Hunting News

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Face of Defense: Florida Guardsman to Appear on Fishing TV Show

By Army Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa
Florida National Guard

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Feb. 24, 2015 – A National Guard soldier will be featured tomorrow and Thursday on a nationally televised sport-fishing show, during which he’ll be seen reeling in bass, sailfish and even an alligator.

Maj. Peter Jennison of the Florida Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, along with his son, Morgan, will appear on a taped episode of NBC Sports’ show “Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller.”

The fishing show hosted by professional angler Peter Miller is filmed in locations across Florida. Jennison’s two-day episode was shot in late January, and it included salt-water fishing for sailfish off of the coast of Miami Beach and freshwater bass fishing in the Everglades.

Surreal Experience

“It was surreal to be surrounded by such skilled fishermen,” Jennison, a 20-year-veteran of the Florida National Guard, said. “Peter Miller and his entire crew were incredible professionals. They treated us like absolute royalty every step of the way. Not only did we learn some highly technical fishing skills, we [also] had a ton of fun doing it.”

Jennison said he and his son caught seven sailfish during the saltwater portion of the episode -- which broke the show’s previous one-day record of five sailfish caught -- and they also reeled in two sharks. The crew released the sailfish and the sharks, but kept three mahi fish for dinner that night.

On the second day, he said, they caught more than 50 fish in the expansive Everglades, including bass, brim, oscar, mudfish, crappie and gar.

“We even caught one alligator that ate some of the bass we were reeling in,” Jennison said. “But the alligator wasn’t harmed.”

A Mutual Honor

Miller explained that the excursion with Jennison and his son was the first time in the show’s six seasons that the guests and crew have “hooked and caught a triple header” of sailfish. He also said that fishing with the soldier was an honor.

“Watching (Jennison) and his son smiling from ear to ear while battling 8-foot-long sailfish all day –- the fastest fish in the ocean, clocked at 72 miles per hour -– was amazing,” Miller said. “They both share the same passion for the outdoors, and this trip gave them the perfect platform to further strengthen their father-son bond.

“As I watched them laughing and taking some ‘selfies,’ I couldn’t help but think of how fortunate we are, to be afforded our freedoms because of the selfless acts of our Army National Guardsmen,” he continued. “Taking them fishing was my little way of saying ‘thank you’ and I look forward to doing it again soon.”

To Jennison, the honor was mutual.

“After over 20 years of service in the Florida Army National Guard, and nearly three years deployed, it was an extreme honor and privilege for me to spend those few days fishing with my son Morgan,” Jennison explained. “But the opportunity to share with the world a little about the incredible career I’ve had in the National Guard was equally rewarding. It’s my hope that somebody will watch ‘Bass 2 Billfish’ and be inspired to join the Florida National Guard like I did.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

“Did you ever get to see an elephant in the wild before they became extinct?”

February 11, 2015

Implementation Plan for the National Strategy

By John Cruden, Catherine Novelli and Dan Ashe

“Did you ever get to see an elephant in the wild before they became extinct?”  This is a question children may soon be asking unless we take immediate action.  Wildlife trafficking–not just of elephants, but also of rhinos, tigers, great apes, exotic birds, and many other species–has exploded in recent years to become a multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise with increasingly grave and potentially irreversible consequences.  The scourge of wildlife trafficking threatens conservation efforts, national security, the rule of law, regional stability, and the sustainable livelihoods of communities.  So what are we doing to stop this problem?  

Today, the United States launched an Implementation Plan for the President’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which will be a roadmap to fighting poaching and illegal wildlife trade.  The plan focuses on three key areas:  strengthening law enforcement domestically and globally, reducing demand, and building international cooperation.  Wildlife trafficking is a global problem that demands a global solution.  We are determined to be a part of that solution, and we will continue to work closely in our efforts with foreign governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, community leaders, and civil society to achieve this goal.

Strong law enforcement is critical to stopping criminals engaged in wildlife crime.  The U.S. Department of Justice has indicted, prosecuted, and secured convictions in numerous cases of trafficking in internationally protected species, such as elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn, narwhal tusk,   turtles, and reptiles.  Investigative efforts led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service targeted traffickers in rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory, and other wildlife products, concentrating on organized smuggling rings, middlemen, and art and antique dealers.  Operation Crash–named after the collective term for a herd of rhinoceros–has led to significant prison terms and fines for those involved, as well as the forfeiture of millions of dollars in cash, gold bars, rhino horn, and luxury vehicles and jewelry.

To respond effectively to wildlife trafficking, most countries need to enact more robust laws while enhancing their investigative, law enforcement, and judicial capacity to stem the corruption and illicit flow of money associated with wildlife trafficking.  In 2014, the Department of State’s capacity-building efforts centered on training programs for our foreign counterparts in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, strengthening national legislative, investigative, prosecutorial, and judicial processes to enforce wildlife laws.  The Department of State supported approximately 20 training programs across the law enforcement spectrum, helping more than 30 countries combat wildlife trafficking more effectively.  The programs also provided an opportunity to improve international cooperation on wildlife trafficking investigations, since this international threat requires a transnational response.

Many Americans are surprised to learn that our nation ranks among the highest in the consumption of wildlife and wildlife products, both legal and illegal. To demonstrate global leadership and limit opportunities open to traffickers in the United States, we have begun tightening domestic regulations around the trade in wildlife, and elevated awareness of the plight of elephants, rhinos and other highly trafficked species in an effort to curtail demand.  In 2014, the Fish and Wildlife Service banned all commercial imports of ivory into the United States, and will propose a near complete ban on trade in ivory within the United States this year.  And we destroyed six tons of ivory taken in law enforcement raids and seizures over the past 20 years to send a global message that ivory must be rendered valueless as a commodity and the trade in elephant ivory crushed.

Building on these efforts, we will continue to take measures in the United States to enhance our own law enforcement capabilities while supporting foreign governments with technical assistance, training, and analytical tools to build their capacity.  We will also use diplomatic cooperation tools, such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, to bolster international action on combating wildlife trafficking.

Decreasing demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife products is critical.  In cooperation with our partners, we will continue to raise public awareness of the harmful impact from these purchases through public service announcements, media campaigns, and community outreach.  We will work with the tourism and transportation sectors, including airlines, hotel chains, restaurants and online retailers to support their commitment to halt the sale of illegal wildlife and wildlife products.  We will encourage foreign governments and corporations in major consumer countries to lead by example and eliminate illegal wildlife and wildlife products from official functions while strengthening local policies and enforcement.

Our diplomatic engagement on this issue is at the highest levels of government, and coordinated on-the-ground efforts.  While we aim to take the profit out of wildlife crime and increase the risks for its perpetrators, we are also fully committed to helping people in wildlife/biodiversity hotspots by strengthening social and economic incentives in their communities to protect wildlife. To be successful, conservation efforts must benefit both wildlife and the people who share an ecosystem.  To cite just one key example, wild elephant populations generate orders of magnitude more in revenue to local economies from tourism than they ever can from the illegal sale of their ivory.

Many protected and endangered species faced a difficult year in 2014.  Elephants reached a dangerous tipping point with an average of more than 20,000 African elephants killed per year since 2010.  Pangolins, which are found in tropical areas in Asia and Africa and closely resemble a scaly anteater, are now the most trafficked species to date.  A record number of rhinos were killed in South Africa last year, with 1,215 animals poached in 2014 alone.  Despite this grim picture, there is still reason for hope.  When the Chinese government joined international efforts to end the consumption of shark fin soup–which has contributed to the deaths of some 70 million sharks each year–by banning its consumption at state dinners, shark fin sales reportedly dropped by 50-70 percent.  This demonstrates that progress is possible when governments take action, civil society raises awareness, and companies refuse to support wildlife trafficking.

Given the enormous consequences of the scourge of wildlife trafficking, we all have a moral obligation to fight it.  Future generations are relying on us to take on a leadership role and act now.  Do you want to help?  Share this blog and let others know the importance of ending the illegal trade in wildlife!

The authors are Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Assistant Attorney General of the United States for the Environment and Natural Resources, respectively

Monday, February 2, 2015

How to Select a Proper Boat Lift

Responsible boat ownership means not leaving your watercraft adrift in water during the off-seasons of the year. When not in use, boats, jet skis, and other watercraft will do best when stored away from the water. This is because prolonged exposure to the harsh elements in and around water can result in premature erosion of paint, metal, and plastic - this means more frequent maintenance and pricey repair bills. The easiest way to take excellent care of your watercraft and prolong its life is to keep its exposure to the water and other elements of Mother Nature at a minimum. This means purchasing and installing a proper lift, and using it to keep your equipment out of the water whenever you're not using it. Order today to protect your watercraft tomorrow.

Choosing a personal boat or skiff lift begins in deciding the features you must have in a lift. Do you want your lift to include a storage bay for your watercraft, or are you satisfied with using a storage tarp or other protective solution? Should the lifting mechanism be manually-operated, or electronic or even hydro-electric? Also, some lifts can not just lift watercraft out of the water, but angle and transport them up to 180 degrees away from the water. This would be a handy feature to look for if you plan on transporting your watercraft to and from the water (such as on your truck, or towed behind your vehicle).

The most common type of boat lift available features four posts for stability, and a manual lift mechanism that is operated using a hand-crank. This entry-level type of lift will do the least damage to your budget, while still enabling you to properly care for your watercraft. However, as this lift is very economical in style, you may find that you have to enter the water in order to properly secure your watercraft to it. If you would prefer to not get when transferring your watercraft to and from your lift, you'll want to consider investing in a more expensive lift that offers its own miniature-sized dock that will enable you to walk alongside your watercraft when guiding it to and from dock.