Friday, March 30, 2012

Public Trust Under Attack in AZ

March 28, 2012
To all Arizona RMEF Members
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) became aware of House Bill 2072, an act related to Big Game Tags and Permits introduced to the Arizona Legislature, earlier this month. The RMEF, representing over 5,500 members in Arizona and over 185,000 in the US, went on record opposing the bill in a letter to Arizona Governor Janice K. Brewer.
RMEF is now appealing to you, our members in Arizona, to make your voice heard on this poorly crafted legislation. HB 2072 would allocate a significant number of Arizona’s most prestigious and already limited permits to a “conservation” organization, most likely, Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife, the primary advocates of this legislation. This action would undermine one of the most basic tenants of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model…that hunting is an opportunity for all. The allocation of 330 special permits for auction and raffle in a state with already limited public opportunity would be nothing short of a travesty and it will take away tags from those who participate in the public draw system.
The absurdity of HB 2072 does not stop there. This bill allows the “conservation” group selling these permits to exclusively retain an unreasonable percentage of the gross proceeds from the sale of these permits to cover administrative and operating expenses. The RMEF is proud to report that an average of only 8% of all Governor’s and Commissioner’s permits RMEF offers nationwide is retained for administrative purposes. 92% of the gross proceeds have been returned to the states and conservation projects to be invested only in benefiting wildlife and their habitat.
In Arizona specifically, RMEF currently returns 100% of the sale proceeds from the one special elk permit we sell. RMEF actually loses approximately $3,500 annually through direct expenses associated with handling the AZ elk permit. While RMEF believes it is appropriate for organizations to recover direct expenses associated with selling special permits, we firmly believe that private, non-profit entities should not take public assets to support their operational expenses. We operate RMEF the old fashion way, we work for what we get. We are not guaranteed any tags or licenses to create operational revenue.
As a member of RMEF and resident of Arizona it is time to contact your legislator and make your position known on HB 2072, or any similar legislative attempts to take public wildlife from the public. Please act today as this legislation would significantly impact your opportunity to hunt your prized big game species in your home state.
M. David Allen President and CEO Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Man is an integral part of the animal kingdom

"Man is an integral part of the animal kingdom. As our environment becomes less livable for the subjects of the kingdom, it also becomes less suitable for the king. The status and trends of species diversity and the condition of fish and wildlife populations are the litmus tests of a healthy human environment."
Thomas Kimball, past director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife  1981

This quote ended an op/ed piece by Bill Geer with National Wildlife Federation titled:

Address climate change with science, not opinion polls

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wolves as a Public Trust Resource

From the Wildlife Conservation Science & Policy blog:

by Jeremy Bruskotter
On 30 September my colleagues and I published an article in the journal Science that argues that the wildlife trust doctrine (a branch of the broader public trust doctrine) may provide a legal means for interested citizens to compel states to conserve wolves (or, for that matter, other controversial, imperiled species). What follows is a brief discussion of some of the major points presented in the paper (Bruskotter, J. T., S. A. Enzler, and A. Treves. 2011. Rescuing Wolves from Politics: Wildlife as a Public Trust Resource. Science 333:1828-1829).  We begin with a brief primer on the wildlife trust doctrine.

A Primer on the Wildlife Trust
The wildlife trust doctrine–a branch of the broader public trust doctrine that deals specifically with wildlife–was established in a series of court cases that provide the foundation for state-based conservation of wildlife that some refer to as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation/Management.

Disagreement over the Public Trust Doctrine’s application to Wolves

 This past September my colleagues (S.A. Enzler & A. Treves) and I published an article arguing that the public trust doctrine could provide a legal means to force protection of wolves were state policies found lacking (Bruskotter et al., 30 Sept. 2011, p. 1828).  This article prompted two recent replies published by Science last month from L. David Mech and David Johns (17 Feb. 2012, p. 794).  Contrary to our assertion, Mech contended that “state governments have not shown ‘hostility toward wolves’”.  He defended this statement noting that “teams of highly qualified scientists set wolf recovery criteria” and state management plans pledged to maintain wolf populations at or above 150% of recovery goals.  Further, Mech argued that monitoring by the FWS ensured that “the wolf can be relisted anytime if necessary”.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Orion supports the RESTORE ACT

From the National Wildlife Federation:
  • Oiled Marsh - Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Governor's Office

    RESTORE Act Passes Senate with Strong Bipartisan Support

    Yesterday afternoon, the Senate passed the RESTORE Act amendment with an overwhelming show of bipartisan support—the final vote was 7 … read more »

    Here is what I had to say upon passage to our Vermont press:

      “The Senate’s approval of this measure to use money from the oil spill to restore the Gulf resonates with hunters and anglers even in our state,” Eric Nuse said. “Many of our nation’s waterfowl spend a critical part of their lives on the Gulf Coast, which also supports a world-class fresh- and saltwater fishery, so it’s a region that matters to sportsmen and women in Vermont and nationally. A big thanks go to Senators Leahy and Sanders for recognizing that the Mississippi River Delta and the Gulf Coast are regions that are of vital importance to the outdoors heritage of our nation.” Nuse is a retired Game Warden and Executive Director of Orion-The Hunters' Institute living in Johnson, Vermont.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

President Obama Delivers New Habitat Tools for Pheasants, Quail

From Pheasants For Ever:

1 Million New Continuous CRP Acres Compliment March 12th’s CRP General Signup

Field buffers not only protect soil and water quality, but can be quality habitat for pheasants and quail. Field buffers not only protect soil and water quality, but can be quality habitat for pheasants and quail.

Washington, D.C. - March 02 -

Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever received welcome news about the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today. During the White House’s Conference on Conservation at the Department of Interior Building, the Secretary will announce the reallocation of one million CRP acres to the most popular continuous practices within the program. The President will also announce a significant increase for signing incentive payments from $100 per acre to $150 per acre to encourage landowner participation in CRP.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hunting rights for landowners weighed

From the Orion Facebook page:
Is auctioning off high-dollar permits good for wildlife or good for the organizations who auction them off and for the wealthy hunters who buy them?
Six weeks before he learned he was under criminal investigation for violating his department's hunting rules, state Wildlife Division Director Corey Rossi told his staff about a pet project -- unprecedented in Alaska -- to give private landowners special rights to hunt big game, even out of seas...

Monday, March 5, 2012


            On February 14, 2012 I left Helena on a trip to Missoula to tend to a health issue.  On my return I  came to realize that this particular trip had actually begun in the late 1960s when I was a zealous young Montana Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologist working to change an anemic state water quality law to something of substance.  Our intellectual leader of that campaign was Dr. Les Rusoff of the University Law School. We prevailed and the Clark Fork’s recovery became possible.

            Late in that same decade the Anaconda Company proposed an open pit mine high in the Blackfoot watershed. The company needed an easement on School Trust Lands in order to dam Alice Creek as a source of water. The meeting packed the Governor’s Reception Room of the state capital in an unprecedented display of public opposition.  They were mostly U of M students and caused the four person Land Board to vote two-aye and two-nay, thus saying no to “the company” for the first time in a long time, maybe ever.  An angry governor told his Fish and Game Department to work it out and my water resources unit became the agency’s Environmental Resources Division. That pit was never dug.

            Late in my state career I was called to a meeting of state agency lawyers.  The issue was whether or not to file a lawsuit claiming damages due to past pollution of the Clark Fork River.  The problem was the federal Super Fund Act was due to expire and the state was left with too little time to give notice of their intent to bring the lawsuit prior to the expiration of the law.  The lawyers saw the infirmity and seemed to be concluding that it was too late.  I brought forward an argument that infirm or not we needed to file the claim for damages to let posterity know what had happened on that day. The suit was filed, Senator Max Baucus then led the fight to extend the Super Fund Act and the river was given new hope.

            I now traveled to Missoula because I was born with a faulty heart valve that after three quarters of century was failing and the International Heart Institute of Montana was among the world’s best.  My surgeon who contributed to that greatness told me he was there because Missoula was the smallest town he could find that could both support his profession and the lifestyle amenities he valued.  It included the rivers that run through us all.

            On February 15, 2012 I lay fully exposed, helpless, and fading under the bright lights of the Heart Institute’s operating room.  Then, that surgeon drawn to your town took my heart into his hand while the Institute’s staff of hundreds stood poised and ready.  The first three letters of the surgeon’s last name are derived from the word Maximum, MAX - and I will be WELL.                                                     
            Thank you Missoula for caring so much about where you are and how you live that it makes miracles possible.

Jim Posewitz    Helena, MT

Friday, March 2, 2012

Teaming With Wildlife Fly-In

I  represented Vermont at this event. I was impressed with the quality of the staff at the National Wildlife Federation and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. A very high number of the participants were dedicated hunters there to advocate for non-game species of significant concern.

This from the Wildlife Society Blog:
The Teaming With Wildlife coalition, consisting of more than 6,300 organizations including TWS, took to the halls of Congress for its annual “Fly-In” this week to secure support for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program (SWG). The effort, which took place between February 28th and 29th, brought participants from 23 states to advocate for federal funding for state-implemented non-game wildlife science and management. In preparation for the event, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies hosted advocacy training with many outstanding guest speakers representing environmental organizations, state agencies, and the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Dan Ashe.
...the Teaming With Wildlife Coalition held a reception to congratulate the participants and give awards to members of Congress who have been champions of the State Wildlife Grants Program. The Congressional Award recipients were Congressman Serrano (D-NY), Congressman Young (R-AK), and Senator Tester (D-MT).