Peterson praises wolf delisting letter

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson on Wednesday praised the efforts of 19 ag and sportsmen's groups that collectively sent a letter urging House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to place H.R. 424, the Gray Wolf State Management Act, on the House floor for a vote before the year's end.

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The legislation would delist wolves in the Western Great Lakes states and Wyoming from federal protection and return management to the states.

"The issue of removing wolves from the endangered species list is long overdue," Peterson, D-Minn., said in a news release. "Cattlemen and farmers have not been able to protect their livestock due to a political court decision made in Washington, D.C., that overturned a science-based decision made under the Obama Administration demonstrating wolf recovery in our area. Since then, ranchers lost calves during calving season, witnessed decreasing livestock numbers and even had their pets killed. I am thankful for the coalition support and hope to get my bill passed by the end of the year."

Last year, the Gray Wolf State Management Act passed through the House Committee on Natural Resources on a bipartisan vote and is simply awaiting Ryan's decision to place the bill on the House floor calendar. Similar language has already proven its ability to pass the House several times over the past few years, according to Peterson's news release.

The letter supporting the Gray Wolf State Management Act was signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, Michigan Cattlemen's Association, Michigan Farm Bureau, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers, Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association, Minnesota Turkey Growers, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Farmers Union, Public Lands Council, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance, Upper Peninsula Trappers Association, United States Cattlemen's Association, Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

-- Herald staff report

Donate deer to Sportsmen Against Hunger

With North Dakota's deer gun season now underway, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding deer hunters to keep the Sportsmen Against Hunger program in mind again this fall.

While this year's deer proclamation allows only one deer gun license per hunter, families with more than one license might want to consider donating a deer to the program, the department said. Hunters with archery and muzzleloader licenses also can help.

Participating processors in far northeast North Dakota are Weber Meats in Reynolds, N.D., and Randy's Backyard Smokehouse (Supervalu) in Park River, N.D.

A statewide list of participating processors is available on the Community Action Partnership of North Dakota website at capnd.org.

Sportsmen Against Hunger is a charitable program that raises money for processing of donated goose and deer meat and coordinates distribution of donated meat to food pantries in North Dakota. It is administered by CAPND, a nonprofit agency that serves low-income families across the state.

-- Herald staff report

Report feral pig sightings

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters who might come across feral pigs this fall that hunting and trapping them is illegal.

Casey Anderson, assistant wildlife chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said while it is uncommon to come across feral swine in North Dakota, it can happen.

"Feral swine have been documented a number of times in the state over the last decade," Anderson said. "It is important to know you can't hunt or trap them. Instead, the State Board of Animal Health must be contacted immediately."

Landowners may eliminate feral swine on their land if they pose an immediate threat. However, it is preferable if all feral pigs are removed by the state-federal feral swine task force so that samples can be collected for disease surveillance purposes.

Landowners who shoot feral swine because of an immediate threat must contact the Board of Animal Health within 24 hours, and the landowner should follow any instructions given by the board regarding the handling, preservation and disposal of the carcass.

Anyone who observes or suspects the presence of feral swine should call the BAH at (701) 328-2655, Game and Fish at (701) 328-6300 or USDA Wildlife Services at (701) 355-3300.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Special allocation lottery apps due Jan. 1

Nonprofit organizations that are eligible to receive big game hunting licenses in 2019 must submit applications to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department no later than Jan. 1.

A law passed during the 2017 legislative session provides direction for the Game and Fish director to allocate big game hunting licenses to eligible organizations. Under this directive, up to two elk, moose and pronghorn licenses, and 10 white-tailed deer licenses, can be issued to organizations to use for fundraising.

Eligible organizations must be exempt from federal income taxation under section 501(c)(3), and must provide a copy of the letter from the Internal Revenue Service to that effect. In addition, organizations must be active and in good standing in the office of the North Dakota Secretary of State.

Successful lottery applicants must agree to donate at least 10 percent of the net proceeds of any license raffle to a conservation-related project, such as hunting access, conservation education, habitat development and shooting range management.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Groups call for LWCF reauthorization

On the heels of the midterm elections, 204 hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation organizations and businesses from 33 states, including Minnesota and North Dakota, are urging federal lawmakers to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund with full, dedicated annual funding.

In a letter to congressional leadership, the groups - whose members, customers, and leaders represent a sizeable segment of America's 40 million hunters and anglers - emphasized the LWCF's 50-year track record of conserving habitat and expanding recreational access to America's public lands.

They also expressed the urgent need for Congress to take action and reauthorize the LWCF program during the lame duck session.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which lapsed Sept. 30, directs a portion of federal revenues from offshore oil and gas leasing to fund local, state and federal projects that benefit conservation and outdoor recreation.

"Bills to reauthorize the LWCF have made good progress in committee, but Congress is running out of time to act," Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said in a statement. "We're depending on lawmakers to get this across the finish line before the end of the year, when even the best of intentions will be left on the cutting room floor."

Since its creation in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has invested more than $16 billion into conserving more than 5 million acres of public lands, among other achievements.

Both the House Natural Resources and Senate Energy and Natural Resources committees recently advanced their own versions of LWCF reauthorization legislation, but congressional leaders have yet to take action on this pending legislation, and the 115th Congress will end Jan. 3.

-- Herald staff report