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As deer hunters across the United States head to their tree stands and ground blinds this week, there’s good news from whitetail biologists – that the fatal hemorrhagic diseases that affected deer at historic levels in 2007 and 2012 had minimal impact in 2014! You’ll also read about a college event intended to find the “Most Outdoorsy School,” and much more!
Report: Hemorrhagic Disease Had Minimal Impact on Deer in 2014!
The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) reports that hemorrhagic disease (HD), including EHD and bluetongue virus, has had minimal impact on deer in 2014, and the danger of a serious outbreak this year has now passed.
Transmitted by biting gnats, the disease usually hits deer hardest in late summer and early fall, especially in unusually hot, dry years.
“A small number of reports are trickling in from scattered states, but we’re not seeing any nationwide trends or large outbreaks this year,” said Dr. David Stallknecht with the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) at the University of Georgia. “This year is definitely below average so far.”
Stallknecht said one or two positive cases had come in from each of a handful of states scattered in the South and North, including Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and New Jersey.
“We won’t see a big outbreak at this point. I expect a few cases to keep trickling in, but we’ve never had a large outbreak pop up this late in the year,” he said.
It is great news following a string of serious outbreaks in the past decade, with 2007 and 2012 seeing the two worst outbreaks of all time. In 2012, HD was confirmed in nearly 30 states and killed tens of thousands of deer. Stallknecht said he believes a cold winter likely reduced populations of the midges that transmit the virus.
“We had an unusually cold winter, and then we had good rains in most regions up until the last part of summer,” he said. “I suspect these helped.”
Missouri Gun Bill Prevails in Veto Override Session
In a special session of the Missouri House of Representatives September 10, Senate Bill 656 received the necessary votes to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s earlier veto of the measure.
Among its provisions, SB 656 allows Missouri school districts to designate a teacher or administrator to qualify as a school protection officer and carry a firearm on school property with the proper training. Current Missouri law already permits a school district to allow those with a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm on school property – and SB 656 allows school personnel to undergo extensive police training. The bill also allows concealed-carry permit qualification with a revolver or semi-automatic pistol, rather than requiring qualification separately.
Further, the measure prohibits health care professionals to inquire about a patient’s ownership or possession of firearms and bars the documentation of such information into a database.
The House approved the override in a bi-partisan 117-to-39 vote.
Bill Would Permit Pennsylvania CO’s to Wear Body Cameras
Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough has urged the state Senate to act quickly to pass legislation that would allow Wildlife Conservation Officers working for the Game Commission and Waterways and conservation officers working for the state Fish and Boat Commission to wear body cameras in performance of their official duties.
The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly has supported House Bill 2178, which was sponsored by state Rep. Dan Moul, R-Adams County. The bill passed the House in June by a vote of 191-5.
Hough urged the Senate to follow suit.
“As most Pennsylvanians know, the fall hunting seasons are almost here, and our officers already have begun ramping up patrols to stop poaching activity and other illegal practices,” Hough said. “Mobile video-recording devices have been shown to make the jobs of law-enforcement officers safer, and a timely vote by Senators to allow our Wildlife Conservation Officers to wear the cameras now, as they enter their busiest time of year, would have an immediate impact with measurable results.”
The use of body cameras already has been expressly approved by the state Legislature for other police agencies statewide. The devices, which can be clipped onto an officer’s uniform, are similar to the dashboard cameras installed in most law-enforcement vehicles. The mobile cameras are considered especially suitable for Wildlife Conservation Officers, who often patrol while on foot.
Ten Universities Compete for ‘Most Outdoorsy’
For the first time, 10 universities across the U.S. are engaging in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, an initiative of the Outdoor Foundation, that kicked off September 27 and runs through November 22. For eight weeks, schools will go head-to-head for the title of National Champion — the most “Outdoorsy School in America.”
The challenge aims to use the creativity and ingenuity of college students to reverse what the foundation calls “Nature Deficit Disorder,” as well as the inactivity trend prevalent among young people today.
Schools competing in the Challenge include Appalachian State University, California State University, Long Beach, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, George Mason University, James Madison University, Michigan Technological University, University of Central Florida, University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Spelman College.
The Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge is simple; universities will compete to see which campus can get the most people outside and active. Through contests, prizes and rivalry, universities will provide incentives to their student bodies and larger communities to get outside and active.
Prizes include the title of “Most Outdoorsy Individual” as well as great gear, a campus-wide celebration, head-to-toe outfitting by The North Face, and an internship with the Outdoor Foundation and more.
Quote of the Week
“The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.”
– Sen. George G. Vest, arguing the 1925 Missouri legal case, Burden v. Hornsby
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.