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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Monday, 12/30/2013 - Updated: 6 months ago

OUTDOORS

Next year should bring new concepts, approaches

'Wishes, pipe dreams, soapbox dissertations, random tangential thoughts, and things'

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

OBJECTIn just a few hours, the countdown will end, the fireworks will go off, and we will ask ourselves once again just why do we sing “Auld Lang Syne” every New Year’s Eve. It sounds much more like a Scottish drinking song than an anthem for spawning optimism over the flip of the calendar.

In East Timor, Fiji, and Guam, it is already 2014, but outside of the date change, it’s not likely much will be different there, or here. Once the revelry and the hoopla subside, we seem to settle back into many of the same familiar patterns, and old habits continue to perpetually defy death.

Why not a moment of hoping that the “new” year will actually have some things that are significant and “new” about it. In that vein, here is a list to consider for the next 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, since that is what 2014 will total.

Be advised that these are not formal new year’s resolutions, but instead a collection of wishes, pipe dreams, soapbox dissertations, random tangential thoughts, and things I just forgot to write about over the past 12 months.

■ Let’s hope our elected officials suddenly develop the political will to take the serious measures necessary to give us the best chance of preventing Asian carp from ruining the Great Lakes for future generations. No more meetings, hearings, studies or symposiums — just close the Chicago canal that is essentially a freeway for the carp to utilize to reach Lake Michigan. Shut down the carp-rearing operations in the U.S. where we are essentially raising a devil with fins that could ruin the world’s greatest freshwater fishery.

■ Pull back the curtain and tell the public who is pushing so hard for the installation of wind turbines in the major migratory bird flyways and sensitive bald eagle habitat along western Lake Erie. The folks that have worked for decades to restore those populations and protect these frequent fliers deserve an explanation as to why a row of elevated bird choppers is such a great “green” idea.

■ Here is a crazy thought: why can’t our riverfront look more like San Antonio’s? Nearly every fisherman that visits here from elsewhere have asked me some version of that question, so we should probably wonder, too.

■ Maybe one day in 2014 people will wake up and realize what the word “wild” in wild animals really means. Lions and bears in stark backyard cages are not pets. Dangerous snakes in oversized aquariums are not pets. These are tragedies waiting to happen.

■ A message to France: return the Hopi masks. After having the opportunity to work on the Hopi lands in the high desert plateaus of the Southwest a couple of decades ago, I left with a better understanding of their unique relationship with the earth, and their culture and traditions. More than 100 sacred Hopi religious artifacts were sold at auction in France this year, items the Hopi regard as links to their ancestors' spirits, and pieces that were very likely stolen from the Hopi people. This is akin to someone swiping your grandparents’ headstones, and selling them to the highest bidder.

■ As Michigan’s first structured wolf hunting season comes to an end, let’s hope that some sense of balance can come out of a rational discussion of the issue. Let’s figure out how to best manage this apex predator so its place in the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula is secure, but its threat to man, his livestock and his pets is minimal.

■ Bless those deer hunters who have donated thousands of pounds of lean, healthy venison to folks in need. For every knuckle head, rule-breaking poacher out there, we have hundreds of hunters who play strictly by the rules, and then are exceedingly generous with what they harvest. People that are hungry need protein, not pity.

■ Here is hoping that my friend and wild turkey hunter extraordinaire John Zuelke gets that elusive rare bird he has been pursuing. It will finish a stunning collection.

■ This part of Ohio used to be a warm, shallow sea. This part of Ohio also used to be covered in ice a mile-thick. Ponder and discuss.

■ Teach a kid to fish. It might help keep them out of trouble, help them appreciate the need for our waterways to be clean, and give them an inexpensive and healthy lifetime pursuit. Fishing: what other sport can you enjoy at five, and at 85.

■ Check out “The Biggest Week in American Birding” in May. Discover why people from Austria, Aberdeen, Albany, Altamonte Springs, and Avon Lake flock to the marshlands of western Lake Erie, in our backyard, to observe a real phenomenon of nature.

■ Visit a vet. They deserve our attention, our gratitude and our time. I’m going to go see Al, one of my dad’s best fishing buddies, at the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. Al can spin a yarn, and tell a fish story. In any year, it’s always a good day to hear a fish story.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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