Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Baiting Wars - Continued

This video is from the North Dakota Game and Fish Dept looking at the baiting of deer. Issues examined include: disease, drawing animals off public land on to restricted public land resulting in reducing the overall kill, and fair chase concerns. The first two concerns were why VT several years ago outlawed feeding and baiting. The definition of fair chase hunting is from the Boone and Crockett Club.

North Dakota Hunters for Fair Chase is a group looking to close down the states high fence shooting operations. Lot's of interesting stuff going on in ND. Better lat than never?

Hunters to the rescue

my thanks to Cagey for the tip about this story.

Florida's python problem to be solved by hunters.

What are the fair chase implications for the pursuit of pythons? As a "nuisance species," do pythons even deserve fair chase? why or why not? What does fair chase for pythons look like: centerfire rifles, snares, or machete blows to the head?
There are giant beasts stalking South Florida. Seriously: Burmese Pythons that can grow as long as a Winnebago and have been known to swallow German shepherds who take a wrong turn. There are an estimated 30,000 of them, slithering through Miami and surrounding counties. The reptiles wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. They can also kill people. Just last year, an 8½-foot family pet Burmese escaped its cage and strangled a 2-year-old girl while she slept in her crib.

Concern about the snake menace has been growing for years. Last summer, the state offered 19 hunters licenses to chase down the critters, hoping they could help bring the population under control. It didn’t work. So now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is taking a far more dramatic step: On March 6, they’re declaring open season on the giant pythons, opening up 736,000 prime snake-hunting acres to any Floridian with a hunting license. People from as far away as Australia want in on the action. For six weeks, an expected crowd of hundreds will get to take their best shot at bagging the beasts.

Local authorities talk of the need to bring in outside firepower with an almost comic bureaucratic calm. “In order to increase the numbers of reptiles of concern taken, we believe it is important to give the hunting community the tools for success, and that means the knowledge they need to apply their skill,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto, in announcing the need for to unleash hunters. Translation: The newbies need to follow the vets around, learning how to track, locate, and grab the suckers, then chop their heads off with a knife or machete. Those too squeamish to get close will shoot the snakes, with pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast and at Time magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2010

HSUS lawsuit

This should be fun to watch. From the U.S. Sportsman's Alliance.

HSUS Hit by Federal Racketeering Lawsuit

Other Animal Rights Groups Named in Case

The parent company of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Feld Entertainment, Inc., recently filed a federal lawsuit against the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and a group of other animal rights organizations under a law prohibiting racketeering.

The suit, filed on February 16, comes after Feld Entertainment spent close to a decade in litigation with HSUS, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Animal Protection Institute (API) and others over its treatment of elephants used for circus performances. The original litigation came after a former Ringling employee named Tom Rider began making public appearances alleging abuses of the animals.

During the case brought by Rider and backed by the animal rights groups, information was presented that indicated that Rider received numerous payments from the groups through a complex web of financial transactions. This information played a key role in U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan’s decision to dismiss the case in December 2009. Judge Sullivan indicated that these payments represented Rider’s “sole source of income” throughout the duration of the case and that Rider did not have the legal standing to bring the suit.

In his decision, Judge Sullivan further stated, “The Court finds that Mr. Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible, and therefore affords no weight to his testimony regarding the matters discussed herein, i.e., the allegations related to his standing to sue.”

These findings by Judge Sullivan prompted Feld Entertainment to file its own lawsuit claiming that HSUS and others were involved in racketeering or illegal business activities by financing Rider’s suit in order to advance an agenda that included ending the use of elephants in circuses.

According to the suit, Feld specifically states that the defendants “conspired to conduct and conducted the Enterprise through a pattern of, among other things, bribery and illegal gratuity payments (in violation of both state and federal law), obstruction of justice, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.”;

Click Here to read the suit filed by Feld Entertainment.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Call to Reform of Wildlife Conservation

 The following is from The Wildlife Society Blog  Making Tracks  John Organ is a board member of Orion. I am on the steering committee for The Vermont Wildlife Partnership, a coalition of hunting, conservation, environmental and business groups is working for broad based, adequate and sustainable funding for the VT Fish and Wildlife Dept.


A Call for Reform

February 24th, 2010
Writing in The Journal of Wildlife Management this month, Cynthia Jacobson, John Organ, Dan Decker, and other leaders in the wildlife field argue that,”The wildlife conservation institution needs to reform to maintain legitimacy and relevancy in the 21st century.”
To be sure, times have changed since the tenets of wildlife conservation were established in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, hunters and anglers–upon whom state wildlife agencies depend for financing–aren’t as numerous. Other stakeholder groups have legitimate interests in managing and maintaining wildlife populations. Wildlife habitat is giving way to development. Myriad federal and state laws and policies now regulate how we study, manage, and conserve animals and populations.
Because of these and other changes, the authors suggest four considerations for reform:
1) funding should be broad-based (not relying primarily on proceeds from hunting license and gun sales),
2) agencies should be governed by trustees (rather than depend on a revolving door of directors),
3) science should provide the basis for professional recommendations (politics should not), and
4) a wide range of stakeholders and partners should play a role in the institution (not just those interested in consumptive use of wildlife).
Read the article to learn more about the authors’ views. Do you think wildlife conservation needs to undergo reform? If so, how should we proceed?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Canned Lion VS Wild Lion Hunting

This post from the Planyourownsafari blog.  I visited a breeding farm during a visit to South Africa a few years ago. They were very closed mouthed on what the cats (they also had leopard and cougar) were being raised for. I found out later it was to sell to operations such as described below.
The owner was a very nice guy, ran a clean operation and took good care of his animals. To him it was an agricultural venture. As we talked, a 3 month old lion wrapped it's foreleg around my legs and lay down on my feet while the rest of it's litter mates slept on a near by picnic table. 

Canned Lion VS Wild Lion Hunting (Part II)

February 16, 2010 by pieterkat  
Filed under Guest Bloggers
This is my second post on this subject, please read the first one if you are just joining this discussion.
canned hunting Canned Lion VS Wild Lion Hunting (Part II)As a recap – “canned” lion hunting (defined as a “hunter” shooting a trophy lion from a captive bred source) is a big industry in South Africa. The breeders provide the animals, they are put in a fenced enclosure, and the “hunter” is then given the opportunity to blast away. Alternatively, the lion is drugged, driven to a “wildish” area (the hunter doesn’t know where he is anyway, looks like Africa to him…) and then he is given the same opportunity. Or she, quite a lot of hunters are women.
The practice of “canned hunting” of lions came under recent review in South Africa – the former Minister of Environment took a bit of a stance against it, the breeders complained, it went to court. The initial case was upheld by the courts, but was subsequently overturned by a court of appeals. So the practice will continue for now, perhaps with a few, a very few, controls.
I decided to do a bit of further research on the subject. CITES, the international regulatory organization that is “supposed” to regulate international trade in endangered (and vulnerable) species by issuing permits for export and then tracking where those exports go, has provided figures that make up this next graph of exported trophies from wild lions shot as trophies in South Africa versus “canned” lions.

The post goes on to say:

So what can we extract from this? I have a few choice conclusions, maybe you could add more.
  • Hunters from the United States basically want a lion served up on a plate. They care little about “ethical hunting” and opt for the take-away shortcut. This is despite the fact that a bill called the “Sportsmanship in Hunting Act of 2005”was introduced in the US Senate to restrict canned hunting. One of the provisions reads as follows: “Whoever, in or substantially affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly transfers, transports, or possesses a confined exotic animal, for the purposes of allowing the killing or injuring of that animal for entertainment or for the collection of a trophy, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both” (note that this does not prohibit anyone from “collecting” a confined animal from abroad – bit of an oversight?).
  • Canned hunting has been banned in 20 US States. The other 30 could probably not be bothered, one of them being New York.
  • The Safari Club International, a prominent pro-hunting lobby in the United States and abroad, accepts lions killed in “canned” hunts for inclusion in record books as well as in award categories! “Look honey, I got a prize for shooting a big one in an enclosure!”.  SCI is a hard-driving bunch of individuals, membership includes former US Presidents for example. They push hard for the “right” to shoot lions in Africa, and employ scientists to back their claims of high numbers of lions remaining in Africa. Strangely, they also espouse the concept of “ethical” hunting, and the concept of a “fair chase” where the animal has a chance to escape the hunter. I guess that could mean the “canned” lions could theoretically have the opportunity of burrowing under or jumping over the fence, or maybe quickly shaking off their administered drugs?
Read the full post and comments

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ron Reagan Selected as Executive Director of AFWA

This news is from the Outdoor Wire. Ron started his career in Vermont as a game biologist, rising to Commissioner before heading to DC to work for AFWA. He is an excellent choice and a strong supporter of ethical hunting.
Acting Executive Director and Resource Director Ron Regan has been selected as the new Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Regan replaces Matt Hogan who became the Assistant Regional Director for Migratory Birds and State Programs with the USFWS. | For More...

The Impact of an International Seal Harvesting Agreement

The following is from the International Economic Law and Policy Blog. It seems to me that this issue has implications for other types of hunts and wild animal harvests. North American trappers and furharvesters have been working thru a similar ban for years, leading to the development of Best Management Policy traps and techniques.

The Seal Products Case: The Impact of an International Seal Harvesting Agreement

Some in Canada hope that an international declaration on ethical seal hunting will solve the seal products dispute:
In an effort to challenge the European Union’s trade ban on Canadian seal products, a Quebec senator is proposing that provinces and countries involved in the seal hunt sign on to an international declaration on ethical sealing.

Senator CĂ©line Hervieux-Payette visited Iqaluit, Nunavut, last week to promote the Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals, written by a panel of experts and scientists from Canada and the United States.


Friday, February 19, 2010

The next step for Quality Deer Management?

This op-ed piece just appeared in today's New York Times. Perhaps the uber-breeding of big-racked, pain-free deer is just what the doctor ordered to keep anti-hunters at bay in the never-ending fight to protect hunting's future. What do you all think??
February 19, 2010
Op-Ed Contributor

Not Grass-Fed, but at Least Pain-Free

St. Louis

IN the 35 years since Peter Singer’s book “Animal Liberation” was published, jump-starting the animal rights movement in the United States, the number of animals used in cosmetics testing and scientific research has dropped significantly, and the number of dogs and cats killed in shelters has fallen by more than half. Nevertheless, because the amount of red meat that Americans eat per capita has held steady at more than 100 pounds a year as the population has increased, more animals than ever suffer from injuries and stress on factory farms.

Veal calves and gestating sows are so confined as to suffer painful bone and joint problems. The unnatural high-grain diets provided in feedlots cause severe gastric distress in many animals. And faulty or improperly used stun guns cause the painful deaths of thousands of cows and pigs a year.

We are most likely stuck with factory farms, given that they produce most of the beef and pork Americans consume. But it is still possible to reduce the animals’ discomfort — through neuroscience. Recent advances suggest it may soon be possible to genetically engineer livestock so that they suffer much less.

This prospect stems from a new understanding of how mammals sense pain. The brain, it turns out, has two separate pathways for perceiving pain: a sensory pathway that registers its location, quality (sharp, dull or burning, for example) and intensity, and a so-called affective pathway that senses the pain’s unpleasantness. This second pathway appears to be associated with activation of the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex, because people who have suffered damage to this part of the brain still feel pain but no longer find it unpleasant. (The same is true of people who are given morphine, because there are more receptors for opiates in the affective pain pathway than in the sensory pain pathway.)

Neuroscientists have found that by damaging a laboratory rat’s anterior cingulate cortex, or by injecting the rat with morphine, they can likewise block its affective perception of pain. The rat reacts to a heated cage floor by withdrawing its paws, but it doesn’t bother avoiding the places in its cage where it has learned the floor is likely to be heated up.

Recently, scientists have learned to genetically engineer animals so that they lack certain proteins that are important to the operation of the anterior cingulate cortex. Prof. Min Zhuo and his colleagues at the University of Toronto, for example, have bred mice lacking enzymes that operate in affective pain pathways. When these mice encounter a painful stimulus, they withdraw their paws normally, but they do not become hypersensitive to a subsequent painful stimulus, as ordinary mice do.

Prof. Zhou-Feng Chen and his colleagues here at Washington University have engineered mice so that they lack the gene for a peptide associated with the anterior cingulate gyrus. Like the animals given brain lesions, these mice are normally sensitive to heat and mechanical pain, but they do not avoid situations where they experience such pain.

Given the similarity among all mammals’ neural systems, it is likely that scientists could genetically engineer pigs and cows in the same way. Because the sensory dimension of the animals’ pain would be preserved, they would still be able to recognize and avoid, when possible, situations where they might be bruised or otherwise injured.

The people who consumed meat from such genetically engineered livestock would also be safe. Knockout animals have specific proteins removed, rather than new ones inserted, so there’s no reason to think that their meat would pose more health risks for humans than ordinary meat does.

If we cannot avoid factory farms altogether, the least we can do is eliminate the unpleasantness of pain in the animals that must live and die on them. It would be far better than doing nothing at all.

Adam Shriver is a doctoral student in the philosophy-neuroscience-psychology program at Washington University.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tammy Sapp Named Board Member of Orion-The Hunter's Institute

Tammy Sapp Named Board Member of Orion-The Hunter's Institute
Eric Nuse, executive director of Orion - The Hunter's Institute, announced the organization's newest board member, conservation communications professional Tammy Sapp.

Sapp is an award-winning writer with 24 years of experience in the outdoor communications field with a focus on hunting and target shooting. She possesses project management and team development know-how through her work at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the National Wild Turkey Federation. As the NWTF's senior vice president of communications, Tammy coordinated hunter recruitment and retention efforts in addition to planning and implementing numerous national marketing communications campaigns to encourage understanding of a range of conservation issues. Today, Tammy freelances for a variety of Web sites and magazines, edits the women's section of The Outdoor Wire and provides communications and public relations services through her company Tammy Sapp Communications.

Sapp joins a team of dedicated professionals who serve on Orion's board including:

President - Mark Hirvonen, Treasurer - Randy Newberg, Secretary - Gayle Joslin and board members John Organ, Jim Posewitz and Jim Tantillo .

Orion is a 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to ethical hunting and the wild resources essential to that purpose. Founded by Jim Posewitz in 1993, the organization is dedicated to preserving hunting as an important part of our North American conservation heritage through teaching hunter ethics and expanding society's knowledge of the conservation legacy that was born in the embers of the hunter's fire.

Orion is best known for its strong stance on ethical hunting and promoting the value of North American's hunting heritage. "Beyond Fair Chase," which was written by Posewitz, is a standard for hunter education classes in North America with 500,000 copies in circulation. For more information, please contact us at 802-730-8111 or visit
Eric Nuse, (802) 730-8111 or Mark Hirvonen, (906) 362-1969

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quality Deer Management and the hunt

Cross-posted from the Grousers hunting blog.

I am currently working my way through Marc Boglioli's A Matter of Life and Death: Hunting in Contemporary Vermont, and I know that Eric has already read the book.

Boglioli has some interesting things to say about "Quality Deer Management," or QDM. The following paragraph caught my eye in light of a comment Eric has made on this blog recently about things that "take the hunt out of hunting," e.g., hunting gadgets, or high-fence. Does QDM fall into this category of potential threats to hunting's future?

Boglioli writes:
"While QDM may be an unqualified success for deer management in Vermont, it could well alter local meanings of hunting because of its emphasis on 'the trophy.' Most hunters, while certainly not opposed to the idea of bagging a 'Rackasaurus' on opening day, are thrilled to bring home any deer at all. If it happens to be unusually large, or has a trophy rack, so much the better. But QDM is a different philosophy. It focuses on the size of the deer and/or its rack as a way of determining the value of a hunting experience. This thought first crossed my mind when I initially learned about QDM in 2002 r 2003, and it was emphasized again in a conversation with a Vermont game warden in 2004, who said, 'The cultural perception of hunting has gone from process to product. . . . They're taking the hunt out of hunting.' A man at a local deer camp shared similar sentiments and pointed out (even though he agreed that it might be good for growing bigger deer) that QDM was a completely different approach from what he referred to as the Vermont 'family' hunting tradition, which is not oriented around a quest for trophy bucks but rather around the love of fresh venison, the enjoyment of family and friends, and the chance to spend some time in the woods rather than at work. Considering how many times I have heard hunters say 'You can't eat the horns,' I think this guy had a point." (p. 29)
Well, what do you think? Does QDM, Earn-a-Buck programs, and the like "take the hunt out of hunting"? Do we risk altering the "family hunting tradition" if we change the focus of hunting from process to product? Is this the end of hunting as we know it?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

On the role of physical effort in hunting

I've wrestled with the idea that in order to have had a truly successful hunt there should be a element of physical effort. Something about getting up late, driving to a blind, having a guide set the decoys, using his dogs for the retrieve and having him dress the game while the hunter enjoys a prepared meal in the lodge, is disquieting to me. I did this type hunt once (except we did get up at O dark thirty) and it was nice - but it was missing something. We did get ducks, but I find when I tell about this hunt in Texas, I mainly talk about the guide and how he was so intent on having us kill ducks he added way more stress into the hunt than I like.
As a student of Theodore Roosevelt, I'm influenced by his consept of muscular Christianity and how he applied physical activity and hardship to hunting. I found the following postscript This essay about Art in Pursuit
Gaston Phoebus’s 14th century hunting manual which appeared first in The Weekly Standard on June 2, 2008, by Maureen Mullarkey interesting:

"Edward of Norwich, Duke of York, later to die at Agincourt, translated Phoebus’s manual into English, under the title The Master of Game. Theodore Roosevelt, writing from the White House, introduced the 1909 reprint edition with praise for the great medieval lords as “mighty men with their hands and terrible in battle” as well as cultivated statesmen. At the same time, he lamented the eventual deterioration of the hunt into destructive obsession and a riskless “parody of the stern hunting life.” He reserved his highest admiration for the roving hunter who penetrates the wilderness with simple equipment and shifts for himself."

As with many fair chase issues, what is strenuous for one person may be easy for another. In my thinking it is the stretch both physically and mentally that makes for a memorable and satisfying hunt. What is nice with the physical side is you don't have to have a kill to prove you worked hard.

Read more about "The Master of Game"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Have gray wolves found a home in Colorado?

From High Country News

Have gray wolves found a home in Colorado?

Officially, wild wolves do not live in Colorado. The nearest established population is in Wyoming, where gray wolves were introduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. But rumors of wolf sightings abound in Colorado, and in recent years, at least two wolves have died in the state. In 2004, a young radio-collared female wolf from Yellowstone was killed on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs, about 30 miles west of Denver. In the winter of 2009, another young female collared wolf traveled a 1,000-mile-long route from the Yellowstone region to the Meeker, Colo., area, roughly 20 miles from where Eisenberg and her crew work. That wolf's death, in April, is still under investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and neither state nor federal officials will comment on the matter.
Scientists and managers who work with wolves often remark on the uniquely powerful human responses, both positive and negative, that the animals provoke: "Wolves make people absolutely nutty," says Ed Bangs. "You get all the pro-wolf people saying, 'God, we're finally saved, the ecosystem is in balance,' and you get the other side saying it's proof that Satan has returned to Earth."

read the full article

ATVs and Fair Chase

I came across this interesting post on the Dakota Backcountry Blog We have been having this debate in Vermont because the Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Johnathan Woods has pushed for a rule to open up some corridors on state owned land to ATVs. Currently all state land is closed to ATVs. There has been lots of push back to any opening of the corridors which are suppose to only be short connector trails to existing trails on private land. It sounds reasonable until you see what ATVs have done to public land out west, and do with illegal riding in Vermont.
I don't fully agree with the post below that they are also in violation of fair chase in all cases. Except for pulling out harvested big game and getting to trail heads that are open to other vehicles, I find ATVs offensive. But there are plenty of good reasons to restrict them with out using the fair chase argument. When I hunt in the west I'll only hunt wilderness and other land where they are banned. Otherwise it feels like hunting in a cloverleaf off an interstate. But that is my preference, Others may like that experience. To me they should be restricted to certain areas and then on existing road beds only.
What do you think?

Blogging About Hunting & Wildlife on the Northern Plains

ATVs and Fair Chase

2010 February 8
by dakotabackcountry

The Winter 2010 issue of Backcountry Journal, the quarterly magazine put out by the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has an excellent article by Tom Wharton about ATV use in big game hunting, its impacts, and postulates that unlimited ATV use tips the scales too much in favor of the hunter. Together with improved weapons, optics, and other gadgetry, unlimited ATV use eliminates the fair chase ethic from hunting. It struck close to home; we’re involved in attempting to regulate ATVs on public lands in South Dakota at the present. Hunters out here are divided.

Read the whole article at the Backcountry Journal

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The dog-hunting debate and fair chase

The following is a link to an article from North American Whitetail about the hunting of deer using hounds as is practiced in the American South.

I'll include some excerpts here.

Does the use of hounds to hunt deer violate the norms of fair chase? Why or why not? Is the use of hounds to hunt deer below the threshold of what "ethical hunters" should tolerate or support? Should there be a national prohibition against the hunting of deer with hounds?

To some, hunting whitetails with dogs is a rich tradition that has been around since colonial days, and for those hunters there is nothing more exciting than hearing the music of the dogs as they get on the trail of a deer. To others, hunting deer with dogs is an annoying and outdated method of hunting that ought to be outlawed. Here is an in-depth look at dog deer hunting in America today.

According to archeologists and historians, man has used domesticated canines to hunt wild game for as long as 15,000 years. When European settlers reached North America in the 1600s, they brought their hunting dog traditions with them. Experts believe that the first authentic pack of hunting dogs in the colonies was established by Robert Brooke of Maryland in 1650.

But hunting with dogs in early North America represented a tectonic cultural shift away from the European style of hunting. For centuries in Europe, hunting wild game was a diversion available only to the rich and powerful. Game animals traditionally belonged to royalty and the landed gentry. Peasants caught "poaching the King's deer" often met their fate at the end of a hangman's noose.

In the colonies and later in the newly independent United States, wild game belonged to all free white males, regardless of their wealth or social class. Unfortunately, women and people of color had no similar rights, but that injustice was eventually rectified. The influx of Scotch-Irish immigrants to America in the mid-1700s ushered in the use of trained hounds to hunt so-called "Virginia deer" in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

But storm clouds began to gather early for dog-hunting in America. (Note: Hunting deer with dogs is commonly referred to as "dog-hunting.") In 1738, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed a law that required owners of deer dogs to keep their animals confined except when they were actually involved in a deer hunt. In 1876, Wisconsin became the first state to ban dog-hunting altogether. The bitterly debated Adirondack Deer Law of 1888 imposed tight strictures on dog-hunting in New York. By 1920, all of the Northeastern states had outlawed dog-hunting for deer.


As many deer hunters know, dog-hunting can be highly effective. By 1900, whitetail numbers were at an all-time low. Thanks to conservation efforts, the ever-resilient whitetails made a dramatic recovery in the last century. Now there are an estimated 30 million "Virginia deer" spread across 45 states.

Today, 11 states still allow deer hunting with dogs. However, two of the states, California and Hawaii, have no whitetail populations, and state game management officials tightly control the use of dogs to hunt axis, blacktail and mule deer. So the last bastion of dog-hunting for whitetails is found in nine states that were once part of the Old Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Another former Confederate state, Texas, allowed dog-hunting until 1990, when it was banned due to a flood of complaints from landowners and non-hunters. Incidentally, Texas now has an estimated 4 million whitetails, which is the largest population in any individual state or Canadian province.

Deer hunters who believe that their sport is under attack may be surprised and pleased to learn that the country as a whole still overwhelmingly supports the preservation of our hunting tradition. An extensive 2008 public opinion survey indicated that 78 percent of Americans approve of continued legal hunting for wild game. Unfortunately, the same poll showed that support for dog-hunting is dangerously low.

Read the rest of the article here. Enjoy.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Obama Administration Links Hunting and Conservation

From Making Tracks, The Wildlife Society Blog:

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have announced the creation of a special advisory committee, the Wildife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council. Secretary Salazar stated: “Theodore Roosevelt understood the vital role that hunting plays in American life, as well as the importance of protecting lands and wildlife to sustain that tradition…The early efforts of America’s hunters and anglers to preserve our nation’s wildlife heritage fueled the modern conservation movement and left us the natural bounty we are now entrusted with protecting.”

Having been to two direct meetings with Secretary Salazar in the past few weeks, I believe that he is sincere in his support of wildlife and habitat conservation, and in his dedication to and support of America’s sportsmen and women. It is clear that he believes that conservation should be a non-partisan issue that appeals to politicians on both sides of the aisle. In that, he is very much in line with TWS’ core policies and beliefs. TWS is currently working on technical reports on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the Public Trust Doctrine and is also planning on developing a supplemental issue of The Wildife Professional focused on the role of hunting in wildlife and habitat conservation.

TWS has also, in the best Leopoldian tradition, challenged some aspects of modern hunting, based on science, including some aspects of baiting and feeding, and the use of lead ammunition. It is currently working on a technical report on predator control to artificially augment ungulate populations.

Strengthening North America’s proud hunting heritage will not only involve promotion of the rich tradition, but also its ethics and conservation role. Modern hunting practices should be compatible with conservation, animal welfare, ecological principles, and ethics of fair chase. However, hunting has become critical in controlling numbers of some over-abundant species, such as deer and snow geese and destructive invasive species, such as nutria and feral pigs. Perhaps most important is its role as a source of essential funding to support conservation of both game and non-game species, especially at the state and provincial level.

Exploring the meaning of hunting

I have a question for all of you that hunt or assist in the hunt in any way - What is the meaning of hunting to you, and why is it an important part of your life? This is a deeper question than "Why do you hunt?" which focuses on motivations. I'm looking for the what do you get from hunting that justifies the time, money, effort and sometimes grief that you put into hunting and being a hunter.
I've done the "Why do you hunt?" question with many groups and come up with some long lists. Interestingly the lists generated by poachers looks very similar to hunter education instructors. But when you dug deeper into the reasons, much different priorities emerged. But even more telling was the fact that many of the poachers had never thought about why they hunted (or why they broke the game laws). For example, "Challenge of the hunt", was on all lists. Yet many of the poachers had been arrested because they had shot at the decoy deer, from their vehicle, under a light. Go figure!
What I'm interested here is the next level deeper. If you are thinking one reason is to get wild meat, I'd like to know why - beyond the protein. Does it represent something to you, is it an affirmation of your ability to provide for your family, a direct connection to the circle of life, a spiritual sacrament...
I'll post my thoughts below and look forward to seeing yours.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's hunting got to do with respecting animals?

An excellent discussion is going on over at NorCal Cazadora's Blog

Question du jour: What's hunting got to do with respecting animals?

I did a radio interview last week with Radio Netherlands Worldwide about hunting as an alternative to buying factory-farmed meat, and after I left the studio, I couldn't stop thinking about this one word that I'd kept saying in reference to meat and animals: "respect."

In particular, I talked about how much more I respected animals since I started hunting. I've said that many times before, but in this interview, I also talked about how I grew up in a family that raised animals for meat.

Afterward, that left me wondering: Taking responsibility for killing animals that provide your meat increases your respect for the food they provide. But why was it that hunting increased my respect for the animals themselves?

Read more and join the conversation

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ethics Blog Roundtable Continues

More discussion on hunter ethics/preferences and culture over on the Hog Blog:

Ethics Blog Roundtable Continues

Some great stuff seems to be coming out of the running ethics discussions, as well as the spin-offs (intentional or not) from the two posts by Thinking Hunter, Galen Geer, in which he first describes the ethics problem and considers holding a “symposium” for discussion, and then goes into some thoughts about an approach to the hunter’s ethics problem.

Arthur has put up a couple of good posts on his Simply Outdoors site, including this one. Chad Love, the Mallard of Discontent, takes a run at it in his surly post about the SHOT Show and the proliferation of high-tech gadgetry. And finally (in my list, not necessarily in order of appearance or relevance), there’s Eric Nuse’s considered response on his Fair Chase Hunting blog. (I know this is a lot of links, but if you’re interested in the topic or conversation, it’s worthwhile. Honest. Otherwise, Holly, the NorCal Cazadora has mentioned setting up a new blog to collect these threads in a single location… great idea for a way to utilize our spare time.)

It is the comments on Eric’s blog that spurred my return to the topic, particularly those from someone named Shaun. Shaun’s posts hold tight to what I consider the traditional argument for hunting ethics… that without a certain ethical ideal, what we’re doing is not really “hunting”, but simply killing. I can understand that perspective, and even agree with it to a point. But it also smacks of that elitist attitude that fails to take into consideration that every individual has their own set of values, and their own motivations for hunting.

read more and view some excellent comments

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why can't Postmodern Society Acknowledge its Inner Wild Man?

from the African Hunter web site

Joy of the Hunt: Why can't Postmodern Society Acknowledge its Inner Wild Man?
by Peter Shroedter

Hunting is a highly charged emotional issue, much like abortion, and people generally hold fast to the position they choose early in life all too often before they understand the consequence of their decision. Hunting is as natural an activity as falling in love and making babies. It's how families were sustained since the dawn of time.

The only people who can speak against hunting with some moral authority are true vegans; everyone else's comments are tainted by varying degrees of hypocrisy. Anyone who eats meat or uses animal products is responsible for killing on an industrial scale unimaginable in hunting.

Even the vegans' moral authority is in question when they criticize hunters because the market gardens that grow their vegetables have degraded the ecosystem and caused the demise of some wildlife somewhere. The cities and suburbs where they live have killed and displaced countless animals. The fact that they participate in our modern economy puts blood on their hands as well.

It is amazing how our society gorges itself nightly on virtual violence against people in movies and video games. We can also sit passively while politicians debate the finer points of genocide in far-off places and still somehow decry hunting. Perhaps this dichotomy should not come as a surprise in a society where most people live their entire lives without being part of the food chain except as consumers. In a culture where the word hunting is another word for killing, it is easy for earnest young people to conclude that hunting, like dog or cockfights, is part of a senseless brutal past.

The act of hunting in the pure sense of the word is a communion with nature and an acknowledgment of our species' past and its enduring dependency on the environment for survival. The fact that human beings are genetically programmed to hunt should be enough reason to acknowledge that hunting is part of being human. We are omnivores at top of the food chain, able to eat almost anything between meat meals, but it is meat that gives us the protein we need. It is the act of hunting that connects us to the essence of our existence and our dependency on our environment.

I've been a hunter since childhood and still hunt actively. I make no apology for it. The process of hunting has made me keenly aware of my place in the environment. Through hunting I learned early about the importance of conservation. It was through hunting I learned patience and perseverance and became a student of nature. I also learned about the sacredness of life and how all life is interdependent.

People who speak the loudest against hunting have turned the campaign to stop hunting into a very profitable industry. They choose to forget that it was hunters like Theodore Roosevelt who created the concept of national parks. They ignore that hunters pay for conservation efforts and give of their time to organizations like Ducks Unlimited and other conservation efforts that have undone the damage our modern economy has done to the environment.

The least part of hunting is the killing but you cannot hunt without intending to kill. In the words of Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset, in Meditations On Hunting: "One does not hunt in order to kill. On the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted."

One of the problems we have as hunters is that we do not talk about the hunt to non-hunters and when we do we make assumptions that non-hunters can appreciate the fine details of our passion without having experienced the "hunt." Hunters know about the range of emotions and state of heightened physical awareness that only the hunt can provide.

Non-hunters assume hunting is all about killing because to have blooded your own hands for something to eat is such a rare experience today. I have killed many animals for food because for most of my life, the only meat I ate was that which I slaughtered myself. There is no similarity between that bloody work and hunting.

When hunting with city friends I see the transition from urbanite to "the hunter" once we get into the bush and I point out the game sign. In less time than it takes to program a VCR, people who have never hunted before begin to see and hear things they never noticed before. They learn to sort out the forest sounds and begin to see in a new way. They begin to see the world through a hunter's hungry eyes searching for prey. They lose their sense of time and become acutely aware of minute changes in temperature and wind direction. As novices they can't understand the information their senses are detecting, which only increases the intensity of the experience. An excellent article describing the transition from urbanite to human hunter was written by Michael Pollan, for the New York Times entitled The Modern Hunter Gatherer, published March 2006. Pollan is an urbanite non-hunter and he took a walk in the woods with hunting friends. He used to scoff at Gasset and Ernest Heming- way for writing what he called hunting porn. But, before the hunt ended, he felt the depth of the emotions that hunting arouses and experiences what he calls "a cannabinoid moment."

Cannabinoids are compounds that affect the neurotransmitters, creating an intense sensory experience. I never knew the scientific cause for the altered physical and emotional state hunting brings on but it is the reason I hunt. I hunt to be part of the great thing that is the environment and to take my place in it.

Scientific explanations aside, suffice it to say that for many hunters, hunting is as important an experience and as spiritually uplifting as a religious pilgrimage.

So why, in a pluralistic society that tolerates so many spiritual pursuits, is hunting becoming an anti-social behavior. Is it that postmodern society is still afraid to acknowledge the inner wild man?
This article first appeared in the bi-monthly e-newsletter of African Indaba. Get a free subscription.

Gerhard R Damm
Dedicated to the People & Wildlife of Africa

Predator hunting contest in Idaho

The following post points out the different ways people view predators. The author's view is they are a valuable part of our ecosystem and should be respected. I'm not sure if he thinks they can be harvested or not. Governor Otter's view seems to be in align with many rural folks that they are our competitors and should be held in low numbers and contests are a good way to do that.
How do you view critters like coyotes and wolves? I'd be interested if you grew up in a rural or urban area.


The Idaho Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW), Governor Butch Otter’s mostly out-of-state ultra-rich cattle rancher buddies, are back at it again with a Wildlife Killing Derby in Twin Falls, Idaho this Saturday.

Sadly, this disturbing event is sponsored not only by Idaho’s Governor and Fish and Game Chair Wayne Wright, but by Cabela’s and Sportsmen’s Warehouse despite outcry from many reputable hunters and hunter organizations.

I always catch major flak when I post about the Idaho SFW and protecting wildlife in general in the form of nasty emails, comments and un-subscriptions. Even threats. With that said, I hope this post doesn’t offend any of you, my aim is to enlighten those that would like to see wilderness and wildlife around for generations to come.

Think for just a second before believing the hype. That is all I ask.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Idaho SFW (most are not even from/live in Idaho) is a group of well-funded cattle rancher anti-wolf lobbyists that portray themselves as the average joe hunter in Idaho. Their agenda is to miss-lead Idaho hunters into falling in-line for their cause.

REAL hunters, educated hunters – that respect the animals and habitat for which they hunt sustainably revolt against the Idaho SFW, as we all should. Their Wildlife Killing Derbies are a front for their wolf killing agenda. The addition of coyotes and other animals are merely a bonus for the kill and waste types.

I know this is a hot springs blog, but wild animals are part of the last bits and pieces of semi-untouched wilderness, just like most natural hot springs. They represent the last of the wild places. An attempt need be made to preserve all components of these vanishing ecosystems.

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