Saturday, April 21, 2012

why my hunting days are over

I was a hunter for 30  years, and have  always been an ally to hunters, arguing their case with real "anti-hunters" who argue against hunting for purely emotional, flawed "reasoning". 

But I am convinced that recent moves by hunters to add the Sandhill Crane to the list of species to be hunted, (and similar initiatives), will damage the image  of hunting in the perception of the public - and ultimately harm hunting and its future.

I'm especially troubled by recent moves by some so-called "sportsmen's" groups.  Here's a recent release from the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance - I strongly disagree with every item on this list, and I support all of the organizations the Sportsmen's Alliance finds objectionable:

Here are three of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance's "Top Five Foes of Fishing":

• Center for Biological Diversity: This Tucson-based, lawsuit-centered group has twice petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban the use of lead-based fishing tackle products. After a rejection in 2010, CBD filed a second petition in November 2011 requesting that the EPA again ban lead fishing tackle in all U.S. waters under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This was again rejected with more tax dollars wasted because of CBD's efforts.

• Sierra Club: This environmental group joined with Earthjustice, The Wilderness Society, and others to reinstate the Roadless Rule in national forests. Parts of the plan would block access for anglers to rivers and lakes.

• Environmental Defense Fund: Another environmental group that's also working to increase areas off-limits to fishing. The group's website boasts that: "underwater wilderness areas, called marine protection areas (MPAs), are an important tool to rebuild fish populations and revitalize ocean ecosystems. Such areas are off-limits to offshore oil drilling and mining, and all types of fishing may be restricted or banned." Yes, they are working to stop fishing, including your fishing access.

I am blown away by recent arguments in support of Sandhill Crane hunting. If  only 1000 tags are issued, there is no way this will even make a dent in limiting crop damage, except for individual farmer's situations. So my position remains the same: this is not a real reason for the hunt. Some have added "a small to significant boost for the economy" as a reason. I'm flabbergasted. It all seems like "we just want to hunt them" - so why not just say that?

The recent movement toward addition of species to be hunted, the backlash against the move to remove lead from ammunition, the NRA and NSSF bogus arguments for many initiatives - all these things are pushing me in a direction that surprises even me. So I don't really believe the suggestion that hunters "care what I (or many other citizens) think". The numbers of hunters has declined - the reasons why are increasing, and the public's perception is a huge factor; I find it hard to provide support for groups who are rarely willing to discuss their real motives for their actions.  So, my hunting days are surely over. I cannot be a part of it anymore. I will still support "responsible" hunting; but a hunt for Sandhill Cranes does not fit the definition of "responsible", for me - for a long list of reasons. Does this mean I have finally "changed sides"? No - but  I have to judge each situation by its relative merits. I'm not an "anti-hunter" - but  I am against a hunt for Sandhill Cranes, and against the so-far ongoing European hunting of songbirds, and I'm sad to see my list is growing.

1 comment:

  1. On Apr 23, 2012, at 8:08 PM, John Rasmussen wrote:

    Hunters and regulators need to be aware of the general public's perception of what is and what is not a game species.

    In states that have a tradition of crane hunting, acceptance of cranes as a game bird are much different than a state where cranes were nearly extirpated for the last 100 years or more because of degradation of wetlands, changing ag. uses and overhunting in the early 1900's. We don't even fully know where many ancestral nesting sites may have been
    here in Wisconsin.
    Now is not the best time to consider the hunting of cranes here in Wisconsin. Our crane population is still reestablishing its territories here and has not even reached its true potential as a stable breeding population here yet in many areas of the state.