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Thursday
May302013

Beaver Encounter Fatal for Fisherman

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I thought that I could pick up a water snake without getting bitten because it had a fish in its mouth.

Wrong!

Before you can say “Jay Silverheels” the snake spit out the fish and bit my hand.

A boy of that age is obliged to exercise such poor judgment; it’s in his DNA. I also shot a wasp’s nest with a water gun and was rewarded with six stings to the elbow.

Eventually, most of us outgrow this desire to challenge and/or intrude on aspects of nature better left alone. We learn to co-exist, to avoid picking up snakes and shooting wasp nests.

Some do not.

A fisherman in Belarus was one such person. On his way to a lake with friends, he saw a beaver by the side of the road.

No, this is not a joke. I’m serious here.

Anyway . . . when he saw the beaver he decided that he wanted to have his picture taken with it. As he tried to grab it, the rodent bit him several times, with one of the bites severing an artery. The fisherman bled to death.

Read more here.

By the way, a big part of “stupid things people do with dangerous animals” is keeping them as pets.  Check out this report of Exotic Animal Incidents.

Here’s a sample:

"2012, PASO ROBLES, CA - A Javan macaque kept illegally as a pet in Paso Robles bit a woman caring for it causing severe injuries on her arm and finger. The macaque is believed to belong to the woman's boyfriend.

"The macaque was kept in a small dog crate inside the couple's trailer and was being fed Frosted Flakes. California Fish and Game is handling the investigation and the owner could be charged with unlawful possession of a restricted species. The macaque has been taken into quarantine for 60 days."

I'm guessing that he was tired of Frosted Flakes.

Tuesday
May282013

Freedom to Fish Act Passes Congress, Awaits President's Signature 

With bipartisan support, the Freedom to Fish Act has passed both houses of Congress and now awaits President Obama’s signature to become law.

Will he sign it? I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t. But with this administration, you never know what’s going to happen. It tends to like government regulations, lots of regulations. And it doesn't seem to care much for recreational fishing, as evidenced by the National Ocean Policy and the process used in creating it.

When/if the bill becomes law, it would remove access restrictions to recreational fishing along the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The bill was drafted in response to a recent Army Corps of Engineers decision to restrict access downstream of 10 dams, citing safety concerns. Anglers didn’t like the proposal, saying they would lose some of their most productive waters. In addition, their respective legislative representatives criticized the Corps action, saying that it was overreaching.

“In this political climate it is refreshing to see a bill receive bipartisan support in the interest of recreational anglers and boaters alike,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association.

“While angling and boating access are important to the area’s economy, the proposed barriers along the Cumberland River were also unnecessary and counterproductive from a safety standpoint.

“Particularly concerning with these proposed closures was the lack of public input that went into the Army Corps’ decision,” noted Robertson. “If anglers had been provided an opportunity to weigh in on this proposal, Congressional action might not have been needed. It is critical that the public be allowed sufficient opportunities to provide input on any policy decision that might affect the public’s ability to access and enjoy public resources.”

The Freedom to Fish Act prohibits restrictive areas on the Cumberland River by the Army Corp for two years and also requires the Corps to remove any physical barriers that have been constructed since Aug. 1, 2012. Any future restrictions must be based on operational conditions that might create hazardous waters, and must follow an extensive opportunity for public input.

 More information on the Freedom to Fish Act and the Cumberland River issue can be found at Keep America Fishing.

Tuesday
May282013

RF's Stouffer Honored as Hero of Conservation by Field & Stream

One of the best guys in the business is being honored by Field & Stream. In its June issue, the magazine profiles Teeg Stouffer as one of its Heroes of Conservation.

Stouffer is founder and CEO of Recycled Fish, and, I’m proud to say, a good friend of mine. As the latter, I can tell you that no one cares more about stewardship of our fisheries than Teeg, and that is reflected in the prime message of Recycled Fish: “Our lifestyle runs downstream.”

Here’s more from Field & Stream:

 “Hunters and fishermen have never been afraid to roll up their sleeves and get to work in the name of protecting America’s wildlife and wild places, and Teeg is a great example of that ethos hard at work," says Anthony Licata, Editorial Director of Field & Stream. "Conservation is and will always be an integral part of hunting and fishing, and men and women like Teeg are crucial to keeping our traditions alive for generations to come.”

Now in its eighth year, Field & Stream's Heroes of Conservation program is dedicated to honoring individuals involved in grassroots projects to preserve the land, water and wildlife vital to sportsman’s pursuits. Every month the magazine highlights three “Heroes of Conservation,” who each receive a $500 grant from program partner Toyota.  To be considered for the program, individuals must be involved in a hunting- and/or fishing-related conservation project that is well under way with outstanding results. Selections are based on a number of factors, including leadership, commitment and project growth.

  Field & Stream’s Heroes of Conservation program culminates each fall when the magazine names the “Conservation Hero of the Year” and awards him or her a new Toyota Tundra. Six finalists, selected from the Heroes profiled in the monthly editions of the magazine, are selected and flown to Washington D.C. for an awards gala where the Hero of the Year is named and each finalist receives a $5,000 conservation grant from Toyota.

FIELD & STREAM’S June HEROES OF CONSERVATION:

Teeg Stouffer, Bellevue, Neb.

Ten years ago, Stouffer created the nonprofit Recycled Fish, which is devoted to the stewardship of all fish species and fishing waters nationwide. With the help of 120 volunteers around the country, the organization’s educational outreach has influenced 15,000-plus people to take its Sportsman’s Stewardship Pledge. The group’s Recycled Fish on Ice Tour has distributed 10,000 heavy-duty cleanup bags at ice fishing tournaments over the past six years.

David McNeal, St. George, Kan.

For the past six years, McNeal has guided hunters, free of charge, on Kansas’s Fort Riley, where he served as a first sergeant in the U.S. Army. Through his role on the board of the Fort Riley Outdoorsmen Group (FROG), he recently ran an annual turkey hunt for 17 children of soldiers deployed overseas. “I know every inch of this post,” he says, “and I apply that knowledge to getting young people involved.”

Jeff Turner, Sedley, Va.

A largemouth bass fisherman, Turner created the first Waterkeeper Alliance chapter in Virginia 12 years ago to protect the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers. Turner gives presentations about the rivers’ key species, organizes an annual trash cleanup, guides researchers surveying mussels and striped bass, and reports on his regular patrols of the waterways and their resources. “It’s like preventative medicine,” says Turner. Through his presentations, he was recently instrumental in helping the Nature Conservancy acquire 250 acres at Byrd Point for permanent protection.

CALL FOR ENTRIES:

“This is a great opportunity to recognize conservationists in your area,” says Licata. “From the guy down the street who has been quietly removing trash from a trout stream for 20 years to someone building duck habitat, we know there are countless people who are working to make our country’s wildlife and wild places better.  We’re honoring these outdoorsmen and -women for actively preserving our heritage and letting them know their efforts have not gone unnoticed.”

Friday
May242013

Fishing, Hunting Groups Want Gulf Ecosystem Restoration to Be Priority

More than 350 hunting and fishing businesses and organizations sent a letter to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, asking that the Council prioritize restoration of the Gulf ecosystem in order to also achieve economic restoration in the region.

Activist Angler proudly is one of those signees.

Vanishing Paradise drafted the letter, which illustrates that hunting and fishing are major economic drivers in the Gulf and are supported by habitat restoration and wildlife conservation. In 2011, in the five Gulf states alone, nearly 8.5 million hunters and anglers spent $15.7 billion on their outdoor pursuits. This spending supports more than 255,000 jobs and generates $3.3 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

Here’s an excerpt:

“If the wild spaces of the Gulf region aren’t protected and restored, sportsmen and women will lose the return on their long-standing investment, and the region will lose its rich hunting and angling heritage.

"A restored and productive Gulf ecosystem is essential for both regional and national economic recovery and growth. Every dollar spent on ecosystem restoration helps the recovery of the Gulf’s natural resource-based economy.”

The Restoration Council is a multi-state, multi-agency group that has been tasked with developing a comprehensive ecosystem restoration plan for the Gulf. The Council is developing the plan, with a draft due for public comment this spring.

Friday
May242013

Angry Guide Calls Out N.H. Trout Unlimited for Supporting Lead Ban

I am not the only one enraged by the New Hampshire’s legislature decision to ban lead jigheads and sinkers of 1 ounce or less. (See post below this one.) Angling advocates nationwide are shaking their heads in disbelief at the state’s disregard for science and common sense.

And they are not going to go away and quietly accept the state’s lead ban--- or forget those who supported the ban.

Here’s a letter to Trout Unlimited from Brian Emerson, a licensed fishing guide in New Hampshire:

As a lifetime angler and licensed guide for all species of fish in New Hampshire, as well as a former supporter and donor to NHTU, I have to tell you that I am totally disgusted with Trout Unlimited "selling-out" the fishing fraternity by supporting SB89. Eventually I'm sure it will come out as to what TU received in exchange for their support of this unfounded and unnecessary ban on bass fishing tackle. Perhaps your goal was to drive a wedge between trout and bass fisherman. If so, you don't begin to know how you have succeeded.

This bill was not endorsed by the NH F&G Commission for many good reasons. Why you would elect to support a bill contrary to their wishes certainly escapes me.

I have read your letter of support that was sent to the legislative committee and it sickens me to see that you would suggest that the NH loons are threatened (FACT: They most definitely are not!!!!) And the notion that the targeted bass jigs are having a significant negative impact on the loon population is obviously the statement of an uneducated person. Trout tackle continues to be the number one cause of lead toxicosis in loons, years after it has been banned.

Like I said, I fish for all species of fish and I expect that TU will feel the backlash from this to an extent they couldn't have imagined. You now have hundreds, and most likely thousands, of irate fishermen that will be on a mission to destroy TU in this state. Your only hope for salvation will be to support the repeal of SB89.

I can assure you the bass community will be submitting a bill to do just that in the future. I'm sure that lead-weighted flies, flies with lead eyes, lead-core line and any other trout tackle containing lead will be attacked as well (most likely by the very group that you sided with on this bill!).

I am ashamed, as a trout fisherman, to think that anglers placed their trust in you to oversee their interests only to be sold down the river. I will do everything in my power to let as many sportsmen as possible know what you have done and urge them to no longer support your organization.

If you want to send your own letter to the New Hampshire Trout Unlimited, here’s the address: nhtroutunlimited@gmail.com