Outdoor News Bulletin

Outdoor News Bulletin

September 2019 Edition | Volume 73, Issue 9 | Published since 1946

Draft Agency Relevancy Roadmap Available for Comment

A draft Fish and Wildlife Relevancy Roadmap developed with support from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) was distributed to all 50 state fish and wildlife agency directors for their review prior to the upcoming AFWA meeting in Minneapolis September 22-25. The Roadmap is a non-prescriptive guide that agencies can use to engage and serve broader constituencies, while maintaining their historic connections with hunters and anglers. At the upcoming AFWA meeting, the state agency directors will discuss the Roadmap and consider how best to move forward.

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Leakage in the American System of Conservation Funding, Part 1

Evolving Business Models and an Antiquated Excise Tax Collection Model

Today’s business model for manufacturing and distributing fishing and archery equipment is much more complex than the traditional business models that were in place when the excise taxes on hunting and angling equipment were first imposed (1930s for hunting, 1950s for angling). Because of changes to the business model, there are increasing “leakages” in the American System of Conservation Funding that are undermining the revenue potential for conservation. This first story of a two-part series takes a look at where these changes in the outdoor industry are occurring and how it is impacting excise tax collections.

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FWS Expands Hunting and Sport Fishing Opportunities

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has opened seven National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) that were previously closed to hunting and sport fishing and expanded hunting and sport fishing at 70 other NWRs. In addition, the FWS added pertinent station-specific regulations for other NWRs that pertain to migratory game bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting, and sport fishing for the 2019–2020 season. The FWS also formally opened 15 units of the National Fish Hatchery System to hunting and sport fishing and updated pertinent station specific regulations at these hatcheries for the 2019–2020 season. The final rule, published on August 29, 2019 in the Federal Register, opened or expanded new hunting and/or sport fishing opportunities on over 1.4 million acres at 92 refuges and hatcheries nationwide.

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Excise Tax Snapshot

As you know, one of the most important parts of managing your bank account is understanding the deposits into that account. The Wildlife Management Institute (supported by a Multi-State Conservation Grant) provides you with this quarterly snapshot of the excise tax collections to help you understand the health of American System of Conservation Funding. This system of funding was established in the 1930s and expanded and perfected over the next 40+ years. This reliable source of annual funding for state fish and wildlife agencies represents a unique partnership between the agencies and the hunting, shooting sports, angling and boating industries. In rough numbers, these excise tax deposits made by the partner industries represent about half of the state fish and wildlife agencies’ annual budget. Therefore, it is imperative to conservation that agencies (from the Commissioners down to the field biologists) understand the industry trends and work with these industries to ensure a strong income flow going forward.

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Genetic Selection in Response to White-Nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) has had significant effects on many populations of bats, but exactly how certain populations are affected varies among species, likely based on physical, genetic, and behavioral differences. The Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) for example, rebounds after the initial WNS-induced mass mortality event, and shows gradual improvement each following year. The closely related species, the Indiana bat (M. sodalist), shows the opposite pattern of annual survival following infection by WNS. This trend suggests that WNS imposes strong selection for a WNS-resistant phenotype in some species, potentially allowing infected populations to revert to positive growth (a phenomenon known as “evolutionary rescue”).

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Cooperative Research Unit Corner

App Allows Citizen Scientists to Contribute to Monarch Butterfly Research

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (Maine CRU) have developed a model that predicts areas that have a high suitability for monarch butterflies for roosting during their fall migration to Mexico. When spotting a butterfly, a common reaction may be to whip out a phone and snap a photo. The Maine researchers are hoping another response could be to use the phone to log details about areas where butterflies are likely to be found. Using a mobile app, anyone can become a citizen scientist by visiting potential monarch butterfly roosting sites from Maine to Georgia and answering questions based on their observations.

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