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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
nhfishandwildlif@aol.com

News

Hunting News

Top Ten 2002 All Methods Overall

2003 - Top Ten, All Methods

All Time, Top Ten, All Methods

Total registered deer kill by Wildlife Management Unit

Bear Season Update, 12/19/03

Estimated 2003 Total Deer Kill

Deer Season Update, 12/1/03

December Hunting Report

Bear Season Update, 11/24/03

Draft Proposal on CWA Wetland Protection
Would be Disastrous for Duck Production

Deer Season Update, 11/17/03

Deer Season Update, 11/10/03

2003 MOOSE SEASON SYNOPSIS

Bear Season Update, 11/07/03

Deer Season Update, 11/3/03

Bear Season Update, 10/28/03

Deer Season Update

Bear Season Update

Bear Season Update

Deer Season Update

Bear Season Update

Record Buck and Turkey Kills in New Hampshire In 2002

Summary of May 2003 Gobbler Season

Preliminary 2003 Turkey Hunting Season Results:

23lbs or Greater
By Town & County
2003 Turkey Harvest
2003 Turkey Harvest II

2004 MOOSE HUNT TALLY

CONCORD, N.H. -- Wildlife biologists from the New Hampshire Fish and Game
Department report that a total of 388 moose were taken in the 2004 moose
hunt this past October. The statewide success rate of 74% was similar to
last year's success rate of 75%. Regional success rates were about the same
as in past years, with the notable exception of the Southeast region, which
had its highest success rate since 1994 (the 2004 success rate was 45% in
the Southeast, up from 20% in 2003).

"It was another successful moose season. The weather helped -- it was
excellent for hunting, with most days in the 30s and 40s, little sun and
even some snow," said Kristine Bontaites, Fish and Game's moose project
leader. Bontaites reports that 287 of the moose taken were bulls, and 101
were cows. Official results of the 2004 season will appear in the 2004
Wildlife Harvest Summary, which will be published in March 2005. A brief
summary of results follows:

   2004 NH MOOSE HARVEST AND HUNTER SUCCESS BY REGION:

REGION   --------HARVEST-------- PERMITS SUCCESS
  BULLS COWS TOTAL ISSUED RATE
NORTH 146 52 198 217 91%
W. MTN. 63 20    83   115 72%
CENTRAL 63 21 84 140 60%
SOUTHWEST 11 3 14 30 47%
SOUTHEAST 4 5 9 20 45%
           
STATEWIDE 287 101 388 522 74%
           

          
                                         

                                       
                                 
                                     
                                    
                                     
                            
                               


Hunters traveled from 21 states and one Canadian province to participate in
the 2004 moose hunt. Residents took 313 moose, while nonresidents took the
remaining 75. Of the successful hunters, 20 were women. A total of 291
permittees and 97 sub-permittees were the primary shooters. (Hunters who win
in the lottery and buy a permit are allowed to select one "sub-permittee" --
a person designated to accompany them on the hunt.)

The heaviest moose of 2004, weighing 910 pounds dressed, was taken in the
town of Dixville by Daniel Cushing of Epsom. The largest cow (750 pounds
dressed weight) was taken in Sanbornton by Gary Cartier of Belmont. The bull
with the greatest antler spread (66.25 inches) was taken in Bethlehem by
William Thorson of Croydon. See some of the action for yourself by visiting
a gallery of photos from the 2004 moose hunt posted on the Fish and Game
website at
http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_moose.htm.

The moose hunt in New Hampshire is a nine-day season in October. Moose
permits are awarded through a lottery system. Fish and Game issued 522 moose
hunting permits this year, and more than 15,500 people applied for those
permits.

Applications for the 2005 moose hunt lottery will be available in January at
http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us and at license agents throughout the state.

                                - ### -


CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE NOT DETECTED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE'S DEER

CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire's deer population shows no evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD), based on monitoring data gathered during the 2003 hunting season. New Hampshire Fish and Game Deer Biologist Kent Gustafson recently received results from a federally certified veterinary diagnostic
laboratory which indicate that all the deer brain samples taken during last
fall's hunting season tested negative for CWD.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disorder known to affect
white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk. However, the World Health Organization
has concluded that there is no evidence that people can become infected with
CWD.

During the fall 2003 deer hunting season, New Hampshire Fish and Game
collected heads from hunter-killed deer across the state for testing. A
total of 388 deer heads were sampled. The monitoring is part of a nationwide
effort to identify areas with CWD.

Chronic wasting disease was first identified in 1978 and remained isolated
in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska for about a decade. Currently,
jurisdictions in which CWD has been found include Colorado, Illinois,
Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming in the U.S.; plus Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. A nationwide effort is underway to prevent further spread. This effort includes collecting annual samples of deer brain tissue as part of ongoing monitoring and surveillance efforts.

While research continues, current information suggests that CWD is most
likely transmitted by an abnormal protein present in the nervous system and
lymphatic tissue of infected animals. These abnormal proteins are very
stable and may persist in the environment for long periods, posing a risk to
animals that come into contact with them.

A fact sheet with frequently asked questions about CWD can be found at
http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/CWD_QandA.htm.

-###-

For immediate release. . .from Delta Waterfowl Foundation

December 12, 2003

Proposed Changes to Clean Water Act
Threaten the Future of Duck Hunting

   
BISMARCK, ND-Rob Olson has a message for sportsmen who've been grumbling about mediocre duck hunting the last few seasons: Either speak out in support of the Clean Water Act, or expect to see even fewer ducks in the future.
    "The Clean Water Act has been protecting the little wetlands critical for duck production ever since it was approved by Congress in 1972," says Olson, director of operations for Delta Waterfowl's US office.  "But the Clean Water Act is being systematically dismantled.  Every waterfowler knows what happens when we have a drought on the prairie breeding grounds.  If we lose the wetlands protected by CWA, the breeding grounds could be thrown into a perpetual drought."
    The Clean Water Act began to unravel early in 2001 when the US Supreme Court ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers was wrong to deny a drainage permit for a proposed landfill in Illinois.  The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) decision called into question whether Congress intended that isolated, non-navigable, intrastate wetlands fell under CWA jurisdiction based on their use by migrating waterfowl (the Migratory Bird Rule).
    Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota and Rep. John Dingell of Michigan
attempted to clarify Congress' intent by introducing the Clean Water
Authority Restoration Act, but the Congressional leadership has kept that
bill from coming to a vote leaving the Corps of Engineers with no guidelines for issuing Section 404 drainage permits.  The Bush administration set out to provide that guidance through a process known as Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR).
    In November waterfowl conservationists were stunned when the Los Angeles
Times published a leaked copy of the proposed rules showing that stripped
all ephemeral wetlands had been stripped of protection under the Clean Water
Act.
    "Make no mistake," says Olson, "temporary and seasonal wetlands are
absolutely critical for duck production. Permanent wetlands are important at
other times of year, but during the nesting season ephemeral wetlands are
what ducks need."
    According to Ron Reynolds of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Bismarck
office, "Over 90 percent of the breeding ducks in the prairie pothole region
settle around wetlands that are classified as 'isolated' under the proposed
rulemaking process, and 90 percent of the wetlands in the PPR qualify as
isolated.  That's fact.  How many of those wetlands will be at risk is
speculation, but when you look at the farm program incentives to put land
into production, there's cause for concern."
    Reynolds says it's possible the US portion of the prairie pothole region
could lose up to 40 percent of its carrying capacity for breeding ducks if
isolated wetlands aren't protected by CWA.
    Without CWA protection, Swampbuster becomes the last line of defense for small wetlands, but Swampbuster applies only to farmers who receive government subsidies.  Olson and Reynolds agree that Swampbuster is a tenuous protection at best.  "If Washington is willing to gut the Clean Water Act, what do you suppose the life expectancy of Swampbuster will be?" asks Olson.
    In March of this year the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a memorandum detailing the importance of seasonal and temporary wetlands to waterfowl production.
"The Service believes that the overwhelming body of scientific information supports protection of 'isolated' waters because of their intrinsic physical and biological values and their importance to downstream aquatic ecosystems," says the report.
    The memorandum went on to say that small wetlands are "essential" for nesting ducks because they provide "a critical source of protein used by breeding birds during the egg-laying period."
    "This isn't new information," says Olson.  "Al Hochbaum, Delta's first
scientific director, discovered the importance of season and temporary
wetlands back in the 1940s."
    The Department of Interior insists removing small wetlands from government control "is consistent with continued protection of the nation's wetlands," adding that the job of wetland protection is best accomplished through voluntary, non-regulatory efforts.
    The Fish and Wildlife Service disagreed, saying such efforts "will only
scratch the surface" and "should not be used to entirely replace the
stewardship responsibilities of private and governmental landowners and the public."
    A comprehensive paper prepared by Ducks Unlimited echoed the findings of the FWS report, and Dr. Alan Wentz of DU was quoted as saying losing the wetland  protections afforded by CWA was, "This is a worst-case scenario" for ducks.
    Recently 220 members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush urging him not to proceed with the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  The National Wildlife Federation is running newspaper and radio advertisements asking sportsmen to contact their elected officials in an effort to add more names to that list.
    "The Clean Water Act is critical not only to protect our fish and game
resources, but to protect public health as well," Olson says, "but duck
hunters will be among the biggest losers if small wetlands are drained.
That's why it's so hard to understand why more waterfowlers haven't spoken out on this issue.
    "We're encouraging our members to take a few minutes to call, write or
email their representatives in Congress and tell them to save the Clean
Water Act.  If they don't, we might look back at the last few years of
mediocre hunting as the 'good old days' of wildfowling."

    For more information, contact Rob Olson or John Devney at Delta Waterfowl,
888-987-3695.


NEW HAMPSHIRE'S DEER HUNT BEGINS

CONCORD, N.H. -- Firearms season for deer -- a favorite time of year for
most New Hampshire hunters -- is almost here.  Last year, hunters took a
total of 11,089 deer in the state.  Currently, New Hampshire has an
estimated population of about 76,000 white-tailed deer.

"Many hunters live for this season," says Kent Gustafson, deer project
leader for New Hampshire Fish and Game.  "It should be a good year for deer
hunting in the state, but some extra scouting may help this fall. A
generally poor and spotty year for hard mast such as acorns and beechnuts
may result in somewhat different patterns of deer movement, especially
earlier in the season. If you can find a stand of oak or beech with nuts
this year, you could find some great action."

New Hampshire has the following hunting seasons for white-tailed deer:

    * Muzzleloader season starts November 1 and runs through
      November 11. Hunting with traditional muzzle-loading
      rifles is growing in popularity, according to Gustafson.
      Last year, muzzleloader hunters took a total of 2,911 deer
      in New Hampshire, up 29 percent from the previous year.

    * Regular firearms season starts November 12 and ends
      December 7.  The regular firearms season remains the most
      popular hunting season of the year in the Granite State;
      firearms hunters took 6,064 deer last year, up 19 percent
      from 2001.

    * Archery season began September 15 and runs through December
      15. Last year, archery hunters took 1,854 deer, up 18 percent
      from 2001.

    * Youth deer weekend took place on October 25 and 26.  In 2002,
      youth hunters took 260 deer during the youth hunting weekend.

Within the hunting seasons are dates for hunting any deer and for hunting
only antlerless deer.  Check the 2003-2004 New Hampshire Hunting Digest,
available from license agents statewide or online at
http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us, for specific details on the seasons, bag
limits and other rules.

Deer hunters should note that the bear hunting season will be closed
beginning November 1 in WMUs A, B, C2, D1 and D2, due to an unusually high
harvest this fall.

Deer hunting activity provides an important boost to the state's economy,
according to a study produced by Southwick Associates, Inc., for the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.  More than 65,000 people hunted deer in New
Hampshire in 2001, generating expenditures in the state of nearly $68
million.

License and permit fees paid by hunters help support New Hampshire Fish and
Game's deer research and management programs, which allow wildlife
biologists to carefully monitor and regulate deer population levels
throughout the state.

- ### -

N.H. HUNTING REPORT -- OCTOBER 2003

In this month's hunting report:

   * Black bear seasons close early in northern WMUs
   * Muzzleloader season approaches
   * Giving thanks for N.H. wildlife -- and hunters
   * Unit M permits available
   * Small game
   * Moose hunt wrap-up
   * Wildlife Journal TV -- New episodes for Nov.,
         your comments welcome!

Don't forget -- you can buy your hunting license online, any time, at http://m1e.net/c?11192568-pRIUmDzDN2d3I%40339612-7viXlhAhMGwYI

     --------------------------------------------------
      BLACK BEAR SEASONS CLOSE EARLY IN NORTHERN WMUs

In our last Hunting Report, we reported that bear hunters were having record success throughout the state. Good news for hunters, but potentially damaging to the bear population overall. Therefore, the hunting seasons for black bear in northern New Hampshire will close in Wildlife Management Units A, B, C2, D1 and D2 -- effective November 1, for the remainder of 2003. The hunt in all other WMUs will be unaffected.

As of October 28, about 734 black bears had been registered by hunters statewide, nearly twice the five-year average for the entire season. Why? Mostly, the bears' natural food sources (acorns, beechnuts, wild apples) are very scarce this fall. The need to feed has brought the bears out of their forest cover and into fields and floodplains -- making them more vulnerable to hunters than normal. A high number of female bears have been taken in the northern region -- one female has been taken for every male this year; typically hunters take 40 percent more males than females.

Fish and Game's field staff are hearing a lot of support for the early closure; hunters know that it will help the bear population in the North Country stay at healthy levels, making for better hunting next year and into the future. For more information on the reasons behind the closure, and a Q&A about bears and bear hunting in New Hampshire, go to http://m1e.net/c?11192568-2vZwMUbmDhpKI%40339613-losRFLL0OUknI

     --------------------------------------------------
               MUZZLELOADER SEASON APPROACHES

It's blunderbuss or bust time in New Hampshire! The muzzleloader season starts Saturday, November 1, with the booming of muzzleloaders and great clouds of black powder smoke blooming across the state's forests.

New Hampshire was one of the first states in the union to start a primitive weapon season in 1963. Like the weapons themselves, the muzzleloader season has changed significantly in the last 40 years. I happened to begin hunting with a muzzleloader in 1964 or 1965. I started my first primitive weapon hunt with an old Civil War muzzleloader I bought from an uncle in Maine for $20. I've missed a lot of deer with that gun. One day I simply ran out of ammo as the deer kept approaching me closer and closer as it investigated this weird cloud that kept erupting every few seconds. When I fired my last shot the deer was only 30 yards away and I had to shoo it away.

That's the nature of the muzzleloader. Since it "starts" the hunting season, many deer are not quite at the top of their game the first few days of their season. That first year, 1963, only one muzzleloader license was sold. In 2002, a total of 29,158 licenses were sold! The 10,000 mark was not hit until 1985 and the 20,000-license mark in 1992. The 30,000 mark is at hand. This means that nearly half of the 64,947 regular firearms hunters last year also were muzzleloader hunters.

Along with the increase in muzzleloader license sales the last two decades, has been an increase in the deer herd in New Hampshire and a corresponding increase in the deer killed with muzzleloaders. In fact, in 7 of the last 8 years, close to 3,000 deer were taken each year by these hunters. In 2002, hunters registered 2,911 or 26% of the total kill of 11,089 deer.

This year's muzzleloader season should be a great one as well. Although there has been a reduction in any-deer days in several Wildlife Management Units, muzzleloader hunters will have at least one day to hunt for either a buck or a doe. The central and southwestern regions of the state were hit with a severe winter last year, so the Department has brought changes to the season that should most help the deer herd recover in those areas.

This fall, acorns and apples are reported to be spotty. A few areas seem to have loads of fruits and nuts, but over much of the state, the normal fall foods are scarce -- as is clear from the emergency bear season closure up north. Hunters may need to do a little extra scouting to discover the lairs of their local deer.

For deer season dates and a WMU map, go to http://m1e.net/c?11192568-bsyNGQfthgOxU%40339614-EHihKsW2s89AI
                                 --Eric Orff, wildlife biologist

     --------------------------------------------------
       GIVING THANKS FOR N.H. WILDLIFE -- AND HUNTERS

Almost November -- time to think, breathe and live hunting. November is the month that hunters have dwelt on for the last eleven months. It's also time for Thanksgiving, when family and friends gather to enjoy the bounties of our lives.

Can you imagine New Hampshire without the plentiful numbers of game animals? It's not so long since there were no wild turkeys... only a few hundred deer and bears... fewer than 50 moose. In fact, turkeys were gone from the Granite State since the 1850s, until hunter fees were used to transplant 25 wild turkeys from New York to New Hampshire in 1975. Now upwards of 25,000 turkeys strut across the state.

Deer -- yes, even deer -- were few in numbers by the mid-1800s, probably less than 5,000. Now close to 80,000 fill our woods. Can you find one?

Bears were bountied in this state until 1956. Fewer than 500 were thought to live in New Hampshire in the 1940s. Now an estimated 5,000 secret themselves in nearly every patch of forest.

Thanks to the generosity of New Hampshire hunters providing funding for conservation efforts over the last 75 years, there are now more of these species, as well as more moose, beaver, waterfowl and dozens of other species. Hunters contribute millions of dollars each year to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department through license purchases and taxes on hunting equipment and ammunition, through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration program. Hunter expenditures supported more than 1,400 hunting-related jobs in the state in 2001, and had a $155 million ripple effect on the state's economy, according to a report from Southwick Associates.

Thank you, New Hampshire hunters, and happy Thanksgiving.
                                 --Eric Orff, Wildlife Biologist

BEAR HUNTING SEASONS TO CLOSE EARLY IN NORTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE

CONCORD, N.H. -- The hunting seasons for black bear in northern New Hampshire will close in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs)
A, B, C2, D1 and D2 effective November 1, for the remainder of
2003, officials from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
said today. This emergency closure is necessary to prevent
long-term adverse effects on the overall bear population. It
follows unusual environmental conditions creating a food
shortage that affects bears' natural survival and productivity
and has facilitated a high hunter harvest this fall.
[[[ Map of WMUs:
http://m1e.net/c?18209981-orM..xIHLN3TA%40334894-h/gPD4IXXKa6k ]]]

New Hampshire's bear hunters have taken a record number of
animals this season, particularly in the northern region. As of
October 23, about 720 black bears had been registered by hunters
statewide, nearly twice the five-year average for the entire
season. A high number of female bears have been taken in the
northern region -- one female has been taken for every male this
year; typically hunters take 40 percent more males than females.

The high kill rate is driven by the bears' vulnerability as they
leave their relatively protected forest habitat to search for
food in valleys and floodplains. Normally, bears fatten up for
winter on a diet of beechnuts and acorns. Those natural foods
are in short supply this year. The bears need to prepare for
hibernation, so they're out and about, eating corn from
agricultural fields, fruit from trees or whatever they can find.
As a result, the bear population faces losses from increased
road kills and a rising number of nuisance bear kills, as well
as hunter harvest.

In addition, Fish and Game anticipates indirect losses because
of reduced bear productivity resulting from this year's poor
nutrition. "We anticipate poor cub production this winter due to
the poor health of adult females. For the same reason, we expect
that some cubs born this winter may not survive," said Andrew
Timmins, Bear Project Leader for New Hampshire Fish and Game.
"In addition, one- and two-year-old bears may starve to death
next spring because they didn't go into their dens this fall
with enough fat reserves, and, when they come out in the spring,
the leftover fallen nuts they depend on for food will be
scarce."

By taking action now to close the hunting season in certain
WMUs, Fish and Game hopes to mitigate some of the loss caused by
the convergence of all these factors. "This year's harvest runs
contrary to our wildlife management goal for the northern
region, which is to stabilize the bear population," said
Timmins. "With the timely closure of this area, we can assure
that New Hampshire's North Country will continue to have a
healthy and viable black bear population. In contrast, the White
Mountain and central regions have management goals involving a
modest bear population reduction, so there's no need to take
action in those areas."

Bear hunting in New Hampshire is strictly regulated by Fish and
Game. The Department works from a comprehensive wildlife
population management plan, in place since 1997, which is
intended to establish and maintain ecologically viable bear
populations at levels consistent with diverse public interests
for the benefit of present and future generations.

The state's bear population is managed on the basis of five
regions. Each region has different management goals that are
identified through a comprehensive public input process.
Wildlife biologists carefully collect and monitor data on bear
populations to provide a scientific basis for all management
decisions. Data collection, research and management of the bear
population -- as well as conflict mitigation efforts -- are
funded exclusively by license and permit fees paid by hunters.

The general bear hunting season had been scheduled to end on
November 11 in WMUs A, B and D1; and on December 7 in WMUs C2
and D2. The season had already concluded in WMUs H2 and K in
southwestern New Hampshire. The season remains open in the
remaining WMUs, as listed in Fish and Game regulations.

A question-and-answer on black bears and bear hunting in New
Hampshire follows. For more information on bears and New
Hampshire hunting dates and regulations, visit
http://m1e.net/c?18209981-XilCmgp9vtrmw%40334893-NLIu3hmuTYGlg

-------------------------------------
Black bears and bear hunting in New Hampshire
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS


How many bears are there in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire is home to an estimated 5,000 to 5,500 bears
statewide. The bear population is seen to be healthy, viable and
at a relatively stable level in all parts of the state. This
population is as high as it has been in 200 years. Historic
records indicate that bears were at record low numbers during
the late 1800s following years of aggressive land clearing and
unregulated hunting. Bears were bountied in New Hampshire
through the mid-1950s; the population was roughly 1,000 bears in
1950.

The current success of the bear population is the result of
forest recovery and a highly successful bear management program
designed to maintain viable bear populations through
scientifically accepted wildlife management practices. Regulated
harvest and mandatory registration by hunters provides Fish and
Game with essential data on which management decisions are
based.

---
Is this the first time New Hampshire has had an emergency
closure of bear season?

During a similar event in 1995, hunters were asked to
voluntarily not fill their tags; but this is the first time N.H.
Fish and Game has mandated an end to the season.

---
What will the emergency closure accomplish?

Bears reproduce slowly, so it can take several years for the
population to rebound from a very high harvest or poor food
year. This season's harvest has contained a higher-than-usual
proportion of female bears, raising concerns that reproduction
could be slowed in years to come. By closing the season early,
fewer bears will be killed and long-term impacts on the overall
bear population will be reduced.

---
How many bears are usually taken during the hunt?

From 1995 through 2002, the state's annual harvest average was
376 bears. Prior to 2003, New Hampshire's bear harvest record
was set in 2001, when 527 bears were registered.

---
How many people hunt bear? What's the normal success rate for
bear hunters?

About 13,000 bear permits were sold in 2002, a typical year.
Black bear hunting is extremely challenging. In recent years,
annual success rates have ranged between 2% and 3%, a reflection
of the difficulty of taking a bear during normal circumstances.
This year's success rate has been much higher, though an exact
percentage has not yet been calculated. (By comparison, deer
hunting success averages around 10% and turkey hunting success
approaches 16%.)

---
Why does the bear harvest fluctuate?

Bear season harvests vary annually, usually in response to
natural food production (mainly beechnuts and acorns). During
the fall months, bears enter a period of accelerated feeding to
gain the weight they need to carry them through winter
hibernation. In poor food years, bears move out of remote
woodlands and into fertile valleys where corn, pasturage and
abandoned orchards provide alternate feeding options. Their
increased movement and predictable feeding patterns during poor
food years result in increased harvest and exposes them to other
mortality.

Normally, over time, good food years and poor food years tend to
balance each other out and allow for the achievement of
management goals despite inconsistent environmental conditions.
This year's unexpected failure of the nut crop is highly unusual
and has created the need for immediate action to reduce
population losses and protect this spectacular resource.

                            - ### -

NH 2003 Moose Hunting Season Report:

As of Monday evening 10/20 hunters had registered 203 moose including 62
cows and 141 bulls.

Hunting conditions were favorable during the opening three days with
seasonably cool temperatures and fair weather.

As a result the 2003 hunter take is slightly ahead (by 2) of last years take
during the same time period.

Subject:    moose update -- Monday
>
> From Kris Bontaites:
>
> Total moose kill as of Sunday night:  146
>
> 104 bulls, 42 cows
>
> Comparable to last year (down 7)
>
> # at Kilkenny: 449-2094
>
> Good weather for hunting, overcast, not too cold or warm.
>
> Lt. Col. Bruce Soderburg, who flew in from Korea, got his bull.
>
> One Craig Hastings of Strafford (332-0894) brought his moose to Kilkenny
in a really cool old truck with antique plates.  Tony and Mark have
pictures.
>
> That's it for now........

1.    Governor Mitt Romney, along with several legislators, filed bills just before last weekend to restore the Inland Fish and Game Fund to MassWildlife.  Romney, together with the Legislature's blessing, previously had robbed that dedicated fund of its approximately $6 million in retained earnings which is generated through the sales of licenses, permits, stamps, etc., and used to run MassWildlife's programs, and also staff the agency.  It was diverted into the state's general tax fund at the end of August and we've been following the story in this column ever since. 
     The diversion launched an uproar from the state's sportsmen and the move was being investigated by the federal government. In late Sept., a letter was sent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) stating that if the sportsmen's money was not returned to that dedicated account within 30 days, MassWildlife would no longer be eligible for its fair share of federal reimbursements - and additional $4.7 million dollars.    
     "That's what we had been telling them (the administration) for the past nine months," said Bob Durand, legislative agent for the Mass. Conservation Alliance (MCA).  "We said that it wasn't only wrong to take the sportsmen's money, but that we were going to lose almost five million in federal tax money annually besides." 
     The federal funds are generated through the Pittman Robertson Act - an 11 percent tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, and through the Sportfish Restoration Act, a tax on fishing tackle.  If we lost this federal funding, the other 49 states would be spending Massachusetts' share of the taxes our sportsmen have paid for.
     After receiving the letter from the USFWS, the Governor's Office called a special meeting to remedy the issue and invited Durand, along with Gun Owner's Action League (GOAL) executive director and MCA delegate Mike Yacino, MassWildlife Director Wayne MacCallum, MassWildlife Deputy Director Jack Buckley, and Commissioner of the Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife and Law Enforcement David Peters.   
     "At first, they (the Governor's Office) wanted to get 'creative' with trust funds and such," said Yacino,  "But we said in no uncertain terms that we wanted the money returned and the Inland Fish and Game Fund restored to the way it was, historically." 
     The next day, Yacino received a call that the Governor was going to accept the recommendations of the MCA and GOAL and he filed a bill to do just that.  William Greene, House Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture, filed a similar bill, which was lumped in with the Governors' bill and heard before that committee on Thursday with favorable results, including a $1.4 million dollar appropriation to the Wildlands Acquisition Account.   
     A news release was sent from the Governor's Office to the media last Friday, regarding Romney's bill and some newspapers hailed the governor as a hero for returning the funds.  But it's really not so.  He had proposed that the money be taken in the first place, just like Michael Dukakis did back in the 1970's when he robbed that fund but was ordered to return it.  Romney was simply righting his own wrong.  Honorable, maybe (he was pressured, remember?).  But he's no hero.
     When a boy is forced by his father's hand to return a stolen candy bar to the corner store, who is the hero?  The boy or the father?
     The real heroes here are the MCA and GOAL.  They are the two statewide sportsmen's organizations that were called to meet with the governor's staff to solve the problem.  They are the ones who were asked to represent the state's sportsmen at that meeting and demanded the money be returned to the original account and wouldn't settle for less.    
     But the battle isn't over yet.  It still must be passed into law and there is only one week left of the USFWS ultimatum to return the money in order to be eligible for that $4.7 million.   
     The Mass. Conservation Alliance was formed this spring as a steering committee comprised of delegates from major conservation groups throughout the state.  Bob Durand, a former senator and former Secretary of Environmental Affairs, was hired as their legislative agent and in a short nine months, it has become a strong organization - strong enough to already be helping to shape fish and game policy and outdoor related issues in the state.  For more information on the MCA or GOAL, or to pledge your thanks and financial support, visit GOAL's website at www.goal.org/MCA.htm.
End.                 

2.     The Mass. Conservation Alliance was formed in March, uniting Mass. Sportsmen under one roof.  It was spearhead by Mike Yacino of the Gun Owners Action League and possibly will become the strongest and most powerful sportsmen's association in state history.  It includes such groups as GOAL, Mass. Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Mass. Waterfowlers, Mass. Beach Buggy Assoc., the Mass. Sportsmen's Council and individual county leagues of sportsmen, and is gaining support from others.
     "No organization within the MCA loses its own identity, but their collective strength and financial resources are harnessing a strong entity of 250,000 sportsmen," said Mike Yacino, MCA moderator and GOAL's executive director. 
     The MCA retained the services of Robert Durand as its legislative agent.  Durand is a former Mass. senator and representative, and most recently was the Secretary of the Mass. Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
     He now represents the MCA, carrying with him the power of more than a quarter- million sportsmen, a very large voting block.  This undoubtedly was considered when Durand was a key player in leading the sportsmen to victory, when Governor Romney recently agreed to file a bill to return the $6 million in dedicated funding to MassWildlife, which he had diverted into the state's general tax fund.  And by doing so, sportsmen also retain $4.7 million in federal reimbursements. This was the first of many hopeful victories for sportsmen across the state, thanks largely to the MCA.
     State sportsmen agree that the MCA, together with Bob Durand, is a union that was long overdue.  Bills to end hunting, shooting, firearms ownership and even to curtail fishing are continually proposed by the Legislature.  Communicating professionally with legislators is the future of preserving out outdoor heritage and lifestyle. 
     Durand's professionalism, influence and experience don't come free, or even cheap however.  The MCA is asking for financial support from individuals, clubs or organizations in order to continue to win victories for sportsmen.  As GOAL is the accounting agent for the MCA, makes checks payable to GOAL and mark them for the MCA. 
    Paul Kress, outdoor writer and legislative agent for the Mass. Wildlife Federation, said, "I expect that the MCA will be shaping fish and game policy and outdoor-related issues for generations to come."
End.    

News from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department -- Oct. 14, 2003

Phone: (603) 271-3211
Email: info@wildlife.state.nh.us
For information and online licenses, visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us

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CONTACT:
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
Kristine Bontaites: (603) 744-5470
David Gordon (DHHS): (603) 271-4608
October 14, 2003

Moose Hunt Starts This Weekend

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire's 16th annual moose hunt starts this Saturday, October 18, for 485 lucky permit holders and their hunting partners. The moose hunt runs through Sunday, October 26.

Permittees, whose names were drawn in a lottery in June, have been scouting their assigned wildlife management units. Each hunter is assigned to hunt in one of 22 wildlife management units throughout the state. Hunters assigned to North Country units generally have the highest success rate, because moose densities are higher and hunters have access to industrial forestland on timber companies' extensive road systems.
More than 14,000 people applied for permits to participate in this year's moose hunt, about two-thirds of them New Hampshire residents. The odds of winning a permit were about 1 in 23 for residents and 1 in 64 for nonresidents. Each moose hunter can be accompanied by one partner. The hunters must attend a three-hour training seminar preparing them for the hunt.

After taking a moose, hunters must have the animals weighed and inspected at one of seven check stations around the state. There, wildlife biologists check each moose to glean information about the overall health of the moose herd. Many of these check stations draw crowds of onlookers, a reminder of the economic and symbolic importance of moose in New Hampshire, particularly in the North Country.

Hunters are reminded to restrict the amount of moose liver and kidney they eat, to avoid a higher-than-recommended daily intake of cadmium. Studies conducted by Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have revealed high levels of cadmium in some of the moose livers and kidneys sampled. As a result, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services recommends that no moose kidney be eaten, and, preferably, no liver. If individuals do choose to eat moose liver, it should be from moose younger than 1.5 years. If the moose is older than that, consumption should be limited to a maximum of six meals (assuming six ounces per meal) of moose liver per year. Biologists at the moose check stations can determine the age of the animal for hunters.

License and permit fees paid by hunters support Fish and Game's wildlife research and management programs, including an important on-going study on moose mortality and habitat. Hunting activity also has a positive impact on the state's economy; according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly 80,000 people hunted in New Hampshire in 2001, generating expenditures in the state of close to $60 million.

Those interested in applying for next year's moose hunt can pick up applications in early spring wherever fishing and hunting licenses are sold, or on Fish and Game's website: www.wildlife.state.nh.us.

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News from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department -- August 29, 2003
Phone: (603) 271-3211
Email: info@wildlife.state.nh.us
For information and online licenses, visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us

* * * * * * *

CONTACT:
Pete Lester: (603) 271-321l
Kent Gustafson: (603) 271-2462
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-32ll
August 29, 2003

Fall Hunting Seasons Underway

CONCORD, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department reminds outdoor enthusiasts that various hunting seasons start in September and run throughout the fall. The hunting season for bear begins statewide September 1, as does the fall crow season, and the goose season opens statewide September 2. Archery seasons for deer and turkey -- as well as sea duck hunting -- open September 15.

"Hunting and other outdoor activities have co-existed safely in the Granite State for many years," said Pete Lester, Hunter Education Administrator for Fish and Game. "We can all share the woods together and keep that great tradition going."

Fish and Game has worked to keep hunting a safe activity by providing mandatory hunter education courses for first-time hunters, as well as other educational programs. As a result, the state has an excellent safety record.

"As New Hampshire becomes more developed and less rural it's important to remind everyone to use common sense and wear an article of orange clothing, such as a vest or hat, and get out and enjoy the fall!" Lester said. "Hunters should remember that they share the woods and waters with others, and people who hike, bike, canoe and take part in other outdoor activities should be familiar with the various fall hunting seasons."

By far the most popular hunting season in the Granite State is the regular firearm season for white-tailed deer, which runs November 12 through December 7. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in 2001 about 67,000 hunters -- 86 percent of those who hunted in New Hampshire -- hunted for deer. In contrast, 22,000 hunters sought small game; 12,000 went after bear; 12,000 hunted wild turkey; and 6,000 hunted geese, ducks and other migratory birds.

New Hampshire's 2003 fall hunting seasons include the following:

  • White-tailed deer*:
    --Archery -- Sept. 15 - Dec. 15
    --Youth deer weekend -- Oct. 25 - 26
    --Muzzeloader -- Nov. 1 - Nov. 11
    --Firearms -- Nov. 12 - Dec. 7

  • Black bear*: Starts Sept. 1

  • September goose: Sept. 2 - 25

  • Youth waterfowl weekend: Sept. 27 - 28

  • Wild turkey*: Archery only, Sept.15 - Dec. 15

  • Sea ducks: Sept. 15 - Dec. 30

  • Pheasant: Oct. 1 - Dec. 31

  • Snowshoe hare*: Oct. 1 - Mar. 31

  • Ruffed grouse: Oct. 1 - Dec. 31

  • Pheasant: Oct. 1 - Dec. 31

  • Various waterfowl*: Oct. 7 - Jan. 12

  • Moose: By permit only, Oct. 18 - 26

*Season dates vary according to WMU and hunting method; for details, see the 2003-2004 New Hampshire Hunting Digest, available online at www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Hunting/hunting.htm (click on the orange icon, top right), and at license agents and Fish and Game offices throughout the state.

New Hampshire hunting licenses can be purchased online at Fish and Game's website www.wildlife.state.nh.us or from license agents statewide found at outlets such as bait shops, gun shops, outfitters and WalMarts.

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