Obama’s Opposition to Second Amendment Clarified

FactCheck supposedly exists to look beyond a politician’s claims. Ironically, in its analysis of NRA materials on Barack Obama, these so-called “FactCheckers” use the election year campaign rhetoric of a presidential candidate and a verbal claim by one of the most zealous gun control supporters in Congress to refute facts compiled by NRA’s research of vote records and review of legislative language.

There’s another possible explanation behind FactCheck’s positions. Just last year, FactCheck’s primary funding source, the Annenberg Foundation, also gave $50,000 to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence for “efforts to reduce gun violence by educating the public and by enacting and enforcing regulations governing the gun industry.” Annenberg made a similar grant for $100,000 in 2005. (source)

Regardless of the cause, it’s clear that while FactCheck swoons over a politician’s rhetoric, NRA prefers to look at the more mundane details – like how that politician voted on a bill and what kind of impact that legislation had or may have had on law-abiding gun owners.

FactCheck claims that NRA advertisements “distort” Barack Obama’s anti-gun positions, but FactCheck’s own sources prove otherwise. In fact, even Obama’s campaign has refused to deny his most extreme positions.

FactCheck also dismisses NRA’s statements as “contrary to what [Obama] has said throughout his campaign.” But as FactCheck says, “believing something doesn’t make it so.” And unless FactCheck is an arm of the Obama campaign, isn’t it their job to find out if Obama is telling the truth?

FactCheck claim: “Obama is proposing no …ban” on use of firearms for self-defense in the home.

FactCheck is wrong. Obama supported local handgun bans in the Chicago area by opposing any allowance for self-defense. Obama opposed an Illinois bill (SB 2165, 2004) that would have created an “affirmative defense” for a person who used a prohibited firearm in self-defense in his own home.

As FactCheck notes, the bill was provoked by a case where a Wilmette, Ill. homeowner shot an intruder in self-defense in his home; the homeowner’s handgun was banned by a town ordinance. (After the U.S. Supreme Court found Washington, D.C.’s similar ban unconstitutional, Wilmette repealed the ordinance to avoid litigation.)

The legislation was very plainly worded, but as limited as its protection was, Obama voted against it in committee and on the floor:

It is an affirmative defense to a violation of a municipal ordinance that prohibits, regulates, or restricts the private ownership of firearms if the individual who is charged with the violation used the firearm in an act of self-defense or defense of another …when on his or her land or in his or her abode or fixed place of business.

If a person cannot use a handgun for self-defense in the home without facing criminal charges, self-defense with handguns in the home is effectively banned.

Even aside from SB 2165, Obama’s support for a total handgun ban (see below) would be a crippling blow to defense in the home, since (as the Supreme Court recently affirmed) handguns are “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family.” (District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783, 2818 (2008)).

FactCheck claim: Obama “did not …vote to ‘ban virtually all deer hunting ammunition.”

FactCheck is wrong. Obama voted for an amendment by longtime ammunition ban advocate Sen. Edward Kennedy (S. Amdt. 1615 to S. 397, Vote No. 217, July 29, 2005), which would have fundamentally changed the federal “armor piercing ammunition” law (18 U.S.C. ‘ 922(a)(7)), by banning any bullet that “may be used in a handgun and that the Attorney General determines… to be capable of penetrating body armor” that “meets minimum standards for the protection of law enforcement officers.”

Federal law currently bans bullets as “armor piercing” based upon the metals used in their construction, such as those made of steel and those that have heavy jackets. (18 U.S.C. ‘ 921(a)(17)). The Kennedy amendment would have fundamentally changed the law to add a ban on bullets on the basis of whether they penetrate the “minimum” level of body armor, regardless of the bullets’ construction or the purposes for which they were designed (e.g., hunting).

Many bullets designed and intended for use in rifles (including hunting rifles) have, over the years, been used in special-purpose hunting and target handguns, thus they “may be used in a handgun.”

The “minimum” level of body armor, Type I, only protects against the lowest-powered handgun cartridges. Any center-fire rifle used for hunting, target shooting, or any other purpose, and many handguns used for the same purposes, are capable of penetrating Type I armor, regardless of the design of the bullet.

Obama also said, on his 2003 questionnaire for the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization, that he would “support banning the sale of ammunition for assault weapons.” (source) The rifles banned as “assault weapons” under the 1994 Clinton gun ban fire cartridges such as the .223 Remington and .308 Winchester – the same ammunition used in common hunting rifles.

It’s true that in 2005, Sen. Kennedy denied his amendment would ban hunting ammunition. But in a floor debate on an identical amendment the previous year, Kennedy specifically denounced the .30-30 Winchester rifle cartridge, used by millions of deer hunters since 1895. “It is outrageous and unconscionable that such ammunition continues to be sold in the United States of America,” said Sen. Kennedy. (Congressional Record, 2/26/04, p. S1634.)

Isn’t it FactCheck’s job to be skeptical of politicians’ claims, especially when the plain language says otherwise?

FactCheck claim: “Obama says he does not support any … handgun ban and never has.”

FactCheck is wrong. Obama has never disavowed his support for a handgun ban. On Obama’s 1996 questionnaire for the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization, he clearly stated his support for “state legislation to …ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” Although Obama first claimed he had not seen the survey, a later version appeared with his handwritten notes modifying some of the answers. But he didn’t change any of his answers on gun issues, including the handgun ban.

FactCheck itself cites Obama’s 2003 questionnaire to the same group. When asked again if he supported a handgun ban, he could simply have said, “No.” Instead, as FactCheck notes, he “avoid[ed] a yes-or-no answer” by saying a ban on handguns “is not politically practicable,” then stated his support for other restrictions.

The 1996 and 2003 positions are not at all contradictory. Many anti-gun groups, such as the Violence Policy Center and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, support total bans on handguns but also support lesser regulations that are more “politically practicable.”

FactCheck claim: Saying Obama supports gun licensing is “misleading.”

FactCheck is wrong. Obama’s fancy election-year footwork – claiming he doesn’t support licensing or registration because he doesn’t think he “can get that done” – isn’t enough to get around his clear support for handgun registration and licensing.

What’s really misleading is the idea that handgun registration isn’t really gun registration. Handguns are about one-third of the firearms owned in the United States, and American gun owners know better than to think registration schemes will end with any one kind of gun.

FactCheck claim: Saying Obama would appoint judges who agree with him is “unsupported.”

This FactCheck claim is just strange. Don’t most Americans expect that the President will appoint people who agree with him to all levels of the government? And putting all Obama’s campaign rhetoric about “empathy” aside, why would judges be any different?

And on the larger issue of Obama’s view of the Second Amendment, FactCheck once again takes Obama’s spin at face value. While Obama now claims to embrace the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the D.C. gun ban, he refused to sign an amicus brief stating that position to the Court. And when Washington, D.C. television reporter Leon Harris said to Obama, “You support the D.C. handgun ban and you’ve said that it’s constitutional,” Obama nodded – and again didn’t disavow his support. (WJLA TV interview, 2/11/2008.)

-NRA-

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.

U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Testimony on National Hunting Issue

USSA Testifies Before U.S. Congress on National Wildlife Refuge

Discusses Funding and Management of Federally Administered Lands

(Washington DC) –America’s premier sportsmen’s rights organization, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) today testified before a U.S. House of Representatives committee on issues identified by a recent independent evaluation concerning the National Wildlife Refuge. This was the fourth time this year that USSA has been asked to offer its expertise to Congress on issues of importance to sportsmen.

The USSA identified four major areas of concern to sportsmen including:

The need for new guidelines that ensure the importance of wildlife management programs within the Refuge System;

The need to guarantee that hunting and fishing are to be the last programs impacted by any budget shortfalls;

The need to make certain that land purchases for the Refuge System match the priorities established by wildlife management professionals;

The need to develop a new way of funding public land management in an era of stretched resources.

The testimony was provided by USSA Director of Federal Affairs William P. Horn, a former Assistant Secretary for the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

Horn concluded his testimony by stating: “We need to assist the Service in making the most efficient use of these resources while working to develop a new funding model to assure that sufficient funds are available to ensure sound conservation, management, and use of our incomparable Wildlife Refuges.”

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, http://www.ussportsmen.org

Quality Deer Management Position on CWD

September 22, 2008

Mr. Keith Charters, Chairman
Michigan Natural Resources Commission
Mason Building, Sixth Floor
P.O. Box 30028
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Dear Chairman Charters and NRC Members:

On behalf of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), we are writing to express our support for the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance and response plan. This plan was developed and critically evaluated by wildlife and disease professionals following the discovery of CWD in Wisconsin in 2002. Herein, we also propose the inclusion of additional action items we believe would strengthen the existing plan.

The recent discovery of CWD in a captive white-tailed deer in Kent County, Michigan has generated serious concern among the state’s deer hunters, landowners, resource managers and agricultural producers. This also gives Michigan the unenviable distinction of being the only state in which both CWD and Bovine TB have been detected in white-tailed deer. These disease concerns are justified given that Michigan’s estimated 1.5 million deer and nearly 800,000 hunters generate approximately $1 billion for the state’s economy annually and support many thousands of jobs. If CWD becomes established in Michigan’s free-ranging deer herd, it would result in significant negative impacts to many sectors of Michigan’s already struggling economy.

A key component of the DNR’s surveillance and response plan is a ban on the baiting and feeding of deer in the entire Lower Peninsula, which QDMA supports. While the exact modes of CWD transmission in wild deer are not fully understood, direct contact with infected deer via saliva is one known mode of transmission. Thus, spread of the disease likely would be accelerated where deer are concentrated at bait or feed sites. While the localized baiting ban proposed by the Michigan House of Representatives may have been worthy of consideration if the DNR had time to test all captive facilities linked to the Kent County case and the wild herds around these facilities, this simply was not possible. The time constraint was further complicated given that the early antlerless deer season is already underway in Michigan. We recognize the hardship this ban will have on some Michigan farmers and understand the importance of this practice to many Michigan hunters. However, we believe the DNR took the only biologically and socially responsible action to minimize the threat of CWD to Michigan’s wild deer herd and the future of deer hunting in Michigan.

The state of Michigan, led by the DNR, now faces a difficult but vital task – to do everything possible to determine the extent of CWD in both wild and captive deer and to implement all necessary and reasonable measures to protect its wild deer resource. Michigan now joins a growing list of states in which CWD has been discovered. However, among these, Michigan has the largest deer population, highest number of hunters and greatest impact on the U.S. hunting economy. As such, Michigan must assume a leadership role at the national level in the battle against CWD.

To accomplish such a task, the Michigan legislature should immediately make available necessary appropriations enabling the DNR to implement an effective education, research, surveillance and management program. Key aspects of this program should include:

· Spearheading a national CWD research effort to better understand the impact of CWD on wild deer herds and the future of hunting. The impact of this disease on the U.S. hunting economy could be catastrophic given that 70% of the $67 billion hunting industry is generated from white-tailed deer.

· Evaluating all captive deer facilities in Michigan and ranking them according to disease risk to wild deer, and to implement testing, record keeping and movement regulations as necessary.

· Testing all captive facilities with known linkages to the Kent County facility and to aggressively sample the wild deer herds around each facility.

· Evaluating the potential risk associated with taxidermy operations and captive deer facilities which manufacture products containing deer urine and/or feces.

· Collaborating with conservation organizations such as QDMA and individuals with wildlife habitat expertise to educate hunters and landowners on the benefits of food plots and native habitat improvement as alternatives to baiting and feeding.

In closing, we recognize that this is a trying time for Michigan’s hunters, landowners, wildlife managers and farmers. We applaud the DNR’s courage in making this difficult decision and hope the Kent County deer was an isolated case. In closing, we urge you to join with us in supporting the existing plan while expanding it to include the critical action items listed above. Thank you for your consideration and commitment to Michigan’s natural resources.

Respectfully,

Brian Murphy Kip Adams, Director
Chief Executive Officer Education & Outreach, Northern Region

Leon Hank
Michigan State Chapter President

cc: Rebecca Humphries, DNR Director Michigan Branch Presidents and Members

About QDMA

The QDMA is an international nonprofit wildlife conservation organization dedicated to ethical hunting, sound deer management and preservation of the deer-hunting heritage. Currently, QDMA has more than 50,000 members, including over 3,000 of the nation’s leading natural resource professionals. Michigan ranks second nationally in membership with nearly 4,000 members. Given its commitment to research, education and stewardship, QDMA is widely regarded as the most respected whitetail conservation organization in North America.

MUCC Position on Chronic Wasting Disease

In light of the first confirmed case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Michigan and the ban on baiting recently enacted, MUCC Policy Staff have compiled all of the most recent polices related to CWD, deer baiting and feeding, privately-owned captive cervid operations, and high fence harvest that have been adopted by the voting delegates at past MUCC Annual Conventions. The adopted language is presented in its entirety and the year adopted is in parentheses. If you have any questions, please refer them to Amy Spray at muccpolicy@mucc.org.

In summary:

MUCC supports the recommendations of the CWD Task Force (2004) and encourages the state and federal government to accept and fund the recommendations. MUCC also supports education efforts on CWD

MUCC opposes the use of bait as a means to harvest white-tailed deer, due to the concerns of disease transmission. MUCC also opposes recreational feeding of deer.

MUCC supports limited supplemental feeding programs in the Upper Peninsula during severe winter conditions.

MUCC participated in and supports the recommendations from the Captive Cervid Working Group (2006) that developed strict standards and regulations for the existing captive cervid industry. MUCC also calls for regulation and enforcement to be funded by the captive cervid industry.

MUCC supports the fair and equitable phase out of captive cervid facilities in Michigan through a moratorium on new/expanded facilities and voluntary buy-out incentives.

MUCC does not recognize the act of taking wildlife within high fence enclosures as “hunting”, but encourage those captive cervid facilities that offer commercial harvest to do so in a manner which incorporates sufficient size and design to allow for a reasonable opportunity for “fair chase” and animal sanctuary.

MUCC defines “fair chase” as: the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful taking of free-ranging wild game animals, which extends beyond the hunt itself as an attitude and a way of life based in a deep-seated respect for wildlife, for the environment, and for other individuals who share the bounty of this state’s natural resources.

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE EDUCATION AND ACTION (2004)

WHEREAS, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease of deer and elk and is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep, characterized by loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities, and death, and

WHEREAS, CWD can have a serious effect on the health of deer and elk populations, and is of great concern for wildlife managers across North America, and

WHEREAS, there is no reliable live animal testing method available for diagnosing CWD, nor a treatment available, and

WHEREAS, Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed a Task Force of animal and human health leaders to review the status of CWD and recommend methods to protect Michigan’s deer and elk from this disease, and

WHEREAS, this Task Force held public hearings and brought in CWD researchers and state veterinarians from around the United States to present information about and share their knowledge of this serious disease, and

WHEREAS, after hearing this testimony and reviewing much information of CWD, the Task Force issued a list of recommendations specific to the concern of protecting Michigan’s deer and elk from CWD, now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) continues its efforts to protect Michigan’s deer and elk from CWD by encouraging the state and federal government to accept and fund the recommendations of the task force, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that MUCC develops and promotes an educational program to inform all MUCC members about CWD and the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force.

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE RESOLUTION (2002)

WHEREAS, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a progressive and always fatal
Neurological Disorder that affects deer and elk, and

WHEREAS, CWD has been found in game ranches and in free-ranging deer and elk in
several Western States and at least one Canadian Province, and

WHEREAS, recent disease survey results have revealed that CWD exists in free-ranging
White-tailed deer in Wisconsin, and

WHEREAS, research has revealed that the disease develops slowly and. At present,
cannot be diagnosed with live animal testing procedures, and

WHEREAS, the highest prevalence rate have occurred in captive cervid facilities and
Game Ranches where close contact among animals I more prevalent than that which
occurs among Free-ranging wild animals, and

WHEREAS, exotic game species are frequently held on captive cervix facilities, and

WHEREAS, research from Colorado has suggested that the movement of animals infected with CWD is the greatest risk to uninfected animals, and

WHEREAS, in response to the positive CWD cases found in Wisconsin, the State of
Texas has stopped the import of all deer and elk into its boundaries, and

WHEREAS, other mid-western States are considering supplemental protective fencing
Measures around existing game ranches in their states, and

WHEREAS, if CWD were to be transmitted to Michigan, its likely effects would be potentially devastating for free-ranging deer and elk with serious economic implications to Michigan residents and businesses, now.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Michigan United Conservation Clubs urge the State of Michigan to take whatever measures necessary to immediately stop the import of all deer, Elk, and exotic game species except boned meat, capes and antlers into its boundaries, and

BE IF FURTHER RESOLVED, that the State initiate a moratorium on the registration of new privately owned cervid farms and on the expansion of existing facilities, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, this action shall additionally require exiting facilities that enclose deer and elk to install supplemental (double) fencing in an effort to further separate captive animal from those in the wild, and

BE IF FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution adopted at the Michigan United
Conservation Clubs 2002 Annual Convention may be amended by board action to take any additional action necessary as based upon good science to protect our white tail deer and elk herds from CWD, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Michigan United Conservation Clubs work with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Agriculture, and United States Department of Agriculture to develop a public program to increase public awareness of Chronic Wasting Disease and its associated risks.

SCI Files Lawsuit to Reverse ESA Listing of Polar Bears

Washington, D.C. – Safari Club International (SCI) filed a lawsuit on September 8th challenging the listing of the polar bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) which led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to ban imports of polar bear trophies from Canada. SCI’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the Court to reverse the listing of the polar bear, in order to effectively eliminate the import ban. In a separate lawsuit filed in May 2008, SCI asked the same court to reverse the ban on imports. The State of Alaska has also joined SCI in this important fight, filing a lawsuit challenging the listing of the polar bear in the same court.

Not only is the endangered listing based upon uncertain science, but it also fails to account for the positive conservation benefits of well-regulated hunting. The listing of the polar bear interferes with sustainable sport-hunting of polar bears by cutting off importation by U.S. citizens. This hunting and importation of polar bears, which has been occurring since 1994, advances polar bear conservation and supports remote native communities in the Canadian arctic. The economic benefit to the native communities helps make polar bear conservation more important to the people who share the arctic environment with the animal. Canadian governments spend well over $1,000,000 annually on polar bear conservation and management and the imports, over 900 since 1994, also have created close to $1,000,000 for polar bear research and conservation.

Merle Shepard, President of SCI, said, “The listing of the polar bear is not supported by the science. Polar Bear population numbers are at all time historic highs. This animal was already well-regulated under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and international treaty. The FWS’s recent listing of the species as threatened — based on reports that attempt to predict speculative impacts 45 years from now — should not be used to undermine international polar bear conservation.”

New QDMA Branch in Shiawassee County

The Quality Deer Management Association has chartered a branch in Owosso , Michigan . The Shiawassee River branch will draw and serve QDMA members from Shiawassee and Genesee Counties and the surrounding area. At the chartering meeting, members elected Dan Malzahn of Owosso as the first President.

The Shiawassee River branch will hold its next meeting at the Shiawassee Conservation Association on September 16th, 2008. The event will be held at 7pm. The meeting will include goals of the branch, techniques for promoting the new branch, and initial planning for upcoming events and speakers . It is free and open to anyone interested in white-tailed deer and deer management. Please contact Dan Malzahn at 989-725-7369 for further information.

“All of us at QDMA are excited about having a new branch in the Shiawassee area,” said Gene Newman, QDMA National Director of Branch Development. “As we move forward the Shiawassee River Branch will be instrumental in helping QDMA achieve its mission of educating hunters and landowners about Quality Deer Management and its benefits to whitetails, their habitat and wildlife in general.”

Founded in 1988, the QDMA is a national nonprofit wildlife conservation organization with more than 45,000 members in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Membership in the QDMA is open to anyone committed to ethical hunting, sound deer management and the preservation of the deer-hunting heritage. To learn more about the QDMA and how it can help your hunting, call (800) 209-DEER [(800) 209-3337] or visit www.qdma.com.

Chronic Wasting Disease Update

Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan
Frequently Asked Questions

On August 25, 2008, The Michigan Departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed the state’s first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a three-year old white-tailed deer from a privately-owned cervid (POC) facility in Kent County.

This document includes:
Definitions and Background Information on CWD
History of Kent County Case and Action Steps
Information for Hunters and Wildlife Watchers
For More Information
Definitions and Background Information on CWD

What is a privately-owned cervid (POC) facility?
Cervid species means members of the Cervidae family including, but not limited to, deer, elk, moose, reindeer, and caribou.

A privately-owned cervid facility is a privately-owned cervid livestock operation on privately-controlled lands capable of holding cervid species. This does not include accredited zoos or public institutions. POC facility operations may involve the producing, growing, propagating, using, harvesting, transporting, exporting, importing, or marketing of cervid species or cervid products under an appropriate registration.

POC facilities are required to be licensed under Public Act 190 of 2000, the Privately Owned Cervidae Producers Marketing Act. This law establishes standards governing privately-owned cervid livestock facilities, requiring the registration of cervid livestock facilities and establishing a regulatory and inspection process. The regulatory function has been transferred to the DNR, while the animal health and testing functions are performed by the MDA. In addition, MDA determines import and movement requirements, including issuing quarantines. This act outlines registration and reporting requirements, construction standards for facilities, and requires that facilities keep and maintain records of production, purchases, or imports.

How can you tell if a deer has CWD?
Infected animals may not show any symptoms of the disease for a long period of time, even years. In the later stages of the disease, however, infected animals begin to lose bodily functions and display abnormal behavior such as staggering or standing with very poor posture. Animals may have an exaggerated wide posture, or may carry the head and ears lowered. Infected animals become very emaciated (thus wasting disease) and will appear in very poor body condition. Infected animals will also often stand near water and will consume large amounts of water. Drooling or excessive salivation may be apparent. Note that these symptoms may also be characteristic of diseases other than CWD.

If you see a deer exhibiting these symptoms, you should accurately document the location of the animal immediately and call the Rap Line (1-800-292-7800). Do not attempt to contact, disturb, kill, or remove the animal.

How is CWD transmitted?
Current evidence suggests that the disease is transmitted through infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other fluids of infected animals. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids or from contaminated environments. Once contaminated, research suggests that soil can remain a source of infection for long periods of time, making CWD a particularly difficult disease to eradicate.

Is CWD a risk to human health?
To date, there is no evidence that CWD presents a risk to humans. However, the World Health Organization has recommended that people and other animals not eat deer or elk that have been infected with CWD.

Some simple precautions should be taken when field dressing deer in the surveillance zone (from Wisconsin DNR):
· Wear rubber gloves when field dressing your deer.
· Bone out the meat from your deer.
· 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.)
· Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal.

What other animals could be at risk?
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose. Research suggests humans, cattle, and other domestic livestock are resistant to natural transmission.

History of Case and Action Steps

How did officials find out about the infected deer?
The deer that tested positive at the Kent County breeding facility was a doe that had been recently culled by the owner of the facility because it was showing signs of sickness. Michigan law requires sick deer or culled deer on a POC facility be tested for disease. The samples from the Kent County deer tested “suspect positive” at Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, and were then sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which confirmed the test results.

How did this deer catch CWD?
Officials do not yet know how the deer may have contracted the disease. The doe was born at the Kent County facility. DNR and MDA staff are currently reviewing records from the Kent County facility and at least five others to trace deer that have been purchased, sold or moved by the owners in the last five years. They will also be tracing elk that have been purchased, sold, or moved by the owners in the last seven years.

What are the immediate steps being taken within the privately-owned captive cervid (POC) industry?
The state has quarantined all POC facilities, including game ranches, prohibiting the movement of all privately-owned deer, elk, or moose—dead or alive. This is in addition to the current law that has prohibited importation of live cervids from out of state. The Michigan State Police and county sheriff’s offices have been notified to step up surveillance efforts on Michigan’s roads and highways to ensure that there is no movement of cervids in violation of the quarantine.

The Kent County facility where the deer was found has been depopulated and all carcasses will be tested. In addition, the other POC facilities that have received cervids from or sold cervids to the Kent County facility are being examined for signs of CWD.

What are the immediate steps being taken to protect the free-ranging wild deer herd? (See specific questions below for more details)
· A ban on baiting and feeding white-tailed deer has been put into effect for the entire Lower Peninsula of Michigan, along with increased enforcement efforts.
A nine- township surveillance zone has been established in Kent County
· Mandatory deer checks within the CWD surveillance zone in Kent County to test for CWD.
· Deer carcasses acquired within the CWD surveillance zone may not be moved out of this zone
· At least 300 deer must be tested within the surveillance zone and another 300 will be sampled in the rest of Kent County and all counties bordering Kent County to help determine if there may be CWD in the wild deer herd.
The rehabilitation and possession of live deer has been banned statewide

Information for Hunters and Wildlife Watchers

Why is there a ban on baiting and feeding deer and elk throughout the whole Lower Peninsula? What does this mean?
Michigan established a Surveillance and Response Plan for CWD in 2002. This contingency plan said that for any positive identification of CWD in Michigan (or within 50 miles of Michigan’s border), that the DNR Director shall issue an interim order to ban baiting and feeding within the affected peninsula.

Baiting and feeding unnaturally congregate deer into close contact, thus increasing the transmission of contagious diseases such as CWD and bovine tuberculosis. Transmission can occur from contact between animals, contamination of feed or water sources with saliva, urine, and/or feces, or contact with an infected facility or area. More rarely, an adult animal can transmit CWD to its offspring through direct contact.

Provisions of the baiting ban are:
· All grains, minerals, salt, fruits, vegetables, hay, or any other food materials, whether natural or manufactured, which may lure, entice or attract deer are prohibited. This ban does include mineral and salt blocks, but does not include natural or manufactured lures/scents that are not “food materials”.
· Food plots are not subject to the ban.
· Foods found scattered solely as the result of normal agricultural planting or harvesting practices, foods available to deer through normal agricultural practices of livestock feeding if the area is occupied by livestock actively consuming the feed on a daily basis, or standing farm crops under normal agricultural practices are not subject to the ban.
· Baiting is defined in the Wildlife Order as placing, depositing, tending, distributing, or scattering bait to aid in the taking of a deer.
· All counties in the entire Lower Peninsula are subject to the baitingban.
· The Upper Peninsula is not included in the ban.

Does this ban include other forms of animal baiting or feeding?
BEAR: As a result of the deer and elk baiting and feeding ban, no bear baiting with food materials other than meats, meat products, fish, fish products, or bakery products will be allowed in the Lower Peninsula at any time.

SONG BIRDS: Feed used in bird feeders should be provided in a way to make the grains inaccessible to deer.

Where is the surveillance area?
There are special restrictions for hunters taking deer within the townships within a five mile radius of the Kent County facility. This surveillance zone includes Tyrone, Solon, Nelson, Sparta, Algoma, Courtland, Alpine, Plainfield, and Cannon Townships, all in Kent County. A map can be found here: http://www.michigan.gov/images/dnr/surveillance_zone2_246836_7.jpg

Why are there mandatory deer checks in the surveillance zone?
At this point there is no live-animal test, no treatment and no vaccine for CWD. By the end of the 2008-2009 deer hunting season, the DNR must test at least 300 deer in the surveillance zone to perform adequate surveillance of the free-ranging white-tailed deer herd for CWD. Hunters can assist the DNR by allowing biologists to take samples from the deer they harvest, which will reduce the number of live deer needed to be taken by the agency for testing. The department will also be testing recent road kills.

What are the movement restrictions on free-ranging deer taken in the surveillance zone?
To prevent unintentional spread of CWD, the only parts of deer harvested in the surveillance zone that will be allowed to be transported out of the zone are boned meat, capes, and antlers cleaned of all soft tissues.

There are no movement restrictions on free-ranging deer taken in other parts of the state.

Deer taken at a game ranch or privately-owned captive cervid facility under quarantine are not allowed to be transported out.

What should I do if I see a deer that shows CWD symptoms?
You should accurately document the location of the animal and immediately and call the Rap Line (1-800-292-7800). Do not attempt to contact, disturb, kill, or remove the animal.
For More Information

If you have questions in addition to those above, please send them to Amy Spray at muccpolicy@mucc.org. We will be updating this Frequently Asked Questions document as needed.

MUCC has a webpage devoted to information on CWD at: http://www.mucc.org/cwd/cwd.php

More information on CWD is available on Michigan’s Emerging Diseases Web site at www.michigan.gov/chronicwastingdisease.

CWD in Wisconsin (from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/wildlife/whealth/issues/CWD/

The Future of Michigan Hunting is Upon Us

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Professional Outdoor Media Association

While it may be difficult to predict with certainty how Michigan’s deer hunting will evolve over the next 20 years, an objective look at history and current trends are all we have to program into anyone’s crystal ball. Over the past 500 years, the national deer population has cycled through distinct phases – some threatening the very existence of whitetail deer. Beginning with exploitation by Native Americans from year1500 to year1800, deer numbers dropped from about 70 million to 30 million. Then a moderate recovery grounded in improved habitat from year 1800 to 1860, the population rebounded enough for European market hunters to capitalize on the herd for big money. By year 1900 the game numbers had reached their low point, and without a change in management strategy, the future of America’s deer hunting would have gone the way of the jackalope. (When’s the last time you saw one afield, anyway?) A period of protection and recovery took place through year 1975 with excise taxes collected from outdoors people providing the funds necessary to trap and transfer deer to other states that had decimated populations. Michigan became a leader in this noble effort, which became the foundation for what has been a most remarkable national recovery effort – so much so that the deer population is approximately what it was some 500 years ago.

Deer numbers are up and that’s the good news. Viewing current conditions through a toilet paper roll might easily lead one to believe that hunters can become complacent with all of the successful conservation efforts.

However, there are plenty of factors that will continue to affect overall hunter satisfaction, if we are honest enough to consider them. Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored, and for that reason, it’s time for thinking hunters to put the toilet paper roller aside and get out the wide-angle lens.

Urban sprawl eliminates habitat. Although the cyclic nature of the housing market may have temporarily eased the pressure of sprawl, there’s no stopping it based on current trends. With less land, also comes a decrease in hunting land sizes.

Human and deer conflicts will increase in proportion to sprawl. Deer may eat your cotoneasters in your yard or they may come out of nowhere and ruin your car, your day, and their lives. You say it’s already happening? Just wait.

With forever-higher fees, an aging hunting fraternity passing on little tradition, and more non-hunting immigrants, hunter numbers will continue to decline.

Wildlife budgets will continue on current decline trends based on a lack of public support.

Diseases such as chronic wasting disease and tuberculosis will remain and most likely will expand into new areas.

The Animal rights movement is here to stay and along with it, public scrutiny of hunters’ conduct will grow.

Geez! And, I thought these were the good ol’ days.

All is not lost, my friends, but it will take a margin of cooperation heretofore unprecedented – private-land hunting cooperatives, that is.

Hunting cooperatives are already being formed and work like this: Groups of adjoining landowners pool resources of land in an effort to improve the quality of the deer herd and overall hunting experience. (They might pool equipment and get bulk-buying discounts for seed and fertilizer, too.) They are voluntary, can be any size, and landowners make mutually agreeable rules relative to protecting young bucks and harvesting an adequate number of does.

There’s more to the idea and I’ll take a more in-depth look into this concept and the future of deer hunting in upcoming posts.

Got Bait? Go Fish!

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Professional Outdoor Media Association

In light of the Michigan DNR’s recent mandate to ban all forms of baiting for deer in the Lower Peninsula, I am posting some words I wrote on the subject a few years ago.

About 25 years ago, while deer hunting along the St. Helen trail in the northern Lower Peninsula, I came across a bait pile and my immediate reaction had me thinking some poacher was at work. As a matter of fact, I really thought baiting was illegal. I then located a gut pile mere yards from the bait. Success? Maybe.

Notice that I said I was hunting. Without consulting Mr. Webster, I always thought hunting had more to do with seeking out the deer, sneaking around, and hiding somewhere after figuring out where deer might show up. And, that’s how I hunted, as did everyone else I ever knew.

As society’s need for instant gratification has grown, so has the issue of baiting. On one hand we have those pursuing deer and seemingly taking advantage of legal baiting laws, albeit much restricted today; on the other hand, we have non-baiting hunters and non-hunters raising questions of ethics, and concerns relative to horrifying herd disorders.

Since the inception of devastating diseases in Michigan and in our bordering Wisconsin, scientific studies have indicated hunters may be their own worst enemies from not only an ethical standpoint, but also from one of physiology. Unregulated baiting causes deer to concentrate in small areas for prolonged periods of time. Whereas, in more natural settings, they constantly move about as they graze. Where once we could legally dump a truckload of apples, corn, or whatever, as of last season, we were restricted to putting out no more than 2 gallons of bait per hunting site – and, those 2 gallons had to be spread in a minimum 10 foot by 10 foot area. Bait piles, as we knew them, have become illegal in Michigan, and based on scientific research, it makes sense to me apart from other personal considerations.

Let’s see how ol’ man Webster defines the word “hunt” in the form of a verb: 1) to go out to kill or catch (game) for food or sport, 2) to search eagerly or carefully for; try to find. Accordingly, whether one chooses to use bait or not, one can call himself a hunter. To me, however, the question comes down to why one hunts. Even though my approach to hunting parallels the second definition above, taking game is a fitting reward for preparation, effort, and application of skills. Wanton harvesting can also ruin a season of hunting in a sense. Let me explain.

It was October 1, 1996, opening day of archery season. In the evening session, strapped 21 feet above ground to a white oak tree, along a natural bait-less travel route, I let an arrow fly at a 7-point buck 30 yards straight ahead. He appeared to “jump the string”, or in other words, to duck under the path of the arrow. Convincing myself of a clean miss, I stayed put hoping for another opportunity before darkness descended. Within a half hour, 4 does congregated 10 yards in front of my stand creating natural decoys for what I believed to be the missed buck returning to my neighborhood. He presented the perfect quartering-away angle at 25 yards and I sent another arrow to the target. I anxiously waited until dark so my pals could finish their stints and we all went tracking together.

The trail lead to a 6-point, which had expired mere yards from a second buck – the 7-point I had “missed”. Although there was reason for celebration, there was reason for regret shortly thereafter. The perfect double-lung kills ended my 90-day plus buck hunting season as quickly as it began. Success? I guess it depends on which version of Mr. Webster’s hunt description seems most fitting to you.

I grew quite a bit as a hunter that day. Although I didn’t purposely take 2 bucks that day, I had cause to reflect on what the reality of my error meant to my hunting time afield. I relish the pursuit of deer in archery season, firearms season and ever so much in the muzzleloading season.

If I were to hunt in accordance with Webster’s #1 definition, I am sure I could whack ‘em and stack ‘em and get on with some other mundane aspect of life. However, 1996 taught me an enriching lesson culminating in a hunting style that affords me the opportunity to behold the solemnity of nature. A rewarding harvest ends it.

Got bait? Go fish.

I have focused on hunting deer over bait and have expressed my rationale for using alternative methods to hunt that are more in line with my particular style. Limited baiting for deer is still legal in Michigan, if the bait is spread out. However, bait piles – the practice of dumping bushels or even truckloads of feed – appears to be forever forbidden. To the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the question of baiting is not ethical; rather, the practice of baiting relates to the health and well being of our herd. Like it or not, the question of ethics among the population is a significant weapon used against hunters – by hunters and non-hunters alike.

A week ago, I explained that I viewed a bait pile with a jaundiced eye when I first saw it afield some 25 years ago. In a survey of randomly dialed households conducted by the DNR, the question of ethical judgment was a very important reason for opposition to baiting. When respondents who oppose all forms of hunting were dropped from the analysis, 53 percent said baiting was unacceptable, and 9 percent were undecided. Some hunters and even more non-hunters believe baiting deer is too easy and “unfair” to the deer. Based on all information I have reviewed, I would not claim that baiting necessarily increases one’s chances of success; however, non-hunter perceptions of “unsporting” behaviors help to fuel the fairness issue. We can debate whether there is an advantage – unfair or otherwise – all we want, but I don’t believe the controversy will be resolved in the minds of people that do not hunt. So what? We need to understand that non-hunters are able to influence the establishment of game laws affecting hunters. Therefore, perception can evolve into hunters’ reality.

If we are to assume that hunters using bait tend to focus more on results than process, can we safely assume they have some type of advantage? Based on Michigan DNR Wildlife Division Issue Review Paper 5, which is a compilation of scientific studies relative to deer baiting issues in Michigan published February 26, 1999, under the title “Effect on Movement Patterns”, (A) behavioral change in deer frequently attributed to deer baiting is increased nocturnal activity (Charles 1993). Use of baited sites seemed to become more nocturnal as the hunts progressed, possibly reflecting increased wariness of deer due to continuous hunting pressure. This may suggest that human disturbance rather than the influence of bait may affect the nocturnal and diurnal behavior of deer. A Mississippi study reported that, as the number of hunters at baits sites increased, the daylight activity of the bucks at the sites decreased. That study noted that bucks used the bait stations during only 10 percent of the legal shooting hours. A Michigan DNR study concluded that disturbance affected deer activity more so than the use of bait (Wegner 1993).

These studies seem to indicate, that if hunters obey the 2-gallon bait limit, they must make plenty of trips afield, because 2 gallons can disappear quickly. As deer figure out the routine, the success rate drops accordingly.

Lazy hunters- and those that I believe help to depict hunters negatively in the eyes of the population – may violate the 2-gallon limit and illegally dump large piles to minimize trips to the woods. Of course, there is another legal option: the use of mechanical timed feeders. By law, they are limited to the same 2-gallons per day, but can spread the feed without human interference. This option would seem to make sense to those that bait on private land only, however.

Any type of baiting employed certainly doesn’t teach hunting skills. With baiting having become more widespread, woodsmanship appears to be going the way of the phone booth. In this age of fax machines, satellite TV, and picture phones, the use of bait to attract and kill deer is understandable, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to a good percentage of people.

It is my contention that short-term success is heavily outweighed by the negative aspects of baiting – be they perceived or otherwise. As hunting ground continues to vanish and city slickers inhabit bean-field lots developed from family farms, hunters may be wise to consider alternatives. For now, the hunters’ money talks, but those that remain complacent can expect more restrictions as a result of the vocal opposition’s tactics. I am certainly not naïve enough to think for a minute that all hunters will have come to the same conclusion as I have relative to baiting. However, if you’d like some viable options, follow along.

Whenever we hunters are pitted against one another in conceptual causes, the opposition, which can be other hunters, non-hunters, and animal extremists, has an advantage. If we become too obsessed with the killing of deer by whatever means, we may rationalize ourselves away from a more far-reaching, long-term goal: A viable hunting heritage.

When a hunter explains his particular hunting prowess to anyone, the story gets around. When he boasts how he took a shot from such a distance that would have made the Guinness Book of World Records, only to finish by explaining how he lost his wounded prize, the story gets around. He can even surmise how he “knows” he killed that buck, but that doesn’t count as one for the sportsmen, because his goal wasn’t to feed the coyotes. These distressing results fuel the opposition, which eats it up, dwells on it, adds a generalized spin to it, and distributes its message to the population for digestion.

Sure, there’s no law against flinging an arrow 30 yards past one’s personal limits of sanity; I just hope the prayer misses rather than maims. If some sandal-foot hiker stumbles upon fatally wounded or injured prey, his words help to erode the future of hunting for everyone when he spreads word of his encounter: “A hunter did this. Hunting is bad. It must be stopped.” The tale of the undisciplined shot is extended far beyond the pathetic scene. All hunters are painted as dimwitted with a broad brush that works to undermine the future of hunting. This is exactly how we become pitted against anti hunters and each other.

There’s also no law against baiting in Michigan, although we are not far from one. I understand that many hunters bait deer because they think it draws deer away from those not baiting. Or, maybe their neighbor is baiting deer heavily, so to get deer to their smaller property, they believe they must bait, too. Maybe so, but baiting does not counteract poor deer environment in terms of year-round habitat and nourishment. It does very little to instill hunting skills but does a great job of spreading controversy.

Is it possible to hunt over an acre or more of “bait” without painting the picture of a despicable hunter? How else can you describe a location near an apple orchard, a stand of white oaks, a bean field, or a cleverly conceived food plot? With some hard work at the appropriate planting time, a hunter can develop his own secret hot spot and never have to stink it up with bait-hauling trips. He can plant nutritious perennial alfalfa or clover and rest assured his fresh bait would be there when he arrives. He can also plant annual feasts of turnips, rape, beans, sunflowers, peas, etc. Yum, yum! The deer get the high protein they demand and there is no close-quarters, nose-to-nose, disease-spreading struggle for dominance at the pile.

It doesn’t take much; a patch as big as your bedroom can lure deer to stop on their way to social gatherings. Food plots can be prepared with a small tractor, an ATV, a rototiller, or a shovel and rake. And, when the snow is on and the baiters are home wondering where all the big bucks have gone, the hunter/farmer nourishes his herd, because hungry deer will paw their way to the food source that remains under their keen noses. The perennial paradise will have deer, turkeys, rabbits, pheasants, geese and the like in the habit of frequenting your secret observation post, while the wise hunter is at home loading ammo or sharpening broadheads.

Before bait piles were common, hunters practiced honing their skills by learning habitat needs of deer and then working areas of feed, water, travel routes, and bedding areas. Such tactics demand more of the hunter, but as time goes on, he will reap what he sows.

When I handload ammo, I do so with the realization that I have assembled a brass case, primer, powder, and bullet in such a way that it is unique to my needs. When I plant whitetail clover, I do so knowing that it is good for the overall well-being of the local deer herd and it’s also part of my long-term strategy for a successful hunt. I enjoy the actual process of handloading ammunition as much as I enjoy watching the clover sprout and blossom. And, a well-placed, disciplined shot makes the worthwhile effort that much more of a satisfying experience. Although there will always be those that will paint me with their broad brushes as part of their portrait of the shameful hunter, I will not be providing them with the paint.

Crows: They’re not Just for Breakfast Anymore

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Professional Outdoor Media Association

In case you haven’t noticed, crow hunting season is in full swing. If you missed the action so far, you have until the end of September to become crow-active. Many people consider this member of the Corvidae family to be a varmint, while others respect and revere them for their intelligence. However you choose to view them, it has become apparent that they are especially susceptible to West Nile Virus (WNV) infection, with crows and blue jays (another corvid member) accounting for between 50 and 90 percent of avian cases. It’s no wonder they have become the focus of surveillance efforts across North America. With innocent human life at stake through transmission of WNV from corvids to people, it confounds me that crows are protected 8 months out of the year.

It all started with the initial signing of an official Migratory Bird Treaty in 1936 between the United States and Mexico. Growing concerns about the status of endangered migratory birds, such as the spotted owl, got us started in this predicament of protection of a bird that really doesn’t migrate. Our government realized that birds flying from Central and South America to North America ran the gauntlet of hungry sustenance peasant hunters in search of their next meal. U.S. officials worried about possible extinction of certain birds and thus the treaty was signed February 7, 1936 in Mexico City and remains in effect today.

Article 1 of the US-Mexico Bird Migration Treaty (MIGRATE), allows both countries the utilization of the birds for the “purposes of sport, food, commerce and industry.” Article II places limitations relative to hunting seasons, which made it illegal to hunt birds past a certain point in the year. Article III regulates transportation of the birds – dead or alive – and requires a permit by both countries to be legal. Article IV states and names all bird species that are considered migratory, while 23 species are considered non-game birds, such as cranes and rails. So far, it seems to make sense, but here’s where it gets wacky.

Under article IV, there is an “Other” category, in which other species may be added to the list, if both parties agree. In 1972 the inexplicable happened: The Crow family was added to the list. So, in the stroke of the pen, crows went from vermin to vagary and remain conditionally protected today. In Michigan, where a fair number of these “migrating” masters of mischief seem to spend their winters, we can hunt them from February 1st through March 31st. The season also ran from August 1st through September 30th last year, but I am not going out on a limb, so to speak, to state it will be the same this year. However, crows may be taken outside of the open season during hunting hours, in compliance with federal regulations, if these birds are causing a nuisance or creating a health hazard. That would indicate to a normal thinking person that they’d be fair game any time. They “caws” trouble just about any time they are out of the nest and can be a health hazard from biting mosquitoes passing on WNV disease during our lengthy mosquito season. Ah, but it’s not that easy.

As part of MIGRATE, Federal Regulation 50 CFR part 21.43, crows may be taken under certain depredation situations. It states one doesn’t need a Federal permit (you gotta be kidding!), when crows are found committing or about to commit certain depredation upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, livestock, or wildlife or when they are concentrated in such numbers as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance. But, don’t let the G-men catch you with any decoys, calls, or other devices to entice birds within gun range, because they are specifically prohibited under the depredation order by Section 21.41 (c). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) figures the basis for these restrictions is that it would be counterproductive to lure or entice crows into an area already experiencing depredation problems.

I realize most people don’t set out to eat crow, but they end up doing it involuntarily – sometimes even with foot in mouth. I have heard that 4 and 20 blackbirds are sufficient for one good-sized pie, but take note that the DNR advises to wear rubber or latex gloves when handling and cleaning dead animals. Tools used when processing birds should be disinfected after use with bleach (10% solution) and washed in soapy water. Consuming the meat of an infected bird has infected no humans to date. (Well, that’s something to crow about!) However, the meat of birds should be cooked thoroughly. Heating to an internal temperature of 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit will kill West Nile Virus as well as other bacteria, eliminating the risk of infection. Gotta run now. Got some crow-quettes on the grill.

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