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Fantastic Convention! Over 5,000 through the gate. A huge thank you to the U.P. Trappers Association and all the volunteers who stepped up and helped make this convention happen. It was perhaps the best organized and well-run convention I’ve ever attended, and the demo area raised the bar to a totally new level. Thanks also to all the trappers from the Michigan Trappers Association and Predator Callers who again made the trip north to assist their fellow trappers in making this convention possible. Unless you have volunteered for one of these events it’s impossible to understand what it takes to host a national convention.
We often hear grumbling about the national and regional conventions being held in the same areas year after year. The solution is for your association to get involved and submit a bid to host a convention in your state. I’d encourage each of you to give thought to hosting a convention. Take the lead and organize a group of your members to become more active in your state association. As we all know, running an effective association and all the various activities requires a great deal of work and sacrifice. New blood is our life blood.
It was an honor to have U.S. Congressmen Greg Gianforte (Montana) and John Bergman (Michigan) attend the convention. Both these gentlemen are steadfast supporters of trapping. Congressman Gianforte is chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee which has oversight jurisdiction over issues critically important to sportsmen, including public lands, the EPA, and the Department of Interior.
Activity this past year has again been dominated by the various ESA lawsuits. While these federal cases often seem to drag on forever, there has been resolution in Idaho, Maine and Montana.
In Idaho, trappers won a huge victory when the U.S. District Court judge granted our Summary Judgement Motion and dismissed the case against the state seeking restrictions on trapping. This was a tremendous win for trappers and sportsmen in the state. A loss could have resulted in severe restrictions on trapping in northern Idaho. Wolf trapping in these regions would have essentially been eliminated.
The victory in Idaho demonstrates why we refused to settle the lawsuit in Montana. The facts of the two cases are nearly identical. I will always believe we would have prevailed in Montana also. Unfortunately, due to the choices of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFW&P) we were denied the opportunity to argue this in court.
Presently the Montana CITES suit is the only one that’s still being litigated. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has completed the Environmental Assessment and found there is no need to change the current tagging program. This of course is disputed by the plaintiffs and is the crux of the lawsuit. All parties have submitted their briefs to the court and we are currently waiting on a date for the hearing.
Hopefully, there is a light at the end of this lynx lawsuit tunnel. As I’ve reported previously, in January the FWS announced that it had completed a status review of Canada lynx populations and determined that the species no longer requires protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). As a result, the agency will be moving forward with the formal process of delisting the species.
How would delisting affect trappers? It would remove any federal mandate to maintain or impose restrictions and would prevent future ESA lawsuits over the incidental capture of lynx in other states. The states would be free to manage their lynx populations the same as they do any other species. Some states may choose to maintain or implement restriction in their effort to manage lynx, and this is how it should be. The management of wildlife is a state issue. History has proven time and again the states do an excellent job. Wildlife populations are healthy and abundant, with many species at historical highs. This is the result of sound management by professionals at the state level. You need look no further than the wolf issue to see the consequences of the feds and the courts meddling in the management of our wildlife.
On a much larger scale than the lynx delisting, there is currently a growing effort to reform the ESA. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed revisions to the regulations that implement portions of the ESA. Lawmakers from the Congressional Western Caucus have introduced nine bills that would “amend and modernize” the ESA., and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has introduced a comprehensive measure intended to overhaul the ESA. There will be much more on this battle as we go forward. Be assured the NTA will assist this effort in any way possible.
In closing, I want to again thank the U.P. Trappers Association and all the volunteers who stepped up and helped make the 2018 National Convention a huge success.