Stupid gun laws, African lions, and wildlife corruption

By JIM MATTHEWS www.OutdoorNewsService.com
Three items in the news and on the fringes of the news this past week cry out for some comment. For those of us who use guns, still spend time outdoors hunting and understand wildlife and natural processes, and get frustrated by the profound lack of government accountability these days, these observations and comments come from that perspective.

ON BANNING 15-ROUND MAGAZINES: Did you see the breathtaking news that the brilliant elected officials of Los Angeles City banned the ownership of 15-round magazines. They actually say — with straight faces — this will someone prevent mass shootings. Never mind that murder is already illegal and that mass shootings are multiple factors of illegal. They think that once they have banned those 15-round magazines, the person planning the mass shooting will somehow say to himself, “Well, fudge, I don’t know how to reload this gun, and if I can legally have a 15-round magazine, I’m going to skip this mass shooting at the ‘gun free zone’ movie theatre.”

How do their heads not explode at the complete lack of common sense? There is simply no cogent argument that makes this ban anything but moronic window dressing that appeals to people who know nothing about firearms. Shooters know how long it takes to change a magazine in a pistol or semi-automatic rifle. For those of you who don’t know, snap your fingers; it takes that long. So a mass killer with five 10-round magazines, or even 10 five-round magazines can create more mayhem than a mass killed with three 15-round magazines. And do it just as rapidly.

If the LA officials understood that, they would probably make it illegal to own more than one magazine. Or ban guns entirely. We all know how well banning booze worked during Prohibition, or how well drug bans work. But they are sure it will solve the problem.

ON AFRICAN LIONS: Are you all red-faced and angry over Cecil the Lion? This one just makes those of us who understand the conservation efforts to protect and expand the African lion population just slam a hand to our collective foreheads. Just some facts for the bleeding hearts to digest about African lions. There are between 600 and 700 male lions killed legally in 13 African nations each year. These also happened to be the 13 nations where lion populations are considered stable or growing because the money from the legal hunting programs funds a massive conservation effort that reduces the rampant slaughter and poaching of the big cats that occurs in places where they have no economic value. Outside of the legal sport hunting countries, lions are considered vermin by the native populations with no value. So they are poisoned, shot, and trapped at every opportunity, especially when they kill native herders’ animals. The goal is to eliminate this problem animal, and this illegal hunting activity is what has driven populations of these animals down, not legal sport hunting. If you have a hard time understanding that killing a few animals can protect the population, try to equate it wealth redistribution: the few sacrificing for the many. (Except it actually works in conservation.)

The simple fact is this: It is ONLY through legal hunting that there is conservation money available to do the public outreach and on-the-ground management efforts that will keep the big cat populations healthy in these areas. Get beyond your selfish, visceral reaction to a lion’s death.

Besides I hear Cecil was getting really old, had bad teeth, and needed a dentist.

What? That’s funny — a little sick, but funny? If you want something to get apoplectic about, how about showing the same kind of anger when ISIS members behead Christians in the Middle East (where ISIS tribal family members long ago killed off the last lions) or at Planned Parenthood auctioning off aborted infant body parts. Those things are horrific. I don’t want to hear anymore whiney stuff about Cecil.

WHAT ACCOUNTABILITY?: Once upon a time, when any kind of impropriety or back-room dealings in government were exposed, there was hue and cry from the public and public servants resigned, were fired, or were never elected again.

For the past several years there has been reporting on the corruption and conflict of interest within the membership of the Fish and Game Commission and their partners in crime in the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It started with the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act and has continued with the passage of legislation to ban lead ammunition statewide for hunting under the guise of protecting the endangered California condor, and now had just marched into the realm of overstepping its authority and ignoring legislative intent over bobcat hunting and trapping.

I have written about all of these things over the past couple of years, but in a nutshell: Fish and Game Commissioner Mike Sutton has violated conflict of interest regulations when he voted on regulation that directly affected his own employer’s finances and their lobbying efforts. He did it with MLPA. He did it again with lead ban regulations. Richard Rogers had been serving on the body from 2011 until recently, even without being reappointed. None of his votes should have ever been reported. Chairman of the Commission Jack Baylis recently told the legislature that the Commission could do what it wanted regarding bobcat trapping and didn’t have to follow the legislation or science-based data. None of them would even sign “incompatibility statements,” assuring there were no conflicts of interest issues with their service on the Commission. This sort of gives them all an out: “We never said there were no conflict of interest.”

What is going on here? An even bigger question: How does it keep going on? I’m a little baffled about what has to happen today for there to be accountability in government. And this is just a microcosm of so many state and federal corruption scandals that just seem to be ignored today. In this climate, Nixon would never have had to resign and Clinton never would have had to face an impeachment vote.

What difference does it make?
[ A detailed explanation of the Fish and Game Commission corruption is on the Flash Report website, written by Katy Grimes at this direct link: http://www.flashreport.org/blog/2015/07/29/the-next-state-sandal-california-fish-and-game-commission/.]

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Details of lead ammunition ban for hunting blow up on Internet

This wasn’t a surprise, yet the hunting/shooting community is acting like it has just discovered all lead ammunition will be banned for hunting in California by July 1, 2019. It’s an Internet revelation with the accompanying outrage.

At the end of April, the California Fish and Game Commission formally approved the phase in of the lead ban, a phase-in that was put together by the Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to have the least possible impact on hunters in the state while still meeting the mandate from the state legislature. AB 711 was passed by the state legislature in 2013, and it mandated a complete ban by July 1, 2019 or sooner if feasible.

Hello? The legislature banned lead ammunition for hunting. Did the hunting/shooting folks showing so much outrage over the Commission’s adoption of the phase-in plan somehow think this wasn’t going to happen?

Was everyone asleep when the DFW was traveling around the state all of last year getting input from the public at meetings on how best to phase in the ban?

Did anyone paying attention think the entire lead ban was going to be put off until the very last hour before being implemented? Or maybe not implemented at all?

Apparently, the answer to these questions is ìyes.î

For those of you dozing for the past two years, this is what is happening.

All lead ammunition has been banned for all types of hunting in California throughout the entire state. No exceptions. No more lead in hunting by July 1, 2019. That is not up for debate any longer. You can quit sniveling about how there’s no science to back up the statewide ban. Apparently, no one cares or the legislation wouldn’t have passed in the first place. We lost that round. Move on.

The good news? Hunting was not banned (in spite of what some people in the governor’s and DFW director’s offices might want). The issue is whether or not there will be enough non-lead ammunition available to meet the hunting public’s needs. The legislature’s mandate was to phase-in this lead ban as soon as possible, in the least obtrusive way possible for hunters, but not later than the 2019 deadline under any circumstances.

The DFW took this mandate seriously and held a whole series of public hearings last year all over the state and requested written comments to get public and industry feedback. It published a draft Environmental Impact Report on the lead-ban implementation and phase-in plan on Jan. 7 this year. (If you want to be terrified about where we are heading in California, read some of the comments from the far-left environmental community in this near-250-page document. It is available on the DFW’s web site at this link: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=92802&inline.) So it should not have been a shock when the Fish and Game Commission adopted the following phase-in:

Effective July 1, 2015 (this year): Lead ammunition will be banned for all hunting for all species on State Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves. If you shoot doves at San Jacinto Wildlife Area or the Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area (or the wheat fields on the Finney-Ramer Unit), you will not be allowed to use lead shot on those wildlife areas. In addition, all hunters who are lucky enough to draw a bighorn sheep tag (all 11 of them), must shoot non-lead ammunition.

Effective July 1, 2016: Lead shotgun ammunition will be banned for the taking of all small game and upland game (except quail, doves, and snipe). So starting next year, you may not use lead shotgun ammunition for cottontails, chukar, pheasants or grouse. If you shoot pheasants on licensed game bird clubs (planted birds), the lead ban does not apply, yet. Lead shotgun ammunition will also be banned for the take of all furbearing mammals, non-game birds and mammals, and any wildlife taken for depredation purposes. You will still be able to use lead .22 rimfire ammunition for rabbits and lead centerfire ammunition for deer and other game (outside of the current ìcondor zone,î where lead ammunition is already banned for big game and varmints).

Effective July 1, 2019: All lead ammunition will be banned for all species of hunted wildlife.

If you look at the rules, the DFW was trying to delay as long as possible all lead bans that involve rimfire, centerfire, handgun, or muzzleloader ammunition. That is where the greatest shortages exist now and will exist in the future. Even the shotgun ammunition bans were phased in anticipating shortages. Hunters can adapt and use existing waterfowl loads in smaller shot sizes (start stocking up now) for chukar and pheasant hunting next year. But the highest volume hunting sports ñ dove and quail ñ are pushed right to the end of the phase-in so makers can (hopefully) increase production on steel dove and quail loads. That is three more years for manufacturers to gear up production so California hunters won’t be hung out to dry by this moronic legislation.

So we can act surprised and express all kinds of outrage about how this law is being implemented, or how it was passed, but it is not going to change anything. What we can do is make sure our industry steps up to the plate and gets us non-lead ammunition so this doesn’t end up being a defacto hunting ban. That is what the anti-hunters and faux-scientists who pushed for this ban want.

Are you going to let them win?

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San Jacinto Wildlife Area could lose its water supply

The San Jacinto Wildlife Area is on the verge of losing at least half of its water supply in the short term, and in the long-term, worse-case scenario, all of the wetlands and ponds that have been developed over the past 25 years will largely dry-up, ruining its value for wildlife.

Ironically, it is the state Department of Fish and Wildlife that is negotiating away the water rights for this western Riverside County wildlife area adjacent to Lake Perris.

ìWhat frosts me is that California has lost 95 percent of its wetlands, and we’re giving more away,î said Tom Paulek, a retired Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist who managed the wildlife area before retiring. ìThe area is 10,000-plus acres now, and we haven’t realized the full potential for wildlife conservation there. We can do amazing things out there if we have water.î

Is the DFW no longer interested in doing amazing things for wildlife on this land? There is some background needed to understand what is happening here.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area was created as partial mitigation for the destruction to wildlife and wetlands caused by the state water project that brought northern California water to Southern California. Over the years it has become one of the most popular hunting areas in the region, and it has become a magnet for birders because of its incredible diversity of resident and migrant birds. That was because of the water the DFW put in ponds, wetlands, and riparian areas.

The water supply used by the wildlife area was negotiated in 1987 with the Eastern Municipal Water District. It was for a maximum of 4,500-acre feet per year of reclaimed water, and the DFW has used an average of 2,300-acre feet per year over the past 12 years, with a maximum of 3,100 acre feet. While the DFW has never used the full allotment, the wildlife area has been expanded with additional land purchases, and it has not been developed to anywhere near its full potential for wetlands.

The original agreement also gave the DFW the right to purchase the reclaimed water at a reduced price (partially because the EMWD received about $1 million worth of infrastructure developments during the construction of the state water project).

The original agreement signed in 1987 between the DFW and EMWD was for 25 years with a guarantee the agreement would be extended ìfor the life of the project,î or as long as the San Jacinto Wildlife Area existed. The DFW essentially had a permanent right to up to 4,500-acre feet a year of reclaimed water from EMWD. The basic agreement expired in 2014.

The EMWD contract extension proposal floated last year would have required the DFW to make three huge concessions. First, it would mandate a 65 percent increase in the cost of the reclaimed water to the state (from $38 per acre foot to $63 per acre foot), along with regular cost increases higher than had been set by the 1987 agreement. Second, it would have set 3,100 acre feet as the new maximum the DFW could purchase with 2,200 acre feet the norm. Last, it set additional restrictions on when the DFW could use the water that suited the EMWD, not when it was best for the DFW to use the water for wildlife.

In a one-year extension of the original 1987 agreement, the DFW relented to using no more than 2,200 acre feet of water for the 2014-15 season at $38 per acre foot, and negotiations are ongoing for a second year extension now.

The DFW cannot enter into a longer term water agreement until the new management plan and environmental impact report for the expanded wildlife area (which now includes a huge piece of property south of Interstate 60 in the Banning Pass area known as the Protrero Unit) is completed. The management plan has been delayed for nearly a decade, and while a draft has been completed since late 2012, it has not been released for public comment until the EIR is completed, which has also been delayed repeatedly without explanation.

Lastly, there has been a persistent rumor kicking around that the DFW, driven by extremist environmental politics in Sacramento, is willing to give up ALL of its rights to EMWD reclaimed water, effectively drying up the wildlife area.

Why would the DFW do this? Why would it scrap 25 years of effort to create this wildlife haven? It fits with the agenda being put forward by the ìnewî Sacramento-run DFW. Here are the three reasons:

First, there are new-school scientists within the DFW who do not believe in water or habitat enhancements, even as mitigation. The ground should be managed naturally. In their mind, San Jacinto Wildlife Area is best managed for endangered Steven’s kangaroo rats, and to a lesser extent for newly-listed tri-color blackbirds. Not spending nearly $100,000 a year on water and not having the staff on hand that creates and maintains ponding and wetlands frees up money and staffing for other uses.

Second, it reduces public interest and scrutiny of the wildlife area. The two disparate groups that love the area and battle the DFW over its management will disappear. First, waterfowl and upland bird hunters will disappear when the gamebirds the wildlife area supports disappear. Second, birders will cease to come because the incredible diversity will shrink to nothing as wetlands and riparian areas dry up. San Jacinto will lose its reputation as one of the top destinations for the Christmas Bird Count. The DFW management is anti-hunting and thinks birders are a nuisance. Eliminating the wetlands will allow the professionals free range to manage k-rats, tri-color blackbirds, and burrowing owls without public interference.

Third, they will say they are doing the public a favor. This is a preemptive strike. As development creeps ever-closer to the boundaries of the wildlife area and nearby dairies turn into housing tracts, the DFW is anticipating a hue and cry from new residents surround the wildlife area. Those residents will want to stop the shotgun shooting by waterfowlers because of bogus public safety concerns. They will want Davies Road paved and reopened so they have quick and easy access to Interstate 60. They will want the marshes and ponds dried up or sprayed to control mosquitos. The DFW is there to please, not to confront, not to do what’s best for wildlife on a grand scale, not to look out for the interest of the greater public as a whole. It is all about oiling little squeaks these days. [The DFG director thinks one of the agency’s major accomplishments is humanely handling dangerous wildlife when it blunders into urban areas.]

The news leaking out that the DFW is mucking up the 25-year-agreement for San Jacinto’s water supply might delay all this from happening in the short term. But the agency will cave on water and lose the 4,500-acre feet guarantee, assuring there will be no future expansion of wetlands, riparian, and ponding on the area. Costs of the reclaimed water will skyrocket and the DFW will have to cut back how much it buys, and a pond here and a marsh there will be allowed to dry up. All of the things outlined above will happen. If they don’t happen immediately in one fell swoop, they will happen incrementally over time. The current management of the DFW is not interested in our wild resources, or hunters or birders, or mitigation. They are interested in their agenda. And the agenda isn’t about saving and expanding the San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

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Handloading ammunition: A sorcerer’s tale

By JIM MATTHEWS www.OutdoorNewsService.com

I don’t know about you, but I still marvel when I’m at an airport and watch a huge jet thunder down the runway, lift off into the air, and climb toward the heavens. Intellectually, I understand the science that allows massive machines to soar overhead, but it doesn’t change the disbelief and wonder I still feel every time I see it happen. It defies my senses; it’s magic.

So much of our everyday lives rely on intellectual comprehension because little we see and do can be explained simply with our senses. Yet, we don’t even think about it. We all have a box in our kitchens where half freezes anything we put in it and the other half simply keeps things cold. We have another box were we can ignite four open fires on top and another fire inside. My grandparents began their lives where neither of those things existed. They lived life essentially camping, only a step or two above how all humans lived for thousands and thousands of years. Look at those electrical wires strung across the landscape and really think about what’s happening there.

I have been a handloader of my own ammunition since I was a young teenager. I have stacks of reloading books and follow the recipes they dictate for dozens of guns. Yet, when I squeeze the trigger and the gun rocks in recoil and a hole magically appears in a distant target, I feel smug, like a sorcerer in ancient times who has pulled off an amazing feat. Yes, I know exactly what happens: How the firing pin striking the primer creates a powerful spark that ignites the powder contained within the cartridge case. How the burning of the powder in a confined space creates pressure that has only one place to escape — by pushing the bullet down the barrel. How that pressure continues to build as the powder burns until the bullet finally exits the end of the barrel at high velocity allowing the pressure to finally escape and drop.

I know all that, but it doesn’t change the magic of it all. Because you can’t see any of that happen, you are only left with what your senses tell you has happened. There is a loud explosion and recoil jolts you, an invisible bullet streaks downrange toward the target with unbelievable punch. All you have to do is to shoot a few rotten cantaloupes or water-filled jugs with hollowpoints from a high power rifle and the kid in everyone erupts in giggles and awe. I want to do it again and again.

One of the things first-time adult shooters can’t hide is the feeling of amazement. They can’t hide the fact they like it (unless they were given a hard-recoiling gun by a wise-ass who wanted to rock their world). A firearm packs a magic punch. American Indians described firearm-carrying white men as ìlong knivesî for obvious reason. (Some liberals never get over that fear of guns and want to ban them, but a lot of them want us to go back to living in dirt huts and sharing all ìwealthî — which would soon be poverty for all — so everyone is ìequal.î My ancestors worked too hard to get us here, and I’m not turning evolution back for anyone. We have guns for a reason: They truly are the great equalizers.)

Every time I go about working up a series of loads for a new gun (or just retinker with an old one and some new bullet or powder), my reloading bench and my collection of tools of this trade puts me into a different world. There are canisters of different types of powder, tiny spark-makers, different sizes of brass containers, and projectiles of lead and copper. There are scales to precisely weigh to within 1/5,000 of an ounce, dies and presses to squeeze, expand, and crimp, and micrometers to measure down to 1/10,000 of an inch. It is a sorcerer’s brew I’m creating and it has to be done with care and accuracy or the dream concoction could become a gun-shattering nightmare.

Each recipe is created with a goal in mind. The final round is assembled for a task: The most accurate load I can make for the most accurate rifle I own, trying to punch all the bullets through the same hole in a paper target. The most aerodynamic bullet is loaded into another gun for long-range gong ringing. A heavy, sturdy copper slug (to be legal in California) is loaded for shooting wild boars that have the bone structure of a moose compressed into a 250-pound animal and require bone-crushing energy to humanely and securely (my security) kill them. I have a revolver whose sole role in life is to house light shot loads for rattlesnakes on my desert hikes. For other vermin, I have home security loads that will stop an intruder but not shoot through my walls and hurt a neighbor.

One of my prize reloading possessions is a device that can measure the speed of an invisible bullet passing above its sensors. The chronograph has a tiny computer and printer and whirrs like an old teletype machine after each shot, the speed displayed on a screen and typed on paper (so I have a permanent record). They are numbers that can make me giddy. I’m not alone.

Years ago, I remember when a gun writer friend, Steve Comus, now with Safari Club in Arizona but with Gun World magazine back then, was working on a project to see how fast he could drive a bullet from a shoulder-fired rifle without blowing up things. The highest, high velocity cartridges top out at about 4,300 feet per second today. I was invited along when he set up the chronograph and torched off the first round. The screen read over 5,000 feet per second, and he shot a few more just to get an average. No sporting gun had ever fired a bullet faster back then. Maybe even since. Comus figured out what could be contained in the envelope and filled it to the top. He took the limitations of his ingredients and become the master sorcerer among handloaders. I am still in awe.

We are all sorcerers today, and no one living in the modern world is really amazed at our feats any more. We crave the next permutations of technology and science, knowing that a Jetson’s world is not far off, believing that Star Trek is almost within our grasp. We believe that anything we can imagine is possible. Every time I reload a batch of new handloads, I think about that. There is still undiscovered magic.

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Federal appeals court rules EPA has no legal authority to ban lead ammunition

By JIM MATTHEWS

www.OutdoorNewsService.com
A liberal federal appeals court has upheld The Toxic Substances Control Act which exempts the
Environmental Protection Agency from regulating spent lead bullets and lead shot used by hunters and recreational shooters.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday before Christmas was blunt in its ruling and said there was no way the EPA could regulation spent lead bullets and shot without also regulating the loaded ammunition, and that is specifically denied by the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.

Environmental groups, which have made little headway in banning lead ammunition in states other than California or on a federal legislative level, have petitioned the EPA to regulate lead ammunition as a toxic substance, losing repeatedly both by administrative decisions by the EPA and in court.

The interesting thing about this ruling is that the three-judge panel was made up by liberal judges appointed by President Bill Clinton and current President Barack Obama.

“Given that bullets and shot can become spent only if they are first contained in a cartridge or shell and then fired from a weapon,” the environmental groups “have identified no way in which EPA could regulate spent bullets and shot without also regulating cartridges and shells,” said the decision by appeals judge David Tatel, the Clinton nominee. The two other concurring judges were Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard, both nominees of President Barack Obama. Tatel went on to write that the Toxic Substances Control Act specifically forbids the EPA from regulating ammunition.

The law was pretty open and shut, even for liberal judges.

The lawsuit was hoping to get a back-door ban on lead ammunition nationwide, and the National Rifle Association and the pro-gun lobby intervened on the EPA’s side in urging the court to uphold the EPA’s repeated dismissals of environmentalist claims through lower court rulings and the administrative process.

The sad part of the process is that there were 101 different environmental groups named in the lawsuit trying to get the EPA to regulate ìspentî lead ammunition ñ effectively banning all lead ammunition nationwide.

Increasingly, the groups are not interested in the science regarding spent lead ammunition but in forcing their agenda down the throats of the American public. There is no interest in the very clear law. There is no interest in the science. This is about pushing an agenda.

The environmentalists, the liberals, know better than everyone else. So they will use whatever means it takes to get their way.

Here in California, when the statewide lead ammunition ban was passed last year and be phased in over the next five years, a federal report on the impacts the lead ban has had on condors within the ìcondor zoneî was supposed to be released in June. This was about the time the debate on the statewide lead was beginning in the legislature, but this report was withheld by the federal government (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is in charge of condor management and restoration) until after the bill had been passed.

Not surprisingly, the USFWS data has repeatedly shown that the lead ammunition ban in the condor zone has not helped reduce lead blood levels or chronic poisoning incidents in endangered condors. The environmentalists have howled about poor compliance by hunters or that the big birds were getting still getting ammunition lead somehow stockpiled in the environment. Ironically, there is data that proves that is a lie. Golden eagles are also affected by lead and the big birds also feed animal remains that had lead shot or bullet ammunition fragments. Before the lead ban in the condor zone, golden eagles in the same region also had varying levels of background lead and occasionally got enough to sicken an individual bird. The amount of poisoning wasn’t enough to threaten the population, but it showed that scavenging birds did indeed get lead bullet fragments. The lead ban in the condor zone has eliminated lead issues in golden eagles, proving the ban was being followed by hunters and that if ammunition was the only the only lead source for condors it would be working. It did work for golden eagles.

While it probably would not have had much of an impact on whether or not the statewide ban passed, it would have been nice to be able to include in the debate.

It has also exposed the hypocrisy of the environmental groups that continue to push for the lead ban in California. This was not a conservation issue. It was about banning lead ammunition in spite of the science — not because of it.

The same is true on the national level. The fact there were over 100 groups involved in a lawsuit that was almost certain to lose is a very real concern to the 50 million gun owners in this country. Why? Lead-based ammunition makes up 95 percent of the ammunition shot in this country. Non-lead ammunition is not only far more expensive, if lead were banned, it would take years for ammunition makers to be able to meet demand. Even with a five-year lead time, the companies are saying they are not likely able to meet the demand that will be created just in California.

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PUBLIC LAND UPLAND BIRD SEMINARS:

Jim Matthews, local newspaper outdoor writer and publisher of the Western Birds hunting newsletter, has two upcoming seminars on where and how to hunt quail and chukar on public lands in Southern California. Cost is $50 per person and includes a two-issue trial subscription to Western Birds. Sessions will be held Sept. 30 at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga and Oct. 2 at the new Turner’s Outdoorsman in Victorville. For more information, go the “seminars” page on Matthews website at www.OutdoorNewsService.com.

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“Humaniac” groups use wolves to fill their bank accounts

The Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society, and other radical environmental, “humaniac” groups were crowing this past week when a Washington, D.C. judge returned federal protection to wolves in the state of Wyoming. They were crowing — not because they give two howls about wolves — they were crowing because they knew it was another payday for them.

You know people who have donated money to these groups to stop the “slaughter” and “indiscriminate trophy hunting” of the reintroduced wolf population in the northern Rockies. Maybe you were one of the suckers who sent them money.

For these groups, it’s not about science or whether or not the wolf population in the region is healthy, it’s all about fundraising. These anti-hunting, anti-meat eating, anti-choice groups send out “ghastly photos” of hunter-killed wolves, make up data about how these canines are in jeopardy of going extinct, and then ask you to send them money so they can continue the legal and public opinion battle to keep wolves from being killed.

The simple facts are these: The state and federal scientists who reintroduced wolves to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming say the wolf population has met and surpassed their goals to create viable populations in those three states. These men and women have PhDs and Master degrees and have spent years studying these animals. They all will tell you, even with aggressive sport hunting and fur trapping programs in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, wolf numbers are growing and the population expanding its range at a rate that has been surprising to the scientists. Wolves have established populations in Oregon and Washington. They are expanding into Utah and Colorado, and even California had a wandering radio-collared wolf in our state.

This may be a news flash to some people, but wolves are going to take over the Rocky Mountain West within two more decades — even with aggressive hunting and trapping programs. There will be vast and growing populations in all of the states, and the game agencies will really be powerless to put a dent in their numbers.

When it was the goal of federal, state, and local governments and just about the entire population of the country to exterminate wolves, the animals were shot, poisoned, and trapped by a small army of paid people, both government and civilian, whose job it was to kill them all. During the early part of the campaign, the best they did was keep wolf numbers in check. Once the entire West was covered with cattle and sheep ranches and small towns were spread across the region, the effort was doubled and redoubled. Yet it took over 50 years to do the job, and there were still remnant populations in central Idaho and in northern Mexico and southern Arizona/New Mexico. And yet, the radical environmentalists can convince most of you that a handful of sport hunters are going to have a huge negative impact on wolf numbers. And off goes your check.

The groups don’t have science to back up any of their claims, they have lawyers. The lawyers ignore history and science that document the resilience and productive capabilities of wolf populations. And the lawyers make arguments to judges (who are also lawyers) about how some aspect of a management plan adopted by the state of Wyoming really isn’t a management option (again, never mind the science). And the judge (who knows nothing about wildlife or wildlife management but probably doesn’t like hunting) buys in and issues an order reversing several other judge’s orders, 100 years of peer-reviewed science, and the only hope we have of keeping wolf numbers somewhat under control.

It is all about fundraising for these groups. They don’t care if the wolf population grows beyond what the capacity of the land can support. They don’t care if the wolves go extinct. They care about those e-mails and letters they send out to TV-bound, armchair wildlife enthusiasts who write checks. They write checks when an e-mail arrives explaining how a hunter has shot an alpha male wolf nicknamed Roscoe from an Idaho pack. A letter arrives that howls how Wyoming has set up areas where wolves are completely unprotected and may be shot on-sight by licensed “sport-murderers.” This is where you sigh big and say, “how horrible.” And then you send a check. With a legal victory, they tell their mindless, uninformed supporters how the money they send stopped a hunt here, but how “the fight isn’t over.” The fight is never over for these people because they want your money. There will never be enough wolves for these groups — at least until the checkbooks dry up.

Is your checkbook dry yet?
[Editor’s Note: For a fascinating account of the battle to eradicate the Mexican gray wolf from the Southwest, read David E. Brown’s “The Wolf in the Southwest: The Making of an Endangered Species.”]

SIDEBAR ON HOW THE WOLF DEFENDERS MISREPRESENT THE FACTS:

HOW THE SO-CALLED WOLF DEFENDERS LIE: “Today the court affirmed that delisting gray wolves in Wyoming by the Obama administration was premature and a violation of federal law,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, the president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “Any state that has a wolf-management plan that allows for unlimited wolf killing throughout most of the state should not be allowed to manage wolves. Wolves need to remain protected under the Endangered Species Act until the species is fully recovered. State laws and policies that treat wolves like vermin are as outdated and discredited today as they were a century ago.”

She lies. According to the scientists, the species is “fully-recovered” and Wyoming is not violating federal law. The wolf long-ago passed its recovery goals, recovery goals that Defenders of Wildlife agreed were sound when wolves were first reintroduced. But now Clark is changing her tune. Clark knows that Wyoming’s year-around hunting plan for vast areas can’t and won’t stop the wolf population growth. Clark just wants you to write her another check.
“The decision makes clear that ‘shoot-on-sight’ is not an acceptable management plan for wolves across the majority of the state,” said Dr. Sylvia Fallon, senior scientist and wildlife conservation director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s time for Wyoming to step back and develop a more science-based approach to managing wolves.”

“Shoot-on-sight” is a science-based approach. After years of research, it recognizes that even that management option won’t be enough to check the growth and spread of the wolf population. If Wyoming were to step back and develop a “more science-based approach,” it would probably approve aerial gunning, bounties, and maybe even poison in hopes of keeping wolf numbers at levels the state’s elk and deer herds could support without crashing.

“The court has rightly recognized the deep flaws in Wyoming’s wolf management plan. History has shown that sound, science-based management practices are at the heart of successful efforts to bring animals back from the brink of extinction. Sound management will ensure that we can continue to reap the benefits wolves bring to the region,” said Bonnie Rice of the Sierra Club’s Greater Yellowstone Our Wild America Campaign.

Everything Rice says is fundamentally wrong. Wyoming’s wolf management has no deep flaws, and it is based on sound science. All the professional federal and state scientists involved in the program signed off on Wyoming’s plan. Why? The wolf is not and has never been at the brink of extinction (they were gone from some of their historic range, just like most wildlife where people now live). The animals will continue to prosper and expand their range under the Wyoming plan. What has happened is that these groups found a judge who believes their lies about wolves. “Sound management” in Rice’s eyes is just about money flowing into her program from donors.

“We’re thrilled that protections for Wyoming’s fragile population of wolves have been restored,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “With Wyoming allowing wolves to be shot on sight across more than 80 percent of the state, there is no way protections for wolves should have ever been removed.”

These are more of the same lies from Greenwald. The same day this quote was published in a CBD press release, a fund-raising note was sent out via e-mail by Kier·n Suckling, executive director of CBD, to all of the suckers on their donation list repeating the same lies and then adding, “We won this crucial battle because of your contributions to the Predator Defense Fund. You made this happen.” He signs the e-mail: “For the wolves.”

If it weren’t so disingenuous and pandering, it would be funny. The sad part is that they laugh all the way to the bank.

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How much more expensive will ammunition become?

The NSSF survey has solid data on the cost increases involved in switching from lead to non-lead ammunition, an issue that was ignored in the debate over the passage of AB 711 which banned lead ammunition for all hunting by 2019. Even if ammunition is available, the price increases are a certainty.
Shotshell ammunition increases, depending on load and gauge, will increase an average of 387 percent from lead to non-lead, according to the report. Centerfire ammunition will jump 284 percent, which is about what hunters have experienced when purchasing big game hunting ammunition to comply with hunting in the current Condor Zone. Finally, the cost of rimfire ammunition will increase 294 percent — if it is available at all.
Currently, California consumes only 2 1/2 percent of all of the non-lead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition purchased in this country. That would jump to 43 percent if lead ammunition were banned here tomorrow. In simple terms, that roughly works out that 40 percent of customers in this country would not be able to purchase the non-lead ammunition they currently shoot.
While lead shotshell ammunition is more available because it is already required nationwide for all waterfowl hunting, California hunters currently only purchase about eight percent of what is sold nationally. That number would jump to about 30 percent once non-lead was required for all shotgun hunting.
Non-lead rimfire ammunition will become the most difficult product to find for California hunters because its production is so low now. The NSSF report says that U.S. production of non-lead rimfire would need to increase by 430 percent just to meet the California demand alone.

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Can ammunition companies afford new or expanded production facilities?

Ammunition companies are suggesting the investment needed in new or expanded ammunition production facilities for both non-lead and traditional ammunition is not a good investment because of the uncertainty of the market. The California non-lead hunting market is estimated at more than $91 million, more than the current nationwide non-lead shotshell market ($81 million).
All of the companies have reported massive profits from the past decade’s boom in ammunition sales. One of the only public companies, ATK (Alliant Tech Industries) sporting group, which owns Federal and CCI, together one of America’s biggest ammunition producers, posted a first quarter increase in sales this year of 53 percent over 2013. The amount was $358 million, largely driven by sporting ammunition sales. Profit was up 79 percent over the same period.
The reason profit increase was so much higher than sales was because the companies largely funneled production time and raw materials into more expensive ammunition product lines, where mark-up is higher and profit greater. With demand so high, shooters and hunters would buy the higher-priced products because it was all that was available.
With those kinds of profits, is there room for reinvestment in expanded production?

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Ammunition manufacturers set to abandon California hunters, make total hunting ban easier

By JIM MATTHEWS

www.OutdoorNewsService.com
The ammunition manufacturing industry in the United States effectively said it is going to abandon California hunters, help reduce hunter opportunity and sound wildlife management, and assist in driving more hunters from the sport. This will make it much easier for the anti-hunters in this state to accomplish their goal and simply ban hunting entirely.
To explain that requires some background:
The anti-hunters have more influence in Sacramento politics than the hunting community. It was the pressure from those anti-hunters that pushed the California legislature to ban the use of lead ammunition for hunting (AB 711) by 2019. The antis were able to convince the liberal legislature, which is profoundly anti-gun, that lead ammunition shot by hunters was a danger to the state’s wildlife resources. It doesn’t matter that is a profound lie. With an emasculated Department of Fish and Wildlife that was muzzled from refuting those claims and a pro-hunting lobby that is largely ignored in Sacramento, the legislation passed easily.
However, seeing the writing on the wall, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife did something unprecedented. In return for publicly supporting the bill, the director pressed legislators in Sacramento for two concessions in the legislation: First, to give the agency five years — until the 2019 season — to phase in the ban, and second, to give the director of the Department the leeway to continue to allow the use of lead ammunition IF the federal government banned current non-lead alternatives as ìarmor piercing.î
This was unprecedented because the agency (or director) never offers its advice or scientific opinion on bills publicly, only behind the scenes and only when asked to do so. These are governor’s orders, and it has pretty much always been that way. Director Chuck Bonham received a lot of flack from the hunting community by supporting the lead-ban legislation. We expected it was going to pass, but he assured that it would pass since it had DFW support.
I was one of those who hammered hard on him for that move. You and I might argue that the director and his staff should have simply pointed out the biological flaws in the legislation and urged legislators to not pass the bill, which may have halted the legislation. But in the DFW’s political world, they would argue the director and his staff worked to assure that the ban wouldn’t be implemented immediately for this fall’s hunting seasons. And they assured that if the alternatives to lead were banned, we could go back to traditional ammunition. Both of these moves addressed the issue of ammunition availability for hunters and saved hunter opportunity, at least in the short term, in their eyes.
If implemented immediately, there was no way the ammunition pipeline could be filled with non-lead ammunition needed statewide, and many hunters would simply be forced to stay home. The anti-hunting groups know this and are still pressuring the Fish and Game Commission to push implementation of the legislation up to 2015. The DFW staff, concerned about what that would do to hunting participation, game management, and wildlife funding, is recommending that implementation — for most species — is pushed right up until the 2019 season in hopes that the ammunition companies would see and fill the California need.
That brings us up to this week.
On Monday, the National Shooting Sports Foundation released a study it commissioned called, ìEffects of the Ban on Traditional Ammunition for Hunting in California Participation and Associated Economic Measures.î The data was compiled by the respected Southwick Associates, which specializes in fish and wildlife statistics and economics. [This report is available at this direct link: http://nssf.org/share/PDF/CA-Alternative-Ammo-Impacts_9-15-2014.pdf].
My first reaction to the data compiled by Southwick was more anger at the California legislature: Cost of non-lead ammunition will be from 300 to 400 percent higher than lead ammunition used for hunt=ing. The California demand for non-lead ammunition will exceed current production of non-lead rimfire ammunition by about four times, and our increase in demand for shotshell and rifle ammunition will make all of those products even harder to get. It will run a minimum of 13 percent of California hunters out of the sport and the number could be double that. It will cost the DFW at least $1 million in lost federal revenue and that doesn’t count lost license and tag sales. So, yes, there is a lot to be angry about with our legislature.
But the more I looked at the data and read the details of the report, this emerged: Because of current demand, the companies simply won’t be able to meet the new California need for non-lead ammunition. In fact, the companies say it would be a bad economic investment to expand production.
Anyone who is a shooter or hunter knows that ammunition has been scarce for several years. Virtually all of the nation’s makers are running plants seven days a week 24-hours a day to try and keep up with demand in just the sporting market. Yet, they have all been reluctant to expand production capability in a significant way because they fear this is a panic-driven boom in sales.
As one spokesman for the industry told me, ìDemand is so high that they can’t produce enough traditional ammo, causing them to say ëno’ to many long-time customers [placing orders now].î
Using the NSSF report, and based on the increase in costs for non-lead ammunition it reports, the value of the added non-lead market in California is $91 million a year ($61 million in centerfire ammunition, $24 million for shotshell, and nearly $6 million in rimfire). That is $10 million more than the $81 million value of the nationwide non-lead shotshell marketplace, and this is a highly competitive market battled over by the makers. But they are unwilling to invest in any new production capability to serve California hunters and a $91 million market?
Does that make sense to you?
ì[The ammo makers] would let the California market slip aside,î said an industry insider who preferred not to be named. ìBeing an explosive product, [They say] it takes a long time to site and permit new production facilities. Ramping up production significantly is time consuming and costly, and financially risky to do based on one law in one state that could be changed back. If they build more production capacity, it’d be for traditional ammo with a known market and known profit marginÖ. Securing long-term financing to build based on a single controversial law will be a challenge.î
They have a guaranteed $90-plus million market in California! Our DFW made sure they have five years to ramp up production to meet the new sales demand. Besides, there are political moves across the nation to push non-lead ammunition for all types of hunting. It’s not just a California thing. The military is moving toward a ìgreenî military ammunition. Investing in non-lead ammunition production is hardly a bad idea.
So does the ammo makers’ excuse sound disingenuous to you? I can understand the makers being reluctant to expand with the current and uncertain boom (although many observers who do the gun sales math say the current ammo boom is really more likely a ìnew normalî because there are so many new shooters who have entered the sport in the past decade). The California need is new and guaranteed. We all know there is zero chance the law will be changed back, even if we find out condors don’t get any lead from ammunition. That is reality.
Like it or not, non-lead ammunition is a growing marketplace, but the politics within the ammunition companies are as ignorant and hard-headed as the politics in Sacramento. By saying they can’t (or more accurately, won’t) meet the California demand, the ammo makers somehow think they are getting back at California liberals who dislike guns. The only thing they are doing is abandoning the California hunters who have and continue to support them. They are abandoning traditional game management by assuring less money to manage game here. They are assuring the maximum number of hunters will simply give up hunting in California, and probably entirely. The only ones who win in this game are the anti-hunters, and with thinner ranks it makes a total hunting ban far easier and more likely.
I have friends who always ask me why I still live in California with all of the political insanity here. I always say that only cowards cut and run. I will not let the anti-hunters win in this state. I don’t care how much trouble it becomes or how much it costs. I will hunt in California. I will not let them win.
Chief Sitting Bull said, “When the Buffalo are gone, we will hunt mice. For we are hunters and we want our freedom.” A contemporary paraphrase would be easy to write. But if it gets so bad that I have to use rocks collected on site, thrown by hand or hurled from a slingshot made with organic materials, I’ll hunt.
I want to know who’s with me in this fight. So I’m publically asking all the ammunition companies if they are indeed going to cut and run, disserting California hunters in a critical time of need, or if they are going to step up to the plate and figure out a way to be here for us.

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