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Bone up on how to bone out your deer before you head for the truck
In this short video, MeatEater‘s Janis Putelis teaches an essential hunting skill, which also helps to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.
Many states with a CWD risk now require that you properly dispose of parts of the deer carcass that can carry the disease, including the spinal cord, lymph nodes, and spleen. So check your local regs, pack a few extra knives and a bone saw, and bookmark this video.
You won’t be sorry you did. As Steven Rinella says in the brief intro, if you don’t have CWD where you hunt, you don’t want it.
There are, of course, many pressing issues as voters begin casting their ballots for the 2020 elections. But as sportsmen and sportswomen, we have a responsibility to make informed decisions about who will best steward our land, water, fisheries, and wildlife.
Here are 10 questions that can help you find out where your federal candidates stand on conservation and why you should ask them.
Do you believe that climate change is a threat? If so, how do you plan to address it?
This is a critical question because sportsmen and women are on the front lines of climate change, witnessing impacts on our nation’s fish, wildlife, and habitat. And policymakers are integral to pushing bipartisan solutions to address these effects on our hunting and fishing opportunities.
Do you support investing in conservation as a way to get Americans back to work?
The COVID pandemic has hit our economy hard, and there are many creative ways to employ workers and spur economic growth. Investments in conservation are a win-win for jobs and the outdoors.
What will you do to increase participation in hunting and fishing?
Hunters and anglers pay for conservation through our gear and license purchases. When fewer people hunt and fish, investments in conservation drop off too. So, decision-makers who care about conservation funding will have a plan for recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters and anglers.
How would you use the Farm Bill to incentivize landowners to be even better stewards of the land?
The Farm Bill makes major investments in private land conservation. The next five-year bill will provide a golden opportunity to restore habitat and support the wildlife that we love.
How will you enhance public access to hunting and fishing opportunities?
There are 16.25 million acres of inaccessible public land across 18 U.S. states. These places could be home to your next outdoor adventure, but you can’t get to them. These lands belong to all of us, and hunters and anglers shouldn’t be missing out because access policies aren’t being improved.
Do you believe that chronic wasting disease threatens the future of deer hunting? If so, what steps would you take to address it?
Chronic wasting disease has spread rapidly among wild deer and elk populations, particularly in the last ten years, with positive cases now found in 26 states. This disease is 100 percent fatal, manifests slowly, and can remain in an infected environment for years.
What can you do to restore habitat connectivity and conserve migration corridors?
Animals big and small—from grizzly bears to bog turtles and elk and deer to salamanders—all —need to move between their seasonal ranges. But migrating through human-altered landscapes isn’t always easy. There are many barriers that threaten this habitat and these habitats and migratory species .
What steps would you take to ensure that headwater streams and wetlands are protected?
Clean, productive wetlands and headwater streams are important for everyone, but essential for hunters and anglers. Not only do they provide habitat for fish and wildlife, these waters and wetlands also reduce flooding, filter pollution, and recharge aquifers that provide drinking water. Recent rule changes threaten these protections.
What is your plan for improving the marine fisheries ecosystem and recreational fishing?
Changing water temperatures, ocean acidification, human development, habitat loss, and overfishing of forage fish all threaten our marine fisheries ecosystem and the $125 billion recreational fishing economy.
How will you strengthen the nation’s $778-billion outdoor recreation economy?
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that our nation’s outdoor recreation economy is a major job creator and contributor to the U.S. gross domestic product. By supporting outdoor recreation businesses and conservation work that creates more hunting and fishing opportunities, we can help pull our nation out of this economic downturn.
Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management
Yes, this important legislation can be enacted, even if President Trump is too busy to sign it
Now that Congress has passed the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, there are fish and wildlife conservation projects ready to be launched with support from the programs and investments included in this important legislation. As of today, it awaits a very busy president’s signature.
We saw some questions on social media about what happens if Trump doesn’t sign it—not because he is opposed to ACE, but because he is in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic and reelection campaign. Watch this quick video for the answer!
Top image courtesy of Tony Rocheford/USFWS Midwest
Hunters need lawmakers to address USDA’s failure to invest in effective deer disease solutions
Long before COVID-19 emerged, Minnesota’s deer hunters and wildlife enthusiasts had been worried about an epidemic that threatens some of our most iconic wildlife species and important outdoor traditions.
Of course, I’m talking about chronic wasting disease. It too has the ability to alter the fabric of our lives, and it deserves our attention.
The best way to end the spread of CWD – a wildlife disease with no known cure that is 100-percent fatal and threatens Minnesota’s whitetail deer and moose – is to stop the movement of potentially infected animals, whether they are alive or dead. Deer hunters now have a comprehensive set of rules to abide by as they harvest deer and transport carcasses around the state. The state has also taken steps to slow the movement of live captive animals that are especially well-suited to spread the disease.
But while the regulation of wild deer and deer hunters falls entirely to the Minnesota DNR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Minnesota’s Board of Animal Health, retain the authority to regulate captive deer raised by deer farmers. An agency at the USDA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is tasked with the job of ensuring that potentially CWD-infected live deer aren’t being moved across the landscape.
It is a job they aren’t doing particularly well. APHIS uses what they call the Herd Certification Program, an utterly toothless (and strictly voluntary) method for keeping captive deer herds “low-risk.” But the facts tell a different story when each and every year, so-called “low-risk herds” still manage to transport CWD-positive deer across state lines.
What’s more, only a fraction of deer farmers even participate. When it comes to stopping the movement of CWD-infected deer, the Herd Certification Program is about as porous as a screen door on a Northwoods hunting cabin.
This year, Congress set aside funding for APHIS to help state wildlife agencies invest in better CWD management. But that money has been diverted and is in part being used to fund the research priorities of the captive deer industry – research of no benefit to wild deer or deer hunters.
Despite the national–indeed, global–scope of chronic wasting disease, exceedingly little federal money seems poised to make it to the ground where it would matter most.
Fortunately, Congressman Collin Peterson is in a fine position to help Minnesota’s wild deer and deer hunters. As an avid sportsman, Mr. Peterson understands just how important a healthy deer herd is to Minnesota, and as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, he is uniquely capable of ensuring that the USDA doesn’t remain asleep at the switch.
Chairman Peterson could help ensure a healthy future for Minnesota’s deer and deer hunters by holding an oversight hearing to take a hard look at the persistent failures of the Herd Certification Program and identify specific ways to strengthen it. Deer hunters from across the state encourage Congressman Peterson to use this authority, and hunters across the country stand ready to help, as well.
Tom Landwehr is a concerned deer hunter, lifelong conservationist, and past commissioner of the Minnesota DNR. He currently serves as the executive director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.
Sign the TRCP’s open letter to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and demand the transparent and effective use of CWD funding.
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More