Calling All Birders: Global Big Day is May 13

Ithaca, NY–A “big day” is a big deal for people who love to watch birds. The term traditionally applies to any effort to identify as many bird species as possible in a single day. The third annual Global Big Day takes place on May 13, 2017. Bird watchers around the world are invited to watch and count birds for any length of time on that day and enter their observations online at eBird.org.

“The past two Global Big Days have set back-to-back world records for the most bird species seen in a single day,” says Chris Wood at the Cornell Lab. “During last year’s Global Big Day bird watchers from more than 150 countries tallied more than 60 percent of the world’s bird species.” Read more

AGFD Considers Potential Impacts of Appellate Court Ruling on Mexican Gray Wolf

 

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is assessing potential impacts to Arizona’s endangered and threatened wildlife recovery program, following a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that lifts a preliminary injunction on releasing Mexican wolves in New Mexico.

The court decision issued Tuesday held that the State of New Mexico had not met the legal standard for a preliminary injunction because it did not demonstrate that releasing Mexican wolves without state permits will cause irreparable injury to the state. The ruling reverses a U.S. District Court decision last summer that prohibited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from importing or releasing any Mexican wolves in New Mexico without first obtaining permits from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.

“The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department are evaluating the potential ramifications of the Appellate Court’s decision for Arizona’s wolf recovery program,” said Jim deVos, AZGFD assistant director for Wildlife Management. “Our agency remains committed to working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and our other partners to ensure Arizona has a voice in providing direction for the program, based on sound science and boots-on-the-ground research.”

The case now returns to U.S. District Court for a decision on whether New Mexico can require the USFWS to obtain state permits before releasing wolves. Read more

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center offers butterfly gardens class, hatchery tours in May


Public also invited to April 29 celebration of new kids’ fishing pierThe Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center in Mattawan, Michigan (Van Buren County), will offer several opportunities this spring to learn about outdoor recreation and Michigan’s natural resources. Upcoming programs include:

Kids’ Fishing Pier Celebration
Saturday, April 29, 11 a.m.

Join DNR staff and partners for the ribbon-cutting and dedication of the new kids’ fishing pier. There will be special hatchery tours every 30 minutes after the ceremony, kids’ fishing from noon to 2 p.m. and light refreshments.

Butterfly Gardens
Saturday, May 6, 10 a.m. Read more

Not your typical spring birding event – a woodcock walk at dusk

If you’re looking to get out and stretch your legs, a spring birding event might be just the ticket. Grab your flashlight and binoculars and join Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff before dusk for a short walk to hear the “peent” call of a male American woodcock just before it lifts off the ground in its spiral dance 200 to 350 feet in the air.

The woodcock walk will be held Thursday, May 4, at 8 p.m. in northern Gladwin County at the Lame Duck Foot Access Area GEMS, an area showcased as a fall ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting location. Read more

CBD Files Suit to Challenge the Congressional Review Act and Undermine Alaska’s Wildlife Management

This from Safari Club International

On April 20, 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  The CRA gives Congress authority to review and nullify federal regulations with which Congress does not agree within a 60-day period after the rules are finalized.    CBD’s suit focuses on a component of the CRA that prohibits federal agencies from issuing rules that are “substantially the same” as regulations previously nullified by a congressional joint resolution.  CBD claims that this prohibition interferes with the constitutional separation of powers between Congress and the executive branch.

The purpose of CBD’s suit is to invalidate House Joint Resolution 69 (H.J. 69), which was signed by the President on April 3.  H.J. 69 nullified a regulation adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) at the end of the Obama administration that prohibited forms of hunting on all National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska.    SCI and its two Alaska chapters have long opposed the FWS regulations that were the subject of H.J. 69.

In January 2017, just before the new Administration took office, SCI filed suit to challenge those hunting restrictions.  SCI’s suit also challenges similar National Park Service (NPS) regulations that prohibit forms of hunting on all National Preserves in Alaska and challenges regulations regarding hunting and access on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  The State of Alaska also filed a similar suit as did the Alaska Professional Hunters Association and the Sportsmen’s Alliance.   SCI also worked hard to help win passage of H.J. 69 by both houses of Congress and its approval by the President.  Read more

Michigan: Experience the Excitement of Spring Birding

Common yellowthroats and scarlet tanagers are among the many bird species that can be found on Michigan’s birding trails and that will be celebrated with birding events around the state this spring.

Contact: Holly Vaughn, VaughnH@michigan.gov, 313-396-6863

Experience the excitement of spring birding in Michigan with events, trails around the state

scarlet tanagerMichigan is home to a variety of important bird habitats and an exciting array of public birding events and birding trails. Now is the time to start making plans to get out and enjoy the spectacular diversity of birds in Michigan.

“Michigan has so many great opportunities for birders and wildlife watchers, with more events popping up all the time,” said Holly Vaughn, Department of Natural Resources wildlife communications coordinator. “There is no better place to begin birding than Michigan, and there are opportunities to observe birds anywhere you may be in the state.”

In addition to the many festivals listed below, Michigan is home to a growing number of birding trails, with six already existing and more planned. Michigan’s birding trails are open to the public and provide great opportunities for family recreation.

Spring birding events in Michigan include: 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.

Mountain Lion Preying on Sheep Killed

A man’s hand next to one of the front paws of a mountain lion killed in the Panhandle demonstrates the large size of the predator. [JERRY SHAW / ODWC]

The Cimarron County mountain lion was a large specimen, as shown by this man’s hand next to the big cat’s head. [JERRY SHAW / ODWC]

These tracks helped confirm a mountain lion had been in a livestock pen in western Cimarron County. [MAX CROCKER / ODWC]

A large mountain lion observed killing livestock near a family home in western Cimarron County was killed by an Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry Wildlife Services officer Saturday, April 1.

A landowner reported the mountain lion to an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation game warden, who followed existing protocol and contacted the Wildlife Services Division of the Agriculture Department. Wildlife Services is responsible for situations of depredation or destruction of property involving mountain lions.

The landowner told officials his son reported that a mountain lion had killed sheep near the driveway of his home. Read more

Reminder: Spring Birding Tours at Michigan’s Wetland Wonderlands

The Department of Natural Resources invites Michigan residents to celebrate spring and explore the state’s wetlands with a birding tour at one of the nearby Wetland Wonders or Signature Wetlands. Opportunities for wildlife watchers to participate in a spring birding tours continue through the end of April.

Highlights of the birding tours may include diving and dabbling ducks in full breeding plumage, trumpeter and tundra swans, osprey, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and much more. Led by DNR Wildlife Division staff, as well as volunteers from Ducks Unlimited and Audubon clubs, the tours may include a “sneak peek” driving tour into refuge areas that are normally closed. Tours generally last two to three hours.

The birding tours will be held:

April 8 at 10 a.m. – Fish Point State Game Area
7750 Ringle Road in Unionville, 989-674-2511

April 8 at 9 a.m. – Pointe Mouillee State Game Area
37025 Mouillee Road in Rockwood, 734-379-9692

April 8 at 9 a.m. – Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area
1570 Tower Beach Road in Pinconning, 989-697-5101

April 15 at 9 a.m. – Houghton Lake Flats State Wildlife Management Area
Meet at the gazebo, north of M-55 on Old 27, one-quarter mile east of U.S. 127 in Roscommon County, 231-775-9727, ext. 6032

April 29 at 8 a.m. – Fennville Farm Unit of the Allegan State Game Area
6013 118th Ave. in Fennville, 269-673-2430 Read more

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