By JIM MATTHEWS
Some notes and comments from the California outdoor. First, there are two stories from the Department of Fish and Game’s award-winning public relations staff that cry out for comment this week:
GIANT SEABASS: It was heartening to hear that DFG wardens nabbed a diver for illegally spearing a giant (black) sea bass off Dana Point this past week. The species was overfished commercially until a complete ban on both sport and commercial fishing went into place in California waters in 1982 with Mexico following suit a decade later. The long-lived, large-growning species has been slowly recovering since those bans, but it has been a slower process than anticipated, perhaps because of residual pesticides still in most of the sea bass affecting reproduction.
But the DFG press release must have been written by some anti-fisherman nutjob from the Humane Society. Here’s a direct quote from the release: “Prior to the 1950s, a large numbers of giant (black) sea bass could be found in the waters off of southern California, but most of these large creatures were harvested for their value as photographic trophies.” Really? That is such a load of cow droppings, and it makes sport anglers look like cretins. This is what happens when DFG staff doesn’t hunt or fish or bother to know the facts -- or perhaps it’s just part of a continuing agenda against fishermen (and hunters).
Here’s the truth. In 1932, 115 tons of giant sea bass per year were caught in California waters for the commercial seafood market. That number declined each following year and fell to just five tons in 1980, just before the ban went into effect. The giant seabass were also a popular sport fish, and the world record is a 563-pound, eight-ounce fish caught off Anacapa Island in 1968. I remember doing a story about Lillian Scott, who still holds the women’s 30 and 50-pound line class records (343 and 454 pounds respectively) for fish she landed in 1980 and 1981, just before the closure. Scott was an advocate of the commercial ban because of the population decline in these fish that frequently live over 50 years and don’t become sexually mature until they are seven to 10 years old. But in no way where “most” of these giants harvested for “photographic trophies.” They were a prized food fish and they were challenging on rod and reel. How can stuff like this come out of the DFG?
GRAY SQUIRRELS: Western gray squirrels have suffered a population crash in the San Bernardino Mountains’ residential areas where residents feed the wild animals and keep their populations artificially high and with unnatural densities. The makes the squirrels ripe for disease outbreaks. That is exactly what Department of Fish and Game biologists have found: a contagious skin disease caused by parasitic mites. The tree squirrel population has plummeted with only a few of the once-plentiful animals found in spring surveys.
The irony here is that the tree squirrel fanatics, who stopped the tree squirrel hunting season locally, are now the cause of a massive decline because of their coddling. Local residents (especially the ones who aren’t guilty of treating the wild animals like pets) are being asked to contribute their tree squirrel observations so researchers can better understand past abundance, where sick squirrels have been observed, and where western gray squirrels are now. The website address to report information is at: https://sites.google.com/a/ucdavis.edu/san-bernardino-squirrels.
DOG BAN FOR BEAR HUNTING: The legislation that would ban the use of dogs for hunting bears and bobcats in California (SB 1221) will go before the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife beginning 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 26, in Sacramento.
This is more bad governance out of Sacramento. It is not about bears or bobcats and their well being. It is not about what is or isn’t sporting. This is an anti-hunting agenda put forward as pay-back because a state Fish and Game Commissioner legally hunted mountain lions with hounds in another state. Lion hunting is banned in California and some legislators who are in bed with the Humane Society were offended. There are a lot of good reasons why hound hunting is important in managing bears and bobcats (for one, it allows hunters shoot only older, males instead of younger animals).
For more information on what you can do to help defeat this moronic bill, visit the Outdoor Heritage Alliance web site at http://www.outdoorheritage.org/.
SHOOTING SPORTS FAIR: This past weekend's Shooting Sports Fair held at Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises in Corona was the biggest Fair in the history of the event. Final numbers show that nearly 20,000 people attended this year’s three-day spectacular. Well over 1 million rounds of ammunition were fired. Surveys done in past years suggest that one-in-four people will buy a gun they shot at the Fair within in the next two months (if they didn't order it at the Fair).
And Winchester-Browning and a couple of other smaller gun makers continue to think this isn’t an important event to market their firearms and interact with customers. There are elements of the shooting industry that are as dense as the DFG.
WIND POWER AND RADIOACTIVE WASTE: Some good news for desert advocates and hunters who think covering up the Mojave Desert with windmills is bad for the environment and bird hunting: Because of the material used to manufacture components in windmill electrical components, there is more than twice the radioactive waste produced per kilowatt generated windmills than by nuclear power. Bottom line: Wind energy is nearly 2 1/2 times dirtier than nuclear.
Here’s a link to a commentary on this, but there is good data toward the end of the piece: http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/06/06/shock-wind-energy-goes-radioactive/.
BOWFISHING EXPANDS: Lake Wohlford is going to reopen for carp bowfishing on weekdays-only beginning June 15th. The bowfishing will be by permit-only, with a maximum of six permits issued per day. All bowfishermen will also be required to rent a boat. For a complete list of the guidelines and restrictions visit the lake's website at www.wohlfordlake.com and follow the following link www.escondido.org/daily-bow-fishing-permit-guidelines.aspx.