The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Ken Perrotte’s Outdoors Column: Input sought on black bear program
The VDGIF has opened a public comment period through Aug. 1 on its Draft Virginia Black Bear Management Plan.
If you think it’s not worth your time to look and comment based on the fact that bear are usually rare visitors to the extended Fredericksburg region, it may be time to adjust that mindset.
In the plan, counties in our area are part of either the Northern Piedmont or Northern Tidewater “Viability Regions.” In the 2001 bear management plan, these regions were not considered viable for bears.
A listed objective is to “determine the viability status of the Northern Piedmont and Northern Tidewater black bear populations by Jan. 1, 2017.” Subsequent objectives pave the way for increasing bear populations throughout King George County, the Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula, along with establishing long-term viability in the Northern Piedmont.
Apparent dichotomies exist. Surveys cited in the draft plan show most residents want things to remain status quo in terms of the bear population. But statements in the plan indicate VDGIF hopes, through education, to overcome resistance to efforts to increase bears where citizens may not currently want them.
Other graphics chart where citizen complaints about bears are most frequent. Not surprisingly, it’s areas now with the most bears. Other charts show anticipated human population growth projections by county and counties with the most vulnerability for agricultural crops. These include the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.
Hunters, farmers, landowners and suburbia dwellers all have a stake in this plan, which will guide bear management across the commonwealth through 2021. The draft plan is available at dgif.virginia.gov/comment. You can submit comments online or mail them to Jaime Sajecki BBMP, VDGIF, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230.
Anyone operating a personal watercraft (jet ski) must complete a boating safety education course by July 1 and carry proof in his or her possession while operating the vessel in Virginia.
The same goes for people age 30 or younger who operate a boat with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater.
State law passed in 2007 requires a phased-in approach to certifying everyone who operates a boat or personal watercraft. The requirement has been implemented by age group and category since 2009 and will continue to be phased in through 2016.
Virginia’s Boating Safety Education Compliance Requirement states boaters must take a boating safety education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and accepted by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Boaters can take a classroom course, an Internet course, or a challenge exam to meet the requirement.
Classroom courses are taught by volunteer instructors. Some, such as the VDGIF Boat Virginia Course, are free, but usually require preregistration. Other classroom courses can cost $25–$40.
One user-friendly online course I’ve checked out is offered at boat-ed.com. The advantage of an online course is it’s largely at your own pace, although the course does have some timing provisions.
For example, Tammy Sapp of Kalkomey, which operates the boat-ed.com site, indicates NASBLA requires a minimum initial time of three hours devoted to course content when taking an online course. Virginia students must take chapter quizzes and that adds approximately an hour to the course, she added.
Sapp said there is a free online study guide at boat-ed.com, but if Virginia students need the completion certificate (or boating license, as most call it), it will cost $29.50.
The online course contains the same information as the classroom course. The study guide did have good illustrations, interactive animations and live-action videos.
Sapp said the course is also accessible via mobile devices, such as smart phones, tablets or laptops.
The VDGIF website has loads of information about Virginia boating laws in Virginia and boating safety education courses. See dgif.virginia.gov/boating.
MATE IN TRAINING
Capt. Ryan Rogers hosted several winners of the annual “Take Dad Fishing for Father’s Day Contest” last week. The children and dads had a blast catching bluefish all afternoon, but we’ll have more on the fishing trips in the July 9 Family section of The Free Lance–Star.
Most intriguing is an innovative opportunity Rogers has created for children ages 10–16. It’s a three-day summer camp he calls the “Mate in Training Fishing Institute.”
The inaugural program runs July 30 to Aug. 1. The working classroom is Rogers’ Midnight Sun charter boat, based at Smith Point Marina in Reedville.
Anyone who has been on a charter boat knows the skipper primarily handles the boat, while the mate tackles the business end at the stern. From 7 a.m.–3 p.m. each day, youngsters will learn everything from how to tie knots and get rods, reels and tackle ready for action to proper cleaning of the boat at the end of the adventures.
Rogers said promoting an understanding of conservation and instilling an appreciation for the Chesapeake Bay and its surroundings are also high on the agenda. Guest speakers are scheduled.
“Our goal is to provide a fun and safe environment and teach the kids skills to make them an asset aboard any vessel during any fishing trip,” Rogers said. “This will truly be summer school to remember.”
Just a couple of spots remain open. The $450 fee includes three days of fishing, all tips and gratuities, T-shirts, and a bucket of tackle and fishing goodies. All bait, tackle, ice, lunch, snacks and drinks are included.
Each youngster may bring one parent or chaperone, but this is not mandatory. In fact, adults should be “seen and not heard.”
For more about this unique summer camp opportunity, call Rogers at 804/453-5812 or 804/580-0245.
Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia Street, Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or email at email@example.com.