The U.S. Department of Interior has just announced the recovery of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population, as well as its intent to remove federal protections and return management to state agencies. The Greater Yellowstone population, those bears outside the two national parks, rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today. Confirmed sightings of grizzlies are taking place in locations where they have not previously been seen for more than 100 years as they extend their range in the Northern Rockies.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke stated, "This achievement stands as one of America's great conservation successes, the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners.” The final rule, and the supporting documents, will publish in the coming days in the Federal Register and the rule will take effect 30 days after publication.
The Greater Yellowstone grizzly population meets all delisting criteria. These factors include not only the number and distribution of bears throughout the ecosystem, but also the quantity and quality of the habitat available and the states' commitments to manage the population from now on in a manner that maintains those conditions.
Once the bear is no longer protected by the Endangered Species Act, its management will become the responsibility of the states, including Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The states will then decide if a hunting season is warranted, and if so, how many bears can be taken without negatively impacting the population. The states’ management of the bear will be monitored for five years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and that includes a stipulation that the population not dip below 600 in the regions outside the national parks.
Anti-hunting groups will be “howling” mad at the delisting. They will put the grizzly at the top of their lawsuit list for other healthy populations: Wolves (as in the Northwest, Great Lakes region), mountain lions (as in many Western states), black bears (as in New Jersey, Maine, Maryland, others), and trapping of furbearers everywhere.
The federal Duck Stamp in now available for the 2017-2018 hunting seasons. More than a million waterfowlers and conservationists traditionally purchase one or more of the colorful stamps to invest in waterfowl conservation and wetlands that support many other species of wildlife. One third of America’s threatened species make their homes in wetlands. Every year the program raises more than $25 million used to purchase wetlands in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Since its inception in 1934, the Duck Stamp, officially the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, has raised more than $950 million to help acquire and protect more than 5.7 million acres of habitat in the NWR. The artwork for the stamp is chosen by annual competition. This year’s winner, three Canada geese in formation, was painted by Minnesotan James Hautman, his fifth federal duck stamp win.
More than 3,000 junior duck stamps are sold annually for five dollars each to help promote conservation education through art. This year’s junior duck stamp features a pair of trumpeter swans, painted by 12-year-old Isaac Schreiber of Duffield, Virginia.
Hunters age 16 and older of ducks, geese and cranes are required to purchase the federal stamp in addition to their hunting licenses. Still, 10 percent of stamp sales come from stamp collectors and non-hunting conservationists. It can be purchased at many license agencies, most U.S. Post Offices, by phone at 800-STAMP-24, and online. Find all buying options at www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/buy-duck-stamp.php.
July and August are important months for wild turkey brood sightings. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency uses this count of hens with their poults as a good indication of how many young ones survived their treacherous first month; also this is an early indication of the population size for next year’s spring hunt.
Wild turkey hens begin to build ground nests in April and May, laying one egg per day for a clutch of 12 eggs usually. Incubation takes 28 days. If the eggs are lost to predators or the nest disturbed, the hen often will re-nest once or twice if necessary.
The young leave the nest shortly after hatching and follow the mother. They begin to fly at six to 10 days old. Male young remain with the mother until the fall; female young remain with the mother until the spring.
By August several hens may join their broods together and it is not uncommon to see poults ranging from quail-size to half-grown in one brood. Hens that have lost their young will join a brood flock and act as a foster mother. Solitary hens without young are also included in the brood count. An average of seven or eight poults per hen is considered favorable.
Forewarned is forearmed. Be advised that on the weekend of June 30 – July 2 the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be participating in Operation Dry Water. Nationally, the weekend before the Fourth of July is used by law enforcement agencies to focus boaters’ attention on Boating Under the Influence (BUI) education and enforcement. The intention is to reduce alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities on the water.
TWRA boating officers will saturate high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state. Along with promoting life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the enhanced effects of alcohol use on the water. Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.
Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 15 percent of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Keep your pilot dry. For more information, visit www.operationdrywater.org.
Garmin International has emerged victorious in a lawsuit concerning its DownVü sonar fishfinder. Recently the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a December 2015 finding by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that Garmin had infringed Navico patents related to downscan sonar. Specifically, the Federal Circuit ruled that two of Navico's patents were invalid and that Garmin's DownVü sonar does not infringe a third Navico patent.
Navico, the world's largest manufacturer of marine electronics, is the parent company to the brands Lowrance, Simrad and B&G. Garmin is now free to import and sell any and all sonar products. The Federal Circuit's decision not only reverses the ITC's original orders, but supersedes all related rulings by U.S. Customs and the ITC, including an initial determination that Garmin should be subject to a $37 million fine for selling DownVü products.
Garmin's portfolio includes some of the industry's most sophisticated chartplotters and touchscreen multifunction displays, sonar technology, high-definition radar, autopilots, high-resolution mapping, sailing instrumentation, and other innovative products. Garmin was recently named Manufacturer of the Year for the second year in a row by the National Marine Electronics Association. For more information on this story, go to www.garmin.com/newsroom.
Here is a brief timeline for the whitetail fawn. Tennessee’s deer are usually born in April and, within a few hours the youngsters will stand and try walking. Within ten hours the mother will lead its fawns – often two – to a good hiding place and leave them alone for their protection, returning often to nurse them.
After a few days the fawns will begin to follow the mother around a little and will choose their own beds. For the next seven days they will stay bedded for practically every minute. Predators like coyotes are their biggest threat, but they are born odorless and their light brown hair is camouflaged with more than 300 white spots.
At this age fawns are likely to be seen by humans. Of course, do not bother them; they have enough stress in their lives. But if they are in danger from farm machinery or human activity, go ahead and move them to safety; the mother will not reject them because of human scent.
When they are a few weeks old fawns will begin to eat vegetation, and will continue to nurse. As they grow stronger the youngsters will learn to socialize with the herd, frequently romping and playing with their mother and other fawns. But the young whitetails have to grow up quickly; at six months old they have to be strong enough to survive the winter.
Congratulations to Bass Pro Shops. The prominent national retailer of outdoor gear and apparel has been named one of "America's Most Reputable Companies" by Forbes magazine in recognition of the public's trust in the organization. This significant achievement is based on a national study compiled by The Reputation Institute – a well-established reputation management consultancy based in Boston – that measured 800 leading companies by gauging the perceptions of nearly 43,000 respondents familiar with them.
Bass Pro Shops ranked 19th on the list of 100 nationally distinguished companies, ranking above such iconic national brands as Disney, Home Depot, Marriott, Harley Davidson, FedEx, and others. The recognition is noteworthy in that it is based solely on direct feedback from consumers. Firms were not invited to apply for the award, signifying strong affinity for the brand among customers and the public.
Besides outfitting hunters, anglers, boaters, and outdoor enthusiasts, Bass Pro Shops is a conservation advocate, generously supporting national conservation organizations and directly contributing to wildlife habitat improvements and outdoor skills education.
In 1972 founder and CEO Johnny Morris began selling fishing tackle in his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri. Today he has more than 100 retail and marine centers, hosting 120 million people annually. See more at www.basspro.com.
Here is a source for some enjoyable and instructional videos on not just hunting, but all kinds of other shooting sports. Pick a species of game you want to pursue or a shooting discipline such as trap, skeet, sporting clays, long-range rifle, defensive handgun, cowboy action, and more. It’s all there at www.youtube.com/TheNSSF.
First-time gun owners will appreciate the FirstShots newsletter and the videos on firearms safety, shooting range etiquette and Project ChildSafe. Everyone will enjoy the product testing for guns, ammunition and much more.
More than 12 million viewers have tapped into this collection of more than 300 instructional videos offered by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF's goal is to encourage more people to head to the range or afield and excel in the shooting sports.
The U.S. Coast Guard has a boating safety app for mobile devices. Features of the free app include: State boating information; a safety equipment checklist; navigation rules; float plans; and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity.
The app is self-contained, so personal information is stored on the phone and is not sent to the Coast Guard unless the user chooses to send it. The app is available at the Apple App Store and Google Play online. Learn more at www.uscg.mil/mobile.
Summer begins on June 21 at precisely 12:24 a.m. EDT, which is 04:24 UTC (Universal Time Coordinated). Called the summer solstice, it is more appropriately called the June solstice since the southern hemisphere experiences its winter solstice at this time. It is the longest and shortest periods of daylight of the year, depending on your hemisphere. So why is that and why are there seasons?
A brief explanation. The Earth spins on its axis at a slight angle to its orbital path around the Sun, 23.4 degrees tilted from perpendicular, and that tilt never changes all year. In June the northern hemisphere faces the Sun more directly and six months later it is tilted away from the Sun’s rays, thus receiving much less energy. The southern hemisphere is opposite to this.
The Earth’s orbit of the Sun is elliptical and off-center, putting it significantly closer to the Sun at one point in the orbit and farther away six months later; but, this has almost no effect on the seasons on Earth. In fact the Earth is farthest from the Sun in early July and closest in early January.
The North Pole and the Arctic Circle receive 24-hour-a-day sunlight at this time of year. The June solstice is the only day of the year when all locations inside the Arctic Circle experience a continuous period of daylight for 24 hours.
Can today's boaters learn anything from the RMS Titanic tragedy? On April 15, 1912, less than one year from commissioning, the “unsinkable” ocean liner hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank. Let’s look at several timeless lessons for anyone on the water.
Speed: Excessive speed at night in dangerous, iceberg infested waters was a major factor in the Titanic’s demise. You should proceed cautiously when boating at night, in the fog or in unfamiliar waters. You need time to react to surprises.
Communication: The radio on the Titanic had a limited range of only 200 miles, not acceptable for an oceangoing vessel. Today cell phones are commonplace, but many remote areas do not have cellular service. Take along a marine radio just in case and get the phone numbers of some nearby marinas.
Safety: The Titanic did not have enough life jackets or lifeboats for its passengers, and the ship’s crew was not trained in emergency procedures. You should have suitable life vests for all on board and several people should know the location and proper use of your boat’s safety equipment, such as fire extinguisher, distress flares, radio, and inflatable life jackets.
The Bryan College Bass Team has been named the 2017 Cabela's School of the Year. In the quest for the best team in collegiate bass angling, Tennessee has captured four of the top five positions: University of Tennessee – Knoxville finished second, Bethel University (McKenzie) fourth, and University of Tennessee – Chattanooga fifth. This award is widely regarded as the hardest and most lucrative college fishing title in the United States.
Bryan College, located in Dayton, Tenn., is a tiny Christian liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,550. This is only the team’s third year on the circuit. They will take home more than $52,000 in cash and prizes.
The Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA) created this program with Cabela's and Abu Garcia to both rank and reward collegiate fishing teams based on their performance in the Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, Carhartt College B.A.S.S. Series, and FLW College Series, as well as some select school-hosted events. For more information on the ACA, or the Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, go to www.CollegiateBassChampionship.com.
There are no longer non-quota antlerless deer hunts by county. But, there are still quota antlerless deer hunts. Questions have come in about that. The non-quota antlerless deer hunts arranged by counties were eliminated by the reorganization and addition of two new big game units. See the layout of units L, A, B, C, and D at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website, www.tnwildlife.org.
The big game quota hunts on the wildlife management areas for antlerless deer and elk are still offered. Applications for the 2017 season are available beginning June 14 at license agencies and online. The filing period runs through July 26. The quota deer hunts and the 15 elk hunts for firearms, archery and one youth are all chosen in this computer drawing.
There are two ways to file your quota application. Fill out the form from your license agency but do not mail it in. The license agency will process it and will collect the $10 permit fee for each application, plus a $1 agent’s fee. Or, file online at quotahunt.gooutdoorstennessee.com/Hunts/CustomerLookup.aspx and pay a $10 permit fee plus a $2 Internet agent’s fee and $0.50 drawing fee. There are no permit fees charged – by either online or agent – to Sportsman or Lifetime licenses, or seniors with license Type 167. The TWRA does not get the agents’ fees, just the permit fees.
The priority system is in effect for previously unsuccessful applicants for deer and elk. Make sure that all instructions are followed carefully. The earlier you file, the more likely a filing mistake can be corrected; so, don’t put it off.
The American chestnut is returning. The good old days of the eastern forests may be just around the corner. As important as oak trees are as a food source to wildlife today, one hundred years ago the American chestnut was even more important. The same (chestnut) preponderance went for the nation’s lumber industry. But in the early 1900s the Asian chestnut blight assaulted this giant tree and in a couple of decades gone were its mast and timber.
The American chestnut once covered 200 million acres of forest from Maine to Georgia. In fact, scientists estimate that one out of four hardwood trees in our eastern forests were American chestnut. This tree reached immense proportions, with some specimens reaching 14 feet in diameters. Unlike the Asian chestnuts commonly found today, the American chestnut grew tall, reaching 90 to 100 feet with few limbs along its lower trunk.
One special property of the chestnut’s wood is its resistance to decay. To this day huge stumps and partial trunks of long dead chestnuts can be found in remote forests. I have seen them in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the Appalachian Trail near The Shuckstacks.
Now the American chestnut is poised to begin an amazing comeback, and you can both participate and benefit. Chestnut trees are a powerful addition to food plots for all kinds of wildlife. Before the blight hit, the chestnut was the primary food source for deer, turkey, bear, squirrel, hogs and other wildlife. And of course humans love to eat roasted chestnuts.
The renaissance for this mighty tree began with The American Chestnut Foundation, founded in 1983 and dedicated to the return of the American chestnut to its former prominence in the Appalachian hardwood forest ecosystem. TACF is a 501(c) 3 conservation organization headquartered in Asheville, N.C. with more than 6,000 members.
Over the past 33 years and a $19 million investment, TACF has created potentially blight-resistant American chestnuts. The Foundation uses a traditional "backcross" breeding method to incorporate the genes for blight resistance from the Chinese chestnut into the American chestnut while maintaining the growth characteristics of the American tree. To become a TALC volunteer, donate or get more information on the TACF national breeding program, visit www.acf.org or call 828-281-0047.
Blight-resistant chestnut trees are now available to the public for planting from a private breeder. The Dunstan Chestnut was developed over 30 years by Dr. Robert Dunstan. These trees bear large, sweet nuts in just two to four years. Dunstan Chestnuts are extremely adaptable and will thrive anywhere in the eastern United States.
In Tennessee there are nursery trees available at Rural King stores in Knoxville, Clarksville and Martin, and selected Walmarts in Alcoa, Camden, Clarksville, Cleveland, Clinton, Kingsport, Madisonville, Millington, New Tazewell, Oneida, Pulaski, Tullahoma, and Unicoi. For more information go to www.chestnuthilloutdoors.com.
As the summer camping season gets underway, here is an important warning: Do not travel with firewood! Forestry biologists are battling the spread of myriad tree diseases and infestations, but the fight is hopeless without the public’s help. No longer merely wind borne, these pests travel the highways at the speed limit. To help the most, burn local wood, either gathered there or purchased there. If you have moved firewood, burn it all up, especially the bark.
Tennessee has its share of infestations that can be spread by moving firewood, including the pine beetle, emerald ash borer (all ash trees), wooly adelgid (hemlocks), Asian longhorn beetle, and the Sirex woodwasp. Our black walnut trees are succumbing to the “thousand cankers disease” (called TCD). TCD is a fungus spread by the walnut twig beetle.
How far is too far to move firewood? What kinds are safe to move (None)? Get more information at www.dontmovefirewood.org; also, there is the USFS website at www.na.fs.fed.us. Be proactive. Inspect your own trees for diseases. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has a website and phone number to help you, www.protecttnforests.org and 800-628-2631.