect lake sturgeon from illegal harvest during the annual spawning run.

Every spring, mature lake sturgeon, a fish species that is threatened in Michigan and rare throughout the United States, become vulnerable to poaching as they briefly leave Black Lake for spawning sites upstream in the Black River.

Hundreds of volunteers are needed to stand guard along the Black River during the spawning season, from mid-April through early June, to report any suspicious activity and deter the unlawful take of this iconic fish. Read more

Large trout stocked in southeast Michigan’s Huron River and Spring Mill Pond create fishing opportunities

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently stocked 3,350 adult trout in the Huron River at Proud Lake Recreation Area (Oakland County) and Spring Mill Pond at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County).

The Huron River was stocked with 900 brown trout and 1,650 rainbow trout, both sized 15 to 21 inches. Spring Mill Pond was stocked with 200 brown trout and 600 rainbow trout, also measuring 15 to 21 inches long.

This annual stocking activity uses unneeded brown and rainbow trout broodstock from Michigan’s state fish hatcheries. Every year there are surplus adult trout in the hatchery system, which then are stocked in special regulation areas. Read more

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.

President Donates First Quarter Salary to National Parks

Secretary Zinke accepts President Trump’s first-quarter presidential salary as donation for National Park Service

$78,333 to be put towards maintenance of historic battlefields

WASHINGTON – Today, President Donald J. Trump donated his first quarter salary to the National Parks Service (NPS) to help fund the maintenance backlog in America’s historic battlefields. The donation, totaling $78,333, was accepted by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg at the daily White House Press briefing.

“President Trump is dedicated to our veterans, our public lands, and keeping his promises, and by donating his salary to the National Park Service to repair our historic battlefields proves his commitment,” Secretary Zinke said. “These historic places tell the story of conflicts that helped shape our country’s history, and they also honor the many men and women who have given their lives in service of this great nation. I’m honored to help the president carry out his love and appreciation for our warriors and land.” Read more

NSSF Commends Reintroduction and Action on Sportsmen’s Act of 2017

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, praised the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan reintroduction of S.733, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2017 and the quick action to favorably report it out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Similar legislation was agreed upon by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate late last year, but stalled in a joint House-Senate conference committee. The bipartisan legislative package expands and enhances sportsmen’s access by making federal lands throughout the nation “open unless closed” for fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, and other outdoor activities.

The legislation is sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), both members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, along with CSC leaders Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

“The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act will help ensure that our nation’s hunting, fishing and shooting traditions are preserved, protected and promoted,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “This legislation addresses many priorities for American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters and its reintroduction in the Senate and immediate committee hearing is representative of the commitment these senators and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus shares for the sportsmen’s community and for America.”

The proposed legislation package would:
•Reauthorize federal lands are “open unless closed” policy for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting;
•Allow transport of bows and crossbows on National Parks lands;
•Exempt film crews of three or less from commercial filming fees and additional permits;
•Implement the “Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures” (HUNT) Act, improving access to federal lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation;
•Increase states’ authority to allocate Pittman-Robertson funds for construction and maintenance of public recreational shooting ranges;
•Permanently establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting issues. Read more

Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members Introduce Legislative Package for Hunting, Fishing

(Washington, DC) – This week, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Senator Martin Heinrich (NM), along with CSC leaders, Senators Jim Risch (ID), Joe Manchin (WV), Deb Fischer (NE), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), introduced a bipartisan sportsmen’s package of legislation (S. 733) in the Senate.

Provisions within this bill would increase access to public lands for outdoor recreation, and enhance opportunities for pursuing hunting, angling, and recreational shooting traditions. Key provisions within S. 733 include:

  • Reauthorizing federal land open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting;
  • Reauthorizing the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act;
  • Exempts commercial filming permits for film crews of three or fewer, or for news gathering purposes;
  • Authorizing the Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act
  • Amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allocate funds for construction and expansion of public target ranges on federal land;
  • Permanently establishes the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting.
  • Allows the transport of bows or crossbows across National Park Service (NPS) land;
  • Allows use of qualified hunter volunteers to manage wildlife on NPS land. Read more

Michigan to Move Muskellunge to Build Broodstock

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources continues to make advancements in the state’s Great Lakes muskellunge program, and activities this spring will add to those efforts.

Since 2011, the DNR’s Fisheries Division has collected spawning Great Lakes strain muskellunge in the Detroit River. The collected eggs are reared at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan and stocked throughout the state in fall. Although the Detroit River is a natural source of this native strain, it presents several challenges.

Water temperatures on the Detroit River typically do not reach optimal levels for spawning until late May or early June, much later than smaller inland waterbodies. This results in a short rearing period and fish not reaching maximum size for stocking each fall. Additionally, the Detroit River’s expansiveness makes it extremely difficult to efficiently find spawning fish.

To offset these issues, DNR fisheries staff have been working to establish inland broodstock lakes. Since 2011, Thornapple Lake in Barry County has been stocked with Great Lakes strain muskellunge to establish a population large enough to provide a spawning population. Starting in 2017, Lake Hudson, previously the long-standing broodsource for northern strain muskellunge, was selected as the department’s second broodstock lake. When the populations are large enough, spawning fish will be netted from these inland lakes rather than the Detroit River. Read more

NRC Bans Chocolate in Bear Bait

This from MUCC…  Make sure to read all the proposals below, GW.  Very ambitious!

A little over a year ago, Michigan’s bear hunting organizations asked the Natural Resources Commission to consider banning chocolate in bear bait to reduce the risk of harming non-target wildlife. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to bears and other wildlife in sufficient quantities. Organizations including the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation and the U.P. Bear Houndsmen Association sponsored a resolution supporting a restriction on chocolate in bear bait through the Michigan United Conservation Clubs policy process. At the MUCC Annual Convention in June, MUCC’s member delegates approved the resolution, as well as another resolution asking MUCC to educate hunters about the dangers of chocolate in bear bait. On Thursday, the Natural Resources Commission approved a wildlife conservation order banning the use of chocolate in bear bait.

The ban was adopted as part of the bear regulation update, scheduled every three years. The NRC also adopted new quotas, including an overall 19% increase in Lower Peninsula unit quotas, both increases and decreases in Upper Peninsula unit quotas, raising the maximum number of dogs allowed for hunting or training from six to eight, and increasing the nonresident license cap from 2% to 5%. The DNR’s bear forum, consisting of multiple conservation groups including MUCC and those listed above, met during the year to discuss the changes before the DNR recommended and the NRC adopted them.

This past Saturday, Michigan United Conservation Clubs also held its final Conservation Policy Meeting before June’s Annual Convention in Owosso. The meeting was the last chance for clubs or members to introduce policy resolutions to be considered and voted upon at the Annual Convention. Any MUCC member or affiliate club can introduce a resolution, which if adopted, becomes the policy that MUCC’s professional staff advocates, such as restricting chocolate in bear bait.

Combined with the two earlier Conservation Policy Meetings in September and December, this year’s proposed resolutions will include:

  • Establish a sandhill crane hunting season
  • Designate mourning dove as a game species
  • Develop a short-term non-resident waterfowl license
  • Create a pheasant release program for hunter recruitment
  • Require hunters to wear a fall arrest system/full body harness when hunting from a treestand
  • Reintroduce cisco (lake herring) in Saginaw Bay
  • Establish a fisheries policy which includes angler input on research projects which would impact non-target species and angler access
  • Oppose the sale or transfer of state-owned public land over 80 acres or including riparian access unless designated as surplus land under a transparent and open public process
  • Oppose legislation which creates an unfunded mandate for the DNR resulting in a diversion of game and fish funds without a supplemental appropriation
  • Restrict importation of cervid carcasses from other states to deboned meat, clean skullcap, finished taxidermy, etc., and increase fines for violation
  • Reform captive cervid regulatory structure to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
  • Remove suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and allow purchase under same process as the National Instant Background Check System
  • Allow bear bait barrels on public land
  • Allow a crossbow to be carried afield simultaneously with a firearm during the December firearm deer seasons
  • Allow youth hunters on private land to hunt within 660 feet of a mentor hunter, provided there is uninterrupted electronic communication, the hunter is over 14 and has completed hunter safety and at least 20 hours of supervised hunting
  • Calls on the Michigan DNR to make it a priority to acquire severed minerals where the State owns the surface only to protect and control the commercial use of public land; particularly underground minerals in State Parks and lands purchased with PR and Game and Fish Funds
  • work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the Public Resource Depredation Order on cormorants; and/or with our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators to come up with a law to reinstate cormorant control

These are only proposed resolutions at this point; they will not become MUCC policy unless approved at the Annual Convention by a 2/3 majority of voting delegates representing affiliate clubs and members if the resolution would change a law or regulation, or a simple majority if it wouldn’t.

Support Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ grassroots process to conserve our natural resources for future generations by making a donation at www.mucc.org/donate! Or, stop by the MUCC booth at the Ultimate Sport Show in Grand Rapids March 16-19 and purchase a 50/50 Conservation Jackpot ticket!

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