Daily Archives: August 9, 2014

Constitutional amendment to set aside a portion of oil taxes for parks, clean water and wildlife habitat.

On Monday, August 4, the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Committee filed over 41,000 signatures with the North Dakota Secretary of State in order to place the our initiative on the November ballot.  The Secretary of State has until September 8 to review the signatures and certify the measure of the ballot. They only need 25,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot so they’re absolutely confident the Secretary of State will qualify the measure.

The filing of the signatures represents a significant accomplishment in several ways.  Over the last 10 months they have put together a really good staff that has built a volunteer network across North Dakota. Over 500 people volunteered their time to help collect signatures.  They have also put in place a voter file that allows them to build everyone who signed petitions into a data base that will aid their get out the vote effort this fall.  Finally, even as they were collecting signatures and building a volunteer network they have been fundraising for the fall campaign.  They are confident they can pivot to a vigorous and effective campaign that will begin as soon as the Secretary of State certifies the measure for the ballot.

Below are links to some of the news coverage received in filing the signatures.

Conservation measure supporters submit signatures

Dave Thompson, Prairie Public, 8/4/2014

Conservation petitions turned in

Nick Smith, Bismarck Tribune, 8/4/2014

Education groups join push against outdoor fund

Helmut Schmidt, 8/5/2014

Jaeger receives support for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Fund

KFYR (video), 8/4/2014

North Dakotans come together in support of Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks

Outdoor Wire, 8/5/2014

Let’s vote on conservation initiative

Dan Sobieck, Grand Forks Herald, 8/5/2014

CWPPA won’t protect our precious resources

Jessica Unruh, Grand Forks Herald, 8/5/2014

Dickinson recreational opportunities need broader appeal

Daniel Duletski, Dickinson Press, 8/4/2014

70 Years Later Smokey Bear’s Still Significant

Smokey the BearWhen the typical American thinks of wildfire prevention, the first image that comes to mind is surely that of the iconic Smokey Bear.

Since the days of Smokey’s first words in 1944 – “Smokey says – care will prevent nine out of 10 forest fires.” – his likeness and slogans have been invaluable to federal, state and local agencies responsible for wildfire prevention and management.

For the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Smokey was not only instrumental in establishing the importance of fire prevention education throughout the state, but also became one of the pillars upon which the DNR’s highly regarded fire program was built.

In recognition, the DNR will join the rest of the nation Saturday, Aug. 9, in celebrating Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday and all that this character has done to bring fire prevention to the forefront inMichigan.

The DNR’s fire program first began using Smokey Bear as a de facto spokesman for the cause in the 1960s, and today credits widespread public awareness about wildfire prevention to Smokey’s broad appeal.

Through the years, Smokey has appeared at countless community events and educational programs on behalf of the DNR, and the bear’s image and famous sayings have graced many DNR fire prevention promotional and educational materials.

“Every DNR Forest Resources Division (FRD) field office uses Smokey Bear at parades, fairs, school programs – anywhere we are trying to spread the fire prevention message,” said Paul Kollmeyer, manager of FRD’s Resources Protection and Cooperatives Programs section.

“Smokey is the catalyst that gets people’s interest, especially the young people,” Kollmeyer said. “When you’re delivering an educational program to second graders, you couldn’t ask for a more engaging teacher than Smokey. He really leaves an impression.”

Created by an art critic as part of an advertising campaign to educate the public about each individual’s role in preventing wildfires, Smokey made his official debut on a poster on Aug. 9, 1944. Wearing a pair of dungarees and a ranger hat, he is depicted pouring a bucket of water on a campfire.

Three years later, his slogan was modified to the long-lasting and well-known version, “Remember, Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires,” which stuck for another five decades before it was slightly updated to today’s version: “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”

Although Smokey was originally a fictional product of the World War II-era campaign, geared at shifting the public’s focus to fire prevention rather than suppression (since many citizens who would normally help fight fires were deployed overseas), his real-life counterpart was found six years later, clinging to a tree at the scene of a wildfire in New Mexico.

The bear cub had suffered burns to his paws and hind legs and was flown to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he lived for 26 years, becoming an integral part of the Smokey campaign.

In 1952, Smokey became the subject of a song, “Smokey the Bear,” and that same year, his image was legally protected under the federal Smokey Bear Act, which established three administrators of the image: the U.S. Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters, and Ad Council.

Now 70 years old, the Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign is a bit of an anomaly in how popular it remains, still striking a chord with audiences of all ages after seven decades of heavy rotation.

According to the national non-profit Ad Council, Smokey and his message are recognized today by 95 percent of adults and 77 percent of children.

“What’s so unique about Smokey is the multi-generational appeal. People and kids of all ages can relate to each other over Smokey Bear,” said Gwinn Unit fire supervisor Pete Glover. “One of my favorite parts about our Smokey Bear appearances is seeing a grandparent who is just as excited about having their picture taken with Smokey as their grandchild is.”

With the busy and complicated lives parents lead today, Glover said he recognizes that Smokey’s presence is vital to the positive reception of the many educational programs fire officers give each year.

“It would be difficult to get parents to come to an evening or weekend program if their kids weren’t interested in attending as well,” he said. “Smokey holds the attention of the younger audience members, giving us time to really drive the wildfire prevention message home to the parents and other adults in the audience.”

With the help of DNR fire officers and volunteers around the state, Smokey Bear makes more than 100 public appearances annually, including National Night Out public safety events, where he is typically swarmed with visitors hoping to get a hug, high-five and photo with Smokey.

And when they leave an event, Smokey’s fans don’t only have smiles on their faces – they also leave with their hands full of educational “Smokey swag” promoting the fire prevention message.

“Smokey is the linchpin that made fire prevention popular nationwide and inMichigan,” Kollmeyer said. “Without our use of his image, slogans, voice and presence, I am not sure we would have such an educated public when it comes to wildfire awareness and prevention.”

“I hope in 70 years, fire programs around the country will be celebrating Smokey Bear’s 140th birthday.”

Wisconsin Father, Son Fined $240,000 for Poisoning Eagles

From The Birding Wire

John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Alvin C. Sowinski, 78, and his son Paul A. Sowinski, 46, both of Rhinelander, Wis., were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson for conduct relating to the possession of an American bald eagle. Alvin Sowinski received a $30,000 fine, a seven-year ban on his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges, $100,000 in restitution, and one year of probation and four months of home confinement.

Paul Sowinski received a $10,000 fine, a five-year ban on his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges, $100,000 in restitution, and one year of probation. Both men pleaded guilty to the charge on May 14, 2014.

Law enforcement discovered that the pesticide, Carbofuran, was being used to kill wildlife on the Sowinski property in Sugar Camp. The use of the chemical killed several species of birds and mammals between May 2007 and March 2010, including a black bear, bobcat and at least two American bald eagles.

Alvin and Paul Sowinski live in separate residences in the Town of Sugar Camp. Their family owns approximately 8,000 acres inOneidaCounty, with about 4,000 acres consisting of an active farming operation.

In May 2007, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden initiated an investigation into potential poisoning of animals on property owned by Sowinski Real Estate LLC. This property is approximately four miles west of Alvin’s homestead property. The DNR warden found dead: a bald eagle, a crow, a gray squirrel, and a bobcat, within one hundred yards of a deer carcass that the warden suspected to contain a poisonous substance.

The deer carcass was tested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Forensic Laboratory and found to contain the insecticide Carbofuran. The bald eagle, crow, gray squirrel, and bobcat were also tested by the lab and lab personnel concluded that the animals died as a result of ingesting Carbofuran.

In the winter of 2010 and continuing through April 13, 2010, Alvin Sowinski placed several bait sites on the Sowinski property near his homestead for the purpose of killing predators, such as fishers, bobcats, coyotes, and gray timber wolves. Law enforcement personnel found at least nine bait sites on the Sowinski property during this time period. These bait sites contained the remains of beavers and white-tailed deer, and processed meats. One of the bait sites found by law enforcement contained antifreeze in a coffee container.

Law enforcement located the following animals which died on or near these bait sites on the Sowinski property: 18 crows and ravens, three chickadees, one nuthatch, one turkey vulture, one blue jay, five coyotes, one bobcat, one skunk, one red squirrel, and three ermine. The bait at certain of these sites was analyzed by the USFWS Forensic Laboratory and found to contain the insecticide Carbofuran.

The USFWS Forensic Laboratory also examined some of the dead wildlife (22 animals), and lab personnel concluded they died as a result of ingesting Carbofuran, except for one of the chickadees, the blue jay, and the ermine. In addition, law enforcement found the remains of two bald eagles and one rough-legged hawk in another area of the property which they believed to be located near a bait site from the previous winter (2009), and in the vicinity of a deer stand used by Paul Sowinski. However, the USFWS lab was unable to confirm the presence of Carbofuran or any other poison in the two eagles, rough legged hawk, or suspected bait site.

Paul Sowinski was aware that his father was placing poison bait sites on the Sowinski property in 2010, but was not aware what chemical Alvin was using to mix with the bait material. In 2009, Paul Sowinski found two dead eagles near his deer stand and threw them in the woods. Two eagles were later recovered by law enforcement. He also admitted that he found another bald eagle, which had been placed on the property by law enforcement as part of its investigation, and burned it in a brush pile because he did not want authorities to find it, and he did not want anyone to get into trouble.

On May 12, 2010, federal search warrants were executed by law enforcement from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on seven different locations on the Sowinski property in Sugar Camp, looking for evidence of wildlife poisoning on the property. Law enforcement located the following additional animals that died on or near bait sites on the Sowinski property: one bald eagle, 21 crows and ravens, four coyotes, one hawk, two songbirds, one weasel and two small unidentified mammals. Several other dead animals were found in another area, but where bait materials were not in the immediate vicinity: two bald eagles, a black bear, two ravens, and a coyote. The animals seized during execution of the search warrants were not tested in the lab, but the circumstances surrounding their deaths and location is similar to those animals found by law enforcement earlier in 2010 which tested positive for Carbofuran poisoning.

United States Attorney Vaudreuil stated, “This sentence is both correct and just. The message to these two defendants and others should be very clear: wildlife in Wisconsin is for all of us to treasure, and indiscriminate, illegal killing will not be tolerated.”

“The closure of this complex and lengthy case is the result of the teamwork and working relationships between several law enforcement agencies, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Oneida County Sheriff’s Department,” said Todd Schaller, Chief DNR Warden.

“Indiscriminately targeting wildlife predators with poison to improve hunting opportunities is not only unethical, it is illegal. Such use of systemic poisons kills non-targeted species, such as our national symbol, and causes environmental contamination,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge Gregory Jackson. “We are pleased with the efforts from our state, local and federal partners.”

Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Wisconsin, stated, “Product labels are designed to ensure the safe use and application of pesticides. Using pesticides for purposes other than their registered use is illegal and puts people, animals and the environment at risk of exposure. Today’s action shows that individuals who misuse these products and kill protected wildlife will be prosecuted.”

The charges against Paul and Alvin Sowinski were the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The prosecution of this case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter M. Jarosz.