With backing by the NRA, making hunting a constitutionally protected right has become increasingly popular in the past decade. The latest battlegrounds are Alabama and Mississippi.
If an animal lives,
If it gets away,
hunt it down and kill it.
If it learns to adapt to humans,
hate it and kill it year ‘round.
If it becomes endangered,
kill its mother and put it in a zoo.
If an animal proves intelligent,
respect it then kill it.
If you think it dumb,
kill it and eat it.
If it simply is,
kill it because it’s there.
If anyone’s watching,
Just call it “conservation.”
Sportsmen, conservation organizations and outdoor personalities met at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) headquarters yesterday to develop strategies to counter the recent increase in cyber-attacks on hunters.
The group makes up the Hunter Advancement Task Force with most members sharing a common theme of having been targeted by animal rights activists through social media.
“This is a great opportunity to start developing ways to hold those responsible for the recent wave of cyber-attacks against sportsmen accountable,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA president and CEO. “The task force is not only working to stop direct attacks on hunters but also discussing how best to educate the public on the vital role sportsmen play in the conservation of all wildlife.”
Attendees included outdoor television personalities Melissa Bachman and Jana Waller, Colorado hunter Charisa Argys along with her father Mark Jimerson, Doug Saunders of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Bill Dunn of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and John Jackson of Conservation Force, Dennis Foster of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, Tony Schoonan of the Boone and Crockett Club and Mark Holyoak of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Other attendees included USSA President and CEO, Nick Pinizzotto, Evan Heusinkveld, USSA vice president of government affairs, Bill Horn, USSA director of federal affairs, Michelle Scheuermann of Bullet Proof Communications and author Michael Sabbeth.
Bachman, a television producer and host, found her life and career threatened after posting a photo of an African lion she harvested to her Facebook page last year. Almost immediately, Bachman came under attack from anti-hunters around the world. Bachman also found herself the target of death threats that “hit way too close for comfort” when anti-hunters showed up at her office.
“Regardless of your beliefs about hunting, Americans can all agree that threatening someone’s life is simply unacceptable.” said Bachman.
Other members of the task force have also had personal experiences with cyber-bullying including Waller who has had not only threats to her life, but also to her career. Waller, the star of Skull Bound TV, found herself having to defend her livelihood after an anti-hunter called her show sponsors to accuse her of poaching.
“The whole issue of harassment is so important,” said Waller. “I am scared it is going to deter people from standing tall and proud as hunters.”
While attacks on outdoor-celebrity hunters have been going on for years, average hunters have largely avoided the wrath of the anti-hunting community. Earlier this year, however, Charisa Argys was thrown into the spotlight when a picture of her legally harvested mountain lion appeared online. The image brought a flood of criticism and threats not only to her, but to family members as well.
“Just because some anti-hunters in Europe went ballistic over a legal hunt, this issue is going to be associated with me for the rest of my life,” said Argys. “It is never going to go away. It’s going to be there forever. It could affect my job prospects and my life.”
This initial task force meeting was just the first of many to develop short and long-range strategies to protect hunters from cyber harassment.
“In the short term we are developing aggressive legal approaches to pursue both civil and criminal legal actions to prosecute anti-hunting harassers.” said Bill Horn, USSA director of federal affairs. “In the long term, we would like to cultivate strategies to provide additional legal protections for hunters who are finding themselves the target of cyber bullying.”
Pinizzotto added, “What this group discussed today and the ideas generated are a terrific first step in protecting hunters now and in the future. We have some of the brightest minds in our industry working on this critical issue. I look forward to continuing this discussion and adding additional key groups and individuals to the team in the coming weeks.”
|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.