NWF, Affiliates Back National Response to Fatal Wildlife Disease

WASHINGTON  – News of Montana’s first confirmed case of chronic wasting disease underscores the importance of a bill introduced Tuesday by Reps. Ron Kind and Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. The bill would give states and tribes the funding and other assistance they need to fight the always-fatal neurological disease in deer, moose and elk that threatens the nation’s big-game populations and hunting opportunities.

The National Wildlife Federation and state affiliates support the bill, which would help states launch rapid responses when an outbreak occurs. Chronic wasting disease, which is contagious and affects members of the deer family, leaves animals uncoordinated and emaciated before it kills them. It has spread among herds from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest to the Northeast.

“Chronic Wasting Disease poses a grave threat to North America’s deer, elk, and moose herds, and the hunters and communities that depend on them,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Yet as this terrible disease spreads rapidly across our country, it’s received neither the urgent attention or sufficient resources from Washington to combat it. That is about to change thanks to the leadership of two great sportsmen, Reps. Ron Kind and Jim Sensenbrenner, who understand how serious this threat is and why immediate action is needed. The National Wildlife Federation enthusiastically supports their bill to provide states and tribes the support required to respond to this critical threat to America’s wildlife.” Read more

Big Game Trophies and Trophy Hunting

Situational Overview

There are broad misconceptions that exist among non-hunters and within the hunting community itself about big game trophies and hunting. To compound matters, organized groups whose intention is to end all hunting are attempting to sway the public, policy makers, and the media by building a negative image of trophy hunting. As the leading conservation organization that was the first to promote the selective hunting of mature male animals as a practice of wildlife conservation, the Boone and Crockett Club is concerned with misrepresentations, and wants people to understand the value of big game trophies and hunting to conservation.

Position

The Boone and Crockett Club supports hunting that is conducted legally and guided by a conservation ethic. If the intent of a hunter is to pass up a younger animal in favor of an older, mature animal, or merely take any legal animal regardless of sex or size, these are both choices that should be respected. Read more

Arizona desert bighorn sheep translocated to Goldfield Mountains


MESA, Ariz. — The next time you’re out hiking or just meandering in the Goldfield Mountains, take a good look around.If you’re lucky, maybe way up high on the crags, you’ll see one or more of the area’s newest residents taking a good look at you.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recently translocated 14 adult desert bighorn sheep – four rams and 10 ewes – from a healthy population of the animals near Saguaro Lake in Game Management Unit 24B to the Goldfield Mountains, also in Unit 24B.

All 14 of the animals were given an identification ear tag and complete health evaluation before being released. A few were fitted with a GPS tracking collar to better monitor their movements in their new locale.

“The main purpose of this project was to capture several desert bighorn sheep from within Unit 24B and establish a subpopulation within their native range,” said Dustin Darveau, terrestrial wildlife specialist. Read more

Michigan: DNR to auction surplus public land starting Dec. 12


Most parcels located in central/northern Lower Michigan and the Upper PeninsulaThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources Monday announced it will offer surplus public land for sale by sealed-bid auction between Dec. 12, 2017, and Jan. 10, 2018. The auction will feature 80 parcels located in counties mainly in central/northern Lower Michigan and in the Upper Peninsula, including Alpena, Arenac, Barry, Bay, Cheboygan, Dickinson, Gladwin, Iron, Kalkaska, Lake, Menominee, Midland, Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oakland, Osceola, Oscoda and Roscommon counties.

Properties range in size from less than an acre to 146 acres. These lands are isolated from other DNR-managed public land, are difficult to manage and provide limited public outdoor recreation benefits. Several of the parcels are forested and have riverside or lake frontage and are better suited for private ownership. In addition, several large-acreage parcels are being offered in Alpena, Arenac, Gladwin, Menominee, Montmorency, Osceola and Roscommon counties. Read more

Birdy Holiday Gifts That Inform & Inspire

Share the joy of birds and nature with gifts from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Ithaca, N.Y.– For the nature enthusiast on your list, consider a holiday gift from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to enhance knowledge and enjoyment of birds throughout the year. These gifts give twice because a portion of each purchase supports the Cornell Lab’s nonprofit mission to improve the understanding and protection of birds. Read more

SCI Asks President Trump To Lift Hold On African Elephant Import Permits

Tucson, AZ – Today, Safari Club International President Paul Babaz sent a letter to President Trump, asking him to direct Secretary Ryan Zinke to lift the hold that he placed on the authorization of import permits for elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

In the letter, SCI addressed multiple reasons why the hold should be lifted and corrected many of the common misconceptions about hunting, conservation and the elephant populations in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The text of that letter to President Trump follows:

 

November 20, 2017

Dear Mr. President:

 

On behalf of the 50,000 members of Safari Club International, I respectfully ask you to direct Secretary Ryan Zinke to lift the hold that he placed on the authorization of import permits for elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia.  By supporting Secretary’s Zinke’s authorization of import permits, you can reverse the senseless acts perpetrated by the Obama administration against hunting and the sustainable use conservation of African wildlife.  The Obama Administration’s refusal to authorize the importation of African elephants from countries, including Zimbabwe and Zambia, deprived those countries of resources they rely on to manage their wildlife, fight poaching and encourage community participation in conservation.  It is now time to put an end to the previous administration’s prejudicial and unsupported bias against hunting as a tool in wildlife management and conservation.

Secretary Zinke and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have made crucial, scientifically supported determinations about hunting and the U.S. importation of African elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Not only did the Department of the Interior’s wildlife and legal experts determine that the hunting and importation from these two countries will not hurt the African elephant species, they determined that the importation of legally hunted elephants from these two countries would “enhance the survival” of African elephants.  In short, they recognized, based on data they received from the wildlife management authorities of the two countries, the results of a species wide African elephant census, and the conclusions of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, that hunting and U.S. importation would help conserve African elephants.

Unfortunately, many people who oppose the importation of legally hunted elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia incorrectly believe that a ban on importation will actually stop the killing of African elephants.  Let me assure you that a U.S. ban on importation will not stop the killing of elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Without the removal of elephants by U.S. hunters, others will find the need or the opportunity to kill those elephants, both for illegal and legal purposes.  Whether it is by poachers seeking to gain from the commercial value of the ivory, local residents attempting to remove a problem animal or hunters from other countries around the world taking advantage of bargain hunts not booked by U.S. hunters, elephants will continue to be removed from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Most people who oppose hunting and importation of elephants are unaware of the role that hunting plays in fighting the greatest threat to elephant conservation—poaching.  Hunting concessions use money received from their clients to hire, feed and outfit anti-poaching patrols.  For example, few people know that it was a hunting business in Zimbabwe that discovered and helped apprehend the perpetrators of one of the most egregious poaching crimes in recent history — the poisoning of over 100 elephants in Hwange National Park.  It was a hunting business that discovered the poisoned elephants and helped finance the effort, including the use of helicopter surveillance, that resulted in the apprehension of the poachers.  In another example, a hunting business in northern Zimbabwe established the Dande Anti-Poaching Unit (DAPU) in 2014.  DAPU’s anti-poaching efforts have significantly reduced the number of illegal wildlife killings in the vicinity of the Dande Safari area.  These are just two examples of the hunting businesses who have been struggling to wage the battle against poaching, without the help of money from U.S. elephant hunters.  Without the influx of U.S. dollars to help support anti-poaching efforts, poachers will have an easier time of illegally killing elephants solely to sell the ivory for commercial gain.

Not all poaching is carried out by criminals who seek to make a profit from their ivory. Sometimes poaching – the illegal killing of an animal – is an act of necessity or frustration.  Local villages often find the need to kill elephants as to protect their livelihoods from the damages caused by elephants who roam into agricultural areas and trample crops and structures.  When elephants are not harvested by international hunters, those elephants often become the victims of retaliatory killings.  However, when elephants have significant value due to the jobs and revenue they generate for the community, local residents are far more likely to tolerate and help conserve the elephants in the vicinity – rather than kill them as nuisance animals.

Many of those opposed to U.S. importation of African elephants are unaware of the differences between hunting and poaching.  They assume that U.S. hunters care only about bringing home their “trophy.”  This misconception fails to recognize an important distinction between poachers and those who spend thousands of dollars to engage in legal hunts authorized by the country management authority.  A poacher generally kills the elephant, removes the ivory to sell it and leaves the carcass to rot.  A hunter, with aid from his professional guide or outfitter, will generally donate all the meat from the elephant to help feed local villages and communities.  Hunters and the business they bring to countries like Zimbabwe and Zambia help provide jobs for local residents as guides, cooks, drivers, etc.  Hunters often also make personal contributions to anti-poaching units and help provide financial support for community projects like the building of wells, schools etc.

Another misconception held by those who oppose the importation of legally hunted African elephants is that “more is better.”  They mistakenly assume that larger elephant populations in these countries would benefit species survival.  The truth is that, in wildlife conservation, more is not always better.  While it is true that, in some African countries, elephant populations are not as strong as they could be, that cannot be said for Zimbabwe and Zambia.  According to the recent “Great Elephant Census,” Zimbabwe’s country-wide elephant population was estimated to be 82,304.  Zambia’s elephant population was 21,758.  While the census documented a 6% decline in Zimbabwe’s elephant population since 2007, that decline did not necessarily reveal a problem for the country’s elephants.  In fact, Zimbabwe’s habitat cannot properly support a population of that number of elephants.  The country’s carrying capacity is only 50,000 elephants, according to a recent statement from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s Director-General, Mr Filton Mangwanya.  Carrying capacity is the number of animals from a particular species that a region can support without environmental degradation.  Currently, Zimbabwe has an elephant population that is about 30,000 more than can be sustained by the country’s food and habitat resources.  More elephants are simply not better for elephant survival if Zimbabwe lacks the necessary resources to maintain healthy populations at that level.

Anti-hunters also believe that the U.S. alone allows individuals to import legally hunted elephants.  That simply is not the case.  Not only does the European Union and its member countries authorize importation — as do countries in Asia and South America — but so does the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty between more than 180 nations. CITES affirms the importation of elephants and acknowledges export quotas of elephants from both Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Economically speaking, other world countries are now benefitting from the U.S.’s failure to authorize elephant imports.  With the absence of U.S. hunters, who are often willing to pay top dollar for African elephant hunts, hunters from other countries are negotiating “bargain” excursions from African guides and outfitters who must replace lost U.S. business.  While the U.S. bans importation based on irrational and erroneous conservation principles, the rest of the world is getting a great deal at U.S. hunters’ expense.

The hunting of elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia enhances the survival of the African elephant species.  The Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have carefully researched the facts, the science and the law and have concluded that the U.S. has had the necessary evidentiary support to authorize the importation of elephants from these two countries since early in 2016.  Hunters and conservationists have waited for many years for an importation decision that reflects the correct and verifiable facts about elephant importation and species conservation.  Safari Club International respectfully asks you to end the wait and to direct Secretary Zinke to begin issuing permits for the importation of these elephants, so that U.S. citizens can once again import the elephants that they legally hunt and actively participate in elephant conservation in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Thank you.

Paul Babaz

President, Safari Club International

For more information about this subject matter, please visit the following links: Read more

DSC: Positive Elephant Finding Best Decision for Conservation, Anti-Poaching

Dallas, TX —Dallas Safari Club (DSC) applauds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announcement regarding a positive enhancement finding for elephants in the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The positive enhancement standard is strict, and requires that the Service find “that the [animal] is taken as part of a well-managed conservation program that contributes to the long-term survival of the species.”

Because this decision is based on sound scientific data, not on emotion or politics, the role of legal, regulated sport hunting is shown to be vital in the conservation of wildlife worldwide. Additionally, where there is hunting, anti-poaching programs are the strongest.

Increased anti-poaching efforts across Africa – including K-9 units, motorcycle, aircraft patrols and drone use – have been funded by hunter revenue directly or by hunting organizations’ grants and programs. For example, DSC Foundation has disbursed considerable funds in the past five years in the fight against poaching – including grants to Zambezi Delta Safaris, needed equipment for patrols, training for game scouts at the Southern Africa Wildlife College and others. Read more

Michigan: Federal Lab Confirms Montcalm County Deer Had CWD

This is second hunter-harvested CWD-positive deer in Montcalm County; three additional suspect positives awaiting confirmation

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced today that the 1.5-year-old buck, harvested last month in Sidney Township (Montcalm County), was confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. This is the 11th case of CWD to be confirmed in a free-ranging deer in Michigan.

Since the harvest of that deer, three additional suspect positive deer – all from Montcalm County, in Pine, Reynolds and Sidney townships – are awaiting confirmation. Read more

Sportsmen Urge Senate to Reject Plan to Drill Arctic Refuge

MISSOULA, Mont. – As Senate members prepare to advance legislation that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, public lands sportsmen and women are amplifying calls to reject the measure.

On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a markup of the bill, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and touted as an economic booster. Read more

Arizona: GFD Treats Orphaned 8-Week-Old Mountain Lion Cub

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is caring for an approximately eight-week-old mountain lion cub found in the Cornville area.

The cub was spotted by Cornville residents and reported to AZGFD on three separate occasions. Each time, the reporting residents did the right thing, leaving the animal alone, because the mother of a young animal is typically nearby. In this case, the mother never returned after two weeks and AZGFD biologists determined that in this situation, it was best to intervene. Read more

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