USDA pledges $50 million for Midwest Wetlands

July 14, 2014

By Mark Hofberg

A flock of ducks erupts from the fertile grasslands of the Prairie Pothole region. It is estimated that three quarters of North American waterfowl breed and nest here. (Credit:  Shawn May, USFWS)

A flock of ducks erupts from the fertile grasslands of the Prairie Pothole region. It is estimated that three quarters of North American waterfowl breed and nest here. (Credit: Shawn May, USFWS)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced plans to direct $50 million from the 2014 farm bill budget to conservation projects affecting the Red River of the North Basin. The funds are on top of a $35 million pledge that the agency made in February. The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service will direct the money over five years through conservation programs designed to incentivize landowners to preserve and enhance wetlands through technical and financial assistance. Continue reading

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Survey shows highest waterfowl population in 59-year history

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 9:39 a.m. CDT July 18, 2014

Ring-necked duck

A ringed-neck duck

MADISON – Waterfowl breeding populations in 2014 are mostly good to excellent in Wisconsin and North America, according to recent surveys by state, federal and Canadian wildlife officials.

The surveys were conducted by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The USFWS survey showed the highest North American duck population estimate in the 59-year history of the survey. Continue reading

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Missouri veto resonates through captive deer hunting industry


Ryan Sabalow, July 14, 2014


X-Factor, a deer owned by Indiana deer farmer Russ Bellar, was bred for his enormous antlers and used as a stud in the fenced hunting industry. (Photo: Photo provided/Russ Bellar )

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon last week dealt a blow to the deer breeding and fenced hunting industry in what’s being called a bellwether case in the national debate over how to regulate a practice linked to the spread of disease.

Nixon vetoed legislation that would have transferred oversight of the state’s deer breeders from wildlife officials to Missouri’s agriculture department.

“White-tailed deer are wildlife, and they are also a game animal,” Nixon wrote in his veto message. “Putting them behind a fence does not change that fact.” Continue reading

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Kansas to pursue prairie chicken breeding program

Updated at: 07/10/2014 6:21 PM JOHN HANNA

(AP) TOPEKA, Kan. – TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will develop a program for breeding lesser prairie chickens in hopes of getting the federal government to back off its listing of the bird as a threatened species, Gov. Sam Brownback announced Thursday.

An Audubon of Kansas leader labeled the idea “far-fetched” and said it won’t work because game birds bred in captivity typically don’t have the skills necessary to survive long in the wild. Continue reading

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Gov. Nixon vetoes two bills defining captive deer as livestock

July 8, 2014

Governor points out Missouri Constitution gives Conservation Commission sole regulatory authority over wildlife; says bill provisions are clearly unconstitutional

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon today vetoed two bills that would have redefined the term “livestock” to include captive deer in order to eliminate the role of the Missouri Department of Conservation in regulating white-tailed deer. The Governor said those provisions of Senate Bill 506 and House Bill 1326 would go against longstanding successful conservation practices and also would clearly violate the Missouri Constitution, which gives exclusive authority over game and wildlife resources to the Missouri Conservation Commission.

“For more than 75 years, our Department of Conservation has been held up as a model for wildlife management agencies across the country because of its incredible success,” Gov. Nixon said. “Redefining deer as livestock to remove the regulatory role of Department defies both its clear record of achievement as well as common sense. White-tailed deer are wildlife and also game animals – no matter if they’re roaming free, or enclosed in a fenced area.”

In his veto message, the Governor cites the exclusive authority of the Missouri Conservation Commission provided by the Missouri Constitution under Article IV, Section 40(a). He also said that under the stewardship of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the state’s population of white-tailed deer has grown from fewer than 2,000 in the early 1930s to an estimated 1.3 million today, and that the 500,000 deer hunters contribute $1 billion to Missouri’s economy.

“Growing and managing our deer herd and fostering the hunting opportunities that we enjoy takes hard work and sound science, and the Department of Conservation should be commended for employing both to preserve this important part of our heritage, not stripped of its authority to do so in order to protect narrow interests,” the veto message reads.

Gov. Nixon noted that “it is unfortunate that the legislature insisted on amending this unconstitutional provision to two pieces of legislation that otherwise contain worthy provisions advancing Missouri agriculture.”

The Governor discussed his actions on the two bills at a special meeting today of the Missouri Conservation Commission in Columbia.

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