Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rocky Mountain wolf recovery leader was not your average bureaucrat

Ed Bangs looks back at his work on wolves in the West
Ed Bangs worked on wolf recovery for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1988, through the reintroduction in the mid-1990s, until he retired last month, and he sat down with Ray Ring, High Country News editor, to talk about his experiences. A perspective.

News - July 18, 2011 by Ray Ring
Ed Bangs has long been a lightning rod for the controversy around
the return of wolves to the U.S. Northern Rockies. Based in Helena,
Mont., he led the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf-recovery effort
from 1988, when the region had only a few naturally occurring
wolves, through the reintroduction of Canadian wolves in 1995 and
'96, until his retirement in June 2011. During those years, thenumber
of wolves in the region increased to more than 1,700. A plethora of
lawsuits, alarmist headlines and political maneuvers culminated
with Congress removing most of the region's wolves from the
Endangered Species List (an action also being challengedby lawsuits)
just as Bangs retired.
Throughout the wolf battles, people on all sides of the issue respected 
Bangs for his unusual frankness and good humor. HCN's senior editor,
Ray Ring, talked with the 60-year-old biologist on July 1 about his
lifelong interest in wildlife and his reflections on wolves and human
society in general. Here are some excerpts:
HCN:  While you ran the wolf program for so long, you probably 
had personal highlights?
Read More

Morrisville VT 05661 Wholesale Cash $60.00 15.00 4 $60.00 0.00  60.00  60.00 OK

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Venerated Conservationist Bill Stevens Passes

Bill was a great friend of Hunter Education on the State and National level. He was a great guy and will be missed. This from the Wildlife Management Institute:

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Image of Bill StevensOn Sunday, July 3, cancer claimed Bill Stevens, 72, friend of conservation and friend of thousands.
For 42 years, Bill served Federal Cartridge Company of Anoka, Minnesota.  He retired in 2007 from his post as Federal Premium Ammunition Manager, a capacity in which he tirelessly promoted the hunting and shooting sports and natural resource conservation.  He helped pioneer the 4-H Shooting Sports Program and was instrumental in shaping the conservation outreach and spirit at Federal. Bill leveraged his energy, forever upbeat nature, enthusiasm and Federal’s largess to gain tremendous support throughout North America for the shooting sports industry.
Gary Svendson, Director of Quality and Technical Service for ATK Security and Sporting Group, which includes Federal, stated:  “When I joined Federal in 1973, I wasn’t fully aware of the impact Bill had on the shooting sports industry and on people in general.  As time went on, I realized what a true giant he was.” 
“Countless youth programs and national outdoor organizations owe their start up and success to Bill’s encouragement and support,” said Dick McCabe, Vice President of the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI).  “It seems he knew everyone, and I have never met anyone who didn’t claim him as a friend.  He was a terrific outdoorsman and a delightful guy to share time and adventure in the field.”
Dennis Anderson, writer for the Minneapolis StarTribune, penned, “During Bill’s career, the shooting sports industry underwent seismic shifts, especially in the early 1990s when the federal government required non-toxic shot to replace lead shot for waterfowl hunting.  Through that process, and introductions of steel, tungsten, tungsten-iron and tungsten-polymer in shot, Bill was the face not only of Federal, but one of the go-to guys in the industry as it struggled to maintain profitability while helping hunters to adapt to the new ammunition.”
Said Kyle Tengwall, Federal’s Marketing and Communications Vice President, “ Anyone who ever met Bill knows how much he will be missed…he brought a contagious enthusiasm and passion for work, family, industry and the outdoors.”
Bill received numerous accolades and honors during his career, for his dedication to shooting sports education and conservation, not least of which were Field & Stream’s 2007 Heroes of Conservation Lifetime Achievement Award and WMI’s first-ever (2000) George Bird Grinnell Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Management.
Bill Stevens is survived by his wife Nila, son Andrew and brother John.  His conservation legacy will outlive all of us.

Sportsman-Governors Show Support for Hunters and Anglers

from the Outdoor wire:
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
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Salt Lake City, UT - Nine of the nation's state chief executives gathered at a Governors Sportsmen's Caucus (GSC) event in Salt Lake City Friday to highlight policy issues of concern to hunters and anglers around the nation.

GSC Co-Chair, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, along with Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane welcomed the sportsman-governors and members of the sportsmen's community in attendance to a reception sponsored by AGL Resources, Altria, American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI), ATK, Comcast, CropLife America, Daimler, Dallas Safari Club, ExxonMobil, National Rifle Association (NRA), National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Outdoor Channel, Remington, and Winchester Ammunition.

"As evidenced by the turnout at this event, the sportsmen and women of this country and in the states represented by GSC member governors have a powerful ally watching out for their interests," said Crane. "These governors are on the front lines protecting the rights of hunters and anglers by advancing sound fish and wildlife conservation policies in their states."

Members of the hunting and fishing community, the CSF State Team, and sponsor representatives were joined at the event by: Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Gov. Matt Mead of Wyoming, Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa, Gov. Bev Perdue of North Carolina, Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Gov. Barbour and Gov. Sean Parnell of Alaska.

Governors Brandstad, Shumlin, Daugaard and Mead officially joined the GSC, which now boasts 22 sportsmen allied Governors from both political parties and diverse geographic regions of the country, representing large outdoor constituencies that include many of America's nearly 40 million hunters and anglers who contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, spending more than $76 billion dollars a year on hunting and fishing.

Guided by a bipartisan leadership team of governors lead by Co-Chairs Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer; Vice-Chairs New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, and staffed through the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the GSC along with the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus and the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses, serves as an unprecedented network of pro-sportsmen elected officials that promote and protect the agenda of America's hunters and anglers.

Members of the Caucus include: Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Daugaard, Gov. Shumlin, as well as co-chairs Barbour and Schweitzer and vice-chairs Martinez and Beebe.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sportsmen Support Common-sense Energy Planning to Conserve Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Note: Steve Belinda led a group of us from the American Wildlife Conservation Partnership on a tour of the Pinedale anticline where gas drilling has turned a prime wintering mule deer area into an industrial site.  Eric
The following from the Outdoor Wire:
Thursday, July 14, 2011
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WASHINGTON - In response to criticism by some Western lawmakers of a new federal energy-planning protocol, a coalition of prominent sportsman-conservation groups has reasserted the need for balanced public-lands energy leasing that enables responsible development while sustaining the West's fish and wildlife heritage and hunting and fishing traditions.

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development underscored its support of the policy issued last year that included the use of "master lease plans," or MLPs, for future leasing of public lands in areas not experiencing significant energy activity. The approach would address deficiencies in the old process that have led to high conflict with fish and wildlife values and significant public objections, or "protests," to lease sales. The MLPs also would require an analysis of impacts from development of leases, a key evaluation that was not done in the past, before leases are sold, providing an opportunity for the public and other affected stakeholders to be involved earlier to resolve any conflicts.

"Upfront planning and conflict resolution will lead to greater certainty for management of fish and wildlife habitats and for industry," said Steve Belinda, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Center for Responsible Energy Development and former BLM biologist. "The old process was not developed for leasing in the sensitive areas that now are being sought for development, nor did it adequately address other values like fish and wildlife before commitments to develop were made." The TRCP is a member of the SFRED coalition.

Members of Wyoming's and Utah's congressional delegations, however, have denigrated the new master leasing process in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, requesting that the Department abandon implementation of the process.

"It's unfortunate that any Western politician would oppose reforms specifically designed to protect the West's public lands and allow for more public involvement on public lands that help define us as region," said Steve Torbit, regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation, an SFRED member.

"MLPs provide ample opportunity for energy companies to exploit oil and gas deposits but allow for a more careful process to evaluate how best to avoid or minimize impacts to our wildlife and other natural resources," Torbit continued. "As a native of this region and a lifelong hunter and angler, it saddens me to see elected representatives show their disdain for the wildlife resources that are part of our Western heritage and culture."

Brad Powell, energy director for Trout Unlimited, an SFRED member, and former regional forester for the Forest Service, questioned why the members of Congress would attack a process that enables a rational approach to leasing and will better balance multiple uses of public lands.

"This new approach to leasing incorporates sensible reforms that allow the public, including hunters and anglers, to be more involved in the management of their lands and allow for earlier conflict resolution rather than having to resort to protests when poorly planned lease sales are announced," Powell said.

"We understand that energy development will occur, and we support it," Powell continued, "but as sportsmen we believe that fixing problems early in the leasing process enables industry to receive leases that they can use rather than backlogged leases held up by protests. The previous process led to thousands of protests and a system that was broken for both industry and sportsmen."

"We have documented dramatic declines in our mule deer herds because of poorly planned and hastily approved energy leasing in parts of the West," Belinda concluded. "Threatening the West's fish and wildlife populations using the old, broken model for public-lands leasing makes no sense. The MLPs and other lease reforms allow responsible energy development without jeopardizing our fish and wildlife habitat, our streams and rivers, and our public lands."

Learn more about the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.
Brad Powell, 928-300-5451,

GOP runs risk of alienating hook and bullet crowd

from Politico:

By Darren Samuelsohn
7/12/11 4:30 PM EDT
House Republicans fighting the Obama administration's environmental agenda are finding themselves making decisions that threaten the party's carefully nourished relationship with the hook and bullet crowd.
Anglers and hunters once courted by former President George W. Bush don’t like what they’re seeing in the GOP’s mad dash to cut spending and have made their feelings clear in meetings this month with top aides to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
As the Republican leaders no doubt know, this is not a crowd to mess with. The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation estimates that nearly eight in 10 hunters always vote in presidential elections, while six in 10 come to the polls in off years.
The outdoorsmen typically lean Republican, but Democrats say they could capitalize with a constituency that's also known to be pretty independent minded.
"That's a very powerful group," said Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.). "They bring in a pretty diverse voice. I think you have to be really careful with this because I think the American public, while they want spending cuts, certainly don't want to decimate the environment for the long run."
Bush fought routinely with mainstream environmental groups. But the Texan who loved to clear brush on his Crawford ranch worked hard to court the outdoor crowd.
Bush won accolades from conservationists for his handling of Healthy Forests legislation to diminish forest fire risks and in creating Farm Bill programs to promote wetlands and wildlife habitat.
The Adirondack Council, which focuses only on the New York state park, also backed Bush's Clear Skies legislative proposal, which skirted reductions for global warming pollution but tried to make inroads on acid rain, a big problem in the region.
"There was definitely a feeling in the hunting and fishing community that the Clinton administration had not shown the level of respect [it deserved]," said Dale Hall, a former Bush-era director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now leading Ducks Unlimited. "Whether it's true or not, the perception was there that they were a secondary thought. We believed it should be a primary thought."
Back in power, House Republicans may have poisoned the well with their austere spending strategy, including the fiscal year 2012 Interior and environment spending bill that won approval Tuesday in the House Appropriations Committee.
Under the legislation, the Interior Department's overall budget would fall $720 million from fiscal 2011. A popular land and water conservation fund would see a more than 80 percent cut to $62 million, while funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act gets a 47 percent reduction to $20 million. State Wildlife Grants are also cut 64 percent to $22 million.
Wildlife-themed riders are also sprinkled through the bill, including language that allows chemical companies and large agriculture operators to skirt pesticide permit requirements and enforcement of certain mountaintop mining rules. Conservation groups are complaining the language would dirty rivers and streams they use for recreation.
Other riders include a prohibition for any judicial review on Interior's decision to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region, as well as a zeroing out in funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to list new species and designate critical habitat under the law.
"In the past, conservation has been a bipartisan issue. Democrats and Republicans have always agreed about hunting and fishing," said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, one of four conservation groups that took issue with another GOP-sponsored rider that blocks the EPA from updating Clean Water Act policies dealing with fish and wildlife habitat.
"I think you're seeing a divide that's starting to open up that hasn't always existed in the past and we hope won't exist for very long," Fosburgh added.
House Republicans said they've done the best they could for the hook and bullet crowd given tight fiscal times.
"There's an awful lot of Republicans who are concerned about conservation and that I'd call Roosevelt Republicans, myself included to some degree," said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Interior-environment appropriations subcommittee.
"But when you don't have the money, you don't have the money," Simpson added. "I'd like to drive a Porsche. Guess what? My wife says I can't afford it."
Conservation group leaders said they understand what GOP leaders are going through, and they’ve told lawmakers like Simpson as much in private meetings.
"Mike Simpson got dealt a lousy hand," said Fosburgh. "He was in an incredibly unenviable position. There was no way he was going to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."
Many also said they support the overall goal of reducing the deficit.
"Inside the hook and bullet crowd, you'll find a lot of fiscal conservatives in general, not because of any party affiliation but more of a philosophy of how to try to get things done," Hall said.
But while they may understand the budget crunch, hunters and anglers are not done making their case to get their funding restored and the riders removed.
Leaders from Ducks Unlimited, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies met last week with top aides for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Office of Management and Budget.
In their presentations, they cited the side benefits that come with wildlife conservation, including flood control and better water quality. Federal dollars are also leveraged by upward of five to one with private and state money. Lawmakers also need to be reminded that the nation’s estimated 40 million sportsmen of voting age pay billions of dollars every year in state and federal taxes through their licenses and equipment purchases.
"If we want to talk about how to fix the deficit and how to fix the debt, our respectful argument is don't get rid of those things that make you money," Hall said.
Apart from tight budgets, hunters and fishermen face some other trends not working in their favor. For starters, Republican lawmakers often chalk up some of their cherished conservation programs as little more than green boondoggles. As America gets more and more urban and suburban, the hook and bullet crowd also finds fewer lawmakers who regularly cast a line or shoot a gun.
"John Dingell is the last of the crowd who's still around, a guy who is not partisan who knows fish and wildlife," Fosburgh said of the Michigan Democrat and Dean of the House.
The loss of key advocates like the late Rhode Island GOP Sen. John Chafee and New York Republican Reps. Sherwood Boehlert and Jim Walsh has also hurt. "What we've not seen is the next generation of leaders step up like that, especially on the Republican side. There's a smaller bloc than there was once was," Fosburgh said.
Jim Connaughton, former chairman of George W. Bush's White House Council on Environmental Quality, said a variety of hook and bullet groups are expressing angst over budget cuts.
"All of the major conservation organizations, from center-right to center-left, are deeply disheartened by the sidelining of their issues and their needs in the wake of these huge stresses as a result of the deficit and runaway entitlement programs," he said.
Many conservation leaders were cautious about making overt political threats. But they said their dues-paying members will take notice if funding levels for their favorite programs keep getting slashed and if the policy riders don’t disappear.
"There's a tipping point,” said Scott Kovarovics, conservation director at the Izaak Walton League of America, “in which folks who hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors are going to take a step back and say this isn't one thing, it's a series of things.”
To read and comment online:

Monday, July 11, 2011

USSAF Submits Comments to Remove Western Great Lakes Wolves From ESA Protection


Press release from the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation:

(Columbus, OH) - The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) and a group of state sportsmen’s organizations have submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for returning recovered wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes region to state management.  Western Great Lakes wolves are currently on the Endangered Species List (ESA).   This is the latest in the long-running saga of the USSAF’s support of scientific wildlife management.
In April, the Service announced a proposal to remove Western Great Lakes region wolves from ESA protection.  This move would allow wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to be controlled by state wildlife managers.
USSAF’s comments to the Service highlight two major reasons for delisting this population.
First, the comments point out that wolves in the region have far exceeded recovery goals.  Second, USSAF’s comments address a critical scientific issue created by the Service when it also announced that it may recognize a second species of wolves in the Western Great Lakes region.  An incorrect finding that two species of wolves exist in the region would open the delisting to a challenge by the anti-hunting lobby seeking to prevent the return of wolves in the region to state management.
USSAF’s comments are supported by the affidavit of wildlife and wolf genetics expert Dr. Lisette Waits.  Dr. Waits’ comments highlight wolf genetic studies and other scientific facts showing there are not two separate wolf species in the Western Great Lakes region and thus, the Service should not recognize a second species.
Joining USSAF in its comments are the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Dairyland Committee of Safari Club International Chapters of Wisconsin, Whitetails of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Firearms Owners, Rangers, Clubs, and Educators, Inc.
“For years, science has shown that these wolves have far exceeded recovery goals,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president of government affairs.  “Additionally, we hope that the Service will look at the prevailing scientific facts that show only one wolf population exists within the Western Great Lakes region and it will avoid letting the antis use this unsupported claim as another roadblock to rightfully returning wolves to state management.”
Previous efforts to delist recovered wolf populations have been reversed as a result of lawsuits filed by animal rights groups.  In those cases, the reversals dealt with technical issues and did not question or overturn findings that wolves have met recovery goals.
Click here to view a complete copy of USSAF’s comments.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Orion updates

Dear readers,

Sorry for the lack of posts this last month. I've been on the road - canoeing in Quebec, fishing in Vermont and Montana and sight seeing in Washington.
The Montana trip included an Orion board meeting and meetings with the good folks at the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation and the National Wildlife Federation. Best of all was time talking and working with Jim Posewitz. He has taken on what he is billing as his "last fight". It is a project to repopulate a 3 million acre area with wild buffalo. The goal is to have an intact ecosystem with all the native wildlife present from buffalo to sandhill cranes.  People are included as in hunters and fishers. More on this as the project moves forward.
Hopw you are all having a good summer...