Roundup 2.20.2020

Hunting:

Montana: Fish and Wildlife Commission Tightens Wolf, Elk Hunting Rules

Montana: This Week in Fish and Wildlife: Printing Your Big Game Tags at Home

Colorado: New For 2020: Colorado Limited License "Secondary Draw" Replaces The Leftover Draw

National: Hunter Reactivation: Replenishing Our Numbers

Idaho: Rep. Shepherd Seeks To Remove Party Affiliation For Fish And Game Commission

Arizona: New Arizona Game And Fish Commissioner Criticized For Safari Club International Membership

Utah: Utah Bill Would Prevent Deadbeat Parents From Hunting And Fishing

 

 

Biology:

Wyoming: WGFD Encampment Bighorn Sheep Project

Idaho: DEQ Makes Preparations For CWD

Wyoming: Chronic Wasting Disease Prevention And Preparation Underway In Idaho And Jefferson County  

Idaho: Idaho, Other Western States To Study Big Game Range Land

Alaska: Wildlife Officials Prepare For Anchorage Moose Survey With Help From Citizens

 

 

 

Conservation:

National: Bill to Add 1.3 Million Acres of Wilderness Area Passes House

Nevada: Nevada Chapter Encourages Public Comments In Washoe County

Wyoming: Antelope Worries Prompt Lawsuit Over Wyoming Gas Field Plan

Montana: Delegates Pledge to Fund LWCF After Proposed Budget Cuts Released

Colorado: Montana Leadership Promises Full Funding Even As President’s Budget Includes 97% Cut In Spending On Land And Water Conservation Fund

Utah: Utah Coalition to Protest Misuse of Public Money on Fossil Fuel Projects

Idaho: Plans To Prevent Future Train Collisions With Pronghorns

 

Predators:

Montana: Fish And Wildlife Commission Tightens Wolf, Elk Hunting Rules

Colorado: Safari Club International Raises $140,000 to Help Defeat Colorado Wolf Ballot Initiative

Washington: Ranching On High Alert: Rancher Takes Steps To Repel Wolves

Oregon: Coyote Blues- Possible ban on killing contests before the Legislature

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Idaho Representatives Vote to pass Legislation that Limits Nonresident Hunters in Overcrowded Areas

By Mountain Pursuit

As a follow up from Mountain Pursuit’s previous story, “Overcrowding for Elk Archery and Panhandle White Tails Leads Idaho To Consider Restricting Nonresident Over the Counter Deer & Elk Tags,” the consideration is done.

On February 4, 2020, the Idaho House voted 55-15 in favor of limiting and increasing the price of nonresident big game hunting tags.  This was proposed by Idaho Fish & Game in response resident hunter’s request to reduce the overcrowding in certain hunt areas.

This past summer when Mountain Pursuit spoke with Idaho Fish & Game director, Paul Kline, he said that "there are certain hot spots around the state," for whitetail deer and archery elk.  He continued that, "the concern is all about hunter congestion, overcrowding, and an overall decline in hunt quality.”

Over-the-counter nonresident tags are not being distributed to certain areas and Kline added that "some of these hunt units have 30-35% nonresidents.”   

If this gets passed into law, Idaho Fish & Game will have the ability to reduce the amount of tags sold to nonresidents to 10%.  This will be done in areas marked by resident hunters as overcrowded and help to distribute the nonresident hunters more evenly.

 

 

Click HERE for Mountain Pursuit's Previous Story "Overcrowding for Elk Archery and Panhandle White Tails Leads Idaho To Consider Restricting Nonresident Over the Counter Deer & Elk Tags."

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Mountain Pursuit Sues Forest Service in Fight for Wildlife, Resource Protection in Western Wyoming Wilderness Study Areas

Above: Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Area

By Mountain Pursuit

This week Mountain Pursuit filed a complaint against the US Forest Service in federal court over mountain biking in the Palisades and Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in western Wyoming, and over ORV/ATV use in the Shoal Creek WSA.

The Palisades and Shoal Creek WSAs were established by the 1984 Wyoming Wilderness Act. The act requires that the Forest Service manage the WSAs to "maintain their presently existing wilderness character and potential for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System."

This requires that any mountain bike, e-bike, or ATV/OHV use be limited to trails and use levels that existed in 1984 when the Act was passed and previous court rulings concerning Palisades have confirmed this.

Neither mountain biking, or ORV/ATV use is mentioned in the 1984 Act, and mountain biking in the Palisades WSA and ORV/ATV use in the Shoal Creek WSA have both exploded in the years since.

Scientific research has shown that the impact to wildlife from both MTB and ATV/ORV use is significant and far greater than hiking or horse travel.

A downhill MTB trail within the Palisades WSA is heavily marketed and advertised by the mountain bike industry, outdoor recreation industry, and social media, and continues to see more and more use. As well, the rapid growth of bikepacking and subsequent social media marketing is pushing this use further and further into both WSAs - negatively impacting wildlife.

Few ORV/ATVs exited in 1984 when the act was passed. These narrow, 4WD vehicles can go places passenger vehicles can't, resulting in significantly increase motorized use in the Shoal WSA - especially during hunting season. As well, unethical hunters often create new roads and significantly expand existing roads during the often wet and muddy hunting seasons, tearing up the country and adding to erosion.

"For too long the hard fights for wildlife have been led by environmental groups," said Mountain Pursuit Founder Rob Shaul, "while the traditional hunting groups were happy to sit on the sidelines, out of the controversy. Mountain Pursuit isn't your father's hunting group. We represent hunters ready to roll up their sleeves, and jump into the arena, and fearlessly fight for wildlife."

Click HERE for Mountain Pursuit Complaint
Click HERE for the Complaint Appendix

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Field & Stream Questions Long Range Hunting

By Mountain Pursuit

Venerable hunting and fishing magazine, Field & Stream questions long range hunting in it's August-September, 2019 issue. 

Mountain Pursuit is alone in hunting nonprofits to take a firm position opposing long range hunting - and has proposed a 400-yard maximum shot restriction for all big game hunting, based on Fair Chase. We have been criticized heavily by hunters for taking this position. 

In its August-September issue, Field & Stream addresses how technological advances in firearms, ammunition, electronics, optics and overall ballistics has resulted in an incredible improvement in long range accuracy since 2009. The magazine also questions the ethics of long range hunting shots. 

"For the entirety of the 20th century, there was an unwritten rule that 300 yards was as far as you shot at game. Real hunters got close before they pulled the trigger. Now that's changed," writes David Petzal in an essay, "So, Have We Gone Too Far.

"In some circles , it's considered praiseworthy to shoot at animals out to 500, 600 yards and beyond. Why?," he continues.

Mountain Pursuit's opposition to shots beyond 400 yards is based on Fair Chase. Key to the ethic of Fair Chase is that the game has a chance to detect the hunter, and if detected, elude him. Any technology or technique which tips this balance in favor of the hunter is unethical. According to biologists, big game animals have a greatly reduced chance of detecting the hunter outside of 400 yards - hence Mountain Pursuit's suggested restriction. 

Writes Petzal, "Our recent sniper fever has brought us to a place where we can shoot critters fom far beyond the range of their senses, but that doesn't mean we should. The sniper's stock-in-trade is giving the enemy no chance, which is the opposite of fair chase. Nor is a game animal the enemy."

 

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How Western State Governors Are Hired, Fired and Serve

By Mountain Pursuit

A report by Mountain Pursuit, “The Hiring, Firing, and Distribution of Western State Game & Fish Commission Members,” finds that 9 Western states give their governors the authority to remove commission members as they please.  Game & Fish Commissions in Western states are rapidly changing.  The report investigates how each state appoints, dismisses, and distributes commission members, and what qualifications are required of them.

Quick Take-Aways:

  1. In every Western state the governor appoints the wildlife commission members.
  2. With an exception of Washington and Nevada, governors can remove commission members.

There are four main ways a state ensures a commission represents the population:

  1. Quota for members with certain experience or expertise.
  2. Limits for how many members can be from the same political party on one commission.
  3. Requiring or restricting how many members can or must be from a geographic region.
  4. Distributing members based on population.
  5. Two Western states have requirements for a number non-hunting/fishing commission members.

The full report goes into detail on each point and provides excerpts of statutes from states that govern their commission in that way.  Further, details about how the changes in commissions is beginning to threaten the future of hunting are given.

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Wyoming Resident Hunter Moose Tags Down 76% in 20 Years

By Mountain Pursuit

In 1998, Wyoming allocated 1,032 resident moose tags. 

In 2018, Wyoming allocated 248 resident moose tags.

This  is a 76% decrease in just 20 years.  According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department harvest reports, the entire moose tag allotment has been reduced by 898 tags counting both resident and nonresident tags in the same 20-year period.

In 2018, 784 less Wyoming residents were given the opportunity for what is potentially a once-in-a-lifetime hunt.  As resident tags continued to decrease each year, it is corespondent with an alarming crash in the moose population (we are currently researching this… more to come). 

A second factor which influences resident tag allocation is the number of tags allotted to nonresident hunters.

During this 20 year period, the only factor that saw an increase was the percentage of moose tags going to nonresidents.  In 1998, 15% of moose tags went to nonresidents, but in 2018, that rose to 21%. 

Wyoming’s current Moose tag allocation of 20% to nonresidents makes Wyoming by far the most liberal in the West. Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, etc. all allocate 10% or less of available Moose tags to nonresidents.

Mountain Pursuit supports the reduction of nonresident big-game tags to 10%, and in hunt areas with 10 or less total tags, 100% will go to residents. 

In 2018, this reduction of nonresident Moose tag allocation would have contributed 45 additional Moose tags to Wyoming resident hunters.

For more information, email rob@mtnpursuit.org.

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9 of 12 Western States Offer An Outfitter Set-Aside

By Mountain Pursuit

A report by Mountain Pursuit “Different Ways Western States Use Big Game Hunting Licenses To Benefit Commercial Outfitters” finds that 9 of the 12 Western states are specifically allocating their big game tags in order to benefit commercial outfitters.  This report uncovers the details of the relationship between each state and its outfitters.

States use three methods to benefit commercial outfitters via hunting licenses:

    1. Commercial guide requirement for nonresidents (3 of 12 Western States).
    2. Special outfitter draw and/or and outfitter set-aside (3 of 12 Western States).
    3. Landowner tags permitted to be transferred (6 of 12 Western States).

The three states who do not currently offer any outfitter set-asides are: Arizona, Hawaii, and Montana.

In the full report, there is a detailed description of each state’s current practices and how they are benefiting their commercial outfitters.

"Historically, a major opponent to increasing resident hunter license preference has been the commercial outfitting lobby and association," said Mountain Pursuit Founder, Rob Shaul.

"Outfitting is one of the oldest and most traditional industries in the West," he continued,
"and we were interested in what states are doing now to benefit this industry. We learned a lot in completing this study and wanted to share what we learned with others."

For more information or questions, email rob@mtnpursuit.org.

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Governor Gordon - Thanks for the Bison Tag. Now Limit Nonresidents to 10% of Big Game Licenses

By Rob Shaul

Governor Gordon is offering up one of his Governor bison tags for a raffle limited to Wyoming residents only. A raffle ticket offered through the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation website will cost you $10, and the "lucky winning ticket" will be drawn during Cheyenne Frontier Days on July 27th.

If Governor Gordon really wanted to demonstrate he cared about Wyoming resident hunters, he would insist the Wyoming Legislature change Wyoming's annual give-away of our valuable hunting tags to nonresidents. Wyoming is, by far, the most liberal state in the West when it comes to nonresident hunting tag allocation.

Wyoming gives 25% of our Bighorn Sheep tags to nonresidents. Other western states? Ten percent at most.
Wyoming gives 20% of our Bison tags to nonresidents. Other western states? Ten percent at most.
Wyoming gives 20% of our Moose tags to nonresidents. Other western states? Ten percent at most.

In 2018, Wyoming gave 18% of our Elk tags, 31% of our deer tags and 52% of our antelope tags to nonresidents!

You read right, in 2018, more nonresidents purchased antelope tags in Wyoming than Wyoming residents!

Why are we so liberal with our tags? Blame the outfitters, hospitality industry (motels/restaurants), and Wyoming Game & Fish Department which have all for years fought any decrease in nonresident tag allocation. 

Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat and Moose are once-in-a-lifetime hunts for Wyoming residents. Every Sheep, Mountain Goat and Moose tag that goes to a nonresident means a Wyoming resident will never get the opportunity to hunt for these species in his or her lifetime.

Back to Governor Gordon's Bison Tag Raffle.... 

Governor, if we drop Wyoming's bison tag allocation from it's current 20% of the total to 10% like other states, twenty-four more Wyomingites would have hunted Bison in 2018. Please don't let this happen again. 

Fix it.

Rob Shaul is a 5th Generation Wyomingite and the Founder of Mountain Pursuit

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Sitka Gear Hunter Kiviok Hight Takes the Mountain Pursuit 400/50 Pledge

By Mountain Pursuit

Kiviok Hight, a long-serving pro staff member fo clothing manufacturer, Sitka Gear, has taken Mountain Pursuit's "400/50 Pledge." 

By taking the 400/50 Pledge, Kiviok has voluntarily agreed to limit his maximum hunting firearm shot to 400 yards, and archery hunting shot to 50 yards. 

Mountain Pursuit's 400-yard Firearm Shot restriction is rooted in Fair Chase. 

The essence of "Fair Chase" is maintaining the balance between the predator and prey. Specifically, game animals should have a reasonable chance of avoiding detection and if detected, eluding the hunter. Technology which tips this balance in favor of the hunter is simply unethical.

According to the biologists at the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the ability of big game to detect a hunter past 400 yards is greatly diminished. 

Technological advances in lightweight, sub-MOA hunting rifles, advanced, high powered scopes and optics, ballistics calculators, wind meters and premium ammunition loads have all worked to extend hunting shot distances way past 400 yards. Today there exists extreme range television hunting shows, social media channels, and outfitters who specialize in extreme range hunting. 

All of this technology has worked to put the hunter outside the game animal's ability to detect him, and therefore, shots past 400 yards are unethical. 

Ethical hunters should avoid 400+ yard shots simply based on Fair Chase. Just as important is the non-hunting public perception of extreme range hunting. A 2017 study of attitudes toward hunting showed that 87% of US non-hunters have a favorable view Fair Chase, subsistence-based hunting (hunting for food.).  It's obvious to non-hunters who see video of extreme range hunting that the animal has no chance - and this fact works to turn them against hunting and jeopardize hunting's future. 

Mountain Pursuit's 50-Yard Maximum Archery Hunting Shot Distance pledge is not rooted in fair chase, but rather rooted in protecting special archery seasons. 

Wyoming and all other western states have early, archery-only seasons for big game, where only archery equipment can be used to take game. Rifle hunters tolerate these early seasons with the understanding that archery hunters must get much closer to the game to kill, and therefore, harvest rates are lower than rifle seasons. Increasing effective ranges of compound bows (70+yards) and crossbows (100+ yards) may threaten this rifle hunter tolerance, eventually leading to the limitation or elimination of special archery seasons.

Limiting maximum archery shots to 50 yards or less honors this gentlemen's agreement between rifle hunters and archery hunters, and helps protect special archery seasons. 

"In 22 years of elk archery hunting," Kiviok wrote after taking the 400/50 Pledge, "I haven't shot over 35 yards." 

Click HERE to take the 400/50 Pledge.

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