AP NEWS

Money for fighting chronic wasting disease and more outdoor news

September 18, 2018
1 of 2

It’s too late in the game for anything to happen now.

But in 2019, might sportsmen and women get some help in combating a disease that threatens the future of hunting?

They’re at least asking for it.

Back in December, two Congressmen – Representative Ron Kind, a Democrat from Wisconsin, and Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana — introduced companion bills. They call for federal funding to research, monitor and contain chronic wasting disease.

Kind introduced House Bill 4454; Tester Senate Bill 2252.

According to the National Deer Alliance, which helped draft the legislation, the bills call for allocating $35 million “for the management of CWD both long-term and in rapid response to threats of spreading.”

The money would be funneled to states and tribal agencies via the Department of Agriculture.

The bills also make available another $10 million. It would fund research projects looking at things like what deer harvest strategies best contain the disease.

Unfortunately, neither bill has made any headway. They’re sitting in committees, and have been since January.

The current, 115th Congressional session ends on Jan. 3, too. So it’s very unlikely either bill will move before then.

Still, the Deer Alliance is calling on hunters to voice support for the bills through its Grassroots Advocacy Center.

In the meantime, sportsmen in one state are debating whether to ask state lawmakers for money to battle CWD.

The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs – the largest sportsmen’s group in the commonwealth – is holding its fall board meeting on Sept. 15 in Mechanicsburg. One item up for discussion is CWD funding.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission spends in excess of $1 million annually to fight the disease. That money “comes out of our pockets,” meaning hunters, said John Kline, spokesman for the Federation.

“And that has to happen. We get it,” he said.

Board members are debating whether the commission and sportsmen should seek – and take if it’s offered – general fund money to help cover those expenses.

The proposal before board members suggests any money would go to both the Game Commission and state Department of Agriculture in the next budget cycle, Kline said.

“I remind people, particularly those in the (non-hunting) public, that chronic wasting disease isn’t just a Game Commission problem, it isn’t just a deer hunting problem. It’s a Pennsylvania-wide problem,” Kline said.

In the meantime, there’s some evidence deer with chronic wasting disease die at three times the rate of healthy animals.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is 18 months into a five year study looking at how deer survive CWD in comparison to predators, among other things. The work involves collaring deer and monitoring their fates. Recovered dead deer are tested for wasting disease.

Three quarters of deer testing positive for CWD died in the first year, while only one quarter of healthy deer did.

Large predators

When it comes to predators, big guys crowd out little guys, all over the world.

An international team of researchers recently published results of a study looking at predator interactions. It involved 12 countries across five continents and 768 species.

They found that “anywhere large-bodied mammalian carnivore species are present, other, smaller carnivores are less likely to occur.”

The project was the first global assessment of carnivore interactions using trail cameras.

Researchers from Penn State University led the study. They said “populations of large mammalian carnivores are declining as habitat is lost.”

That has consequences. When large predators disappear, densities of smaller carnivores increase. Authors said that stresses prey species and even plant communities.

In the Northeastern United States, for example, coyotes replaced wolves. They are now crowding out foxes that prey on mice.

That means more Lyme disease, they said.

Living with bears

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is handing out money, but for another reason.

The agency is providing up to $500,000 in “BearWise” funding to local governments to reduce human-bear conflicts.

The funding helps offset some of the costs for residents and businesses to acquire bear-resistant trash cans and dumpsters. About $1.6 million has been awarded since 2007.

There are more requests for money than funds available, though.

This year, for example, eight counties and two cities are seeking grants. They want, total, $935,181, or almost twice as much as is available.

The commission will announce who got money by October 2018.

In the meantime, it has available a guide to living with bears, including a video, at MyFWC.com/Bear.

Tick app

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison created an app to track ticks.

It’s designed to do two things: tell scientists where people are encountering ticks and tell people how to avoid them.

Called “The Tick App” and available at Apple and Google Play, it identifies the environments where people encounter ticks. It also highlights the activities people are engaging in when they find ticks.

That will highlight risk factors, they said.

The app prompts users to record a “tick diary” for two weeks.

The app is primarily a research tool. But it teaches tick identification, how to avoid being bitten and how to safely remove ticks from skin.

Birds in trouble

These are tough times for birds, it seems.

Every five years, BirdLife International produces a report looking at the state of bird conservation. The most recent one, just released, contains bad news.

The report describes 1,469 species. One in eight is threatened.

The reasons behind declines are many. Factors include agricultural expansion and intensification, deforestation, invasive species and illegal hunting. Most species confront multiple threats.

Report authors called the findings a “wake-up call.”

“Each time we undertake this assessment we see slightly more species at risk of extinction. The situation is deteriorating,” said Tris Allinson, senior global science officer for BirdLife International.

Outdoor superstore

When Bass Pro Shops bought Cabela’s last year, some wondered if the latter might disappear.

Instead, the two are not only co-existing, they’re in one case joining.

The company is renovating an existing Cabela’s store in Rogers, Ark., to create a 100,000-square-foot Bass Pro/Cabela’s combo facility, complete with a Tracker Boats dealership.

It will be the first store to include all three.

There’s still more. The store will feature a café and fudge shop, too, along with a museum-like display of taxidermy.

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-216-0193 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

AP RADIO
Update hourly