Fox, coyote and turkey hunting proposed at Potomac River wildlife refuges

https://www.insidenova.com/headlines/fox-coyote-and-turkey-hunting-proposed-at-potomac-river-wildlife-refuges/article_57ff51ca-9eba-11eb-b5cd-abf68e4e6af6.html?fbclid=IwAR1NRtmWtZvK1X6CyooXBEb5M6aj__TrqEqzMKLwMd92flK4ucTLf-DGeq8

  • Apr 16, 2021 Updated Apr 16, 2021
Occoquan Bay NWR
The scene from a wildlife viewing platform at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Woodbridge.By Casey Pugh

U.S. Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on new plans for fox, coyote, waterfowl and turkey hunting, along with expanded deer hunting and fishing opportunities, at the Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Woodbridge and southern Fairfax.Trending on InsideNoVa https://c5x8i7c7.ssl.hwcdn.net/vplayer-parallel/20210408_1900/ima_html5/index.htmlhttps://c5x8i7c7.ssl.hwcdn.net/vplayer-parallel/20210408_1900/videojs/show.html?controls=1&loop=30&autoplay=0&tracker=a400ac00-21b7-4967-adeb-951c15739530&height=352&width=625&vurl=%2F%2Fd14c63magvk61v.cloudfront.net%2Fvideos%2Fdgv_insidenova%2F20210418054149_607bc4b07dee4%2Fdgv_insidenova_trending_articles_20210418054149_607bc4b07dee4_new.mp4&poster=%2F%2Fd14c63magvk61v.cloudfront.net%2Fvideos%2Fdgv_insidenova%2F20210418054149_607bc4b07dee4%2Fdgv_insidenova_trending_articles_20210418054149_607bc4b07dee4_new.jpgXPowered By 

The complex includes the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck, Occoquan Bay, and Featherstone National Wildlife Refuges. The USFW is inviting the public to review and comment on the draft plan for proposed hunts and fishing access.

The proposed plan includes:

  • Open fishing opportunities on non-motorized watercraft in designated areas of Occoquan Bay NWR, Mason Neck NWR and Featherstone NWR. Additionally, Featherstone NWR will also open fishing opportunities to motorized watercraft in designated areas.
  • Expanded deer hunting hours at Occoquan Bay NWR.
  • Open opportunities for mentored turkey hunting and mentored archery deer hunting on Occoquan Bay NWR.
  • Open fox and coyote hunting opportunities in conjunction with permitted deer hunt days at Occoquan Bay NWR.
  • Open waterfowl hunting opportunities in designated areas of Featherstone NWR.

A “hunt application/permit” (FWS Form 3-2439) will be required for hunting deer on E.H. Mason Neck NWR and Occoquan Bay NWR. No more than $10 application fee and $20 permit fee for deer and turkey hunts would be established to defray the costs of operation.

Deer hunt permit applications would most likely be administered by a contracted company that will feature online, mail, and telephone services to collect hunter information, required fees, and issue permits, the release said.

Draft documents for review are available here.

You can contact the refuge at 703-490-4979 to request more information. Submit your comments to the refuge by mail at 12638 Darby Brooke Court, Woodbridge, VA 22192 or by email at HuntFishRuleComments@fws.gov with the subject line of “Potomac River NWR Complex.”

The comment period will be open through the end of the 2021-2022 federal hunting and sport fishing regulations open comment period to be announced in the Federal Register, USFW said in a news release. Federal officials expect the comment period to be open through mid-June. 

“Across the country, national wildlife refuges work closely with state agencies, tribes, and private partners to expand recreational hunting and fishing access,” the release said. “Hunting and fishing provide opportunities for communities, families, and individuals to enjoy the outdoors, support conservation efforts, and participate in a popular American tradition.”

Trump officials rush to auction off rights to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before Biden can block it

Officials aim to sell drilling rights to the pristine wilderness’s coastal plain before the president-elect takes office

A polar bear walks across rubble ice in the Alaska portion of the southern Beaufort Sea.
A polar bear walks across rubble ice in the Alaska portion of the southern Beaufort Sea. (Mike Lockhart/U.S. Geological Survey/AP)

By Juliet EilperinNovember 16, 2020 at 8:29 a.m. PST

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/11/16/arctic-refuge-drilling-trump/?fbclid=IwAR0Uf4B7Yp8stiA7W8E-nTgmkqX2GBMid4BrIq2tGp05w7oxIV-519stvgc

The Trump administration has called for oil and gas firms to pick spots where they want to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it races to open the pristine wilderness to development and lock in drilling rights before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.Follow the latest on Election 2020

The “call for nominations” to be published Tuesday allows companies to identify tracts to bid on during an upcoming lease sale on the refuge’s nearly 1.6 million acre coastal plain, a sale that the Interior Department aims to hold before Biden takes the oath of office in January. The move would be a capstone of President Trump’s efforts to open up public lands to logging, mining and grazing — something Biden strongly opposes.

Trump rolled back more than 125 environmental policies. Another 40 rollbacks are underway.

A GOP-controlled Congress in 2017 authorized drilling in the refuge, a vast wilderness that is home to tens of thousands of migrating caribou and waterfowl, along with polar bears and Arctic foxes.

Image without a caption

“Receiving input from industry on which tracts to make available for leasing is vital in conducting a successful lease sale,” Chad Padgett, the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska state director, said in a statement. “This call for nominations brings us one step closer to holding a historic first Coastal Plain lease sale, satisfying the directive of Congress in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and advancing this administration’s policy of energy independence.”ADhttps://d6d8d1f317763923e70cf9205f00946e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The administration is pressing ahead with other moves to expand energy development and scale back federal environmental rules over the next few weeks. It aims to finalize a plan to open up the vast majority of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to drilling, as well as adopt a narrower definition of what constitutes critical habitat for endangered species and when companies are liable for killing migratory birds.

At the Energy Department, officials may weaken energy-efficiency requirements for shower heads before Inauguration Day.

It is unclear how much appetite there is in the oil and gas industry for drilling in the refuge, given the lack of infrastructure there and the public backlash that could accompany such a move. The area provides habitat for more than 270 species, including the world’s remaining Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears, 250 musk oxen and 300,000 snow geese.ADhttps://d6d8d1f317763923e70cf9205f00946e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, whose people have traveled with the caribou on the refuge for thousands of years, said in a statement: “Any company thinking about participating in this corrupt process should know that they will have to answer to the Gwich’in people and the millions of Americans who stand with us. We have been protecting this place forever.”

But smaller players might be willing to bid on leases, which would be difficult to claw back once they are finalized. Some Alaska Native tribal corporations have already expressed an interest in conducting seismic tests to identify oil reserves on the coastal plain, and they aim to complete that work this winter.

Facing catastrophic climate change, this Alaska Native village is torn over whether to quit Big Oil

Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, said in an interview Friday that the administration is operating “under a tight timeline,” but he added that many Alaskans support drilling in the refuge and that the 2017 law gives officials a solid legal basis for moving forward.ADhttps://d6d8d1f317763923e70cf9205f00946e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“Our view is that Congress has acted,” Macchiarola said. “Production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a long time coming. It’s overdue, and it’s important to our nation’s energy security.”

Drilling in the refuge has been an ideological litmus test for more than a generation, and environmentalists have pressed major financial institutions not to back it even as it creeps closer to becoming a reality. Some major banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, have already announced they will not finance projects in the refuge.

On Monday, the Oslo-based energy research firm Rystad Energy published an analysis saying that going forward, “companies will be less willing to drill high-risk wells in environmentally sensitive frontier areas, both for financial and environmental reasons. As a result, the full petroleum potential of areas like the Alaskan Arctic, Foz do Amazonas in Brazil and the Barents Sea may never be unlocked.”ADhttps://d6d8d1f317763923e70cf9205f00946e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The Bureau of Land Management will hold a 30-day comment period once the call for nominations is published Tuesday. Once that period closes, the agency could publish a lease sale notice, which must be published 30 days before an auction takes place. Under that timeline, drilling rights could be sold before Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

Several environmental groups are challenging the administration’s overall oil and gas leasing program for the refuge in four separate lawsuits. If one of those challenges prevails, it could effectively void the leases.

Erik Grafe, deputy managing attorney for the Alaska office of Earthjustice, said in an email that the leases could be in jeopardy for other reasons as well. It often takes several weeks to process bids because the Bureau of Land Management must screen the highest bids for ethical and legal issues before issuing contracts, so if the agency holds an auction but doesn’t finalize the leases before Biden’s inauguration, “the new administration may be able to avoid issuing them, particularly if it concludes the program or lease sale was unlawfully adopted.”

“Even if leases are issued by the Trump administration, the Biden administration could seek to withdraw the leases if it concludes they were unlawfully issued or pose too great a threat to the environment,” he said, adding the leaseholders could then argue they deserve financial compensation if the leases are invalidated.

Democrats say Interior botched polar bear study in pursuit to drill ANWR

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/507852-dems-say-interior-botched-study-of-polar-bears-in-pursuit-to-drill

BY REBECCA BEITSCH – 07/17/20 03:07 PM EDT 6144,433

Just In…

by

Democrats say Interior botched polar bear study in pursuit to drill ANWR

© Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers are pushing back against Department of the Interior plans to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR,) arguing the agency wasn’t thorough before concluding that drilling activity wouldn’t harm local polar bears.

A review of the environmental impacts of drilling in the area “makes the unsupportable conclusion that industrializing the entire Coastal Plain—including the most important terrestrial denning habitat for among the most imperiled polar bear population on the planet—will not jeopardize the survival and recovery of the species,” Democratic lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Committee wrote to Interior in a letter spearheaded by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

“This fundamentally flawed analysis ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence that identifies devastating impacts to polar bears from oil and gas activities,” they added.https://b28bdec9e40d5dff0a2190c2694e4e23.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The so-called biological opinion produced on the topic came after the department in February made the unusual decision to open its research to public comment. The already peer-reviewed research looked at how seismic activity from the oil and gas industry affects polar bear “denning” as they raise their young cubs.

Environmentalists and scientists raised the alarm, calling it an attempt by the Trump administration to discredit its own government scientists.

“What it looks like to me is they’re giving industry the opportunity to negate the study,” said Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The 2017 tax bill opened the door to drilling in the arctic, something Interior noted in its response.

“Representative Huffman and the other Democrat members who signed this erroneous letter apparently don’t understand that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in 2017 requires an oil and gas leasing program in the Coastal Plain. It would serve them well to have a better, basic understanding of the laws under the jurisdiction of the Committee,” the department said in an email.

A number of major banks, including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, have already pledged not to finance any drilling in ANWR.

The department recently finalized another rule that would allow hunting tactics that make it easier to kill bear cubs and wolf pups in Alaska.

The rule, finalized in June, ends a five-year ban on baiting hibernating bears from their dens, shining a flashlight into wolf dens to cause them to scurry, targeting animals from airplanes or snowmobiles and shooting swimming caribou from boats.

Speak Out Against Trapping on National Wildlife Refuges as Trapping Season Begins Again!

https://awionline.org/action-ealerts/speak-out-against-trapping-national-wildlife-refuges-trapping-season-begins-again

Thursday, October 12, 2017
Photo from Flickr by Javier Sanchez

Dear Humanitarian,

This week is National Wildlife Refuge Week, a time to celebrate these wild and beautiful public lands. The stated mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) is to conserve land and water for the sake of “biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health.” These spaces are intended as sanctuaries where wildlife can thrive and all Americans can enjoy our great outdoors. Shockingly, however, more than half of all refuges allow the use of inhumane and dangerous traps. This is a clear violation of the NWRS’ mission and is a threat to the safety of wildlife, humans, and pets.

The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, sponsored by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) in the House and just reintroduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate, would prohibit the possession or use of body-gripping traps within the NWRS. This bill would ensure that management of these protected lands aligns with the intent behind their preservation.

Body-gripping traps—such as snares, Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps—are inhumane and inherently nonselective, meaning they indiscriminately injure and kill nontarget animals, including endangered and threatened species and even pets. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, nontarget species trapped on refuges include river otters, rabbits, domestic dogs and cats, and birds.

SEND YOUR LETTER

What You Can Do:
In honor of National Wildlife Refuge Week, please ask your representative and senators to cosponsor the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act!

Be sure to share our Dear Humanitarian alert with family, friends, and co-workers and encourage them to email, too. Thank you for taking action on behalf of wildlife!

Sincerely,

Cathy Liss
President

P.S. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the action above and other important animal protection news.

Trump revokes Alaska refuge rule, allows wolves to be killed

http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170404/trump-revokes-alaska-refuge-rule-allows-wolves-to-be-killed

Predators can kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

By DAN JOLING

Associated Press

Published on April 4, 2017

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state of Alaska’s toolkit for increasing moose and caribou numbers includes killing wolf pups in dens, shooting wolf packs from helicopters and adopting liberal hunting regulations that allow sportsmen to shoot grizzlies over bait.

But when state officials wanted to extend “predator control” to federal wildlife refuges, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said no. And after years of saying no, the agency late last year adopted a rule to make the denial permanent.

Alaska’s elected officials called that an outrage and an infringement on state rights. The dispute reached the White House.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed a resolution approved by the U.S. House and Senate to revoke a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule banning most predator control on Alaska refuges. Alaska’s lone U.S. representative, Republican Don Young, says Alaska was promised it could manage game animals. Refuge overseers have ignored the law, he said.

“Some of you will say, ‘Oh, we have to protect the wolf puppies,’” Young told colleagues on the floor of the House. “That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the law.”

Congress explicitly gave Alaska authority to manage wildlife in the Alaska Statehood Act and two more laws, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said after voting to revoke the rule.

Alaska’s 16 national wildlife refuges cover about 120,000 square miles, an area slightly smaller than the state of New Mexico. Residents of rural villages living a subsistence lifestyle rely on refuges as hunting grounds. So do urban sportsmen.

Critics contend Alaska officials use unsportsmanlike techniques that would have horrified Teddy Roosevelt, creator of the first federal refuge, to boost moose and caribou numbers. Sportsmanship, however, is not a consideration, according to state authorities, when it comes to surgically removing certain numbers of predators to benefit prey populations.

Predators can kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Alaska’s mandate for killing predators comes from a law passed by the state Legislature recognizing that certain moose, caribou, and deer populations are especially important human food sources. When those populations drop too low, the Alaska Board of Game, which regulates hunting and trapping, can authorize “intensive management.”

The focus once was almost totally wolves. Since 1993, the state has killed hundreds along with lesser numbers of black and grizzly bears that prey on caribou or moose calves.

Federal wildlife refuges operate under a different mandate. For example, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, where the state in 2010 sought to kill wolves from helicopters to protect caribou on Unimak Island, was created by Congress with the mission of conserving animal populations and habitats “in their natural biodiversity.”

Geoff Haskett, former Alaska regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the agency adopted the rule for Alaska refuges after repeatedly fending off state attempts to extend predator control in direct conflict with refuge purposes. Some attempts up in court. For two years, he said, the state authorized an overharvest by hunters of grizzly bears on the Kenai Peninsula. The agency closed the Kenai Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge in response.

“Brown bear biologists from both the state side and the federal side had real concerns about the amount of unlimited harvest and the amount of females that would be taken by what was proposed by the state,” Haskett said.

Haskett left the agency and is now acting director of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Even though President Trump signed the congressional resolution, Haskett believes it will not give the state of Alaska carte blanche to begin predator control on federal refuges.

“It doesn’t change the laws and authorities and existing regulations that the service already has,” Haskett said. “It’s really back to square one.”

Ken Marsh, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, agreed. Without a blanket rule, federal refuge managers likely will consider predator control requests on a case-by-case basis, he said, under provisions of federal environmental law.

Alaska’s national refuges are not private game reserves

The Times Editorial Board

March 18, 2017 5 am

The 16 national wildlife refuges in Alaska span the state from the remote Arctic on the northern edge to the volcanic Aleutian islands southwest of Anchorage. Across the refuges’ nearly 77 million acres, animal diversity abounds — ice worms and seabirds, black bears and grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, predators and prey. There is one guiding principle behind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s management of all the species on these refuges: Conserve the natural diversity of wildlife as it is. In essence, let them be, and let humans enjoy the spectacle of nature on these refuges.

But at these particular enclaves, that also means letting humans hunt — within limits. It’s difficult to believe that any wildlife refuge isn’t truly a refuge from hunters. That’s the way the national system of refuges started, but over the last quarter century, many have been opened up to regulated hunting.

 And herein lies the problem. The state of Alaska shares the responsibility for managing the refuges’ wildlife, and it has its own goal: Making sure there are plenty of animals to hunt. In an effort to maximize the number of moose, caribou and deer, the state authorized in some areas more efficient but brutal methods to kill the wolves and bears that prey upon those popular hunting targets.

Concerned that the state’s predator control campaign could become widespread enough to disrupt the refuges’ ecosystems, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a rule that bars hunters and trappers in the refuges from killing wolves and their pups in their dens, killing bear cubs or sows with cubs, baiting brown bears, shooting bears from aircraft, or capturing bears with traps and snares. The rule took effect in September.

Alarmingly, Alaska’s congressional delegation is pushing hard to get rid of these ecologically sound and humane restrictions, and Republican lawmakers are responding. A joint resolution revoking the rule has passed the House and is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate the week of March 20. It is misguided and should be hunted down and killed.

Let’s be clear on a few things. The federal rule prohibits only these gruesome methods of hunting on national wildlife refuges. It does not apply to hunting in state-owned wilderness or to rural Alaskan residents who hunt for subsistence. And it’s doubtful that killing huge numbers of wolves and bears would automatically drive up the number of moose and caribou. “The best available science indicates that widespread elimination of bears, coyotes and wolves will quite unlikely make ungulate herds magically reappear,” wrote 31 biologists and other scientists to then-Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell last year when the rule was still being studied.

In other words, the Alaskan government sought to allow types of hunting that probably would not accomplish what it wants to accomplish, but would end up killing brown bears who’d been lured with bait, slaughtering helpless cubs and wolf pups, and allowing bears to languish in excruciating pain for unknown hours in steel-jawed traps. This is unconscionable.

And this is not a case of states’ rights being usurped by the federal government. If anything, the congressional measures would subvert the federal government’s decades-long statutory authority over federal lands in Alaska. The national refuges are not Alaska’s private game reserve. That wilderness belongs to all of us. The Senate should stop this bill from going any further.

Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/19/bureau-land-management-federal-lease

In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens.

At stake are areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, which contribute to an estimated $646bn each year in economic stimulus from recreation on public lands and 6.1m jobs. Transferring these lands to the states, critics fear, could decimate those numbers by eliminating mixed-use requirements, limiting public access and turning over large portions for energy or property development.

In addition to economic stimulus from outdoor activities, federal land creates revenue through oil and gas production, logging and other industrial uses. According to the BLM, in 2016, it made $2bn in royalty revenue from federal leases. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates federal tax revenue from the recreation economy at almost $40bn.

Ignoring those figures, the new language for the House budget, authored by Utah Republican representative Rob Bishop, who has a history of fighting to transfer public land to the states, says that federal land is effectively worthless. Transferring public land to “state, local government or tribal entity shall not be considered as providing new budget authority, decreasing revenues, increasing mandatory spending or increasing outlays.”

Essentially, the revised budget rules deny that federal land has any value at all, allowing the new Congress to sidestep requirements that a bill giving away a piece of federal land does not decrease federal revenue or contribute to the federal debt.

Republican eagerness to cede federal land to local governments for possible sale, mining or development is already moving states to act. Western states, where most federal land is concentrated, are already introducing legislation that pave the way for land transfers.

In Wyoming, for example, the 2017 senate has introduced a joint resolution that would amend the state constitution to dictate how public land given to the state by the federal government after 2019 is managed. It has little public support, but Wyoming Senate President Eli Bebout said that he thought the state should be preemptively thinking about what it would do with federal land.

“We didn’t see it coming. I think it was sneaky and underhanded. It exemplifies an effort to not play by the rules,” said Alan Rowsome, senior director of government relations at The Wilderness Society. “This is the worst Congress for public lands ever.”

more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/19/bureau-land-management-federal-lease

Why the Malheur verdict sets a dangerous example

http://www.hcn.org/articles/the-malheur-invasion-and-its-unfortunate-legacy?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

Lawyers “aimed too high” for a conspiracy charge—and lost it all.

Imagine running a business — say a bank or gas station — and every now and then a band of disgruntled customers barges in with guns, takes over your office and spouts nonsense about how you have no right to exist in the first place. How could you continue to conduct your business? How could you recruit new employees? How could you ensure the safety of your customers?

That is exactly the kinds of questions that leaders of our land management agencies — the folks who take care of our national parks, forests and wildlife refuges — now must face.

Because that is exactly what six men and one woman got away with at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon. Under the guidance of the Bundy family of Nevada, they took over the refuge headquarters last January, claiming that it was illegitimate, and causing havoc for employees and the local residents for 41 days. One militant was killed in a confrontation with police. After a tense, negotiated end to the standoff, seven militants were charged with federal conspiracy and weapons charges.

damage-jpg
Discarded camping equipment, trash and a car were among the litter and damage left at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters after the occupiers left.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Now, 10 months later, an Oregon jury has acquitted them. By choosing the more difficult path of proving conspiracy rather than criminal trespass or some lesser charge, the government lawyers aimed too high and lost it all. The verdicts stunned even the defense attorneys.*

Without second-guessing the jury, it’s clear that the repercussions of this case will play out for years to come. But I fear that the greatest and most lasting damage caused by the thugs who took over Malheur will prove to be the way they vandalized something essential to every functioning society: Trust. If America doesn’t get its act together, this verdict may prove to be the beginning of the end of one of our greatest experiments in democracy: our public lands.

Make no mistake. There are plenty of people who would like to shoot Smokey Bear, stuff him and relegate him to some mothballed museum. The Bundy brothers who spearheaded the Oregon standoff insist that the federal government is not allowed to control any land beyond Washington, D.C., and military bases. They simply hate the idea of Yellowstone National Park and consider any other national nature reserve unconstitutional.

The Bundys’ Oregon acquittal doesn’t make their absurd reading of the Constitution any more viable. But it does embolden those who share their misguided fervor in the political sphere. Don’t take my word for it; consider the words of elation uttered by those who supported the Bundys. Montana state Rep. Theresa Manzella, R-Darby, responded to the news with a Facebook post that read: “BEST NEWS IN A LONG TIME!!! Doin’ a happy dance! Didn’t expect the verdict today!!! Hurray!”

She elaborated to a newspaper reporter: “I think it will be very empowering. It indicates that American citizens are waking up and we don’t want to be kept under the thumb of the federal government.”

The mood at the Bundy family ranch in Nevada was also jubilant: “We are partying it up,” Arden Bundy told another reporter. “This is a big step, not just up there, but for the people down here in Nevada. Knowing that they let them go scot-free, it’s going to … be a big influence on the people down here.”

The bullies who want to rule the playground just got a pat on the head by the principal and were sent back outside to play the same old game. Managing public lands is a messy, difficult and often thankless job. But in no way do these public servants deserve the kind of verbal abuse and physical intimidation reflected at Malheur. I am thankful for these hard-working people, and I marvel at how they remain true to their mission despite taking constant verbal jabs from all sides.

They deserve better. This issue reflects some larger illness in the American psyche. We have replaced civil discourse with kneejerk tribalism.

It’s much harder to restore trust than to lose it. But all of us who appreciate public lands — whether we want to log a particular place or preserve it, whether we want to hunt or watch birds, whether we enjoy riding motorcycles or horses or just walking around — need to be together on one thing. We can disagree on how we manage our lands, but we need to do so with respect. We all deserve to be heard, but we also need to listen. What happened at the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve wasn’t a revolution, it was mob rule, and it’s unfortunate for all of us that a jury failed to understand that.

*This story was updated to correct an error about the possibility of appeal. It’s the prosecutors who might have wanted to appeal, not the defense. In federal cases, such as this, government prosecution cannot appeal. 

The U.S. to Open More Wildlife Refuges to Hunters

Conservationists argue that the move will expose more animals to lead poisoning and other environmental threats.


<!–

An elk bugles in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. (Photo: Getty Image)
Jul 23, 2016
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service plans to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 13 national wildlife refuges across nine states, including opening up big game hunting in Colorado’s 92,000-acre Baca National Wildlife Refuge for the first time.

That’s good news for America’s hunters, who will have more chances to target big game species such as elk and deer, as well as prairie chickens, quail, pheasant, ducks, doves, and pigeons.

But conservationists fear the move will expose wildlife to lead poisoning and other threats.

“The best purpose for our national wildlife refuges is the original purpose: to provide an inviolate sanctuary for the protection of our native wild spaces and wildlife,” said Jennifer Place, program associate at Born Free USA in Washington, D.C.

More:http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/07/23/more-national-wildlife-refuges-opened-hunting-and-fishing

Alaska Voters Oppose Cruel Methods of Killing Wildlife on Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2016/03/alaska-nwr-cruel-practices-030116.html?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

March 1, 2016

A new statewide poll by Remington Research Group shows that Alaska voters strongly support an end to cruel and unsporting practices used to kill bears, wolves and coyotes on the state’s National Wildlife Refuges.

On Jan. 8, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed changes to regulations governing non-subsistence hunting on Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. These changes are designed to uphold the purposes of the refuge system to conserve species and habitats in their natural diversity, and to ensure that the biological integrity, diversity and environmental health of the National Wildlife Refuge system benefits Americans now and into the future. Based upon this new poll, the majority of Alaska voters support such changes as it would end cruel methods of killing wildlife on Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges.

The poll also shows that many oppose using bait, such as rotting meat and pet food, to lure bears to a hunting blind for a point blank kill and that, by a two to one margin, Alaska voters oppose the same-day aerial hunting of bears, or the shooting of bears from aircraft. Same-day hunting, in which aircraft are used to scout for animals, is already prohibited for wolves.

An overwhelming majority of Alaskans also oppose trapping of bears—a practice that involves steel-jawed, leg-hold traps or wire snares. The poll found voters, again by a margin of two to one, are firmly against killing black bears, wolves and coyotes, and oppose killing their cubs and pups, while in or near their dens.

“Alaska is home to some of our nation’s most iconic wildlife, and these animals deserve to be treasured and conserved for future generations, instead of subjected to cruel and unsporting trophy hunting and trapping methods,” said Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife for The Humane Society of the United States.

The telephone poll of 1,399 statewide Alaskan voters was conducted by Remington Research Group on behalf of The HSUS from Feb. 24 through Feb. 25, 2016. The margin of error is plus or minus three percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.