Hunting News

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

MacDill Fish Strike: Fishnado!

by Airman 1st Class Ned T. Johnston
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

2/21/2014 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Sharing the skies with different species of wildlife is a constant challenge for the Air Force. We stop at no end to ensure the safety of our aircrew, aircraft and all wildlife on and around the installation.

Typically, we associate "sharing the sky," with birds and other wildlife that belong in the air. However, the men and women with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have a different perspective on what type of animals they need to look out for on takeoffs and landings.

September 10, 2013, will forever live in infamy for Lt. Cmdr. Nick Toth, NOAA pilot, and for everyone else involved in the first recorded "fish strike," in the history of NOAA at MacDill that occurred that morning.

At roughly 10:50 a.m., Toth and the rest of the aircrew were cleared for takeoff and started their roll in their Gulfstream GIV.

"We were nearing the point in the takeoff where we needed to rotate, or raise the nose of the airplane off the ground, when an Osprey with something in its claws flew in front of our aircraft," explained Toth. "We saw that the Osprey did not gain enough altitude, and that it passed underneath the centerline of the aircraft."

The crew heard a thud, and assuming that they had hit the Osprey, aborted the takeoff. Following the aborted takeoff the aircraft was taxied back to Hangar 5 for inspection.

Airfield Management and Operations and Wildlife Management responded to what was still being referred to as a "bird strike."

"We swept the runway, but we didn't find any remains of the bird," said Lindsey Garven, 6th Air Mobility Wing Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard contractor. "We continued our search and were surprised to find a 9-inch sheepshead lying near the end of the runway."

Wildlife Management collected the specimen from the runway and DNA from the aircraft and sent the samples to the Smithsonian Feather Identification Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for comprehensive analysis.

Results concluded the Gulfstream GIV did in fact strike the sheepshead upon takeoff.

"At first, we didn't believe the test results," exclaimed Toth. "There was no way we hit a fish during takeoff. I mean, how does something like that even happen?"

Wildlife Management and NOAA's aircrew suspect that the Osprey was perched on the runway eating its catch upon departure of the NOAA Gulfstream GIV. The bird must have taken off, because it saw the NOAA aircraft approaching. The bird barely got away and probably would have struck the aircraft, if not for dropping its catch.

"As comical as this event is, the underlying lesson is that vigilance with regards to wildlife on and around the runway is necessary to keep all aircrew and aircraft safe and to maintain our goal of mission readiness," stated Garven.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Navy Conducts Assessments to Protect Environment

From Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

APRA HARBOR, Guam (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy, in partnership with other federal and local agencies, has deployed teams to assess and respond to potential environmental impacts due to the grounding of the Japanese commercial fishing vessel Daiki Maru in outer Apra Harbor Feb. 13.

Navy officials are taking all the necessary steps to address the situation and ensure the protection of the environment.

"It's our number one priority on the Navy base along with all the agencies we are partnering with," said Capt. Mike Ward, commanding officer of U.S. Naval Base Guam. "We've erected a unified command structure to respond to the incident. Our priority right now is to protect the environmentally sensitive area but we're also developing a salvage and tow plan to remove the vessel off the reef right so we can remove the hazard from the environment. We need to do that safely but as expeditiously as we can."

The Navy is working with the U.S. Coast Guard, Guam Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA, the responsible party and other organizations.

"As soon as we heard the news of the grounding, an environmental assessment team went out there to check for any possible damage that may have occurred to the reef or the sea turtles," said Anne Brooke, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas conservation program manager. "This is a joint effort by a host of agencies. We train for this kind of thing and are very proficient at this."

Narwhal Tusk Trafficker Convicted of Conspiracy and Money Laundering

Andrew L. Zarauskas, 60, of Union, N.J., was found guilty today by a federal jury in Bangor, Maine, of illegally trafficking and smuggling narwhal tusks, and associated money laundering crimes, announced Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division .
The defendant was convicted of conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, smuggling, and money laundering violations for buying narwhal tusks knowing the tusks had been illegally imported into the United States from Canada, as well as selling or attempting to sell the tusks after their illegal importation.

“The Justice Department takes seriously our responsibility to prosecute those who engage in the illegal trade of any protected wildlife species,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher.  “Zarauskas and his co-conspirators flouted U.S. law and international agreements that protect marine mammals such as the narwhal for their own personal financial benefit.  The Justice Department will continue to investigate and prosecute those engaged in this insidious trade in order to protect species for future generations to enjoy.”

"The success of this investigation was a direct result of the uncompromising cooperation between special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA and Environment Canada. It is this type of international teamwork which exemplifies the ongoing fight against illegal wildlife trafficking."  said William C. Woody, Assistant Director for Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This investigation is an example of excellent coordinated efforts between NOAA, Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement” said Logan Gregory, Special Agent In Charge for NOAA.   The protection of Marine Mammals and enforcement of the Marine Mammal Protection Act is a high priority for OLE and we will continue to work with our enforcement partners and the Department of Justice to ensure compliance.”

From 2002 to 2008, Zarauskas knowingly purchased approximately 33 narwhal tusks that he knew were illegally imported into the United States in violation of federal law.  A narwhal is a medium-sized whale with an extremely long tusk that projects from its upper left jaw, often referred to as the unicorn of the sea.   As marine mammals narwhals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).   It is illegal to import parts of marine mammals into the United States without the requisite permits/certifications, and without declaring the merchandise at the time of importation to U.S. Customs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Narwhal tusks are commonly collected for display purposes and can fetch large sums of money.

According to evidence presented at the trial, Zarauskas conspired with others, including persons located in Canada, to illegally import the protected tusks for re-sale in the United States and to launder the funds used to purchase the narwhal tusks by transporting, transmitting, or transferring checks and money orders from New Jersey to Canada, intending that the money be used for further illegal imports of narwhal tusks.

On Jan. 7, 2014, Jay G. Conrad, of Lakeland, Tenn., who had been charged in the same indictment, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally import and traffic narwhal tusks, conspiring to launder money, and illegally trafficking narwhal tusks.   On that same date, a plea agreement was also unsealed in which Eddie T. Dunn, of Eads, Tenn., pleaded guilty in the District of Alaska to conspiring to illegally traffic, and trafficking, narwhal tusks.

Throughout the conspiracy, Zarauskus and his co-conspirators made payments to the Canadian supplier for the narwhal tusks, by sending the payments to a mailing address in Bangor, Maine, or directly to the supplier in Canada.   The payments allowed the Canadian supplier to purchase and re-supply Zarauskus and Conrad with more narwhal tusks that they could then re-sell.   Conrad sold between $400,000 and $1 million worth of narwhal tusks and Dunn sold approximately $1.1 million worth of narwhal tusks as members of the conspiracy.

Earlier this week, President Obama announced the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, recognizing that record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in recent years.   Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking undermines security across nations.   While t he Department of Justice has long worked to protect threatened and endangered wildlife species through its enforcement of the Lacey Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, among other laws, the National Strategy identifies priority areas for increased interagency coordination, with the objectives of harnessing and strategically applying the full breadth of U.S. Government resources to end the pernicious trade in protected species both at home and abroad.

Zarauskus and Conrad are to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock in the District of Maine.   A sentencing date has not been set.   They each face a maximum of twenty years incarceration for their involvement in this narwhal tusk trafficking scheme, and a fine of up to $250,000. Dunn is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline in the District of Alaska on March 20, 2014, and may be imprisoned up to five years and fined $250,000. Co-defendant Gregory R. Logan is pending extradition from Canada to the District of Maine.
The case was investigated by agents from National Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and in coordination with Environmental Canada Wildlife Enforcement Division and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Todd S. Mikolop and James Nelson of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Statements of Associate Attorney General Tony West and Acting Assistant Attorney General of Enrd on the National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking

Today, the White House released the National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking.  The Department of Justice, along with the Departments of State and the Interior, are co-chairs of the U.S. Task Force established by President Obama to lead the implementation of this strategy.  On Thursday, Associate Attorney General Tony West will lead the U.S. Delegation’s participation at the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

"The Department is pleased to be a part of this interagency approach to combating illegal wildlife trafficking,” said Associate Attorney General West.  “Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions, has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years, with the increasing involvement of organized transnational criminal syndicates.  This trade undermines security, fuels corruption and contributes to the spread of disease, and it is decimating iconic animal populations.  The National Strategy identifies priority areas for interagency coordination, with the objectives of harnessing and strategically applying the full breadth of U.S. government resources.  Combating this problem will also require the shared understanding, commitment, and efforts of the world’s governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, corporations, civil society and individuals.   At this week’s London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, we hope other countries will join us in taking ambitious action to combat wildlife trafficking.”

The Department of Justice has long worked to protect threatened and endangered wildlife species through its enforcement of the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act, as well as related criminal statutes.

“The president has called upon DOJ and more than a dozen other federal agencies to combine forces to more effectively battle this pernicious trade, which is growing at an alarming rate and threatens the survival of protected species both at home and abroad,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert Dreher for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “The release of today’s National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking is a welcome next step in our longstanding efforts to protect threatened and endangered wildlife species.  Strong enforcement is critical to stopping those who kill and traffic in these animals, whether on land or in the oceans.  At the same time, the Strategy recognizes that enforcement alone is not enough to stop traffickers.  We must also work to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products.  This is not a fight that the United States can win alone; under the Strategy, we will build relationships with local and global partners who share our commitment to ending wildlife trafficking.”

The Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country bring criminal prosecutions under these laws against, for example, people who are found smuggling wildlife and plants into the United States. There is a major worldwide black market for some endangered species or products made from them.  The main federal agencies that the Division represents in this area are the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What Should You Expect From an Outfitter?

For most hunters, an outfitter just isn’t the guy who sells you the clothing, or even equipment.  Today, outfitters run the gambit from individual who act as guides or professional hunters to large organizations that essentially provide an all-inclusive hunting experience.  Those who provide the hunting experience usually supply travel, accommodation, licensing, and preparation and butchering of game. 

One such organization, north of the 48th parallel, is Quebec hunting outfitter.  While they focus on Caribou Hunting, they can provide the hunter with Black Bear, fishing and other small game hunting opportunities.  Because the they hunt the best areas in Canada, which happen to be the most stunning and inaccessible, they provide commercial airline transportation to Montreal and then a flight to their hunting camp by float plane – an experience in itself. 

Quebec hunting outfitter usually takes the hunter on a 6 day trip to Quebec’s Leaf River Herd where over 400,000 Caribou migrated between August to October.  The Leaf River runs from Ungava Bay to Lake Minto, nearly all the way across to the Hudson Bay.  The area is far North, rugged, fairly inaccessible, but stunningly beautiful and rich with game.

It an experience for which the hunter must prepare.  And, the best way to be prepared and have rewarding, yet safe experience is through a professional outfitter.

Sports Related Injuries: Know When to Seek Treatment

by Patrick Sweat, Staff Writer

2/5/2014 - Spring 2014 -- Living an active lifestyle can have many advantages. The health benefits that come along with staying physically active can make a big difference in our lives. There are certain risk factors, however, that accompany leading an active lifestyle: sports injuries. These injuries can result in pain, discomfort, loss of the enjoyment of life, and even more serious injuries.

While almost any part of your body can be injured to some degree while playing sports, the term "sports injury" is typically used for those that involve the musculoskeletal system--your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tissues.

Some of the most common sports injuries are sprains, strains, and knee injuries. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 5.5 million people seek treatment for knee problems each year. Mild knee injuries such as runner's knee and tendinitis are less severe, although they can still cause quite a bit of discomfort and can limit one from participating in activities. More severe knee injuries like bone bruises, meniscus tears, or damage to the four major supporting ligaments in the knee can be very painful and may require surgery and/or extensive physical therapy.

When to Seek Medical Treatment

No matter the severity, sports injuries should never be taken lightly. What may seem like a minor injury on the surface could have significant long-term effects if not treated properly. So what should you do when you've been injured? Actually, the first thing you should not do is attempt to play through the injury. If you begin feeling some pain or discomfort during a certain movement or activity, STOP! Continuing on with this movement or activity will only make your injury worse.

Instead, seek professional medical treatment if you experience any of the following:
  • Severe pain, swelling, or numbness

  • Inability to tolerate any weight on the injured area

  • Dull ache of a previous injury accompanied by increased swelling or joint instability

Who Can Treat Your Injury?

Many sports injuries can be treated by your primary health care provider, but each injury should be evaluated to ensure you're seeking the best possible care for your particular injury. Depending on the severity and type of injury, you may be referred to either an orthopedic surgeon or a physical therapist/physiotherapist. Orthopedic surgeons are doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries to bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. Physical therapists and physiotherapists can develop a rehabilitation program for long-term treatment of your injury to prevent further injuries. Severe sports injuries, as with any severe injury, should be treated immediately.

When to Treat at Home

If you are not experiencing any of the symptoms listed previously, it may be safe to treat your injury at home. The National Institutes of Health recommends using the RICE method, a four-step treatment process that should be administered immediately after the injury occurs and should continue for at least 48 hours.

Rest. Take a break from exercise or other activities that may further aggravate your injury.

Ice. Treat the injured area with ice packs for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day. Be sure not to apply the ice for longer than 20 minutes, as prolonged exposure could result in cold injury and/or frostbite.

Compression. Elastic wraps, special boots, air casts, splints and other compression products may help reduce swelling of the injured area. Ask your health care provider for advice on the best treatment for your injury.

Elevation. Keep the injured ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist elevated as much as possible to help reduce swelling, ideally above the level of your heart.

If your symptoms worsen or fail to improve after attempting to self-treat, you should check with a qualified medical professional.

The Bottom Line Sports injuries can vary greatly and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. These injuries should not be taken too lightly, as they could potentially lead to more serious injuries or have other long-term effects. If you are experiencing discomfort as a result of your activities, do not downplay or self-diagnose the injury, and don't think it will go away by itself with time. Listen to what your body is telling you. A proactive approach will ensure that you are taking the necessary steps to treat your injury and will help you get back to the activities you enjoy most.

Preventing Sports Injuries

Are you prone to sports injuries? Following these helpful tips can help you avoid them:
  • Stretch and warm up before exercising or playing any sport.

  • Cool down after exercising or playing sports.

  • Wear shoes that best suit your activity.

  • Use proper form or technique when exercising or playing sports.

  • Don't twist your knees when stretching--keep your feet as flat as possible.

  • Learn to land "soft" when jumping--bend your knees when landing to absorb shock.

  • Run or exercise on flat, soft surfaces--not on asphalt or concrete.

  • Most important of all, know your limits--don't try to do too much!