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Entries in Texas (68)

Friday
Jun102016

PC Insanity Infects Management of Fish, Wildlife; Our Outdoor Heritage at Risk

As it has with every other aspect of society, Political Correctness insanity brought to us by the Democratic Left has infected natural resources management. As a consequence,  fish and wildlife now are becoming tools to use for political gain instead of being managing for public good.

In the West, Washington and Oregon wildlife agencies have bowed to pressure from the feds and special interest groups, removing creel limits on bass in several rivers and likely destroying world-class fisheries in the process.

The argument is that these fish contribute to the continued demise of native salmon/steelhead/trout fisheries. In fact, evidence is scant. The real reasons are loss of habitat and alteration of their cold-water environment to one that more favors  bass, catfish, and walleye.

And bass, even though legally introduced more than a century ago by the feds and/or with government approval, are "nonnative."

For today's PC crowd, nothing makes these fish more offensive and in need of elimination. Never mind the hypocrisy that illegal immigrants are a protected class by these same people.

In Florida, meanwhile, compassionate PC's are readying their torches and pitchforks to go after the state if it should dare to have a second hunt to protect people, pets, and property from an out-of-control bear population.

My vote for the most idiotic PC insanity to date, however, goes to Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, who wants to spend millions of dollars in public funds to perform vasectomies on bucks to control a deer population that has exploded from 24 in 2008 to nearly 1,000 today. Just last year, a deer broke through a strip-mall window and bled to death inside. Others have gored pets and bolted into traffic, colliding with city buses, police cars and private vehicles.

Wildlife biologists say the plan won't work. De Blasio insists that he knows better than the scientists. And, yes, there's hypocrisy here too. Remember "manmade climate change," one of the basic tenets of Leftist ideology?  The true believers insist that "the science is settled" and "97 percent of scientists agree" regarding the cause of climate change.

Of course, neither is true. But the point is the PC crazies will use science when it meets their needs and ignore it when it doesn't. (They also intentionally attempt to confuse the issue, making it appear as if their opponents deny climate change is occurring, when that is not the case at all. The argument is over whether manmade activities are contributing, and, if so, how much.)

Here is what  wildlife biologist Dr. Paul Curtis of Cornell University told The New York Post about de Blasio's plan:“This proposal has no chance of success whatsoever.”

First, if the local bucks are shooting blanks, does would keep going into heat all through fall and winter, right on up to early spring. That would attract still-potent males from many miles around, with some possibly even crossing the Delaware from New Jersey to get some action.

But “it won’t even get to that point,” Curtis said, “because I think it would be extremely difficult to get even 50 percent of the bucks” in order to sterilize them. Even a few intact bucks can keep the herd growing exponentially.

Also, the Post added, "Snipped bucks would be sterile but still have a strong sex drive. So during an extended rutting season, there would be more perilous encounters with humans as the mad-with-lust bucks heedlessly run around looking for mates."

Read more about the insanity here.

Of course, the logical solution is to bring in expert archers to cull the population. Backyard Bow Pro in North Carolina provides such services, with the venison donated to local food pantries.

But logic has no place where animal rights activists are concerned, and they are firmly entrenched in the big cities. In 14 of them, they recently  celebrated National Animal Rights Day.

These are the people who want to stop us from fishing and hunting. Their tactics and campaigns aren't always aimed directly at our outdoor heritage, but that's where they are leading. Their ultimate goal is to stop use of animals entirely, including for medical research, food, and even as pets.

They aren't yet going after hunting and fishing with a national campaign. But they're trying their best to shut them down, a little at a time, in the states. In Maine they tried, and failed, to stop a bear hunt. Now they're focused on Florida.

That's why it's so important for states to follow the lead of Texas, and guarantee the right to fish and hunt in their constitutions.  Nineteen of them now have done so, 18 since 1996.

In November, citizens of Indiana and Kansas will vote on amendments to protect the right to fish and hunt, while a North Carolina proposal still must be approved by the state senate before it becomes a ballot initiative.

Meanwhile in New York City, de Blasio said that performing vasectomies on male deer is the preferred option because it is easy to perform.

"That's absolutely false," said biologist Curtis, who has done buck vasectomies. "They do not respond well to immobilization drugs. It is far more stressful on the animals.

But facts and logic mean little to de Blasio and true believers whose dream is to give legal rights to animals as part of their PC paradise.

And that includes making fishing and hunting illegal.

Thursday
Jun092016

Kansas, Indiana Seek to Protect Fishing, Hunting Rights

This November, citizens of Indiana and Kansas will decide whether they want to add amendments to their state constitutions, guaranteeing the right to fish, hunt, and trap.

Last year , Texas became the 19th state to enshrine that right, and the 18th since 1996, as harassment both on the water and in the woods has increased from animal rights activists, as well as aggressive and often misinformed waterfront property owners.

"Indiana sportsmen and women know the importance of protecting America's treasured outdoor heritage for future generations," said Chris Cox, executive director  of the Institute for Legislative Action, an arm of the National Rifle Association, which supports both amendments.

"Voting for Question One on the November ballot will protect those cherished traditions in the Hoosier State fromm efforts by well-funded national extremist groups," he added.

Question One says the following:

 “Shall the Constitution of the State of Indiana be amended by adding a Section 39 to Article 1 to provide that the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to:
(1) promote wildlife conservation and management; and
(2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing?"

In Kansas, meanwhile, House Concurrent Resolution 5008 unanimously passed the state Senate for placement on the ballot and says this:

 “The people have the right to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to reasonable laws and regulations that promote wildlife conservation and management and that preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights or water resources.”

In Indiana, sportsmen spend almost $1 billion annually participating in fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities, while in Kansas they spend more than $629 million.

Additionally, license fees paid by anglers and hunters primarily finance state wildlife agencies. And that funding is bolstered by the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which collects excise taxes on fishing tackle and hunting gear and then redistributes the money to the states.

Wednesday
Feb242016

Texas Becomes 19th State to Guarantee Right to Fish and Hunt

 

In 1777, Vermont became the first state to include the right to fish and hunt in its constitution. In November, Texas became the 19th overall and the 18th since 1996, as more than 80 percent of voters approved Proposition 6.

As we've become an increasingly urbanized society in recent years, sportsmen have recognized the need to protect their rights from an aggressive animal rights movement. Its members view the pastimes as "cruel" and ignore the immense importance of fishing and hunting for conservation, as well as its historic and cultural significance. That was made abundantly clear last fall, when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)  faced a firestorm of criticism for its decision to address an exploding bear population with a managed hunt.

Here's what one enlightened anti-hunting activist told FWC: "The world watched the barbaric massacre of the majestic black bears and is disgusted. They should have a 'harvest' for hellbound rednecks."

And how about what happened to angler Ed Loughran last July, during the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open on the James River? As he legally fished a tidal area, he was harassed, threatened and sprayed with a hose. In August, meanwhile, Elite Pro Mark Menendez was insulted and threatened on the St. Lawrence River.

With its considerable political clout, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been a leader in the movement to enshrine hunting and fishing as state constitutional rights. And the Texas victory, it said, "brings us one step closer to our goal of incorporating this critical protection across the country."

In addition to confirming those rights, the Texas amendment also designates fishing and hunting as the preferred methods for managing and controlling wildlife. And it specifies that this provision does not affect laws relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.

Texas B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Director Tim Cook said that bass anglers helped spread the word about the importance of this proposal in the weeks before the election.

"Other than social media, forums, and word of mouth, we didn't feel the need to do much else," he said. "I was told that the outdoor community was pretty confident it would pass.

"While we always have had this right," he added, "adding it to our state constitution may help prevent infringing on our rights in the future."

In Texas alone, almost three million annually fish and hunt, spending $4.1 billion, generating 65,000 jobs and contributing more than $415 million in tax revenue. Across the country, anglers generate more than $48 billion in retail sales each year, with a $115 billion impact on the nation's economy, creating employment for more than 828,000 people, according to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Association Recreation.

Additionally, license fees paid by anglers and hunters are what finance state wildlife agencies, not general tax revenue. And that funding is bolstered by the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which collects excise taxes on fishing tackle and hunting gear and then redistributes the money to the states.

Anglers and hunters also contribute billions to private conservation programs. Protecting their rights provides for the continued existence of science-based fish and wildlife management and habitat programs that benefit all species, not just those pursued by sportsmen.

Tuesday
Feb092016

Research Shows Catch-and-Release Does Help Sustain Fisheries

Releasing a bass makes us feel good. But does catch-and-release really help sustain fisheries?

Based on results from a tagging study at Texas’ Amon Carter, a 1,539 acre fishery north of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Sixty-three percent of 786 tagged bass were taken. In other words, fishermen caught nearly 500 of those fish.

 Forty-three percent were weighed in by tournament anglers. Another 16.3 percent was caught and released by recreational fishermen, with just 3.7 percent harvested.

There’s plenty more evidence too.

Nearly 75 percent of tagged fish were caught at Florida’s Lake Santa Fe.

“Another study we did on Rodman years ago was 40 percent caught by anglers,” said Mike Allen, professor of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Florida.

On Tennessee’s Norris Reservoir, meanwhile, the “adjusted annual angler catch rate” for tagged largemouth bass was 47 percent in 1996 and 34 percent in 1997.

And Jacob Westhoff encountered some powerful anecdotal evidence while doing a smallmouth telemetry study on the Jacks Fork River for the Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit. Eighteen of the 33 bronzebacks with transmitters were caught by anglers.

“Also of note, is that eight of our fish were caught by a single angler in one day during the winter at the confluence of Alley Spring and the Jacks Fork River,” he said.

Clearly, the evidence is there to support the wisdom of catch-and-release--- and more.

“Those findings highlight the importance of proper fish care,” said Randy Myers, a fisheries biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife. But he is quick to add that not all bass fisheries reveal such dramatic findings. For example, just 38 percent of more than 6,000 tagged fish were caught on Sam Rayburn, a lake more than 70 times the size of Carter.

Allen added that the statewide estimate for Florida lakes is about 20 percent.

“It obviously varies widely among water bodies and probably among regions,” he added. “In Florida, we have so many lakes. It’s probably higher in states without as many fishing sites.”

Allen’s point is important. The percentage of a bass population caught ties directly to angling pressure. At Amon Carter, tournament and recreational effort was a combined 14 hours per acre, while it was 5.2 at Rayburn. And in Florida, drought had reduced accessible areas at other fisheries, likely forcing more anglers than normal to fish Santa Fe.

Other factors can influence how great a percentage is caught as well.

“Rayburn has better habitat than Carter,” Myers said. “Overall, it’s a better lake for bass production.”

Still, angling pressure is a top consideration for resource managers in maintaining healthy bass fisheries. That’s why Myers is hopeful that removal of a protective slot at Ray Roberts will attract tournaments away from Carter.

“At Carter, more than half of the effort was from tournament anglers,” he said. “Because they are so popular, we have to think long and hard about restrictions that would limit tournaments. But if 50 percent of tournament-retained fish die (at Carter) it would have some impact on the fishery.”

Consequently, how fish are cared for before they are released also is a concern for Myers and other fisheries managers.

“If a fish is gilling, lots of experienced anglers still assume that it will live,” Myers said. “But that’s not always true. Some of those fish do die.”

The Texas biologist pointed to statistics gathered as part of a fizzing study during five tournaments at Lake Amistad in 2009.

On days when the water temperature was in the 50s and 60s, mortality, both immediate and delayed, was less than 10 percent. On a day when the temperature was 79 to 80, total mortality was 23 percent and delayed 18.3. And, most sobering, when the temperature was 83, total mortality was 50.8 percent and delayed 42.1.

“What we saw at Amistad is that 75 degrees is the critical temperature for bass health in a livewell,” he said. “That high mortality was strictly related to water temperature.”

Hot Days and Heavy Limits

Research like that at Amistad prompted Texas biologists Randy Myers and James Driscoll to recommend an oxygen injection system for livewells, particularly when an angler has a hefty limit as often happens at Texas reservoirs.

“Oxygen injection has long been used by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hatcheries to maintain the health of fish being stocked into reservoirs,” they said.

“Fisheries staff regularly transport or hold fish in ratios equal to or greater than one pound of fish to a gallon of water. However, boat manufactures do not offer oxygen injection system options, and very few tournament anglers have installed oxygen equipment on their boats.”

Proper installation and operation of such a system, they added, “will ensure oxygen levels remain above the preferred level of 7 milligrams per liter, even when livewells contain heavy limits.”

More information is available in a Power Point presentation.

Thursday
Jan142016

Giant Salvinia Found at Texas' Lake Fork

A noxious invasive plant that has plagued Louisiana and Texas waters for more than a decade finally has found its way to Lake Fork, the Lone Star State's No.1 trophy bass lake. Possibly giant salvinia was brought in accidentally by boat or trailer from Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn, or Caddo.

"We do everything we can within the limits of manpower and budget that we have to work with," said Larry Hodge, spokesman for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). "The problem is that everybody who has a boat is a potential vector."

"We've found infestations like this on other reservoirs  in East Texas and have gone in and physically removed the plants, all that we can find," he added. "If you catch it early, sometimes you can get rid of it, at least temporarily."

On Nov. 18 in Chaney Branch, agency biologists confirmed the presence of this fast-growing, free-floating fern that can double its coverage in a week, as it blocks access and displaces native plants, which can't grow under its dense mats. 

"The infestation appears to be confined to this branch and a another small cove west of the dam and occupies an estimated 3.25 acres," TPWD said. "Judging by the distribution and age of the plants, it appears it has been in place for several months."

The Sabine River Authority (SRA) immediately close boat ramps at Chaney Point South and Secret Haven to reduce the risk of spreading the plant.   It also checked at bridge crossings and along shorelines for additional plants.

Additionally, SRA and TPWD crews have physically removed plants, as well as placed about 1,100 feet of floating boom across the creek, in hopes of containing the infestation within the 90-acre cove.

TPWD also plans to conduct a chemical treatment, using glyphosate. "All efforts will be made to protect beneficial plants, while focusing on killing the invasive giant salvinia," the agency said, adding that it will continue to look for the plant in other areas of the lake.

"We've had a lot of rain and high water this year and a lot of wind," said biologist Kevin Storey. " I suspect this will affect Lake Fork for years."