December 16 , 2002

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Deer and elk meat may be risky eating

Consumer Reports on Health reports in their Nov issue

   Public-health authorities are keeping a close eye on chronic wasting disease (CWD), an animal disorder similar to mad cow disease that is spreading in deer and elk populations across North America. In diseased animals, the brain accumulates infectious protein particles called prions and becomes riddled with spongelike holes. The process is similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad-cow disease. As in BSE, animals that develop CWD become emaciated and uncoordinated, and they eventually die.

               

   Unlike the experience with infected cows, however, there is as yet no direct evidence that eating the meat of deer or elk with CWD actually causes disease in people. Still, test-tube experiments with prions have shown that human infection is theoretically possible. And researchers are investigating the deaths of several people who hunted or regularly ate venison and subsequently succumbed to brain-wasting disease.

               

   Should consumers avoid eating deer and elk meat? Until more is known, the answer to that question depends on your personal risk tolerance, according to the food-safety experts at Consumers Union’s Consumer Policy Institute. Deer or elk have tested positive for CWD in 10 states―Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming―and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Eating game from regions not listed is not necessarily safer, since adequate testing has not been done in most areas.

   If you decide to eat deer or elk meat, consider choosing steaks, which are far less likely to be infected than organ meats. Chopped meat or sausages may be more risky, since they are likely to contain meat from several deer or elk, and possibly organ meat and nerve matter that may harbor infectious prions. Cooking the meat until it’s well-done will protect against bacteria but not infectious prions, which are so highly resistant to heat they can’t be cooked out.

               

   Jim Kazmierczak, Wis state division of public health asks: “Is it safe to eat venison from deer that are harvested from this area?” Even though there is no evidence that CWD has ever caused human disease, because of the uncertainty about how it’s transmitted, experts in the World Health Organization do advise that no part of any deer or elk that’s known to be infected with CWD, be consumed by people. It also suggests that people avoid consuming certain tissues of any deer or elk―and that would include tissues like brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes―because that’s where the prion tends to congregate, in those tissues. So although the World Health Organization does state that there’s never been any scientific evidence to demonstrate that CWD can cause illness in humans, they do recommend not eating any venison from known infected deer.

               

   So are they hedging their bets? Well, sure they are―even though the scientific evidence so far does not indicate a risk, no one can give you that absolute guarantee of future safety.

Right to hunt amendment

Smith sponsoring Bill A.11232

   While the United States Constitution grants law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms, it does not provide an inalienable right to hunt. That is a right that is under consideration in several states and already in effect in four.

 

   Now, Assemblyman Richard Smith, an Erie County Democrat, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would make hunting a right in New York State.

 

   In a state where hunting is such a popular sport, such an amendment might seem to be overdoing things. But something that is not a written right can all too easily be taken away. Animal-rights advocates, dedicated and committed as they are, are known for getting carried away.

 

   Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment say the measure would guarantee the right to hunt, trap and fish in New York as well as silence local efforts to ban the sports. The amendment would be the first in such a populous and urban state as New York. Similar acts are on the books in Virginia, North Dakota, Minnesota and Alabama. Right-to-hunt bills were introduced last year in Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. The prospects of New York’s right-to-hunt proposal are uncertain. But it reflects some strong lobbying in and outside Albany that touches on several issues, including gun control.

   The proposal seeks to preserve hunting’s heritage as the numbers of hunters has steadily declined, said its sponsor, Assemblyman Richard Smith. But he said the amendment would also quell increasingly fervent efforts to ban hunting, fishing and trapping.  "This would limit the legislation potential and cut out a lot of the debate," said Smith, an avid  hunter and angler.

               

   Bill A.11232 would prohibit counties and other local municipalities from regulating hunting, fishing and trapping and essentially protect your rights as sportsmen.  Send your support for this important bill by writing to the chairman of the Environmental Conservation committees in both the NYS Assembly and NYS Senate.

 

Correspondence should be addresses to:

 

Hon. Thomas P. DiNapolis

Chairman, Environmental Conservation Committee

New York State Assembly

837 Legislative Office Bldg.

Albany, NY 12248

 

Hon. Carl L. Marcellino

Chairman, Environmental Conservation Committee

New York State Senate

812 Legislative Office Bldg.

Albany, NY  12248

Canadian Gun registry to cost around $1-billion

   Recent headlines in Canada's major tabloids made dire predictions about their gun control program and the enormous cost being borne by its citizens. The Globe and Mail said: "Gun registry to cost around $1-billion," an editorial in the National Post titled, "Time to ditch the gun registry" and the Edmonton Sun reported, "Firearms centre won't work."

 

   Parliament member Garry Breitkreuz said "We hate to say we told you so."  Breitkreuz is the Member of Parliament for Yorkton-Melville, Saskatchewan, and long time critic of the gun registry program.

 

   The Globe and Mail made the prediction "Canada's firearms registry will likely cost taxpayers more than $1-billion by 2005 -- more than 10 times the amount the Liberal government said it would spend on the controversial gun-control program."

 

   Richard Neville, deputy comptroller of the Treasury Board Secretariat, told the committee this week that "there is a strong

possibility that the final costs" of the firearms registry could be around $1-billion. He made the remarks under questioning from senators who wanted to know why the Department of Justice is requiring an additional $72-million to administer the program that implements the government's tough gun-control laws passed in 1995. Former justice minister Allan Rock said the national firearms registry would cost taxpayers a total of $85-million when Bill C-68 became law seven years ago.

 

   The cost of the national firearms registry was scrutinized in the Auditor-General's report, which was released on December 3.  (See related article)  Senator Anne Cools, a Liberal member of the Senate's finance committee said "Something is very wrong. There has been no accountability. We still have no idea why it has cost so much and why it has ballooned."          

 

   So far, $688 million has been spent. All Canadian gun owners must have their firearms registered by Jan. 1, 2003.

Auditor-General Blisters Canada's Dept of Justice

Fed's Firearms Registry a billion-dollar boondoggle

   In a report just released December 3 Federal Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, called the enormous cost overruns of Canada's gun registration program "inexcusable." Conservative Party leader Joe Clark called it "a $700,000-secret" that "broke the law of Parliament."  And Saskatchewan Alliance MP Garry Breitkreuz, being on target from the beginning, continues to hit the bull's-eye when he called the fed's Firearms Registry what it is -- a billion-dollar boondoggle.

 

   A project that was to originally cost taxpayers a net of $2 million to implement has already cost $688 million and the federal government now admits that the gun registry will cost at least $1 billion – probably more - by 2004.

 

   Fraser -- who was blunt, if not savage, in her criticisms -- expressed alarm not just at the growing costs of the registry and the shabby accounting practices within the Department of Justice, but mostly at the Liberal government's hiding of the facts from Parliament. "The issue here is not gun control," said Fraser. "And it's not even astronomical cost overruns, although those are

serious. What's really inexcusable is that Parliament was in the dark."

 

   Fraser called the registry "an inexcusable failure," excoriated the government for providing her office with incomplete and contradictory information and said that Parliament did not have enough information to properly scrutinize the registry to ensure accountability.

 

   The Calgary Sun said "She's right. That is inexcusable. Now, what if anything, is the government going to do about it?"

 

   As Clark stated on the floor of Parliament the next day ("Justice Minister Martin Cauchon) broke the law of Parliament; so did his Prime Minister. They knew about a $700 million overspending. They had an obligation to tell the House of Commons. They zipped their lips. They did not tell the House of Commons the truth," said an indignant Clark.

 

   "My question to the smiling Prime Minister: Who," asked Clark, "in his government authorized this breaking of the law of Parliament?

 

Natives given free bullets

   OTTAWA - The federal government is handing out free ammunition on First Nation reserves even though the aboriginal rate of involvement in homicide is seven times higher than the national average, documents show.  Under Firearms Act exemptions that reflect treaty obligations and native rights, First Nation members who get ammunition do not require licences otherwise needed to obtain 

ammunition or firearms in Canada, federal officials say.

   The government is required to furnish the aboriginal bands with hunting ammunition and twine or fishing nets annually under several treaties signed by representatives of the British Crown in the past century. The First Nations may also ask for cash payments instead of the ammunition or other equipment.

Don’t get too close

   You definitely don’t want to get too close to a US naval vessel.

 

   The Coast Guard has issued a 100-yard approach and 500 yard minimum speed warning for all U.S. naval vessels. What this means is that you must not get within 100 yards without first contacting the vessel or its escort and then only if necessary to safely pass. Also, within 500 yards (about a quarter of a mile) of a military vessel, you

must operate at minimum speeds. Don’t make the men

standing watch nervous by approaching too quickly or getting too close.

 

   Violating the protection zone is a felony and due to the earlier sinking of the USS Cole (the ship sunk by terrorists two years ago while taking on fuel in Yeman), as well as other recent events, it’s a good idea not to intrude on the space of a heavily armed ship.

Hot Off the Press

   The IJC’s Eleventh Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, assessing progress of the U.S. and Canada to restore and maintain the Great Lakes is available at 

www.ijc.org/comm/11br/english/report/index.html or can be obtained on CD or in hard copy by contacting any IJC office. Commission@washington.ijc.org  or Jennifer Day, dayj@windsor.ijc.org  313-226-2170 ext. 6733

IJC 2003 Biennial Meeting

To be held in Ann Arbor, September 19 - 20, 2003

   The IJC plans to provide a forum that energizes and educates the Great Lakes basin community to work together along with governments at all levels to carry out the purpose of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  It is a forum for people of the basin to come together and celebrate progress, assess and question current action,

discuss new and emerging issues regarding the cleanup

and restoration of the Great Lakes, and share successes and road blocks toward restoration of Areas of Concern. Meeting details will be posted on at www.ijc.org  as soon as they are available.

 

   Hopefully, it won't prove to be the three-ring circus all previous IJC biennial meetings have turned out to be.

Protecting the Public from Earthquake Hazards

Advanced National Seismic System Comes to Memphis

   Scientists marked a new milestone in the installation of modern seismic stations in seismically active urban areas across the country. 

 

   These new instruments are part of a nationwide network of sophisticated ground shaking measurement systems, both on the ground and in buildings, called the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS).   ANSS will

become the first line of defense in the war on earthquake hazards with the ultimate victory being public safety, lives saved, and major losses to the economy avoided.

 

   New stations are being installed to provide real-time information on how the ground responds when a strong earthquake happens. ANSS stations will assist emergency responders by creating Shake Maps within minutes of an event showing where damage is most likely.

 

   Earthquakes pose one of the greatest risks for casualties and costly damage in the United States.

The Mille Lacs Band's Motive: Surf or Turf?

Controversy brews over Lake Mile Lacs walleye harvest over quota

   What are the Mille Lacs Band's real motives? That's the question many anglers and resorters are now asking in light of the Band's recent decision to demand mediation to prevent future overharvest of Mille Lacs walleyes by State anglers.

   The Minnesota DNR concedes this year's "10X bite" has pushed the walleye harvest about 70,000 lbs over the quota and has offered several concessions to reduce harvest for the remainder of the year. But the Mille Lacs Band has taken a hard-line stance, refusing to accept the concessions and choosing to invoke their mediation rights as provided in the treaty protocols. If the differences cannot be resolved by mediation, the parties will most likely go back to court.

   The Band's aggressive action brings up many questions: Will they demand closure of the walleye season for the remainder of the year, closure of the coming ice-fishing season or further restrictions on next year's harvest? What would these moves mean for the Mille Lacs Lake economy?

   Many Mille Lacs observers believe the Band's actions have little to do with protecting the fish population, but are intended to keep anglers away, thereby harming the lake's fishing economy and reducing property values; then the Band can buy up property at bargain-basement prices.  Consider the following:

 

•This year's total walleye harvest (tribal catch included) now stands at about 420,000 lbs, well below the average pre-treaty harvest level of 510,000 to 592,000 lbs, depending on method of calculation.

•Because it is difficult to sample large walleyes, the DNR believes it has been underestimating that component of the walleye population. Yet the Mille Lacs Band says that the spawning stock biomass is "at the low end of its known historic range." With the tremendous numbers of spawning-size walleyes caught and released by anglers this year, however, it would appear that the Band's concerns are not genuine.

 

•Since treaty management began in 1997, the annual walleye harvest (State & tribal combined) has averaged 372,000 lbs, more than 200,000 lbs below the DNR's "retro" Safe Harvest Level (SHL) of 586,000 lbs. The

retro SHL is calculated by the DNR after the pre-season SHL has been set and more data has been collected, so it is more accurate. From 1997 to 2001, the total walleye harvest was more than 1 million lbs less than the retro SHL, so a 70,000 lb overage in 2002 should not be a concern. This explains why the DNR, in response to a Mille Lacs Band letter stated: "We feel that the fishery has not, however, been harmed."

 

•Treaty protocols limit the "exploitation rate" (percentage of the lake's catchable-size walleyes harvested each year) to 24 %. The post-treaty exploitation rate, which is calculated using the more accurate retro numbers, has never exceeded 24 % and has averaged only 15 %.

 

•The Mille Lacs Band's most recent letter contends that the 2002 overage by State anglers "causes real injury to the Bands."  Since the State has exceeded their share,

they say, their members may be reluctant to participate in

a fall and winter fishery "for fear of harming the resource."  In previous years, however, the Band's fall and winter harvest has been negligible, so it appears that their injury claim amounts to nothing but grandstanding.

 

•By protesting the State's overage so strongly, the Mille Lacs Band is refusing to recognize the predator-prey imbalance that caused the severe baitfish shortage during the 2001 and 2002 seasons and resulted in the 10X bite that nobody could have predicted. As is turns out, the overage may have been a godsend in helping to get the lake back into balance so the baitfish crop can recover and prevent another 10X bite next year.

 

•Based on 5 years of post-treaty experience, the DNR admits that it cannot accurately set the safe harvest level prior to the season. Nor can it accurately predict what anglers are likely to catch under a given set of regulations. They realize the current management system is flawed and are suggesting a new "common-sense" management approach with a longer time frame (up to 5 years) that can accommodate ups and downs in the fishery that cannot be predicted but are sure to occur. While this type of management plan is more sensible and will still protect the fishery, the Mille Lacs Band is strongly objecting to the concept. In its latest letter, the Band refers to the DNR's suggestion as a

"unilateral evisceration of the State's obligation to manage its fishery so that it remains within the State's share of the harvestable surplus."

 

   Given the fact the DNR has assured the Mille Lacs Band that the fishery has not been harmed, why would the Band protest so vehemently over a relatively small overage that has not even put the harvest above the long-term average?

 

   The answer becomes abundantly clear in a "State of the Band" speech given by Art Gahbow, former Chief of the Mille Lacs Band, in 1989. The overriding theme of his address was, "We will take it back."  Using the strongest of language, Gahbow criticized the Feds and Minnesota for the "grave injustice" they have done to the Band by "allowing our land to be stolen" and "participating in the theft of our land."  In all, Gahbow used the "We will take it back" phrase (or a variation of it) 12 times in his address. He concluded with the admonition, "We will not back down. We are on the attack. There is no retreat. There is no surrender."

 

   If there were any questions about the Band's motives following Gahbow's speech, the Band's subsequent actions provide the answers. As most long-time Mille Lacs anglers know, many of the resorts they once frequented no longer exist. The Band has already purchased 10 resorts along the west side of the lake, including Eddy's, one of the lake's largest fishing operations. In addition, they have purchased more than 150 other parcels of private land near the lake.

 

   Yes, the Band is gradually taking it back and their efforts to disrupt the fishing economy will clearly speed up the process.  Courtesy:  Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM)

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