Outdoor News Bulletin

Outdoor News Bulletin

April 2019 Edition | Volume 73, Issue 4 | Published since 1946

Winter, Spring Floods Impact Fish and Wildlife as Well as Agency Operations

Much of the Midwest has been affected by an extraordinary winter and subsequent spring flooding in recent weeks. While winter conditions were mild in late 2018, winter conditions became severe in 2019 with several periods of extreme snow and cold. Media reports have provided coverage of human and agricultural impacts, yet little has been reported on the impacts to fish and wildlife populations as well as the agencies that manage fish and wildlife and associated outdoor recreation.

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Lessons from Recent Bear Attacks

Two encounters with grizzly bears in the past nine months reinforce the need for people living, working, and recreating in grizzly bear range to carry bear spray in an accessible manner and know how to use it. Last September, a Wyoming guide and nonresident hunter were attacked by two grizzly bears while field dressing an elk the hunter had killed the previous day. The guide suffered injuries that were ultimately fatal, but evidence suggests that he was able to terminate the attack by using bear spray before he expired. An investigative report released in January by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) found that the hunter’s bear spray was unavailable, inside a backpack at the time of the attack. Not having the bear spray accessible precluded deployment of the spray at the onset of the attack. On April 7, 2019 a 17-year-old male was attacked by a bear – suspected to be a grizzly – south of Ennis, MT. In that encounter, the teen was able to deploy bear spray after initially being knocked to the ground by the bear. The spray terminated the attack, during which the young man suffered only minor injuries. These events demonstrate that bear spray can deter aggressive bear behavior, but the spray must be readily accessible and individuals must know how to use it to be effective.

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Familiarity Among Partners is the Key to Long-term, Sustainable Conservation Funding

In 1937, Congress passed the Pittman-Robertson Act at the urging of the firearms manufacturing industries and America’s sportsmen and women. This Act permanently reauthorized an 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition paid at the manufacturer level and dedicated it to state fish and wildlife agencies for wildlife restoration programs. In 1950, Congress passed a companion, the Dingell-Johnson Act, that provided dedicated excise tax funding from fishing equipment to fisheries restoration. Both of these funding streams have helped state fish and wildlife agencies achieve spectacular conservation successes. This uniquely American system of conservation funding depends strongly on partnerships for its continued longevity. The Wildlife Management Institute has been working to help strengthen these partnerships to ensure continued funding for agencies and support for the tax-paying manufacturers – as well as consumer understanding of our successful system of conservation funding.

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Sharing Regional Data through Nature's Network

The development of regional datasets that can serve to improve natural resource conservation and management has been a priority of the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. The NALCC has been successful in producing multiple data sets with a wealth of information. Nature’s Network is a collaborative effort developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Science Applications program that builds on the regional partnerships of the NALCC. Nature’s Network pulls together the datasets that have resulted from the efforts of the NALCC and other conservation efforts and helps conservation organizations use the data to conserve and connect intact habitats and ecosystems. The data helps identify priority areas where individual conservation partners can focus their efforts to contribute to regional conservation goals while also meeting the goals of their organizations.

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Worth Reading

Make a Home for Wildlife by Charles Fergus

You probably recognize Charles Fergus’ name; he has been working with the Wildlife Management Institute for a number of years supporting Young Forest restoration work in the Northeast. He provides updates here in the Outdoor News Bulletin on projects he and WMI are engaged in including New England cottontail restoration and more. You may have also noted how well written his stories are. That is because Charles is also a prolific and accomplished author of both fiction and non-fiction books. His latest book Make a Home for Wildlife should be a valued resource for landowners in the eastern United States who are looking to create habitat on their property.

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Cooperative Research Unit Corner

Missouri Unit Working with FWS to Research Indiana Bat Maternity Habitat

Researchers at the Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit have partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to examine maternity habitat selection of the endangered Indiana bat. Range-wide populations have fallen more than 20 percent in the last decade, largely due to white-nose syndrome, and protecting critical roosting habitat may help slow the decline.

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