NICS doesn’t need head smacks
The 22nd annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival to continues today at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge and in the community of Birchwood in Meigs County. Events and programs will run from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The Festival is a celebration of the many thousands of sandhill cranes that migrate through or spend the winter on and around the Hiwassee Refuge. In addition the refuge will exhibit many other species of wildlife, such as bald and golden eagles, ducks, endangered whooping cranes, and land mammals such as coyotes, foxes and deer. It is also an opportunity to focus attention on the rich Native American history of the area, especially the Cherokee Removal Memorial.
Beginning in the early 1990s, the recovering population of eastern sandhill cranes began stopping at the Hiwassee Refuge on their way to and from their wintering grounds in Georgia and Florida. TWRA has been managing this refuge for more than 60 years for waterfowl, and the cranes found a perfect combination of feeding and shallow water roosting habitat. Now as many as 12,000 of these birds spend the entire winter at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee rivers.
A full schedule of family entertainment and educational programs will be held at the Birchwood Elementary School, including children’s activities, vendors, festival sponsor exhibits, food, and storytelling. The school library will offer continuous films and presentations about Tennessee wildlife.
For more information go to http://www.TNcranefestival.org , or contact Melinda Welton of the Tennessee Ornithological Society at 615-799-8095.
• What is the story behind the record gun sales recently?
Certainly the entire year of 2012 saw an increased interest in firearms purchases, but sales after the presidential election in November accelerated dramatically, spurred on by political rumblings of more gun control. Then the tragic school shooting in Connecticut in December kicked the gun control emotions over the top and near panic buying of guns and ammunition have ensued.
The best way to estimate gun sales is by the background checks that federally licensed dealers do for all handguns, rifles and shotguns. Private citizens can sell guns freely, as with any private property, without running a background check. Most states use the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
The December 2012 NICS background checks broke the all-time record nationally with 2,776,105, a 49.7 percent increase over the December 2011 total of 1,854,400. This marks the 31st straight month that NSSF-adjusted NICS figures have increased when compared to the same period the previous year. The number reported for December 2012 is the highest monthly figure ever reported for NICS, eclipsing the previous high in November 2012 by 46.7 percent.
The NICS 2012 year-end figure of 19,436,832 was an increase of 19.0 percent over the 2011 year-end total of 16,336,732.
Tom Wiest welcomes news, questions and comments from readers. Contact him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)