Based on regular weekly dispatches from SI bureaus and special correspondents in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and overseas; and on reports from fish and game commissions of the 48 states and Alaska
Montana conservationists notched a substantial victory last week when the State Land Board voted to remove 3,400 acres in the Sun River Game Refuge from a scheduled oil-and gas-lease sale. Conservationists and sportsmen alike felt that any development of the area would seriously jeopardize it as excellent winter range for elk. One vigorous opponent of the lease sale was Leslie H. Peters, Great Falls artist and, incidentally, son of a millionaire oil man.
Intricate as modern wildlife management can be, a good old-fashioned trade sometimes solves problems. Not long ago, for example, Colorado swapped 16 bighorn sheep to Montana for eight mountain goats. South Dakota shipped spare catfish to Colorado, taking wild turkeys in return. New Mexico traded eight wild turkeys for 25 South Dakota sage grouse. Wyoming also wanted New Mexican turkeys and relinquished some elk to get them. Idaho last year gave cutthroat trout eggs to Wyoming and took golden trout eggs in return. What happens if a state can't find anything to trade? It swaps dollars for the game it needs.
CATCH BY A COACH
Bobby Dodd, the Georgia Tech football coach, is a man who likes to fish. A few days ago with wife and son, Dodd was sitting in a skiff on Callaway Lake at Hamilton, Ga., casting for bass. He was using a standard casting rod, 15-pound test line, and surface plug. What happened next is best expressed in Dodd's own words which prove that a coach can rhapsodize about something besides a bowl victory. "I tried this top water bait," said Dodd, "and just plunked around. I never had such a big strike. I thought he'd overturn us. He looked so big banging up out of the water. He just inhaled that little plug and away he went. I never had one this big take his whole body out of water more than once, I mean just like a tarpon, looping up into the sky nearly twice his length above the water. He did that three times. In between those jumps he was thrashing around just like a drowning heifer and just as loud. I don't know how long it took but I boated him and I still couldn't believe it."
Dodd's "he" turned out to be a "she," a female laden with roe and weighing 13 pounds 1� ounces. It was one of the heftiest bass taken from Georgia waters in more than 10 years. Stuffed, it will replace a nine-pounder on Dodd's office wall.
TEST CASE (Cont.)
On March 12 SI reported on the forthcoming murder trial of West Virginia Conservation Officer Elmer Anderson and its implications for future game law enforcement. Now from Ohio comes a dispatch that leads to speculation on the status of conservation officers throughout the nation.
On the opening day of Ohio's rabbit and pheasant season last Nov. 15, Game Protector Irvin Patrick, aged 43, approached a party of hunters near Washington Court House in Fayette County. He inspected their bag, found several hen pheasants and attempted to make an arrest. Some of the hunters objected. A scuffle ensued and a shotgun in the hands of one of the hunters, former Adams County Sheriff George Baldridge, went off. Patrick died on the way to the hospital. On March 7 a Fayette County jury found Baldridge guilty of first degree manslaughter.
That would seem to justify Patrick's position as an officer. But under the Ohio statutes, game protectors are not entitled to the death and injury benefits accorded other law enforcement officers. Patrick's widow will thus get no compensation, has had to file suit against Baldridge. Meanwhile, the Ohio Game Protectors Association and the Ohio Wildlife Division will go on trying to earn for their officers the same benefits granted other state law enforcement personnel and are readying a bill for the 1957 legislature.