Monday, June 27, 2011

2011-2012 Federal Duck Stamps and Junior Duck Stamps

2011-2012 Federal Duck Stamps and Junior Duck Stamps are now available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The 2011-2012 Federal Duck Stamp features two white-fronted geese painted by artist James Hautman of Chaska, Minn.

All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry a current Federal Duck Stamp. Additionally, conservationists, birders, stamp collectors and others buy the stamp as an investment in conservation.

Ninety-eight percent of proceeds from the $15 Duck Stamp go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports wetlands acquisition for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The 2011-2012 Junior Duck Stamp was created by Abraham Hunter, 17, of Vienna, Ill. The Service sells the Junior Duck Stamp for $5 to stamp collectors, conservationists and the general public.  Proceeds from Junior Duck Stamp sales support environmental education efforts and awards for contest winners.

source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

USDA Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program

In June, the USDA announced the approval of eight additional states and one tribal government to participate in the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP).

The VPA-HIP grant program encourages private landowners to provide public access to their lands for wildlife-dependant recreational opportunities, including fishing and hunting.

California, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming will join Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin as states participating in the VPA-HIP program.

Also participating are the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. The total amount of VPA-HIP funds to be obligated in 2011 is $17.8 million with $4.6 million of that total being allocated as part of the June 2011 announcement.

The VPA-HIP program expands existing efforts or develops new initiatives to encourage owners and operators of privately held farm, ranch and forest land to voluntarily provide public access for the enjoyment of wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting or fishing, in exchange for financial incentives or other assistance under programs implemented by state or tribal governments.

VPA-HIP is a competitive grants program that is only available to state and tribal governments. Funding may be used to expand existing public access programs, create new public access programs or provide incentives to improve wildlife habitat on enrolled lands.

Up to $50 million is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill through VPA-HIP through fiscal year 2012. State and tribal grant recipients use the federal funding to provide additional landowner incentives or assistance in order to increase the number of acres available for public access.

For more information on VPA-HIP, visit

source: USDA

Monday, June 20, 2011

North American Waterfowl Hunting

Across North America, waterfowl hunting is one of the most popular outdoor activities. Hunting varies widely by region, with fields, marshes, flats, swamps and back bays just a few of the habitats where waterfowl hunting occurs. Waterfowl hunters hunt on public lands, tracts they own, or on leased hunting properties.

Hunting with a local guide is popular way to experience the sport of waterfowl hunting. Professional hunting guides provide areas to hunt, know local hunting patterns and are familiar with regulations. They usually provide boats, blinds, decoys and other essentials.

Some guides will set hunters up in a blind or other hunting spot, then return during the day to check on hunters and move them as conditions change. These hunts usually require retrievers to locate and bring in downed ducks, geese and other waterfowl.

After a successful hunt, hunters must choose how to clean and cook wild ducks or geese. Once harvested waterfowl has been cleaned and placed on ice, hunters usually relax and enjoy the last moments of daylight.

Canadian Hunting Lodges

A Canadian hunting lodge can be a great destination to enjoy with family and friends. Some hunting lodges are open during hunting season only, while others are open year round, with activities available during non-hunting seasons.

When planning for a trip one of Canada's many hunting lodges, it may be useful to explore online searches, blogs, online hunters communities, outdoor magazines or other resources. Other resources include regional and local chambers of commerce, tourism organizations, trade organizations and other sources of information.

Before booking a lodge a phone conversation with the owner or manager is usually a good idea. Most hunting lodge owners can answer any questions or advise travelers on making preparations.

Canada hunting lodges are known for their remote locations with some lodges only accessible by plane. These isolated facilities allow hunters to reach wilderness areas where much of North America's most elusive big game animals are found.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pheasants Forever - Pheasant Hunting Preview 2011

Pheasants Forever's first ever Pheasant Hunting Preview magazine will mail to current members of the national upland conservation organization this July 1st.

The magazine highlights America's passion for pheasant hunting, and replaces the Pheasants Forever Journal issue formerly known as the Fall Preview.

The 2011 Pheasant Hunting Preview edition will be completely devoted to bird dogs, wingshooting and time afield.

Current Pheasants Forever members will receive the Pheasant Hunting Preview 2011 magazine in the mail during the first week of July. Expired or non-members have until June 10 to join Pheasants Forever and ensure they receive the first of its kind publication.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 135,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada.

Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

source: Pheasants Forever

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Could Lichens Cure CWD?

According to U.S. Geological Survey research, certain lichens can break down the infectious proteins responsible for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a troubling neurological disease fatal to wild deer and elk that is spreading throughout the United States and Canada.

Like other "prion" diseases, CWD is caused by unusual, infectious proteins called prions.Disease-causing prions, responsible for some incurable neurological diseases of people and other diseases in animals, are notoriously difficult to decontaminate or kill. Prions are not killed by most detergents, cooking, freezing or by autoclaving, a method used to sterilize medical instruments.

"When prions are released into the environment by infected sheep or deer, they can stay infectious for many years, even decades," said Christopher Johnson, Ph.D., a scientist at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center and the lead author of the study. "To help limit the spread of these diseases in animals, we need to be able to remove prions from the environment."

The researchers found that lichens have great potential for safely reducing the number of prions because some lichen species contain a protease enzyme (a naturally produced chemical) capable of significantly breaking down prions in the lab.

"This work is exciting because there are so few agents that degrade prions and even fewer that could be used in the environment without causing harm," said Jim Bennett, Ph.D., a USGS lichenologist and a co-author of the study.

CWD and scrapie in sheep are different than other prion diseases because they can easily spread in sheep or deer by direct animal-to-animal contact or through contact with contaminated inanimate objects like soil.

Chronic wasting disease was first diagnosed in the 1960s and has since been detected in 19 states and two Canadian provinces. CWD has been detected in wild elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer and moose in North America.

Lichens, said Johnson, produce unique and unusual organic compounds that aid their survival and can have antibiotic, antiviral and other chemotherapeutic activities. In fact, pharmaceutical companies have been examining the medicinal properties of lichens more closely in recent years.

Lichens are unusual plant-like organisms that are actually a symbioses of fungi, algae and bacteria living together. They usually live on soil, bark, leaves and wood and can live in barren and unwelcoming environments, including the Arctic and in deserts.

Future work will examine the effect of lichens on prions in the environment and determine if lichen consumption can protect animals from acquiring prion diseases.  

The study, “Degradation of the disease-associated prion protein by a serine protease from lichens,” was published in PLoS ONE and is freely accessible to the public.

The study was authored by USGS scientists Christopher Johnson, James Bennett and Tonie Rocke, as well as authors from Montana State University and the University of Wisconsin.

source: USGS

Pheasants Forever - Maryland Outdoor Woman’s Life Program

Pheasants Forever, a non-profit organization, will host an Outdoor Woman’s Life program from June 10 to 12 at the historic Woodmont Lodge at Fort Frederick State Park in Maryland.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 135,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Maryland 2011 Spring Turkey Harvest Data

Hunters reported taking a total of 2,826 wild turkeys during Maryland's 2011 spring turkey season. The total was nearly identical to the 2010 harvest of 2,847 birds. The harvest is slightly above the 10-year average of 2,902 birds.

Some counties noticed slight declines in harvest while others observed increases. Jakes comprised 29 percent of the 2011 spring harvest.

Two notable regulation changes took effect for Maryland's 2011 spring season. Hunting was permitted until sunset during the last two weeks of the season to increase hunter opportunity and minimize the potential impacts of additional hunting pressure.

Hunting was also allowed on one Sunday in May in Alleghany and Garrett counties only, which resulted in a harvest of 16 turkeys.

Garrett County reported 339 turkeys, followed by Allegany (287), Washington (285), Charles (222), Dorchester (210) and Worcester (191).