Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Outdoors Issues.

Ken Perrotte has written another fantastic article and this one should is incredibly important for all Virginia sportsmen! Here is a link to that fantastic article! Ken Perrotte, Free Lance Star, Give your Opinions on Outdoor Issues.

This particular article is very important to me because it lets you know that we can have a voice with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. We can only hope that they will listen to the public and begin to make some choices on how best to manage our game resources in the best possible way.

I have three issues in regards to the VDGIF that I think are incredibly important issues that I personally want them to address. Direct link to the Virginia Recommendations and Comment Board

The first issue is in regards to the ability to hunt on Sundays. As a working father of 3 kids, it is not always easy for me to take off days to go hunting in Virginia with my current schedule. I know this to be true of almost every hunter I run into in the state. Some Saturdays with busy soccer schedules and dance classes, I need to spend time with my children. I would like the option of being able to hunt on Sundays. In the state of Virginia we have a tremendous over population of deer in many areas of the state. Part of the reason that these herds cannot be controlled is that there are not enough people who have the time to get out and hunt these deer.

The second issue I have in regards to the management of deer in Virginia is that in the state parks and in some of the battlefields where we have tremendous over population of deer herds, they are bringing in sharpshooters. In some of these areas the deer are in my opinion unhealthy, inbred and have literally devastated the forests. In these areas there is almost no vegetation under 6 feet that is left. The deer have wiped out every native species of plants. In some of these areas they have brought in sharpshooters at night and spotlighted deer to eradicate them and reduce the herds. It is my understanding that the meat is donated to the Hunters for the Hungry program but I cannot confirm that. I think these areas would be much better suited to drawing type hunts that offer youth, female and handicap hunters the opportunity to assist in this process. Anything we can do to create public opportunities to assist in the process of deer management is better then sharpshooters. If these hunts do not bring in enough hunters, then they could open it up to lottery type hunts and charge a small fee to apply with the money going towards management fees and conservation programs to replant areas of these forests with native browse. (I believe this to be true of all states and in all national parks where we have these kinds of situations.)

The third issue I have in regards to the VDGIF is the situation with elk in the state of Virginia. I do not believe it is in the best interests of the citizens of Virginia to allow hunters to take elk with their deer tags. The state currently allows any citizen to hunt elk in the state of Virginia with a deer tag with the intent to eliminate all elk in Virginia.

The herd is currently not established and has moved into the area because of the tremendous habitat that Virginia offers to elk. Elk used to thrive in our state and were a native species in Virginia for hundreds of years. When settlers moved into Virginia they were eliminated for food and by market hunters.

The states of Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Pennsylvania with the assistance of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have worked hard to reintroduce elk back into the Eastern and Southern States. West Virginia is currently considering a proposal to do the same thing, hopefully it will be successful. The elk in the state of Virginia have migrated into Virginia from Kentucky and the VDGIF's position statement for the past 5 years has been that elk have CWD and they are afraid of an outbreak. The reality is that every elk taken in the state of Virginia and in Kentucky has been tested as CWD free.

Having a strong herd of elk and the reintroduction of elk in Eastern states has been an economic boom to those states. Pennsylvania and Kentucky currently have lotteries for the opportunity to hunt elk in their states which bring in tremendous dollars for the management of those herds. Along with that the tourist dollars as well as money from hunters coming into those communities is a tremendous resource for those counties in which elk reside. I have been to Kentucky, Pennsylvania and North Carolina just to view the elk in those states and my hard earned dollars were spent in those communities where elk reside. I have been to the counties in Virginia where elk reside as well and spent money in those counties.

I am not asking for the state to reintroduce elk at this time, although it would be wonderful if they would at least consider it. All I am asking for now is that we allow the elk who come into our state be allowed to thrive here and to grow into a viable herd and be protected as a separate species. I want the state to manage the herd as a resource that it truly is for the citizens of our state. The majestic bugle of a bull elk following a herd of cows is a sound that Virginia residents should be rejoicing in, not trying to eliminate.

Please make your comments known to the VDGIF no matter what your issues are and what your opinions are, share them freely. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but you must share it to make that opinion valuable.

The wildlife of your state(whatever state you reside in) is owned by the citizens of your state and the management of that wildlife is the responsibility of the citizens. If you do not agree with something happening in your state, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!