|The Senate today shot down a motion to move forward on S. 2363, the dangerous if innocuous sounding “Sportsmen’s Act,” which has been portrayed as feel-good legislation but could have serious and far-reaching consequences for wildlife, public spaces, and human health and safety. The bill needed 60 votes to advance, but only received 41 in favor, and 56 opposed—a result of some Democrats opposing the bill because of its extreme provisions and Republicans uniting in opposition because they could not offer amendments on gun rights and other topics.
A bald eagle at Mystic Lake in Massachusetts. Photo by John Harrison
Sportsmen, of course, are already allowed to pursue their activities on the vast majority of federal public lands, including national forests, BLM lands, and most national wildlife refuges, with only national parks and some national monuments generally closed to hunting. That’s not to mention the millions of acres of state and private lands also available. But as things now stand, resource managers have the flexibility to look at the big picture and determine when it makes sense to allow hunting and fur trapping—and when it doesn’t. They consider local concerns such as whether endangered or threatened species are present, and balance the interests of hunters and trappers with other public land users and recreationalists.
S. 2363 would flip the burden and turn the current process on its head. Public lands would be “open unless closed” to hunting and fur trapping, regardless of whether they’re compatible with other land uses or threatened or endangered species, and closing lands would require a burdensome bureaucratic process. On top of that, the bill would force land managers to prioritize hunting and trapping above other outdoor activities, effectively excluding a large proportion of the American public from enjoying our national spaces, including in designated “wilderness areas.” Rather than local control, it would be a federal fiat from Washington that the default is to allow sport hunting and the use of painful and indiscriminate steel-jawed leghold traps.
The harmful legislation would also stop scientists at the EPA from restricting the use of lead ammunition, which is a known toxin that kills millions of wild animals from more than 130 species each year, including bald eagles, California condors, and other threatened and endangered species. These bullets keep on killing long after they’ve left the chamber, with animals poisoned by eating the lead fragments directly, preying on contaminated animals, or feeding on gut piles left behind by hunters.
President George H.W. Bush’s administration banned the use of lead for all waterfowl hunting in 1991, and non-lead ammunition such as copper, steel, and bismuth are readily available and affordable. That sensible policy has prevented the poisoning deaths of millions of birds, and it’s been part of the march of progress toward getting toxic lead out of the environment. There’s no compelling reason for Congress to thumb its nose at science and innovation, and forbid EPA or any other responsible agency, with appropriate authority and expertise, from even examining this issue.
a polar bear in the wild
Finally, this bill is a sweetheart deal for millionaire big-game hunters. Far from benefiting our nation’s rank-and-file sportsmen, this is a special order delivery for only 41 wealthy big game hunters who dropped up to $50,000 each for guided polar bear hunts in the Arctic. These trophy hunters, who compete to see their names in the Safari Club record books for killing the rarest species around the world, have been lobbying Congress to allow them to bring the heads and hides of threatened polar bears into this country from Canada in defiance of current law.
This would be the latest in a series of import allowances that Congress has approved—each time making the argument that it’s only a few animals and the polar bears are already dead and have no conservation value—but the cumulative impacts of these waivers time and time again lead to more reckless trophy killing. Do we want Congress to set this kind of precedent, encouraging trophy hunters to kill rare animals as they are about to be listed as endangered or threatened species and then to get relief from Congress to make a special dispensation for them?
Thank you to all the animal advocates who contacted your Senators and asked them to oppose this extreme and reckless “Sportsmen’s Act.” Those calls made a difference—a game-changing difference for millions of animals. Wild animals and the environment have dodged a bullet now that this terrible package of anti-conservation policies has stalled in the Senate.
The U.S. Senate will soon be voting on the dangerous “Sportsmen’s Act”, a radical handout to extreme trophy hunting groups.
In a single swoop, this legislation would open millions of acres of public lands — including sensitive Wilderness Areas — to hunting and fur trapping, at the expense of other land users and endangered and threatened species. It would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from even considering the issue of toxic lead ammunition which poisons wildlife and the environment. And it would permit the latest in a series of import allowances for sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada, encouraging trophy hunters to escalate the killing of threatened species around the globe.
Your senators need to hear from you right now. Please make a brief, polite phone call today to your senators today…
The so-called “Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014″ (S. 2363) is a devious bill that combines several radical hunting proposals into one package. In a single swoop, this legislation would open millions of acres of public lands — including sensitive Wilderness Areas — to hunting and fur trapping, at the expense of other land users and endangered and threatened species. It would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from even considering the issue of toxic lead ammunition which poisons wildlife and the environment. And it would permit the latest in a series of import allowances for sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada, encouraging trophy hunters to escalate the killing of threatened species around the globe.
Please make a brief, polite phone call to your two U.S. Senators, urging opposition for S. 2363. Look up your senators’ phone numbers here. You can say: “I would like you to please oppose S. 2363, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014.”
A Texas Tech University cheerleader’s Facebook page is causing an uproar for photos she posted showing her with large game animals she hunted in Africa.
“Remove the page of Kendal [sic] Jones that promotes animal cruelty!” the petition reads.
When Jones started her Facebook page earlier this year, calling it “Kendall Takes Wild,” she didn’t hide what it was all about.
“I grew up in the small town of Cleburne, Texas where my hunting career started,” she wrote in the about section of her Facebook page. “As a child I would go with my dad on all of his hunting adventures watching him on our ranch, as well as, traveling to Africa to see him take his Big 5. I took my first trip to Zimbabwe in Africa with my family in 2004 (age 9) and watched my dad bring many animals home. As badly as I wanted to shoot something I was just too small to hold the guns my dad had brought…”
People tend to paint all wildlife-killers with a single brush stroke, referring to them all simply as “hunters.” Yet close scientific observation reveals that there are at least five different categories, or sub-species, of the mutation of Homo sapiens known as the North American hunter (Homo hunter horribilis). Oddly, members of some sub-species don’t like to be associated with others. They can’t all be bad apples, can they? Read on…
1) Sport Hunter
This category can actually be applied to all the other sub-species, including the universally maligned trophy hunter, as well as the so-called subsistence hunter, since nearly no one in this day and age really has to kill wild animals to survive anymore. Lately we’ve been hearing from a lot of hunter apologists quick to make a distinction between sport and subsistence hunters. Truth is there’s not all that much difference between the two. Sport hunters and subsistence hunters are often so closely related, they’re practically kissin’ cousins. Rare is the hunter who doesn’t justify his sport by boasting about “using the meat.” By the same token, you hardly ever find one who openly admits to being just a sport hunter.
But, being by far the largest sub-class, there are obviously plenty of adherents. For reasons known only to them, they like to refer to themselves as “sportsmen” (or “sportswomen”). When not out killing, they are often seen petitioning Congress to enshrine their perceived right to kill animals (meanwhile mocking the very notion that non-human animals have rights).
Tracks: On the rare occasion that these good ol’ boy traditional sport hunters get out of their vehicles (usually a pickup truck with a bench seat, so they can sit on their camo-clad asses three abreast), you’ll find their tell-tale boot tracks weaving along the roadway—a sure sign the Schmidt-swilling hunter has spotted a deer, or needs to take a pee.
Other spoor to watch for: spent shotgun shells and cigarette butts in parking lots, or 16 ounce beer cans and empty fried pork rind bags ejected out the truck window, along forest roadways.
2) Subsistence Hunters
This category includes the holier than hemp types who use words like “foodie,” and all those others who claim to hunt mainly for food. Subsistence types conveniently ignore the fact that there are 7 billion human meat-eaters on the planet today, and if they all followed their model for “living off the land,” there would be no wildlife left on Earth.
Like sport hunters, subsistence hunters do what they do because they want to; they enjoy the “outdoor lifestyle.” But not many self-proclaimed “subsistence” hunters are willing to give up modern conveniences—their warm house, their car, cable TV or the ever-present and attendant “reality” film crew—and live completely off the land like a Neanderthal…at least not indefinitely.
While everyone has a right to feed themselves and their family, what gives them the right to exploit the wildlife is unclear. Sure, all people need some form of protein, yet millions have found a satisfying and healthful way to eat that doesn’t involve preying on others. And they don’t seem to understand that dead is dead and it doesn’t matter to the victim whether their killer eats every part of them or just sticks their head on a wall.
Call: Often overheard uttering feeble catch-words like “management,” “sustainability,” “population control” or “invasive species.” Unfortunately, they never think to apply those same concepts to the species, Homo sapiens.
3) Trophy Hunters
This group can be confused with other “sportsmen,” but though both types are clearly in it for the fun, trophy hunters are obsessed with every aspect of the so-called sport. These are the kind of people who hold “contest hunts” on anything seen as competition, yet ironically are intent on recruiting more hunters, including women and young people, encouraging them to take up the “sport.” Although their professed enemies are predators like wolves and mountain lions, their most dreaded foe are the anti-hunters.
The trophy hunters’ fixation with horn curl or antler spread is in fact causing a reversal of evolution in the species whose heads they covet.
Breeding plumage: Camouflage from head to tail; flashy orange vest. Mates primarily with themselves.
This category includes bow-hunters, trappers and wolf hunters. Often seen on reality T.V. shows or in homemade snuff-film videos on U-Tube. Hunters who consider themselves in one of the other categories would do well to self-police their kind, lest normal people (non-hunters) think all hunters are sadists who enjoy the act of killing and are turned on by watching animals suffer and struggle under their power.
Habitat: Disgusting personal websites or Facebook pages where they parade around in camo, showing off their evil deeds for anyone who’ll give them the time of day.
5) “Ethical” Hunters
This is the category that virtually all hunters want to be included in. Unfortunately, the phrase “ethical hunter” is an oxymoron, like “humane slaughter,” “virgin mother,” “fair chase,” “free-range poultry” or “friendly neighborhood serial killer.” As with UFOs, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster, no one has ever been able to locate one of these mythical phantoms.
Spoor: This make-believe subspecies leaves no tracks or scat because, well, they’re fictitious. The only impression they make is in the minds of the easily influenced. There’s simply no way an animal-killer can be considered ethical, unless of course he gives up hunting.
A friend asked me how I would respond to someone who wrote this: “Hunters started the conservation movement in the early part of the last century, and in the United States are the largest financially contributing group to Wildlife Restoration and Conservation.”
My answer?: The only reason hunters got involved is that they’d overhunted so many species practically to extinction and they wanted to save their sport. John Muir and others were around in the 1800s, selflessly speaking for wildlife and against hunting.
And, as another commenter to this blog just pointed out: “The stark reality is this: National Wildlife “Refuges” were originally set up to serve as “duck factories” for the hunting & trapping industries, along with opportunities for livestock grazing.”
Before hunters go around tooting their own horns, they should consider the motives behind their actions. If they’re ultimately self-serving, they are not necessarily all that praiseworthy. Don’t let hunters ‘shit you, an overblown sense of entitlement is not the same as a selfless environmental ethic.
Amid the frenzy of hefty budget bills moving in the Pennsylvania legislature comes a long awaited piece of legislation aimed at protecting the small feathered creatures.
The bill – set to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning – would make it illegal to shoot live pigeons launched from spring-loaded boxes, ending a practice animal welfare advocates call barbaric, but the National Rifle Association and those who participate in in it call a “shooting sport tradition.”
The bill has never made to a full floor vote in either chamber despite more than 20 years of effort. This time though the Senate Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) has signed on as a cosponsor of the bill.
The language from a House bill sponsored by Rep. John Maher (R., Allegheny) is set to be amended to a bill (HB1750) banning the consumption of dogs and cats.
The furor over pigeon shoots dates back three decades to the mass protests over the Hegins pigeon shoot, the weekend-long bacchanal in Schuylkill County where thousands of birds were slaughtered.The carnage drew national attention and lawsuits and the club ended the shoots at Hegins.
Dueling action alerts were send to members of the NRA and the Humane Society of the United States. The NRA said it is fighting to protect has launched a fight to preserve what it calls a “shooting sport tradition” while the HSUS urged its members to call their Senators and ask them to support the bill.
The NRA says “outside animal rights extremists” are to blame for the controversy but the HSUS points to its tens of thousands of supporters on Facebook who want the practice banned in the handful of clubs – including the Philadelphia Gun Club – that still host pigeon shoots.
Animal welfare advocates say hundreds of wounded birds suffer slow deaths because they are not humanely destroyed.
At a “tower”: shoot at Wing Pointe Resort in Berks County – where birds are stuffed in a box and flushed out while hunters stand in a circle and shoot them – I witnessed wounded birds unlucky enough to survive within range of the young “trapper boys” being corralled, thrown to the ground and stomped on.
Attempts to bring cruelty charges against gun clubs have failed as local judges have ruled the shoots are legal until they outlawed by the legislature.
The NRA is waging a counter attack in the House where it is backing a bill by Rep. Mark Keller (R., Perry) that would legislate their legality by placing them under the regulation of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The game commission has said it does not consider the activity to constitute a “fair chase.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/harrisburg_politics/Long-awaited-pigeon-shoot-ban-set-for-vote-in-Senate.html#JGmxZ4swjCmRQl8V.99
WWF Supports Sport Hunting
WWF Supports Sport Hunting – The International Marches For Elephants and Lions was a game changer around the world in that they created an incredible amount of awareness about wildlife sport hunting – and the people and groups who support it as a so-called viable means of animal conservation. Anyone with a brain knows that this argument is as old as the hills and does not pass the muster test. It is reminiscent of their claim that their “sport” is good for local economies – just not true! These hunters cry “crocodile tears” for the animals they murder – as they claim to love their victims.
Bradley Bergh – a former supporter of WWF has written a fabulous letter to WWF and he has kindly given me permission to share in on A Beating Heart.
Guest Writer – Bradley Bergh
WWF Supports Sport Hunting
It has just come to my attention that your organisation supports “sport” hunting as a viable means of wildlife conservation.
I recently read one of your quotes:
“WWF would not openly be supporting the sustainable use of wildlife for the hunting industry as a method for conservation if it did not work.”
I regret that I cannot agree with this. I am not saying this as a knee jerk, emotional reaction. I have been keeping an eye on the hunting industry for some years now and I’m afraid there is no way I can continue to support an organisation that supports hunting for any reason other than ‘survival’. I also don’t believe WWF can know for certain whether it is “a method of conservation that works”.
The “Retiring” King Of Spain With His Kill
I would like to know why I should continue to support your organisation in light of what I have just learnt. Please don’t give me the usual tired justification of how hunters “protect” wildlife against poachers or that hunting brings in “foreign revenue” and “creates sustainable jobs”.
In the first place, in the scores of barbaric video material I have viewed of international “professional sport hunters”, I have yet to observe one hunter that shows any inkling of bravery. They are always surrounded by other “professional sport hunters” who are also armed with heavy calibre, high powered rifles ‘just in case’ things don’t quite go according to plan.
A hunter who hunts with a spear or a knife could be called brave but can we really call the (generally) overweight, privileged business people who feature in these hunting videos (and have to be driven to within striking distance of their prey because they are so unfit) courageous? Please explain how hunters are contributing to the preservation of wildlife and biodiversity or helping to reduce the poaching in this country.
Then there is the argument of job creation and foreign revenue. The usual neo-liberal economic model that involves the enrichment of an elite few, coupled to minimum wages for everyone else. The amount of foreign revenue that flows into South Africa is vague and unsubstantiated and I would really like to hear a factual explanation (rather than the speculative/aspirational version provided by the Department of Environmental Affairs) as to how this income really contributes to building an equitable, humane and sustainable economy.
Most of the wealth in this country is in the hands of a minority and continues to be so as the wealth inequality gap grows ever wider. If WWF is really impartial about this they should do a proper, holistic investigation which examines all the complex factors involved. The hunting industry is merely perpetuating the same business model that many other industries practice in this country which are neither interested in human or animal rights nor the preservation of the environment.
Please don’t respond to this with a whole bunch of academic mumbo-jumbo. I am myself busy with a Master’s in Sustainable Development and am experiencing, first-hand, the enormous limitations of academic study in solving complex problems. I would like to incorporate some of this in my thesis next year but I doubt I will get very far because the little contact I have had with the hunting industry always seems to illicit the same response that resonates with gun ownership lobbyists in the USA – “if you want me to give up my firearm, you will need to pry it from my dead fingers”! I am pretty sure many at WWF know what I am talking about as I have seen how some of the hunting industry players speak and behave.
Perhaps WWF is trying to “constructively engage” with the hunting industry but I do not believe “asking them nicely” is going to change the way they operate. The industry is also inadequately policed as illustrated by the widespread use of canned hunting that is currently taking place in this country. No one really knows what happens out there on those hunts unless the hunter decides to post his video on the internet to brag about it.
Bow hunting is banned in South Africa but look at all the examples of bow kills below. I have the same argument of the SASSI grading system of sustainable fish – the fishing methods may be a bit more “sustainable” but unless the person responsible for the grading is on those boats they have no idea how those fish are really caught and how many other sea animals are killed with clubs and shotguns by fisherman “protecting” their catches. Getting all the role players in the industry to “fill in forms” is no guarantee whatsoever that this is how they operate.
I’m unable to see how we can call ourselves a civilized nation while we continue to condone this. This is not the way advanced societies behave. On the one hand we rant and rave about the number of Rhinos poached each year and on the other hand we allow sport hunters to kill them for pleasure.
The only difference I can see between the two is where the money flows to. I understand WWF has large corporate sponsors and your organisation has to be careful not to offend them but we have to find a way to break the stranglehold corporations have on this country and the world. The first step is to break the financial ties that lead to a conflict of interests.
I have seen how badly many of the animals are killed. The entire system is so complex I am not convinced any study can ascertain the full impact of allowing this to carry on. We continue to allow certain industries to operate in this country (no matter how environmentally destructive those operations may be) because we want to preserve the jobs. What use will jobs be to us once our ecosystem is irreversibly degraded?
I don’t believe anyone working in your organisation truly agrees with sport hunting. In your hearts you know killing for pleasure is barbaric and cannot be justified either economically, morally or for conservation. I cannot help wondering if you have taken this position to keep a large corporate donor happy and I sympathise with your predicament if that is the case.
It takes courage to stand up for what you truly believe in. This is not a choice that involves a colour or taste preference which are merely matters of opinion. An evolved society simply doesn’t allow its members to choose whether or not they can exploit other living creatures for pleasure or entertainment.
WWF should not make it easy for hunters to indulge their addiction to the adrenalin rush of killing! If we want to create just, equitable and humane societies it has to start with the way we treat animals. If we don’t, I cannot see how we can ever expect to achieve it among ourselves.
Just because something is “legal” doesn’t make it ethical. There are more examples of this than I care to mention – including here in South Africa.
A concerned citizen and former WWF donor!
Bradley is meeting with the SA CEO of WWF in June.
PS: “We hunt because we love these animals” – says one hunter. Please explain this to me!
Authorities say a Stevensville man attacked by a grizzly bear is in stable but serious condition.
The man, whose name has not been released, remains hospitalized in Seattle with non-life-threatening injuries, said Andrea Jones, information and education manager with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Bozeman.
The 47-year-old man was hunting in the CentennialValley with his father on Sunday when he was mauled by a 10-year-old male grizzly. A crew of wildlife officials found the bear dead of a gunshot wound.
The hunter’s father reported hearing a gunshot just before finding his son with serious injuries. An investigation into the incident remains active.
On Monday, a team of officials, including a bear specialist, game wardens and people with the Forest Service to the remote area where the attack occurred. The Stevensville man and his father were hunting black bear in the Fish Creek Lake area in extreme southwestern Montana when the attack happened. Jones said the mauling happened five miles from their campsite in rugged terrain.
Once stabilized, the man was eventually flown to Seattle.
Well, actually, this article was entitled, “Ignorance is never an excuse for hunting violations,” but I thought this shortened version was more fitting. By, it starts off:
“I’m not sure how anyone can accidentally slaughter 30 ducks after the waterfowl season, but these guys did it. And thankfully, got busted.
“Three men have been arrested in connection with a highly publicized killing of ducks after the season. The March duck poaching incident occurred at Carlyle Lake Wildlife Management Area near Vandalia, Illinois. Steven Dean of Granite City, along with Bradley Peters and Daniel Groves of Wood River, were arrested on April 25. The three men face felony charges for their alleged involvement in the illegal killing of more than 30 ducks out of season, according to the DNR. Since ducks are migratory waterfowl, they fall under the jurisdiction of both state and federal authorities and violations can be charged as felonies. Charges include: • Felony resource theft of migratory waterfowl • Unlawful possession of freshly killed species during the closed season • Wanton waste of migratory waterfowl • Unlawful take over the limit of mallard ducks • Unlawful take over the limit of northern pintails
“I’m thinking the Judge may throw the book at these guys, and rightfully so. Such a blatant disregard for our natural resources and regulations should carry stiff penalties. Am I the only one tired of “sportsmen” that think the law doesn’t apply to them? These are the guys that give us all a bad name.”
The article goes on to talk about “real sportsmen” following the laws. I didn’t think you’d be interested in reading the rest, but if you’re inclined, here’s the link: