Thursday, March 31, 2011

Agreement Reached to Delist Gray Wolf in MT and ID

From The Wildlife Society Policy News:

On 18 March 2011, the Department of Interior (DOI) announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with environmental groups that, if approved by the court, would pave a path to return state management of recovered gray wolf populations in Montana and Idaho while the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) considers the full delisting of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain region. The agreement comes after 10 plaintiffs sued FWS regarding the 2010 reinstatement of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. The 2010 restoration of ESA protections was a decision made by a Federal District Court judge who ruled that the species could not be state managed in Montana and Idaho but under federal protection in Wyoming, following a 2009 delisting of the species in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Tracy Brooks/USFWS
The settlement requires that the DOI review the status of the gray wolf within four years via an independent scientific assessment and address future delisting of wolves in the region as a distinct population segment, not on a state-by-state basis. The plaintiffs have requested that the 2009 delisting be reinstated in the two states on an interim basis and agree not to challenge a regional delisting plan for five years, as long as populations are managed sustainably under approved state management plans. Federal protection would remain in Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, and negotiations will continue between FWS and Wyoming until an agreement is made on a management plan that provides sufficient protections to wolves, should they be delisted within the state. Four plaintiff groups did not agree to the settlement and are therefore not subject to litigation constraints. The judge is expected to make a decision about the agreement soon.
Sources: E&E Publishing, LLC (Greenwire, E&E News PM), Department of Interior.

Friday, March 25, 2011

H91 Wildlife Public Trust bill passes the Vt House and is off to the Senate

Margolis: Pete the Moose will likely survive new bill

In the continuing saga of Pete the Moose, only two questions seemed to remain Tuesday after the House approved a bill to return control of the caged cervid to the “public trust” and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Neither question had to do with whether the bill is likely to become law. It is. Even Rep. Robert Lewis, the Derby Republican who made the strongest argument against H. 91 when it cleared the Committee on Fish, Wildlife, and Water Resources last week, acknowledged that the Senate would probably pass the measure and send it to Gov. Peter Shumlin for his signature.
Lewis said he wouldn’t even bother to try to persuade senators to oppose the bill.

... MONTPELIER -- Pete the Moose has moved a big step toward having special protection under Vermont law. The moose, which lives on a game preserve in Irasburg, became a popular cause .. more

The following letter was sent to all House Members prior to the vote:

March 14, 2011

Vermont House of Representatives
Montpelier, VT 05602

Dear Member of the House,

The following groups support House Bill No. 91 entitled “An act relating to the management of fish and wildlife” as passed by the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resource Committee. We urge passage of this important bill for the following reasons:

1.     It clearly establishes wildlife as a public trust resource.
2.     It confirms the Fish and Wildlife Department as the managers and trustees of the public’s wildlife.
3.     It brings all wildlife back under the rule-making authority of the Fish and Wildlife Board.
4.     It requires the relevant captive cervidae facility to be depopulated of native deer and moose and sets deadlines for compliance within a reasonable time frame.

The signature groups and leaders below represent thousands of Vermonters from all political views and parties, many who have helped to craft H.91 and have testified for its passage.

With regards,

 Eric Nuse
Convener, Public Trust Coordinating Group
(802) 881-8502

Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs
Hunters, Anglers & Trappers of Vermont (H.A.T.)
Hartford Rod & Gun Club
Barre Fish and Game Club
Vermont Natural Resources Council
Lamoille Valley Fish and Game Club
Vermont Bear Houndsmen
Fish & Wildlife Board
National Wildlife Federation
Orion-The Hunter’s Institute
Sportsmen Inc.
Wild in Vermont, Inc.
New Hampshire & Vermont Outdoor Gazette
Rob Boroski, past Chair of the F&W Board and Vt F&W Advisory Committee
Mountain Deer Taxidermy, Rodney and Theresa Elmer
Bradley Carleton, Champlain Valley Guide
Steve Wright, former Fish and Wildlife Dept. Commissioner
Vermont Trappers Association

Friday, March 11, 2011

H.91 Restoring the Public Trust of Wildlife passes out of committee 7-2 in favor

Pete the Moose eats his daily ration of corn Monday, June 14, 2010, at Big Rack Ridge in Irasburg. The so-called

Future of Pete the Moose unclear

The Vermont House Fish and Wildlife Committee voted 7-2 Thursday to require an Irasburg game-hunting park to eliminate within five years all the wild white-tailed deer and moose mixed in with its imported elk. The park is home to Pete the Moose, who could possibly die of natural causes before the deadline or be moved to another location. 
Last year’s measure essentially gave Nelson ownership of wild deer and moose, and he planned to sell the right to hunt the trophy animals.
Uproar ensued. Vermont sportsmen argued that the 2010 law violated the longstanding legal tradition that wild animals are held in trust by the government for all the people of the state. They urged lawmakers to re-establish that principle. They also want the whitetails and moose killed for fear they could spread disease if they escape.
“The most important element in the bill is that it affirms that wildlife is owned by all Vermonters, not just one person,” Berry said. [Commissioner of VT Fish and Wildlife Dept Pat Berry]
Lewis, one of those who voted no on the bill, agreed.
“They belong to the people of Vermont,” he said. Nelson is one of Lewis’ constituents.
read full article

From the AP:

Vt. House panel works on wildlife bill
Now the House Fish and Wildlife Committee is drafting a bill that would reverse that action and clarify that Vermont's wild animals are a public trust owned by all residents of the state. But the panel is still debating a provision that would have the ...
See all stories on this topic »

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Vermont Wild" Offers Humorous Tribute to Game Wardens

Saturday, 03/05/11 8:35am


Eric Nuse was a game warden in Vermont for thirty-two years, and during that time he’s had many close-encounters with Vermont’s wildlife. Those encounters were sometimes painful, sometimes heartwarming, and often they were very funny.
Former journalist Megan Price has written a book about Nuse’s more humorous adventures in Vermont’s wilderness. It’s called Vermont Wild. She speaks about it with VPR's Peter Biello.
Learn more about Vermont Wild. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Conservation Pays

Dale Hall op-ed

An op-ed piece by DU CEO Dale Hall, which appeared in the Feb. 22 edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Congress and Administration began in earnest their jousting over the budget last week when the president submitted his fiscal year 2012 proposal and the House of Representatives debated HR1, the bill to fund the remainder of fiscal year 2011. The debates surrounding these two actions will likely define the approach that will be used to reduce the massive budget deficit that all agree is crippling America's economic recovery. At Ducks Unlimited, we strongly urge budget cutting efforts that actually work to reduce the deficit. We do, however, believe that won't happen through political rhetoric, but rather through legitimate analysis of the costs and benefits of all programs.

I am extremely disappointed with the approach taken in HR1 to eliminate conservation programs, such as the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants, that have proven successful at every level of analysis, including the amount of money returned to the federal treasury through taxes each year. For every federal dollar invested through this program, $3-$4 dollars of non-federal monies are secured as matching funds. This program alone has protected and conserved more than 25 million acres of essential habitat for migratory birds and also serves hundreds of non-game species. In addition, every year hunters, shooters, anglers and boaters pay special federal taxes that are returned to the federal treasury for specific conservation use. That amounts to about $1 billion each year going directly to the state fish and wildlife agencies to manage and conserve fish and wildlife in each of the states. Further, nearly $2 billion each year is secured through the sale of licenses to hunt and fish. Simply stated, the state fish and wildlife agencies could not exist without these two sources of funding, both voluntarily paid from the private sector.

Hunting and fishing is about an $80 billion per year industry. Billions of dollars per year – a net gain for the federal treasury - are returned through direct taxes paid by those who work in that industry: manufacturers, guides, outfitters, the hospitality sector, retail, and others who support getting hunters and anglers into the field. The father of modern conservation, Aldo Leopold wrote about the importance of the citizen conservationist nearly a century ago. Since that time, the cost of conservation has been freely carried on the shoulders of hunters and anglers. But the federal government needs to do its part.

The government's contribution to conservation each year is less than $5 billion. Yes, a fair amount more is appropriated to carry out laws and regulations to keep things from getting worse, but in the effort to improve and advance conservation, the federal government is not the leader in the funding of those efforts. The states and private conservationists are the leaders. For what federal taxpayers receive in return for their investment, and the small amount the government provides in partnership, these programs should be upheld.

Finding ways to reduce the massive federal deficit simply must be done. But in doing so, let's make sure to support those federal investments that pay for themselves several times over and be critical of those that are truly wasteful. Conservation has always, and continues to, pay for itself. Congress and the Administration should approach the budget challenge with facts and analysis, not a meat cleaver.