By JIM ABRAMS

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that bans all recreational trapping. The state already had some of the most restrictive trapping regulations in the country — limitations that had previously banned many commonly used traps.

Removing this wildlife management tool is likely to have a detrimental effect on effectively controlling furbearer populations. The results could include increased damage to crops, livestock, and both pond and lake banks, as well as the possibility of increased risk of rabies, distemper and other zoonotic diseases. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that 59% of calf deaths were caused by coyotes, and that number may now swell.

Luke Houghton, associate state director for the Sportsmen’s Alliance said, “Just a few short weeks ago a coyote attacked a pet in the Palm Springs area and in June a coyote killed a family dog inside their home in San Dimas. Ignoring all science and advice from wildlife experts, Gov. Newsom and the California Legislature continue to make sure that their state is the most anti-hunting state in America.”

I am certain that these new regulations were not being encouraged by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, but they were likely left with little voice in the matter. A further example of the state’s interminable turmoil is the widespread effort to stop bobcat hunting, something the California Department of Finance opposes.

Assembly Bill 1254 has already passed the assembly while the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee also approved AB 1254. That may have made the issue appear to be a done deal, but the Senate Appropriations Committee has placed the bill on the suspense file, temporarily halting its progress.

It seems that this unnecessary blast at hunting and trapping by the Golden State would likely tarnish its wildlife professionals’ ability to do their jobs. In comment, the California Department of Finance reported that the implementation of AB 1254 would put such financial stress on the Fish and Game preservation fund that it “would hinder the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s ability to carry out its core programs.”

I’d say I was surprised by these developments, but then I remember the dire situation that Ohio’s wildlife agency was in just a little over a year ago. It’s difficult to stop a political steamroller when it’s being fueled by emotion, political force and rhetoric that has little regard for facts. It takes an organized effort of dedicated people to stop the machine before it flattens professionalism and common sense.

Hunting and trapping remain invaluable tools of professional wildlife management. They help to greatly reduce wildlife conflicts with crops, livestock, pets and property while also controlling population growth and disease. California’s political juggernaut may not care, but Californians should, and the rest of us ought to be paying attention.

“From the errors of other nations, let us learn wisdom.” “” Thomas Paine

Along the way:

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has announced new hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 1.4 million acres nationwide.

“We are pleased to offer all Americans access to hunting and fishing opportunities and other recreational activities on refuge and hatchery lands where they are compatible with our conservation management goals,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson. “This generations-old heritage of hunting and fishing is all about loving outdoor traditions and time spent with family.”

New refuge opportunities include the opening of sport fishing at Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania for the first time; the opening of Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho to elk hunting for the first time on lands already open to other hunting; and the opening of Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming to migratory bird game hunting for the first time.

Expansions of refuge opportunities include Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama and Mississippi; the expansion of season dates for existing migratory game bird hunting to align with state seasons; and the opening of coot, crane and tundra swan hunting on acres already open to other hunting at Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Montana.

In Ohio, changes include the expansion of existing sport fishing to new areas at Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

The final rule also outlines a comprehensive revision and simplification of all refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulations in all 50 states to more closely match state regulations while continuing to ensure safe and compatible opportunities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked closely with each state while preparing this rule.

A copy of the final rule and a complete list of all of the refuges and hatcheries are available online at https://www.fws.gov/home/pdfs/2019-2020-Station-Specific-Hunting-and-Fishing-Final-Rule-Narratives-Final.pdf

These actions are due to the continued benefits of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It mandated that hunting, fishing and other wildlife-dependent recreation are priority uses of National Wildlife Refuge System lands wherever those activities are compatible. Since its passing, millions of acres have been opened to American sportsmen.

Step outside:

Thinking of planting trees to enhance wildlife habitat and birding opportunities? Planting in the fall gives trees an extra growing season before the stress of summer. The combination of cooler temperatures and fall rain allows trees to establish their roots, making it easier on them to adjust to extreme heat or drought in the summer. Join the Arbor Day Foundation in September and receive 10 free trees. Visit www.arborday.org/September

• Today: National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration for kids 17 years of age and younger. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243. There will be rifle, shotgun and archery shooting. A fishing derby will begin at 1 p.m. The first 50 to register will receive a free fishing rod, and prizes will be awarded to all ages. In case of rain, the event will be rescheduled to Sept. 21.

• Today: Trapping and snaring seminar. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ghost Town, 10630 Hancock County 40. Join Black Swamp Bucks, Ohio State Trappers Association and the Division of Wildlife as they bring you the best information about current trapping rules, regulations, gear, methodology and species-specific information during hands-on demonstrations. The event is free and lunch is provided. There will be some pretty nifty giveaway and raffle prizes, too.

• Tomorrow: Fifty-bird monthly trap shoot. Practice at 11 a.m., program at 12:30 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243.

• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243.

• Sept. 21 and 22: Merle Foust Memorial 30-target 3-D deer season warm-up archery shoot. Registration opens at 8 a.m. Range-finders are permitted and Saturday’s participants can reshoot on Sunday for half price. Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109. For information contact Harold Spence, 419-423-9861.

• Sept. 25: Full Draw Bowhunting Film Tour, doors open 6 p.m., films begin at 7 p.m., Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St., Columbus. Enjoy the spectacular scenery found during elk, whitetail, moose and pronghorn hunts from around the nation.

• Sept. 28: Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club Family Field Day, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. This rain or shine event is free. Parents or guardians are required to attend. Teens 15 and older may attend with parental permission and signed liability waiver, Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club, 4146 Klopfenstein Road, Bucyrus. For additional details visit www.elkhornlakehuntclub.com

• Sept. 28: Ohio’s deer archery season opens.

• Hunter and trapper education class information, options, locations and registration information is available at http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov

Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.

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