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Category: Animal rights

Colorado officials unanimously approve regulation banning the hunting of denned bears

Black bear. The Colorado Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a regulation Thursday that bans the hunting or harassment of black bears in their dens.

The regulation was drafted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife following an incident in November in which hunter Richard Kendall of Craig, Colo., tracked a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and killed the animal.

Although the killing of the 703-pound bear was legal -- Colorado hunting regulations did not prohibit hunting a bear in a den -- the incident sparked public outrage, generating angry emails and calls to state wildlife authorities.

Colorado Division of Wildlife Regulations Manager Brett Ackerman told the Colorado Wildlife Commission that the den-hunting ban was consistent with a primary objective of the division's strategic plan, which is to maintain and increase public support for wildlife and wildlife management by emphasizing safety and fair chase.

The new regulation will take effect July 1.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Black bear. Credit: Lynn Chamberlain / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources


Colorado approves draft regulations prohibiting hunting bears in their dens

A black bear peers through the brush. Colorado Wildlife Commission officials have approved the draft phase of regulations which, if passed, would prohibit the hunting of bears in their dens.

The commission approved the draft regulations at their meeting Thursday in Denver. The final vote will come at the May 5 meeting in Salida, Colo., and if approved will become effective July 1.

The den-hunting restriction proposal was drafted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife following an incident last November in which hunter Richard Kendall of Craig, Colo., tracked a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and killed the animal.

Although the killing of the 703-pound bear was legal -- Colorado hunting regulations currently do not prohibit hunting a bear in a den -- the incident sparked public outrage, generating angry e-mails and calls to state wildlife authorities.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A black bear peers through the brush. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Colorado to draft regulations prohibiting hunting bears in their dens

A black bear peers through the brush. Colorado officials are drafting a regulation that, if passed, would prohibit the hunting of bears in their dens.

The state Wildlife Commission directed the Colorado Division of Wildlife to draft the regulation after an incident last November in which hunter Richard Kendall, of Craig, Colo., tracked a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and killed the animal.

Although the killing of the 703-pound bear was legal -- Colorado hunting regulations currently do not prohibit hunting a bear in a den -- the incident sparked public outrage, generating angry e-mails and calls to state wildlife authorities.

On Wednesday, Division of Wildlife regulations manager Brett Ackerman told the commission at its January meeting that den-hunting is apparently not common among bear hunters. However, he said the division monitors issues that Colorado citizens may find do not meet public expectations of fair chase, and that this incident has generated significant negative public feedback.

Ackerman added that numerous other states have banned den-hunting on the grounds that it does not meet public expectations of fair chase.

Commission Chairman Tim Glenn said the panel considers regulations regarding hunting ethics on a case-by-case basis.

"We talked about the importance of fair chase for maintaining public trust in what we do," he said. "That is absolutely critical, so for what it's worth, I certainly think we do need to address this issue."

Several commissioners wondered if the issue could be addressed by closing bear hunting seasons earlier, before bears would be expected to enter hibernation. But others noted that weather, elevation and geography all factor in to the timing of bear denning, which varies across the state.

The draft regulation will be presented for consideration by the Wildlife Commission at its March meeting in Denver and could be approved by May.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A black bear peers through the brush. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Fish and Game Q&A: Why are tags and licenses needed for hunting feral pigs?

Wild pig. In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: Please explain why the Department of Fish and Game requires a hunting license and tags to hunt and kill feral pigs. Feral pigs, as the name implies, are domestic pigs that have gone wild. They are an invasive species that destroy the environment and spread disease. Proper and responsible environmental management would mandate the eradication of this invasive species; yet DFG has a policy that discourages killing feral pigs by charging fees. Why is this? (Curtis A.)

Answer: DFG requires a valid license and tag to legally take a wild pig. According to DFG Wild Pig Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, Fish and Game Code, section 4650 says that any free-ranging, non-domesticated pig is classified as a wild pig, and therefore is considered big game. DFG instituted the tagging requirement as a means to continuously monitor California’s wild-pig population. This information is used by DFG biologists, in concert with private and public landowners, to develop pig-management plans that are intended to protect cultural and natural resources from the damage wild pigs are known to cause. Without the wild-pig harvest report information, private and public land managers would lack the information necessary to develop these plans of action. Furthermore, the revenues generated by the sale of wild-pig tags are used by DFG to monitor disease transmission, evaluate environmental impacts of wild pigs and provide the public with additional hunting opportunities. Your participation in this process is greatly appreciated.

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California Fish and Game wardens in the spotlight on 'Wild Justice,' premiering Sunday on National Geographic Channel

California Department of Fish and Game wardens will be the focus of the upcoming series Wild Justice, premiering Sunday on the National Geographic Channel.

California Department of Fish and Game wardens certainly have an interesting work schedule. Dealing with illegal hunters, methamphetamine users, illegal pot growers and probation violators, it seems no two days are alike. 

These 240 law enforcement men and women patrol wide swaths of the state's 159,000 square miles of land, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 1,100 miles of coastline, often alone and in rural areas where backup can be hours away. And often, many of the people they come in contact with are armed.

The real-life bravery of California game wardens is brought to light in the new National Geographic Channel series "Wild Justice," premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. with two hourlong episodes before moving to its regular night and time, Wednesdays at 10 beginning Dec. 1.

The 11-episode series follows the lives of California’s Fish and Game wardens, on call 24/7, as they defend against human threats to the environment, endangered wildlife and the cultivation of illegal drugs.  On foot or horseback, by car or off-road vehicle, by plane or by boat, this small group of law enforcement officers covers a large territory in pursuit of poachers, polluters and illegal marijuana growers, while still making sure hunters and anglers follow the rules.

Though the show appears to focus on the "dirty" side of the job, it's not all trouble -- wardens also promote and coordinate hunter education programs and represent the DFG at schools and meetings of hunting and fishing clubs and other special interest groups.

"One thing about this job is that everything changes," DFG Warden Brian Boyd comments in one episode. "It's one reason why I like it and the reason some people don't like it, cause you can't set your clock to it."

"Wild Justice" episode descriptions through mid-December are after the jump (the rest of the descriptions are still pending):

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Poll takes the pulse of sportsmen on western gray wolf issue

A gray wolf runs through the snow in Yellowstone National Park.

Gray wolves in the western United States remain a highly contentious issue. Populations of the reintroduced animals have reportedly exceeded expectations, so much so that the predators were removed from Endangered Species Act protection (at least temporarily, until U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy’s Aug. 5 ruling which placed gray wolves back on protected status).

States are looking to overturn this decision and are seeking the authority to manage packs within their boundaries -- including the possibility of allowing wolf-hunting seasons, as were held in Idaho and Montana last year.

Among those stakeholder groups attempting to be heard on the matter -- state and federal legislators, animal-rights activists, ranchers and sportsmen -- are America’s hunters. But when surveyed on the subject as to how best to proceed, they seem to have some gray areas.

Asked if they believe western gray wolf populations have recovered and should be removed from the Endangered Species List, well over half of the respondents to the September HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com polls said yes, with 57.1% responding in the affirmative. But about 36% stated that they "did not know" if populations are recovered, with only 6.7% saying they are not.

One thing respondents seem united on is their distrust of the motivations behind animal welfare groups’ opposition to delisting the gray wolf or turning over management authority to the states. An overwhelming 65% believe these groups are acting out of an interest to limit hunting opportunities, with almost 40% saying the organizations are doing so as a means to boost membership and donations. Only 16.1% believe these groups are acting out of genuine concern for conserving and restoring wolf populations. Comments submitted by survey respondents supported these beliefs, with many suggesting animal rights groups will say or do anything they can to put a stop to hunting in any form.

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The Lazy Marathoner: So this is what V.I.P. looks like

Start Thank you, Mother Nature, for smiling down on my back-to-back half-marathons.

Despite all the cold and rainy weather we've had of late, the conditions were excellent for Sunday's inaugural Rock 'N' Roll half-marathon, which started in Griffith Park and ended up in downtown Los Angeles. I did this on a bit of a whim, feeling strong after last week's walk/run in the Long Beach half- marathon, and I'm glad I did. Those guys really know how to put on a race.

Perhaps that's no surprise, given the cross-country slate of marathons and half-marathons they put on under the Rock 'N' Roll banner. But this team has it down to a science. By the time I decided to do the race, I'd missed the online-registration window. I arrived at the L.A. Convention Center late Friday afternoon, dreading the possibility of long lines at the registration tables and at the Expo. All that worry was wasted: I registered, paid for my bib and had my race packet in hand in about four minutes. Seriously. It seemed like the race organizers had one volunteer for ever runner in attendance. Was it different on Saturday when the crowds were larger? What was your experience like?

While at the Expo, I met race spokesman Dan Cruz, who kindly invited me to visit the V.I.P. tent on race morning with others from the media who were largely there to cover the celebrity quotient of the race. Among the competitors: actors Jerry O'Connell, Jennifer Love Hewitt and James Marsden, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his girlfriend, KTLA TV reporter Lu Parker. (The mayor began the race but peeled off shortly after the start for work obligations: He was there to support Parker, whose charity, the Lu Parker Project, helps at-risk youth and homeless animals and raised more than $7,000 on Sunday. Perhaps even more amazing? The Miss USA 1994 looked as picture perfect at the end of the race as she did at the beginning of the race. Maybe even better, thanks to the post-workout glow. See photographic proof below.)

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Constitutional right to hunt, fish on four state ballots

A hunter and his son. Those going to the polls in Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee on Nov. 2 will be asked to decide  whether hunting and fishing deserve the added protection of being a state constitutional right.

"When you have something protected in your constitution, then it is very difficult to use the courts or other types of ballot activities to thwart, for example, hunting and fishing," state Sen. Steve Faris (D.-Ark.), the bill's lead sponsor there, told Reuters.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states -- Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin -- guarantee the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions.  California and Rhode Island have language in their respective constitutions guaranteeing the right to fish but not to hunt.

"They start with cats and dogs, and the next thing you know, someone says it's inhumane to shoot a deer," added Faris.

The "they" Faris refers to are animal-rights organizations, which are decidedly anti-hunting.

Ashley Byrne, a New York-based campaigner for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, described the hunting and fishing ballot proposals as "a desperate attempt to prop up a dying pastime," adding that although PETA had not mounted any campaigns against the amendments, it would "continue to educate people about how hunting is cruel and unnecessary."

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Colorado hunting outfitter indicted on baiting charges

A silhouetted bull elk makes its high-pitched mating call.

A federal grand jury in Denver has indicted a Colorado hunting outfitter for allegedly placing hundreds of pounds of salt near stands of trees in the White River National Forest to attract deer and elk for out-of-state clients.

The Denver Post reports that outfitter Dennis Rodebaugh, 69, of Meeker, Colo., and guide Brian Kunz, 54, of Augusta, Wis., who worked as a guide for Rodebaugh, are charged with 10 felony counts of conspiracy and of violating the Lacey Act.

Each of the 10 felony counts carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and, under the Lacey Act, vehicles and equipment used in the commission of the crimes are forfeited.

The indictment alleges that Rodebaugh, who operated D&S Guide and Outfitter, offered multi-day hunts into the White River National Forest, and that each year between 2002 and 2007 Rodebaugh and Kunz guided clients to areas near which they had placed hundreds of pounds of salt to entice deer and elk.

The Lacey Act bans interstate sale of big game outfitting and guiding services that utilize bait. Colorado also prohibits baiting when big game hunting.

"With this year's archery season about to start, this indictment serves as an important reminder that there are criminal consequences for illegal baiting," U.S. Atty. John Walsh said in a release. "Violations of this kind are the theft of a public resource for commercial gain."

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A silhouetted bull elk makes its high-pitched mating call. Credit: Associated Press

Fish and Game Q&A: Are there restrictions for using live and/or dead birds in training my dog to retrieve?

German shorthair pointer in the field.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I am currently training my dog to retrieve, which requires exposure to both live and dead birds. Are there any restrictions for using live and/or dead birds for the training? Are there certain types of birds that may be used? Pigeons are usually the bird of choice. (William, Lakewood)

Answer: Using live pigeons and most other domestically raised avian species for dog training is all right, as long as no wild birds are captured, injured or killed. Only domestic birds can be used to train dogs to retrieve, point or flush, or to prepare for or participate in field trails or similar events related to these activities, at any time of year from sunrise to sunset.

Generally, there are only minimal restrictions if no wild birds are killed, but a few restrictions apply if any birds are killed, and these include pigeons, bobwhite, domestic pheasants, etc. Use of dead birds (wing or other part) is acceptable as long as the birds were legally taken (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 677 (a) and (b)).

Q: I need to know if it’s legal to collect a pair of octopuses for a private aquarium. I would like to use scuba to collect them in the Monterey/Santa Cruz area. (Jason K., Santa Cruz)

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California bear hunting season opens Saturday

Black bear Bear hunters who haven't yet purchased their 2010 tags and plan to hunt on Saturday's opening day should get to a California Department of Fish and Game office no later than Thursday. That's because all DFG offices may be closed Friday due to state furloughs on the second, third and fourth Fridays each month. (An Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on Monday blocking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from enforcing the mandatory time off. The Schwarzenegger administration appealed the decision Tuesday.)

Bear tags can only be purchased in person at DFG's regional offices, including the License and Revenue branch in Sacramento, or through the mail. Offices are otherwise open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The general season for black bears opens concurrently with the general deer hunting seasons in deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 (specific dates can be found in the Big Game Hunting Digest, pages 22-28). In the remaining deer X zones, the bear season will open Oct. 9. All of the general bear seasons will end Dec. 26, or earlier if the statewide quota is met.

The 2010 statewide archery bear season starts Aug. 21 and will run for three weeks, closing Sept. 12. The Friday before the archery opening day may also be a furlough day.

Fish and Game will close the bear season early if 1,700 animals have been reported taken statewide. For daily updates on the reported bear harvest, call (888) 277-6398, or visit the bear management website.

Bear hunting is not without controversy in the Golden State. Earlier this year, DFG-proposed changes to the bear hunting season were again shelved after a coalition of more than 70 animal welfare organizations, including Big Wildlife, Los Padres ForestWatch and the Humane Society of the United States vehemently opposed the proposal. The plan, which included increasing bear hunting areas, the number of tags issued and quotas, was tabled because the department was unable to respond in writing to the large number of public comments received on the changes as required by law.

-- Kelly Burgess

twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Black bear. Credit: Lynn Chamberlain / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Judge returns gray wolves to protected status, halting wolf hunting plans in Idaho and Montana

A gray wolf runs through the snow in Yellowstone National Park.

A federal judge Thursday returned gray wolves to protection under the Endangered Species Act, effectively halting the possibility of wolf hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana this year.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy said in his ruling that de-listing portions of the Northern Rockies wolf population in Idaho and Montana while leaving those in Wyoming protected violated the Endangered Species Act, and that wolf populations cannot be managed based on political boundaries such as state lines.

"The Endangered Species Act does not allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list only part of a 'species' as endangered, or to protect a listed distinct population segment only in part as the Final Rule here does," Molloy wrote.

In separate statements, Montana and Idaho wildlife officials decried the decision.

"If we understand the ruling correctly, Judge Molloy is telling the federal government that because Wyoming still doesn't have adequate regulatory mechanisms to manage wolves, you can't de-list the wolf in Montana and Idaho," said Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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