Week of March 8 , 2004

Club News

World

 

National

Canada

Regional

General

2nd Amendment issues

Illinois

Indiana

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

Ontario

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Club News

Want to promote your club?  We need your info

The GLSFC is posting club news online to give additional publicity to clubs and community oriented projects in the Great Lakes Region, to enhance club activities and the angling/boating community at large.

 

View a sample at:  www.great-lakes.org/wklyfish_nz.html

 

Sample functions/projects we are looking for include:

Kids' activities

Banquets

Fund Raisers

Auctions/Raffles

Tournaments

Shows

Community activities

 

Use the 5 Ws:  Who, What, When, Where and Why, and give us a brief overview of the activity.  If there is a special speaker give us his name.  Again, send it all by e-mail.  We will post it on our weekly news segment so the world can see what we are all doing.

 

View a sample at:  www.great-lakes.org/wklyfish_nz.html


World

Iraqi oil exports reach nearly $6 billion

UNITED NATIONS - Baghdad has exported just under $6 billion in crude oil since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government nearly a year ago, the U.S.-led authority governing Iraq disclosed Tuesday.

 

The Coalition Provisional Authority said in an Internet posting that it had deposited $5.99 billion in its Development Fund for Iraq as of February 27.  That was $357 million more than deposited as of the previous week, according to the CPA Web site which is updated weekly.

Under a May 22 U.N. Security Council resolution, the CPA is required to deposit all the proceeds of Iraqi oil exports into the fund. International law allows Iraq's U.S. and British occupiers to use the oil money only for the benefit of the Iraqi people and bars any long-term marketing commitments.

 

Iraqi oil exports are currently running about 1.8 million barrels a day, about the same as what it was exporting before the war began last March, according to the Iraqi authorities.

 


Swiss cities deemed best for living, Baghdad worst

LONDON, England — Baghdad, in 2003, ranked the worst place to live in the world in a survey just published.  New York finished 38th, up from 44th last year, 6.5 points behind Zurich and Geneva.

 

Concerns over security and precarious infrastructure were among the reasons putting Baghdad at the bottom of a survey on the quality of life in 215 world cities by Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

 

Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland were one and two in the

poll, which takes into account factors such as the political and social environment, the level of education, the efficiency of transport systems and standards of recreational facilities. Vancouver, on Canada's Pacific Coast, was pushed down into third.

 

A separate poll on top cities for health and sanitation had Canada's Calgary first with Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver also in the top 10, along with Swiss capital Bern, Zurich and Geneva.

 


National

Senate Kills good gun bill gone bad by politics

WASHINGTON, March 2 -- Senate Republicans scuttled their election-year gun legislation last week after Democrats succeeded in winning approval of amendments to extend an assault weapons ban and require background checks on all buyers at private gun shows. The 90-8 vote against the bill handed Democrats and gun-control advocates an unexpected victory in the GOP-controlled Congress.  It all but eliminated any chance for gun legislation this year.

 

The vote also overwhelmingly rejected a measure to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. The defeat came after a roller-coaster day in which Republicans abruptly withdrew their support for the bill because Democrats had tacked on the amendments to renew the 10-year assault weapons ban and require background checks on customers at gun shows.

 

Senators John Edwards and John Kerry took breaks from their presidential campaigns on Super Tuesday to cast their first votes of the year, in favor of the weapons ban and background checks.

 

This sounds like a terrible blow to gun rights. But in reality the only thing "lost" was that gun companies don't get immunity from jerks and like Chicago's Mayor Daley who are suing them.  We can trust the courts, for now, to know how unjust these law suits and the terrible precedent they will set if victorious.

The defeat of the immunity bill came after Wayne LaPierre sent e-mail messages to senators urging them to reject it. Some Senate Democrats who supported immunity were spotted reading the e-mail message on their BlackBerry pagers; within minutes, a copy of the message — in which LaPierre said his group would use the vote "in our future evaluations and endorsement of candidates" — was circulating in the Democrats' cloakroom.

 

"I'm a bit numb," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, the lead sponsor of the assault weapons ban, said after the final vote. Of the NRA, she said: "They had the power to turn around at least 60 votes in the Senate. That's amazing to me."

 

The important issue is Americans get their Homeland (Assault) Weapons back! Yep starting in September the AWB sunsets and the Democrats are big time on the record now as wanting to take away a basic homeland defense capability.

 

So come November it seems like the Democrats have just sprung a trap on themselves that will break their legs. In the meantime, come September, watch the return of our Homeland Defense Weapons, the price to drop on them, full capacity magazines to become available again. This "defeat" is great news.

 

 


National Parks on Track for upgrades

(WASHINGTON) - National Park Service Director Fran Mainella testified before members of the House Resources Committee on February 26 that President Bush's pledge to make much needed repairs throughout the park system is right on track. And, according to a new study by the Travel Industry Association of America, released last week, 93% of parks visitors are "highly satisfied" with their National Parks experience. Not surprisingly, 89% of Americans say the parks are a mainstay of family outings.

 

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wisconsin) will receive just over $1 million to restore the Raspberry Island Light Station. One of six lighthouses listed on the National Historic Register and managed by Apostles Island National

Lakeshore, Raspberry Island Light is most readily accessible to the public. However, the keeper's quarters and assistant keeper's quarters are in need of this funding.

 

Others in the list of top ten parks that will benefit from the President's budget next year:

• Hot Springs National Park (AK)

• Kalaupapa National Historic Park (HI)

• San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park (CA)

• Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (AZ)

• Point Reyes National Seashore (CA)

• Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site (GA)

• Boston National Historic Park and Boston Harbor National Recreation Area (MS)

• Cane River Creole National Historic Park (LA)


Smith & Wesson chief was an armed robber

Company names new Chairman

James J. Minder seemed the perfect chairman for Smith & Wesson - a respected member of the business community in Phoenix who had previously set up and run his own company to help disadvantaged youths.  Sadly, there was one problem. Minder, 74, had spent 15 years in prison for a string of armed robberies.

 

G. Dennis Bingham, 57, who has been an adviser to a Minneapolis business valuation and real estate appraisal firm, was elected to replace Minder as chairman of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp.

 

Last week, Minder resigned from the legendary handgun manufacturer, two weeks after an Arizona newspaper revealed his misspent youth in the 1950s and 1960s. At first, Smith & Wesson's astonished board unanimously rejected his offer to step down as his criminal past became public.  Those

circumstances include 15 years spent in prison in Michigan, starting with four years served between 1951 and 1955 for robbing a store when he was a journalism student at Michigan State University.

 

After being released on parole, he went on a second crime spree during which, according to The Detroit News of the day, his weapon of choice was a sawn-off shotgun.  After leaving prison, Minder and his wife founded, in 1976, Spectrum Human Services, a non-profit group to help delinquent boys in Michigan.  He then retired to Phoenix, where he joined the board of a local company which bought Smith & Wesson in 2001 from Britain's Tomkins group.

 

Smith & Wesson was founded 150 years ago. It produces the celebrated .357 Magnum, and the .38 Special, the only handgun in the world, the company claims, which has been in continuous production since its introduction in 1899.


Ruling eliminates contested manatee speed zones

Five manatee slow speed zones in Florida’s Lee County were wiped out on March 2 by an appellate court decision, and area boaters say they are relieved by the outcome.

 

“We’re obviously pleased,” Fort Myers attorney and local boater, John Mills, was quoted as saying.

 

Last year senior judge Jack Schoonover of Florida’s 12th Circuit ruled that the science used to establish the five contested speed zones was unsound because the sea cows do not frequent those areas enough to warrant special protection, according to the newspaper.

State Fish and Wildlife Commission attorneys said they would appeal the ruling, but the paper says the commission neglected to file paperwork in time and therefore lost its appeal in circuit court. The attorneys took their request to the appellate court in a last-ditch effort to reverse Schoonover’s original decision, but on Tuesday, March 2, the News-Press says, district judges declined to hear the case.

 

As a result of Tuesday’s ruling, the five speed zones in question — including Estero Bay, Matlacha Pass, waters near the south end of Pine Island, the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and Shell Creek — no longer exist under state jurisdiction, according to the newspaper.


U.S. Special Counsel Investigates Legality of Park Service Actions

Investigation into Legality of Don Murphy's Actions Against Park Police Chief

Your government at work

Washington, DC — The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC has opened an investigation into the proposed removal of U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers.  In accepting jurisdiction over the case, the  (OSC) found that, as a matter of law, statements by Chief Chambers to both Congress and the media fall within the Whistleblower Protection Act and other free speech laws.

 

The investigation will determine whether Deputy Parks Service Director Donald Murphy improperly stripped Chief Chambers of law enforcement authority and put her on administrative leave within days of a Washington Post article quoting the Chief admitting staffing shortfalls in Park Police coverage of local parks and parkways. One week after taking those actions, Murphy offered to forego any charges and fully restore Chief Chambers if she would agree to a “gag order” giving Murphy control as to “contact and content” of all future communications with Congress or the media. After Chief Chambers refused the offer, Murphy proposed to terminate the Chief on the basis of her statements, as well as a handful of other allegations, most several months old, that Murphy

labeled “insubordination.”

 

OSC acts as the guardian of the federal “merit system,” the code that ensures fair and legal treatment of civil servants. If OSC finds that Murphy acted in reprisal against legally protected disclosures, OSC can move to have Chief Chambers restored as well as bring disciplinary action against Murphy for taking “a prohibited personnel action.” In the interim, OSC can also seek a “stay” that prevents further action against Chief Chambers and can also seek to have her go back to work until the matter is resolved.

 

For more than a month since Chambers filed a rebuttal of Murphy’s accusations, the Department of Interior, the Park Service’s parent agency, has been struggling to decide what to do with Murphy’s allegations. OSC’s intervention may take matters out of Interior’s hands.

 

In past years, OSC has accepted only approximately 10% of the retaliation complaints it receives for investigation. Once it accepts the case, OSC then often attempts settlement. Failing settlement, if OSC verifies the facts as alleged by the employee, it can litigate before the civil service court, the Merit Systems Protection Board, to vindicate the employee and punish the retaliating manager.


Canada

Breitkreuz releases Draft Plan to register Criminals -not Hunters

"Statistics Canada data proves that criminals are the problem - not law-abiding gun owners."

Ottawa - Garry Breitkreuz, Deputy House Leader and Official Opposition Justice Critic for Gun Control, last week, released the first draft of his plan to register criminals - not duck hunters. 

 

"Contrary to what the Liberals have been promising for the last decade, Statistics Canada data and information provided to the media by Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino proves conclusively that the soon-to-be-two-billion-dollar gun registry does not improve public safety or save lives.  Homicides are up including domestic homicides, violent crime is up, suicides are up and the number of Criminal Code incidents per police officer has more than doubled since 1962.  Based on such overwhelming evidence, any sane person can only conclude that federal gun control laws should be totally focused on keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.  That is the objective of my plan," said Breitkreuz.

 

Breitkreuz provided the following Statistics Canada data to show how 70 years of registering handguns has failed to keep handguns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them:

●  66% of firearm homicides were committed with a handgun in 2002.  This is up from 27% in 1974;

●  72% of the handguns recovered from murder scenes since

1997 were not registered; and

●  66% of those accused of murder had a criminal record, and 73% of those had a previous conviction for a violent offence including eight individuals who had been previously convicted for murder.

 

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino provided these recent statistics to the media:

●  84% of the people we arrest for gun-related offences are all career criminals;

●  None of the guns we know to have been used were registered, although we believe that more than half of them were smuggled into Canada from the United States;

●  Since the Guns and Gangs Task Force began conducting compliance checks on residents freed on bail after being charged in a gun-related crime, almost 50% were breaching their conditions; and

●  We have an on going gun crisis including firearms-related homicides lately in Toronto, and a law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them.

 

"This is a first draft of my plan and I am inviting comments from all Canadians.  The Conservative Party is not going to ram an expensive, unworkable system down the throats of taxpayers, provinces and the police," promised Breitkreuz.  "The Liberals have been doing that for ten years.  It's time to stop the madness."


Regional

Feds Yank Chicago Fish Barrier Funding

Great Lakes Lawmakers Call on Corps to build it

Washington -- Federal officials have cut funding for a new electric barrier to block Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan, where biologists fear these exotics could rapidly spread and devastate all of the Great Lakes. Read the full story to get the details.

 

Great Lakes lawmakers criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for delays in setting up an electric barrier to protect the waterways from invasive species.   Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, both R-Ohio, and Carl Levin, D-Mich., and 22 other lawmakers sent a letter to the Corps asking that the funding be restored so the project can be completed this year.  

 

"A spokesman in the corps' Washington office did not return a phone call.  Chuck Shea, project manager in the corps'

Chicago office, said he was told that funding for domestic projects was being cut back to provide more money for the corps' work in Iraq and Afghanistan."  "The Corps had planned to spend $4.4 million this year to build the barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, but its proposed 2005 budget slashed funding for the project to $500,000."

 

They said the barrier is needed to keep species such as the Asian carp, which can destroy a system's food supply, from swimming up the Mississippi River to the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan.

 

A temporary barrier has already been in operation on the Great Lakes for several years. Lawmakers said its positive results show the need for a second barrier, which consists of electric cables under the canal that emit low-level charges to keep fish away.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for March 5, 2004

Current Lake Levels: 

Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie are 7, 19, 8 and 6 inches, respectively, below their long-term averages.  Lake Ontario is near its long-term average.  All of the Great Lakes are currently above last year's levels. Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are 1, 6, 13, 7 and 15 inches above last year’s levels, respectively.

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be below average during the month of March.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are also expected to be below average during March, while Niagara and St. Lawrence River flows are expected to be near and above average, respectively.

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

A very potent storm system will push into the Great Lakes basin late Thursday.  Heavy rain and severe storms are possible across much of the southern half of the basin, while

heavy snow is expected in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Arrowhead of Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.  A second system originating in Canada is forecasted to head into the region for Sunday and bring the chance of snow to much of the basin.

 

Forecasted Water Levels: 

Lake Superior is expected to remain fairly steady in the next month.   Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair and Erie will start their normal seasonal rises over the next several weeks.  Short-term fluctuations on Lake St. Clair could persist as long as ice exists in the rivers.  Lake Ontario’s level is expected to rise over the next month.   

 

Alerts:

Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.


General

Pure Fishing® Announces the Purchase of Stren® Fishing Lines

SPIRIT LAKE, - Pure Fishing announced that it has purchased the fishing related assets of Remington® Arms Company, Inc., including the popular Stren brand, effective February 10, 2004.

 

Purchase of the Stren fishing business, headquartered in Madison, North Carolina, includes both U.S. and International operations.

 

Adding the Stren brand to its lineup of fishing tackle products is consistent with the strategy Pure Fishing has pursued over the last fifteen years bringing together ever popular brands and companies that have defined fishing tackle for the world's 125 million anglers and improving these products and expanding their sales. Brands Pure Fishing has acquired include Abu Garcia®, the original baitcast reel; Mitchell®, the world's first spinning reel; Fenwick®, the inventor of graphite fishing rods; Johnson® , among the first spincast reels; Spider®, one of the first superlines; and SevenStrand®, a longstanding leader and innovator in saltwater lures.

 

Tom Bedell, Chairman of the Board of Pure Fishing, stated, "At Pure Fishing we are passionate about advancing the performance and value of fishing tackle to help anglers have even more fun catching more fish. Stren has been a pioneer in new fishing line technology for decades. Combining the Stren brand with our already strong capabilities in product innovation will further advance the performance we can deliver to anglers. The strategic fit is excellent, as we bring enhanced efficiency to the market place in terms of sourcing, manufacturing, servicing, merchandising, and shipping. We will be able to deliver better performing products at a better value to anglers worldwide. That is the magic in the whole Stren acquisition. Being able to deliver exceptional consumer value."

 

Mr. Bedell went on to state, "Fishing is America's third most

popular outdoor recreational activity. Only walking and swimming have greater participation.  Our company slogan "Live to Fish" is more than a business geared towards a popular activity. It's everything we are. Our passions. Our goals. Our dreams. All that we do is centered on fishing. Pure Fishing's mission of Building the World's Best Fishing Tackle Company represents a total commitment to the future of fishing and with the acquisition of Stren that commitment has never been stronger."

 

Tommy Milner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Remington Arms Company, Inc. stated "The divestiture of the Stren brand is consistent with Remington's focus on its core businesses of hunting, shooting sports, and law enforcement and military markets. This transaction provides Remington with significant flexibility to pursue a number of strategic alternatives in these markets and gives Pure Fishing a dynamic brand to add to their fishing tackle portfolio."

 

Pure Fishing has followed a long tradition of continual growth established by the company's founder, former Congressman Berkley Bedell, back in 1937. Recent growth, under the leadership of Tom Bedell, the founder's son, has accelerated. Growth over the past decade has come as a result of acquisitions, new business start-ups, and the introduction of innovative products.

 

Pure Fishing has established a transition team to manage the process of consolidating Stren fishing operations from Madison, North Carolina, into Pure Fishing headquarters at Spirit Lake, Iowa.

 

For more information on Pure Fishing call: 877-777-3850 or visit any of the Pure Fishing websites at www.abugarcia.com , www.berkley-fishing.com , www.fenwickfishing.com , www.johnsonfishing.com  www.fishmitchell.com , www.spiderwire.com , www.purefishing.com

 


Combining Fishing Licenses in Virginia
In an effort to make things easier for sportsmen, legislators in Virginia have passed legislation that would establish a special combined fishing license for persons who want to fish in freshwater and saltwater. If a person purchases this license, they will not have to buy a basic state fishing license issued by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or the saltwater recreational fishing license issued by the

Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

 

The bill (HB 1452), which was introduced by Delegate Glenn Oder, unanimously passed the House of Delegates on February 9 and unanimously passed the Senate on Wednesday, February 25. It is expected that Governor Mark Warner will sign the bill.


2nd Amendment issues

Missouri Supreme Court Rules: Right-to-Carry is Constitutional

FAIRFAX, VA - In a big victory for law-abiding gun owners, the Missouri Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Missouri's Right-to-Carry law, siding with the right of self-defense. This ruling dissolves an injunction against the law in all but four counties, permitting the issuance of Right-to-Carry permits to qualified individuals. In the four additional counties, an administrative issue will need to be addressed before permits can be issued.

 

This is the second time in two months that a state Supreme Court has ruled on the meaning of the right-to-keep-and-bear-arms. In January, New Mexico's highest court concluded that the Right-to-Carry is valid under the state constitution.

 

In the opinion delivered by Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., the Court stated that, "The trial court erred in declaring the concealed-carry act unconstitutional under article I, section 23. This section states: ‘That the right of every citizen to keep and

bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.' The words of the last clause are plain and unambiguous....this clause does not prohibit wearing concealed weapons....The general assembly, therefore, retains its plenary power to enact legislation regarding the use and regulation of concealed weapons."

 

In September, after overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle, the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate passed the state's Right-to-Carry law (H.B. 349), successfully overriding Governor Holden's veto. Only seven times in Missouri history have legislators successfully overturned a governor's veto. Despite ominous predictions by gun-ban groups, data shows that on average states with Right-to-Carry laws experience significantly less crime. Thirty-seven states have a law similar to Missouri's, and 46 states recognize some form of Right-to-Carry.


Illinois

Governor’s plan guts core DNR programs – no funds for ANS control

Plan includes consolidation of services, jobs

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund is being eliminated which means the entire Natural Heritage Program, Endangered Species Program, and Illinois Nature Preserves Commission will be eliminated.

 

It also means NO exotic and invasive species control.

 

According to a press release from the Governor’s office late last month, all staff and field biologists and program personnel will be eliminated – people who have dedicated their careers to protecting our state's natural resources.  This means NO exotic and invasive species control, no endangered and threatened species program, no more field biologists responsible for managing our flora and fauna, no

more natural areas protection, no more nature preserves protection, no more Natural Heritage Program.

 

The Fiscal Year 2005 proposed spending plan for the IDNR is $190.7 million, a nearly $20 million reduction from Fiscal Year 2004. The FY05 General Revenue Fund (GRF) budget is $96.4 million, an $11.0 million decrease from the current year. The department’s proposed head count in FY05 is 1,842, down from 1,990 in the current year. The proposed budget redirects funding to the priority programs indicated below.

 

In an effort to balance the budget, the Open Space Land Acquisition programs, as well as programs supported by Natural Areas Acquisition Funds have been eliminated from IDNR’s FYO5 budget.  These programs were supported by diversions of the real estate transfer tax, which will now be deposited in the General Revenue Fund.


DuPage Forest Preserves: Right at Your Feet

This year's theme will bring added awareness to the long-standing, easy-to-find, conservational, educational and recreational activities that await in the DuPage County forest preserves; activities that range from a leisurely lunchtime walk or naturalist-led bird-watching hike to an afternoon peddling the trails or learning about native Illinois prairies. These are opportunities that are truly "right at your feet" as every home and business in DuPage County is no more than a 10-minute drive from at least one of the county's 59 forest preserves and one state park.

 

Also for this year, visitors who attend any four Forest Preserve

District programs will receive specials in conjunction with the "Right at Your Feet" theme on items such as collector pins and nature-related T-shirts, items that will only be available for sale to program participants.

 

A calendar of upcoming programs is included on the District's Web site at www.dupageforest.com and in each issue of the District's quarterly publication, "The DuPage Conservationist," which is free to DuPage County residents and includes nature-related, historical and educational articles. For a subscription, call (630) 933-7085. For more information on the "Right at Your Feet" program, call (630) 871-6403.


Indiana

Rule Change Hearing - March 25

A public hearing on proposed changes to Indiana's fish and wildlife administrative rules is scheduled for March 25.

 

The Indiana DNR is proposing more than 30 rule changes to protect wildlife while addressing enforcement, legal and social concerns. Changes to deer and turkey hunting laws, fishing regulations, turtle regulations and state endangered species listings are being considered. The creation of a fall turkey season, extending the coyote season, and establishing new brown trout regulations at Brookville tailwater are a few of the rule proposals that hunters and anglers proposed.

 

Rule changes preliminarily adopted by the Natural Resources Commission are available online at:

www.in.gov/nrc/minutes/current_agenda/7.pdf

 

The hearing takes place March 25, 5 to 8 p.m. at Indiana Government Center South, Conference Center Room A, 402 W. Washington, Indianapolis, Ind.

Written comments can be sent to:

Hearing Officer

Natural Resources Commission

402 W. Washington Street, W272

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Email: jkane@dnr.state.in.us

 

Written comments must be received by March 26.

 

A copy of the public hearing report will be available at www.IN.gov/nrc  prior to final consideration by the Natural Resources Commission.  The NRC will likely consider rules for final adoption in May.  If approved by the attorney general and governor, the changes will become effective in late 2004; the first fall turkey hunting season will be in 2005.

 

For info on administrative rule review process: www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/about/rules.htm

 


Park boards in five counties to receive fed $$ 

Nearly one million federal dollars earmarked for local park projects

This year funding from the national Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to Indiana will help purchase 277 new acres for parks in five different counties. It also will assist with new trails, sports fields picnic shelters, playgrounds and a sledding hill at those parks.

           

In making the announcement of the awards, Gov. Joe Kernan pointed out that not only do parks provide a family-friendly place for recreation and relaxation; they are often a key factor in bringing economic development to an area.

 

This year, nearly $1.9 million will be divided between the state and park boards in five counties. Each of the grants will be matched by local funding.   Counties with parks to be funded are:Floyd,  Huntington,  St. Joseph, Shelby and Porter County  This year's LWCF allocation to Indiana also included

$947,770 to the DNR to be used for a previously announced land acquisition at Prophetstown State Park. Fifty-three acres will be added to the park through this grant and an equal match by the DNR.

 

The LWCF is administered as an outdoor recreation grant fund through the U.S. Department of Interior by the National Park Service. The funds are allocated from a small portion of federal offshore oil lease revenues. The funds are divided among the states and managed in Indiana by the DNR.

           

Since the grant program's inception, Indiana has chosen to share the grant revenues on a 50-50 basis with local government. Local park boards have been awarded more than $36 million. Applicants may request project funding ranging from a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $200,000. Grants may pay for no more than 50 percent of a project's total cost.


Limberlost historic site seeking volunteers

Whether it's a couple hours a day or a couple hours a month, Limberlost State Historic Site is looking for volunteer help.

 

Limberlost volunteers lead guided tours, help in the gift shop, maintain the flower gardens and assist during special events. Volunteers also are needed for Limberlost wetland projects, including planting trees and wildflowers, hiking trail maintenance, cleaning up litter and helping with special events such as Nature Day. 

 

Anyone interested in volunteering should register at the site between 1 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 13 or 20. "Volunteering at Limberlost is a way to give back to the community and meet some new people at the same time," said Randy Lehman, Limberlost site manager.

Limberlost is a house museum, the home of Indiana author and naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter from 1895-1913. The Limberlost swamp was Porter's "playground," laboratory, inspiration and the subject of her acclaimed books and photographs. The Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves is restoring more than 1,000 acres of Limberlost wetlands. 

 

Limberlost State Historic Site is part of the Indiana DNR' Division of State Museums and Historic Sites with 15 sites throughout the state. Limberlost is located at 200 E. Sixth St., Geneva, Ind. The site is currently closed for the winter, but will reopen in April. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wed. through Sat 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, and closed on Mon and Tues.  For more info, call 260-368-7428.


Michigan

State, Tribe Clash Over Medical Center

Detroit - - An Upper Peninsula Indian tribe want open a medical diagnostic center in suburban Detroit, hundreds of miles from its reservation. State regulators say it won't happen without their permission.

 

The Hannahville Indian Community Tribe of Potawatomi Indians has found a location in Macomb County's Clinton Township (near Detroit) where it would offer magnetic resonance imaging - MRI tests, according to the tribe's lawyer.

 

The tribe has about 600 members living on or near a reservation in Wilson, located in Menominee County 13 miles west of Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula, according to the tribe's Web site. The tribe has a casino on its reservation but is looking for expanded economic opportunities, said Gary Rickett, an Arizona-based health care consultant working with the Hannahville Community.

 

The tribe contends its MRI facility would be exempt from state rules governing medical buildings and equipment if the federal government designated 'the Clinton Township site as tribal land. The tribe has not yet signed an agreement to buy the office structure or lease space in it, Rickett said. A Bureau of Indian Affairs spokeswoman said the agency has no application on file asking the federal government to take the land into trust for the tribe.

But Michigan officials have warned the Hannahville Community it will face legal action if it does not obtain state permission to open a diagnostic center and operate an MRI machine. The tribe already operates a cardiac rehabilitation center in Clinton Township. That facility doesn't require a state permit.

 

"This project on the surface appears to be nothing more than an effort to create an artificial economic advantage by placing land in trust hundreds of miles from the tribe's existing reservation," said T.J. Bucholz, a Department of Community Health spokesman. "We'll actively oppose any effort to place the land in trust for these purposes."

 

Operating a diagnostic center without state approval is punishable by fines of up to $1,000 per day for each violation, plus $10,000 a day for each piece of unlicensed equipment. Violators can also face up to 180 days in jail. Tribal leaders are to meet with state officials about the issue this week.

 

In 1913 about 4,000 acres of land was purchased by an Act of Congress and the Potawatomi were granted rights to have and hold these lands for all generations.

 

The Associated Press

 


Wolf Lake Visitor Center reopens March 2

 Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials announced the spring schedule for the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery Visitor Center near Kalamazoo. Beginning Mar. 2, the visitor center's hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The center will be closed on Mondays.

 

"We've already signed up a number of school groups who will visit the hatchery during April and May, but we still have several openings left to fill on our spring schedule," said Wolf Lake Interpreter Shana McMillan. "Other groups and families should contact us ahead of time to get information about the availability of guided hatchery tours during the week and especially on the weekends."

 

Activity at the hatchery really begins to increase with the arrival of new walleye, muskellunge, steelhead trout and northern pike eggs during the first two weeks of April, McMillan said. "Hatching time varies by species. For example, it takes only 10 days for the northern pike, but up to 30 or 35 days for steelhead."

Northern pike then are reared at the hatchery for only another 10 days before they will be stocked in various inland lakes and rearing ponds. Steelhead, on the other hand, will stay at the hatchery for a full year where they will grow to seven to eight inches in length. Last year's steelhead, now yearlings, will be stocked this April in several rivers and streams that flow into the Great Lakes.

 

On Mar. 13, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the visitor center will present two special, family-oriented programs. Wolf Lake fisheries technician Dennis Mulka offers a fly tying demonstration and instruction, followed by a reading of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, and a craft-making project for younger children.

 

The Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery Visitor Center is located in Mattawan, at Hatchery Road and M-43, six miles west of the junction of M-43 and US-131. For more info, contact Shana McMillan at 269-668-2876.

 

 


DNR hosts open house on Newberry area forests March 9

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will host an open house Mar. 9 to provide information and receive public comment on forest management treatments proposed for 2005 in the Newberry Management Unit.

 

The open house, from 4-7 p.m. at the McMillan Township Hall, is an opportunity for the public to review proposed treatments and provide input toward final decisions on those treatments. It also provides the public an opportunity to talk with foresters and biologists about issues of interest.

 

Each year, DNR personnel inventory and evaluate one-tenth of the state forest. The information gathered includes the health, quality and quantity of all vegetation; wildlife and fisheries habitat and needs; archaeological sites; mineral, oil and gas activities; recreational use; wildfire potential; social factors, including proximity to roads and neighborhoods; and use on adjacent lands, public or private. Proposed treatments are

then designed to ensure the sustainability of the resources and ecosystems.

 

Each management unit is divided into smaller units or compartments to facilitate better administration of the resources. The Newberry open house and compartment review will focus on: Columbus, McMillan and Pentland townships in Luce County; and Hulbert township in Chippewa County.

 

Maps and information regarding the proposed treatments, available at the open house, also can be accessed at www.michigan.gov/dnr , or by calling Leslie Homan, Newberry Unit Manager, at 906-293-3293.

 

The formal compartment review to finalize prescriptions for these areas is scheduled Mar. 23, beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the Newberry Correctional Facility Training Center.

 


Hartwick Pines State Park hosts maple syrup day March 20

 The Michigan Forest Visitor Center and Hartwick Pines Logging Museum announced the annual Maple Syrup Day, Mar. 20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hartwick Pines State Park, northeast of Grayling.

 

Michigan ranks fifth in maple syrup production in the United States. Maple sugar is North America's oldest agricultural product. Visitors attending the annual Maple Syrup Day at Hartwick Pines State Park walk into the sugarbush to tap a maple tree, observe the boil-down process which converts the sap to maple syrup, and ask questions about backyard and commercial sugaring of Russell Kidd, MSU District Extension Forestry Agent. Visitors also get to taste the sap and maple syrup as it is being made.

 

Special activities for children include helping to "build-a-tree,"

making their own paper mokuk and playing a photosynthesis game. A mokuk was a birch bark container used by Native Americans to transport maple sugar. Three videos on maple sugaring will be shown in the visitor center auditorium throughout the day, and maple sugar candy and syrup will be on sale. Maple sugar recipes also will be available for those wishing to savor the sweetness of the day long after they return home.

 

There is no fee for this event, but a state park motor vehicle permit is required for park entry. The park is located off I-75 at exit 259, north on M-93 three miles. For more info, contact the park at 989-348-2537.

 

There's also an electronic form on the State of Michigan home page at www.state.mi.us/listserv/subscribe.html

 


Minnesota

Two new state record fish officially recognized       

The Minnesota DNR will officially recognize two new state record fish at an awards ceremony Saturday, March 6, at the Northwest Sports Show being held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The ceremony will take place at 2:45 p.m. in meeting room 101F, right outside Hall C.

         

On April 26, 2003, then 10-year-old Travis Lundquist of International Falls caught a state-record three pound, 14 ounce golden redhorse sucker - two days after his father, Gerald, landed the state-record 9 pound, 1.5 ounce silver redhorse sucker. The fish were caught in the Bigfork and Rainy Rivers, respectively. 

         

State record holders will receive a plaque and certificate acknowledging their accomplishment from DNR

Commissioner Gene Merriam at the awards ceremony, said Jenifer Matthees, aquatic education coordinator for the DNR Division of Fisheries. "Catching a big fish is so exciting and usually requires exceptional fishing skill," Matthees said. "This is our way of recognizing the anglers who break a state record."

 

The DNR has been maintaining a list of state-record fish since 1980. To qualify for a state record, anglers must have their fish weighed on a certified scale witnessed by two observers, have the fish positively identified at a DNR Fisheries Section office and complete a notarized application with a photo of the fish.

 

A complete list of Minnesota's state record fish can be found on page 78 of the 2004 Fishing Regulations book.


Mistaking a swan for a goose is costly  

The Minnesota DNR cautions hunters not to mistake a swan for a snow goose during the spring light goose harvest that takes place March 1 to April 30. The cost of mistaking a swan for a goose is high in Minnesota. People who shoot swans face stiff fines up to $700, confiscation of their shotguns, restitution charges of $1,000 for a trumpeter swan, and possible loss of their waterfowl hunting privileges for three years.

           

To avoid accidentally shooting a swan, hunters need to know the differences in both size and markings between protected swans and legal snow geese. Swans can have a wingspan up to eight feet across, and are three to four times the size of a snow goose. The all-white adult swans and the light gray young swans (cygnets) are much larger than geese and have necks equal to their body lengths. The much smaller snow goose has distinctive black wing tips and its neck is half of its body length.

 

Trumpeter swans do not migrate in large flocks like snow geese; they usually travel in family groups of two to 10 birds. Swans will normally be seen as pairs of adults, or family

 groups of two large all-white adults with several large light gray young birds. In contrast, geese usually travel in larger flocks of up to 100 birds.

 

According to Steve Kittelson, DNR trumpeter swan restoration project leader, nine trumpeter swans were shot during the last fall's waterfowl hunting season. Kittelson said, "One individual ticketed for shooting a trumpeter swan stated he was sure that he shot a Canada goose, not a trumpeter swan." 

 

The trumpeter swan is a threatened species that disappeared from Minnesota in the 1880s. Restoration efforts of the DNR's nongame wildlife program and others have helped bring their population back to more than 1,500 adult swans and about 400 young of the year. Swans can now be found in family groups concentrated in areas near Detroit Lakes, Park Rapids, Brainerd, the Twin Cities, and south-central Minnesota. Kittelson noted, however, that due to the start of the spring migration and their increased numbers, trumpeter swans may be found in areas where they were never seen before.

 


Archery, muzzleloader records push deer harvest above 300,000

Record harvests by archery and muzzleloader hunters pushed the total number of deer harvested during 2003 hunting seasons above 300,000 for the first time in history, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced. The total of harvest 301,000 includes deer taken by firearms, archery and muzzleloader. The previous record harvest of 243,000 deer was set in 1992. The 2002 harvest was 222,000

deer.

 

Archery deer hunters took 28,000 deer in 2003, a 75 % increase over the previous record of 16,000, set in 2002. Muzzleloader hunters harvested 8,800 deer in 2003, nearly doubling their previous record of 4,548, set in 2000.  Although the 2003 harvest is above expectations, DNR wildlife managers said the numbers were welcome news.


2003 CWD testing completed; no CWD found

Testing results for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) are now complete on nearly 10,000 lymph node samples taken from wild deer harvested during the 2003 deer season. No CWD was found, the Minnesota DNR announced last week.

 

Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator noted,

 however, that 45 % of the state's permit areas still have notbeen tested. The DNR intends to complete sampling in those areas during the 2004 deer season. In addition, the DNR is continuing the year-round effort to collect samples from "suspect" deer that are found sick or displaying symptoms consistent with CWD.


New York

DEC Releases Statistics from 2003 Deer Harvest

Hunters Enjoy Productive Season, Management Efforts Successful

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced harvest results of the 2003 deer hunting seasons. The total deer take in the 2003 season was slightly more than 253,000, and includes more than 107,000 bucks and nearly 146,000 antlerless deer.  As anticipated, modest declines in total deer take were recorded in all of the major hunting zones, except for Long Island where a slight increase was noted.

   

The 2003 total deer take of 253,000 deer is well above the previous 10-year average total take of 239,000. The 2003 buck take reflects a reduction over the 2002 total of 128,000 and was anticipated after several years of increased harvests.  The winter of 2002-2003 saw a return to some of the harsh winter conditions that can occur in New York, especially in the Northern Zone and in portions of the Catskill Region and the Lake Plains. Winter mortality was documented in many areas and the reductions in deer takes in some areas were expected. DEC estimates the total deer population in New York State to be more than 1 million, prior to big game season. 

   

DEC-initiated law changes enacted in 2002 were intended to

increase hunter participation and antlerless harvest, and the resulting record deer take of 2002 has also served to lower deer numbers and bring populations closer to desired levels in many areas, especially portions of western New York.   The final total of 684,000 DMPs was about 90,000 less than were issued for the 2002 season.  DMPs are valid only for the taking of antlerless deer and serve as the cornerstone for statewide deer management efforts.

 

In New York State, Steuben County had the highest deer take in 2003, with 17,768 deer, including 6,242 bucks, harvested.  Cattaraugus County was second, with 15,606 deer, including 5,283 bucks, followed by Allegany  County, 14,680 deer, including 5,262 bucks.  Chautauqua County (10,628 total, 3,925 bucks) and St. Lawrence County (9,070 total, 4,516 bucks) rounded out the top five counties in the State.

   

For more than a decade, DEC has utilized local citizen task forces to establish deer population objectives for most WMUs.  The task forces represent a broad range of public interests and consider concerns of farmers, foresters, conservationists, landowners and hunters. Each WMU's desired deer population level is expressed as a Buck Take Objective (BTO) and reflects the approximate buck take per square mile that would be taken when the deer population is close to the desired level.


DEC seeks comments from hunters on Fall Water fowl season by March 31

Task Forces to Help Set Season Dates in Western, Southeastern, and Northeastern Zones

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty last week invited waterfowl hunters to submit their recommendations for the dates of the Fall 2004 duck hunting season to regional waterfowl hunting task forces or DEC’s waterfowl season-setting team.

           

DEC established hunter task forces in 1997 to obtain comments on specific hunting season dates for areas where hunter preferences vary widely.  For the last seven years, these task forces have provided DEC with recommendations that have helped create a balanced hunting opportunity that is representative of the various interests in each zone.

           

Waterfowl hunters can actively participate in the season-setting process by providing comments directly to task force. Comments should be sent to members by March 31, 2004, to be considered for this year’s seasons.  The task forces are scheduled to meet in April 2004 and DEC plans to announce tentative hunting season dates in June.  Comments on the process may be directed to members of the DEC season-setting team, whose names and contact information are also attached.

New York State is divided into five waterfowl hunting zones: Western, Southeastern, Northeastern, Lake Champlain, and Long Island.  DEC recently appointed task forces for the Western, Southeastern, and Northeastern Zones to assist in making recommendations for the fall 2004 hunting season.  Representatives from the New York State Conservation Council, Inc., Waterfowl Committee, established waterfowl hunting organizations, and individual waterfowl hunters were chosen to take part to provide a broad range of input.  It will be the job of task force members to act as representatives of duck hunters in each zone.

 

Fall 2004 waterfowl seasons for the Western, Southeastern, and Northeastern Zones will be based on task force recommendations. Seasons in the Long Island Zones will continue to be set by Bureau of Wildlife staff, while seasons in the Lake Champlain Zone will be set by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Management Board, with consultation from DEC. Although there are no formal task forces in these two zones, sportsmen and women can offer input by contacting any DEC season-setting team member on the attached list.

           

Descriptions of NY’s waterfowl hunting zones can be found on the DEC website at www.dec.state.ny.us  and are listed in DEC’s Waterfowl Hunting Guide.  Contact your local DEC office for more info.


Ohio

Landowners planning restricted access to Lake Erie

Did you know there is a bill currently being passed through the Ohio legislature which could limit our access to Lake Erie? House Bill 218 plans to do exactly that.

 

There is currently a slim area above the waterline along Lake Erie which belongs to the public trust for general access to the beach for fishing, swimming, or walking.  However, a group of

highly organized landowners along the lake are working to get legislation passed to remove the land from public trust, which would limit general access to this land, a right which we have held since Ohio became a state!

 

This bill has already passed in the house and has moved into the senate.  Contact your Ohio state legislator and let him know how you feel about this.


Pennsylvania

Youth Hunter Essay Contest Winners Honored

HARRISBURG - Jeremiah W. Funk and Bradley H. Morneweck are headed for summer school and unlike most youngsters facing that task, they just can't wait to get started.

 

Funk, 12, from Washington Borough, Lancaster County, and Morneweck, 17, from Fredonia, Mercer County, are the grand prize winners of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's 2003 Hunter Education Youth Essay Contest.  As the top entry in the junior division (ages 12-15), Funk was awarded a scholarship to the Safari Club International's Apprentice Hunter Camp at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas.

 

Morneweck was grand prize winner in the senior division (ages 16-18) and is headed for Safari Club International's American Wilderness Leadership School in Jackson, Wyoming.  First prize honors in the junior and senior divisions, respectively, went to Derek A. Forney of Shippensburg, Franklin County, and Elizabeth A. Pokrivka, Seven Valleys, York County. They will both take part in a two-day youth pheasant hunt at a western Pennsylvania shooting preserve.

 

The theme for the 2003 contest was "What Makes Me An Ethical Hunter."

 

Finishing second through fourth place in the junior division were Ross R. Kearney, Amity, Washington County; David N.

King, Telford, Montgomery County; and Nathan D. LeValley, Bethlehem, Northampton County. In senior division competition, second through fourth place awards went to Meredith Ann Odato, Landisburg, Perry County; Patrick J. Hudock, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County; and Robert R. Williams, Allentown, Lehigh County. Prizes in both divisions included: second place, Matthews Compound bow; third place, Buck Knives limited edition knife; and fourth place, Leupold Wind River Series 8x42 binoculars.

 

Every contest entrant received a Game Commission "Working Together for Wildlife" embroidered patch. All winners were recognized at the January meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners in Harrisburg.  Each received a plaque in addition to the listed prizes.

 

The Hunter Education Youth Essay Contest is open to youngsters who are Pennsylvania residents, have successfully completed a hunter-trapper education course and possess a current hunting or furtaking license.   Details for the 2004 Hunter Education Youth Essay Contest will be included in the 2004-2005 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, a future edition of PA Game News magazine and on the agency's website at www.pgc.state.pa.us .

 


Agency Testifies Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Funding needs critical, commission tells senate committee

 Obtaining increased funding is the Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) highest priority, the agency told a Senate panel during testimony March 4.

 

Addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee, PFBC Executive Director Dr. Douglas Austen told Senators that the Commission has urgent fiscal needs for programs and properties. “The Fish and Boat Commission needs funding to carry out our day-to-day operations, and we need funding to address long-term needs at state fish hatcheries, dams, boat ramps and other facilities,” Austen reported.  “In the last few months, we’ve made real progress on the funding front.  But there is still a lot to do.”

 

Austen cited the introduction of House Bill 2155 as one positive step to address funding woes.  The bill, developed by a coalition of angling and boating organizations working in cooperation with key legislators, would increase fees for fishing licenses and boat registrations - some of which haven’t changed since 1991.  Fishing licenses and boat registrations account for the vast majority of the PFBC’s revenue.  Unlike most other state government agencies, the

Fish and Boat Commission does not receive annual General Fund appropriations for operations.

 

“Since 1950, fishing license or permit fees have changed on average every six and a half years. This is the ninth year with the same fishing license fees.  It’s the fourteenth year with the same trout stamp and boat registration fees. We are at the end – we are actually well past the end – of a fishing license fee cycle,” Austen noted.  As written, the modernized fees in HB 2155 should provide enough operating revenue to sustain the Fish Fund and Boat Fund for seven years into the future.

 

Austen also praised the Growing Greener II funding initiative recently proposed by Governor Edward Rendell for its potential to make a positive impact for the agency and its constituents.  “The Governor’s proposal would allocate $50 million in new Growing Greener II conservation bond fund money to be split between the Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission and to improve state infrastructure over a period of four or five years. Sportsmen all across Pennsylvania will benefit from the proposed investments in open space and habitat conservation, abandoned mine lands reclamation, remediation of acid mine drainage, and non-point source pollution abatement,” Austen said.


Wisconsin

Board backs off call for smelt ban - urges strict harvest limits

MADISON — The state Natural Resources Board last week relaxed its proposal to stop commercial smelt fishing on Green Bay and instead recommended strict harvest limits for the plummeting fish population. The Green Bay Gazette reports the board passed a motion on a voice vote to drastically reduce the annual total commercial fishing quota from 351,993 lbs to 25,000 lbs for one year and then get a population update from the state DNR before it takes further action.

 

The action was an attempt by the board to seek middle ground with state lawmakers who have oversight over the rule and did not support an outright ban.  The board last October voted to stop commercial smelt fishing in Green Bay until mid-2007, but it revisited the matter under legislators’ direction.  State Rep. Garey Bies, a member of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, proposed a three-year quota on smelt harvests that would start at 25,000 lbs in the bay and grow if that number were reached.

 

The third-year quota would be as high as 75,000 lbs under Bies’ plan, and if numbers reached that level, the annual limit would grow to 100,000 pounds in the fourth year. “I thought it was a good suggestion as it would continue to protect the fisheries if annual catch rates are down yet would allow increases if the fish return to their old habits,” Bies stated in

written testimony to the board. Bies, R-Sister Bay, said

Wednesday he would need time to review the board's action this week before he could comment.

 

But George Meyer, president of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and who also represented the Wisconsin Federation of Great Lakes Fishing Clubs, said both groups support a ban until at least mid-2007. “There can be no doubt the smelt population in Green Bay is in a collapsed state,” said Meyer, who was DNR secretary under former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

 

Scientists aren’t completely sure why, but total smelt harvest from Green Bay plummeted to 291 lbs in 2002 from more than 1 million lbs in 1988. The decline is being seen across Lake Michigan, DNR fisheries managers said.  Commercial fishing is not the cause, but the DNR wants to ensure any population rebound isn’t offset by over-harvesting, said Mike Staggs, DNR Fish Chief.

 

The board last April passed an order closing the commercial smelt fishery on the bay until mid-2008, and then voted to shorten the ban by a year last fall after state legislators voiced problems with it. The order approved last week now heads to Assembly and Senate oversight committees. The order could be endorsed, sent back to the board for revision or sent to the Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules and suspended.


Ontario

Natives don't have to pay gun fees: Ontario judge

ARMSTRONG, ONT. - An Ontario provincial court judge ruled Tuesday that the federal government cannot make two aboriginal men pay fees to register their guns because their treaty gave them "full and free rights" to hunt.  In September 2001, an Ontario Provincial Police officer stopped partridge hunters Marc and Leon Nanokeesic on their way home to the Whitesand First Nation, on the west side of Lake Nipigon, north of Thunder Bay.

 

The Ojibwa men were charged for not having a licence to possess a firearm. Their lawyer, Harley Schachter, launched a constitutional challenge of the federal gun registry. "It's astounding to me that the government would ignore aboriginal and treaty rights in this way," Schachter said. Judge Diane Petit-Begg agreed with the argument, and acquitted the hunters.

 

All treaties signed west of Ontario include rights to hunt freely, and previous court decisions have affirmed similar rights for Inuit and Métis. The firearms registration fee is already waived

for subsistence hunters, but the Nanokeesics don't rely on hunting to make a living or feed their families.

 

The judge ruled that the sort of social hunting they were practicing is also part of their constitutionally protected treaty right to hunt. She also said that natives must still register their guns, so a system will have to be worked out that tests and registers them without collecting any money.

 

Ernie Wanakamik is the chief of Whitesand First Nation, where Marc and Leon Nanokeesic live. He welcomed the court decision as good news. "It's a victory for Whitesand First Nation - and not just for our band, but for every First Nation across the country," said Wanakamik.

 

Both the provincial and federal governments are now deciding whether to appeal the decision. A provincial court decision in Ontario does not constitute a precedent for other jurisdictions with similar treaties, but a Supreme Court ruling confirming the lower-court decision would be binding.


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