Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wanton Waste and Going Above and Beyond Beyond Fair Chase: Part Two

I have decided to move this response to comments made in the original thread out to the main page (a) my response grew to a more substantial length than I intended and (b) because I'm likely to stir up some more trouble. ☺

In his thoughtful comments on the original thread, Tovar wrote:
“While I can sympathize with you pro-freedom arguments, Jim, I’m concerned by where they seem to lead.

“Are you arguing that humans should be legally permitted to shoot animals simply because they want to, without any other purpose being required and without any obligation to track a wounded animal or make use of its body? If so, would you have this legal permissiveness extend to the treatment of all game animals, including big game? Going back to your point about lights and rifles and coyotes above, would you argue for the legalization of all forms of hunting for which there is a cultural precedent?

“Personally, I don’t think we can leave everything to the dubious normative power of the so-called 'hunting community' any more than we can leave all choices regarding the treatment of companion animals to pet owners.

“At some point, when the behavior is sufficiently egregious, the law has to step in.”
Let me preface this by saying that I too find the example previously given of the hunters' not even bothering to pick up the hares morally abhorrent. I would not choose to hunt with those individuals, and if he/they were in my social circle of hunters I would engage in every method of subtle and not-so-subtle psychological persuasion to affect a change in that behavior—ridicule and social ostracism have worked well for me in the past. ☺

With that said, let me reiterate that the specific (and more narrow) point I am making is about “legal moralism”—the idea that we should legislate morality. I am very, very uncomfortable with legislating morality, and I fear that the legislation of morality is potentially more immoral than the behavior such legislation seeks to regulate.

An example may illustrate:

Years ago in Maine one of the owners of the camp where we were staying told us about a group of (non-resident) hunters who come to her camp every year from out of state specifically to hunt trophy deer.

When these hunters are successful and bag their big-racked bucks, they remove the head and cape and leave the rest of the carcass in the woods. In other words, they leave every ounce of edible meat to rot in the woods, but take their trophies home.

Should such behavior be made a criminal violation? While I find the leaving of the carcasses in the woods to be equally morally abhorrent as the example of leaving the hares in the woods, I do not think that necessarily we should make these hunters’ actions illegal. They have paid for their hunting licenses; they have obeyed the season laws, tagging regulations, etc. etc., and they are entitled to take what they have paid for after going through the mechanism of buying their hunting license.

You may disagree. I myself am uncomfortable with this conclusion. But now let’s alter the scenario:

These out-of-state hunters come to Maine. They kill big-racked bucks. But this time, they take all the meat but leave the heads and 14 point racks in the woods to rot. Now what do we think?

My guess is that many if not most hunters would now applaud them for their ethically enlightened “use of the resource” and for eating what they kill, even though they chose to leave the trophy heads in the woods to rot.

Why the inconsistency? Again, in both scenarios the hunters have paid for their hunting licenses; they have obeyed the season laws, tagging regulations, etc. etc., and they are entitled to take what they have paid for after going through the mechanism of buying their hunting license.

I am uncomfortable with using the LAW to enforce what is fundamentally a private ethical issue of conscience. One wag says that using the law to legislate morality is like using fireplace tongs to remove an eyelash. I agree that it is a waste to leave EITHER meat or trophy head in the woods, but neither hunter’s choice harms me in the end when all is said and done.

Eric avers, “I agree this type of dis-honoring the hunted animal should be illegal.” Well, when I go to the deer butcher and see 55 gallon drum after drum filled with spikehorns and scrawny 4- and 6-point deer heads, is this not also a type of dis-honoring the animal? Should not this disrespectful waste of deer heads be made illegal as well?

Well okay, then. I think we should have a law MANDATING the honoring of every deer killed in America by having the head mounted by a qualified taxidermist. That would be the One, True, Correct Way to Honor Deer.

In a very interesting article, philosopher Julia Driver discusses what she calls hyperactive ethics. “Those who do go about trying to impose their moral will on others too much are what I call morally hyperactive,” she writes.

The problem with hyperactive ethics as she sees it is a form of moral zealotry, a self-righteous type of moralism that sees the world in black and white terms and where the moral zealot is always right.
"The problem of moral zealotry is not even restricted to ethics. It can crop up in any evaluative context. Tolerance is expected of others' aesthetic views; or views about their research; or how they bake cakes. For example, even if you feel very strongly about lasagna and the proper way to cook it, you will probably restrain yourself from criticizing your neighbor's favorite lasagna recipe. However, the problem is more acute for ethics, because moral reasons are thought to have a special over-riding quality. Thus, whenever one believes something immoral is going on, the commitment to speak out, to be aggressive, to do something dramatic about it is much more urgent than if one is simply convinced that mixing scallions in with ricotta cheese is a culinary abomination."
Driver says we must resist the temptation to be aggressive and that we must do our best to cultivate tolerance even for beliefs or behaviors that we find morally abhorrent. Why should we do this? Because the harm done by legislating morality is potentially greater than the original immoral act itself.

Driver writes:
"How then can the liberal tolerate and protect immoral and illiberal behavior? The answer, I think, will have to do with the costs imposed by the interference itself. Racism, for example, is immoral and should be discouraged. However, the state arguably should not coercively restrict racist speech, because this represses free speech. So the liberal believes that the state should be restrained in coercively condemning racist speech, in a limited way--though it is perfectly permissible for the state to discourage hate speech (by paying for anti-racist programs in state schools, for example). This limited form of toleration does not undermine liberal values, because restrictions on speech would make things worse."
So I want everyone to be very clear here about what my argument actually is: I am emphatically NOT arguing that sluicing bunnies or deer in the woods and leaving them to rot is morally, ethically, or aesthetically okay. It is definitely not okay, just like racist speech is not okay. But that's different than saying there ought to be a law against racist speech.

I simply don’t think that we should always expect the law to do the work of persuasion that we ourselves should be engaged in. The law is a very blunt tool where something more like surgical precision is required.

Because otherwise we should all also be arguing for the mandatory taxidermy of deer heads and all other animals that are hunted as the One True Correct Sure-Fire Means of guaranteeing that hunters will always honor the animals they kill.

Driver, Julia. 1994. "Hyperactive Ethics." The Philosophical Quarterly 44 (174):9-25.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

$740 Million Goes to States for Fish and Wildlife Projects

$740 Million Goes to States for Fish and Wildlife Projects
Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today more than $740.9 million will be distributed to the fish and wildlife agencies of the 50 states, commonwealths, the District of Columbia, and territories to fund fish and wildlife conservation, boater access to public waters, and hunter and aquatic education. These Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds come from excise taxes and import duties on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, sportfishing equipment, electric outboard motors, and fuel taxes attributable to motorboats and small engines.
"The funds raised under the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have helped conserve our fish and wildlife resources and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation for more than half a century. These investments, which help create jobs while protecting our nation's natural treasures, are particularly important in these tough economic times,” Salazar said. “All those who pay into this program – the hunting and fishing industries, boaters, hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters – should take pride in helping to conserve our land and its fish and wildlife and provide benefits to all Americans who cherish the natural world and outdoor recreation.”
The Wildlife Restoration apportionment for 2009 totals nearly $336 million, with more than $64.7 million marked for hunter education and firearm and archery range programs. The Sport Fish Restoration apportionment for 2009 totals more than $404 million.
Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act funding is available to states, commonwealths, and territories through a formula based on land area, including inland waters and the number of paid hunting license holders in each state, commonwealth, and territory. State, commonwealth, and territorial fish and wildlife agencies use the money to manage wildlife populations, conduct habitat research, acquire wildlife lands and public access, carry out surveys and inventories, administer hunter education, and construct and maintain shooting ranges.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

For Discussion: Wanton Waste and Going Above and Beyond Beyond Fair Chase

Wanton Waste and Going Above and Beyond Beyond Fair Chase

I admit I have been feeling uncomfortable, even troubled by the recent attention being paid to the issue of wanton waste as it pertains to hunting. States such as Vermont are considering legislation to make it a crime to “waste” animals. I take it that the intent of such legislation is to motivate hunters to search longer and harder for downed animals before giving up the search.

But I believe that the idea of creating a “law” against wanton waste may open up more problems than such laws might solve. Part of the difficulty as I see it is the nearly-impossible task of defining such basic concepts as “waste” and “use” as these terms typically are employed in discussions of hunter ethics.

For example, consider the website for the Oregon hunting advocacy organization, Back Country Hunters and Anglers. The group credits Jim Posewitz of the Orion Institute with advising them on organizational matters, and their site includes the following excerpt from one of Posewitz’s books on hunting:
Field Dressing an Animal, (from Beyond Fair Chase):

In the beginning, humans hunted to live. Today some still live to hunt. Originally it was a matter of survival to utilize what was killed. Today, using what is killed is essential to ethical hunting.

After you have taken possession of the animal you have killed and taken time to appreciate it, it is then time to care for your gift. The task at hand will vary. For some animals it is simply a matter of putting it into your game pouch and continuing. For big game there is field dressing and properly caring for all the useable parts.

Under all circumstances, the ethical hunter cares for harvested game in a respectful manner, leaving no waste. Field dressing has several advantages. It reduces the risk of spoiling edible parts, and it returns parts of the animal to the earth where it found life.

Field dressing begins the natural recycling process that involves scavenging birds, insects, and decay as the unused parts return energy and nutrient cycles to the ecosystem. This is a marvelous process of renewal, and surplus parts of what you harvest should be thoughtfully returned to the earth ( ).
Now, in what follows, I don't mean to pick on Posewitz or to appear as overly-critical of his book, which I greatly admire. But what caught my eye was the apparent contradiction in the first paragraph:

“Under all circumstances, the ethical hunter cares for harvested game in a respectful manner, leaving no waste.”

This absolutist admonition to “leave no waste under all circumstances” is then followed by a paean about recycling the dead animal’s body parts to the earth. “Field dressing has several advantages,” Posewitz intones. “It reduces the risk of spoiling edible parts, and it returns parts of the animal to the earth where it found life.”

Here is where I believe hunters such as Posewitz are inconsistent in their views about “full utilization” of the resource. Notice how Posewitz defines an ethical hunter as one who conscientiously uses the animal he/she kills. But there is an unaddressed threshold question here for Posewitz: where should we draw the line between conscientious use and wanton waste?

Consider the fact that for many bird hunters, “breasting out” the bird is the norm. I myself consider the practice to be fairly abhorrent. But I am also aware that for serious waterfowlers who may shoot and consume upwards of 100 ducks in a season, the idea of laboriously plucking each and every duck in preparation for oven roasting seems to be an unrealistic expectation. Would Posewitz insist that as a moral rule, “under all circumstances, the ethical hunter cares for harvested game . . . leaving no waste” should apply to the dedicated waterfowler who only breasts out his ducks ? What about the drumsticks? What about the feet? (my wife showed me a recipe for Casserole of Braised Duck Feet in the cookbook, Working a Duck –perhaps I’ll post it here).

Or take big game hunting. Is Posewitz really insisting that under all circumstances, the moose or elk hunter must leave no waste? What about the tongue? Heart? Other organ meat?

Or what of the bone and sinew? One could always save every bone to make soup stock. Why not clean the intestines and save them for use in making elk sausage? “Under all circumstances . . . leave no waste.”

That’s a pretty all-encompassing moral injunction. But a fairly hopeless one it seems to me.

The plain fact of the matter is that industrial factory farming practices do a far better job of “full utilization of the resource” than recreational (or subsistence) hunters will ever do. As William Cronon’s history of the Chicago meat-packing industry shows, meat companies like Armour and Swift have always excelled at using 100% of the animals they killed: “The meat packers used every part of the pig except the squeal.”

And aboriginal peoples don’t necessarily do any better than today’s recreational hunter. “In the beginning, humans hunted to live,” Posewitz tells us. “Originally it was a matter of survival to utilize what was killed.” Well, as anthropologists have shown, survival doesn’t necessarily guarantee utilization. Shepard Krech’s book, The Ecological Indian: Myth and History, provides numerous examples of buffalo being killed by American Indians just for their tongues and other select body parts, with the rest of the animals’ bodies left to rot. Thousands of buffalo stampeded over the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump were likewise left to rot—although this was likely more an indicator of Indian butchers having run out of time than of any conscious intention on their part to waste meat. The point being, however, the fact that nineteenth century market hunters were not the only ones who could waste buffalo meat. American Indian hunting done for survival (not sport) was no guarantee that hunted animals would be fully utilized.

Yet Posewitz concludes that leaving an animal to rot—or at least, leaving the parts of an animal that you don’t want—is a natural part of the cycle of life:
Field dressing begins the natural recycling process that involves scavenging birds, insects, and decay as the unused parts return energy and nutrient cycles to the ecosystem. This is a marvelous process of renewal, and surplus parts of what you harvest should be thoughtfully returned to the earth.
Why is leaving any animal parts to rot, even if “thoughtfully returned to the earth,” morally okay? By that logic, why wouldn’t leaving MORE animal parts to rot be even better? After all, wouldn’t scavenging birds and insects benefit even more from a bigger amount of unused parts being returned to the ecosystem as energy and nutrients?

In short, there seems to be nowhere within Posewitz’s ethical framework to draw a line between “leaving no waste under all circumstances” and “leaving an appropriate amount of waste in all circumstances.”

So where does this leave us with wanton waste laws? Clearly, as hunters we all want hunters to eat or otherwise utilize whatever they kill. But I don't think we necessarily want to make it a crime for hunters to leave a gut pile in the woods. Or to leave duck legs in the swamp. Or make it illegal for a hunter to leave the heart, liver, or other organ meat of a dead animal if he simply does not care to eat the organ meat of the animal he has killed.

The problem is that one man’s edible drumstick is another man’s wanton waste. Where one hunter sees pickled moose tongue and stuffed elk heart, another hunter sees food for carrion beetles and “the marvelous process of renewal.”

Here is another example where by all means we should try to persuade hunters to “use what they kill.” But by the same token, we should stay out of the business of making it a criminal law to force hunters to “use what they kill.”

I believe that in general we should stay away from wanton waste laws and from preachy sermons about leaving no waste under all circumstances.

Moreover, I also believe that the question of what constitutes “full” or “appropriate” utilization of the resource is best seen as something that ethicists call supererogation. Supererogation is the ethical idea of performing morally commendable acts that are not morally obligatory—rather, such acts are voluntary. The idea of supererogation is well captured by the phrase, “going above and beyond the call of duty.”

An act of charity, for example, is clearly a morally commendable behavior. And yet we as a society do not morally require people to give ten percent, or twenty percent, or ninety percent of their income to charity each year. Instead, we leave it to each individual to decide for herself how morally virtuous she will be each year when it comes to her being charitable. A voluntary act of charity is thus a supererogatory action, in that it is (a) voluntary, and it is (b) good, but it is (c) not morally required.

I believe that the full utilization of a downed game animal similarly belongs in the category of supererogatory actions. A hunter's full use of the hunted game animal is a morally commendable and morally admirable action. But I would argue that the full use of a hunted game animal does not belong in the category of a morally required behavior.

Now, with that said, using as much of the hunted animal as you possibly can is undeniably a morally virtuous act. But we need to remember that the question of how much use constitutes “full use” will vary with each individual hunter. Whereas one hunter might utilize 95% of the animal, another hunter may only use 25% of the animal.

(And, as an aside, how we would measure such a thing anyway? By weight? by biomass? Viewed this way, anyway you slice it, a conscientious and ethical elk hunter would still end up wasting more than a slob quail hunter. And surely, that can’t be right.)

In any event I would argue that the question of wanton waste and of the full utilization of animals that are killed is largely (but not always) a question of supererogatory behavior— behavior that is morally commendable, behavior that should be encouraged, and behavior that we admire—but not behavior that we need or want to force or compel others to follow.

An book review of Beyond Fair Chase makes the point succinctly:
Posewitz, though well meaning, sets back our understanding of ethical hunting by confusing "difficulty of taking" an animal with ethics. He further does not seem to know that "fair chase" is a term created by the Boone & Crockett Club to describe their tournament rules for entering animals into their record books, much like golfing's rule that mechanized golf carts cannot be used by contestants. In spite of this, no one seriously suggests that it is unethical for recreational golfers to use golf carts, however. Ethical hunting is hunting that is: (1) Safe, (2) Conserves game populations for future generations, and (3) Respects the choices and rights of other hunters within the same boundaries. Whether I hunt with my bare hands, walking miles to get to the game, or select some easier way has nothing to do with ethics. Posewitz is entitled to hunt as he wishes, but he should not try to impose his views on others (John London (USA) - February 3, 2001).
I believe that Mr. London has it roughly correct in this evaluation of Beyond Fair Chase. Posewitz is indeed entitled to hunt as he wishes. It is another thing entirely to try to impose his ethical views on others through legislation, ballot referendum, or other politically coercive means.

This holds for other hunters and their views. Nuisance hunters of woodchucks, prairie dogs, coyotes, or foxes rarely eat what they kill. Must we therefore conclude that the hunting of nuisance species is unethical?

Some but not all hunters utilize the pelts of some but not all of these animals. Must we therefore attempt to draw a line between ethical pelt users who go above and beyond the call of duty and unethical wasters of animal carcasses who simply leave dead "varmints" to rot in the sun?

I for one don't think we should go there, at least not if we don't have to. Again, I think hunters tend to be their own worst enemy: I don't like the way you hunt, so let's pass a law against the way you hunt.

I simply believe we need to come up with better arguments than that.

Wanton Waste rule hearings announced

We need a big turn out of responsible hunters and trappers at these hearings to testify in support of the proposed rule. Failure to make a reasonableattempt to retrieve game and dumping carcasses on other people's land is not acceptable. For the few who behave this way there should be consequences.

Failure to use what we kill is to dishonor the animal and the hunt.

See you at the hearings - Eric


For Immediate Release: February 10, 2009
Media Contacts: Kim Royar, 802-885-8831; John Austin, 802-241-3700

Three Hearings to be Held on Proposed F&W Regulation

WATERBURY, VT -- Three hearing dates have been set for discussion of a proposed Fish and

Wildlife Board regulation on retrieval and utilization of wildlife.

The purpose of the proposed regulation is to ensure proper retrieval and utilization of fish and wildlife resources in hunting, fishing and trapping. A copy of the proposed regulation is posted on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s website ( Go to “Law Enforcement” and then “Rules and Proposed Rules.”

The public hearings will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on the following dates as follows:

March 10 -- VT Fish & Wildlife office, 111 West Street, Essex Junction

March 11 – Pavilion Auditorium, 109 State Street, Montpelier

March 12 – Kehoe Conservation Camp, Castleton

H.243 Mentored hunting program

H. 243
As Introduced

Introduced by Representatives Adams of Hartland, Consejo of Sheldon, Fagan
of Rutland City, McCullough of Williston, Peltz of Woodbury
and Rodgers of Glover

Subject: Fish and wildlife; licenses; mentored hunting program

Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to create a mentored hunting license.

The license will allow an individual of any age to hunt for two seasons without
taking a hunter education course or having a hunting license. This bill would
allow mentored-hunter license holders to hunt under the direct control and
supervision of any fully licensed individual over the age of 21 subject to the
fully licensed hunter’s bag limit.

This bill addresses two important issues for the future of hunting in Vermont; 1) recruitment of new hunters, 2)deepening the support for hunters and the hunting culture. It does this by allowing interested people of all ages to try hunting in a meaningful way before forcing them to commit a lot of time or money. The normal steps for a person to take up a sport or recreation is 1) become aware of it, 2) find out more about it, 3) try it, 4) commit time and money to it, 5) continue with support, 6) continue with out assistance, 7) become avid and an advocate for the sport. Hunting because of well documented safety reasons reversed steps 3 and 4 when hunter safety became mandatory starting in NY in 1947 and in Vermont in 1974. 40 years of hunter education, plus the invention and use of hunter orange has changed things dramatically. Hunting related shootings with injury are rare, our hunters are safe and getting safer.
Here is some preliminary data from Ohio. They like Vermont have no minimum age for people to take hunter education and if they pass can buy a hunting license. four years ago they passed a similar law to H243 allowing people to try hunting with a mentor prior to taking hunter education. Here is what Steve Gray, former Director of the Ohio Fish and Wildlife Department told me about the program:

Eric-The before and after data [before the mentored hunting law passed and after it passed] is being put together at this time and should be available in 2 or 3 weeks. This will be an in-depth review of recruitment.Upon initial review it looks like the results after 3 seasons are very good. I will get it to you as soon as it is available. The safety figures are available now. Not in Ohio or in any of the other states with a mentored hunting program has anyone in this program been involved in a fatality. In Ohio,after 3 full seasons, no mentored hunter has been involved in any incident fatal or non-fatal. The report is being finished and I should get it to you in a timely manner.This will be a very fresh report.

This type legislation is being supported by the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sport Foundation, US Sportsman's Alliance, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and the International Hunter Education Association. Mentored hunting program was also endorsed in the Future of Hunting in Vermont report as a result of 2 1/2 days work by 60 leaders in the hunting and conservation field here in Vermont in 2006 in Castleton. The VT Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs have also endorsed the concept of this bill.

I urge all of you to read the bill, and contact your local representative and ask them to support this bill and vote it into law.
I will keep everyone posted on progress thru this blog - stay tuned...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Partnership - Enviros and Hunters

In Vermont we have the VT Wildlife Partnership...

George Bush united sportsmen, enviros: Bob Marshall column

Posted by Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune February 08, 2009 9:02AM

Categories: Bob Marshall

Optimists like to say every cloud has a silver lining. Well, looking back on the environmental record of the Bush Administration, I don't see one.

I see two.

Silver Lining No. 1

As President Bush left office last month, sportsmen's conservation groups and mainstream environmental organizations agreed they had just survived one of the worst assaults on fish and wildlife habitat in memory.

That's the silver lining.

Not the attacks on the environment. Rather, the fact that the hook-and-bullet crowd and the tree huggers agreed on something.

And that's just the beginning of the story.

Sow Those Seeds!

Sow Those Seeds

Published: February 14, 2009
In August 2004, I wrote a Rural Life editorial about the victory garden movement during World War II, noting that a national crisis had turned Americans — for a few years at least— into a nation of gardeners. Now we are in the midst of another crisis. And perhaps this is the moment for another national home gardening movement, a time when the burgeoning taste for local food converges with the desire to cut costs and take new control over our battered economic lives.

They Sure Showed That Obama

Op-Ed Columnist

They Sure Showed That Obama

This NYTimes article is an interesting take on deer hunters. First the view from the GOP and then the reality of how many voted. As an NRA president several years ago said, "the R in NRA is not for Republican." (This seems to have been promptly forgotten however.)
They Sure Showed That Obama
Published: February 14, 2009

AM I crazy, or wasn’t the Obama presidency pronounced dead just days ago? Obama had “all but lost control of the agenda in Washington,” declared Newsweek on Feb. 4 as it wondered whether he might even get a stimulus package through Congress. “Obama Losing Stimulus Message War” was the headline at Politico a day later. At the mostly liberal MSNBC, the morning host, Joe Scarborough, started preparing the final rites. Obama couldn’t possibly eke out a victory because the stimulus package was “a steaming pile of garbage.”

But we do know this much. Just as in the presidential campaign, Obama has once again outwitted the punditocracy and the opposition. The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again.
A useful template for the current political dynamic can be found in one of the McCain campaign’s more memorable pratfalls. Last fall, it was the Beltway mantra that Obama was doomed with all those working-class Rust Belt Democrats who’d flocked to Hillary in the primaries. The beefy, beer-drinking, deer-hunting white guys — incessantly interviewed in bars and diners — would never buy the skinny black intellectual. Nor would the “dead-ender” Hillary women. The McCain camp not only bought into this received wisdom, but bet the bank on it, pouring resources into states like Michigan and Wisconsin before abandoning them and doubling down on Pennsylvania in the stretch. The sucker-punched McCain lost all three states by percentages in the double digits.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Coyote Hunting Contests - Ethical?

A point of contention in the proposed Vermont rule on retrieval and utilization is whether coyotes should be included or not.

Organized coyote hunts provide public service but some hunters ...
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Jim Posewitz, executive director of Orion: The Hunters Institute, a hunting ethics group located in Montana, said that while the number of organized coyote ...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crossbows in New York State

from today's Ithaca Journal.

February 12, 2009

Dave Henderson: Two bills sure to anger some sportsmen

There are any number of bills wandering about the Democratic-controlled legislature these days that concern, if not frighten sportsmen, but two recent ones have provoked immediate controversy.

One, Assembly Bill A00924, would amend Environmental Conservation law to authorize the use of crossbows as legal hunting implements for able-bodied hunters. Crossbows are currently allowed for severely handicapped hunters, but the Assembly bill (which has no Senate counterpart yet) would allow for a special crossbow season.

It would also allow the use of a crossbow on private property in any deer season — a stipulation that will render those vehement anti-crossbow members of the bowhunting community apoplectic.

The bill calls for a minimum 14-inch bolt (arrow), a safety, a minimum limb width of 17 inches, a minimum draw weight of 100 pounds and maximum weight of 200 pounds.

The bill's justification states that "in states that allow crossbow hunting, including Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio (and now Pennsylvania) crossbows appear to be an important recruitment and retention tool for hunters.

"Further, these states found that crossbow use has not resulted in a decrease in bag limits, nor has poaching increased. As expected, where crossbow hunting is permitted, it has been documented as a safe, responsible and popular means of hunting, and it has had no ill effect on wildlife resources or on any other group of sportsmen."

Virtually identical bills died in the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee in 2005-06 and 2007-08, but Commissioner Grannis, whose party is now in the majority in both houses, has now indicated an interest in seeing it passed.

The second controversial bill is Senate Bill S1598, which would require all pistol permits (outside of New York City) to be renewed every five years, for a fee, and for all first-time permit applicants to take a safety course.

The renewal is currently required in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester and pre-application training in other counties.

The bill's "Justification" notes that "Firearms are clearly a lethal product and the owner of a firearm must know how to operate it and store it properly to prevent needless death and injury. The state requires a person who is going to operate a car to prove that he or she knows how and issues a license. Similarly, the state needs some assurance that an individual knows how to safely use his or her firearm."

License renewal would help account for all licensed firearms in the event of theft, death or other change in permit holder's condition.

This bill will definitely have life, since the sponsor is Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, chairman of the Codes Committee. There is a companion bill, A801, in the Senate.


"a safe, responsible and popular means of hunting . . ."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

- Hide quoted text -

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 7:31 PM
Subject: Hearing Friday on Future of Vermont Hunter Safety Position

The proposed Vermont budget would delete the vacant
Hunter Safety Coordinator position. It makes no sense
to remove this position because it is funded via federal
Pittman-Robertson funds. Calls needed ASAP
There are no Vermont tax dollars necessary to fund
the position and deleting the position will save no VT
tax paper dollars.
This position holds the Vermont Hunter Safety Program
together and will be critical to other shooting programs.
Please call the Sgt-at-Arms at 800-322-5616 and leave
a polite message for Rep. Steve Adams to tell him you
"support the retaining the Hunter Safety Coordinator position"
Steve is a good guy and will carry your message to the VT

Eric says:
This position slated to be cut was my old job. None of the 5 positions at Fish and Wildlife slated to be permanently cut will save the general fund one penny. They are all funded by license money or federal aid. Once they are gone, it will be very difficult to get them back. Call your representative and tell them that you want a strong Department. That you understand government needs to cut back, but cutting positions at F&W saves no money and makes no sense.
* Culling of Rocky Mountain National Park Elk Begins

About time - I visited the park several years ago in the winter. The over browsing was unbelievable.
I found this fact (highlighted in red) at the very end of the article interesting:

"The culled animals are tested for Chronic Wasting Disease, with meat testing negative for the disease being distributed to the top names in a lottery that drew more than 5,400 applicants. The top name left on the list will receive an entire carcass. Meat testing positive will be given to a mountain lion research project."

That is a lot of folks wanting an elk to eat! I wonder how many of them hunt or would want to learn.

International view of wildlife and hunting

From Bart Semcer's blog

New CIC Newsletter

The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, a confederation more North American organizations should participate in, has recently published a new newsletter that can be read here. I found the articles on the future of large carnivores in Europe and hunting enclosures to be particularly interesting.

New Ground

Climate change - presented by a great teacher

February 6, 2009, 9:40 am

Richard Alley’s Orbital and Climate Dance

Imagine a cross between Woody Allen and Carl Sagan and you come somewhat close to capturing the style of Richard Alley, a Penn State glaciologist and expert on Earth’s past climate cycles who has spent years trying out new ways to captivate students and the public with the science and significance of climate change.

He imitates Johnny Cash to describe the planet’s cycles. His book, “The Two-Mile Time Machine,” is a fascinating account of how scientists have learned to use ice as a history book of climatic and atmospheric changes — and what Greenland has revealed about times when climate jogged abruptly.

He also dances. In the short video above, Dr. Alley explains how some patterns in the changes that occur during Earth’s ice ages and warm intervals (like the last 11,000 years) prove that greenhouse gases exert a warming effect. They don’t trigger the warmups or chills, but the gases explain why some climatic changes are global (the gases mix uniformly around the planet) while others are not.

The video was taken in Chicago last year during a workshop for science teachers held as part of Polar-Palooza, a traveling road show in which field scientists and Arctic residents explain what’s going on at both ends of the planet. Their next stop, this weekend, is Manhattan, with one appearance at The New York Times’s auditorium on Saturday and another Sunday at the American Museum of Natural History Sunday.

Man's effect on evolution of animals that we hunt and fish

From today's New York Times:

Seeing the Risks of Humanity’s Hand in Species Evolution

Human predation is causing some species to evolve to reproduce at younger ages and smaller sizes, to the long-term harm of the species.

“Humans are frighteningly efficient predators,” said J. Stanley Cobb, a lobster expert who retired recently from the University of Rhode Island. “They impose mortality in specific ways, at particular stages of the life cycle. If we believe that natural selection has shaped the life history characteristics of a species, then we have to believe that a different mortality regime will affect life history.”

Because humans discovered fire, the benefits of hunting in teams and the bounties of agriculture, people have been changing the natural landscape, causing plants and animals to evolve in response.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Paleo eating - what the back to earth folks are saying

Check out this Blog site for an interesting look at what folks are saying about hunting that are involved in organic farming and gardening. Looks like a great group to be recruiting...

Real Primal: Hunting for Dinner

My search and practices started years ago after reading Paul Shepard’s “Coming Home to the Pleistocene” and of course Cordains “The Paleo Diet”.

My “beef” is this though- I have seen on several sites, like yours, questions concerning cheap but good animal protein and how to obtain the best for your dollar; grass versus organic; free range versus yada yada yada…..

How about getting out and killing your own food? That seems pretty Paleo to me….so that’s what we do in this family. I’m not talking about the high tech, redneck, trophy hunter syndrome. I’m talking about subsistence hunting- spiritual hunting. Taking responsibility for ones hungry place in the natural world and reconnect..

Get in the Game: Easy Primal Game-Meat Recipes

As a follow-up to our Wednesday post about hunting for your dinner, we wanted to offer up a few simple recipes for foods that you might find in the forest (or in your local grocers meat section!)

Apprentice license good for hunting

Pyne Column: Apprentice license good for hunting Sun Feb 8, 2009

We've all had it happen. A friend or neighbor or relative expresses an interest in trying hunting. You're more than happy to take them under your wing, but after pointing out that they must first t... more...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cheney coming to Manchester??

From the Rutland Herald:

Feb 6, 2009

Vermont museum mum on Cheney invite

By DENNIS JENSEN The Rutland Herald

Published reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney will be the guest of honor at the Manchester-based American Museum of Fly Fishing's annual dinner at the New York Angler's Club on March 5 has the organization re-examining that decision.

While Catherine Comar, the executive director of the museum, would not confirm or deny reports that Cheney was the guest of honor, reports of his upcoming appearance have appeared on the Web sites of several outdoor writers.

"We're not discussing this," Comar said.

Asked if the published reports were in error and if Cheney was not invited to speak, Comar said, "We'll contact you when we're ready to discuss the issue. The board (of directors) is having meetings. When we have any information to offer, we'll contact you."

Richard Tisch of Pound Ridge, N.Y., a member of the board of trustees for the museum, said he would not discuss the Cheney issue, but did acknowledge that the museum's board of directors would be addressing the issue in an upcoming meeting.

"We've got no comment at this time," he said. But Tisch said the board "will be meeting shortly, in the next week or two" to discuss the Cheney matter.

The museum has come under some criticism by several outdoor writers and others who maintain that Cheney is a poor choice to be honored by the museum, given, they said, his record on the environment.

Ted Williams, the conservation editor for Fly Rod & Reel magazine, apparently broke the Cheney story about a month ago on a blog he writes for that publication.

Williams explained his opposition to Cheney in a column written for High Country News, in Paonia, Colo.

"Can there be a better choice than traditional practitioner Dick Cheney the man who trashed the Endangered Species Act, who virtually canceled the Clean Air and Clean Waters acts, who suppressed science, who ruined the lives of dedicated resource professionals and who ran Christine Todd Whitman out of the EPA?"

The museum's Web site makes no mention that Cheney will be the guest speaker at its annual dinner. Tickets for the dinner are $175 a person.

Steve Wright of Craftsbury, an avid fly fisherman and a former commissioner of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, said he was surprised the museum would select a public figure as controversial as Cheney.

"I'm disappointed with the museum," he said. "I think it's sad. I wish the museum could have a higher standard for its fundraising practices."

Wright said he has always viewed the museum "as a conservation organization, but Dick Cheney is the archenemy of the habitat that supports cold water fisheries resources and he's proven that over eight years in office."

Wright said he suspected the museum didn't anticipate the kind of reaction it would receive when word got out about Cheney speaking at the annual dinner and said that might explain why the museum's board is having second thoughts about featuring him.

"The way these things happen is that some board member wants to play a big card just to show he can get someone from the inner circle to appear before his organization," Wright said.

Rep. David Deen, D-Windham, a fishing guide, said he didn't see a problem with inviting Cheney to speak.

"If having Dick Cheney will help the fly fishing museum carry out their mission, to raise some money to carry out their goals, then fine," he said. "The sport (of fly fishing) is not political; never has been."

Deen said that, as a lifelong Democrat, he "had some problems" with former President George W. Bush, but noted that Bush signed a number of executive orders that went a long way toward protecting ocean fisheries.

When Cheney was vice president, the code name given to him by the Secret Service was "Angler."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Update on how VT's deer are wintering

The cold weather and snow we had in much of Vermont during December and January have state wildlife biologists concerned about survival of deer. Conditions during the remainder of the winter will play a major role in Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department hunting season recommendations for next fall.
More »

Hunting as sport and implications for fair chase

Here's a link to a brief piece I've posted to the "Philosophy of Sport" blog about hunting as a sport.

Part of a larger project--may be of interest to others.

Jim T.

those pesky woodcock . . .


Attn all hunters/trappers/fishers and wildlife lovers:

Three hearing dates have been set for the proposed Fish and Wildlife Board Rule on Retrieval and Utilization of Wildlife. This is a rule that addresses the worst behavior by a few slobs that don't respect wildlife and make us all look bad. Some have argued that we don't need the rule because the vast majority of hunters, anglers and trappers do make a strong attempt to retrieve all wildlife the attempt to take and they do use all eatable meat and hides of the critters they kill. I fully agree. But, and this is a big but, we do have some so called sportsmen who don't bother to walk over and look for blood sign when the deer they just blasted from the road side doesn't go right down, and through out small perch in the access areas because they got some bigger ones and do dump deer over the guard rails because they waited too long to skin it out. And these few hurt us all. They become the public face of us all to folks that don't know a hunter personally. Yes, we have the road hunters, sign shooters and deer jackers. But at least the Wardens can arrest them for law violations. The wildlife wasters in most cases are not violating the way our laws read now. This needs to be changed.

We have this opportunity to be the agents of positive change by supporting the spirit of this rule. Or we can abdicated our responsibilities and let others impose their version of this rule on us. According to my contacts in Legislature and in the Department, that is exactly what will happen if the board does not adopt this rule.

So its up to us. Lead or be led. Is the rule perfect? No. But it is a very good start. The proposed rule is supported almost in entirety by the Vt Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs (who I represented on the working group), Vt Trappers Assn and the Traditions Coalition. HAT did not support it as they appeared to be opposed to any new regulations, arguing both that the rule did not go far enough and that no rule is needed.

Here are the meeting dates - I hope to see you there!

March 10th in Essex Jct at the Dept’s District office at 111 West Street from 6PM to 8PM

March 11th in Montpelier at the Pavilion Building auditorium from 6PM to 8 PM

March 12th in Castleton at the Dept’s Kehoe Conservation Camp from 6PM to 8 PM

For the draft wording go to my previous post

Retrieval and Utilization Proposed Rule

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Montpelier Happenings

There are some important issues on the table in Montpelier.
Fish and Wildlife Dept funding - all departments are being hit, but the FWD general fund money is being whacked especially hard.
The Fish and Wildlife board will be announcing public hearings for a proposed rule on retrieval and utilization of fish and wildlife. Most of the provisions have been endorsed by the major sporting groups including the Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, but several sections are still to be decided - the voice of hunters is needed.
Lastly, a bill to allow folks of all ages to try hunting in a very controlled manner prior to getting a hunting license is about to be introduced. This is one of the "Families Afield" initiatives that are being adopted nationally to help reverse the decline in hunter numbers. All hunters should look at this and support the concept.
Stay tuned...