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09-23-2003 - Hatchery Closings
08-03-2003 - Antlerless Deer Permit Drawing Results
05-09-2003 - House Amendment to H4000 for Fisheries & Wildlife
04-25-2003 - Budget Alert
04-14-2003 -  Budget News
04-14-2003 - Conservation Alliance
04-14-2003 - Legislative Update
04-11-2003 - Banquet
02-26-2003 - Budget Alert
10-12-2002 - Suit Filed by Animal Rightist to Stop Pheasant Hunting



 Hatchery Closings
Belchertown - The Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board meeting held today, unanimously voted to close the Sandwich and Montague fish hatcheries. This action was explained as being necessary due to Governor Romney and the Legislature diverting  nearly $10 million dollars of sportsmen’s money in the Inland Fish and Game Fund (IFGF) to the General Fund. The Early retirement programs authorized by the Legislature added to the perilous situation faced by the Division.

The IFGF funds are voluntary donations by the sportsmen and women of the Commonwealth, not tax revenues, which the budget balancers apparently don’t care about. They are primarily license fees, “donated” to support programs of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (now the Division of Fish and Game) and protect wildlife habitat used by game, non-game, and endangered species and for the enjoyment of all citizens. This diversion is a great example of public officials “breeching the public trust”. Sportsmen and women are a part of the “public” and also taxpayers and VOTERS! And we will remember!

The Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council and other organizations are working to try to reverse this latest attempt to dismantle the one state agency that, for many, many years has operated in the “black”.

Each and every sportsman needs to contact the Governor’s Office and their own State Senator and Representative to express their outrage that our voluntary funds, entrusted to the Commonwealth for a specific purpose, have been diverted to other uses. The Governor’s Office can be contacted at: 617-725-4000, email - goffice@state.ma.us. To contact: your senator call - 617-722-1276; your representative, call 617-722-2000; Senate President call - 617-722-1500; Speaker of the House - 617-722-2500. City and town clerks can provide local telephone numbers for senator and representative. Make your call today and get your friends and neighbors to do the same! Please be courteous when you make your call.
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 2003 Antlerless Deer Permit Drawing Results
From MassWildlife. If the last digit of your Hunting or Sporting License matches a number drawn for the Deer Management Zone (DMZ) for which you applied, you will receive an Antlerless Deer Permit for that DMZ. If you match the partial number, the number of randomly selected applicants is indicated in the table of winning numbers. (Note: Not every applicant with the partial number will receive a Permit.)
2003 Massachusetts Antlerless Deer Permit Drawing
DMZ
Permits
Applicants
Chance
Winning Numbers
1
1,350
1,376
98%
0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 4--Partial (102/128)
2
100
1,085
9%
3 8--Partial (10/104)
3
4,550
2,567
100%
All Numbers
4N
350
1,721
20%
3, 9 2--Partial (2/186)
4S
600
1,521
39%
3, 7, 8 5--Partial (126/150)
5
1,500
3,277
46%
4, 6, 7, 9 1--Partial (203/328)
6
650
935
70%
2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 0--Partial (1/91)
7
3,450
2,479
100%
All Numbers
8
4,900
3,567
100%
All Numbers
9
4,900
2,559
100%
All Numbers
10
6,700
2,214
100%
All Numbers
11
8,750
5,002
100%
All Numbers
12
1,000
992
100%
All Numbers
13
2,600
89
100%
All Numbers
14
2,600
132
100%
All Numbers
Total
29,516
All selected applicants will be notified of their permit by mail. Applicants not selected for their DMZ of choice will have first option to re-apply for a permit in DMZs where allocations exceeded applications. The final option for obtaining a permit, or acquiring additional permits, will occur October 6 when remaining permits will be available for over-the- counter sale. Each antlerless deer permit will come with an antlerless deer tag, increasing the hunter’s bag limit for antlerless deer by the number of permits possessed.
NEW THIS YEAR: MassWildlife will be selling 1 permit/day/DMZ and not allowing the purchase of an additional permit for a DMZ until the 1st permit is filled except for DMZ’s 10, 13, and 14. Internet license holders may purchase permits on line at that time as well. For more information, contact MassWildlife offices or go on line to www.masswildlife.org
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 House Amendment to H4000 for Fisheries & Wildlife
The House of Representatives approved the following amendment to their version of the F/Y 2004 budget protecting sportsmen's money in the Inland Fish and Game Fund. Many organizations including the Council, MA Audubon, GOAL and individuals including Bob Durand and sportsmen across the State wrote, called, and/or visited representatives urging the protection of the Division and our Fund.  Additional review will be done to determine if Senators will be asked to maintain this language or to modify the language during their budget debate later this month and next

SECTION    .  Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the comptroller shall certify that all revenues generated from license fees, permit fees and any other sources of revenue pertaining to inland fishing, hunting and trapping permit fees under the provisions of section 22A, from the sale authorized in section 6 and sums received by the commonwealth from the federal government as reimbursed grants in aid or other receipts on account of activities of the former division of fisheries, wildlife and law enforcement and any and all interest generated from the balances of said fund shall be expended solely upon the following; the payment of general administrative expenses of the subdivision of fisheries and wildlife, for acquiring, managing or leasing public fishing rights on land on inland streams and ponds, including stream management and the creation of new ponds, for acquiring, maintaining or leasing public hunting rights on land within the commonwealth, for biological surveys of the inland waters of the commonwealth, for propagation of game birds and fish, for salvaging and distributing game birds and fish, for acquisition and maintenance of wildlife sanctuaries and fish and wildlife management areas, for maintaining water resources to provide an adequate water supply for wildlife, for maintaining sources of food for game birds, for other general purposes of said division and said executive office, for payment of the amount necessary for personal services and other expenses for and on account of the enforcement of laws relating directly to game and inland fisheries, such amounts to be determined by the commissioner of administration, for the payment of fringe and related costs as determined by the state comptroller. Upon the determination of the state comptroller, any transfers authorized in this act that would divert funds from the purposes stated herein and would result in the loss of receipt of federal reimbursements, grants in aid or other forms of federal assistance, shall not occur. The Comptroller shall certify annually to the General Court the amount of revenues received and expended pursuant to the provisions of this section.
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 BUDGET ALERT -  IMMEDIATE ACTION IS IMPERATIVE!!

Section
Action
280
Repeals Section 2 of MGL Chapter 131 (Inland Fisheries & Game Fund and the Wildlands Stamp Acquisition Fund)
306 - 311
Increases Fees for FID, LTC and other Firearms licenses to $100.00
462 & 465
Transfers $ in Funds repealed by sections 22, 55, 61, 273 & 280 to the Uncompensated Care Trust Fund, Stabilization Fund and the General Fund


Section 280, along with the transfers in sections 462 & 465 will have a devastating effect on the operation of the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. The “diversion” of funds by sections 462 & 465 will also jeopardize the future Federal reimbursements under the Pittman-Robertson and Dingle-Johnson Acts (about $4.6 Million). Representatives Bill Straus & George Peterson are filing an amendment to correct this “raid on sportsmen”. We urge you to contact your Representative (and others you may know) asking him/her to sign on to this amendment and to support it when the House debates the budget next week. Don’t know your Representative? Call your town/city clerk and ask for the name & number of your State Representative and CALL Him/Her! Representatives names and contact information is also available on-line on the legislature’s web site - www.state.ma.us/legis/citytown.htm . Don’t Wait, if we loose this one, millions of your dollars will be used to balance the budget and not for the programs the money was intended for!

Sections 306 thru 311 amount to a “TAX Increase”, but under the House Rules, any amendment to change the amount will require substitute funding for any lost revenue due to any reduction in the fee amount. Tell your Rep that you are opposed to this attack on GUN OWNERS. The question of fees will be addressed at a later date.

Note: when you call for your Rep’s name & phone number, get your State Senator’s name & phone number at the same time, their version of the budget will be released next month and we may need to contact them as well!
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 Budget News
The Governor has “backed off” on his plan to divert monies in the Inland Fish and Game dedicated fund and will leave the money in a “trust” fund. It appears that funds could still be transferred between sub-accounts within the bureau (formerly Division). The Council supports the present line item funding and structure of the agency and  continues to work to retain it. The Governor's re-org plans have not been finalized at this time. It will be filed on May 01, after which the Legislature will then have sixty days to vote it up or down. If they fail to act, the plan will automatically become law. Many legislators have expressed their opposition to announced plans, while the legislative leadership and governor have been meeting to find common ground. Many questions remain!
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 Conservation Alliance
On March 18, the Massachusetts Conservation Alliance was formed to try to save the current structure and funding mechanism for the DFW/ELE. Organizations present and agreeing included the Council, GOAL, MA Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, MA Waterfowlers, several County Leagues, and Bob Durand and Chuck Anastas. The Alliance is intended to present a united effort to prevent the dismantling of the DFW/ELE as we know it.  You can help by contacting your Senator and Representative to urge them to support the department and sportsmen by retaining the funding and structure of the department as it is defined using the current line item scheme. State House: 617-722-2000, Governor - 617-722-6250, Secretary of A&F - 617-727-2040.
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 Legislative Update
The April 03 “gun” bill hearings before the Public Safety Committee moved along quickly with a smaller than usual crowd. There was some excellent testimony on our side and the same rhetoric and mis-information from the “gun grabber” side.

The Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing on April 09 to consider bills relative to illegal trafficking of firearms, penalties for “weapons” offenses, and armor piercing ammunition. A last minute addition was House Bill 2934, filed by Rep George Peterson, correcting many problems caused by Chapter 180. There was little testimony offered for OR against the firearm related bills.

The hearing held on April 10 by the Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee was well attended and many individuals testified. Council legislation, S1202 - providing that DFW is responsible for wildlife statewide and S1207 requiring that persons issued permits for problem animal abatement file a report with the Division documenting their results was supported by many organizations (including the MSPCA!). House 200, authorizing the use of conibear type traps during the trapping season was also popular among those testifying. We are confident that it will be reported favorably to the House Floor where its fate is less predictable.

Many bills are awaiting hearings and dates are being announced at an increasing rate.
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 Banquet
The Council’s annual banquet and Raymond L. Gribbons Awards Night was held on April 5th and again was well attended and successful. Morgan Cjaza of Adams was this year’s recipient of the Raymond L. Gribbons Scholarship. Morgan is a wildlife and fisheries conservation major at Umass. The following awards were presented: R. L. Gribbons Award - Larry Roy of Essex County; Sportsman of the Year - Mike Ferreira of Bristol County; Lillian Gribbons Award - Margaret Beckwith of Berkshire County; Sportsmen’s Senator - Guy Glodis, 2nd Worcester District; Sportsmen’s Representative George Peterson, 9th Worcester District; Lifetime Achievement in Wildlife - Chris Thurlow, Ret. Central District Manager; Wildlife Education Award - Ellie Horwitz, DFW Chief, Information & Education; President’s Awards - Mike Veloza, Barnstable County; Peter Bernard, Bristol County and Peter Murray, MA Beach Buggy Assn.; Hall of Fame Inductees - Jack Swedberg and Tony Konisky of Worcester County: Joe Abdow and John Matzko of Hampden County. Congratulations to All!
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 Budget Alert

The Governor, in his FY04 Budget (House 1) is proposing to eliminate the dedicated Inland Fisheries and Game Fund and transfer the balance ($6 million+) to the Stabilization Fund. This is using monies voluntarily paid by sportsmen for sportsman related programs and land acquisition, not tax revenues, to subsidize other public uses. It is another TAX ONLY ON SPORTSMEN AND WOMEN if he is successful. In addition to the $6+ million in the account, we will also lose over $4.6 million in federal reimbursements. These losses will devastate the operation of the division.

In outside sections he is also increasing, to $75.00, the fees for licenses and permits relating to firearms:
Section 161 - License to sell ammunition
Section 162 - Firearms Identification Card Fees
Section 163 - License to Carry Firearms
Section 164 - Permits to Purchase Firearms
Section 165 - Non-Residents & Non-Resident Aliens Firearms Fees
Section 166 - Resident Aliens Firearms Fees

We successfully stopped the transfer for FY03, now it is more imperative that we stop the elimination of OUR dedicated fund and the mis-appropriation of monies in it.

The Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council asks every sportsman and as many others as possible to call their Representative and Senator and urge him/her to oppose this latest attack on sportsmen and gun owners. Tell them not to allow this raid on non-tax revenue, to protect our dedicated fund and to vote to reject the firearm fees increase.

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 Suit Filed by Animal Rightist to Stop Pheasant Hunt
At a recent hearing on a suit filed in the U.S. District court in Boston, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Fund for Animals(FA) and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and several individual anti-hunters demanded an end to pheasant hunting at the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS).

The animal rights plaintiffs claim that release and hunting of pheasants is endangering habitat for various species at Cape Cod and endangering non-hunters. The suit also claims that the stocking of a non-native species violates NPS policy. Sportsmen and federal and state agencies dispute these claims. "This is just another attempt by anti-hunters to force their political views onto others." said Bud Pidgeon, president of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation. "Pheasant hunting has been taking place at Cape Cod National Seashore since 1914 with the blessing of the National Park Service and the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Division without any accidents to hunters or non-hunters,"

The Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council Inc., Barnstable League of Sportsmen's Clubs and sportsman Michael Veloza of Manomet, Massachusetts have joined with the U. S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation and have filed a motion to intervene to ensure sportsmen are directly represented in the court..

Pheasants are the target of the law suit because they are not a native species in this country. They fail to mention, however, that the ring-necked pheasant was introduced in America in the early 1880's, have been hunted on the land that now makes up the CCNS since1914, have been stocked by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on the Sea Shore since shortly after World War II and pheasant stocking and hunting were activities approved by the National Park Service when the CCNS was established in 1961. Pheasant hunting now occurs in 39 states and six Canadian provinces. It is also the South Dakota state bird.

The thought that pheasant hunting endangers certain species of plants is also a stretch to Pidgeon. "All forms of hunting or other wildlife oriented activities such as bird watching and hiking and even just taking a walk on the beach could be considered harmful, too," he said.

The potential implications of the lawsuit go far beyond the state of Massachusetts and pheasant hunting and could impact hunting and wildlife management for an array of species nationwide.

The judge is expected to rule on the restraining order later.
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