United Airlines Reverses Antler Ban

United Airlines
Reverses Position on Antlers

Dear Glen:

Below is a copy of a letter POMA just received from United Airlines. POMA commends United for listening and responding to customers concerns.

From United Airlines
Dec. 16, 2009

Hello All –

As you have recently contacted us, I wanted you to be the first to know that we have heard our customers’ feedback about our Antler and Animal Horn policy, and are responding. Soon we will begin accepting Antlers and Animal Horns as checked baggage again.

As many of you may recall or have seen on our Web site, in October 2008 we stopped accepting Antlers and Animal Horns because of the damage the tips caused to the cargo section of the aircraft and to the luggage belonging to our other guests.

We will soon publish new requirements – and ones we previously did not have – about packaging and cleaning Antlers and Animal Horns to ensure their safe, clean transport. These travel requirements will also provide information on the size of Antlers and Animal Horns we can accept based on the type of aircraft being flown (i.e., traditional jet vs. a regional jet) and the special handling fee, which we previously had in place and is similar to other items that require special care.

Stay tuned for further updates on the baggage section of united.com.

If you (media members) have any questions, please let me or my colleague Sarah know.

Kind Regards,
Robin Urbanski
United Airlines
312.997.8640 (office)

United Airlines Bans Antlers

United Airlines sure knows how to restrict its passenger market. I wonder if the HSUS has members in the decision-making process.

From United’s Web Site:

Antlers & animal horns…
United Airlines does not accept antlers or animal horns as checked or carry-on baggage on any flights.

Late-Season Deer Hunting Welcomed

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Member Professional Outdoor Media Association

Deer hunting season has wound down for many hunters, and for the time remaining, tactics may have to be altered to add venison to the freezer. Gone are the hunters who have no time. Gone are most successful hunters, who can enjoy bragging rights for another year from the comfort of their living rooms. Gone are all but the staunchest of archers. Gone are thousands of deer unlucky enough to have been harvested by the traditional throng of weekend warriors. Gone is the mild weather. Enter the hunter.

Opening day always holds promise of success for even the least experienced afield. Sheer numbers of hunters account for deer movement, sightings, and harvest numbers. However, as anyone still afield can attest, circumstances have changed. Any whitetail that has remained – regardless of its age – has gained valuable, yet inadvertent, educational experience courtesy of hunters and the surviving members of the herd.

One of the reasons I frown on September’s antlerless season is that fawns have not had an opportunity to be educated by their mothers in the ways of survival. In addition, they are a scant three to four months old and depend on their mothers for nourishment and survival skills. Taking deer that early seems a bit too cruel – even for this natural predator. While I believe that the herd needs to be balanced, I also believe there are better ways to do it – and, that’s where late season hunting has its place.

December deer are not found frolicking in the fields in broad daylight. But, as the cold winds blow and snow hides low-growing food sources, they enter survival mode and begin to venture into more open areas for nourishment. As the season progresses and temperatures turn icy, food becomes more scarce. The browse lines move farther and farther upward and become out of reach for all but the largest of deer. Apples have become fertilizer and cash crops have become cash. Less supply of sustenance and more demand offer a real-life lesson in field economics, as evidenced by the propensity of deer to venture into more open areas during daylight.

The realization of this fact, and those already mentioned, is why I feel no desperation to harvest deer in October and even November. For me, December hunting involves shelters, heaters, warm gloves and boots. It requires good optics to ensure adults are being targeted, and if in late antlerless season, to ensure bucks with shed their antlers are not mistaken for large does. For me, late season hunting also mandates a firearm capable of long-range accuracy from a steady rest, because I won’t be tormented in any treestand waiting for deer to walk under me. I salute those tough enough to endure the bitter elements head on but I’ll opt for precision shooting facilitated by comfort.

Fawns will have graduated from the ranks of rookies in December, although in so doing offer no meaningful reason to be taken, as long as adults are available. Heck, for all we know any button buck holds the potential to become trophy-class, if permitted to live. I also smile within, when spotting an adolescent buck in December, knowing he, as well, has a fair chance at adulthood. In fact, last muzzleloading season, three such bucks were within my range on the first day; each was permitted time to achieve his potential.

I say goodbye to early fall conditions and hello to a bountiful late-season harvest.

MUCC Opposes Deer Feeding/Baiting Bill

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Re: House Bill 5380 – Deer Feeding Ban Extension

Dear State Representative,

Before you vote on the House Bill 5380 (H-4) as passed today from the House Committee on Tourism, Natural Resources, and Outdoor Recreation, I hope you’ll take into consideration MUCC’s position on the bill as presented in committee by MUCC Resource Policy Manager Amy Spray. It should also be noted that a vote was taken on the H-4 substitute before the Committee heard most testimony (including MUCC’s) citing significant reasons why the H-3 should pass over the H-4 substitute.

MUCC does not support the H-4 substitute, but fully supports the H-3 version of HB 5380 as originally introduced by Rep. Lahti.

We believe the original intent of this bill as introduced by Rep. Lahti is to give the Natural Resources Commission full authority to regulate the feeding of deer and elk according to sound-scientific principles. MUCC fully supports extending the sunset, or even eliminating it all together, so that our resources could be managed in an effective and transparent manner, with input from biologists. However, we do not support the H-4 substitute for the reasons below.

Deer hunting alone is a half-billion dollar industry in this state and an outdoor tradition enjoyed by more than 700,000 residents. Because deer are an integral part of Michigan’s ecosystem and economy, the conveyance of disease among deer, other wildlife, and humans should not be taken lightly. Just like baiting, deer and elk feeding congregates animals in a manner that increases the risk of spreading diseases. MUCC’s voting delegation confirmed their support for a ban to all baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula back in 2003, and reaffirmed it again in 2007 statewide. I have attached these resolutions.

The H-4 substitute would limit a feeding ban to only a county and the surrounding counties where an infected animal is found does not address the issue that was at the crux of the 2008 ban: captive cervids. A peninsula-wide ban was necessary because captive cervids, unlike wild cervids, have a (human-assisted) range of hundreds and even thousands of miles because of the breeding, selling, and exchanges that happens among the cervid farms, breeding facilities, and private hunting ranches. We know now that of the 460 captive cervid operations remaining in Michigan, more than 200 are not in compliance with their disease testing or fencing regulations. If there is a disease issue and an incidental (or intentional) release among one of these 200+ farms, our entire wild deer herd statewide is still at risk.

In addition, limiting a feeding ban to up to 18 months also flies in the face of science. Biologists know that there is a scientifically significant number of wild deer that must be tested in order to validate that there is no detectable trace of disease among the population. Hunting is the primary means for harvesting deer to test, and 18 months may only span one hunting season. This is a snapshot in time and is not enough time to effectively collect and analyze the number of samples necessary to determine there is not a disease concern.

Finally, the H-4 substitute limits the NRC’s ability to regulate feeding in response to an animal infected by only two diseases: CWD and TB. There are numerous wildlife diseases that can infect cervid species and possibly ones Michigan has not even encountered yet. There is no provision to deal with outbreaks of anything else.

Once again, Michigan United Conservation Clubs opposes the H-4 version of HB 5380, but supports Rep. Lahti’s original (H-3) version.

The 40,000 sportsmen and women of Michigan United Conservation Clubs believe that effective, transparent, science-based natural resource management is paramount to the collective conservation and recreational opportunities our organization supports for the benefit of future generations.

Thank you for your time and consideration of MUCC’s concerns before taking a vote on HB 5380.

Sincerely,

Dave Nyberg
MUCC Government Relations Manager

PETA Redeploys Contingent to Left Coast

In what may be a sign of rough economic times, PETA is shifting around forty employees from its Norfolk, Virginia office to Los Angeles. This move will get the country’s most outrageous animal rights group closer to the wealth of some “bleeding heart” celebrities that have fallen prey to PETA’s rhetoric.

According to Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president, it will be transferring three divisions to L.A.: campaigns, youth and online marketing. Reiman said it only makes sense to move certain forces to L.A. since the city “defines popular culture and cultivates big personalities.” She went on to praise the work of those divisions and how they “conceive of and carry out those eye and headline-catching, envelope-pushing and just plain quirky actions that have helped put animal rights on the map.”

The divisions being moved make up twenty five percent of PETA’s Virginia staff.

“Most Americans do not buy PETA’s animal rights fanaticism,” said Bud Pidgeon, president of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. “They must feel they have a niche in the glitz and glamour of L.A. We can only hope Californians make this a very bad move for them.”

QDM Shows Encouraging Results

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Member Professional Outdoor Media Association

The long-anticipated firearms deer season opener had finally arrived. Our hunting clan had done its best preparing blinds, food plots, and firearms for another season of controlled chaos. After several years of practicing Quality Deer Management (QDM) strategies, we expected greater rewards than past seasons had provided. Even though our piece of Shiawassee County heaven is relatively small, we’ve stuck by QDM principles nonetheless. We have trusted that our efforts would pay off toward a deer herd more in balance with the supporting habitat and more in line with a natural buck to doe ratio with healthy animals.

While much is made of bigger bucks in QDM strategies, there’s much more to it. No doubt, producing more and bigger bucks is a natural byproduct of staying the course. Much like the final score in a football game or any other sporting contest is based upon preparation, so too is QDM. By planting nourishing food sources and weeding out imbalance by harvesting adult does and passing small bucks, more and larger bucks happen; healthy deer happen, too, as a result. As hoped, opening day proved to be an encouraging barometer of results to date.

My opening-day position had me overlooking a familiar swamp with a view of deteriorating ash mixed with stately walnut trees. All was quiet in our neighborhood until Joe alerted me on the two-way: “There’s a 6-point buck coming your way.” Even though our private rules prohibit the taking of yearlings (6-points usually are yearlings in our area), I was excited at the prospect of spotting the first deer of opening day. However, I was also concerned that bordering folks, who operate under an opposing agenda, would shoot it. The adolescent buck, however, shuffled through the dry leaves and vanished without attracting a shot.

Still early morning, I noticed telltale movement in the swamp. Close inspection with my Leupold binoculars revealed another yearling 6-point buck bedded down. His focus was away from me and for good reason: plenty more deer, including another young buck with moderate headgear. I watched them for a half hour or so until the closer buck finally stood up. It was then that I noticed what appeared to be some type of wound to its neck. In addition, the hair around the blemish seemed puffed out a bit indicating a possible infection but I couldn’t be sure from 70 yards. When I saw an opposing hole in the hair on the opposite side of the neck, I surmised that the damage was caused by an undisciplined William Tell wannabe.

I decided to take the poor creature for a host of reasons, none of which involved bragging rights. I dropped him on the spot with a blast from my trusty muzzleloading Knight rifle and remained on stand.

When we retrieved the buck, we discovered that an archer indeed had wounded it with an ill-advised shot to the neck. The arrow had passed clean through and the wound actually appeared to have healed. Whether the deer would have lived a healthy, full life will never be known but I stand by a policy that mandates finishing the job someone else started. In so doing, one of the precepts of QDM – striving for healthy deer – is upheld.

During the evening session, the local deer population descended on the 4-acre brassica food plot until our departing hunting party spoiled their feeding and breeding frenzy. Before it was over, several whitetails sporting headgear worthy of restricted tags joined the chaos but I held fire during the waning light.

The strategy paid off for Joe, who downed a fine 10-point buck the following morning from the same stand. It was his best buck to date and our best since trusting in QDM a few short seasons ago. Dividends from QDM are beginning and there will be no turning back in years to come.

Gorilla Safety Harness Recalled

Gorilla Inc. Recalls EXO-Tech Safety Harness Due to Fall Hazard

–The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: EXO-Tech Safety Harness

Units: About 90

Manufacturer: Gorilla Inc., of Flushing, Mich.

Hazard: The webbing of the waist belt on the safety harness is not routed through the lineman’s loop located on the front of the harness near waist level. Since the loops are not properly anchored to the harness webbing but are attached only through stitching not intended to restrain a user during a fall, they that can pull away from the harness when force is applied, leaving the user unrestrained. In addition, the manufacturer of the harness used a previously untested carabiner connector located at the end of the tether at the back of harness, which is the portion of the tether that attaches to the tree.

Incidents/Injuries: No incidents were reported.

Description: This safety harness, used as a fall restraint for hunting, is comprised of two leg straps and two shoulder straps, which connect to a waist belt and padded back support. There is a long, black tether strap at the top rear of the safety harness, which has grey and red accents. The name EXO-Tech is located on the right front shoulder strap and the name Gorilla is located on the left front should strap both in white lettering. Similar to a shirt tag, there is a white manufacturing label on the inside of the back of the harness with the model number 45111 and manufacturing dates, 4/22/2009 or 6/26/2009. These are the only harnesses recalled.

Sold at: Cabelas, Bass Pro and at various sporting goods stores nationwide from May 2009 to August 2009 for about $200.

Manufactured in: Philippines

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the harness and contact Gorilla Inc. to receive a refund.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Gorilla Inc. at (877) 685-7817 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s Web site at www.gorillatreestands.com. Consumers can also write to the firm at Gorilla, Inc., P.O. 378, Flushing, MI., 48433 or 3475 Eastman Drive Flushing, MI. 48433.

Photos available at www.cpsc.gov

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx.

Firm’s Recall Hotline: (877) 685-7817

CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772

CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

SOURCE U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Bird Brain Pennsylvanian Guilty of Illegal Wildlife Possession

DALLAS, Luzerne County – Some may have thought Stephen Andrew Moore, 46, of Tannersville, Monroe County, enjoyed wildlife. However, as neighbors may have noticed a decline in the local wildlife populations, it became clear that Moore was participating in a non-traditional form of poaching: possession of wildlife illegally taken from the wild for “a hobby that got out of control,” according to Moore.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officers today announced that, on Oct. 29, Moore pled guilty to 30 counts of illegal possession of various species ranging from blue jays to raccoons, from chipping sparrows to gray squirrels, from groundhogs to purple finches. As part of the plea agreement, charges against Moore for cruelty to animals were withdrawn. District Judge Thomas E. Olsen, of Tannersville, ordered Moore to pay $2,250 in fines, and $750 in reimbursement to the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for expenses incurred treating the wildlife that survived.

Based on a tip from a confidential informant, on May 28, Game Commission WCOs Scott Malicky and Cory Bentzoni went to Moore’s home on Gravatts Way in Pocono Township to investigate alleged illegal possession of birds.

“When we arrived, we saw several cages and multiple bird traps on the front porch,” WCO Malicky said. “Also visible from the front porch were several bird traps in the backyard.”

On May 29, after acquiring a search warrant, WCOs Malicky and Bentzoni returned to Moore’s home, along with Northeast Region Law Enforcement Supervisor Daniel Figured, Northeast Region Information and Education Supervisor Tim Conway and Deputy WCO William McGlone. A search of the residence resulted in the seizing the following: 13 goldfinches; 11 pine siskins; 7 house finches; 5 dark-eyed juncos; 4 purple finches; 3 blue jays; 3 gray squirrels; 2 groundhogs; 2 raccoons; 2 indigo buntings; 1 chipping sparrow; 2 black-capped chickadees; 2 rose-breasted grosbeaks; 1 cardinal; 1 brown-headed cowbird; 1 house sparrow; 1 mourning dove; and five others needing identification due to decomposition.

“The birds and mammals, as well as some of the enclosures, were transferred to the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for care and housing,” WCO Malicky said. “Many of the birds required beak trimming, nail trimming and antibacterial medication in their drinking water, and one of the raccoons is suffering nutritional problems requiring dietary supplements. The cages needed cleaning and disinfection due to the improper care of the wildlife.”

Katherine Uhler, who runs Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and has many years of experience caring for sick and injured wildlife, stated that all of the birds were “underweight, suffering from neglect and had nutritional problems.” Since being housed at her facility, 20 of the birds have died due to the poor condition they were in when they arrived.

“It is Kathy Uhler’s expert opinion that the mammals and birds were neglected by not providing the proper care,” WCO Malicky said.

Trappers Win Court Battle

(Columbus, Ohio) – Trappers in Maine won a major victory as the state’s Federal District Court upheld the state’s trapping practices and blocked the establishment of a precedent that could be used by anti-hunting and anti-trapping groups nationwide.

In 2008, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine filed a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) seeking a permanent injunction that would have essentially prohibited trapping in the state. The lawsuit claimed that Maine’s trapping regulations violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because Canada lynx, a threatened species under the ESA, could be incidentally caught in traps causing “irreparable harm” to the population.

Throughout the case, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF), along with the Maine Trappers’ Association, Fur Takers of America, National Trappers’ Association, and several individual sportsmen, argued that the anti-trapping plaintiffs had to show that Maine’s trapping practices were a threat to the Canada lynx population as a whole. The plaintiffs insisted that harm to one individual lynx was sufficient for the Court to prohibit trapping in the state.

On November 10th, Federal District Court Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. ruled that Maine’s trapping practices did not irreparably harm the Canada lynx and denied the injunction sought by the anti-trappers. Further, the Judge agreed with the state and the USSAF that “irreparable harm” is harm to a species as a whole and not simply one individual member.

“Although the plaintiffs may appeal the ruling, the Federal Court’s decision is a monumental victory for the trappers in Maine and sets an excellent precedent that will make it harder for the antis to misuse the ESA in their attempts to ban hunting and trapping in other states,” states USSAF Vice President for Government Affairs Rob Sexton.

“We knew the evidence was on our side and are thrilled with outcome,” said Skip Trask, executive director of the Maine Trappers Association. “The USSAF’s legal assistance was invaluable to the favorable outcome.”

Chick Andres, President of the Fur Takers of America commented, “Trappers nationwide should be grateful that the court saw through what the anti’s were trying to do.”

In 2008 the USSAF’s legal arm, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund, was granted permission to intervene in the lawsuit. The case came on the heels of similar case, also in Maine, that was settled in late 2007 when the DIFW agreed to restrict trap sizes in areas where Canada lynx exist.

So, You Think You Can Shoot?

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Member Professional Outdoor Media Association

As throngs of buckmaster wannabes slip into their personal Michigan hideouts next Sunday, each hunter’s tactics will be measured and evaluated afield based on results. The moment of truth shall define either the level of luck and/or the level of skill. Since Lady Luck has rather fickle tendencies, it’s best for hunters to be more self-reliant by honing their skills. Time is short this season, but each of us still has time to develop an intangible concept: Discipline.

Discipline is training that develops self-control and character. And, character is the personality traits each of us assigns himself – even when no one is watching.

In a hunting situation, discipline is understanding when to hold fire. Just because guns will shoot for miles, doesn’t mean there’s sound rationale for attempting shots out of one’s league. I prefer a perfectly placed, instant-kill shot to the high shoulder of a mature doe, than a decidedly low-percentage prayer that has little chance of being answered. One involves discipline; the other involves assistance from outside forces.

Ethical hunters will always be patient for an opportunity that has an extremely high percentage rate of success. I have been a strong proponent of practicing with smaller-than-typical deer kill-zone targets of only 6 inches in diameter, because they allow an additional 3-inch margin for error. The margin of error is needed to counteract conditions afield such as temperature of one’s fingers, racing heart, lack of steady rest, unknown distances, unknown wind factors, unknown trajectory knowledge of one’s bullet properties in flight – and, last but certainly not least, targets that are subject to movement.

If a target shooter is able to hit stationary 6-inch targets under controlled conditions at various ranges, the ethical question is can he do it with any number of variables working against him under unpredictable circumstances afield. Even with a perfect rest, any one of the above components easily could place a bullet outside of the six-inch kill zone target and even the true 9-inch kill zone.

To emphasize how things get tricky, how ‘bout a little pop quiz? One of the hottest Remington 12-gauge sabot loads scorches a 385-grain bullet along at 1900 feet per second from the muzzle. The shotgun is sighted in for a 150-yard zero. Assuming a solid hold into a 90-degree crosswind at 15 miles per hour (mph), what would be the wind drift in inches at 150 yards? Answer: Total wind drift in the above example is 10.35 inches!

Recalculate if the wind blows more, or less, and the angle of wind direction changes, but how much? Factor in an increased heart rate and it is easy to understand how misses occur, or worse yet, wounded animals get wounded.

The moral of the scenario is that every hunter needs to understand, and be aware of, the effects of certain predictable variables by educating himself as much as possible. A simple test afield can be summed up this way: Are you able to hold your sights steadily on your target without wobbling off the 6-inch mark? If so, that’s a good beginning; if not, you are too far away.

If a hunter can be honest with himself and knows his limitations, ethics dictate he must hunt within them – whatever they are. That’s discipline. And, while it’s impossible to control external factors, self-restraint can be applied anytime; the ethical sportsman chooses wisely.

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