April 8, 2013
OK, I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, but this somehow found its way into my email and I couldn’t think of a better place to share…
There are so many things I could say here, but so few of those things are constructive. So I’ll leave it at face value, unedited and unremarked… for now.
For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2013
Kaitlynn Kelly 202-540-2202; KaitlynnK@peta.org
PETA TO ACQUIRE DRONES TO STALK HUNTERS
Group Will Go High-Tech This Fall to Bust Lawbreakers Who Leave Animals to Die and More
Norfolk, Va. — PETA will soon have some impressive new weapons at its disposal to combat those who gun down deer and doves. The group is shopping for one or more drone aircraft with which to monitor those who are out in the woods with death on their minds. PETA aims to collect video footage of any illegal activity, including drinking while in the possession of a firearm, a common complaint from those who live near wooded areas; maiming animals and failing to pursue them so that they die slowly and painfully; and using spotlights, feed lures, and other hunting tricks that are illegal in some areas but remain common practices among hunters. PETA currently has its sights on Australia-based Aerobot and its state-of-the-art remote-controlled CineStar Octocopter.
“The talk is usually about drones being used as killing machines, but PETA drones will be used to save lives,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “Slob hunters may need to rethink the idea that they can get away with murder, alone out there in the woods with no one watching.”
Hunters, using high-powered guns and bows and arrows, slaughter and maim millions of animals every year, and by some estimates, poachers kill just as many animals illegally. It can take weeks for some animals who are merely wounded to succumb to their injuries. And research shows that for every animal killed by a bow hunter, another is maimed, never to be found again. Furthermore, the slaughtered animals aren’t the only victims, because weak or young family members are left to starve or be attacked by predators.
PETA also intends to fly the drones over factory farms, popular fishing spots, and other venues where animals routinely suffer and die.
August 8, 2012
Well, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone with a lick of imagination, but Dan Richards has apparently been voted out of the office of President of the CA Fish and Game Commission. I don’t have all the details, but apparently some of the other four board members were able to manipulate the Commission rules to hold a vote and replace Richards with commissioner Jim Kellogg. The position of President was initially based on seniority, but in a vote in May, the Commission changed the bylaws so that the Presidency would be decided by simple majority.
For those with short memories, Richards was at the center of a crapstorm earlier this year for participating in a mountain lion hunt over in Idaho. After photos of his success were circulated on the Internet, calls came swiftly from anti-hunting organizations for him to step down from the Commission. Richards’s reactions to the criticism were, to say the least, not very diplomatic. Whatever support he may have had in Sacramento is certain to have backed off a step or two during the flameout, and odds are very good that when his term expires in six months, Governor Brown will not reappoint him to the Commission.
The bright side is that, until then, Richards is still a voting member of the Commission. He and Jim Kellogg are the only voices in the group of five commissioners who have demonstrated any appreciable consideration for the concerns of California’s hunting and fishing community. His loss may well be the killing blow to any semblance of common sense in hunting and fishing regulation in CA unless the state’s sportsmen get active and lobby the Governor to either reappoint Richards, or find another pro-hunting Commissioner. Two other commissioners, Richard Rogers and Mike Sutton have demonstrated minimal support for hunters or fishermen on key regulatory issues, including the lead ammo ban (Sutton is the executive director of Audubon California, a strong proponent of the lead ammo ban) and the closures of fishing areas along the coast.
The newest commissioner, Jack Bayliss, has so far not shown his colors… at least to my knowledge. But then, I haven’t paid quite as close attention to the FGC since moving to Texas, and haven’t actually followed the meetings (they post the meeting agenda, discussion topics, and videos on the FGC website). Nevertheless, I don’t think I’m reaching when I suggest that the loss of Richards, without an equally outspoken proponent of common sense, hunting and fishing regulations, will give the environmental and anti-hunting organizations a dangerous level of power in the Commission. The HSUS has already demonstrated their ability to manipulate the regulatory process and drive their agenda on the backs of CA politicians and lawmakers.
Eternal vigilance, folks. California hunters, you aren’t going to be able to sit back and expect Sacramento to carry your best interests, and you’re not going to be able to rest on your laurels when you think you’ve defeated the anti-hunting agenda. As you saw, the hound hunting legislation went right by you while you were celebrating your “victory” only a few days earlier. The huge outpouring of support for Dan Richards was nowhere to be found at the subsequent FGC meetings, and this ouster came with only one individual on hand to speak in favor of keeping Richards in place. The agenda of organizations like HSUS will continue to advance if hunters are not providing constant, and vocal, opposition.
July 2, 2012
As mentioned here and other places last week, there is no time to rest on the laurels of success after stopping the passage of SB 1221. The bill to ban hunting bear bobcats with hounds narrowly failed to make it out of the Assembly last week, thanks to the calls and presence of CA hunters. But it ain’t dead yet… the bill is being heard again soon.
This, from the US Sportman’s Association:
California Senate Bill 1221, banning the use of dogs to hunt bear and bobcats, is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife on Tuesday, June 26th at 9 a.m. in Room 4202.
The bill, sponsored by the nation’s largest anti-hunting organization –the Humane Society of the United States– has already passed out of the California Senate.
Bear and bobcat hunting with hounds is a humane and effective means to hunt bear and bobcat, helping control the state’s growing bear populations. Nearly 60 percent of the states that have bear hunting seasons allow the use of dogs and 70 percent of states that have more than 2,000 bears (like California) allow them.
“This bill is just the latest assault on hunters by the anti-hunting lobby’s biggest player, HSUS,” said Evan Heusinkveld, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance director of state services. “The bill ignores sound science and only serves to further the group’s ultimate goal of banning all hunting. California sportsmen need to do all they can to try and stop this bill.”
Take Action! California sportsmen must contact their state assembly members today and tell them to vote NO on Senate Bill 1221. Visit USSA’s Legislative Action Center to find your state assembly member’s contact information.
June 28, 2012
This is a couple of days old, and I apologize for not keeping on top of it. I expect ya’ll don’t rely on me for breaking news anyway, so I don’t feel too bad. However, I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t at least mention the successful efforts of CA hunters to band together and fight this bill. This is what we need more of, both in CA and across the country. We may not all be houndsmen, but we are all hunters.
The reason this is a “cautious congratulations” is that the bill only failed by a single vote. It’s far from dead, as it can easily be reintroduced for another vote. Don’t lose focus now in the rush to pat one another on the back. Maybe the CA hunting community is finally generating a little synchronous momentum. Let’s keep it going!
June 14, 2012
There’s been a lot of press lately concerning HR4089, AKA The Sportsman’s Heritage Act of 2012 .
In a nutshell, the act is intended to ensure continued opportunities for hunting, shooting, and fishing on federal lands. The act is, in part, a response to multiple recent efforts by environmentalists and anti-hunters to close some federal lands to hunting and target shooting under the arguments that these activities infringe on the experience of non-hunting visitors (backpackers, bird watchers, etc.), present a safety hazard to other visitors, or that they present a danger to protected species (such as the desert tortoise or California condor).
I’ve been following the story, sometimes casually and sometimes quite closely because I’m honestly trying to understand both sides of the argument.
On the one side, we have opponents of the bill. Their arguments boil down to:
- The bill would open “all” federal lands to hunting
- The bill would open wilderness areas to vehicular traffic
- The bill would create a dangerous environment for non-hunters
- The bill would open wilderness areas to logging and mining
On the other side, the arguments focus on things like:
- The current loss of access for hunting, shooting, and fishing
- The decline in the number of hunters, shooters, and fishermen
- The potential loss of tax and fees as less people hunt, shoot, and fish
- The efforts by non-hunting and anti-hunting organizations to close more public lands to hunters, shooters, and fishermen
There’s a lot more going on in the debate, but these seem to be the key discussion points.
So where’s the truth? Personally, I’m pretty cynical any time politicians start cooking up laws with attracive names (Sportsmen’s Heritage Act… really?). I get even more suspicious when they start trying to sneak the bills in on the coat tails of other bills (in this case, they’ve attached it to the new Farm Bill… which is a monstrosity in its own right). At the same time, I’ve lost all faith in organizations like Center for Biological Diversity and others who call themselves “conservationists”, but tend toward the extremes when it comes to environmental and animal rights issues. The CBD, in particular, has really stooped to new lows in misinformation and even downright lying to fatten the donation coffers and push their various agendas.
To begin my personal quest for elucidation, I read HR 4089. I recommend this course of action to any interested parties. The actual text provides a pretty solid baseline from which to launch into interpretation and dissection. I’m tempted to post the bill in its entirety, but I think it’s probably more reasonable to provide a link directly to the US Government Printing Office, where you can review a certified (unadulterated) copy. This way, you can be sure that I haven’t made any alterations to support my own arguments.
Let’s be clear here, in case there’s any doubt. I am not a lawyer. I am not a politician. I’m just a guy with reasonable intelligence and a lot of questions. I am a lifelong hunter, shooter, and fisherman, so I admit that I may have a bias in this issue. However, I think people who know me, and maybe those who’ve read my writing over time, would agree that I usually take a pretty balanced point of view when it comes to sorting out this kind of thing.
Also, I recognize that documents drafted by lawyers and politicians can carry layers and layers of nuance. It can be dangerous to take these things at face value, and that a layman’s read of these documents may have little relationship to what it’s really saying. But then again, words can only be twisted so far. I believe a logical and careful reading can expose most of the sneaky stuff.
So here’s my take, after reading through the document a few times.
First of all, the bill’s language takes pains to make two things clear. One is that nothing in the bill changes existing laws, regulations, or policies that relate to the prohibition or allowance of hunting, shooting, or fishing on federal lands. If a place, like a national park, is closed to recreational hunting due to existing rules, then it stays closed. If a wilderness area is closed to vehicular traffic in order to preserve the habitat and wilderness environment, it will stay closed to vehicular traffic. No matter how I tried to twist the language, I couldn’t make it spell out a requirement to build roads, quad trails, or anything else in existing wilderness areas. It does, however, clearly state that providing access for hunting, shooting, and fishing should be a priority on lands where such activities are not otherwise prohibited. That is, indeed, the stated purpose of the bill.
The second thing it clarifies is that any new changes to prohibit or restric hunting, shooting, or fishing on federal lands that are currently open must be justified by legitimate considerations such as safety, scientifically proven environmental sensitivity, or national security. These restrictions must then be revisited and approved on a regular basis.
The bill also makes clear that management of the public lands, whether National Parks, BLM, or National Forest remains in the hands of the current managers. These managers are still authorized and charged to develop and implement land management decisions… including hunting, shooting, and fishing access. However, decisions that restrict those uses must meet the above requirements, and must be reviewed regularly. It’s clear, by the way, that public safety is both a legitimate and reasonable rationale for restricting hunting and shooting in some places. It is also clear that the bill will require the land managers to justify their decisions to prohibit hunting, shooting, or fishing and that future management plans must address these uses. After the issue in the Los Padres National Forest last year (or was it 2010?), I have to agree that this level of accountability and oversight is necessary and good. It may place a little additional burden on the land managers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
There were a couple of points in HR4089 that I found intriguing. The first was the stipulation that, even on public lands closed to hunting, volunteers could be utilized to manage populations (e.g. elk, deer, and feral hogs). This is already in practice in some places (Rocky Mountain National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, etc.), and if I understand the bill correctly, this would extend to any federal land where such a program could be safely utilized. I don’t think that’s a bad idea at all. The other interesting addition was the section that apparently seeks to clarify the language in the Toxic Substances Control Act that prohibits the EPA from regulating lead ammunition and fishing tackle. This is clearly an effort to head off the assault by the CBD and associated organizations to force the EPA to ban lead ammo and fishing tackle. I don’t know if it’s really warranted, but I don’t see it as a harmful addition.
What I really don’t see here is anything that specifically does any of the things the bill’s opponents are claiming. In fact, to my eyes, the bill addresses most of these concerns directly.
Am I missing something? I don’t think so, but I’m open to other perspectives.
June 13, 2012
It’s been said a lot in various debates among the hunting community, particularly over really divisive issues such as baiting, high fence hunting, and hound hunting. “We’ve got to stand together or we’re done!”
There’s a lot of truth to that statement, despite its apparent banality.
It’s not simple paranoia to suggest that a key tactic of the anti-hunters is to divide and conquer. It’s one of the most basic strategies there is, and when it comes to hunters, it’s pretty damned effective. Just call out one facet of hunting that gets a lot of negative attention, and BOOM! A schism appears and those folks on the wrong side of the discussion find themselves cast adrift.
It happened with Prop 117, banning mountain lion hunts. Hunters who didn’t hunt lions either took no position on the grounds that it didn’t affect them, or worse, they actually sided with the ban proponents. Heck, those TV spots made it look pretty bad.
And now it’s about to happen again with SB 1221, the bill that would ban hunting bears and bobcats with hounds in CA. The tactics haven’t changed a bit. Set the hunting community at large apart from the houndsmen, and leave that smaller group to fend for themselves. A ban on hound hunting wouldn’t make any difference to someone who doesn’t hunt with hounds, right? If it’s such an objectionable pursuit, then why not sacrifice it on the altar of compromise with the anti-hunters… make the rest of us hunters look good?
Except it doesn’t work that way.
The anti-hunting organizations want one thing… an end to hunting. Not just the stuff that seems most egregiously “unsporting”, as they may lead you to believe, but an end to ALL hunting. En toto. They’ll take every easy victory they can win, but don’t think for a moment that they’ll be willing to stop there. If they can’t bring down hunting in one fell swoop, they’ll dismantle it piecemeal. A hound hunt here. Mourning doves there. Hunting over bait over yonder. Long range hunting up the road. Crossbows. Archery. High fence. Until suddenly, those hunters who weren’t affected find themselves shut out completely.
It’s time to stop and step back. Put your personal biases on the shelf for a moment, and consider the multiple assaults on hunting around the country right now. Notice that none of them are general, and all are couched in terms like “fair chase” and “sportsmanship.” Whether it’s dove hunting in Iowa or bear hunting with hounds in California, the challenges are all intended to draw a divide between “ethical” hunters and those who participate in these “fringe” aspects of the sport.
In Iowa, one of the leading arguments is that doves are too small to be much use as food, and are shot merely for sport… as feathered, living targets. To the ignorant non-hunter, this is pretty damning stuff. To the hunters who don’t pursue doves, it rings a certain chime of truth… based on their prejudices. Fortunately, in that state, the hunters rallied together to fight the ban and have dove seasons reinstated. Victory through unanimous effort.
In CA, SB1221 is nearly passed. If it gets through the Assembly, the last stop is the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. Brown is full of surprises, and maybe he’ll stomp on this one. But if the backlash from hunters isn’t significant enough, he may pass it along into law just to follow the path of least resistance. Will the hunters who don’t use dogs come together with the houndsmen to fight this thing? It’s a good question, and I hope the answer is, “yes.”
But if SB1221 is defeated, the HSUS has a fallback plan (according to this article in the SF Chronicle)… to attempt a ban on all bobcat and bear hunting in the state.
”The hunting lobby is stirring the electorate on this,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Human Society. “They can get rid of hounding and deal with a segment of their community that is not well respected. Or they can potentially lose all bear and bobcat hunting.”
That’s a blatant attempt to force hunters to take sides on the issue, playing on the traditional divide between houndsmen and other hunters. I’m a little surprised that Pacelle showed his hand like this, but doing so shows a complacent confidence that he’s got this one in the bag. He’s counting on the fact that hunters are a tiny constituency at the polls, and that there are enough hunters who dislike hound hunting to offset those who rally to the cause of the houndsmen.
This is how the anti-hunters play the game, folks. It’s not fair, but it’s the reality. So before you climb up on a high horse to deride some hunting practice you don’t like, consider your motivations and their effects. What is that practice really hurting? Is it really bad enough to risk the alienation of a potential, pro-hunting voter? Is it important enough to threaten the very future of our sport?
Just something to consider… written hastily after midnight.
May 31, 2012
“Where California leads, the rest of the nation soon follows.”
That aphorism holds true in many areas, from fashion to technology. CA is a big state, with a big population, and a lot of very innovative and creative minds. But not all of that creativity is necessarily a good thing. For example, the creative minds of the anti-hunting lobby, and some of the lies and mistruths they come up with to steer the general public, and the state’s politicians toward their way of thinking. The most recent example was the successful campaign to ban hunting bear and bobcats with dogs.
I was remiss in my own coverage of this issue, in large part because I had a lot of other things on my plate. I was just “too busy.” I can’t fight every battle. No excuses, just explanation… I’m not a houndsman, and I’m not well-versed on the issues that I thought were at hand. So, like many other hunters who “weren’t involved”, I sort of let it play out. I didn’t even read the stacks and stacks of emails I received on the topic, either from the anti-hunting side (I’m on several of their mailing lists) or the pro-hunting side. As a result, I missed out on some pretty glaring bullshit and lies.
Could I have made a difference? Probably not… or at least not on my own. But if all the hunters who didn’t think they’d be affected, or those who were just too busy to get informed or involved, had taken the time to pay attention, contact their elected officials, and spread the word… this may well have turned out differently.
The US Sportsman’s Association (USSA) didn’t put their heads in the sand, however, and they were pretty involved and vocal to try to rally hunters against this bill. Their success, unfortunately, was limited. But the failure to stop the campaign doesn’t mean this is over, and the USSA just posted a pretty sharp blog post to explain why hunters all over the country should be concerned about the anti-hunters’ victory in CA, and even moreso, about the deceitful tactics used to achieve that success.
Here are a couple of examples:
3) Misleading Facts – The Number of States That Allow Hound Hunting:
The bill’s author likes to point out that 2/3rds of the U.S. doesn’t allow bear hunting with hounds. That’s a nice sound bite, but the truth of the matter is 18 states don’t even have a huntable population of bears! Of the 32 states that hunt bear, 18 allow the use of dogs – nearly 60%. Of the states with more than 2,000 bears – 16 of 23 allow you to use dogs – 70%. The anti’s argument would be akin to arguing for a ban on elk hunting in California because Ohio doesn’t allow it (Nevermind the fact that Ohio doesn’t have Elk!).
4) Pictures – GPS collars
This one is another favorite of the animal rights lobby. In California, they are sending packets of information to each legislators office that include things they claim are unsightly deeds such as dogs wearing GPS collars, which they claim prevents hunting bear hunting from being a fair chase. What they don’t tell you, is that GPS collars are already ILLEGAL in California. The pictures they are using are from another state all-together.
The point is pretty clear. America’s hunters need to start paying closer attention to the efforts of these anti-hunting organizations, and to start challenging the lies of our opponents with facts. We need to be involved, even when we don’t think the issue involves us, because the truth is, every successful strike against hunting chisels away at the foundation of our sport.
As the number of hunters continues to decline, what little political clout we may have once held dwindles as well. And as more and more people are exposed to prejudicial lies and misinformation, the public support we once held is also weakened. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the future.
So here’s the question. How do we make a difference? What will it take for America’s hunters to counter the tactics of the anti-hunters and animal rights organizations? Or is our sport, in the long run, doomed?