|Wyoming and Nevada Deadlines
Hunters wishing to get in on the tag drawings for the 2001 seasons in Wyoming and Nevada better get on it right away. The deadline for Nevada's big game tags is March 9, 2001. If you are looking for a tag for mule deer or antelope in Wyoming, the deadline is March 15, 2001. If you don't hurry, we are sure you will not get a tag and have to wait to apply next year.
A voluntary educational program aimed at ensuring black bear hunters are able to successfully distinguish black bears from grizzly is now on-line at the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' web site. The new training is free and can be accessed at http://fwp.state.mt.us/bearid.
"We designed a website application consisting of a training and testing module available to anyone with an Internet-linked computer anywhere in the world," said Thomas Baumeister, FWP Hunter Education Coordinator. "The overall message is not all bears are easy to identify' and if in doubt, don't shoot.' "
Hunters or others interested in learning to accurately identify bears are able to print a certificate of completion if they score 80 percent or better on the training. The questions are randomly selected from a large pool of possible questions, so no test is identical and taking the same test twice is nearly impossible. Participants take a pre- and post-exam to help assess their progress. The program also provides instant feedback, including an explanation of the correct answer so the user can learn from mistakes.
"Too few opportunities exist for hunters to acquire the knowledge and skill to do the right thing," Baumeister said. "With this bear ID web-based training, we're venturing into a new era of innovative hunter education that targets specific training needs in order to help hunters improve their knowledge and skills."
To access the bear identification computer training program, go to fwp.state.mt.us/bearid. For more information or to comment on this new training approach, contact Thomas Baumeister at (406) 444-4046 or by e-mail: email@example.com.
Under contract, NDOW uses a private Fallon-based company to conduct the annual application and tag drawing process. Cost of implementation of the new donation program through the tag application process is estimated at $15,000 for initial computer programming costs, and an additional two cents for each application or approximately $2,000 per year.
The Commission appointed a committee that will meet and develop policies for a predator management and control program for the state.
In other action, the Commission approved an amendment to Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) that would establish a $10 fee for each species that an unsuccessful big game tag applicant applies for in the special Partnership in Wildlife (PIW) drawings.
Before, those who applied for deer tags and who were unsuccessful in obtaining one could apply to be involved in the special PIW deer tag drawing for the amount of their refund ($20) the cost of a resident deer tag. Those unsuccessful in other big game tag drawings donated one-half of their refund, $25 or $50, for each species. A small number of tags are available for each species in the PIW drawings as set by the Commission.
Donated funds received through the PIW program are deposited in the Division's Wildlife Heritage Trust Account. The interest generated from the account is used for special projects each year, as approved by the Commission, that benefit wildlife in the state.
A Washington man bid $67,500 in last week's wild sheep auction in Reno for the opportunity to hunt an Oregon bighorn sheep in any of the state's sheep hunt units during an expanded season.
Based on his bid, Jerry Tyrrell of Federal Way, Washington, may hunt for either a Rocky Mountain or California bighorn this year. Tyrrell is also the Washington Chapter president for the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS). The national FNAWS organization hosts the auction each year at its annual banquet. In 2000, the successful bidder paid $76,000 for the Oregon tag.
Money raised through the auctions is funneled back to Oregon's bighorn sheep management and research programs. Proceeds from last year's auction tag were used to help fund this year's bighorn trapping, and transplant operations. Oregon FNAWS, Oregon Hunters Association, Emerald Valley OHA, and Washington FNAWS also helped fund this year's capture efforts.
Oregon was one of many states and provinces in North America offering auction tags for wild sheep at the annual banquet. Bid prices ranged from $27,500 for an Alaskan Dall's sheep to $165,000 for a desert or Rocky Mountain bighorn in Arizona. Idaho's tag went for $80,000 and Washington's garnered $43,000. The auction netted a total $1.4 million for 20 sheep tags.
Oregon also raffles a bighorn sheep tag each year. The drawing for the 2001 hunt will occur May 19 at the Oregon Hunter's Association banquet in Lincoln City. The 2000 raffle generated more than $47,000 for management programs and organizers expect this year's will bring similar proceeds. The deadline to buy raffle tickets through Point-of-Sale license agents is May 9. Tickets can also be purchased by mail order or at the OHA banquet.
Both the auction tag holder and the raffle winner are exempt from Oregon's limitation of one bighorn sheep hunt tag per lifetime. This exemption went into effect in 2000 as a result of Legislative action proposed by Oregon Hunters Association and FNAWS. More information on Oregon's bighorn sheep raffle tag may be found in the 2001 Big Game Regulations on pages 23-25.
As Fish and Game conducts public meetings and surveys around the state to obtain comment before big game hunting rules are set next month, some will wonder if the Department is listening.
A common complaint from people who suggest one certain course of action and then see the Department take some other direction is that Fish and Game is not listening to them. Obviously, Fish and Game must finally choose just one path among the many proposed, but citizens whose suggestions are not followed often feel disappointed.
A January legislative audit report on the Department's public involvement process concluded that the Department does a good job of gathering and considering public comment but could improve its process. An internal department team reached the same conclusion last fall and developed a revised public involvement plan.
The plan was approved unanimously when the Commission met in Boise in January. This plan builds on the basic format used for many years to inform and receive comment from the public on impending plans, rules and proclamations. A significant addition was made with a new policy that commits the Department to providing feedback to everyone who provides comment. Under the new policy, the Department will acknowledge comments, summarize the Department's recommendations to the Fish and Game Commission, and explain the rationale of the Commission's decisions.
The policy specifies six steps informing the public and taking comment, sets time frames for each step and spells out strategies for obtaining unbiased random samples of opinions along with traditional public meetings. A "human dimensions/survey team" will be developed within the Department to assist in scoping, public involvement, and surveys. The team will help evaluate public satisfaction with various public comment and participation methods. The policy notes that citizens' opinions of decisions are significantly enhanced when the decision-making process is better understood. Efforts will be focussed to improve the public's understanding of Fish and Game decision making.
Surveying of public opinion has already shown that changing regulations too often is a major cause of confusion. Under the new policy, "no change" will be the preferred alternative for annual or biennial regulations unless change is dictated by biological need. Major shifts in how opportunity is managed or allocated would be addressed every five years when management plans are reviewed by the Department, public and Commission.
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