Week of January 28, 2013

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Beyond the Great Lakes

Florida�s Burmese Python Hunt more difficult than expected

The Florida Burmese python hunting contest, named the Python Challenge, opened up on January 12, but organizers expected many more dead snakes to be turned in by now. As of Friday, January 18, there were only 21 pythons captured and killed. Nearly 800 people from more than 30 different states registered for the competition which awards $1,000 to the person who kills the largest snake and $1,500 to the hunter who bags the most.


Even a man known as �Alligator Ron� who has a lifetime of hunting experience in the Florida Everglades and , could not lead hunters to a single python, according to the Associated Press.


Part of the problem lies in the fact that pythons are simply hard to spot. ï¿½When these snakes are in the water, in the vegetation, they blend in naturally to where you can�t hardly see them,� State Wildlife Commissioner Ron Bergeron told the AP. This is what gives them an advantage in the wild and is part of the reason why the invasive species has survived so well.

Another factor is that the majority of people who signed up for the contest are amateurs, possibly out on their first snake hunt. Only about 30 of those that signed up hold a permit for harvesting pythons throughout the year. Yet, the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) is grateful for the help.


�The 2013 Python Challenge is an unprecedented effort to focus public interest, support and direct involvement to help deal with Burmese pythons,� said FWC Chairman Kenneth Wright in a press release. �The FWC is pleased that so many people are joining this earnest effort to limit the impact of this invasive species on Florida�s diverse native wildlife. Floridians and people from all across the United States truly care about the Florida Everglades, and they are clearly eager to help us better understand and solve this problem,� Wright added.


�When they harvest snakes, Python Challenge competitors will be collecting valuable data that will contribute to the current Burmese python research and management efforts of the FWC and its partners,� Wright said. �We are grateful to Python Challenge participants, sponsors and partners for helping make this event happen.�


Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show postponed due to mass withdrawals

Show manager, Reed Expo refunds fees of the Harrisburg Show

The largest sports and outdoor show in the United States has been postponed indefinitely following severe backlash over a recently enacted policy banning the display and sale of �modern sporting rifles,� or semi-automatic rifles. The Harrisburg Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show was originally scheduled for Feb. 2-10 in Harrisburg, Pa.


To put it into perspective how quickly gun owners pushed back, consider that the new policy was implemented on Monday and just five days later, on Friday, the show was postponed indefinitely amid the outcry.


Events organizer Reed Exhibitions announced today that they will be postponing the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show until further notice. The show caused controversy when Reed Exhibitions made a decision to prohibit modern sporting rifles (make that ARs) from the event, prompting a large number of vendors to withdraw in the resulting backlash. Notable brands that said they would no longer be attending include Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Mossberg, Cabela�s, and the National Rifle Association, over 220 in all.


In a press release, Smith & Wesson CEO James Bedney said, �We support the Second Amendment and the rights of our law-abiding customers to purchase (sporting rifles) and all legal firearms. Therefore, we are unable to support any organization or event that prohibits legal firearms, or otherwise restricts a citizen�s lawful and constitutional rights.�

The NRA quickly followed suit in their statement, announcing that thegun-rights organization will not be attending any Reed Exhibitions shows that maintains this policy.


Shortly after the postponement was announced, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released a statement explaining that the NSSF had been engaging in dialogue with Reed Exhibitions in an attempt to change the show�s stance on modern sporting rifles, but the talks failed. Reed Exhibitions also manages the yearly Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), the biggest event of this category worldwide.


SHOT Show policy and direction is headed by the NSSF, and because of Reed's recent actions, NSSF is considering all options regarding the management of future SHOT Shows.


Reed Exhibitions, the British-based organizer of the event, has not showed any sign of backing down on its ban of �modern sporting rifles.� Chet Burchett, president of Reed Exhibitions for the Americas, released the following statement:


�Our original decision not to include certain products in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show this year was made in order to preserve the event�s historical focus on the hunting and fishing traditions enjoyed by American families. In the current climate, we felt that the presence of MSRs [modern sporting rifles] would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests.

Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

A unique gem located in southeast Michigan in the heart of a metropolitan area, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the only international wildlife refuge in North America.   The refuge includes islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands along 48 miles of Detroit River and Western Lake Erie shorelines. 


The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is located along the lower Detroit River and western shoreline of Lake Erie, just 20 miles south of Detroit and 50 miles north of Toledo, Ohio. Situated in a major metropolitan area, the refuge�s location is truly unique. The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge symbolizes the region�s re-birth. The first of its kind in North America, it conserves more than 5,000 acres on the lower Detroit River and western shore of Lake Erie. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working with public and private organizations, manages the refuge to benefit wildlife and people. Visitors can hunt, fish, hike, and watch wildlife on the refuge.


In 2001, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established as a result of binational efforts from politicians, conservation leaders, and local communities to build a sustainable future for the Detroit River and western Lake Erie ecosystems.  Because of this collaboration, international status was given to the refuge, making it the first of its kind in North America. The refuge consists of nearly 6,000 acres of unique habitat, including islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands within an authorized boundary extending along 48 miles of shoreline.


In 2004, the Detroit River Refuge acquired  Humbug Marsh, a 410 � acre unit situated in Trenton and Gibraltar, Michigan.  The parcel represents the last mile of undeveloped shoreline along the U.S. mainland of the Detroit River and contains critical habitat for many rare fish and wildlife species.  The site has also been designated as Michigan�s only �Wetland of International Importance� by the 1971 Ramsar Convention. 

Located adjacent to the Humbug Marsh unit of the refuge is the Refuge Gateway property, a former industrial manufacturing site that is being remediated and restored as an ecological buffer for the Marsh. The Gateway will also be the future home of the Refuge Visitor Center.


The refuge is open to the public on a limited basis and only during daylight hours. Contact the refuge manager for current public use opportunities.


To protect wildlife and its habitat, please follow these regulations:

►Grassy Island is closed to the public.

►Boating Overnight mooring of watercraft is not allowed. Boats left unattended or moored in violation will be impounded

►The refuge is closed to camping.

►Disturbance or collection of plants, animals, minerals, and objects of antiquity is not allowed.

►Firearms carrying, possessing, or discharging firearms or any other weapon is not allowed, except by licensed hunters

►Fires are not allowed.

►Possession or use of fireworks or explosives is not allowed.

►Fishing is allowed in designated areas

A special use permit is required to hold organized group events.

►Waterfowl hunting is allowed in designated areas

►Pets are allowed, but must be on a leash and under their owners� control at all times.

►Off-road vehicles are not allowed.

►Spotlighting wildlife is not allowed.


�Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is creating a new model for conservation where passionate citizens join progressive governments, businesses, and foundations to make metro areas better places for wildlife and people, said Congressman John D. Dingell



Grinold receives Tanner Award

The Michigan Steelheaders presented long time fisheries advocate, Captain Denny Grinold with the Howard A. Tanner Award for his contributions to the sport fishery on Saturday in Lansing, MI. 


On Saturday, January 19 the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen's Association made Captain Denny Grinold its annual recipient of the Howard A. Tanner Award for his dedication and contribution to

Michigan's anadromous port fishery. Speaking at the Michigan Historical

Museum in Lansing, Michigan, Jim VanderMaas, past president of MSSFA said," The time and effort Denny Grinold has put in is unequalled and all of us have benefited greatly from his contributions. It is because of people like Denny, willing to sacrifice a substantial mount of his time and talent on behalf of the sport fishery that we all continue to enjoy a world class sport fishery today.


Walleye regulation extended for Namakan Reservoir lakes 

The Minnesota DNR has announced its decision to extend the current walleye regulation on the five lakes of the Namakan Reservoir (Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point, Crane, and Little Vermilion) for an additional six years.


The experimental regulation, which requires anglers to release all walleye from 17 to 28", was put in place in 2007, and reviewed in 2012. Normally, a special regulation remains in effect for ten years. In this case, a shortened timeframe for review was agreed upon when the regulation was implemented.


�The walleye fishery has responded well to the current regulation. Walleye numbers have stabilized or increased on all the lakes, and so has the abundance of fish over 17 inches,� said Kevin Peterson, International Falls area fisheries supervisor. �Extending the current regulation will allow these benefits to continue and provide additional time for us to evaluate its long-

term effectiveness.�


A public input meeting was held in September 2012 to provide information on the status of the walleye fishery, discuss three management options, and listen to public comments. Harvest daily possession limits were also considered in the overall management strategy.

�Given the improvements in the walleye fishery and public support for staying the course, a decision was made to extend the current regulation,� Peterson said.


Another regulation review will be conducted in six years and will use creel surveys and the results of the DNR fisheries annual monitoring.

Comments or questions about the decision to extend the walleye regulation can be directed to Kevin Peterson, area fisheries supervisor, 392 Highway 11 East, International Falls, MN 56649; 218-286-5220, [email protected].

New York

Upstate Snow Goose Hunting Seasons Re-Opened

Rulemaking Filed to Allow Hunting from October 1 through April 15 Annually

State regulations to expand the special snow goose harvest program in New York have been amended to allow hunters to take snow geese during a special harvest program from now through April 15 in upstate New York, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. 


This special harvest is in addition to the regular hunting season which runs from October 1 through January 15.  Previously, the special season would not have opened until March 11.  DEC filed a Notice of Emergency Adoption and Proposed Rule Making with the Department of State on January 23, 2013, and the changes took effect immediately.


"Extending the snow geese season is just one more way Governor Cuomo and DEC are working to expand opportunities for New York's sportsmen and women," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "We encourage the hunting community to take full advantage of this opportunity."


The expanded special season will increase hunter opportunity to harvest snow geese throughout the winter and early spring, when they are most abundant in New York.  The special season was established in 2008 to

help reduce environmental damage caused by the overabundance of snow

geese in eastern North America.  Snow geese are an arctic breeding goose species that reached record high population levels in North America in recent years - from approximately 50,000 birds in the 1960s to more than one million birds in recent years. 


Wildlife agencies, ecologists and environmental organizations have expressed concern about the impacts that overabundant snow geese are having on arctic ecosystems, coastal wetlands and agricultural crops.  In response to those concerns, federal hunting regulations were liberalized in 2008, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) adopted a conservation order allowing states in the Atlantic Flyway to implement special snow goose harvest programs in addition to its regular hunting seasons. Based on guidance from USFWS, DEC decided to have one continuous season this year.


The special season includes a bag limit of 25 snow geese per day.  Hunters are also allowed to use electronic calls and unplugged guns, shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, when no co-occurring open season exists for other migratory waterfowl.  The special program does not include Long Island because relatively few snow geese occur in that region of the state during spring.


For more info: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/50514.html.

NY town defends Remington factory amid new gun ban

The big brick Remington gun factory pieces together military-style rifles in a state that has just banned their sale after a string of mass shootings led to a national outcry over civilian ownership of them.


Residents of Ilion, N.Y., see the issue far differently: The gun factory is a major local employer and a source of pride for almost two centuries. As Mayor John Stephens put it, "Remington is Ilion. Ilion is Remington."  Little wonder that residents in this blue-collar stretch of the Mohawk Valley are defending Remington after state lawmakers banned the sale of semi-automatic rifles like the Bushmaster weapon made there. The move came after the weapon was linked to gunmen in the deadly Connecticut school shooting and in the Christmas Eve slayings of two firefighters in western New York.


Remington employee Tom Bradle said don't blame the guns in mass shootings, blame the shooters.  "It's the person that pulls the trigger. I don't care what kind of gun it is," Bradle said as he walked back to the factory from lunch break on a chilly, gray day recently.


Remington has been intertwined with Ilion since shortly after Eliphalet Remington crafted a flintlock rifle on his father's forge in 1816. Even the elementary school shares the company's name. The factory employs about 1,200 people and produces Bushmaster, Marlin and H&R products.


Parts of the Remington Arms Co. factory, with its imposing four-story front of brick and old-style, multi-paned windows, date back to the days when upstate New York was a manufacturing powerhouse. But factory jobs have become rarer in the string of modest towns along the Mohawk River, and Ilion, with about 8,000 residents, depends heavily on Remington.


Stephens, the mayor, was disgusted by the news last month of 20 first-graders and six adults killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. But he is critical of the New York state law approved last week banning certain semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines and calling for background checks on ammunition purchases, among other measures. He dismisses the idea that there's an emotional link between Newtown and Ilion.


"Are people disappointed and distraught?" Stephens asked. "Do they feel bad and are they sad? Absolutely! Absolutely! I would never wish that on anyone, never. But as far as an emotional attachment between us and them, I don't see it."  Stephens voiced a sentiment heard frequently in this

largely conservative area: New York's law and the sweeping gun regulation package proposed recently by President Barack Obama are wrongheaded.


The New York law, starting when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it Jan. 15, defined as illegal assault weapons semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines and have one additional military-style feature such as a pistol grip, flash suppressor or bayonet mount. The old law required two such features.


Bushmaster is owned by Freedom Group Inc., the largest firearms maker in the U.S., which has its headquarters on Remington Drive outside the neighboring small towns of Madison and Mayodan, N.C.  No guns or ammunition are manufactured there. Most people around know the 43,000-sq-ft building near the high school and the Wal-Mart as the home of Remington Arms, which moved to the site in the mid-1990s, and not the weapons conglomerate Freedom Group has become, said Mayodan Town Manager Michael Brandt.


"They're not big contributors to the community like a typical large company would be in an area," Brandt said. "This is where they're located, but we don't really see much of them."  Word that Freedom Group is for sale and changes are looming has generated little local concern in an area where surviving textile producers and a Miller-Coors brewery are bigger employers.  That contrasts with Ilion, where the concern among people is the future of Remington. The company had said last March it could leave New York if the state went ahead with a move to add unique identifying information on spent bullet casings. That proposal is off the table, but people in town wonder where things stand in the wake of the new state law, which does not affect Remington's ability to manufacture military-style weapons.


"If I'm an executive at Remington, what's my attitude going to be toward the state that bans one of the premier products that I produce?" local Assemblyman Marc Butler asked.


Obama's gun control proposal added more uncertainty. Jamie Rudwall, who has worked at the plant since 1995 and is president of the United Mine Workers of America Local 717, said he expected the gun business to increase in the short term amid new regulatory proposals, but he worries about jobs in Ilion long term.  "We've been here almost 200 years," he said. "I hope to be here another 200."


PFBC to close two hatcheries

HARRISBURG � The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced last week that it plans to reduce operating costs by $9 million over the next four years in order to meet future health-care and retirement obligations for its employees and to fund infrastructure needs. A portion of this reduction will come from closing two trout hatcheries, a move that will reduce annual operating costs by approximately $2 million.


The two hatcheries include Oswayo in Coudersport, Potter County, which has nine employees, and Bellefonte in Centre County, which has nine employees. No furloughs are expected. The PFBC plans to offer affected employees jobs at other PFBC facilities.


�Fishing license sales have steadily declined since 1990, while at the same time operating costs have continued to increase, including the price of fish food,� said PFBC Executive Director John Arway.


�As a result, we must streamline our operations and reduce operating costs in order to maintain a sound financial condition while we attempt to secure long-term, dedicated alternative funding,� he added. �As part of this process, we evaluated our 14 production sites and determined that closing these two trout hatcheries would have the least impact on the number of trout stocked.�

Arway added that because of existing vacancies within the Commission, no employees are expected to be laid off.


�Over the last two years, a number of vacancies have been created from retirements and transfers,� he said. �As a result, we plan to offer the

employees at Oswayo and Bellefonte the opportunity to take these jobs

at other facilities.�


Today�s decision is one part of a long-range strategy to reduce operating costs across all PFBC bureaus by a total of $9 million by the 2016-17 Fiscal Year, which begins July 1, 2016. Approximately $6.7 million is needed for employee health care and retirement benefits and $2.3 million is needed for infrastructure needs, such as maintenance and repairs, at remaining hatcheries, other facilities and boating access areas.


In addition to the $2 million the PFBC expects to save by closing the two hatcheries, it estimates saving another $1 million by not enrolling a new class of waterways conservation officers. Overall, the bureaus of Hatcheries and Law Enforcement account for approximately 27.6 percent and 22.6 percent, respectively, of the PFBC�s annual expenditures.


The PFBC Bureau of Hatcheries spends approximately $12.5 million annually to raise 3.2 million adult trout, 2 million fingerling trout and more than 30 million fry and fingerling warm/coolwater fish at its 14 hatcheries. Oswayo and Bellefonte annually produce approximately 245,000 and 540,000 adult trout, respectively, including brook, brown, rainbow and golden trout.


The Oswayo and Bellefonte hatcheries aren�t expected to be completely closed until the end of 2014. Fish are being raised at both facilities and won�t be ready to stock until the end of this year and spring of next year. Once the fish have been stocked, the facilities will be cleaned and then closed.


Wisconsin Sheriff urges residents to arm themselves

In his latest radio spot, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. tells residents personal safety isn't a spectator sport anymore, and "I need you in the game." "With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option," Clarke intones.


"You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or

you can fight back."


Clarke urges listeners to take a firearm safety course and handle a firearm "so you can defend yourself until we get there."  "You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We're partners now. Can I count on you?

Other Breaking News Items

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Walleye, yellow perch hatches below average in Lake Erie Western Basin
Walleye and yellow perch hatches in Lake Erie's Western Basin were below average in 2012. The numbers come from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' yearly survey conducted in August.


Obama recess appointments unconstitutional

A federal appeals court has overturned Obama�s controversial recess appointments from last year, ruling he abused his powers and acted when the Senate was not actually in recess. The three-judge panel�s ruling is a major blow to Obama, ruling that the appointments he made to the NLRB are illegal, and hence the five-person board did not have a quorum to operate. But the ruling has even broader constitutional significance, with the judges arguing that the president�s recess appointment powers don�t apply to �intra-session� appointments � those made when Congress has left town for a few days or weeks. They said Mr. Obama erred when he said he could claim the power to determine when he could make appointments.  �Allowing the president to define the scope of his own appointments power would eviscerate the Constitution�s separation of powers,� the judges said in their opinion.


When Police violate the Constitution

Federal courts are bearing down on the NY City Police Department�s constitutionally suspect stop-and-frisk program, under which hundreds of thousands of citizens are stopped on the streets each year, often illegally and for no reason. The federal judge who is presiding over three lawsuits that challenge different parts of the program has issued her harshest ruling yet, putting the city on notice that some aspects of stop and frisk are clearly unconstitutional.



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