Washington group puts up anti-wolf billboards

http://billingsgazette.com/lifestyles/recreation/washington-group-puts-up-anti-wolf-billboards/article_f734776f-30eb-51f3-80a6-c24f024ff950.html

2014-11-21  Washington group puts up anti-wolf billboardsBy Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review The Billings Gazette

A newly organized anti-wolf group says it’s targeting Spokane with a billboard campaign to highlight members’ concerns about the increasing number of wolves in Washington State.

Four billboards featuring a snarling wolf are being put up, according to Washington Residents Against Wolves, a group that says in a media release that it’s promoting “sound management of the predator.”

“The aim of the billboard campaign is to encourage people to ask more questions about what having wolves in Washington really means,” said Luke Hedquist, WARAW member.

“People need to consider the challenges associated with wolves. Wolves can and will attack people, livestock will be killed and maimed, private property will be compromised and local economies will be impacted. We want to make sure people thoroughly understand the issue, so we started by trying to get people’s attention with the billboards.

“As the elk and other ungulates are impacted by wolves, we will see fewer animals for other predators like cougar and bear, a decline in the number of animals available to hunt and significant impacts to local economies as hunters go elsewhere.”

Buck Fever

Robert Scheer/The Star

This is X-Factor, an Indiana deer that in his prime was worth an estimated $1 million.

His value as a stud comes not from research and not from the quality of his venison. Instead, his value is in those freakish antlers, the product of more than three decades of selective breeding.

In less than 40 years, a relatively small group of farmers has created something the world has never seen before — a billion-dollar industry primarily devoted to breeding deer that are trucked to fenced hunting preserves to be shot by patrons willing to pay thousands for the trophies.

An Indianapolis Star investigation has discovered the industry costs taxpayers millions of dollars, compromises long-standing wildlife laws, endangers wild deer and undermines the government’s multibillion-dollar effort to protect livestock and the food supply.

To feed the burgeoning captive-deer industry, breeders are shipping an unprecedented number of deer and elk across state lines. With them go the diseases they carry. Captive-deer facilities have spread tuberculosis to cattle and are suspected in the spread of deadly foreign deer lice in the West. More important, The Star’s investigation uncovered compelling circumstantial evidence that the industry also has helped accelerate the spread of chronic wasting disease, an always-fatal deer disease similar to mad cow. CWD now has been found in 22 states.

CWD’s spread roughly coincides with the captive-deer industry’s growth. In half of the states where CWD was found, it first appeared in a commercial deer operation. Officials in Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Canada think captive deer or elk introduced the disease to the wild.

So far, government programs have failed to halt CWD’s spread, largely because there is no reliable way to test live animals for the disease. So infected deer may be shipped into disease-free states, where they can infect other animals, captive or wild. The Star’s investigation uncovered examples of deer escaping from farms, shoddy record keeping and meager penalties for those caught breaking the rules, which further undermine state and federal efforts to contain the disease. Plus, in less than a decade, more than a dozen people have been charged with smuggling live deer across state lines.

More: http://www.indystar.com/longform/news/investigations/2014/03/27/buck-fever-intro/6865031/

 

Idaho Wildlife Officials Hire Hunter to Kill Wolves

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — State wildlife officials have hired a hunter to eliminate two wolf packs in a federal wilderness area in central Idaho because officials say they are eating too many elk calves.

Fish and Game Bureau Chief Jeff Gould tells the Idaho Statesman that hunters are having a difficult time getting into the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness, so the agency hired hunter-trapper Gus Thoreson of Salmon to kill the wolves in the Golden and Monumental packs.

The U.S. Forest Service allowed the state agency to use an airstrip and cabin in the Payette National Forest as a base.

Fish and Game paid $22,500 for aerial killing of 14 wolves in the Lolo area in 2012. Gould said Monday he didn’t know how much the agency would end up paying for Thoreson’s salary and expenses.

_______________________

Make no mistake, Idaho officials and their constituents aren’t concerned about elk for the elk’s sake. They want ‘em all for themselves–especially the big-antlered, trophy ones. Here are headlines for a couple more articles on the subject, linked from the same page:

Hunters Bemoan Idaho Elk Numbers, Blame Wolves

Elk Hunters Face Tougher Test with Wolves in Woods

ST. MARIES, Idaho (AP) — Calob Wilson sat on the tailgate of his dad’s pickup, dangling a rack of antlers on his knees. Read more: http://magicvalley.com/news/local/idaho-wildlife-officials-hire-hunter-to-kill-wolves/article_c6d2a9c4-6733-11e3-8002-0019bb2963f4.html

 

 

MT Sentators Host “Sportsmen’s” Town Hall

Bitterroot Valley legislators to host sportsmen’s town hall on regulation changes

HAMILTON – Two Ravalli County state senators will host a sportsmen’s town hall meeting this week on proposed changes to hunting in the Bitterroot Valley.

The meeting will be held at the Bitterroot River Inn in Hamilton on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m.

Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, and Sen. Scott Boulanger, R-Darby, will host the event.

The purpose of the meeting is to allow sportsmen to offer ideas, comments and concerns about proposed changes to the local hunting regulations, including requiring all hunters to obtain an unlimited permit to hunt elk in three of the four districts in the valley.

Other topics will include the youth cow elk season, whitetail doe seasons, hunting district boundary changes, anti-trapping initiatives and wolves.

Guest speakers include Keith Kubista of the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, who will address the anti-trapping ballot initiative.

Safari Club Regional Representative Jon Wemple will talk about the loss of elk hunting opportunity under the

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

proposed valleywide permit system.

……Meanwhile in Oklahoma……

local OKC hunting news:

Oklahoma deer hunters have a final opportunity to take firearm into the woods
when the 10-day holiday antlerless gun season opens Saturday in most
of the state.
Deer taken during the antlerless season are not included in the hunter’s combined season limit.
Okla. state wildlife officials encourage a high doe harvest to reduce overpopulation and improve buck-doe ratio for a more healthy deer herd.

Archery deer season continues thru Jan. 15th statewide.

The Washita National Wildlife Refuge, which is located west of Butler, Okla., still has duck blinds available for three midweek hunts this season.
This refuge offers some of the best goose hunting in the state.
All the weekend dates have been filled. However, the midweek hunts are still available.

OSP Bags Hunter on Multiple Charges

Deer head discovered in felon’s pickup

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 9:49 am | Updated: 10:14 am, Tue Nov 12, 2013.

By Chelsea Gorrow
The Daily Astorian | 0 comments

A convicted felon who decided to take two 12-year-olds out shooting on McGregor Road was arrested Monday for 11 charges, after police discovered a fresh deer head in the back of his truck.

Oregon State Police made contact in South Clatsop County withelk-000-home17300 Alex Arias, 51, just after 9:30 a.m., after Arias shot an elk decoy several times near milepost 17.

Arias, from Cornelius, fired the weapon from inside of his vehicle, while a 19-year-old female, Dominique Arias, fired at it from the roadside. Two 12-year-olds were in the backseat of the vehicle.

Neither Alex or Dominique Arias had an elk hunting tag and troopers discovered the head of a four-point buck blacktail deer in the back of the truck, as well as fresh meat.

Most of the meat, however, had been left with the animal carcass, which troopers believe was shot by Dominique Arias and dressed out by Alex Arias.

Troopers discovered marijuana and an open container of alcohol in the truck. Alex Arias had allegedly been smoking the drug inside the vehicle with the kids inside.

Arias was arrested for wildlife offenses, including no big game tag, take or possession of a spike elk, aiding in a wildlife offense, waste of a game mammal, hunting from a motor vehicle, driving while suspended, an ex-convict in possession of a weapon, possession of marijuana, open container of alcohol and two counts of reckless endangering. He was booked into the Clatsop County Jail.

Dominique Arias was arrested for no big game tag, take or possession of a spike elk, take or possession of a buck deer and hunting in a prohibited area, a public road.

 

An Upside to Just About Everything

The rain was pounding so hard off my roof last night that I went to sleep with the satisfied feeling that the storm forecast to continue on into today would surely put a damper on the opening day of elk season (a more sacred day than Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter combined to folks around here). But like a scene out of the cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” it seems nothing can put a damper on the local revelers murderous merriment.

Except for a lack of elk, that is.

Dawn broke to the rapid hammering of gunfire, in spite of the driving rain and near gale-force winds. It sounded like boys and girls of all ages were out playing with their new semi-automatics, sending lead sailing through the air for the sheer joy of it. If each round spelled a dead elk, every herd in the region would be felled by now. Don’t ask me how they get that “good clean shot” at that rate.

But with all the privately owned forest and farm land in these parts, this isn’t a popular destination for the suburban hunting faction. I knew the noise was all the result of just one overeager local resident, and that most of his shots hit only alders, salmonberry bushes or possibly another neighbor’s sheep or llama.

So what is the upside of all that insanity? Another neighbor out trolling around for elk in his $40,000.00 pickup (clad in full Cabella’s camo coveralls and an orange vest that made him look like some kind of demented, oversized crossing guard) inadvertently provided the answer when he pulled over to make small talk, bemoaning the fact that at the first sound of gunfire this time of year the elk for miles around make themselves scarce. He went to add, “…and they know the difference between deer and elk season too. I’ve been out every day of deer season and saw over a hundred head of elk, but now they’re nowhere to be found.”

Can’t say I feel sorry for the guy; it’s not like he was starving. Hunting is just a hobby for him—something to do. You know, like a tradition; just something to bullshit about with his buddies about at the local tavern or mini mart.

Meanwhile, for the elk hunting season is a matter of life and death.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

“Harvest” is Not a Synonym of “Kill”

Local OKC weekend hunting news:

Oklahoma’s deer muzzleloader season opened Sat. and will run thru Nov. 3rd statewide.
Archery deer season remains open thru Jan. 15th. Up to now, more than 12,000 deer have been harvested by bow hunters and youth gun hunters this season a/w state wildlife officials.
A big game biologist for the Okla. Dept. of Wildlife Conservation states “With the recent onset of cooler weather, deer will be moving longer in the mornings and earlier in the evenings. Hunters need to find natural food sources (for deer) like oak trees that are dropping acorns or persimmon trees.”

The bear muzzleloader season also opened Saturday and runs thru Nov. 3rd in some SE Okla. counties. Bear archery season ended Oct. 20th with a total of 27 bears taken by bow hunters.

Almost all of these bears were killed during the first few days of the three-week season.

[Note that this article, from pro-hunting news source, actually used the word “Killed” for once, instead of the traditional hunter favorite for murdered, “harvested.” Yet the article below, about elk hunting “prospects” uses the word “harvest” 6 times and never mentions even once that successfully hunted animals are “killed.” Of course, “murdered” is right out. Never do they say, “dispatch,” “assassinate,” “slay” or “snuff out.” How about, shoot? That’s a relatively benign-sounding word for what they do. How many times do you suppose they resort to that word? I counted exactly 0. How often did they resort to the word, “bombard”? 0. “Open fire”? 0. “Lay waste to”? 0.  What about something humane, like say, “euthanize” or “finish off”? 0. They speak of hunting “opportunities” 4 times, but they never use the words “liquidate,” “eliminate,” “gun down,” “execute” or “do away with” once. Surprisingly, the even the word “destroy” is never used. But “Harvest” appears six times.  .

I hate to break it to hunters and their apologists, but the word “harvest” is not considered a synonym of “kill” in any English dictionary.]

From the Washington State Department of Wildlife:

Elk hunting prospects good statewide,

2012 harvest best in years 

OLYMPIA – After a strong harvest in 2012, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) game managers are again forecasting good elk hunting opportunities statewide when the 2013 modern-firearm general season opens Saturday (Oct. 26) in Eastern Washington and next Saturday (Nov. 2) in the western part of the state. 

Dave Ware, game manager for WDFW, said last year’s elk harvest was the best since at least 1997. 

“Our elk harvest has consistently been between roughly 7,000 and 8,800 animals,” said Ware. “But last year, Washington hunters took 9,162 elk, both bulls and cows. It was definitely our best season since at least 1997 when we moved to our current and more reliable method for determining harvest numbers.” 

Ware said the last few years have been good statewide for calf recruitment and adult survival, adding that all of the state’s major herds are at or above population management objectives. As such, he predicts good opportunities throughout Washington’s elk country. 

“News across the state is pretty good, especially for Eastern Washington elk tag holders,” said Ware. “The Yakima Elk Herd’s productivity began declining several years ago, so we backed off our antlerless tags. Productivity has since increased, and, based on last year’s calf survival, I think hunters can expect to see good numbers of spikes in 2013.” 

News is similar in the Blue Mountains, if not better. 

“Our surveys indicate we’re seeing 40 percent survival on spike elk in the Blues, which is excellent,” said Ware. “A more typical number we expect to see is 20 percent post-hunt survival. This means there are plenty of elk escaping hunters, due in part to steep terrain. It looks like we should have very good numbers of spike bulls available in the Blue Mountains again this year.” 

The Colockum Elk Herd is also above WDFW’s management objective and increasing. That should mean increased antlerless tag opportunities in the future, especially with the temporary decline in habitat conditions resulting from this summer’s catastrophic wildfires that swept across the Colockum and L.T. Murray wildlife areas, as well as surrounding lands. 

“The effects of the fire shouldn’t affect the 2013 season much,” said Ware. “The new, green grass growing on burned landscapes is like candy to elk, so hunters might want to look in and around burned areas close to timbered cover. As always, scouting is important, and so is the ability to adapt to different access options and/or elk distribution and behavior caused by fires and post-fire flooding. Hunters should also be mindful of the true-spike regulation in place in these GMUs.” 

Ware also mentioned the Selkirk Elk Herd, which is comprised of many small bands of elk spread out throughout the state’s northeastern corner. Numbers appear to be stable, said Ware, but scouting is especially key to success in this part of the state due to vast habitat and small, roaming bands of elk. 

“Hunter success has held strong over the last several years in Northeast Washington,” Ware said. 

In Western Washington, the St. Helens Elk Herd continues to be the state’s largest, despite hoof disease affecting an undetermined minority of the total population. 

“Hunters should be aware that if they follow basic techniques for caring for game, animals infected with hoof disease appear to pose no threat to human health based on all of those examined so far,” said Ware. 

WDFW is investigating potential causes and solutions to address elk hoof disease in Southwest Washington and is asking hunters to report any hoof deformities they encounter via the department’s website. http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/

“Elk numbers remain very high, and we expect good hunter success,” said Ware. “With some private timber lands going into fee access, it will become increasingly important to plan ahead, scout, and develop alternatives going forward. Still, there is plenty of access available.” 

Ware said WDFW is continuing to seek a range of solutions to maintain free or inexpensive access on private timberlands in Western Washington. 

Meanwhile, Southwestern Washington’s Willapa Hills Elk Herd is at objective and should offer good opportunities for three-point or better Roosevelt elk bulls, Ware said. Some hunters may be frustrated by a lack of drive-in access in places, but Ware said those willing to walk behind closed gates – where legal – stand the best chances of encountering and harvesting elk…

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

 

A “Special” Time of Year

It’s Saturday morning, in elk country on the last weekend in October. The air is crisp and trees are slowly shedding their golden leaves. Autumn can be a special time of year, but not for everyone. A week from today is opening day of elk (murdering) season. Since first light the peace of the morning has been desecrated by the repeated blasts of hunters, sighting-in their rifles—or warming up their itchy trigger fingers.

To say that hunters ruin it for the rest of us would be an understatement. Their noises, actions and attitudes not only irk those of us who enjoy living peacefully near wildlife habitat, they cause overwhelming stress to the animals who know they could be the next target.

When I hike through the forest, I try to use the same routes, respectfully leaving unexplored certain areas where deer and elk are likely to be bedded. The hunter’s outlook is just the opposite, purposely tromping through every corner of the woods in hopes of scaring up any animal who might call it their home.

During the fall, elk should be bugling loudly, competing with other bulls and rounding up their harems.  Meanwhile, the cow elk try to stay out of harm’s way as much as possible, yet feel reproductive stirrings of their own.

All are distracted enough already. The last thing they need right now is a bunch of Elmers out trying to “harvest” their flesh—or their head to mount on the wall to boost their fragile Fuddly egos.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Restoring the Imbalance–for Hunters

First, here’s an urgent message from Defenders of Wildlife:

…In the past year more than 400 wolves have been killed in Idaho, and last week the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved a proposal to pay Wildlife Services $50,000 to launch a new round of wolf killing – which could include aerial gunning of wolves under the excuse of artificially inflating elk herds to make hunting them easier. This death-by-helicopter or airplane plan is misguided and wrong!

Last year, Idaho called in Wildlife Services to kill wolves in the central part of the state to artificially boost game populations in the region – and it appears that they’re planning on doing it again…

Clearly, hunters want their cake and eat it too. Out of one side of their mouth they declare there are too many elk and that they are doing the animals a favor by killing them to prevent overgrazing. Yet when wolves spread out and successfully reclaim some of their former territories, hunters resent the competition and call for every brutal tactic imaginable to drive wolves back into the shadows, thereby restoring the imbalance that hunters depend on to justify their exploits.

The point of recovering endangered species should be to bring back and/or protect enough biodiversity to allow nature to function apart from human intervention. The presence of predators like wolves can help to restore a sense of natural order and nullify the claims by hunters that their sport is necessary to keep ungulate populations in check.

Wolves in Yellowstone have been keeping elk on the move enough to allow willows to thrive once again in places like the Lamar Valley. Newly emerging willow thickets in turn provide food and shelter for an array of species, from beavers to songbirds. The loss of each thread of biodiversity brings us one step closer to a mass extinction spasm that would wreak more destruction and animal suffering than the Earth has seen in some 50 million years.

Now more than ever we need to counter the hunter agenda at every turn, for the sake of a functioning planet. It’s time to put an end to the notion that wildlife are “property” of the states, to be “managed” as their “managers” see fit. The animals of the Earth are autonomous, each having a necessary role in nature. Only human arrogance would suppose it any other way.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved