WTF!!! CA Fish and Game Commissioner Thinks Legal Hunting Is Not Sustainable?
February 13, 2014
… 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.