N. Dakota Game & Fish cancels bighorn sheep season

Associated Press, March 5, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota will not have a bighorn sheep hunting season this year for the first time in more than three decades.

The state Game and Fish Department is making the move because of the deaths of dozens of sheep last year in the western Badlands due to bacterial pneumonia in the herd. Many of them were mature rams, according to Jeb Williams, the agency’s wildlife chief.

Most of the sheep had been transplanted from Alberta, Canada, about a year ago. State wildlife officials said the wild sheep likely were infected by domestic sheep, though sheep ranchers questioned that theory.

The last time North Dakota did not have a bighorn sheep hunting season was 1983.

“The summer 2015 (bighorn population) survey will provide more information as to when Game and Fish may be able to re-establish a sheep season,” Williams said.

Bighorn sheep licenses are once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota – meaning hunters who get a license cannot get another one even if they fail to bag a sheep. One license is given out every year through an auction to raise money for sheep management, and the rest are given out through a lottery drawing. All five hunters who got a bighorn license last year bagged a ram.

Moose and elk licenses also are once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Both of those hunting seasons will have more licenses available this year than in 2014. Game and Fish said 301 elk licenses will be made available, up 40, and there will be 131 moose licenses, up 20.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/4/north-dakota-game-and-fish-cancels-bighorn-sheep-s/#ixzz3blWAK4Dn
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Another hunter speaks out against trapping

[From The Montana Standard, April 27, 2014]

I am a hunter in support of I-169. I’m not an animal rights extremist. I grew up in Montana fishing, hunting and gardening with my Dad, and continue to fill my freezer this way each year. I hunt deer for food —not for sport, not for trophies, and not for pride. Like the vast majority of Montana hunters, my Dad taught me the necessity of fair chase, a quick and clean kill, knowing exactly what you’re shooting at, and wasting nothing. Most Montana hunters strive to continue this legacy with every round fired. We practice target shooting, keep our rifles cleaned, oiled and sighted in to be sure that we do have clean kills without waste. These are the ethics of hunting.

Trapping violates these ethics at every point. Animals are diabolically lured into hidden and baited unattended traps. Baiting game animals is illegal because it is not considered fair chase.

Trapped animals are seldom killed quickly. More often than not, they languish for days suffering exposure and predation, waiting to be bludgeoned, drowned, crushed, suffocated, strangled or shot. Offspring suffer and starve from the loss of their mother. So much for a quick and clean kill.

Non-target animals comprise a large percentage of animals trapped, including protected and endangered species. They are maimed or killed, or just left to suffer a prolonged and painful death. Occasionally they’re released, only to die later from their injuries. Although trappers are required to report the trapping of protected species if they can’t be released “unharmed” in the trapper’s opinion, it can’t possibly be enforced, and who would ever know, so why would they bother? So much for knowing your target.

Hunters are legally required to use all edible parts of animals killed, and aren’t allowed to sell meat. Yet for blood money, trappers sell only the fur of only some of the animals killed—just to end up adorning the backs of rap stars and teenaged billionaires. Most species are killed without limit. Carcasses either become bait for catching more victims, or are used to feed the maggots. So much for preventing waste. These are the ethics of trapping.

I-169 is merely a moderate step toward protecting some of Montana’s precious wildlife from the barbaric cruelty and unjustified waste and commercialization of trapping. It applies only to public land, about 1/3 of Montana. Trappers will continue their torturous tactics unhindered on the remaining 2/3 of our state. I-169 isn’t asking too much.

— Annie Reid, 129 Wilhelm Lane, Whitehall

See original article here.


Here’s another excellent piece uncovering the mythology about the economic benefits of hunting and trapping. In short, hunters fund about 5% and trappers 0.1% of the total wildlife-based economy.
A price tag was put on the nature-based activities Canadians undertake in a quietly released report earlier this month. The 2012 Canadian Nature Survey – and yes, it was released in June 2014 – took a look at how much time and money Canadians spend on their nature-based activities, which includes everything from hiking to photography to – you guessed it – hunting and trapping.

Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians enjoy nature in some manner, with the majority simply relaxing or having a picnic (71 per cent), viewing or reading about nature (66 per cent), hiking, climbing and horseback riding (64 per cent) and gardening or landscaping (51 per cent).

The report indicated that in 2012, an estimated $41.3 billion in “natured-related expenditures.” That is a lot of money.

Of that $41.3 billion, roughly 5 per cent was figured into the hunting and trapping category, representing expenditures of $2.02 billion in 2012. But what the trappers may not want that well known is only 2 per cent of that 5 per cent is from their community, a total of 0.1 per cent contribution to our nature-based recreational economy.

Further, the eight broad categories offered during the survey (nature-based recreation; nature-based leisure; nature education; motorized recreation; nature conservation; fishing; birding; hunting and trapping) illustrated how frequently people who were actively engaged participated in the various activities the last 12 months. Hunting and trapping?

Eight per cent. When broken down even further into more specific categories, this note was found in the report:

“The small number of respondents that reported participation in ‘trapping wild animals’ is below the threshold for statistical reliability and is therefore not shown in Figure 11.”

The take away from this report is pretty simple for us: Canadians love nature. They love being in it, surrounded by it and participating in it. They don’t love trapping. And the proof of that is in the numbers.

Click here for the full paper.

Idaho hunter: wildlife killing contest is a mistake

Idaho Mountain Express
By George Wuerthner
17 December 2014

Recently, the BLM canceled a permit for a proposed coyote/wolf killing “derby” on public lands scheduled for January near Salmon, Idaho. The three-day event is a contest to see who can kill the most and largest wolves, coyotes, jackrabbits and other wildlife.
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The BLM revoked its permit after conservationists questioned the agency’s conclusion that the contest would have no real impacts on wildlife or other uses of the public lands. It was a wise call on the part of the BLM, but the U.S. Forest Service and the Idaho Fish and Game have failed to do the same.
The Forest Service insists that such a contest doesn’t even require a permit, and is allowing it to occur on the Salmon-Challis National Forest, despite requiring permits for many types of less destructive activities—even cutting a Christmas tree. For its part, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has said nothing, even though it has a policy stating that it will not support contests “involving the taking of predators which may portray hunting in an unethical fashion, devalue the predator, and which may be offensive to the general public.”
Even a loose interpretation of that policy would find the proposed derby to be a violation, yet Fish and Game has failed to regulate or restrict these contests. Fish and Game implies its support with its silence and failure to act.
As a hunter, I despise gratuitous killing. Hunters owe it to both the animals they kill and the public who supports wildlife to ensure that no animals suffer or die gratuitously.
But a killing contest, by its very nature, is gratuitous killing. This type of contest treats animals like trash. This is not only ethically wrong but hurts hunting everywhere by portraying hunters in an unethical manner. Hunting, to be accepted by the general public, must be perceived as principled. The public usually supports killing of wildlife for food, but contests are not about obtaining food. Hunters and their organizations risk damaging public support for hunting by not opposing such contests.
The killing contest is also ecologically wrong. Ironically, fragmentation of wolf and coyote packs through indiscriminate killing often leads to greater livestock losses and greater killing of the very big game animals that the derby sponsor claims it is trying to protect.
This is because disruption and loss of pack members reduces hunting effectiveness of the remaining animals. With fewer pack members to pull down difficult prey like elk, wolves and coyotes often turn to livestock as food.
Smaller packs also cannot guard the animals they have killed, and often before they can come back from the den or other locations, ravens and other scavengers will consume a kill, forcing the wolves and/or coyotes to kill yet another elk or deer.
Morally and ecologically, the Salmon [coyote/wolf] killing derby is a mistake.

Detroit Zoo Director: against “bastardization of science.”

Ron Kagan has been head of the Detroit Zoo for more than 20 tumultuous years. During that time, he fought off an effort by Detroit City Council to close the zoo and helped win its independence years before the city’s bankruptcy gave the art institute its own near-death experience.

He’s also led a transformation of the zoo from a somewhat tired park to a leader in worldwide conservation efforts and a much more exciting place.

The zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life is the nation’s largest polar bear exhibit; next year, a new penguin conservation center and wolf habitat will open. Attendance has swollen so much that Kagan is now facing the unwelcome chore of planning a new parking structure.

Yet the zoo director has been in the news this year for other reasons. He strongly opposes wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula, and has gone to Lansing to say so to the state Legislature.

He’s been more than willing to do this, despite less-than-veiled threats from a couple of lawmakers, and attacks from groups who say he has an “anti-hunting agenda.” But Kagan is a biologist, and feels it his duty to speak out. Not because he opposes hunting in itself. He doesn’t.

Nor is Kagan anybody’s idea of a wimp. Athletic and fit, he was once a tank commander and has seen combat. But he doesn’t think much of trophy hunting.

And what he is really against, he told me, is “the bastardization of science.” Kagan said that claims that a wolf hunt is a scientific way of controlling a too-large population are totally bogus.

“I don’t believe that a population of 650 wolves is too many animals for the Upper Peninsula,” he said. Even if it was, allowing hunting is neither a scientific nor a sound way of dealing with it.

Wolves have never killed a human being in Michigan, and livestock losses in the sparsely populated U.P. have been minimal.

What’s more, a hunt that kills 40 or 50 wolves actually could end up putting livestock more at risk, not less. Wolves have complex social structures, and killing random members of a pack could lead to dangerously destabilizing behavior.

It would make far more sense to transport an entire pack to Isle Royale, where the wolf population is on the point of becoming extinct. Michigan voters last month overwhelmingly voted against wolf hunting in two separate referenda.

But anticipating that, the Legislature moved to take the voters right to determine that away.

The issue is headed to the courts. But to those who say he wants to take away their right to hunt wolves, Kagan says, “if they belong to all of us, why can’t I buy a license to not have them killed?

The way he defines it is that welfare is about individuals; conservation is about the welfare of an entire population. Still, he loves the story about the child who sees thousands of starfish washed up on the beach, and an old man throwing them back, one by one.

“Why are you doing that?” the boy says. “You can’t save them all. It doesn’t make much difference.” “Yes,” says the man, holding a starfish. But it makes a difference to this one.”

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. You can read his essays online at michiganradio.org. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

To see the entire article, click here.

Hunting: Choose fair chase, not trapping

Hunting season is approaching, and, although I no longer hunt, I still feel the stirrings of the primordial urge to go out and bring wild game back to my cave. Through the years, most of my friends have also been hunters. Barring a very few bad apples, they all share with me the dedication to “fair chase” when it comes to bagging a deer or elk.

Central to the fair chase is being sure that one makes a clean, humane kill. Ideally, the animal “didn’t know what hit him.“ Wounding an animal and having to track it down to finish it off is deeply regretted, not just because of the extra time and effort it takes, but because of the hunter’s remorse that he has caused the animal unnecessary pain and suffering. I believe Fish, Wildlife and Parks even has regulations requiring a hunter to make every effort to not allow a wounded animal to escape and die a slow, painful death.

And yet, there is a “sport” in which an integral part of the activity involves causing an animal great physical pain and emotional trauma, even under the most ideal conditions. This sport is called trapping and, far from being condemned by the FWP as one would expect of such a cruel, inhumane activity, it is condoned, licensed, and they are now offering classes.

Any hunter who believes in fair chase should denounce the whole idea of trapping, and should demand that it be prohibited. It not only is unnecessary (fur bearers for the most part do not need to have their numbers held in check as herds of deer or elk do) but, by association, it gives a black eye to legitimate hunting.

John Ohrmann, Drummond

(published in the Missoulian, Oct. 2012)

[ed note: NRWM is not arguing for the abolishment of trapping, but reasonable and human regulation.]