Still No Clear Innocence As Rancher’s Evasion Of Government Grassland Rent Explodes Media

Now, just about everybody across the land has heard at least a bit about a Nevada rancher’s conflict over back payments for his cattle grazing government-owned land.

Media sources at every level have touched on the issue with major wire service stories making front pages and airwaves giving peak time play. Each has an individual take on the issue at hand, and evidently nobody knows anything for certain.

Continue reading →

Preparedness In Case of Catastrophe Is Emphasis For Kansas ‘Prepper’ Expo At Holton

Survival skills become most important should natural disaster occur.

Special training and knowledge to assist with that most serious need is now available to the public.

“The Spring 2014 Kansas Prepper Expo, a survival and self-sufficiency program, is scheduled Saturday, May 3, at the Jackson County 4-H Building in Holton,” announced Bobby Spagnuolo, Topeka, vice president of the Kansas Prepper Expo, which hosts two events annually.

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Swine Disease Concerns Initiate Alarm Again About Wild Hog Populations

What is a big time sport to one is a major expensive harmful varmint to another.

Hunters travel major distances to Oklahoma, and even farther into Texas, for hunting wild hogs. 

Method of harvesting their prey varies from firearms to archery to hand weapons with dogs to a wide array of trapping, but the sportsmen are animate in the thrill of pursuit and harvest.

 So dramatic is it that those southern states have made big business of the wild populations in the millions drawing thousands of hunters annually from across the country.

 Completely contrasting are states north and northeast where wild hogs are considered most costly and complete menaces that are difficult to control, while hunting is discouraged, sometimes unlawful, other than efforts to destroy with intent to eliminate populations.

“Feral hogs are very destructive and costly to the state of Missouri,” emphasized Dan McMurtry, wildlife biologist serving the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, Columbia, Missouri.

“Hog hunting is not considered a sport in Missouri. While it is legal to shoot wild hogs, we are more concerned about controlling and eliminating populations, rather than encouraging hunting,” McMurtry emphasized.

“Feral hogs pose a serious concern to land owners. Their rooting, wallowing and feeding behaviors contribute to soil erosion, reduce water quality and damage agriculture crops and hay fields as well as destroy sensitive natural areas,” McMurtry pointed out. “Wild hogs destroy young wildlife, ground nesting birds, and could potentially even be bodily dangerous to humans.”

Some consider a much more serious problem with wild hogs is the spread of parasites and disease. “Feral hogs are known to carry swine influenza, swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis,” McMurtry explained.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control has reported that several hunters in the southeastern U.S. contracted brucellosis infections from field dressing feral hogs.

Disease spread by feral hogs has drawn increased attention again in recent weeks with the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) said to have sharply curtailed fall and spring farrowing’s, thus significantly reducing the nation’s hog numbers, and inflating prices.

First identified a year ago in this country, PEDv, while posing no health risk, is almost always fatal in newborn pigs, according to veterinarians.

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A feral hog has been defined as any hog, including Russian and European wild boar, that is not conspicuously identified by ear tags or other identification, and is roaming free on public or private land without the land manager’s or landowner’s permission.

McMurtry, Kansas Animal Health Commissioner Dr. Bill Brown, and others across the country including David Marks, Michigan wildlife disease biologist, have expressed concerns about the possibility of feral hogs further spreading PEDv.

“There is a new blood test being developed to detect if feral hogs are spreading PEDv, but actual testing of wild pigs is still months away.  It could develop into a very serious situation, especially since with wild animal disease surveillance there are so many unknowns,” Marks qualified.

Thus, added worries about the wild hogs in Missouri and Kansas.

    “It’s difficult to know how many feral hogs there are in Missouri. Estimates vary from 10,000 to 15,000, with populations spread across the southern half of the state. This number has developed over the past 15 years,” explained McMurtry, who has requested reporting of feral hog sightings to the USDA Wildlife Services, 573-449-3033.

In clarification, a feral hog has been defined as any hog, including Russian and European wild boar, that is not conspicuously identified by ear tags or other identification, and is roaming free on public or private land without the land manager’s or landowner’s permission.

While there have been feral hogs since the days of open range, the inventory expanded when hog hunting for recreation began to gain popularity.

“People began raising European wild boar as a form of alternative agriculture, and for hunting on licensed shooting areas. Then, it wasn’t long before many of these hogs escaped, or were released on public land,” McMurtry clarified.

      “Release of feral hogs on public land or on private land that is not fenced to contain them is illegal, and should also be reported,” McMurtry added.

       Feral hogs can breed at any time of the year, starting at six months of age, producing one to two litters a year, typically with a half dozen or more piglets surviving, and can live up to eight years of age, while weighing 300 pounds. “As a result, feral hog populations can double in a short amount of time, without control measures,” McMurtry calculated.

Again emphasizing that Missouri seeks to discourage the hog hunting culture, feral hogs are not native to the state, and may be killed in any number at any time, with the hunter permitted to utilize the meat, while understanding the risks of consumption if undercooked.

“No permit is needed to kill feral hogs in Missouri, except during deer and turkey seasons, and in reality, hunters afield for other game should shoot feral hogs on sight,” McMurtry said.

       Still, eradicating feral hogs is difficult. “Concentrated shooting and trapping efforts by state and federal employees, and also private landowners, have brought some success in Missouri,” McMurtry said.

      “Our goal is complete eradication of feral hogs in Missouri. We have made advances, but despite continuing efforts, populations moving from other states and continued releases seem to make it impossible,” McMurtry evaluated.

       Brown at the Kansas Department of Agriculture in Topeka said, “Kansas still has a feral hog population, but it was more of a problem in earlier years. Fortunately, we are an envy of other states in our eradication efforts initiated in 2006. It took both legislation and funding to make our eradication program the success it has been.

“Making it illegal to hunt feral hogs in Kansas set precedence for our efforts, and through a combination of practices, the state wild hog counts have been reduced from as many as 3,000, to an estimated population of about 400, existing at this time. We’ve made tremendous progress, with 10 local populations eradicated to date,” Brown contended.

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Aerial gunning has proven highly effective in efforts to eradicate feral hog populations in Kansas, according to Kansas Animal Health Commissioner Dr. Bill Brown. “We can take numbers in a few hours or days, compared to yearlong trapping efforts,” explained Brown at the Kansas Department of Agriculture in Topeka. Ground work lays the foundation for the helicopter, he pointed out.

       “Aerial gunning is a highly effective control means where large numbers can be taken in a few hours or days, while trapping would require a year to match the success,” said Brown, adding that night vision shooting and snaring are other eradication efforts.

      “Kansas is the model for states that have new and emerging wild hog populations,” Brown said. “Since inception of the eradication program started in Kansas, aerial shootings have taken 2,337 hogs, and ground work has taken 1,652 hogs. That’s a total of 3,989 hogs taken by Wildlife Services, including ‘border pigs,’ but not counting the 385 feral pigs taken at Fort Riley.”

       Cooperation is the key to eradication success. “We have worked with state and federal agencies in Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado and Nebraska on ‘border pigs.’ One hundred percent landowner and agency cooperation is the number one key to being successful. We must have a door to door salesman approach,” Brown insisted.

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Feral hogs’ rooting, wallowing and feeding behaviors contribute to soil erosion, reduce water quality and damage agriculture crops and hay fields as well as destroy sensitive natural areas.

       “Kansas is miles ahead from where we started,” Brown explained. “Continued ‘maintenance’ along southern and eastern borders and surveillance are essential. Our challenge will be to put out little fires before they become big fires.

       “We need to make our current laws stronger, and designate an agency to strictly enforce those laws. There can be zero tolerance for illegal translocation. It’s essential to be proactive now,” Brown demanded.

       Feral hogs cannot be hunted on public land and not on private property unless the owner is working to remove or eradicate the pigs.

      Wild pigs have been trapped and seen in southwest Kansas as well as northern Kansas near the Nebraska border. Kansas counties where wild pigs can readily be found are Barber, Bourbon, Cowley, Elkhart, Morton and Douglas Counties. Bourbon County near the Missouri border has the highest populations.

      In summary, McMurty pointed out that Congress has appropriated $20 million to manage damage caused by feral, or free-ranging, swine through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

      “This will be the first united wide-ranging effort to manager this non-native species,” McMurty said.

      Feral hog populations are said to total 5 million head in 39 states, with annual damage and control estimated at $1.5 billion.

      “Researchers suggest that each feral hog annually causes $200 worth of direct property damage, not including damage to the environment, native species and disease potentials,” McMurtry summarized.

Preparedness In Case Of Catastrophe Emphasis For Kansas ‘Prepper’ Expo

Survival skills become most important should natural disaster occur.

Special training and knowledge to assist with that most serious need is now available to the public.

“The Spring 2014 Kansas Prepper Expo, a survival and self-sufficiency program, is scheduled Saturday, May 3, at the Jackson County 4-H Building in Holton,” announced Bobby Spagnuolo, Topeka, vice president of the Kansas Prepper Expo, which hosts two events annually. Continue reading →

Still No Clear Innocence In Rancher’s Evasion Of Government Grassland Rent

Now, just about everybody across the land has heard at least a bit about a Nevada rancher’s conflict over back payments for his cattle grazing government-owned land.

Media sources at every level have touched on the issue with major wire service stories making front pages and airwaves giving peak time play. Each has an individual take on the issue at hand, and evidently nobody knows anything for certain.

New quirks to the saga’s dilemma continue forthcoming, with opinions pro and con flaring some hot and others most pacified.

Best analysis still at this point, there are two sides to every story. Somebody’s guilty, but more than likely both parties need to take some place. Whether that plays out, time will tell, or perhaps not.

Considering there is a vast inkling on the matter, a different angle on background seems appropriate before delving into the topic at hand.

According to reams of compiled reports from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) , the federal government owns about 660 million acres in the United States, nearly 90 percent in the western half of the country.

Actually one of every two acres in the “West,” is government owned, including national parks, historic areas, oil and gas exploration leases, recreation areas, and, the issue now, acreages for leasing to individuals to graze livestock.

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Cliven Bundy, Bunkerville, Nevada, is a recognized figure around the country, as the lifelong rancher’s photo has been shown in every media during recent days since controversy has risen about his possible failure to pay lease payments for grazing cattle on federal government owned land. (CNN photo)

Livestock ranchers pay a grazing fee established by a presidential Executive Order in 1986. Currently, the grazing fee is $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM), or the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.

Reports indicate the figure is adjusted each year, according to current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices and the cost of livestock production, while the present lease rate is the same  in 2013.

Bureau of Land Management rulings state that beyond paying a grazing fee, ranchers leasing government acreages are responsible for managing the land and resources, including caring for wildlife habitat, managing noxious weeds, and decreasing potential wildfire fuels.

Leasing arrangements between ranchers and the federal government have typically been long standing without much reported disgruntlement until now.

The rancher in the news now, Cliven Bundy and his family previously had Nevada grazing permits on approximately 600,000 acres in an area owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management called Gold Butte.

In 1998, this land was declared habitat for the desert tortoise, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act, making it off limits for cattle grazing.

But, Bundy’s disgruntlement  actually started five years earlier, when he stopped paying the federal grazing fee in 1993.

Bundy admits owing, yet is refusing the federal government back fees totaling about $300,000. However, BLM tabulations calculate that number is more than $1 million.

In July 2013, Bundy was issued a third Court Order directing him to remove his livestock from the land within 45 days.

If the animals were not removed, according to the order, they could be seized by the BLM. Since that time, the family refused to comply with the order.

In early April, after years of violations of multiple court orders, the BLM began rounding up all cattle that were trespassing on the land.

They were confronted by unarmed protesters supporting Bundy who were blocking a local bridge. A group of the Bundy’s family supporters, some armed, confronted the BLM and requested the cattle back.

 After negotiations under the same bridge, the BLM eventually backed down and returned the cattle.

 “My family has preemptive, adjudicated livestock water rights filed with the state of Nevada. They were established in 1877 when the first pioneers entered the valley. Among those first pioneers were my grandparents from my mother’s side. My father either bought or inherited his Nevada state livestock water rights and I, in turn, have done the same,” Cliven Bundy claimed.

However, a U.S. News & World Report opinion analyzed: “Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze was right when he said, Mr. Bundy owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million. Public lands belong to the American public. Regardless of his opinion of the Nevada Constitution, Mr. Bundy owes all of us that tidy sum. And he should us owe much, much more.”

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It was a standoff between law enforcement and some ranch family supporters when Bureau of Land Management attempted to claim cattle owned by Cliven Bundy in payment for past due government land grazing. To prevent injuries, lawmen backed off, but considerable coverage of the issue at hand is continuing. (CNN photo)

“This is my personal view.  I view Cliven Bundy as another rancher, I think he loves the land and the cattle business. I believe his philosophy differs from our views in the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association. I respect his position and tip my hat to him for sticking to his guns,” said Ron Torell, president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association.

“We’re in a moment of critical mass. We have so anti-government groups who believe the federal government is working against them, who believe Obama is secretly a Muslim, a communist, or not even an American,” he said. “There are people who will stand up to the federal government and risk their lives to do so,” contended Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the Bundys. I think they were completely mistreated by the federal government. But I still think it’s important to point out that this land does not belong to them and that’s not a minor distinction, it’s the essence of private property,”  evaluated Tucker Carlson on Fox News.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid’s role in the siege at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, has only brought questions about certain unethical dealings which are coming to the forefront.

Most commentary in recent days has been about claims that in a public interview Cliven Bundy was ‘advocating slavery.’

Critics now cite how the “New York Times” had, in fact, taken comments out of contents, taken advantage of his provincial vocabulary, spinning it against him, and ignoring actual meaning of Bundy’s statement.

 

 

Truly Exquisite In Every Way

“A beautiful woman.”

Always smiling, friendly, interested in another, busy mind and hands, immaculate home sweet home with delicious enjoyable mealtime, yet remembering her roots, often crediting those who’d been part of her life

One comment she made 50 years ago, we’ve vividly retained: “When you’re born, God knows exactly what you’re going to do, right down to the day you’ll die.”

That’s Freda Fisher, our most fondly remembered aunt,  who passed away recently.

Common to say nice things about somebody who’s gone, we’ve  always felt the same.

First memories are of Freda and husband Ted living in town, and playing at their home with cousin Brad, and cousin Judy around, too.

Big deal to a town kid, who wanted to be a cowboy, when the Fishers moved to their farm. They had a horse, Sandy, and there was a creek for fishing; that was the best life imaginable.

Then, the Fishers moved back into town. Spending the night, results came in that Ted had been defeated in his campaign for sheriff. Likely then one of the saddest times for Freda and Ted, now in reflection, it was the best thing that  happened to them.

Ted Fisher became a highway patrolman, and Freda, a beautician, living where the call came. Happy, prosperous, adventurous with friends throughout the world

Freda and Ted finally were moved to Topeka; Ted as a patrolman from an airplane, and Freda owned multiple beauty parlors. Sadly, we were “too busy making a living, raising a family and riding horses,” and apologetically didn’t make efforts to visit them.

Freda was there assisting when her parents, our grandparents, died, and when Dad succumbed. Thankfully, Freda, Ted and Judy were at Mom’s bedside throughout her terrible cancer sickness; we are eternally grateful, Freda and Judy were beside her at time of passing.

Freda and Ted visited us occasionally, and came to our horse sale several times, seemingly glad to be there. Visits to their home in recent years were always greeted with most congeniality.

Even as Freda’s sickness worsened, she still smiled. Forever, Freda Fisher: a truly beautiful woman.

Reminds us of Ecclesiastes 6:10: “Whatever happens, destiny is fixed.” And, Psalm 112:5: “She is a good person, generous, solid reputation, heart ready, trusting in God, ever blessed. An honored life. A beautiful life.”

 +++ALLELUIA+++