Monthly Archives: August 2015

KDWPT receives $2.7 million grant for public access on private lands

 

On August 17, 2015, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $20 million in grants to 15 states to improve and increase wildlife habitat and public access for recreational opportunities on privately-owned and operated farm, ranch and forest lands. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) received a $2.7 million grant, the largest amount awarded to the 15 states. The grant is funded under the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentives Program (VPA-HIP), which is administered by the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

 

According to Jake George, KDWPT Private Land Programs Coordinator, the funds will be used over a three-year period to lease private land for hunting and fishing access and to help landowners improve habitat on those properties. Program promotion and outreach will occur this fall, with initial enrollment beginning late-spring to early-summer of 2016.

 

“We were very pleased to once again be awarded VPA-HIP grant funding,” George said. “Currently, KDWPT’s Walk-in Hunting Access and FISH programs have more than 1 million acres of enrolled properties and agreements with nearly 2,300 Kansas landowners, providing numerous public hunting and fishing opportunities across the state. This additional funding will allow for further expansion and improvement of the already successful access and habitat management programs offered to Kansas landowners through KDWPT.”

 

With respect to hunting, the focus for the funds will be on enrolling new or recently enrolled Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) properties. Participating landowners must be willing to allow public hunting access on the property for the duration of the CRP contract and enroll in wildlife-friendly conservation practices. Landowners are encouraged to enroll or re-enroll their properties in CRP between the continuous signup and the general CRP signup, which begins Dec. 1, 2015. KDWPT expects to add an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 new acres of quality access properties over the next three years.

 

KDWPT will also use the funds to improve fishing and paddle sports access, enrolling prime stream reaches, as well as quality privately-owned impoundments. Public access to these streams would provide a multitude of angling opportunities and open up recreational paddle sports access, which is limited in the state because most of the 10,000 miles of streams and rivers in Kansas are privately owned.

 

“This project with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism shows how good partnerships and land management will lead to sustainable recreational and economic opportunities for years to come. Connecting outdoor recreation to private lands conservation is good for wildlife, people, and rural economies,” said Eric B. Banks, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

 

For more information on VPA-HIP and other FSA programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/vpa.

10th annual northcentral Kansas Outdoor Youth Fair

 

 

If your child enjoys all things “outdoorsy,” chances are he or she will have a blast at the upcoming 10th Annual Northcentral Kansas Outdoor Youth Fair in Osborne. This one-day, fun-filled event will take place Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is open to youth ages 17 and younger (all those 14 and younger must be accompanied by an adult).

 

Activities include archery, wingshooting, flyfishing, canoeing, dog handling, trapping and many other outdoor activities.

 

Youth must be registered by 11 a.m. the day of the event to be provided lunch and an opportunity to win door prizes that include a lifetime hunting license, hunting and fishing trips, and a weekend at an area lake cabin.

 

Archery hunters 14 and older are invited to bring in their bows for tune-ups.

 

All equipment and supplies are provided at no charge.

 

The Northcentral Kansas Outdoor Youth Fair is made possible by the Osborne County Pheasants Forever Chapter, Osborne Gun Club, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Nex-Tech, and the Keith Hahn Memorial.

 

For more information, contact Cleo Hahn at (785) 346-4541, John Cockerham at (785) 346-6527, or Chris Lecuyer at (785) 218-7818.

Senator Jerry Moran requests Lesser Prairie-chicken be removed from ‘threatened’ list

 

Congressional delegation has tried several times to end listing

 

By Justin Wingerter

Topeka Capitol-Journal

 

Kansas politicians have tried several legislative tactics to end the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing of the lesser prairie-chicken as “threatened.”

 

On Tuesday, August 4, Sen. Jerry Moran tried asking nicely.

 

In a letter to USFWS Director Dan Ashe, the freshman Republican senator asked that the bird be removed from its listing under the Endangered Species Act in the wake of a recent report suggesting the species is rebounding.

 

A recent aerial survey by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Association found an estimated 29,162 lesser prairie-chickens, an increase from 19,643 in 2013 and 23,363 in 2014. The Fish and Wildlife Service has said the “threatened” listing last year was the result of a steep decline in the bird’s population in recent years. Five states are home to the lesser prairie-chicken: Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

 

“Strong evidence exists indicating the dramatic rise in the lesser prairie-chicken’s population can primarily be accounted for by increased rainfall in the habitat area,” Moran wrote.

 

Moran also touted conservation efforts by local officials in the lesser prairie-chicken’s habitat area for the population rebound.

 

“These locally driven plans were put in place with landowner input to help conserve the bird in a sensible, voluntary manner,” the senator wrote. “Unfortunately, the plans were not given the opportunity to prove effectiveness because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stepped in to list the bird as a threatened species.”

 

Moran asked Ashe whether the USFWS intends to reconsider its listing of the lesser prairie-chicken after seeing the improved population figures. He also asked if the agency recognizes the role the drought of 2013 and 2014 had on the bird’s population.

 

The Kansas congressional delegation has tried several times to pass amendments or bills barring enforcement of the “threatened” listing.

 

Most recently, the state’s U.S. House delegation helped pass an amendment to the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, H.R. 2822, on July 7. That bill could be voted on after Congress returns from its August recess in early September.

 

In June the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a Moran amendment that would bar enforcement of the listing, attaching it to a $30 billion measure to fund the Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency.

 

A similar amendment offered by Moran was rejected in January when the senator attempted to attach it to legislation to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Is age old prairie the answer to agriculture’s problems?

 

By Ken Roseboro

 

An innovative project is using an age-old ecosystem to help solve problems resulting from modern agriculture. A team of scientists at Iowa State University is reintroducing strips of native prairie into Iowa’s farms as a way to reduce soil erosion, prevent fertilizer pollution of waterways, and create new habitats for wildlife, insects, and pollinators.
“Think Outside the Box”. The idea for the project arose out of discussions among agriculture experts at Iowa State who were becoming concerned about negative environmental impacts of industrial agriculture in Iowa, particularly with reduced water quality and loss of wildlife habitats.
“We were looking for something to do to address those concerns without impacting the profitability of agriculture,” says Lisa Schulte Moore, ISU associate professor of natural resource ecology and management. “We tried to think outside the box.”
Their idea was to reintroduce the once predominant ecosystem of Iowa-prairie-into Iowa’s farms, which are dominated by corn and soybean production.
Until the mid-1800s, Iowa’s landscape was dominated by prairie spreading across 85 percent of the state. But with the introduction of agriculture in the mid-19th century, Iowa’s prairie gave way to the plow and today just 0.1 percent of Iowa’s native prairie remains.
The ISU team, which included experts in agronomy, agricultural engineering, entomology, and ecology, chose the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City, Iowa to conduct the prairie experiment. The 3,600-acre refuge contains the largest reconstructed prairie in Iowa.
Reduced soil loss and fertilizer runoff, increased wildlife. The project, titled STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips), began in 2007. Prairie strips were planted along with corn and soybeans on the refuge, particularly on slopes near watersheds, areas where water collects.

 

Researchers began documenting benefits in 2008. “We were able to measure responses right away,” says Moore who is the STRIPS communications lead. “The prairie strips were able to slow down water moving across farm fields, which can be erosive. It also kept nutrients in the field so they didn’t become pollutants in waterways, and there were increases in wildlife, birds, and insects.”
The STRIPS team found that converting just 10 percent of a crop field into perennial prairie can reduce soil loss by 95 percent, phosphorus loss by 90 percent and nitrogen loss by almost 85 percent. Soil loss, phosphorus, and nitrogen are three main causes of water pollution in Iowa. Excess nitrogen running off Midwest farms is also a leading cause of the “dead zone” that appears in the Gulf of Mexico each year. In terms of biodiversity, there was also a four-fold increase in native plant species, a doubling of bird species, and an increase of pollinators with the prairie strips.
Moore describes these as “disproportionate” benefits, meaning significant benefits can be realized by planting a just a small amount of prairie-and without impacting crop yields.
The benefits are starting to be backed by published research. A recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Quality found that prairie strips can remove nitrates, which pollute waterways, from cropland runoff over long periods of time.
Moore says she and her fellow researchers are excited about the possibilities of STRIPS. “With some science projects, the results will just sit on a shelf,” she says. “But with this, we have a project where the science has legs, and it’s really exciting to be part of this.”
Strong farmer interest in STRIPS. For the next phase, the STRIPS team moved the project to farmers’ fields across Iowa to see if the benefits could be replicated. There is strong interest among farmers in the project. “They are saying ‘I feel good about this practice,'” Moore says. “Farmers are interested in keeping soil on their lands and pollutants out of waterways.”
The first on-farm STRIPS project started in 2013; that grew to nine last year and will expand to 23 this year. “This has been a good fit for a lot of farmers,” says Tim Youngquist, field coordinator for STRIPS, who works with the farmers. “They’ve known in their hearts that they want to do something to improve the land.”
Gary Guthrie, a farmer in Story County, Iowa, says he got “super excited” when he heard about the STRIPS project. “Prairie strips fit with what we want to do, building diversity with insects and bees,” he says. “I’ve seen the result of soil devastation, and that informed my decision also.” Guthrie will plant four, 30-foot-wide prairie strips this year on his 145-acre farm.
Ag and environmental groups find common ground on STRIPS

STRIPS is a rare initiative where opposite ends of the spectrum-conventional agricultural and environmental groups-find common ground. The Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Corn Growers Association along with The Nature Conservancy and Iowa Environmental Council, as well as other state and regional groups, all support the project.
What is the long-term goal of STRIPS? The project’s team will continue to document the benefits and hopefully attract more farmers, who are key to its success.
“We would like that prairie strips become a common practice on farms across the Corn Belt,” Moore says. According to one estimate, nearly one million acres of prairie strips could be planted in Iowa. Not a complete restoration but a huge improvement over 0.1 percent.
Obviously more needs to be done to address other problems with industrial agriculture, particularly with monocultures, pesticides, and GMOs. But the STRIPS project is demonstrating that sustainable solutions are available.

 

“We’ve got a chance to make Iowa a better place, one field at a time,” Youngquist says.
Ken Roseboro is editor of The Organic and Non-GMO Rporter. This article was reprinted with permission from The Organic & Non-GMO Reporter, February 2015.   See more at http://www.nongmoreport.com

What happens when young birds fledge and leave their nest?

 

By eNature

 

It’s happening all around us right now— young birds are leaving their nests and striking out on their own.

 

We at eNature have been watching the Osprey on the Chesapeake Bay fledging over the past few weeks.  When your nest if over water as most osprey do, you better be ready to fly when you take that first jump!

 

So how do all these young birds make the transition from fledgling to adult?

 

Family Style?

A lot of us think that baby birds grow up in a family that stays together and migrates south together. There are some species of birds that stay together after the nesting season, but they are rare.

 

Most young birds are totally on their own soon after they leave the nest. In fact, in many bird families, the parents migrate south long before their youngsters do.

 

The best examples of this are the families of most species of hummingbirds. The female raises her offspring until they are out of the nest and able to feed themselves. A few weeks later, she disappears. The youngsters are left alone to fatten up for their long migratory flight to a place in the tropics where they have never been before.

 

They linger at the natal feeding grounds for several more weeks, sucking up as much nectar, sugar water and tiny insects as possible before heading south.

 

What To Do For Food?

How do they know when to leave, where to go, how to get there and when they have arrived? There are lots of theories, but no one really knows for sure.  Herein lies one of the great mysteries of nature.

 

The same is true among juvenile ducks, warblers, vireos, flycatchers and thrushes. They are all deserted by their parents and left to find their way to some place in the South where there is food and habitat.

 

Juveniles of permanent residents such as chickadees, nuthatches, finches, and woodpeckers, are much better off. Though their parents no longer care for them, at least they are still in familiar surroundings.

 

And as for our ospreys on the Chesapeake?  The next few weeks are the moment of truth for them— they’ve got to learn to fish on their own.  According to some experts, an inability to master fishing is one of the biggest causes of mortality for young osprey.

Have you noticed your local birds fledging? There’s usually lots to see and hear when young birds are leaving the nest….

 

Manhattan Plant Materials Center to host field day

 

The Manhattan Plant Materials Center (PMC) will host a field day on September 2, 2015, to showcase cover crop species, mixes, and related studies.

 

“The field day will allow participants to walk through the studies with PMC staff who will be available to answer questions,” said Richard Wynia, Manager of the PMC. Soil health demonstrations are also planned for the event. The field day will start at 9:30 a.m. and end at noon. Lunch will not be served.

 

Established in 1936, the PMC develops plants and new plant technologies for America’s heartland. The PMC office provides services to a diverse region of the heartland including Kansas, Nebraska, northeastern Colorado, and northern Oklahoma. The primary objective of the PMC is to develop plant materials for conservation purposes. The PMC is a part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

 

Wynia invites anyone interested in plants for conservation – farmers and ranchers, the public, Kansas State University faculty and students, garden club members, and others ─ to join them for the field day. There is no charge.

 

If you are in need of special accommodations, please call the PMC at 785-539-8761. This field day will be conducted outdoors, so dress appropriately. Items you might want to bring are a hat, sunscreen, walking shoes, and a lawn chair (if desired). Also, participants are asked to bring their own water. The PMC is located southwest of Manhattan, Kansas, at 3800 South 20th Street.

 

Directions to the Manhattan Plant Materials Center

 

From Manhattan: From Ft. Riley Blvd. or Tuttle Creek Blvd. (east side of Manhattan by Manhattan Town Center Mall) cross the Kansas River Bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right on Riley Co. 901─ McDowell Creek Rd. Travel 6.0 miles, turn right on Riley Co. 424. Follow Riley Co. 424, 3 miles north and 1 mile west to the PMC.

 

From I-70: Going east, turn left or going west, turn right to Exit 307─McDowell Creek Road Interchange. On Riley Co. 901─McDowell Creek Rd., travel 3.6 miles to West 40th Avenue, turn left and travel 3 miles north to PMC.

 

An ag-gag law has been ruled unconstitutional for the first time

 

An Idaho federal judge ruled that the state’s law banning undercover investigations on farms violates the First Amendment.

 

By Willy Blackmore

From TakePart

 

After years of animal rights activists saying the spate of state laws outlawing undercover investigations of farming operations—so-called ag-gag laws—violate free speech rights, a federal judge has ruled the very same.

 

On August 3rd, U.S. Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the District of Idaho said the state’s 2014 law—which came in response to an exposé video produced by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals that went inside an Idaho dairy farm—both violated the First Amendment and selectively targeted critics of the industry. It’s the first time such a law has been struck down on constitutional grounds.

 

In his summary opinion, the judge wrote that “the effect of the statute will be to suppress speech by undercover investigators and whistleblowers concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply, the safety of agricultural workers, the treatment and health of farm animals, and the impact of business activities on the environment.”

 

“The facts show the state’s purpose in enacting the statute was to protect industrial animal agriculture by silencing its critics,” he wrote.

 

It’s the kind of language you might find in an op-ed from the head of an animal rights group. The judge went on to reference Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the 1906 novel that exposed harsh conditions in the meatpacking industry and led to widespread reforms in Chicago’s stockyards. To research the book, Sinclair spent seven weeks working in slaughterhouses.

 

“The reference to Upton Sinclair and The Jungle is significant,” said Matthew Liebman, one of the Animal League Defense Fund’s lead attorneys on the case. “As the judge noticed, if this legislation had been in place when Sinclair lied about who he was to get a job and write The Jungle, he would have been a criminal.”

 

To be fair to Sinclair, a dyed-red-in-the-wool socialist, he was more concerned with the workers than with food safety and animal welfare, the issues that became the book’s legacy.

 

Were the book set in Idaho in 2014, the author could have been convicted on misdemeanor charges punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, and restitution. Under the law, it was illegal to enter a facility or obtain records “by force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass”; acquire a job “with the intent to cause economic or other injury to the facility’s operations”; make an unauthorized audio or video recording; or damage facilities.

 

But as far as ag industry advocate Russ Hendricks is concerned, any contemporaries of Sinclair should be treated as criminals if they lie or misrepresent themselves to gain access to a farming facility.

 

When asked what he thought of the argument that the legislation violated the First Amendment, Hendricks, the director of government affairs for the Farm Bureau’s Idaho chapter, quickly said no and, after a pause, repeated himself.

 

“That argument we found wholly unpersuasive,” he continued. “That’s a misunderstanding of the First Amendment. Certainly anybody has a right to write about anything they want, to say anything they want—but they can’t trespass or misrepresent themselves to gain information. That is not part of the First Amendment.”

 

If activists do not have permission to record audio or video on a farm, “they have violated that person’s property rights,” he said.

 

That’s one of the primary arguments made in favor of what those in the agriculture industry call farm protection laws. But as activists and lawyers like Liebman point out, there are already numerous laws on the books that protect the property rights of farm owners. And the courts have lent support to that notion, it seems, by throwing out ag-gag charges while pursuing charges for violating long-standing criminal trespass statutes.

 

There are wiretapping laws, such as California’s wiretapping law, that require two-party consent to record a conversation, which protects individuals’ right to privacy. Then there are issues such as filming the police, which has been deemed constitutional, even if officers routinely tell people they cannot record their actions. The difference is a matter of public interest: What the police do is a matter of public importance, according to the law, while your private phone conversations are not. So when it comes to the agriculture industry, the question is whether or not what happens within private facilities is a matter of public importance—and in this instance, Willmill ruled that it is of “great public importance.”

 

Idaho, after all, is the country’s third-largest dairy state, and it supplies milk for hugely popular brands like Chobani—whether you’re aware of it or not, you have probably consumed milk or other dairy products that originated in the state.

The problem farmers face with a buying public that is increasingly removed from rural, agricultural life is that raising livestock isn’t always pretty, even when it’s done in what has been accepted as an ethical manner. Chobani, for example, sets a high bar for animal welfare and has transitioned to non-GMO feed for its cattle—consumer-minded decisions that change the way Idaho dairymen must run their farms. Still, despite the company’s efforts to take the higher road when it comes to raising livestock, realizing that the cows that provide the milk for Chobani’s morning Greek yogurt are largely kept in barns and latched on to milking machines instead of frolicking through pastoral rolling hills could be enough to turn off some buyers.

 

That legal status quo is far different from the kind of animal abuse depicted in the Mercy for Animals video that spurred the legislation, which led to criminal charges. But The Jungle, after all, almost single-handedly ruined the lard industry with its fictitious depiction of workers falling into the vats of boiling pig fat where Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard was made. It’s part of the reason why Temple Grandin, who designs humane slaughterhouse facilities, has called on the industry to embrace transparency.

 

“We also have to remember everybody’s got one of these,” she said at a Farm Bureau conference in San Diego earlier this year. “You can’t get away from video cameras anymore. So what we need to be doing is changing some practices and opening up the doors.”

 

And with the Idaho victory and a similar case against the Utah law in the discover phase, Liebman believes animal rights groups have the momentum. “I do think that the tide is turning against ag-gag,” Liebman said. Although one new state law was passed in North Carolina earlier this year, “we’ve defeated these bills in legislatures across the country, but that’s the first in the last couple of years, and the majority of the bills that are being introduced are being defeated.”

 

“I think this whole issue is opening up the public’s eyes to the fact the meat industry has a whole lot to hide,” he added.

Conservation: Rescue Our Wetlands—banding together for waterfowl

 

DU’s bold new campaign seeks to raise at least $2 billion for wetlands and waterfowl conservation in North America

 

By Gregg Powers 

 

Ducks Unlimited has a bold vision—wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever. DU’s work also benefits many other wildlife species and provides clean water, recreational opportunities, and other ecological benefits for people. During the Wetlands for Tomorrow campaign, which was completed in 2010, DU raised $1.88 billion in support of its conservation mission. Thanks to the generosity of DU supporters like you, 2 million acres were conserved and more than 4,865 projects completed throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

 

But our work is far from over. Wetlands continue to be lost at an alarming rate. Ducks Unlimited Inc., Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Ducks Unlimited de Mexico, along with Wetlands America Trust, are committed to making our vision a reality through the new Rescue Our Wetlands campaign. The goal of this unprecedented DU campaign is to raise at least $2 billion through 2018. These funds will be used to conserve vital wetlands and other wildlife habitats on North America’s most important waterfowl landscapes.

 

Rescue Our Wetlands focuses on five key priorities that are vital to the future of wetlands and waterfowl. Rarely have DU supporters had the opportunity to make a larger, more lasting impact at such a crucial moment in history.

 

To read more details regarding DU’s Rescue Our Wetlands program, go to:

http://www.ducks.org/conservation/conservation-rescue-our-wetlands-banding-together-for-waterfowl?poe=8-15ENews

Without Congressional compromise, conservation will come to a halt

 

What 34 sportsmen’s groups have joined forces to ask of our nation’s lawmakers as they craft next year’s budget

 

By Steve Kline

TRCP Blog

 

Agreement in the year 2015 seems to be a rare thing—whether it’s among Republicans and Democrats or about Coke or Pepsi. Even hunters and anglers have loyalties that can lead to fireside arguments about smallmouth or cutthroat, ducks or deer. With so many options, disagreement just seems to be the natural status quo.

 

But there was absolutely no disagreement last week, when 34 of the nation’s leading hunting and angling conservation organizations, representing sportsmen and women from every region of the country, signed a letter urging Congressional leadership to begin negotiating a bipartisan budget deal.

 

Many of the issues that we work on at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) are regional by nature of being specific to certain terrain or species, like sage grouse, red snapper, or Prairie Potholes. It can sometimes be difficult, and understandably so, to get fishing groups interested in upland issues or to ask waterfowl groups to advocate for the sagebrush steppe. It’s not that these groups don’t care, it’s just that, with limited bandwidth and capacity, their focus on one core mission is essential. And so TRCP has made it our core mission to bring the widest swath of the sporting community to bear on the issues that truly impact the full spectrum of America’s hunters and anglers.

 

Few issues are more important to fish and wildlife habitat and the future of quality experiences afield than conservation funding.

 

The end of September marks the end of the federal fiscal year 2015, and as the fiscal year ends, so does the Murray-Ryan budget deal (formally known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015). It was negotiated in good faith by then-chairs of the House and Senate Budget Committees, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, respectively. Its provisions allowed for a temporary lift from the onerous, sweeping, and automatic cuts referred to as “sequestration,” which would have fundamentally altered the landscape of fish and wildlife habitat conservation in the United States. However, the expiration of the deal means the return of sequestration and, in such a scenario, habitat projects often wind up on the cutting room floor. Access enhancement stops in its tracks. Conservation priorities wither on the vine.

 

That is, unless Congressional leaders can come together on a successor agreement to Murray-Ryan. Dozens of sporting-conservation groups have gone on the record in support of Congressional negotiations that result in a bipartisan budget agreement to provide for a meaningful reinvestment in conservation funding. Private lands, public lands, marine fisheries, water, and literally everything else in the universe of issues that sportsmen care about most would be dramatically impacted by the return of sequestration.

 

It is time for Congressional leaders to come together for this greatly needed compromise—we can all agree on that.

California bans bobcat trapping, despite evidence

 

With a contentious 3-2 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission approved a statewide ban on trapping of bobcats.

 

The Sportsmen’s Alliance and its Al Taucher Conservation Coalition partners favored following the science amassed by the state and federal governments.

 

“Today’s narrow decision by the commission to ban bobcat trapping in California flies in the face of the science made available by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Josh Brones, government affairs coordinator of western operations for the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “For the commission to willfully ignore the departments’ recommendations to not implement the ban, indicates an utter lack of regard for the role and value of science and wildlife professionals in resource policy-making decisions.”

 

In his presentation, Craig Martz, senior environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, provided ample evidence that the bobcat population in California was stable and possibly growing, and as high as 140,000 animals. When the maximum population was estimated to be no more than 72,000 bobcats nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife established a threshold of harvest by hunters and trappers to be 14,400 bobcats. Given the current average annual take of approximately 1,800 bobcats, the department’s staff appropriately summarized their presentation by stating that the trapping of bobcats would have absolutely no impact on the population.

 

In a disappointing turn of events, newly appointed commissioners Sklar and Williams voted against sportsmen and were the deciding factors in the needless statewide ban, with commission president Jack Baylis joining them. Commissioners Kellogg and Hostler-Carmesin voted against the ban.

 

“We are very disappointed by the willingness of the new commissioners to cave to the irrational and emotional arguments of the animal-rights community by taking such a radical stance on a very complex topic that has been debated for more than year – especially when their knowledge and experience with the subject matter has been confined to this single meeting,” said Brones.

 

“When they were appointed by Gov. Brown, we had hoped Williams and Sklar would recognize the environmental and economic importance sportsmen serve in wildlife management. At the very least, we hoped they would take a prudent and thoughtful look at the evidence and recommendation of state and federal scientists,” continued Brones. “Apparently, that was too much to hope for in this hotly debated contest. This glaring disregard for credible science will most assuredly be exploited as we pursue our options to reverse this decision.”