Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Interior secretary announces recovery of wolves in the Western Great Lakes, removal from Endangered Species List

FromThe Wildlife Society NewsBrief:

U.S. Department of the Interior    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region have recovered and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a final rule in the Federal Register removing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in portions of adjoining states, from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. More

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fish & Wildlife Service and NOAA's Fisheries Service propose policy to improve implementation of Endangered Species Act

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A new federal policy proposal will help clarify which species or populations of species are eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act and will provide for earlier and more effective opportunities to conserve declining species. The public is invited to comment on the policy, proposed by the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, the two federal agencies responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act. Comments will be accepted for the next 60 days. More

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Buffalo Are Back – Well, Almost

 This article originally appeared in the Montana's Bully Pulpit blog:

By: Jim Posewitz
While it is a little soon to put your ear to the ground to hear the throb of running buffalo -- they are back. Recent efforts to “manage” the Yellowstone buffalo and their quarantined overflow merely represents a passing checkpoint along the route to restoring wild, free ranging, state managed, and huntable Montana buffalo. The current proposal involved the idea of penning the brucellosis free surplus either on the Spotted Dog or Marias Wildlife Management areas. The idea drew little support from Montana hunters and open hostility from vicinity landowners. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission made the right decision today in allocating the available buffalo to herds managed by Montana Indian Tribes. Given the truth of history, there is a certain moral justice in that decision. Besides, there was no “fair chase” hunting potential in the corralled buffalo.
As the buffalo drama continues to play itself out in our natural and political environments we must sharpen our focus on the CMR Wildlife Refuge and its potential to host wild, free ranging buffalo. Over a million acres of public land, once home to this iconic species, make the refuge ideal for initiating this consummate wildlife conservation aspiration. Add adjacent public lands and the area’s potential triples. For now, an immediate start on the CMR is clearly in order. It is time for the U.S. Department of Interior and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to launch a joint environmental assessment on the restoration of buffalo. That assessment will focus on the natural environment. While the assessment is underway the rest of us need to address the political environment by spreading the message that we are ready to put the final piece of the North American wildlife restoration miracle in place. It will be a treasure our generation can pass to hunters still within the womb of time.
**Photo is of Jake Butt with 2011 Bull in Crow Pasture. Jake submitted this photo in the photo contest. Good luck in winning some more Sitka gear Jake, looks like you already swear by it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Officials debate way forward on grizzly bear management

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee ponders what's next
At its winter meeting in Missoula last week, members of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee questioned what would be next for the grizzly bear populations in the Northern Rockies, as the bear remains--for now--under federal protection.
Missoulian; Dec. 4

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Invest in Conservation

This from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:

Politico Side Banner
No one can better appreciate the importance of conservation funding than sportsmen.
With Congress continuing its debate over budgets and the national deficit, the TRCP is collaborating with other sportsmen’s and outdoor recreation groups to promote the message that investments in conservation stimulate the economy and protect American jobs. 
This week, the Outdoor Industry Association, the American Sportfishing Association and the TRCP co-sponsored an advertisement in Politico magazine to advocate for continued funding for conservation in America. View the ad.
The TRCP’s latest action in support of hunting and fishing was prompted by a recent letter to the president from more than 100 of the nation’s leading economists, stating that funding for public lands supports American jobs and drives economic growth. No one can better appreciate this than sportsmen.
The economists’ position validates the findings of a study commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation revealing that activities related to outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing, as well as natural resources conservation and historic preservation, generate 9.4 million jobs, $107 billion in annual tax revenue and more than $1 trillion in total economic impact. Learn more about the report’s findings.
Learn more about the TRCP’s work in support of conservation funding – and consider supporting our efforts.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why Do We Get Up at 0 Dark Thirty?

Why unfavorable odds don't deter Vt hunters
By Alexei Rubenstein - bio | email With only a few days left of rifle season, Eric Nuse is getting all the time he can. The 32-year veteran former Vermont ...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Conference Workshop to Focus on Restoring Bison to the Northern Plains

Orion Founder Jim Posewitz is working on this project in Montana.
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image of bison, Credit: guppiecat, FlickrA workshop, “Bringing Bison Back: America’s Last Big Game Challenge,” is scheduled for 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Monday, March 12, at the 77th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  It will examine the political, cultural and ecological steps necessary for bison to be restored, managed and valued as a wildlife resource on northeastern Montana’s Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR) and other multi-jurisdictional landscapes.
The Great Plains of Montana once sustained bison herds that numbered in the millions. Like so many other wildlife species, the bison population was decimated
by market hunting and habitat loss during the latter half of the 19th century. Through historic conservation efforts—led primarily by sportsmen clubs and conservationists, including William Hornaday, Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell—many of the game species suffering from overexploitation recovered to a sustainable degree were and been restored to native habitat. The American bison, however, was not one of those species.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Locavore "Wild Foods" Festival

From The Elm the student paper for Washington College in Chestertown, MD:
The first event of the two-part celebration took place on Friday evening with a lecture entitled “Hunting: A Matter of Life and Death,” by Drew University Professor Dr. Marc Boglioli. Boglioli’s lecture explored attitudes toward hunting in Vermont, both of the hunters themselves and anti-hunting activists as researched in his book, A Matter of Life and Death: Hunting in Contemporary Vermont. His research focused specifically on deer camps and the stigmas associated with them, such as misogynistic perspectives and an obsession with killing. His findings, however, revealed that deer hunters in Vermont are separatist rather than misogynist and view the deer camps as an escape from the compulsory competition associated with gender in society. “Deer camp is a liminal place where men are free to act in ways counter to the dominant societal expectations,” said Boglioli.
Additionally, he described the hunters’ approach to nature as respectful rather than exploitative.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Genuine Hunting

I'm rereading one of my favorite books, Hunting the Whole Way Home, by Sidney Lea. On page 25 he is describing a bird hunt in one of his Vermont covers. He tells of seeing chickadees, hearing the "gritty croaks of ravens" and the "pileated woodpecker's flourish."
He goes on to say:
"Why should I be less enthralled by any of these creatures than by a game bird? My answer is scarcely recondite, yet few will grasp it who have not traveled my kind of beautiful miles. And of course, indifferent or plain hostile to genuine hunting, that 's exactly what most people will never do. I preach to the small choir. To the great congregation my sermon is either an attenuated frontier romanticism or, more commonly, a bloodthirst tricked up as aesthetics.
It's true enough that I can't evade the fact of blood. A kill defines the hunt and all its subordinate objectives and agents, including the hunter: in that one moment, the path of an elusive and superbly equipped prey intersects with a human predatory capacity, both schematic and intuitive, mundane (which boots to bring, which shells?) and superstitious (hunt high ground in an east wing); and for that one moment, the world reveals a gorgeous coherency.
The anti-hunting propagandist is appalled by such a sacramental perspective, precisely because its icon is a bloodstain. Nor will the hobbyist sportsan read me rightly. I speak only to and for the passionate hunter, the one who regards this business as more than mere sport. Surrounded like everyone by a mechanized and abstractive culture, he appreciates how seldon human gesture can be unmediated, literal.
I've always understood all this somewhere in my soul, but I've need to come this far before bringing it to articulation, however imperfect." p. 25
Sounds right on to me.
Ps. Sidney Lea is the poet laureate of Vermont, you've got to love a state like this.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Federal Court Upholds National Roadless Rule; Sportsmen Celebrate Conservation Victory

Media Center: Press Release

News for Immediate Release Oct. 21, 2011 Contact: Katherine McKalip, 406-240-9262, kmckalip@trcp.org
Decision by appeals court resolves uncertainty regarding 2001 rule, safeguards the prime habitat provided by inventoried roadless lands. 

WASHINGTON – The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today commended a decision by the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that reinstated the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule as the law governing 49 million acres of inventoried roadless areas located on the nation’s national forests and grasslands. The ruling overturned a lower district court’s decision enjoining the 2001 rule in August 2008 and resolved uncertainty about federal management of roadless areas across America.
The so-called “roadless rule” is a multiple-use national forest management regulation that was designed to limit road building and timber harvest on undeveloped public lands managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The rule determines the management of all national forest roadless areas outside of Idaho.
“Today’s decision affirmed the value of backcountry areas in sustaining healthy and secure habitat for fish and wildlife – something hunters and anglers have known for   years,” said Joel Webster, director of the TRCP Center for            Photo by George Cooper.
Western Lands. “Sound roadless conservation policies safeguard big-game habitat security, productive trout and salmon fisheries and our sporting traditions. The 2001 roadless rule is a strong mechanism for conserving America’s backcountry recreational activities and outdoor heritage.”
The TRCP has mobilized a broad cross-section of sportsmen, conservationists and recreationists supporting conservation of roadless areas and the outdoor opportunities they foster. For purposes of the rule, roadless areas are defined as contiguous blocks of backcountry public land that are 5,000 acres or larger and do not have improved roads.
While access is important to sportsmen, densely roaded areas have been shown to negatively affect elk and deer behavior, reproduction and survival and consequently hunter opportunity. Excessive, poorly located roads contribute to increased sediment loads in waterways that are important to wild trout and salmon, thereby diminishing the number and size of fish.
“We appreciate the dedication of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in upholding this popular land management policy,” said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh, “and we applaud the court’s decision as one made in the absolute best interest of our public-lands fish and wildlife populations and outdoor recreation.

“As the 2011 fall hunting season continues, sportsmen have reason to celebrate backcountry conservation,” continued Fosburgh. “Whether they’re hunting the West Big Hole of Montana, the northern Blue Range of New Mexico or backcountry lands in Vermont’s Green Mountains, public-land hunters across the nation will benefit from the court’s thoughtful decision for generations to come.”
Learn more about the TRCP’s work in support of roadless area conservation.

Vermont wildlife officials say Pete the Moose's former home to close

 From the Burlington Free Press

MONTPELIER — The northern Vermont game preserve where Pete the Moose lived and died is to close, state officials said Thursday, moving Vermont a step closer to ending the practice of allowing wildlife to be imported into the state and fenced in on private hunting grounds.

Walt Driscoll, a member of the state Fish and Wildlife Board, said the owner of the Big Rack Ridge hunting preserve in Irasburg told him he planned to close the preserve in Irasburg.

...“For a long time, we’ve had this idea that wildlife that lives anywhere in North America and especially here in Vermont does not belong to any private individual,” Scott said.

Lawmakers made that position official this year when they passed a law declaring that wild animals are a public trust, meaning that legally they are “owned” by every resident of the state. 


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Baucus to introduce Front wilderness bill

From the Great Falls Tribune.com
Jim Posewitz, founder and board member of Orion-The Hunter's Institute and a longtime advocate for sportsmen, introduces Sen. Max Baucus at an unveiling of the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, which Baucus will introduce in Congress. TRIBUNE PHOTO/JOHN ADAMS
HELENA — U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced Friday that he will sponsor the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act in Congress.
The long-anticipated bill, which Baucus said he plans to introduce this session, would add 67,000 acres of new wilderness to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. The measure also would designate another 208,000 acres as conservation management areas, which would limit road building but allow current motorized recreation and public access for hunting, biking, timber thinning and grazing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Green Fire, Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time

If you are a fan of A Sand County Almanac and Aldo Leopold, seeing this DVD is a must.
I was able to attend a screening at Sterling College with Leopold biographer, Curt Meine and film makers Ann and Steven Dunsky. The room was full of hunters, conservationists, students and environmentalists which led to a lively discussion after the film.
The essay, Thinking Like a Mountain, served as the thread that ran through the film.  Greenfire does an holistic job of tracing Leopold the man and his thinking from childhood until his death. 30 years after cutting down a female wolf and watching the "fierce green fire dying in her eyes." Leopold writes,"I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean a hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."
DVD's can be ordered at the Aldo Leopold Foundation book store. More about the DVD and trailers at the Greenfire website. You will not be disappointed.


From the Thinking Hunter:

I’ve been doing some work on my notes and ideas from the Think Tank II.  I came away from the gathering wishing it had been at least one day longer.  There was a lot of free discussion about the present state of recruitment to the outdoors but I heard something that was, to me, very important for the future of hunting, and it was the simple statement that hunting would be referred to as “hunting” and not “sport hunting” or have any other adjectives affixed to it.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

At Times, The Token Cheap Shot Is The Fairest Play

This is a guest post written by Orion supporter Chris Clasby from Helena, Montana:

The third Saturday of Montana's 2011 duck hunting season, I crept to the edge of backwater on the Bitterroot to see what came in.  Decoys displayed and a couple practice calls later, we waited for shooting light.  Moments of silence waiting in darkness allow one's mind to wander, and mine went back to the first drake Mallard I shot last winter.  The first duck I'd shot in 20 years.  And I shot him on the water.  Then I thought about hunting ethics.

I'd shot quite a few ducks those twenty some years ago while in high school in Helena, MT, but none on the water.  Irrigation ditches in the valley north of town were late-season havens when standing water reservoirs had become ice.  Jump shooting was the strategy, and it was effective.  Enough so that I remember a double or two on rare occasion.  I had hunted with a retired friend, an experienced waterfowl hunter, who taught me the ropes and let me use one of his shotguns.

That past time had passed for twenty years and it had felt good to start again.  This was a different style of hunting, now from a blind with decoys rather than ditches, different companions, and a different part of Montana.  I wondered if my ethics and changed too, then considered again having sluiced that drake on the water and that my companions and I were fine with it.  Actually, pretty ecstatic.  I'd like to think age has refined my ethics.

The biggest change was that those years ago I was a perfectly mobile, physical teenager as capable of wingshooting as anyone equally experienced.  A car accident the following year had left me quadriplegic, and I now traverse by power wheelchair and shoot using a rifle mount aimed by chin-joystick and fired by sipping into a tube that actuates the trigger.  The motors aren't quick enough nor designed for wingshooting, so a stationary target is necessary.  In the last year I'd weighed the sitting duck situation both ways: was it the perpetual cheap shot contrary to the waterfowl hunters' moral code or do situational variables deem actions acceptable in some situations?  The latter is usually at best thin ice on the pond of moral and ethical relativity, but in this case I still feel dry.

Before making that shot, my companions and I knew that my field of shooting ranged about fifteen degrees in all directions from where my barrel pointed before birds approached.  We had strategically placed decoys on the periphery of open water toward which my gun was aimed to encourage them to land there.  I was also aware of the speed of the aiming motors -- fast enough to get to my target, but slow enough to stop on it without going past.  Finally, I knew I'd always be shooting within range of my shotgun and would be aiming at one specific duck.

Having compared the certainty of my shot to standard wingshooting, I felt comfortable with and good about having done it.  We'd used only traditional methods of allure, they were all wild ducks, and they were even given time to escape on wing as the wind of my motors brought my barrel to the target.  I was also quite certain that a standard shot pattern was more likely to cleanly kill a sitting duck than one passing on the wing, regardless whose barrel it came from.  Everything we'd done was also legal by all state and federal regulations.

While disability hunting has been an improper excuse in recent years to justify game farms, hunting inside fences, and crossbreeding, there is substance to my justification.  Ethical questions in the field consider multiple variables, and I think I passed the test.  The technology required was fairly basic, required for my participation, and surely offered me no unfair advantage.  We were hunting with hopes of but uncertain success, and it was about the experience more than the kill.  At times, the token cheap shot is the fairest play.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

[Hunters] Endangered Species

Suburbanization, animal rights, newcomers -- these and other social trends have Vermont's hunting culture on the run. In this special report, veteran field-and-stream journalist Matt Crawford examines what will be lost, why there might be hope and why even those who don't hunt should care.
By Matt Crawford

Can Localvores Save Hunting?
"We're only ever going to have a certain percentage of people who hunt," said Eric Nuse, of Johnson, executive director of Orion–The Hunter's Institute, a national nonprofit that encourages ethical and responsible hunting. "With this new wave of back-to-earthers being spearheaded by people concerned about the origins of their food, we just might appeal a bit to those who will consider hunting."

The policy and politics behind Pete the Moose

... you have to step back and say, wait a minute-- what are the bigger implications," Eric Nuse of Orion Hunters' Institute said February 2011. ...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Celebrity moose that was pardoned by Vt. gov dies

The Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Pete the Moose, who developed a cult following with a Facebook page and a rally at the Vermont Statehouse after biologists threatened to kill him to prevent the spread of disease, has died, the state's top wildlife official said Friday.
 .... A public outcry erupted, and in 2010, Vermont lawmakers crafted a compromise.
... But lawmakers reversed themselves earlier this year, saying wild animals in the state can't be privately owned and are legally a public trust, owned by all Vermonters.

From the Burlington Free Press:
As Vermont mourns Pete the Moose's death, questions swirl
State officials say they were 'misled' about Pete the Moose's well-being
...“This is the prime example of why wildlife should be kept wild,” the commissioner said. “When you try to domesticate wild animals you have to undertake these sorts of procedures, and you put their lives at risk.”
Lawrence Pyne, outdoors columnist for the Burlington Free Press, said Pete never should have been taken from the wild.
“If Pete has one important, lasting legacy, it’s that he was the catalyst for the bill being introduced last January that established in the law that wildlife is a public trust resource that cannot be privatized,” Pyne said.


From ABC News:

Preserve Owner Admits Covering up Vt. Moose Death


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bringing Back the Bison

SOUTH OF MALTA — Jim Posewitz is confident he will see a huntable herd of free-roaming, wild bison somewhere in Montana in his lifetime.
"We'll have to hurry, though," he said, smiling.
Posewitz is 76.
A Montana conservationist, hunter, author and promoter of hunter ethics, Posewitz has lent his voice to the National Wildlife Federation's push to have bison restored to the 1.1-million-acre Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Montana.
"What better place, what better species and what better time?" he said.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Within the Womb of Time

Monday, September 12, 2011

By Jim Posewitz:
Tracking a deer or an elk across a snowy Montana landscape will on occasion result in meat in the freezer and at times antlers saved as reminders of the day. There may be times however when the serious and curious hunter may elect to follow the track in reverse. That person seeks to learn the secrets held by the trail seldom followed. It is the track that will reveal where the undisturbed animal fed, where it felt secure enough to bed, and how it chose to move through difficult terrain. Likewise, American hunters also have a backtrack, a trail through time that produced the wild things and places that now fill our lives.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Blog -Montana's Bully Pulpit

This is a new blog started by the Hellgate Hunters and Anglers in Helena, MT.  Orion founder Jim Posewitz and his wife, retired MT biologist Gayle Joslin are members and contributors to the blog.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Assault on Elk: Part 1

That photo is of a backcountry bull elk. It was taken by a friend of mine in a Roadless Area. Somewhere, deep in the timber, this buster is swelled up and running around trying to get as much tail as possible. He's what hunters dream about for 41 weeks out of the year.That Bull Elk is there because, long ago, Montanans made a pact to conserve and preserve the necessary habitats to ensure bulls like the one shown in the photograph, and roughly 130,000 of his kin, would always have a place to live. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Public trust doctrine applies to state conservation of wolves and other wildlife

Experts call out states' responsibility to conserve wildlife removed from Endangered Species Act protection

Contacts: Sherry Enzler, Institute on the Environment, senzler@umn.edu, (612) 625-2417
Jeff Falk, University News Service, jfalk@umn.edu, (612) 626-1720
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (10/04/2011) —When a species such as the gray wolf is removed from the federal endangered species list, states have a legal obligation to conserve it, three scientists contend in the current issue of the journal Science.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Well-known American hunter appears in Edmonton court on wildlife charges

This from Edmonton CTV
Sep 14, 2011 
A well-known American hunter, who is already facing fines and jail time in the U.S., is also in some legal trouble here in Alberta. Jeff Foiles appeared in an Edmonton courtroom Wednesday on charges under the Wildlife Act and the Criminal Code.
Foiles is known for a series of hunting videos under the name "Fallin' Skies." 
He pleaded guilty to eight charges under Canadian law, which included causing unnecessary pain and suffering to a bird. 
The following is from Michael Sabbeth, who has been thinking, teaching and writing about values, morals and ethics for many years. He attended our recient Think Tank II and made the following comments on reactions to the Foiles incident. I post the following with his consent:
Consistent with several themes propounded at our meetings at McGraw, I read and re-read the email correspondence regarding the Jeff Foiles incident. I share my thoughts on this disgraceful event.
I begin with references to three emails: one from Phil, one citing Martin  and one from Ed.
Phil wrote, in part:
“On the heels of our discussion of hunter ethics at McGraw, the "Jeff Foiles incident" broke in the news. I don't know if you are following this, but it is a major black eye for all hunters.”
Ed wrote, in part:
“I devote many days and long nights having moralistic discussions with fellow hunters about improving our hunter image and how to "sell" hunting to the non-hunting public as being morally right.”
And the quote citing Martin is:
“Martin Sharren, vice-president of the Alberta Fish and Game Association, says Foiles gives ethical hunters a bad name." Unfortunately, people will look at this guy and say 'That is what hunters do',"
I address each of these statements. I draw different conclusions and would slightly modify those expressed by Phil and Martin and I elaborate on Ed’s statement.
Jeff Foiles’ contemptible behavior does not create a black eye for all hunters. His behavior creates a black eye for Jeff Foiles alone if not primarily. As I articulate more fully below, the only way Foiles’ behavior becomes a black eye for all hunters—indeed, for any hunter other than Foiles—is if, by our use of self-destructive rhetoric and self-deprecating preening, we allow the rest of the world to believe that we believe our collective eyes have been blackened.
If I learned my neighbor abused his child, it would not be a black eye on me or on all parents in Denver. Or in Colorado. Or in the USA. It is a black eye on my neighbor. Of course, I, as a citizen, should exercise whatever legal and moral power I have to punish that neighbor and eliminate his ability to hurt any child again. But my eyes are not blackened and, to the contrary, I weaken and diminish myself and my moral authority by making the assertion that they are blackened.
Thus, Foiles’ vile behavior gives black eyes to himself and, I readily admit, to those hunters and advertisers and promoters that buy and / or market his products and / or who revel in his work. But not to all hunters.
Certainly Foiles does not make hunters ‘look good.’ That belabors the obvious. I know what Phil is saying, but I spent a lot of time with Phil and we discussed many topics in depth. I know he rejects the implications of the ‘black eye’ theory. It’s just that the notion that ‘it makes us all look bad’ is such an easy default expression. That’s why we have to be careful with out words.
My point is that we gain nothing, morally or intellectually, by being defensive and self flagellating. Those are responses based on some perverted notion of collective guilt and the consequence of allowing emotion to trump intellect and reason. Foiles’ behavior blackens our eyes only to the extent we allow our eyes to be blackened.
We gain nothing by internalizing and owning Jeff Foiles’ unethical behavior, which we do by asserting that all our eyes are blackened. We will not be looked upon more favorably by the rest of the world if we concede a collective negative consequence to each of us as a result of the actions of one individual. To the contrary, we will look weak. We will appear to lack conviction in the strength of our morality and our ability to discern the vile from the ethical. More, we will look pathetic.
We gain no moral authority, no greater positive image, by berating ourselves and ascribing to the argument that the actions of one man tarnishes, demeans, corrupts or defames the actions of millions. Such an argument and such a mindset, are, dare I be blunt, insane and suicidal. They must be stopped.
One aspect of our response to the Foiles behavior, thus, should be a confident: “So what?”
If a person notified any of you, breathlessly panting, that an automobile driver somewhere in the United States didn’t stop for a school bus and hit a child crossing a street, I imagine your responses would be something like, “That’s terrible. So what do you expect me to do?” If the speaker then told you that your eyes, as a driver, are now blackened, you’d probably have some unkind words for the messenger.
This is not a matter of derisive flippancy. It is a matter of inquiring about the logical consequences, implications, resultant duties and impact on our ethos caused by Foiles’ behavior.
We can ask questions, of course, and, indeed we have a duty to do so. But the questions have to be prudent and aimed at productive resolutions. What policies, if any, would remedy the situation? How much control and limitation of freedom should be inflicted on millions as a consequence of one person harming a few birds? You can figure out more and better questions.
Ed wrote about his laudable efforts to “improving our hunter image and how to "sell" hunting to the non-hunting public as being morally right.”
Ed’s proposition was extensively discussed in our McGraw meetings. I summarize my answer to Ed’s proper inquiry: we ‘sell’ hunting etc through honorable behavior and by linking hunting to the larger issues of personal independence, conservation, liberty, game management and risk taking. The Foiles incident must be treated in an intellectually and morally credible manner but once that is done, all consequences and implications flowing from the disgraceful event must be founded in practical reason, not in emotion.
Let me be clear, as a current US political leader might say, Foiles’ behavior is beneath contempt. He has violated technical hunting laws which, presumably, have merit, and, infinitely worse, he has thuggishly and contemptibly, in Nazi-like fashion, inflicted pain and torment on helpless living things and derived pleasure from doing so. Foiles fulfills my definition of evil.
It impresses me, for whatever it’s worth, that the punishment imposed on Foiles is absolutely appropriate and just. More severe punishment would not bother me. However, let us keep in mind a sense of perspective and proportion. The punishment imposed on Foiles is, in a sickeningly number of instances, greater than the punishment imposed on drunk drivers that cause less than fatal injuries and greater than imposed on many persons convicted of burglary, robbery, assault, child molestation and fraud.
According to one email, “Martin Sharren, vice-president of the Alberta Fish and Game Association, says Foiles gives ethical hunters a bad name." Unfortunately, people will look at this guy and say 'That is what hunters do',"
I addressed the ‘gives ethical hunters a bad name’ allegation above in my comments about the black eye charge. My remarks here address the “that is what hunters do’ comment.
People will say and think ‘that is what hunters do’ approximately only to the degree we do not make our case that hunters, in an overwhelming majority of instances, do NOT do those things. People will believe, ultimately, what they want to believe, based on biases and prejudices and history that they have assiduously cultivated or that may be wholly unknown to them. Some people are beyond the point of reason and, thus, facts and truth have no impact. That’s life, and it would be a fool’s errand to try to alter the beliefs and perceptions of those people.
If we are to take up the challenge of influencing and negating the perceptions and stereotypes sprouted by the behaviors of the several Foiles in the world, our actions and our rhetoric must be prudent, forceful, focused, harmonized and unrelenting.
I do think we should respond in our own way and in our own venues to Foiles’ offensive behavior. By ‘we,’ I mean each of us personally and with our colleagues and on behalf of our organizations and their constituencies.
So, what do we do? How do we respond? Our responses should have several shared themes and arguments. Here is just a brief list comprised of ideas that leapt immediately to my mind:
·        First, our response must be measured and thoroughly analytical and fact based. Our statements should include a concise narrative of the facts, as we know them, including details of the crimes, the punishment, the behavior of the majority of hunters and the punishment inflicted upon those that commit other unrelated crimes.  
·        Second, I think the golden rule of ‘less is more’ applies: we don’t need an pontificating exegesis on hunting ethics to permeate every news outlet and website.
·        Statements should assert our moral authority by expressing our moral outrage at Foiles’ actions.
·        We should advocate policies that create disincentives for such behavior including swiftly and unambiguously imposing punishment for such behavior.
·        Statements must emphasize that few hunters act that way and
·        We must create a context for this kind of event. We should ask, in a rhetorically persuasive manner, who else gets held to such a high standard of behavior? We should challenge audiences with questions such as what other classes of human activity are purer or devoid to a greater degree of malevolent behavior? Driving? Hardly. Parenting? I wish. Political leaders? If only. Athletes? Yeah, right. You get the point.
Based on my anecdotal evidence, I would not be surprised to learn that there are fewer unethical hunters per the hunting population than there are unethical automobile drivers per the driving public.
My overarching point, if you will, is that hunters and shooters and sportsmen/women must stop acting defensively. We must stop using the rhetoric of guilt and apology and defensiveness. We will be given no moral credit by our opponents for self-inflicted and self-effacing posturing.
We must fight the easy tendency to make concessions to collective guilt by making glib admission that all sportsmen are tarnished and that all eyes are blackened. Such language creates a destructive self-fulfilling prophecy: if WE say we are all tarnished and blackened, than we give legitimacy to hunting opponents to proclaim that all hunters are tarnished and have blackened eyes. In brief, by such a mindset, we provide the rationalization for our own destruction.
Ironically, unless our rhetoric is prudent and disciplined, the consequence of our noble effort to be introspective and to acknowledge and then extricate unethical actors from within our midst will be to thoroughly empower the people already inclined to be against us and enable them to add new members to their cause.
If we legitimize the irrational musings of non-thinkers and biased thinkers and uninformed thinkers, we will undermine ethical hunters and the sport far more effectively than the anti hunters ever can.
Michael G. Sabbeth, Esq.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Irasburg hunting park expected to close by March

This is the last chapter in the long fight Orion helped lead in Vermont to keep our wildlife wild and in the public trust.

It established that wildlife in Vermont is a public-trust resource and mandated that the whitetail deer and moose in the facility be "reduced to zero" by Sept. 1, 2014. According to Fish and Wildlife commissioner Patrick Berry, the time frame was moved ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Low pay, long hours cited by departing Montana game wardens

From the Helena Independent Record; Sept. 18
Over the past five years, 24 game wardens in Montana, about a third of the force, have left their jobs, and most said the long hours, relatively low pay and the inability to get away from the job for just a couple of days all played a role in their decision to leave.

The Original Green Movement

From NSSF's Bullet Points:

BUMPER STICKERS, FACT CARDS . . . Everyone now is talking about their green initiatives, but America's sportsmen have been putting their money where their hearts are since 1937. Sportsmen contribute more than $8 million daily toward conservation through licenses, excise taxes and other special taxes such as duck stamps. Show your support of America's original conservationists with this free bumper sticker from NSSF. Also, the Hunter's Pocket Fact Card is a great way to educate all audiences on the positive impact of hunters.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ethical Hunting Think Tank II

Dear Readers,
I just returned from Orion's second Think Tank. Thanks to the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation for hosting us and their wonderful staff. Thanks also to the Pope and Young Club for helping to sponsor the event and assist in travel costs. But the real stars are the participants who racked their brains and tapped their experience in tackling some of the thorniest issues we as hunters face. I will be reporting on our results in the coming weeks. Focus areas included articulating the core values we hold as hunters; laying out a series of questions that need to be considered and answered in the affirmative when deciding where and how you will hunt and at the moment before you pull the trigger; how hunting can be a metaphor for living and how it can, when done right, increase one's ethical fitness; how to get the ethics message out to new and veteran hunters in a way that resonates and elevates behavior thus serving to attract responsible people to become lifelong hunters and opens land to hunt.
Stay tuned!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Craig resident’s trophy bear kill erupts into statewide controversy

From the Craig Daily Post

Archive for Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Curious Case of Richard Kendall

August 28, 2011
The story that started it all: On Dec. 4, 2010, the Saturday Morning Press published the story of Richard Kendall, who tracked a bear into a cave and killed it. Reaction to the story spread throughout the country, with some condemning Kendall’s actions. Kendall insists he did nothing wrong.
It was a shot that reverberated around the state and beyond.
In November 2010, Craig resident Richard Kendall crawled to the mouth of a dark cave with a .45-70 caliber lever-action rifle.

Fair chase?

Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, says Kendall’s actions were legal at the time.
“It’s important to note, Mr. Kendall did not commit a violation in what he did,” Hampton says. “There was an issue regarding the use of a flashlight, for which he was cited, and (Kendall) paid the fine.”
Rather, the question at the crux of the Kendall controversy is whether it was ethical. “It comes down to the element of fair chase,” Hampton says.
But the question today is as relevant as it was then: was it OK to pull the trigger?
Read More

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Despite Best Efforts, Poaching Still Plagues the Rockies

New West Feature

Officials believe almost as many animals are killed illegally as the legal take.

By New West Editor, 8-22-11
  Poached bull elk in southern Utah. Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
  Poached bull elk in southern Utah. Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
More than 5,000 reports have been received of poaching in Colorado since 1981, resulting in more than 900 convictions, for which about $800,000 in fines were levied, and $150,000 paid to citizens for reports of suspected poaching, a recent summary asserts.
Studies show that poachers kill almost as many animals as legitimate hunters do during legal seasons in various states, says the report, from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). It points out that poachers steal not only revenues generated by legitimate hunting, but kill threatened, endangered and non-game species.
Notifications of suspected poaching arrive through Operation Game Thief, a program pioneered by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, which has been adopted by 49 of the 50 states.

Bob Thompson, acting chief of wildlife law enforcement for CPW, retiterated an agency theme that it’s a romantic myth to regard poachers as poor people trying to feed their families. Some kill for the thrill of killing and others for trophies, he said. Some kill for money, because trophy heads, antlers and bear gall bladders can be worth thousands of dollars.

“Hunters who keep shooting into a herd of animals should realize that not every animal goes down right away when it is hit,” Thompson said. “Not only is it unethical hunting, it leads to a lot of game waste, which in itself is illegal.”
Examples of mindless poaching are not hard to find.  MORE

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 Ways to Protect America's Hunting Heritage

from the Boone and Crockett Club:

Monday, August 22, 2011
Surveys show that three of every four Americans approve of legal hunting, and support is trending upwards. As long as the majority of citizens continue to see this sporting tradition as fair, safe and meaningful, hunting will remain a privilege of citizenship--as well as a boon to conservation.

For hunters headed afield this fall, the Boone and Crockett Club offers 10 ways to help keep the public on our side.
"Modern society has high expectations of hunters," said Ben Wallace, president of the Club. "In a changing culture with ever more scrutiny of all things related to the environment, our behavior toward animals, the land, firearms and even each other is more important today than anytime in our history."
Here’s how to do your part:
  1. Hunting is allowed today because the vast majority of hunters through the ages have respectfully followed laws, regulations, safety rules and high ethical standards known as fair chase--the sporting pursuit and taking of native free-ranging game species in a manner that does not give the hunter improper advantage. Continue the tradition.
  2. Remember: Any animal taken in fair chase is a trophy.
  3. America's system of conservation and wildlife management is the most successful ever developed. It works only because of funding from hunters. Spread the word.
  4. Respect the customs of the local area where you're hunting, including the beliefs and values of those who do not hunt.
  5. This season, make every attempt to take a youngster hunting. If you already hunt with your son or daughter, invite one of their friends to come along.
  6. Technology is a wonderful thing until it replaces the skills necessary to be a complete hunter. If it seems gratuitous, leave it at home.
  7. Always ask permission before hunting private land. Respect landowners.
  8. Tread lightly, especially on public land. ATVs have their place--on roads and trails. If you pack it in, pack it out.
  9. Sportsmen have always been instrumental in managing big game herds. If antlerless harvest is encouraged in your area and you have the opportunity, take a doe or cow.
  10. Remember: The reason for a hunt is intrinsically about the experience. A kill is a justifiable outcome but not the only definition of a successful hunt.
Theodore Roosevelt founded the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887 to help uphold sporting values and promote science-based conservation and wildlife management.
Surveys by research firm Responsive Management showed that 73 percent of Americans approved of hunting in 1995. Support had grown to 75 percent by 2003, and to 78 percent by 2006.

Craig Sharpe Retires after 15 years with Montana Wildlife Federation

August 22, 2011

For Immediate Release

Corey Fisher, Vice President of Internal Affairs – (406) 546-2979
Ben Lamb, Acting Executive Director – (406) 458-0227 (xtn) 108

Helena, MT –Tim Aldrich, President of the Board of Montana Wildlife Federation (MWF), announced the retirement of Craig Sharpe .  For12 years, Craig has been the well known and highly respected Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. Craig has played key roles in the successful efforts of the Federation to protect and enhance Montana’s public wildlife, lands, waters and fair chase hunting and fishing heritage. His leadership and vision on issues as far reaching as the elimination of Game Farms, the delisting of wolves and clarification of Bridge Access are some recent examples that have the Montana Wildlife Federation a leading voice both in Montana and Nationally when it comes to wildlife conservation and defending our outdoor heritage.

Sharpe’s lasting contributions were recognized at the recent Annual Meeting of the Montana Wildlife Federation when he received the Don Aldrich Conservationist of the Year Award.  In his nomination it was stated that, “In many ways, for over twelve years Craig has been the glue keeping MWF, the State’s leading Hunter and Angler based conservation organization, focused and effective.  His knowledge and passion for the mission of MWF provide a strong basis for what he does both internally and externally…No matter what needs to be done, he is the advisor, the resource to be contacted and involved in getting it accomplished, always with the needed degree of excellence.  He is the ‘captain of the ship’ and often the crew that rows the boat.”

“Craig will be sorely missed,” said Corey Fisher Vice President of MWF for Internal Affairs. “He has left his own legacy of conservation in Montana and he is truly appreciated and respected by many.”  Fisher said that the Board of Directors will start the process to find a new Executive Director. Sharpe’s retirement became effective August 15th, and the Board has named Ben Lamb as the acting Executive Director to help fulfill the duties and responsibilities so ably performed by Craig.

As we celebrate Craig’s storied career, the Montana Wildlife Federation will continue to serve Montana’s hunters and anglers in to the future. It is doubtful that the attempts which MWF helped to successfully defeat in the 2011 Legislative session will decrease over time. Those bills would have undermined conservation funding, eliminate the scientific management of wildlife and pitted hunters against other interests. MWF remains committed to our mission to protect and enhance Montana's public wildlife, lands, waters, and fair chase hunting and fishing heritage.

“No organization has invested so much in the future of Montana’s wildlife and outdoor heritage as much as has MWF. I am proud to have served the hunters and anglers of Montana through my role at MWF, but now I look forward to spending some time chasing birds, catching fish, and paddling my kayak down a lazy river,” said Sharpe.

Long time friend and confidant Jim Posewtiz had the final word on Craig, “Craig has demonstrated his dedication, commitment and passion for Montana’s wildlife, and those of who hold wild country and all wildlife near and dear. No one in Montana is more deserving of a retirement in the fields, forests and streams.”

The Montana Wildlife Federation is an organization of conservation minded people who share a mission to protect and enhance Montana's public wildlife, lands, waters, and fair chase hunting and fishing heritage. www.montanawildlife.com

Friday, August 19, 2011

New study says species moving north faster than previously thought

From Headwater News:
A new study found that more than 2,000 species had begun moving north to escape a warming climate in their traditional habitat at a much faster rate than previously predicted, including the American pika, a small rabbitlike species found in and around Yellowstone National Park, that was never found at elevations higher than 7,800 feet in 1900, but were found at 9,500 feet in 2004.
Seattle Times (AP); Aug. 19


The ‘sport’ of hunting: Why I don’t call it that

This topic was the focus of an Orion Think Tank several years ago.

From A Mindful Carnivore:

by Tovar on August 18, 2011 · 11 comments
For some people, hunting for “sport” implies frivolity: killing for fun.
For some, it suggests wastefulness and a lack of respect for animals: taking a whitetail’s antlers and cape for a trophy mount, and leaving the meat to rot.
Those are two reasons I don’t call hunting a “sport.”
When I talk or write about hunting and why I do it, I want people to understand what it’s like for me to take a deer’s life. I want my words to bring them to where I kneel beside the fallen animal, my hand on his still-warm shoulder. I want them to feel some faint ripple of the soul-deep wave that shudders through me.
I want my words to bring them to where I stand in the kitchen, separating muscle from bone and, later, sautéing tender slices of backstrap. I want them to sense what that venison means to me, taken so close to home, from woods I know.
I don’t want them thinking I get my jollies through a rifle scope.