Archive for January, 2012

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) joins the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), and other partners at the 2012 SHOT Show to announce the start of a yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history.

The “WSFR 75 – It’s Your Nature” celebration brings together federal and state fish and wildlife agencies; the hunting, shooting, angling, and boating industries; and conservation groups to mark a milestone of partnership success that has led to 75 years of quality hunting, fishing, shooting, boating and wildlife-related recreation. The occasion also marks the beginning of a new era in wildlife conservation, during which the partners will establish new goals for fostering and maintaining partnerships to continue conservation and outdoor recreation into the next 75 years and beyond.

“The Service is proud to join our partners in recognizing more than seven decades of wildlife conservation and quality outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “With our nation’s support and our partnership’s renewed commitment, WSFR will help more Americans enjoy wildlife and our great outdoors for many years to come.”

Through the WSFR program, several innovative and foundational fish and wildlife conservation programs are administered. The first was created on September 2, 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which raises funds through a dedicated excise tax on sporting guns and ammunition. In 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was enacted and added to the WSFR program. Through this law, funds are provided for fish conservation and boating and fishing recreational programs in each state through an excise tax placed on certain fishing and boating equipment and fuels.

“Since its 1937 inception, WSFR has provided more than $14 billion to support fish and wildlife restoration and management,” said Hannibal Bolton, the Service’s assistant director for the WSFR program. “The program and its partners, including the sporting arms industry, conservation groups, and sportsmen and sportswomen, are coming together for this anniversary to renew their commitment to conserve fish and wildlife and enhance hunter, angler, and boater recreation.”

These funds, administered by the Service, are combined with hunting license dollars in each state to fund important state wildlife conservation and hunting programs.

“The 75th anniversary of the WSFR program is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the conservation victories that have been made possible because of this innovative funding approach,” said Jonathan Gassett, PhD, president, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “WSFR has made the difference for the survival and abundance of some species, and because of it, many fish and wildlife populations are at historically high levels today.”

Industry and agency partnerships have helped to the successes of the WSFR program to become what it is today.

“The WSFR programs have not only supported fish and wildlife conservation, they have also supported small businesses that manufacture and sell hunting and fishing equipment,” said Myke Lynch, general manager of Green Top Sporting Goods in Richmond, Virginia. “The industry supporting sportsmen has a multi-million dollar impact on the nation’s economy, and it depends on healthy fish and wildlife populations.”

The WSFR 75th anniversary will include participation in various fish and wildlife conservation events and conferences throughout the year, to culminate with National Hunting and Fishing Day in September 2012.

For more information about the WSFR program and its 75th Anniversary in 2012, visit:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WSFR75
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/wsfr75

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at http://www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.


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DENVER — The Bureau of Land Management announced today that it will use state and regional data and maps to help it identify wildlife corridors and crucial habitat in future land-use planning and management efforts.  The maps will be available for the BLM to use as a result of the Western Wildlife Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool, known as “CHAT”, an initiative of the Western Governors’ Association.

Information developed through the CHAT will facilitate an organized and comprehensive approach to obtaining wildlife-related data and maps by the BLM and other federal agencies.  BLM Deputy Director Mike Pool signed Instruction Memorandum (IM) No. 2012-039, which instructs land managers to use prioritized wildlife and habitat information and data developed through state- and regional-level CHATs as a principal source to inform land use planning, as well as related natural resource decisions on public lands.

Arizona, Montana and Washington have already developed state-specific information and data, and a regional-level data set is now available that covers several states in the southern great plains.  More states are expected to develop information in 2012, and a West-wide CHAT is expected to be available in 2013.

“Western states are developing information on wildlife corridors and crucial habitat that the BLM can use in implementing this IM, which will likely reduce our costs and create efficiencies in planning and land use management,” BLM Director Bob Abbey said.

In 2009, the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Western Governors’ Association regarding coordination among federal agencies and states in the identification and uniform mapping of wildlife corridors and crucial habitat.

“Governors in Western states are working hard to promote new jobs and development, while recognizing the need to protect our wildlife and their habitat,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire, WGA Chair. “These tools help achieve our goals and ensure that people planning development projects consider wildlife values early in their planning process.”

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, WGA Vice-Chairman, said, “At a time when we are working hard to reduce government spending, it is appreciated that the BLM is looking to use this cutting-edge wildlife information from state agencies to inform their planning decisions.”

The BLM’s National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy and the Rapid Ecoregional Assessments are two ongoing efforts that will use the CHAT data and maps when appropriate to support planning and management activities.

Click here to read the IM.

About the WGA – Established in 1984, the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) is an independent, non-partisan organization of governors from 19 Western states, two Pacific-flag territories and one commonwealth. Through WGA, member Governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations, transportation and public management.

Since the adoption of WGA’s Wildlife Corridors Initiative Report in June 2008, 17 states have become members of the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council.  Its members develop policies and tools to identify and conserve crucial wildlife habitat and corridors across the region.  The Wildlife Council’s focus is on implementing the CHAT model by 2013, making information on important fish and wildlife habitat compatible across the West and easily accessible to anyone making land use decisions.

About the BLM – The BLM manages more land – over 245 million acres – than any other Federal agency.  This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska.  The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.  The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.  The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

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Populations trends are declining for mule deer and pronghorn antelope herds on both sides of the Colorado-Wyoming border and herds may not be able to fully recover unless federal and state agencies act to protect core habitats, according to a report released last fall by the National Wildlife Federation.

“We are seeing a slow, inexorable decline in populations of both species and a corresponding decline in hunting opportunities in both states,” said Steve Torbit, NWF’s regional executive director. “If we are to maintain our native deer and pronghorn populations and our hunting traditions, land managers and wildlife agencies need to address the landscape-wide impacts that undermine the habitat vitality wildlife relies on.”

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which has jurisdiction over almost all of the West’s vast federal lands, has management responsibility that stretch across state lines and over the interior Rocky Mountain West.

“The BLM must recognize the cumulative, landscape-wide impacts of its decisions and that a lease or permit granted in one area or state can directly result in added stress to migrating game herds in an adjacent state,” Torbit said. “The needs of wildlife over the entire landscape need to be fully factored in before permits for oil, gas, wind farms, agricultural practices or any other human activity are permitted.”

The report, “Population Status and Trends of Big Game along the Colorado/Wyoming State Line,” was prepared by veteran wildlife biologists John Ellenberger and Gene Byrne and can be found at http://www.ourpubliclands.com. Rather than look at only the most recent data, Byrne and Ellenberger analyzed wildlife agency statistics collected over the past 30 years, including population, hunter harvest and hunting license trends.

Statistics for game management units in both states were reviewed in an area roughly bounded by Interstate 80 on the north, the Green River to the west, U.S. Highway 40 on the south and Laramie, WY and Walden, Co on the east.

“The information we analyzed clearly shows steady population declines in both states for many of the deer and pronghorn herds that we examined,” Ellenberger said.

“We are concerned that at some point, the resiliency of these herds to recover will be lost, creating a situation where we can only expect further declines,” Ellenberger explained. “It is our professional opinion that federal land managers need to consider the full impact their decisions about development will have on our native wildlife or we risk further declines in our wildlife resources.

“Evaluations of impacts to wildlife and wildlife habitat need to be performed at the landscape level, not just localized impacts,” Ellenberger said.

Both Torbit and Ellenberger emphasized that a growing body of peer-reviewed research has shown that the cumulative impacts of energy development, human population growth and agricultural practices have limited the natural resiliency of the habits wildlife need to survive. When natural factors such as periodic drought or disease affect a herd, the human impacts pile on top of each other, becoming “additive.” The result can be cumulative, potentially long-term declines.
“When there is a drop in the density of animals in an area that usually results in an increase in the productivity of a herd and the recruitment of young animals” Ellenberger explained. “”If that doesn’t occur, then there are serious issues with habitat limitations.”

For wildlife managers, “low recruitment” means that too few young animals are surviving to adulthood. Typically, populations of deer, pronghorn and other native species recover quickly to herd declines caused by drought or changes in habitat as soon as that specific factor is removed. For example, in the area in and around Yellowstone National Park in the late 1980s, the big-game populations suffered dramatic declines due to severe drought and the largest fire in the park’s recorded history. But within two years, the game populations were increasing thanks to adequate moisture and flourishing habitat.

Some area residents have suggested that predators such as coyotes are the reason for declines. But, who has worked extensively in both Wyoming and Colorado, emphasized that pronghorn and mule deer herds have always lived with predators.

“These game herds evolved with five different predators: wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions and coyotes, and they still thrived,” Torbit noted. “We now have only three of these predators along the border with grizzlies and wolves no longer present.

“What’s changed are the intense demands we are placing on Western landscapes,
 Torbit explained. “It appears that the new predator is the increased development and other human activity that has picked up pace over the past several decades.

“Mule deer and pronghorn are now experiencing 40-acre spacing of gas drilling pads and thousands of miles of roads and pipelines. Too often, decisions have been made on individual projects while the impacts are occurring on a much broader scale.”

Torbit said he fears mule deer and pronghorn populations may follow the steady decline of greater sage grouse that has been widely documented by wildlife researchers.

“Forty years ago a hunter could see hundreds of sage grouse in a single day,” Torbit recalled. “But due to landscape-wide factors, the sage grouse population has suffered a slow, inexorable decline and so has sage grouse hunting.

“As a Westerner, biologist and hunter, I don’t want to see that same decline occur in our mule deer and pronghorn,” Torbit said.

NWF biologists have met with BLM officials and the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish to present and discuss the new analysis of deer and pronghorn herds. A series of public meetings is scheduled in communities within the study area in Wyoming and Colorado.

“Ultimately, it will be up to all of who value our wildlife herds to urge federal and state agencies to make decisions that will protect our wildlife resource,” Torbit said. “The future of our hunting heritage and the billions of dollars wildlife brings to the region’s economy are at stake.”


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The floor of SHOT Show

LAS VEGAS — Nearly 60,000 firearms industry professionals will make their way here to the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade ShowSM (SHOT Show®) Jan. 17-20 to get a first look at the new products and services they hope will excite customers in 2012.

The $4.1 billion industry continues to be a bright spot in the anemic U.S. economy, as sales in 2011 topped the previous year’s. Through December, adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check statistics, an indicator of industry sales, showed 19 straight monthly increases over the same period of the previous year, and background checks for Black Friday, Nov. 25, set a new one-day high.

“We are grateful and proud that our industry has helped maintain jobs from the manufacturer through retail levels during these difficult economic times,” said President and CEO Steve Sanetti of NSSF. “Industry is delivering products that people desire for sporting purposes and personal and home defense. We see no reason why this won’t continue during 2012. Buying activity at the SHOT Show will give us a first look at the industry’s prospects for the year ahead.”

The 34th annual SHOT Show will take place for the third straight year at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The largest trade show of its kind in the world, the SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Manufacturers and distributors display a broad range of products, including firearms, ammunition, optics, reloading, locks and cases, shooting range equipment, targets, training and safety equipment, hunting accessories, law enforcement and tactical equipment, hearing and eye protection, tree stands, scents and lures, cutlery, GPS systems, holsters, apparel, leather goods, game calls and decoys.

Given the size of the SHOT Show at more than 600,000 net square feet, the Sands is stretched to capacity. Improvements made to the venue prior to the 2011 show to improve crowd flow, seating and signage were given an enthusiastic thumbs-up by attendees in the post-show survey. Enhancements to the 2012 show include making room in the sold-out exhibition halls by having larger exhibitors voluntarily reduce their booth space so that smaller companies could move off the show’s waiting list and onto the show floor. “We received outstanding cooperation from our longtime, voting member exhibitors who sacrificed some of their booth space for the good of the show,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “Our exhibitors instinctively understand that what’s good for the SHOT Show is good for the marketplace. As a result, we anticipate a vibrant, successful show.”

NSSF will present its State of the Industry Dinner on the first evening, with Outdoor Channel serving as the title sponsor of the event. The Foundation will show its State of the Industry video and present an achievement award to a most-deserving recipient. NSSF also will assist in the kickoff of the 75th anniversary celebration of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Act, through which the industry has contributed nearly $7 billion to wildlife conservation since 1937. A crowd of more than 2,000 will be entertained by comedian Larry the Cable Guy.

The 2012 show, whose theme is “One Industry — One Voice,” will bring together manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, publishers and wildlife conservation groups to conduct business, exchange ideas, renew contacts and reaffirm the unity that has been the hallmark of the shooting sports industry in these challenging times.

For retailers, the SHOT Show provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to gain a hands-on education about the products they’ll be discussing with their sportsmen customers. New products seen at the SHOT Show will arrive throughout the year at retail stores.

The largest number of outdoor media in the world turns out at the SHOT Show to cover the introduction of products and to report on the firearms and outdoor industry. NSSF credentialed more than 2,000 media members for the 2011 show. At SHOT Show Media Day at the Range, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 16, the day before the show, members of the press can handle, test and learn about the new products that will be on display over the next four days.

With all segments of industry in attendance, the SHOT Show provides a perfect setting for organizational and educational meetings. On the day before the show opens, retailers take advantage of SHOT Show University to learn from experts about new marketing strategies, store financials and compliance with federal regulations. Additional seminars for retailers are scheduled during the show covering topics such as knowing your competition, exporting firearms, hiring smart and the benefits of utilizing GunBroker.com, along with presentations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Law enforcement professionals will have a series of seminars to choose from as well.

The SHOT Show is a “must-see” event for industry professionals, who can register to attend the show at http://www.shotshow.org. The website is also the place to find out all that’s happening at SHOT during and after the show.

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