Follow Up – Michael Sutton Issues “Apology”
February 16, 2014
It’s only fair to follow up on last week’s post in regards to comments made by Fish and Game Commission President, Michael Sutton. If you didn’t read that post, or other articles on the topic (it was hardly mainstream news), Sutton said in a web conference, hosted by the animal rights organization, HSUS, that legal hunting in CA might be a bigger problem than poaching.
Along with some other outdoors writers, and (hopefully) many CA sportsmen, I took Sutton to task here on the Hog Blog. I also sent a harshly critical email to the Fish and Game Commission. In response, Sutton wrote a letter to Sonke Mastrup, Executive Director of the CA Fish and Game Commission that purports to “set the record straight” about Sutton’s views on legal hunting. You can read Sutton’s official statement on the Fish and Game Commission website, but I’ll save you the effort and copy the body of it here:
Earlier this week, my quotes in a press account of a webinar in which I participated on the illegal wildlife trade gave rise to confusion regarding my attitude towards legal hunting in California. I’m writing to set the record straight.
I fully support legal, well-regulated, science-based hunting in California. As you know, I’ve been an active hunter and fisherman most of my life and I recognize the vital contributions hunters make to wildlife conservation. Further, I believe that hunting in California is well managed by our Commission and the Department of Fish & Wildlife, using the best available science. I am unaware of any legal, managed hunting today in our state that contributes to the decline of our native wildlife. Both the Commission and the Department continually strive to improve our stewardship of wildlife in California.
Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my position and clear up any misunderstandings that may have arisen as a result of my comments during the webinar earlier this week. I apologize for the confusion and hope that this letter serves to forestall any misinterpretation of my position on hunting. You are welcome to circulate this to anyone who may inquire.
How you interpret Sutton’s words here is up to you. But what I see is… well, nothing. There are three paragraphs of empty words, none of which either explain or excuse the statement he made in the conference. In fact, what he says here is in direct contradiction to what he said in the conference. So which is it, Mr. Sutton?
Michael Sutton has demonstrated an antagonistic attitude toward CA sportsmen since he was named to the Commission in 2007. In fact during one of his first interviews as a Commissioner, in Cal Waterfowl magazine, Sutton explicitly stated that he doesn’t care much for big game hunting.
Sutton: My stint as a federal game warden soured me on big game hunting. Today I’m involved mainly in wing-shooting and fly-fishing. Each year I hunt chukars in Idaho, pheasants in South Dakota, and fish trout, steelhead, and salmon throughout the American west.
Now I suppose you could take that in other ways, but given the negativity and even comptempt he has shown in dealing with hunters and fishermen through discussions about the MLPA, the lead ammo ban, and the railroading of former Commissioner Dan Richards, it’s pretty obvious to me that Sutton’s negative attitude is reflected in his actions on the Commission. When you combine this with his questionable (at best) role in the passage of the MLPA regulations and the lead ammo ban expansion, it seems clear that this man is not suited to be part of the CA Fish and Game Commission.
It’s up to you, CA hunters and fishermen. Turn your back, get on with your own affairs, and let this fall where it may. Hell, it’s just politics, right? But if you take that path, you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves when you see one hunting or fishing opportunity after another stripped away. The CA Fish and Game Commission is almost completely made up now of bureaucrats with little or no involvement in hunting or fishing (the exception being Commissioner Jim Kellogg). They have no stake in the future of either pursuit, and as such they are subject to the constant ministrations of HSUS, Audubon, and other animal rights/anti-hunting organizations.
Or you can take an active role. Contact Sonke Mastrup, Executive Director of the CA Fish and Game Commission. Use email, phone calls, and snail mail. And contact your state representatives in Sacramento. Demand fair representation for hunters and fishermen on the FGC.