Balto. Co. Bill 42-16 Partial Success

MDWFA staff members Greg Tracey and Paul Donhauser attended the Baltimore County Council legislative session on July 5, 2016 concerning Bill 42-16, which, in its original form (a) prohibits possession of firearms and all knives on County property, and (b) removes the current exemption for “dogs being used or trained for hunting” to the County’s law requiring that dogs be leashed on County property.

The bill passed last night on a vote of 4-3, with Councilmembers Kach, Crandell, and Marks voting against it (in our favor). Prior to its passing, the amendment clarifying “dangerous weapons” (as opposed to unilaterally prohibiting ALL knives) and exempting hunters from the firearms prohibition was adopted. Another amendment was introduced by Councilman Kach to exempt Handgun Wear & Carry permit holders from the firearms prohibition, which did not pass (Councilmembers Kach, Crandell, and Marks voted in favor of the amendment). An amendment concerning the hunting dogs exemption was not introduced or considered.

What it means: the County claims firearm possession in County parks has been illegal since 1986 per executive order from the Parks & Recreation Director and that hunters who have been bringing firearms into County parks since that time have been doing so illegally. The passing of this bill now legitimizes/legalizes a hunter exemption to the that prohibition. This is a win that the MDWFA was instrumental in obtaining. However, we lost on the issue of exempting “dogs who are being used or trained for hunting” from the County’s leash laws. Current law (for the next 45 days) is that dogs being used or trained for hunting are exempt from the law requiring dogs be leashed on County property. The passing of this bill removes that exemption.

Other notables: Four individuals on behalf of the American Kennel Club attended and supported MDWFA’s position.

What’s next: The bill is still pending the County Executive’s signature before it is signed into law. MDWFA will contact his office with the AKC delegates about requesting his veto on the bill until the retriever exemption is reinstated, though the bill was introduced at his request so that would be a long shot. Our Baltimore County members are encouraged to contact him as well.

MDWFA staff spoke with the Director of Parks & Recreation, Barry Williams, about obtaining a leash law exemption for certain parks. He was amenable to this proposal. MDWFA staff is working with the AKC representatives to schedule a meeting with Director Williams about which parks would be allowed to be excepted, which will hopefully occur in the next three weeks. Any members who use Baltimore County parks for this purpose are encouraged to contact MDWFA staff to advise which parks are important to them to use so that those properties can be proposed at the meeting.

All in all, a 50% win for Maryland Waterfowlers and the MDWFA will continue to work with the County to protect waterfowlers’ interests.

Baltimore Co., Possible ban on taking gun to boat ramps reversed.

by Brian Cain

Greg Tracey, Paul Donhauser, and I attended the Baltimore County Council meeting on Tuesday to address Bill 42-16 which would have made it illegal for anyone to possess firearms or knives on Baltimore Co. parks or property and subject such weapons to confiscation. The bill would also not allow retriever dog training on county property or parks. We thought the bill was poorly written and too broad and would hurt those stakeholders that have contributed so much in way of licenses etc.

The council agreed that the bill was hastily written and amended it on the spot to allow a licensed hunter to transport cased weapons at boat ramps, etc. during hunting seasons. They are also going to amend the bill to outlaw only weapon type knives and not pen knives and fillet knives. As was pointed out by the council, it has ALWAYS been illegal to have guns on county park property even though a blind eye was turned to allow us to hunt, now it will be totally LEGAL to have our guns on property with boat ramps. They are also going to address the hunting dog issue. We are waiting to read all of the amendments before signing off on them. Councilman Wade Koch was definitely on our side as was another councilman that I don’t know.

Barry Williams, the Director of Baltimore County Parks and Recreation followed us out of the room to speak with us and was very amenable to our proposed changes. I spoke with him on the Baltimore County land offshore waterfowl hunting and, again, explained that it’s never been a safety issue and the only place we had any problem was at Cox’s Point. I know the land is tied up in riparian licensing for another 2 years (I think) and proposed that we, MDWFA, submit a map to him of the properties we would like turned back on and he agreed that he would entertain such an exercise. So, it looks much more positive that we may get Baltimore Co property turned back on.

So, all in all it was a double win for MDWFA yesterday at the County Council meeting. The vote on the Bill is July 5th and I will be out of state but Greg and Paul will monitor the amendments.

Wood Duck Box inspections

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2 Wood Duck eggs on left, 3 Merganser eggs on right

by Aaron Ward

Greetings from the Lower Shore. Just in time for the 2016 nesting season, MDWFA & Maryland Wood Duck Initiative volunteers have concluded Wood Duck box inspections in Worcester County for the 2015 nesting season.

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Everyone can get involved!….even Boo (the dog)

The Scope: In Worcester County volunteers manage approximately 125 boxes on public lands. Inspections take between 14-20 hours per year (for one person) to conclude.

The Numbers: Overall ducks hatched were slightly lower (41 eggs) from 2014, but the hatched percentage (74%) was up 1% over 2014 (73%) and up 12% over 2013 (62%). The average number of eggs per nest was 9.

The Conclusion: Feel good about the contribution we are making to keep Wood Ducks a successful species in Maryland. With our efforts, we are making it possible for hens to have a safe place to nest & produce more ducklings. Once they leave the nest, it’s totally up to her & the environment. Hopefully more ducks produced will result in more hens returning in coming years!

Last box of the day!
Last box of the day!

If you haven’t already volunteered in your local area & would like to assist in the cooperative Wood Duck project, please contact me. I’d love to share my experience with you and fuel your fire to keep them squealing through the trees for generations to come!

Jack “Doc” Scanlon

Jack Scanlon
Jack Scanlon

It is with great sadness that the MDWFA has learned of the passing of Jack “Doc” Scanlon on Wednesday night. Doc was a true gentleman and an avid hunter, fisherman and dog trainer.

Doc was a Lifetime member of the MDWFA and a volunteer to countless other organizations. Doc served as the Dorchester county rep for the MDWFA for many years. We offer our condolences to his wife Kathy and his family.

John W. Scanlon, Jr. MD, 75, of Cambridge passed away on Wednesday evening November 5, 2014 at his home. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at Zion United Methodist Church in Cambridge with Rev. William Davis officiating. Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. In lieu flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Dorchester Center for the Arts, 321 High Street, Cambridge, MD 21613 or to the Stripers Forever, P.O. Box 2781, South Portland, ME, 04116-2781.

Youth Hunt – November 1, 2008

Jack with Will
Jack with Will

The Maryland Waterfowlers Association (MDWFA) sponsored an essay contest where youths were asked to describe why they wanted to hunt ducks and geese. One of the winners was 13 year old Will Waibel from Bel Air. Will’s prize was a youth day hunt last Saturday at Garyview Farm in Cambridge hosted by Dr Jack Scanlon.

Will with his birds
Will with his birds

More elaboration on yesterday’s wonderful youth hunt at Garyview Farm. Bill, Will’s father, is a fine gentleman. Bill is a head football coach and teacher in Bellaire. He also had guided for ducks and geese in the past and carved his own dekes (he generously gifted one to me). Bill is also a fly fisherman for trout and smallies. We had many mutual friends from my old Trout Unlimited days fishing local streams. I personally want to thank MDWFA for this opportunity to give something back and watch a boy grow into adulthood doing those things MDWFA stands for.

High School Students Lend a Hand to Help the Ducks

Students in Courtland Lilley’s Transportation Technology class at James M. Bennett High school in Salisbury, MD recently transformed 25 empty Freon canisters into Wood Duck nesting boxes. Wood Ducks are cavity nesters and to promote their come back (seasons were once closed do to low population numbers) artificial nesting boxes are placed in critical habitat locations to increase their nesting success. Wood (primarily cedar) is traditionally used to make a rectangular box that we hope they call home for a few months.

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The Freon canisters were donated to Maryland Wood Duck Initiative (MWDI), extreme home makeover by Mr. Lilley’s class, and will be installed, monitored, and maintained on a Lower Shore Wood Duck box project by the Maryland Waterfowlers Association. Six of these nesting boxes are installed on Nassawango Creek in Worcester County as part of a 2008 nesting project.

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As all raw material prices rise, the use of alternative sources such as this one benefits both man and nature. All eyes will be focused on the hatch/use data that comes from these boxes to evaluate their success. MDWFA works in cooperation on with MWDI on many Wood Duck box projects throughout the state to increase the success of Maryland’s Wood Duck population.

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The students that participated in this project (Jalonzo Bateman, Tai’Rell Copper, Eric Farrell, Nathan Hetzler, Tim Hull, Vince Lowery, TJ Martin, Jeremay Moats, and Grendi Zunun) not only gained service learning hours required by all high school students for graduation, but a deeper knowledge of what everyone can do for their environment.

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