Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund, an arm of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, has petitioned a federal judge to dismiss a case brought by anti-hunters that would outlaw recreational hunting on 37 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

“The case is totally without merit,” said Rick Story of the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, which manages the defense fund. “We would have filed our motion to dismiss the suit sooner, but the anti-hunting plaintiffs kept amending it to seek hunting bans on more refuges. It seems they’ve run out of ideas, so it’s time to end this debacle.”

The sportsmen’s group worked with the influential Safari Club International on the motion and also had Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, the Izaak Walton League and the California Waterfowl Association as defendant interveners.

The original case to ban the legitimate hunting on more than three dozen units of the 100 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System was filed in 2003 in Federal District Court in the District by the Fund for Animals, which has since merged with the Humane Society of the United States. It used an old anti-hunting strategy that includes charging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuges, with failing to comply with a federal act that requires extensive environmental impact statements (EIS) before hunting can begin.

All this despite rulings of two federal courts (one in Vermont, the other in New Jersey) that say hunting regulations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are not governed by Congressional acts that require an EIS.

“The suit demonstrates the lengths to which the anti-hunting movement will go to end hunting in America,” Story said.

Fishing advocates honored — The American Sportfishing Association last week honored two lifelong sportfishing advocates during a reception at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Congressman John D. Dingell (Democrat, Michigan) received the Norville Prosser Lifetime Achievement Award, and Jim Cummins, director of the Living Resources Section of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB), received the Future of Fishing Award.

The Norville Prosser award is named after the ASA’s former vice president for government affairs. It is presented to an individual who has shown extraordinary leadership throughout his or her career in promoting the values of sportfishing and advancing cooperative approaches to conservation and recreation. The Future of Fishing Award pays tribute to individuals or organizations who design new approaches to expand fishing participation or community involvement.

Rep. Dingell’s accomplishments include ensuring that fishing and hunting remain a priority use of our National Wildlife Refuge System. He is also an advocate for the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes. His father, former Congressman John Dingell Sr., co-authored the incredibly successful Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, commonly known as the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950. It is good to know his son is carrying on a family tradition of looking out for the nation’s anglers.

Although Jim Cummins can show a long list of achievements, he is best known for leading an incredibly demanding cooperative effort to restore the American shad to the Potomac River. The shad restoration work has been a huge success, with adult shad now annually visiting their traditional spawning grounds in ever increasing numbers.

Here we go harvesting again — I have important news for Maryland wildlife officials who sent out a report, saying that in the recently concluded spring turkey season 3,008 gobblers were “harvested.” Folks, they weren’t harvested. They were killed, shot with magnum loads of number 4 or 5 pellets. You can harvest potatoes and corn, but not birds. Incidentally, the total turkey kill this spring was 4 percent below the record number of 3,136 shot in 2005.

Fur trappers convention — National Trappers Association Northeast Regional Convention hosted by the Maryland Fur Trappers, July 7-9, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Charles County Fairgrounds, off Route 301, south of La Plata. Trapping supplies, predator calling gear, fur handling equipment and other hunting goods will be available. Spaces are available for the Sportsman’s Flea Market, where hunting gear, old traps, decoys, game calls and many other outdoor collectibles can be bought and sold. There will be seminars for trapping fox, raccoon, beaver, otter and muskrat and the men’s and women’s World Champion Muskrat Skinners will be there July 8. Auctions, raffles, food, games, camping and RV spaces. Admission: $5 per adult for the weekend. Children younger than 12 admitted free. Information: Richard Garrett, 410/673-2061.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail:

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