WTF!!! CA Fish and Game Commissioner Thinks Legal Hunting Is Not Sustainable?

February 13, 2014

They did WHAT?There are things I hear sometimes that just make me want to smack myself in the forehead.

… with a 9-pound sledge.

I’ve mentioned before how California’s wildlife management decisions are falling more and more victim to the influence of animal rights organizations, like HSUS.  The lobbying group has gone beyond just showing up at occasional meetings, and has managed to embed itself in both the legislature and the Fish and Game agencies (Fish and Game Commission and Dept. of Fish and Game).  And the venom is slowly seeping in… infecting the whole organism.

To the uninformed, the whole thing probably seems fairly innocuous.  In fact, on the outside it looks like HSUS is doing good things, such as working with the DFG to enhance their abilities to fight poaching.  They even convened a nice little showcase of their efforts recently in a web conference on the topic.  The panelists in the conference included representatives from DFG and the Fish and Game Commission, notably, Commissioner Michael Sutton.  And, of course, they said all the right things to show what a huge problem poaching is in CA, and how their mutual efforts to apprehend and punish the perpetrators are paying off.

But Sutton let something slip that wasn’t the “right thing” at all.  Here’s a snip from from independent public television station, KCET’s coverage of the conference:

As Fish and Game Commission president Mike Sutton pointed out during the panel, California’s wildlife face other threats in addition to poaching. In some cases, said Sutton, actual legal hunting or harvesting of wildlife may cause greater overall problems. “I actually believe legal hunting that’s not sustainable may be a more pervasive problem in California,” said Sutton.

Now, I’m just not even sure where to start with this.

First, and to be as fair as I can, I didn’t participate in the web conference and I haven’t spoken to Mr. Sutton to find out what he meant by that statement.  As far as I’ve been able to find, no one else has either.  Maybe he was misquoted.  Maybe he didn’t mean that to come out the way it did.  Those are possibilities.

But if we take this at face value, which I think is as fair as anything else, it looks pretty bad.

First of all, let’s look at the argument that there might be unsustainable, legal hunting in California.  What does that look like?  I think that, with the exception of anti-hunting organizations, it’s generally recognized that regulated sport hunting is, by nature, sustainable.  In fact, I’d argue that it’s better than sustainable… it presents a net benefit for the resource.  If it’s true that CA allows unsustainable hunting practices to continue under the law, then there is a problem.  And that problem lies at the feet of the CA Fish and Wildlife Commission.  They are, after all, the rule-makers.  And Michael Sutton is the Commission’s president.

But, if this were the case, then I’d like to clearly understand what those unsustainable, legal practices are.  What proposals are in place to curtail them, and ensure that the Golden State’s sportsmen aren’t unwittingly (or not) doing more harm than poachers?

But, since this is my blog and I get to hypothesize, my money says the “unsustainable” practices trend more toward those activities with which HSUS tends to take issue… bear and bobcat hunting, the use of hounds, etc.  There’s no question someone in the Commission has bent a sympathetic ear to Jennifer Fearing and Co., and Michael Sutton is one obvious choice.

The problem, as I see it, is that Sutton’s comment was more reflective of his personal antipathy toward sport hunters than any quantifiable wildlife management challenge.  It was an antagonistic statement, and in light of it, I think it’s valid to question his objectivity in the decision-making process.  Given previous challenges to his impartiality, including allegations of conflict of interest in both the lead ammo ban regulations and the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) regulations, it’s worth arguing that Sutton’s continued presence on the Fish and Wildlife Commission would only serve as a distraction to the completion of business from this point forward.

I’ve said it ad nauseum, and I’ll do it some more… California hunters need to take the CA Fish and Wildlife Commission by the horns.  The animal rights concerns are gaining ground because they’re doing what CA sportsmen haven’t done… getting directly involved in the process, making noise without stop, and never giving up.  They’re putting their money on the line, funding poaching hotlines and rewards, and the non-hunting public is buying it all with wide-eyed ignorance.  Hunters and fishermen need to start doing the same.

A good start would be to contact your representatives, as well as the Fish and Wildlife Commission, and demand that Sutton be removed from the Commission altogether.  Then stay involved, and make sure that his replacement is someone who CA sportsmen can count on to support their interests.  That’s not enough, but it’s a start.

Hat tip to Jim Matthews of the Outdoor News Service (ONS) for alerting me to this topic.




8 Responses to “WTF!!! CA Fish and Game Commissioner Thinks Legal Hunting Is Not Sustainable?”

  1. Bruce Cherry on February 14th, 2014 14:58

    The first question that comes to my mind is:

    Where did you get those pants?

  2. Phillip on February 14th, 2014 15:25

    Someone was bound to notice, Bruce. All I can say is, it’s nice to work from home.

  3. Bruce Cherry on February 14th, 2014 17:12

    You didn’t, by chance, purchase those at Liberace’s probate sale?

  4. Bruce Cherry on February 14th, 2014 20:01

    On a serious note, the Hawaii legislature and government bureaucracy is becoming more and more disengaged from hunting and fishing [like CA] and from the hunter/gatherer heritage of native Hawaiians. Each year, more and more public land is fenced off with KAPU [Stay Out!!!] signs everywhere, places where native Hawaiians and mainland transplants such as myself have hunted for years [the Natives, for centuries]. The Sierra Club, Audubon, Nature Conservancy, PETA, and their ilk are all involved but even more so are the Upper Crust Yuppies from affluent enclaves on the mainland who live in gated communities and drive Chas and Buffy to soccer practice in Escalades and BMW’s. They are so distanced from the natural world and America’s heritage of hunting and fishing that they find the practices barbaric. To them, the role of humans, in relation to nature, is one of spectator, not participant.

    These folks are trying to turn Hawaii into their own vacation hideaway, a place where they can watch the birds and mammals [native only, all others, including game birds, are to be killed] frolic in a pristine environment. These same people have totally destroyed their own ecosystems on the mainland, building sprawling metropolises and seas of million dollar MacMansions at the expense of their local native flora and fauna but they want us Hawaiians to stop hunting for our food because they find that to be barbaric and they want our Happy Hunting Grounds for their own passive enjoyment.

    Case in point: I recently visited my 91 year old mother in Tucson, where she lives alone in her own house in a Sun City community. We were invited to a neighbor’s house for a cookout and while we were dining on hamburgers, hot dogs, and pork chops, a lady, in her mid-50’s, looked at me and stated, “Your mother says that you hunt. I can’t believe that any civilized person today would do such a thing!!” She was stuffing her fat face with a hamburger as she spoke. I replied, knowing full well that I was about to be thrown out on my ass, “I used to work on a ranch when I was a kid. I spent some of that time in the slaughter house.” I paused for effect. “Know where that hamburger comes from?” She stopped eating. “The cattle are led up a ramp and they can see what’s happening up ahead. One by one they are shot in the head with a bolt gun. Some die instantly and some don’t. The ones lower down on the ramp see what’s going on up ahead and their eyes roll back and they bite through their tongues and they crap all over themselves and they let out the most heart-wrenching bawls. A lot of them collapse. The workers just bury a big hay hook into their ribs and winch them up the ramp to the waiting bolt gun.”

    She tossed her burger down onto her plate and squawked, “You’ve ruined my lunch!!”

    My mother can’t hear much and neither could most of the other diners. I ate my pork chops and a burger and downed a couple of beers and then Mom and I took off. But that lady probably hates me and there is no way she could look objectively at me making a clean kill on a wild animal that doesn’t know I’m there and the slaughter house conveyer belt.

    I hate to throw in the towel, but I think the future for hunters, in the US, is rather dim.

  5. Phillip on February 15th, 2014 08:55

    Bruce, that is a serious note. And by and large, I think you’re not that far off. Sport hunting is on the ropes, or will soon be, in states like Hawaii and CA. The two biggest reasons for this are the tactical movement by animal rights groups to ride the coat tails of environmentalists, and the absolute distrust and enmity that hunters hold for environmentalists. It’s like the situation with the condors vs. lead ammo issue… no matter how logical your argument may be, if you fight the lead ban you automatically appear to be a calloused, anti-wildlife monster. And while the folks who first brought up the plight of the condor were well-intentioned, the real donnybrook started when HSUS and Audubon stepped in with their propaganda and turned it into another case of evil hunters harming innocent wildlife.

    Add to that the lack of connection or understanding of nature, wildlife, and hunters from which too many modern folks suffer, and it’s a bleak picture.

    On the bright side, hunting is still a deeply ingrained piece of the culture in many other areas. Hell, in Texas it’s a significant industry… even replacing cattle in some areas. It is going to take a while before hunting fades to obscurity in places like southern states, upper Michigan, and sections of the midwest.

    I’d also like to think this new trend of locavore hunters will hold, but my jaded mind tells me it’s mostly a fad that will die back in a few years. That’s unfortunate, because the focus on wild game as food has been educational for a lot of non-hunters. The flip side, of course, is that now many non-hunters think only locavores hunt for food, while the rest of us just hunt to kill shit.

    So it’s not a bright picture, but I don’t think the lights are gonna die anytime soon.

    As to the pants… I got some in blue, too.

  6. Follow Up – Michael Sutton Issues “Apology” : Hog Blog on February 16th, 2014 10:18

    […] 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, […]

  7. Samouel Bernstein on April 17th, 2014 20:46

    I understand that the Department of Game & Fish, in bowing to environmental interests and animal rights groups are proposing to outlaw the possession of mice, rat and gopher traps that are not registered with their department.
    They are also going to require the purchase harvest tags and the mandatory reporting of all rodents and vermin, regardless if they are taken in the wild or within a structure.
    The spineless Department of Wildlife Revenue has struck again !

  8. Phillip on April 21st, 2014 09:28

    That would be pretty funny, if it didn’t sound almost realistic. And how would CA hunters and fishermen go about stopping things from reaching these points?

    • SPEAK OUT.