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Entries in Texas (70)

Sunday
Aug072016

Line Reycling Programs Increase; More Needed 

Following Florida's lead in 1999,  monofilament line recycling programs have been initiated in at least two dozen states, and the public image of anglers nationwide would be greatly enhanced if more stepped up to participate. 

That's because Berkley estimates  it has recycled more than 9 million miles worth of fishing line since it began accepting it in 1990. That's enough to fill two reels for every angler in America. Had it been discarded in the water or on the shore, far more fish, fowl, and other wildlife likely would have died. Also it could have caused considerable damage to boat engines by becoming entangled in props or sucked in by intakes.

Initiation of a program requires one key ingredient, according to Chris Dunnavant, angling educator coordinator with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and long-time member of B.A.S.S.

"Staffing is a big issue so volunteers contact us. They might be a Scout group or an association," he said, adding that VDGIF coordinates and approves placement of line recycling bins across the state. On its website, it also provides instruction and diagrams for building the bins, which now are in place at about 150 access areas in Virginia.

"They (volunteers) do it all," he continued. "They are responsible for emptying the bins and taking the line to recycling centers, including at Bass Pro Shops and some of our regional offices. From there it goes to Berkley."

Regular monitoring is a must, he explained, because some put trash in the bins, and birds and other wildlife sometimes go into them, get tangled, and die, if baffles are not included.

Why is discarded monofilament a problem? Here's what the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) says at its Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP) website page:

"Most monofilament is non-biodegradable and can last hundreds of years, depending on environmental conditions.

"Because it is thin and often clear, it is very difficult for birds and animals to see and they can easily brush up against it and become entangled in it. Once entangled, they may become injured, may drown, may become strangled, or may starve to death.

"Many animals also ingest fishing line. One recovered sea turtle was found to have consumed 500 feet of heavy duty fishing line."

But when the line is sent to Berkley, it is made into fish habitat structures, as well as raw plastic pellets, which can be used to make tackle boxes, spools for line, and toys. Discarded monofilament , however, is not used to make more fishing line.

"By recycling line, we are enhancing fishing," Dunnavant said.

For more information, check out VDGIF, FWC's MRRP, Texas Monofilament Recovery & Recyling, and the Berkley Conservation Institute online.

Wednesday
Jul202016

Volunteers Bring Texas' Lake Livington 'Back to Life'

Too often, fisheries habitat projects by non-government groups are limited or even shut down because of a lack of funding. With that in mind, bass clubs and other organizations would do well to follow the example of Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs (LLFoR).

The goal is "to bring this lake back to life," according to Tom McDonough, project director for. "This used to be one of the best bass lakes in the United States, and we want to make it that again."

But McDonough realized that sustaining a 10-year commitment to establish aquatic vegetation on the 83,000-acre water supply impoundment near Houston will require more than occasional grants from Friends of Reservoirs and others. A funding-raising raffle helped some, but it was formation of a Business Leaders Council (BLC) that likely will sustain the project.

 

In just two months, LLFoR is a quarter of the toward its goal of recruiting 20 companies, local governments, and even individuals to donate $500 a year for the nine remaining years of the project.

"The BLC donations will be key going forward, as we most likely cannot apply to FoR for a grant every year," McDonough said. "This will provide us bridge funding and gives us the flexibility to do some funding of items that the federal government will not allow grant funds to be used for."

Thus far, work has focused on propagating and planting water willows for the coalition that has 23 partners, including six school districts, Texas Black Bass Unlimited (TBBU), Onalaska Bass Club, and Polk County Hookers, as well as Trinity River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW), and Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership severing as advisers.

Plantings by volunteer students and teachers were planned for May and August of this year, while McDonough hoped that anglers and others would wade into the action in between those two months. The goal is to put in 10,000 plants a year, with TBBU paying for production of a video, both to promote LLFoR's work and to provide guidance for volunteers.

All of the vegetation to this point has been water willows, but McDonough said that other species might be added as well, including bulrush.  "This plant is  grass carp resistant and can grow from the shoreline into three to five feet of water," he said.

Both the natural aging of the lake and the illegal introduction of grass carp contributed to the fishery's decline.

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.