"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Support Needed For Senior Citizen Fishing License Bill
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

It is crunch time for House Bill 1299, the so-called Senior Citizen fishing license bill. That controversial concept probably will be called to the floor of the house some time soon. And it surely will die a seventh time unless the people (or at least a good many of them) get their duly elected representatives to back the measure.

Thatís the way it is. HB 1299 passed the House Natural Resources Committee last Wednesday (February 14) and will probably--as well as I can tell you--be on the floor of that chamber some time soon. They may get to it right away. There it is going to need help from everybody. It is believed by insiders that this is, indeed, itís last shot--that the state will continue to give away money that rightfully belongs to the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the people of the state.

If the bill gets to third reading in the House, and is ultimately adopted, it still must pass the Senate, but that chamber is Republican in numbers and is believed to be offering a good shot. We will just have to wait to see how the wind blows.

Conservationists and conservation organizations throughout the state are urging their constituents and others to call or contact their representatives for support of the measure.

The bill passed the house last Friday as a compromise. Very briefly it "grandfathers in" all those now 64 (born before April 1, 1943) and those now 65 who do not now require a fishing license. They will never have to buy a license. In the future any person born after March 31, 1943 may buy an annual license for $3.00 as they become 65 years old, or a lifetime license for $17.00.

The DNR will receive $2.5 million dollars in Wallop-Breaux federal excise tax funds over the next 10 years as a result of this legislation should it become law.

SNOW CONSENSUS--Having talked yesterday (Monday, February 19) with a few folks involved in wildlife management, the consensus seems to be that it is a bit early to tell what snow did to the critters, where, and when. It is a bit early to tell.

Bob Porch, the pheasant man and a very knowledgeable biologist at Willow Slough, sounds a note of encouragement with the notion (or sneaky feeling) that it wonít be too bad. The thaw was on there yesterday, but it is difficult to predict what that will do.

ďA lot depends on habitat,Ē says Porch, who explains that we have gone through weather cycles before that made us suspect bad damage to the critters (especially pheasants), but that the wildlife always turns up when the snow turns down. There will be some problems where the habitat consists mostly of grass, Porch notes, but adds that heavier habitat helps.

Eastward from the stateís western border, Jason Wade, manager of the Pigeon River State Fish and Wildlife Area, sees only about nine inches of snow, and doubts there will be great damage to wildlife. Temp was in the low 30s there yesterday.

The snow situation is worse in the northern two-thirds of the state.

Dr. Jim Mitchell, deer biologist for the DFW with offices at Bloomington, says they have only an inch of snow, or so, there. No problem for deer.

There was, however. Some ice involved between in the area south of Indianapolis, and that could deal out some concern.

The southern third of the state is not threatened.

READER WRITES: ďI am facilitating a workshop for anyone interested in becoming a Frogwatch USA www.frogwatch.org volunteer on March 10th, at Camp Cullom Nature Center (near Frankfort, IN) The workshop will also be a platform to launch the Central Indiana Frog Watchers Local Chapter, it will be open to anyone, but participation in Frogwatch USA is encouraged.Ē

Other readers interested in volunteer work for the amphibians can contact Wendell Zetterberg, Jr by telephone (765-296-2753), or on line: at: http://wendellsfrogblog.tripod.com/  

BACKYARD--On March 3 the Indiana Wildlife Federation is offering a workshop to help you make the most of your backyard wildlife habitat!  Aimed specifically at owners of small habitat areas, the day-long workshop will include sessions on planting native species, attracting specific wildlife, butterflies, birds, water sources, insect control, and much more.  Get valuable tips from professionals and trained habitat stewards.

The workshop will from 9am to 4pm at Gander Mountain Lodge, 6043 Lima Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46818.

Pre-registration is required.  Cost is $35, or free to IWF members.  A one-year membership to IWF costs only $25, and comes with many benefits, including a subscription to our magazine, Hoosier Conservation.  Attendees should bring a sack lunch. 

For more information, please contact the office of the IWF at (317) 875-9453 or visit its web site at www.indianawildlife.org.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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