Archive for August, 2008

Utah Archery Hunt – Success on Long Odds

Posted by on Saturday, 30 August, 2008

John Baxter just returned from a church mission in time to hunt the Utah archery season.

John Baxter Buck

Having not shot a bow for over two years, John had to make up for lost time. After too many shots to count, John finally killed a very nice buck on the last day of his hunt.

John Baxter archery buck

Amateur Velvet Bucks

Posted by on Saturday, 30 August, 2008

This is just to whet your appetite.

Huge buck in velvet

This is one of the bucks that will be featured on our upcoming DVD

Huge buck in velvet

Young hunter bags HUGE Utah archery buck

Posted by on Saturday, 30 August, 2008

Rock Chardeen's massive archery buck

Rock Schardine arrowed a massive muley buck during Utah’s 2008 archery hunt.

The buck grossed 199 2/8 and netted 194.

Chardeen family hunts together

Rock figures the buck will gross score in the 190’s. Hunting is a family affair for the Schardine family. Three of them ride together on one four-wheeler, and have done so since the boys were little. Rock and his brother are accomplished hunters, bull riders, and hunting guides. “Staying on the ATV is nothing compared to riding a bull”, they say.

Managing a herd of Chickens

Posted by on Tuesday, 12 August, 2008

A herd of chickensNot long ago, a subscriber to the, now defunct, Utah DWR forum made the comment that the DWR could not manage a herd of chickens. I wondered if they could manage a herd of sheep. Managing sheep isn’t all that different from managing mule deer ( I have seen both some pretty wild sheep and some pretty tame mule deer ). Deer and sheep have quite a bit in common. They eat about the same stuff. They stress out when encountering unfamiliar humans and predators. They have about the same number of young over about the same life span. One male can cover about the same number of females. And, so on.

I don’t know which is easier – managing a herd of sheep or a herd of chickens. Chickens are pretty stupid. But, what I do know is that there are folks who have successfully managed both for quite a few years. So what is the matter with our wildlife agencies? Could they manage a herd of anything? For one thing, most of them don’t view it as part of their job to manage a herd of anything. For another, they have such a educational bias, that they can’t see the forest for the trees.

A herd of sheepIf you and I had a herd of sheep, and our joint livlihoods depended on the management of that herd, and we turned our herd over to one of the state agencies – wouldn’t we go belly up? Why is that? The agencies are unwilling ( once upon a time they may have been willing ) to do what it takes to manage a herd. If a herd can manage itself, then fine, but the agencies will not manage a herd. Their management of wild chickens (grouse/quail), is as good an example of poor herd management as is their management of mule deer.

If we employed a good sheep herder to manage our herd of sheep, we would have a hard time convincing him that allowing the sheep to be killed by predators would have no impact on the herd. Yet, that is exactly what the agencies believe. The agencies have the crazy notion that if the lions and coyotes don’t kill the deer something else will, and therefore, the lions and coyotes are having no impact.

The owner of a herd of sheep “saves” his surplus sheep for slaugter and for human consumption. He is unwilling to give them to predators. He realizes that sheep are capable of producing an annual surplus and he wants to use that surplus profitably. A concept known as maximum sustainable yield, is a fundamental principle once studied and used by wildlife biologists. Basically, this concept is to maximize your surplus while maintaining your base. Our agencies have strayed about as far from this principle as they can get, but they are still trying to get farther from it than they already are. They are moving steadily toward zero yield.
Abandonment of the principle of “maximum sustainable yield” is a primary reason why modern wildlife agencies cannot ( or will not ) manage a herd of sheep, deer, or chickens. Throw in the lack of interest or motivation, and you’ve got what you’ve got.

Somebody Cried Wolf

Posted by on Friday, 8 August, 2008

The wolf-huggers have pulled off a slick trick. By taking their lawsuit before a liberal Montana Federal judge, they have succeeded in getting an injunction against wolf hunting in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana for the 2008 season.

The judge decided that the wolves in the three states had not interbred enough. He doesn’t know it, but that is only because they are too busy eating to have sex.

Anyway, read about it at Wolf Crossing

Wolves in Washington State

Posted by on Friday, 8 August, 2008

Biologists work to verify wolves are back in the state
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Wolves are spreading

YAKIMA — State Fish and Wildlife biologists and wolf experts from Idaho captured what they believe are two wolves Friday in western Okanogan County, a development that could confirm the first wolf pack in Washington since the animals were eradicated decades ago.

The biologists fitted both animals with radio collars to track their movements and learn more about them. They also took fur samples for DNA testing to confirm that the animals are not hybrids, state Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Madonna Luers said.

However, one of the wolves was a lactating female nursing pups, Luers said, and domesticated hybrid animals are not known to reproduce in the wild.

“We’re always cautious,” Luers said. “But if we do get results back and they show these are actual wolves, this will be solid confirmation of Washington’s first resident wolf pack since the species disappeared from the state in the 1930s.”

Test results are expected in a couple of weeks.

After being hunted to near-extinction and listed as an endangered species in 1974, gray wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rockies in the mid-1990s. They thrived, and the wolves in that region were removed from the endangered species list in March.

Environmentalists sued to overturn that decision and on Friday, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Billings, Mont., restored federal protections for gray wolves in that region. Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have an estimated 2,000 wolves.

Wolves are considered endangered in Washington and were never reintroduced here.

Wildlife biologists have known from radio-collar transmissions that wolves sometimes roamed into Washington from Montana or Idaho, and individual wolf sightings have been reported in the state. But resident wolf breeding pairs or packs have not been confirmed.

In recent years, packers made numerous reports of wolves in Okanogan County’s high country, and the number of resident reports in the county’s Methow Valley also grew.

On July 7, biologists conducted a “howling survey” in the area in search of a wolf pack and heard both adult and juvenile howls in response.

“Howling was the first step. This is the second step. The third step will be getting the DNA results,” Luers said. If confirmed, the findings would be historic, she said.

“The species has been gone, in terms of a reproducing animal or species, something that’s actually going to build a population and be a part of our wildlife heritage again,” Luers said. “That’s what’s exciting about this.”

DNA tests also could provide information about their home territory.

DNA tests on an animal that was found dead on state Route 291 about 25 miles northwest of Spokane early last month showed that it was genetically similar to wolves in northwestern Montana and southern British Columbia. The tests confirmed that the animal was not a hybrid.

State officials have been working with biologists, environmentalists, ranchers and other interested citizens to develop a wolf conservation and management plan. A draft is expected to be released for public comment in early 2009

By SHANNON DININNY
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Coyotes in Town

Posted by on Wednesday, 6 August, 2008

At about 9:00am on the morning of August 1, 2008, I was in the yard watering trees when I heard a howl that sounded much like a wolf. It was soon followed by several answers that were definitely coyotes. Almost every day, I hear coyotes howling, so I don’t usually perk up that much at the sound. But this day the sound was a little different and seemed to be within 2-300 yards.

I ran into the house, grabbed camera, gun, and binoculars and headed for the truck. I drove past the neighbors, parked the truck and headed after the coyotes. Right in the neigbors front yard I noticed a doe acting a little peculiar. I was in a hurry to find those coyotes, so I didn’t give the doe much thought.

coyotes on the prowlAfter a good hike, and having found no sign of coyotes – I returned to the truck. When I went past, the doe was still standing in the same spot. If it is possible for a doe to be forlorned and depressed, that is exactly how she looked. She did not move. I suspected she had just had fawns. And then realized why the coyotes had been there so close to the houses. I filmed her and then looked around for fawns. Examining the doe closely, it very much appeared as if she had just had fawns, but I could not find them. Talking with another neighbor, the next day, I learned that the coyotes had killed the fawns.

Last year, my other neighbor had a very similar episode right in his yard. It seems that the deer, and quite a number of other animals, as well, have decided that it is safer by the houses than out with the predators. This time it didn’t work. The coyotes are getting more brazen. They come in the yard frequently. Both of our cats have succombed to coyotes. One was taken right off the back porch.

I do what I can to save the little game we have from being eaten by coyotes, but sometimes my efforts are not enough.

Money stolen from Arizona Game and Fish

Posted by on Friday, 1 August, 2008

The Legislature and Governor’s Office swept $7,560,695 from the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AGFD) to balance the 2008 budget deficit. The funding sweeps included $4,732,700 from the Watercraft License Fund, $395,000 from Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Fund and $2,827,600 from the Game and Fish Fund (La Osa Sheep Settlement money). In addition, another $5,600,000 ( $1,500,000 from the Off-highway Vehicle Recreation Fund and $4,100,000 from the State Lake Improvement Fund) were swept from the State Parks Department.

The Legislature is now struggling with an enormous budget deficit for 2009 estimated to be in the range of $2.2 to $2.5 Billion. Where will the money come from? That is the $64 question.

Arizona’s sportsmen feel strongly that “No Money be Swept from the Arizona Game & Fish Department”. Why should these funds be held harmless? First and foremost, AGFD monies are not general fund money. The primary source of AGFD funds is sportsmen’s dollars. Except for $10 Million annually from Heritage Fund (funding source for Heritage Fund is Lottery Revenues); $7-8 Million annually in Wildlife Conservation Funds (funding source is the Indian Gaming Initiative) and $300,000 from the Non-game Fund (Source is an income tax check-off) virtually all other AGFD money comes directly from sportsmen’s pocketbooks through license and permit fees, sure charges, and excise tax on hunting and fishing equipment and ammunition.

Aproximately 80% of AGFD’s revenue in any given year is generated by sportsmen. Sportsmen have time and again asked the legislature to increase the fees that they pay. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimated that the most recent fee increase in 2005 would yield a 30% increase in revenues to the AGFD by 2009. A similar amount was generated from the previous fee increase in 1999. And these fee increases were not easy to obtain as both increases required a super majority vote of the legislature.

Sportsmen know just how difficult it is to get the state to repay swept funds for Arizona’s wildlife. In 2006, AZSFW asked the Legislature to repay $15 million in funds that had been swept over the prior four years. Mind you this was a time when the state was flush with dollars and voted to increase their total budget expenditures by approximately 9%. After an aggressive campaign, AZSFW felt fortunate to obtain a general fund appropriation of $3.5 million for critical wildlife habitat projects.

It is time for the Legislature to stand tall and cut general fund programs and require that general fund agencies live within their means rather than stealing money from agencies that do not receive dedicated non-general fund revenue dollars.

Sportsmen are asking the Arizona Game & Fish Commission to support them in their effort to keep AGFD funds from being swept. While the Commission has been asked twice to pass a motion opposing all game & fish fund sweeps, they have yet to act on this important issue.

Sportsmen’s groups including Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Council, National Rifle Association-ILA, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Arizona Deer Association, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Arizona Antelope Foundation, Anglers United, Arizona Chapter Safari Club International, Arizona Flycasters Club, Arizona Bowhunter’s Association, Christian Bowhunter’s Association, Arizona Trappers Association, Yuma Valley Rod & Gun Club, Navajo County Sportsmen’s Club, Southeastern Arizona Sportsmen’s Club, Southern Arizona Sportsmen’s Alliance, Mohave Sportsmen’s Club, Arizona Predator Callers, Southern Arizona Wildlife Callers and Xtreme Predator Callers LLC have all signed onto the petition.

Arizona’s wildlife does not have a voice at the Legislature or the Governor’s Office. It is only through sportsmen that the case for wildlife can be voiced. With drought conditions and habitat reduction it is imperative that Sportsmen advocate for wildlife. The Arizona Game & Fish Commission should also advocate on behalf of wildlife by strongly opposing all sweeps of AGFD revenue. Failure to do so brings into question a legitimate concern that must be answered. Is the Arizona Game & Fish Commission fulfilling its fiduciary duty to protect and maintain Arizona’s wildlife and its habitat?

Not only must the Commission do its part, sportsmen must act today to save wildlife dollars from being swept. You can help by contacting your legislator and the Governor’s Office and asking them not to sweep any Arizona Game & Fish Department funds. Ask them to hold general fund agencies accountable and not allow them to steal wildlife dollars. Your help is needed today. To find out how you can help click here.

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Arizona Game and Fish Commission concerned that proposed legislation could impede wildlife management, bring lawsuits

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has expressed concern to House Concurrent Resolution 2037, a proposed amendment that would create a new constitutional right to hunt and fish in Arizona.

The Game and Fish Commission voted on Feb. 21 to oppose the bill as written, after a legal review by the Attorney General’s office advised that elevating hunting and fishing to a constitutional right could potentially hurt the state’s ability to enforce wildlife laws or take wildlife management actions, and could open the door to lawsuits from individuals who feel their rights to hunt and fish have been adversely affected.

“We understand the desire of the bill’s supporters to protect the ability of people to hunt and fish in Arizona into the future,” said Commission Chairman William McLean. “While the concept sounds appealing on the surface, the language of this bill as currently written could contain many pitfalls for wildlife management and law enforcement.”

The commission and the bill’s supporters worked extensively over the past week in an attempt to reach a compromise on the bill’s wording. But in a public commission meeting on Monday, the sides could not come to an agreement.

“Both sides made a diligent, good-faith effort to try to arrive at language that would satisfy the bill’s supporters and alleviate our concerns, but in the end, we couldn’t arrive at mutually acceptable language,” said McLean.

Under current Arizona law, hunting and fishing are considered privileges, not constitutional rights. Making them constitutional rights could subject Game and Fish laws and regulations to a more stringent legal standard and increase disputes over whether those laws and regulations overly restrict someone’s right to fish and hunt.

As an example, certain laws that regulate hunting and fishing, as well as the commission’s decisions to revoke a person’s hunting and fishing license privileges, would likely be subject to a strict scrutiny standard because they would interfere with a person’s constitutional right to hunt and fish.

Yet another example, the commission is likely to face more legal challenges to its decisions on matters such as issuing a certain number of big game tags, establishing bag limits, and closing or limiting access to certain areas to protect wildlife habitat or benefit protected species, because these actions might interfere with the constitutional right to hunt and fish.

“In addition to the high expense of defending the lawsuits, the State could potentially face large damage awards, injunctions blocking the enforcement of hunt orders, challenges to road or land closures protecting wildlife habitat, court decisions declaring state wildlife laws unconstitutional, reversal of criminal convictions and revocation orders on constitutional grounds, and above all, the diversion of vital agency resources to defend the litigation instead of managing wildlife,” said McLean.

The bill passed through the House Committee on Natural Resources and Public Safety yesterday by a 6-3 vote (and one committee member voting as present).

If ultimately approved by the Legislature, HCR 2037 would go to voters as a ballot referendum this fall.