Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 14, 2014

Spaulding Outdoors: The inside on Indiana's outside

By Jack Spaulding Guest Columnist
Greensburg Daily News

---- — Game Bird Habitat Funds for Landowners

Private landowners looking to improve wildlife habitat on their property may qualify for financial assistance through the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, particularly if they want to benefit bobwhite quail and ring-neck pheasants.

Bobwhite quail and ring-neck pheasant are prized game birds. However, populations of both have suffered from permanent habitat loss or lack of maintenance on existing habitat.

“It used to be that farming practices created and maintained a lot of quail and pheasant habitat,” said Gary Langell, private lands program manager for DNR Fish & Wildlife. “More ground was typically disturbed each year than what was planted and harvested. Many of those disturbed areas would remain idle for two or three years and provided ideal nesting and winter cover. It is this type of habitat that we are lacking, but it requires landowners to create and maintain it.”

The DNR Fish & Wildlife’s Private Lands Unit works with landowners to restore such habitat. A district wildlife biologist will meet with the landowner, inspect the property and prepare a management plan. The biologist also will discuss financial assistance programs through DNR Fish & Wildlife to help offset the cost of habitat restoration or maintenance. Qualified landowners are reimbursed in the amount agreed to by the DNR Fish & Wildlife. Enhanced cost-share assistance is available to landowners in any of the Division’s quail or pheasant priority areas.

“Each district wildlife biologist has a quail or pheasant priority area,” said Josh Griffin, south region private lands supervisor for DNR Fish & Wildlife. “The more pheasant and quail habitat we can create or restore in these areas, the greater the potential for these birds to disburse into other areas of good habitat and maintain sustainable populations.”

To determine if your land is in a quail or pheasant priority area, see dnr.IN.gov/fishwild/2352.htm. For more information on quail or pheasant priority areas, or for information on developing wildlife habitat on your property, contact your local district wildlife biologist. A directory for district wildlife biologists is at dnr.IN.gov/fishwild/2716.htm.

Fish Limits On West Boggs Creek Reservoir Relaxed

Starting Saturday, February 8, anglers at West Boggs Creek Reservoir in Daviess County will be allowed to harvest more fish.

The reservoir will undergo a renovation consisting of draining the water and eradicating the fish population. As the reservoir refills, it will be stocked with the appropriate numbers of game fish. The goal is to restore a balanced, self-sustaining fish population.

A temporary change to size and bag limits will allow anglers to harvest more fish before the lake is drained. The rule change is in effect from February 8 to October 10. The bag limit for largemouth bass on West Boggs will increase to 10, and there will be no size limit. Bag limits for all other species will be double the normal daily bag limit.

Two fish salvage operations will also take place in spring and fall for adult bass and catfish.

The lake is scheduled to reopen to the public in February 2015.

Hunting and Fishing Bill Passes U.S. House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to pass H.R. 3590, a bi-partisan package of pro-sportsmen legislation. The measure, which passed by a vote of 268-154, includes vital language ensuring over 700 million acres of federal public lands remain open to fishing and hunting.

H.R. 3590, sponsored by Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), addresses the top concerns of American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters. Known as the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2013, it includes many important provisions for the future of hunting.

“This legislation is extremely important for the sportsmen’s community and the future of access to public lands,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA president and CEO. “We’re only half way home, however. Sportsmen must urge their Senators to take up these important bills today.”

A key feature of H.R. 3590 is the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) supported “Open Until Closed” language, which spells out hunting, fishing and recreational shooting are legitimate and important activities on the more than 700 million acres of federal land managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The language will help stop frivolous lawsuits brought by animal rights and anti-hunting organizations when federal agencies move to open land to sportsmen. The bill is similar to the 1997 Refuge Improvement Act USSA championed to make hunting and fishing “priority public uses” on National Wildlife Refuge lands.

In addition to “Open Until Closed,” the bill includes language to: prohibit the U.S. EPA from regulating lead ammunition and fishing tackle; allow for the importation of 41 legally harvested trophies taken before Polar Bears were listed as an endangered species in 2008; promote the construction of shooting ranges on public lands; and permanently authorize the online sale of duck stamps.

Craigslist Posting Leads to Search Warrant and Charges

You can buy just about anything on the internet nowadays. Indiana Conservation Officers learned first hand recently when Officer Nick Wilson was tipped off about a person selling native Indiana wildlife on Craigslist. The only problem is it is unlawful for someone to sell animals or reptiles native to the State of Indiana without a required permit.

Indiana Conservation Officers were able to exchange e-mails and text messages with the seller, 20 year old Robert Gaskin of Indianapolis, and arrange a date and time to meet for the sale and exchange.

On February 7 about 8:30pm, a plain clothes officer met Gaskin at his home in the 3300 hundred block of Chase Street on the Indianapolis Southside. While there, the officer made a purchase of one red-eared slider turtle and two green frogs. While at the residence, the officer could see drug paraphernalia in plain view lying around the residence.

After leaving the house, officers were able to obtain a search warrant later that night. With the assistance of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the officers executed the warrant about 1:00am.

While searching, officers also discovered additional drug paraphernalia throughout the house.

Gaskin is facing numerous charges including: Illegal Sale of Wildlife under $500 (C Misdemeanor); Failure to Procure a Resident Fishing License (C Misdemeanor); and Possession of Paraphernalia (A Infraction).

Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net or by writing to him in care of this publication.