Tomorrow the CA F&G Commission will designate the Gray Wolf as a Candidate for the California Endangered Species List

The petition is in and the facts support the fact that the gray wolf was once an inhabitant of California. At this time, there is probably at least one gray wolf in California. Somebody knows for sure.

As a hunter, I have a concern for this action. If the petition were prepared by other hunters, I’d support the move. Because the petition has been produced by anti hunters, I have concern.

We admire and respect wolves because they represent everything we love about hunting and the outdoors. They are one of the supreme hunters among us. They are cunning and overpowering.

Unfortunately, unchecked, they have the ability to destroy our game herds. There seems to be no moderation  of the events surrounding wolves and this is fitting because wolves are not moderate.

An Idaho friend of mine is an elk-hunting fanatic. He owns his own pack string and hunts remote places in the Salmon River Wilderness. He has been a successful elk hunter for many years. About 15 years ago he told me he heard his first wolf  and that hearing that howl “was really cool.”

On this year’s trip, he searched in all the traditional places. And, he found not a single elk. I didn’t ask him about wolves.

I didn’t need to.

Conservation Culture Wars

There’s a war going on. It’s a conservation culture war.  Traditionalists believe hunters and fishermen have been major supporters of wildlife and there is plenty of evidence to support that claim. Those who oppose consumptive uses would like to find a way to supplant that financial underpinning for wildlife habitat.

This is nothing new, but there are other wars going on within the conservation community as well. Within the Federal and State Wildlife agencies there are those who believe in “hands on”government  and those who believe in only government oversight of activities that can better be developed by private enterprize.

This battle is typically between those whose comfort lies with relying on the dominance of a big government run by bureaucrats vs those who work in the private sector and believe in the creativity and efficiency that financial rewards can produce.

One example is the ongoing battle between private sector interests (conservation and mitigation banks) versus Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP), which is a big government venture. These entities are so counter to each other that the USFWS has two competing departments within its organization and the two don’t seem to be able to coexist.

In another arena, it appears that the California Department of Fish and Game is about to extinguish the private sector from managing endowment accounts that private continuous funding for Conservation Banks. Eliminating the private sector and NGO from this industry is misguided. There would certainly be growing pains while private enterprize faces the steep learning curve required to set up these programs, there would also be a big payoff.

The use of private parties and NGOs to hold endowment funding for long-term conservation programs which assure the perpetual existance of many species, would minimize the cost to taxpayers and build a conservation network much larger than we can afford government to become.

Currently, big government seems to be winning the war and private enterprize seems to be waning (in both the large and small arenas), but you never know as politics are volatile . Personally I enjoy freedom derrived from being entrepreneurial and independent. Maybe I’m an endangered species.

California Hunting Opportunity Under all-out Assault by Humane Society of the US?

This email message just came in from Rick Bullock of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance. He paints an accurate picture of what’s happening in California. Hunters must take action. Groups like the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) need support from hunters everywhere. California is targeted for action by these anti-hunting groups because it’s the weakest link in the chain. Once they snap the California link, they’ll be off and running.

Hello all, 

I’m writing to bring you up to speed on several important issues COHA staff have worked over the last week, as well as to provide an update on two key committee hearings scheduled for Tuesday morning. 

First, I attended the US Forest Service National Planning Rule meeting in Sacramento on April 6th to promote and protect hunting opportunity on federal land and was very concerned to learn that “recreation” wasn’t even mentioned in the “guiding principles” for the new plan, which addresses current and future needs of the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands in the National Forest System. Yes, you read this correct, and the plan is for all forest lands in the nation, not just our state.  Additionally, COHA President Bill Gaines attended the California Fish and Game Commission meeting, held in Monterey on April 7th and 8th, to stymie the Humane Society of the United States’ attempt to disrupt hunting management decisions that are based on the best available scientific data. Specifically the animal rights groups are strongly opposing the mammal hunting regulations that will guide big game hunting through 2012.  It was reported that at the meeting, HSUS and other anti-hunting groups outnumbered COHA and other interested sportsmen by 20 to1.

 Finally, our outdoor heritage will be in the spotlight tomorrow in the state legislature and COHA staff lobbyists Mark Hennelly and Jason Rhine will be there to ensure California’s sportsmen and their conservation groups are represented. We are entering a time when sportsmen must finally grasp that our outdoor traditions are under a full assault from all directions. Below is a snapshot of some, not all, of the bills and hearings Mark and Jason will be covering tomorrow.

The Assembly Water Parks and Wildlife Committee will hear AB 2223 (Nava), which would prohibit the use of lead shot on the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Wildlife Areas and public shooting grounds.  The bill is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and several environmental groups. The California Outdoor Heritage Alliance is strongly opposed to AB 2223 because it substitutes politics for sound science.

On April 5, 2010, Assembly Member Feuer (D-Los Angeles) amended AB 1810 to require the Attorney General of California to permanently keep and maintain a firearms registry that includes extensive personal information of all firearms purchasers. Under AB 1810, those who purchase a firearm will be required to register that firearm by submitting their name, address, place of birth, phone number, occupation, and sex to the California Department of Justice.  COHA is in opposition to this bill and feels AB 1810 is little more than an extreme invasion of California Sportsmen’s personal privacy.

 Assembly Member Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) has introduced AB 2186 to prohibit a person from owning, purchasing or possessing a firearm for 10 years for violating the state’s “loaded firearms” laws. COHA opposes this legislation because it imposes an overly harsh penalty on hunters who may unwittingly violate loaded firearms laws.

For more information on these bills or other legislation of interest, please visit our website at www.outdoorheritage.org   

News Release: California Senate Committee Passes Important Species Conservation Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         Contact: Eileen Ricker

Date:   March 24, 2010                                                   (916) 651-4035

Senate Committee Passes Important Species Conservation Legislation

 Sacramento — Senator Tom Harman ( R-Huntington Beach ) announced today that Senate Bill 1058 has passed out of the Senate Natural Resources & Water committee. SB 1058 seeks to ensure that hunting license tag and stamp funds benefit game species and their habitats. The bill is sponsored by the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA).

 “I am extremely pleased that my colleagues have demonstrated their dedication to conserving our environment by unanimously passing SB 1058 out of committee today,” said Harman.

“Hunters and sportsman pay good money for tags and stamps with the expectation that those dollars will be spent for species conservation.  This measure will ensure that is the case.”

Current law, particularly as it relates to bear and deer tag monies, does not always require that the monies be used for a dedicated purpose. Unfortunately, these funds have been continuously used for non-game purposes. SB 1058 will require that, before any of these hunting monies can be expended, hunting-related organizations would have an opportunity to review proposed projects and provide comment to the Department of Fish and Game.

“SB 1058 will provide the accountability and transparency necessary to restore the hunting community’s confidence in the tag and stamp system,” stated Mark Hennelly, Vice President of COHA.  “Hunters have a long and proud history of providing wildlife conservation funding, and will gladly continue to do so as long as the monies are used appropriately.”

“SB 1058 will further two causes that I am passionate about: increasing transparency in government spending and conservation of the environment,” said Harman.

SB 1058 will now be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further review

Senator Harman represents the cities of Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Rossmoor, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, Cypress, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Laguna Beach, Dana Point and portions of Buena Park, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Westminster. 

Some Good News – SB1423 Signed into Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                Contact: Jason Rhine

October 13, 2009                                                                                                                    (916) 643-4607

Governor Signs Pro-Hunting Bill into Law

 

Sacramento, California – On October 11th, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1423, a measure authored by Assembly Member Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) that significantly reduces existing commercial hunting club license fees; promotes full implementation of California’s “public access to private lands” hunting program (SHARE); and expands and increases penalties for willfully interfering with hunting, fishing, trapping, falconry and recreational shooting activities.  AB 1423 was sponsored by the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA).

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done on AB 1423,” stated Assembly Member Berryhill.  “This is an important bill which will substantially promote hunting opportunities in our state and help protect hunters in the field.  It was a pleasure working with the staff of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) and, while the bill was met with its share of resistance, this is a victory for Californian’s who share a common affinity for outdoor recreation.”

AB 1423 will help maintain and improve hunting opportunity in our state by keeping hundreds of commercial hunting operations across the state in business. Specifically, AB 1423 will control fees assessed to commercial hunting clubs by prohibiting the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) from charging a separate permit fee for each individual property or parcel used for commercial hunting purposes.  Prior to AB 1423, commercial hunting clubs were charged $376 for each property in their control, putting some larger clubs at risk by subjecting them to several thousands of dollars in annual fees. AB 1423 eliminates DFG’s current fee schedule, instead establishing a much lower sliding scale fee structure ranging from $200 for one property managed by a club to a maximum of $2,000 annually for 11 or more properties per club.

Additionally, AB 1423 will facilitate full implementation of the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program – a “public access to private lands” hunting program – and greatly facilitate its ability to attract federal funding made available in the 2008 Farm Bill. Under AB 1423, the SHARE Program will now be allowed to expand from what is currently a small, regional pilot program for waterfowl to a statewide hunting access program for all game species.  AB 1423 will help SHARE provide California’s public with relatively low cost, high quality hunting access to the lands of willing private landowners throughout the state.

Lastly, AB 1423 strengthens the criminal penalties for members of the public interfering with hunting, fishing, trapping, falconry and recreational shooting so that it may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor on the first offense.  Additionally, AB 1423 expands the definition of lawfully protected activities to include hunting dog training and field trials.  The bill also specifically bans such actions as 1) placing gates or barricades to block access to public lands without authorization and 2) placing bait on property so as to prevent lawful hunting.

“AB 1423 clearly demonstrates COHA’s commitment to making positive change on behalf of sportsmen and women in California,” stated Jason Rhine of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance.  “By working together, hunters can help ensure that future generation will have an opportunity to take part in our hunting heritage.

The California Outdoor Heritage Alliance is a 501(c) 4 non-profit political advocacy organization dedicated solely to the promotion of wildlife and the protection of our hunting heritage. COHA professional staff is active at the California State Legislature, Congress, State Fish and Game Commission, State and Federal resource agencies and all other political arenas where decisions are made which may impact wildlife management, habitat conservation, wildlife program funding, hunting access and opportunity, and your ability to purchase and possess sporting arms and munitions.  COHA was created in early 2006 by the California Waterfowl Association.  For more information on COHA and its efforts, visit their website at www.outdoorheritage.org

Mule Deer Foundation Supports California’s Hunting Heritage

On April 24th The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) contributed $15,000 towards protecting the hunting heritage of Californians and also took a seat on the board of directors of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA). With MDF President, Miles Moretti, on hand as it’s newest director, COHA held a meeting of it’s members at the Quail Point Gun Club.

Surrounded by Rob Olsen and Jim Waters MDF give COHA check

Caption: Left to right. COHA Director and Delta Waterfowl President – Rob Olsen, COHA President – Bill Gaines, COHA director and MDF President – Miles Moretti, MDF State Chair Rich Fletcher and COHA Director Jim Waters.

During the past few years, these organizations have collaborated on conservation programs while developing a strong working relationship. COHA and MDF  have now sealed the deal – strengthening each organization. Funding from MDF will help pay for the cost of COHA’s legislative programs and Moretti’s experience with wildlife and hunting issues will strengthen COHA’s decision making body. 

MDF is very concerned about political issues affecting California’s wildlife programs. COHA is currently working on key legislation that will protect hunting lands and conservation dollars in the state coffers. Two key legislative efforts that are key for hunters are SB589 and California State Assembly Bill 979.

COHA has been working in the state legislature to pass these bills for several years and this could be the year. SB589 is out of committee with little opposition and will go to a floor vote in the Senate soon. This bill will protect license and tag money by creating additional over site from the hunting community. AB979 will prevent local governments from limiting hunting opportunities on public lands and confirm that over site belongs with the Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Game.

MDF and COHA are working together for the benefit of conservationists in California. The success of both organizations is driven by the passion of outdoorsmen and fueled by sportman’s dollars.  With continued financial and in-kind support for these organizations, hunters we will continue to enjoy diverse and plentiful hunting opportunities in the “Golden” state.

IMG_0487 MDF and COHA croppedMiles Moretti, Mark Hennelly, Bill Gaines, Jason Rhine, Rich Fletcher and Rick Bullock