About Exposing the Big Game

Jim Robertson

Bill to End Recreational Trapping Introduced in Vermont

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A beaver carries a branch in a river in France. Photo: Louis-Marie Preau

On February 6, 2023 H.191 was introduced in the Vermont House of Representatives as a bill that would “prohibit the trapping of fur-bearing animals unless the person trapping is authorized to trap in order to defend property or agricultural crops or the trapping is conducted by a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator.” With the support of 24 additional Representatives, if passed into law H.191 would effectively end trapping for recreation and profit in Vermont.

Last month, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD) released its report to the Legislature on the agency’s response to Act 159, which directed the VFWD to recommend improvements to existing trapping practices in Vermont. The report includes minimal changes to current trapping practices, while introducing best management practices (BMPs) to trapping that require traps that are tested to prove their ability to…

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Emotions run high in Sweden’s biggest wolf hunt

Story by AFP • Yesterday 11:10 PM

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Emotions run high in Sweden’s biggest wolf hunt

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Hunter Lars Bjork points to fresh tracks in the snow as he lumbers through a whited-out forest in central Sweden, where the biggest wolf hunt in modern times is drawing controversy.

Hunter Lars Bjork says that wolves cause trouble in rural areas© Jonathan NACKSTRAND

“We have quite a lot of wolves here, we’re actually sitting in a new wolf territory where we are now,” Bjork, a predator expert at the Swedish Hunters’ Association, tells AFP as he settles into a small hunting lodge a few kilometres (miles) outside the town of Vasteras.

This year, Sweden’s hunters are allowed to kill a record 75 wolves — more than twice the number that was allowed to last year© Jonathan NACKSTRAND

Long known as a champion of environmental protection, Sweden has paradoxically had a centuries-long opposition to wolves, considered a plague in the 1800s with the state paying out bounties for kills as late as the mid-20th century.

Sweden began allowing licensed hunts in 2010, issuing quotas for the number of wolves that can be killed© Jonathan NACKSTRAND

Still seen as a threat by farmers, the state now sanctions a limited cull of the animals every year.

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This year, Sweden’s hunters are allowed to kill a record 75 wolves out of an estimated population of 460, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s latest inventory.

That is more than twice the number that hunters were allowed to kill last year, and the highest number since the culls began in 2010.

A total of 54 wolves had been killed as of Sunday.

Several local authorities have already called off the hunt in their regions, and the full quota isn’t expected to be reached by the February 15 deadline.

Nonetheless, the wolf hunt remains a highly divisive issue, both inside and outside the Nordic nation.

– Rural problems –

After Sweden’s wolves were hunted to the brink of extinction, the country declared them a protected species in the 1960s. 

Wolves started reappearing in the late 1970s and 1980s, before populations started growing in the 1990s.

Sweden’s parliament voted to cap the population at 270 wolves, but hunters wants to lower the limit to 150 wolves© Jonathan NACKSTRAND

As their numbers surpassed 200, Sweden began allowing licensed hunts in 2010, issuing quotas for the number that can be killed during a set period.

“The purpose is simply to limit the problems they cause out in more rural areas,” 59-year-old Bjork explains.

For farmers, wolves are a menace as they occasionally attack livestock, primarily sheep.

They also pose a threat to hunting dogs, used to track and drive wild game such as deer and elk.

Sweden also allows yearly hunts of brown bears, wolverines and lynx — all considered endangered — in order to limit damage to livestock and reindeer. 

Reindeer are integral to the indigenous Sami people’s way of life in the far north.

All hunts have detractors, but the wolf hunt has been particularly acrimonious since its inception.

Opponents of the hunt argue wolves are needed to protect biodiversity, playing an important role as predators.

“It is astonishing that Sweden keeps on making these decisions,” says Marie Stegard Lind, vice president of Jaktkritikerna, a group working to limit hunting. 

The hunts continue “in spite of the fact that the European Commission has been very clear about its opinion that these hunts are in fact illegal”, she tells AFP at the group’s office in Stockholm.

In 2015, the European Commission warned that Sweden’s wolf hunt fell foul of the EU’s Habitats Directive, noting that the wolf “population has not reached a level that guarantees the conservation of the species”.

Other EU members with growing wolf populations have called on the Commission to update its Habitats Directive to better protect livestock farming.

– Question of numbers –

Kjell-Arne Ottosson, a Swedish member of parliament for the Christian Democrats and vice president of the environment and agriculture committee, tells AFP that Sweden needs to stand its ground against the EU.

“Wolves are a threat for those of us who live in rural areas. We have to manage that, we have to take this seriously,” Ottoson says.

The only fatal wolf attack in modern times against a person in Sweden was in 2012, when a captive wolf attacked a keeper at the Kolmarden Wildlife Park.

But the issue often boils down to disputes over an acceptable size for the wolf population in terms of impact and risks, and ensuring there are enough wolves to limit inbreeding.

According to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, at least 300 are necessary to sustain a healthy population.

In a letter published by magazine Science in July 2022, a group of scientists argued the culls were a threat to a healthy Swedish wolf population.

They said the stocks that span Scandinavia and Finland should be kept above 500.

Conversely, Sweden’s parliament in 2021 voted to cap the population at 270 wolves.

The Swedish Hunters’ Association wants to go even further and lower the limit to 150 wolves, spread across the country.

Currently the animals are mostly found in the central and western parts of Sweden.

“The wolf has a place here, absolutely,” hunter Bjork says.

“But not in the amounts we have today and not in the concentrations we have today.”

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Texas lawyer who was shot in the face by Dick Cheney – then apologised to the VP for it – dies aged 95

Harry Whittington grabbed national attention in 2006 when Mr Cheney shot him in a dramatic hunting accident

Rachel Sharp7 hours ago

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https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/dick-cheney-harry-whittington-death-b2276628.html

Harry Whittington addresses being shot by Dick Cheney in resurfaced clip

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Harry Whittington, the prominent Texas lawyer who was shot in the face by Dick Cheney and then infamously apologised to the then-vice president for the accident, has died at the age of 95.

He passed away peacefully at home early on Saturday morning, his wife Mercedes Baker confirmed to The New York Times.

Whittington grabbed national attention in 2006 when Mr Cheney shot him in a dramatic hunting accident.

California dance hall shooting suspect shot himself in van as police closed in, authorities say

The accidental shooting unfolded on 11 February 2006 – midway through Mr Cheney’s second term as vice president to President George W Bush – when the two men were among a group hunting quail on a south Texas ranch.

When a group of birds took flight, Mr Cheney had wheeled around and taken a shot, accidentally shooting Whittington in the face and torso.

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Whittington, who was 78 at the time, was rushed to hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

At the time, it was said that he had suffered a minor heart attack caused by bullet fragments hitting blood vessels close to his heart.

Years later, Whittington revealed that his injuries were more serious than was publicly revealed.

Shockingly, the victim was blamed by the White House and eyewitnesses for what happened, claiming he stepped in Mr Cheney’s line of fire.

And, more bizarrely still, Whittington issued a public apology to the vice president – while recovering from multiple injuries.

“We all assume certain risks in whatever we do, whatever activities we pursue. And regardless of how experienced, careful and dedicated we are, accidents do and will happen,” he famously said on leaving hospital.

<img src="https://static.independent.co.uk/2023/02/06/13/GettyImages-94846461%20copy.jpg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp&quot; alt="<p>Harry Whittington apologises to Dick Cheney over the shooting accident

Harry Whittington apologises to Dick Cheney over the shooting accident(Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice-President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week.

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“We send our love and respect to them, as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we’ve had to deal with this week.”

He added: “We hope that he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves.”

It remains unclear whether or not Mr Cheney returned his apology, publicly saying at the time: “Thankfully Harry Whittington is on the mend and doing well.”

In his 2011 memoir In My Time, the former vice president described the incident as one of the “saddest” days of his life and said he was “of course, deeply sorry”.

“I, of course, was deeply sorry for what Harry and his family had gone through,” he wrote.

“The day of the hunting accident was one of the saddest of my life.”

Mr Whittington rarely hunted after the accident and reportedly kept his bloodied vest to teach his children the dangers of guns, according to The Washington Post.

Outside of the hunting accident, Whittington was a prominent Texas attorney who was well-known in the state’s Republican circles.

Born into a family of Democrats in Henderson, Texas, in 1927, Whittington became one of a key group who switched to Republican and built the party’s prominence in the state.

After studying law at the University of Texas, he joined George H.W. Bush’s 1964 unsuccessful campaign for the US Senate and was a donor for the younger Bush’s two successful presidential elections.

Smithfield: Have mercy on the last pig at Farmer John

Exposing the Big Game

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For over 90 years, pigs have been transported to the Farmer John slaughterhouse only 10 minutes from downtown Los Angeles.

On February 2nd, 2023 the largest slaughterhouse in the Southwest is finally closing.

For the last 6 years, LA Animal Save and Animal Alliance Network have been bringing compassion and kindness to pigs outside of the slaughterhouse in their final moments.

Now both groups, as well as the entire Animal Save Movement, are coming together to make one final and humble request to Smithfield: SAVE THE LAST PIG.

We have made arrangements for a local sanctuary that is happy and able to provide a forever home to a pig (or two!). Immediate transportation from the Farmer John slaughterhouse to the sanctuary is also in place.

All we need is for Smithfield to say YES!

Please sign this petition and share widely asking Smithfield to do…

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Hunter Fined for Illegally Taking a Deer in Yates County

Geneva, NY, United States / Finger Lakes Daily News

Lucas Day

Feb 4, 2023 | 12:10 PM

Hunter Fined for Illegally Taking a Deer in Yates County

ECO Gross with unlawfully harvested deer in Yates County (photo State DEC)

A hunter recently paid a penalty for illegally taking a deer in Yates County last fall.

On November 12th, a state DEC officer was patrolling in the town of Italy when he observed a young man operating an ATV without a helmet. The Officer stopped the rider and escorted him back to his camp to speak with his parents about the unregistered ATV and the rider not wearing a helmet. Upon entering the camp driveway, the officer observed a small shed with multiple bags of corn and sweet feed inside, as well as a dead 10-point buck in the back of a pickup truck. The hunter, who had harvested the deer, emerged from the cabin with his deer tag in a bag to show the Officer. After a brief interview, the hunter led the officer to an elevated box blind where he had harvested the deer. About 30 yards from the blind, the officer spotted a large pile of corn, sweet feed, and pumpkins.

The hunter admitted to placing the bait at the location and agreed to an administrative penalty of $600 in satisfaction of the charges of illegally harvesting a whitetail deer, intentionally feeding deer, hunting with the aid of a pre-established bait pile, failing to attach a carcass tag, and hunting with a crossbow less than 17 inches wide.

The DEC officer seized the deer and donated the meat.

How beavers are reviving wetlands

Exposing the Big Game

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A happy beaver

By Navin Singh Khadka

Environment correspondent, BBC World Service

We are losing wetlands three times faster than forests, according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. When it comes to restoring them to their natural state there is one hero with remarkable powers – the beaver.

Wetlands store water, act as a carbon sink, and are a source of food. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands says they do more for humanity than all other terrestrial ecosystems – and yet they are disappearing at an alarming rate.

The main problems are agricultural and urban expansion, as well as droughts and higher temperatures brought about by climate change.

But if you have a river and a beaver it may be possible to halt this process.

These furry sharp-toothed rodents build dams on waterways to create a pond, inside which they build a “lodge” where…

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Man arrested for illegally hunting in Conshohocken, Pa.

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‘1776’ is being staged at the Forrest Theatre, just blocks from where the Founding Fathers’ story actually played out.

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — A man has been arrested for illegally hunting in Conshohocken, Montgomery County.

The owners of the Ashford Horse Farm say the suspect was captured on camera killing a deer last weekend on the property.

Then, they say the man stole a $1,000 camera.

Officers say the man admitted to the crime and returned the camera.

https://6abc.com/illegal-hunting-deer-shot-bow-and-arrow-conshohocken-horse-farm/12771782/

RELATED: Police investigate after man allegedly shot deer on horse farm in Conshohocken

Michigan bald eagles dying from lead poisoning caused by fishing, hunting gear

Lead bullets and fishing line weights dangerous for scavengers
Hunting and fishing giving Michigan bald eagles lead poisoning
Hunting and fishing giving Michigan bald eagles lead poisoning

By Erin Bowling

https://www.wnem.com/2023/02/02/michigan-bald-eagles-dying-lead-poisoning-caused-by-fishing-hunting-gear/

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 3:20 PM PST

EATON RAPIDS, Mich. (WILX) – Eagles are being exposed to lead and it’s killing them. Wildlife experts said it’s incredibly common.

Wildside Rehabilitation in Eaton Rapids said Thursday it was treating three eagles for lead poisoning. Even just a small amount of lead can be deadly for these big, majestic, birds.

“It’s still very sad when you have to euthanize because you know that it was us (people), that caused it to happen in the first place.” said Jonah Wojnar, with Wildside Rehabilitation and Education Center.

While eagles are federally protected, wildlife experts said the threat of lead comes from hunting and fishing. If eagles could talk, they might ask you to stop using lead bullets and lead fishing weights.

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“Lead (poisoning) cases, it’s almost every eagle,” said Wojnar. “It’s very rare to get an Eagle that tests negative.”

Eagles are scavengers and consume lead left behind from bullet fragments and lead fishing weights. Wojnar treats around 20 eagles with lead poisoning every year.

“They are the American symbol, so to have them go extinct in America would be kind of not great,” said Wojnar.

It doesn’t stop at eagles though, the recovery center takes in many different types of scavenger birds with lead poisoning.

“I mean it causes the same issues in birds as it does in people, it kills neurons,” said Wojnar.

There are success stories, but not all birds can recover.

“It’s difficult. I mean it’s gotten easier over time, in that you start to understand that yes, you’re ending the suffering,” said Wojnar. “There’s nothing else we can do.”

Lead hunting and fishing gear are still very common due to the low cost. If you don’t substitute lead for a non-toxic material, Wildside Rehabilitation has one request.

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“Don’t leave gut piles, clean up your gut piles. If you do use lead ammunition, don’t leave that stuff out where it can be eaten,” Wojnar said. “If you’re using lead sinkers, don’t leave fish out there with lead sinkers.”

Using lead hunting gear is also unsafe for you and your family. The World Health Organization said any level of lead exposure comes with health risks for people and their feathered friends.

At least 30 states restrict the use of lead ammunition. California is the only state with an outright ban on lead bullets.

Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

Exposing the Big Game

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)

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State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

What was intended to be a relaxing beach walk near Outer Point Trail on a sunny day late last week turned into “one of the worst experiences” for a Juneau dog owner whose pet narrowly survived a near-death experience.

Last Friday, decade-long Juneau resident Jessica Davis and her boyfriend were walking along the beach north of the Juneau Substation when her 3-year-old, 80-pound golden retriever, Nova, who was walking along the brush near the high tide line let out a…

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Bison roam where they aren’t wanted. Is year-round hunting the answer?

Ignoring fences and rivers, the unruly ungulates roam from Ute reservation onto Tavaputs rangelands used for livestock

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) Bison inhabit Utah’s Book Cliffs, but they have been increasingly roaming onto rangelands on the West Tavaputs Plateau, where they are causing problems for ranchers.

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) Bison inhabit Utah’s Book Cliffs, but they have been increasingly roaming onto rangelands on the West Tavaputs Plateau, where they are causing problems for ranchers.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2023/02/04/bison-roam-where-they-arent/

By Brian Maffly

  | Feb. 4, 2023, 5:00 a.m.

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The American bison may be the iconic big game species of the American West, but they don’t belong on Utah’s West Tavaputs Plateau.

Brought back from near extinction last century and officially designated the national mammal, they now occupy special management areas in Utah, such as the Henry MountainsAntelope Island and the Book Cliffs. But one thing about buffalo, they roam.

In recent years, bison have increasingly wandered off the Ute Indian Tribe’s reservation lands on the East Tavaputs Plateau, crossing the Green River onto private and public lands used for livestock grazing.

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This poses a big problem for ranchers and landowners, according to Rep. Christine Watkins, R-Price.

“These bison are not supposed to be there. They belong on the other side of mountains to the east. When they see the buffalo eating their grazing lands, they don’t like that,” Watkins told House colleagues last week. She predicted the big animals will eventually reach U.S. Highway 6 in Emery County, where they could create significant traffic hazards.

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Her remedy is HB222, which would allow year-round hunting of bison outside designated management areas.

“Buffalo are smart,” she said. “If they are there and one of their kind is killed, they know that is not a place they want to be and they won’t go back.”

Utah ranchers and growers have even bigger issues with elk and mule deer that sometimes invade pastures and orchards in winter, damaging fruit trees and helping themselves to hay.

Watkins’s bill, however, got a frosty reception Monday in the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee, where all of her colleagues voted to hold it after hearing from Utah’s top wildlife official.

The Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) already has expanded bison hunts on the Tavaputs and is working with landowners to remove or exclude problem animals, according to Director Justin Shirley.

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“The tools that we’re currently using fix and address the problem,” Shirley told the committee. “Bison come across the Green River and have for various reasons for a long time. The tribe also has tried to fence some corridors down on their boundary to keep the bison from crossing the river.”

DWR biologists have affixed GPS collars to many bison to track their movements in this area. They believe between 50 and 80 currently occupy the West Tavaputs.

“Right now, there’s been so much snow, we believe they’re down in low-country areas,” Shirley said. “Hunters aren’t really able to access them. They’re not up on top.”

Other than for coyotes, which are classified as a nuisance animal, year-round hunting is not allowed for any wildlife species in Utah. Most big game hunts fall somewhere between August and January depending on the species and the hunting unit.

Don Peay, Utah’s leading advocate for big game hunting, also has a beef with year-round hunting.

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“This is like taking a bulldozer and a jackhammer to something that needs a scalpel,” he told lawmakers. Peay believes the problem is confined to just 6,000 acres out of half a million on the West Tavaputs.

“There’s been a ton of mitigation already on the 6,000 acres, namely the largest private landowner in the state has built a buffalo-proof fence at a million-dollar cost,” Peay said. “You can drive your truck at 80 mph and they won’t go through it. This landowner loves the bison.”

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food did not take a position on HB222, but it insists more needs to be done to protect ranchers.

A decade ago, a DWR committee worked with landowners to draft a bison plan that called for no bison inhabiting the lands west of the Green River, according to Troy Forrest, who runs the department’s Grazing Improvement Program.

“Since that time, even with all the mitigation we’ve done, which included the tribe flying and pushing bison back over [the river], those bison have found the top of the mountain,” he told the committee, “and they’ve intermingled with cattle over the last 5 years in increasing numbers each year.”

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While one West Tavaputs property owner has switched positions and now welcomes bison on their land, the presence of bison poses numerous challenges for ranchers, according to Forrest.

“Amongst those are disease transmission, brucellosis, in particular, the loss of forage and the loss of the ability to use their range as they would like and, of course, the lack of respect that bison have for regular fences,” he said. These ranchers rely on a rotational grazing system that requires intact fences.

“They’ve won awards on that ranch for their stewardship. And with bison there, that makes it inordinately more difficult because they don’t have much respect for a regular cow fence. It’s not much of an impediment to them,” Forrest said. “They hit it, they just go straight through it.”

In response to these conflicts, DWR began issuing tags in 2020 to Utah residents for $413, or $2,200 for nonresidents to hunt bison in this area. Unrestricted numbers of these tags are sold over the counter and entitle purchasers to harvest a bison outside Utah’s bison units between Aug. 1 and Jan. 31. For the 2020-21 season, 250 permit holders harvested 135 bison, according to Shirley. Last year, only 10 bison were taken under this program; seven were taken this year.

“We think we have [a] solution to this problem. Yes, there’s still some bison that find their way up to the top of the Tavaputs, but we have also done removals and we have some sentiment change as to whether bison should be there,” Shirley said. “This is country that we will likely always have bison in as long as the tribe has bison, and they will cross onto this [the west] side of the river.”