Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tenn Sportsmen force Deer Farming Bill Defeat

From the Tennessee Wildlife Federation:
Deer Farming Bill Defeated for 2011
Measure Expected to Return Next Year
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Friends:

"The White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act" was withdrawn from the House general conservation and environment sub-committee yesterday, which effectively killed the bill. The separate bill to which the deer-farming language had been attached as an amendment was withdrawn from the agriculture committee last week.

The Tennessee Wildlife Federation led the charge, but it was our members and supporters who deserve all the credit.

Thanks to you, more than 1,500 emails and phone calls have been directed to members of the Tennessee General Assembly over the last few weeks. Hunters and wildlife lovers across the state made it clearly known that, considering the scientific evidence, the concept of allowing the breeding and sale of white-tailed deer as livestock is bad business. It would be foolish to risk our priceless natural resources for the prospective benefit of a few.

So hat's off to you, the people of Tennessee, for standing firm on this issue, despite parliamentary maneuvers to get it passed in spite of public sentiment. You made the difference, and your efforts were much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Public Trust Status for Wildlife in VT Passes the Senate

H. 91 passed the Senate overwhelmingly just minutes ago. A last gasp amendment was  handily defeated. Just goes to show when sportsmen find common ground and work together for the greater good of wildlife, we have a lot of power.

The convergence of unified sportsmen, a forceful Fish and Wildlife Dept and some well positioned legislative champions did the trick.

Thanks to everyone involved!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

“Pete’s” final passage

From VT Digger:

Photo from stock.xchng
Moose, photo from stock.xchng

The saga of “Pete the Moose” is near its end.
Or perhaps only the legislative chapters of the legend.
In what seems to have been a violation of convention, if not of etiquette, the Senate on Wednesday declined the request of Agriculture Committee Chair Sara Kittell to let her committee have a crack at H. 91, which had already passed the House and been approved by the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee.

Veteran senators said it was unusual to refuse such a request from a committee chair. But they also said they were all but unanimously ready (if not well past ready) to be done with the issue.
They also said that Kittell, who is from Franklin County, probably made the request at the best of fellow-Democrat Bobby Starr, whose Northeast Kingdom district includes the huge captive elk farm on which “Pete” is also encaged. Kittell and Starr were two of the “no” votes. The others were Republican Vincent Illuzzi, also of the Northeast Kingdom, and, for whatever reason, Philip Baruth of Burlington.
The bill reaffirms that “the fish and wildlife of Vermont are held in trust by the state.”
So they had been, here and in every other state, until last year when a measure literally snuck through in the dead of night transferred control of some wildlife to Doug Nelson, the owner of the elk-hunting preserve and the proprietor of “Pete.” The moose, apparently abandoned by its mother, had been “rescued” and transported (all illegally) to Nelson’s farm, where it was fed donuts and became something of a national cause célèbre.
Though “Pete” will once again become part of the public trust, he will not be harmed. Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry has said that one way or another, Pete will be protected.
~Jon Margolis

Monday, April 18, 2011

Public Trust Status for Wildlife in VT Nearly Restored

H.91 has passed the Vermont Senate Natural Resources committee on a 5-0 vote and is scheduled to be reported on the floor this week (April 18). But it is facing a significant challenge. Senator Starr, who represents Orleans Co where the Big Rack Ridge high fence operation is located and one of the authors of the Nelson Amendment that H.91 will repeal, is working to have the bill sent to the Senate Agricultural committee. If this happens it will be in jeopardy.

H.91 has nothing to do with domestic animals or legitimate farming. It should not go to the Ag committee. This is the message being sent to the Senators by the Public Trust Coordinating committee.

The following letter was sent to members of the Senate Ag committee by Trust committee member Rodney Elmer:

What would you say to your grandfather, if he made a grave mistake?
 Mine covered me with cattle spray,  threw out car batteries as targets, let the radiator drain in the brook that I drank from,
Burnt plastic and trash as the smoke filtered in my bedroom window, poured motor oil on the driveway to keep the dust down.
Used enough DDT to kill the eagles.
 A bad guy ? Not in my mind. My father explained to me when I  asked and said, "There is something to be learned from everyone , even if it is what not to do."
 This is what we are looking at here with this problem.  
 E 702  ,Governing without transparency , intentionally keeping people in the dark and manipulating gov. , the keeping of a public resource for private long range profits even if unintentional deserves no reward,  my former Governor not upholding the laws he swore to, the shameless using of caring and well meaning individuals hearts. 
We now must spend great moneys to hold, what was, our own. All to be done again, sometime in the future for sure, unless we agree.
We belong to the land, we have great power and most temper it with restraint and compassion. We should value wildness. Are we not a wild people?
  Pete's wildness is gone. This doesn't bother you?
 We like money, to much! We are talking principles here, let the people, care
for and protect what is theirs. Vote for vibrant healthy wildlife in the care of democratized  citizens. Not my mistaken grandfather!
 Is there a time limit on disease prevention or crooked government? I think not! Neither do you,,, really.!! 
Please just send this to the floor [H.91] and Vote on it, let's just learn and move on!   We appreciated your support in keeping wildlife free for everyone to enjoy and take part in wild & free.
Rod & Theresa Elmer

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fish, wildlife groups criticize proposed budget cuts

From The Wildlife Society news updates:

The Salt Lake Tribune    Share   Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A Republican budget proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives that would eliminate or drastically reduce several major fish and wildlife programs has conservation organizations from around the country fighting mad. The proposal in HR1 would affect the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grant Program, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program, agricultural conservation programs and portions of the Clean Water Act. More

Wolf Agreement Nixed, Budget Resolution OKs Delisting

A rider to the finally adopted federal budget by Idaho Representative Mike Simpson has negated Saturday's rejection of a settlement between environmental groups and the administration which would have removed wolves from the endangered species list and allowed Idaho and Montana to resume state management of wolf populations. Saturday, U.S. District Donald Malloy rejected the settlement, saying all the parties to the original suit did not agree to the settlement. Simpson's budget rider, however, reinstates the 2009 decision by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the gray wolf in Idaho and Montana. Pro-wolf organizations had agreed to the settlement in an attempt to head off the reinstatement of that decision based on the claims of hunters, ranchers and state officials that the wolf was a recovered population. Representative Simpson, as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Interior and the Environment, had included the wolf provision in the original House budget resolution. Montana Senator Jon Tester supported Simpson's rider saying it, "isn't about one party's agenda, it's about what's right for Montana and the West."

From Headwater News:

Congressional action on wolves may leave Wyoming out of luck
With a rider attached to the budget bill that will remove wolves in Montana and Idaho from endangered species protection, Wyoming appears to be left to go it alone, a situation for which the state is to blame.
Casper Star-Tribune; April 11

'Wolfer' author to discuss hunting predators, appreciation for reintroduction

'Wolfer' author to discuss hunting predators, appreciation for reintroduction
Carter Niemeyer will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Missoula's Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave. He will be available for a book signing afterward.
HAMILTON - Carter Niemeyer didn't set out to become an expert on wolves.
For the first 26 years of his career, the author of "Wolfer, A Memoir" was the man behind the gun who killed predators that threatened livestock.
This week, Niemeyer will tell that part of his story in appearances around Missoula.
He'll also let people know how he learned to appreciate the need to bring wolves back to the American West.
Right out of college, Niemeyer moved to Montana from his home state of Iowa and used trapping skills perfected from childhood to kill coyotes, foxes and black bears as a government trapper for a little-known agency called Animal Damage Control.
When wolves began crossing from Canada into Montana and ranchers started complaining about predation of sheep and cattle, Niemeyer was called upon to investigate livestock deaths.
A nonprofit group called Defenders of Wildlife compensated livestock owners for animals that officials like Niemeyer confirmed were killed by wolves.
Livestock producers wouldn't be paid without confirmation.
The results of the investigations were often the difference between life and death for wolves.
That conflict often led to face-to-face confrontations with people on both sides of the wolf issue.
Niemeyer was not a rubber-stamp kind of guy.
His detailed forensic investigations with their meticulous scientific notes and refusal to back down from furious landowners and environmentalists caught the attention of officials preparing to reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995.
Niemeyer became part of the team that captured the Canadian wolves that became the nucleus of the packs that roam the Northern Rockies today.
Along the way, he gained respect and understanding about the predator and the polarizing effect it had on the human population.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shoot or Don't Shoot, How to Think it Through

By Michael G. Sabbeth

 Dense clouds cast shadows that darkened the brush and trees more than usual in the late afternoon. Three male impala stood like statures ten yards within the black-brown thicket. Ian was my professional hunter. I was awed by his ability to see animals among the trees from the narrow dirt road that cut linguini-like through the forests and rolling hills of the Chamanzi Ranch in Natal, South Africa.

Scouting the South African veldt

The largest impala moved its near-trophy class head an inch. Although I was looking through my rifle scope, the maze of shadow-bathed branches made it challenging to discern head and horn from branch and tall grass. The sweat cascading down my forehead and attacking my eyes made the challenge greater.
I fought to find a comfortable position to look through the scope as I propped the rifle on a make shift rest. Although focused on the impala, the torrent of my thoughts could not be blocked. Tracking a wounded animal in this terrain would be impossible. Hunting success is a roll of the dice. I would leave South Africa in two days and I might not see another impala of this quality. Given my life's demands, most likely I would not return to Africa.
An ethical challenge confronted me: if my only opportunity for a shot was less than ideal, should I pull the trigger?
Parents and teachers, as a general rule, want to teach ethics to their children and students. Instructors are determined, my experience has shown, to instill ethical practices in hunters. But to teach ethical behavior, one must first understand the ground rules and terms. Before any of us agree or disagree with an opinion, we should have clarity of meaning so we are all thinking based on the same assumptions.
It is logical to begin the inquiry about ethical behavior by asking why an action is good and why is an action bad. Another way of stating the issue is what makes an action ethical and what makes an action unethical? Although millions of pages have been written on these questions, I offer this simple answer to them: an action is good or ethical if it advances virtue.
I also assert that virtue can be judged by applying ethical principles to an idea or action. For example, an action that shows respect for life or is performed with skill and competence to achieve a virtuous goal is likely to be ethical  An action that subverts or degrades an ethical principle such a Justice or Respect for Life or which is not based on integrity or honor is more likely to be unethical.
                                                     Author and guide with Kudu

The unavoidable and somewhat grisly reality is that hunting inherently involves taking a life, whether a destructive  groundhog, a pheasant or a magnificent impala. Taking a life is a morally serious action. For hunters, the act of hunting requires employment of technical skills and mental discipline for the purpose of engaging in the activity in a virtuous or ethical manner. The ethical hunter must be, thus, capable of moral judgment and have the ability to translate theory into virtuous action. 
How can parents and instructors help others determine whether an action is virtuous? Two-and-a-half millennia ago Aristotle wrote that no set of rules provides answers and solutions to every ethical problem as if ladling the same sauce on all pasta. Easy answers elude us.
Aristotle advocated the need for moral reasoning so that a person could pursue virtue in a broad array of different circumstances. Times have not changed.
Facts matter. Facts determine morality. What might be ethical hunting at one distance or with one caliber of rifle might be unethical at another distance or with another rifle caliber. A shot that might be ethical in the bright sun of noon might be unethical at dusk or in deep shadows.
Larger themes can be learned from an analysis of my impala incident in South Africa. Ethical behavior requires technical skills as well as moral character. I had to have practiced my shooting skills. I had to demonstrate self-discipline to not take an unreasonable shot. I had to have the humility to acknowledge my limitations. If the professional hunter had encouraged me to take a shot I considered irresponsible, I had to have the character and willpower to stand up against the pressure of that encouragement. Ethical action is not always easy.
Ethics define the quality of the relationship between you and others. Your actions define your character. The unethical hunter may not only wound a deer. The unethical hunter wounds himself. It may not be obvious in an immediate way, but the damage is done nevertheless. How the unethical hunter acts in the field will likely be an indicator of how he acts in all aspects of his life.
On a more overarching level, there is a relationship between ethics and freedom and a relationship between moral character and liberty. On that safari I was joined by two Navy SEALS. One of their mottos was "Honor Above All." Honor is vital on the hunting field just as it is on the battlefield and, indeed, in all aspects of life.
Eric Nuse encouraged me to read Sports Ethics, An Anthology, edited by Jan Boxill. In the chapter titled Sportsmanship as a Moral Category, James W. Keating makes the point that hunting can teach us ethics and that knowledge, in turn, can inspire us to hunt more ethically. But ethics must be taught by people who understand ethics. Knowledge, skill and patience are required. You cannot give what you do not have.
Acting ethically is not always easy but it is far easier to work to make the right decision than to spend the remainder of your life wishing you had. By the way, I did not take the shot at the impala. And I did not see a larger impala during the remainder of my trip. But I made the ethical decision.

Michael Sabbeth is an Orion supporter and a lawyer in Denver, Colorado. He lectures on ethics and rhetoric to law associations and civic and business groups. He is the author of the newly published book, The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values. The book is a guide for teaching ethics and moral reasoning to young children. Please visit his website at for free chapter downloads and to buy the book in paperback or as an EBook.