Trump admin to expand hunting access on public lands

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Order aims to allow broader access to public lands to hunters, fishers
  • Interior Department says Obama administration was too restrictive

Washington (CNN)Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order Friday morning aiming to expand access for hunters and fishers to public lands and monuments.

In what is being described as an “expansive” secretarial order, Zinke’s rule would ultimately allow broader access across the board to hunters and fishers on public lands managed by the Interior Department, according to the order.
A section of the order also amends the national monument management plan to include or expand hunting and fishing opportunities to the “extent practicable under the law.”
The order cites a 2007 executive order from President George W. Bush to “facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting opportunities and the management of game species and their habitat.” It directs agencies to to create a report and plan to streamline how best to enhance and expand access to hunting and fishing on public lands.
The Interior Department oversees national parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands.
The secretarial order also aims to expand educational outreach for hunting and fishing to “under served” communities such as minorities and veterans as well as increase volunteer access to federal lands.
“Today’s secretarial order is the latest example of how the Trump administration is actively moving to support hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands,” Zinke said in a statement.
“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” he said.
Interior said Obama administration policies were too restrictive.
“Through management plans made under the previous administration, which did not appreciate access to hunting and target shooting like this administration does, access and usage has been restricted,” said Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift.
Zinke’s rule will not have to go through a formal rule-making process.
It is the second major action from Interior in the last few weeks.
In August, Zinke recommended shrinking the boundaries of a handful of national monuments, but stopped short of suggesting the elimination of any federal designations following a review ordered by President Donald Trump.
At Trump’s direction, Zinke earlier this year launched a review of 27 national monuments, a controversial move that could undo protections for millions of acres of federal lands, as well as limits on oil and gas or other energy production. Interior and the White House have so far resisted releasing the contents of Zinke’s full recommendations.
However some groups are arguing that the new order is a “stunt” by the department, aimed at moving the dialogue away from other recent controversial actions they’ve taken — including recommending the shrinking of national monuments and supporting increased fracking and logging.
“The real story is that, with this announcement, the Trump administration is trying to create a distraction from their plans to dramatically reduce the size of America’s national monuments, which would be the largest elimination of protections on wildlife habitat in US history,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.
He added that according to the Congressional Research Service, every national monument “that the Trump administration claims to be opening to hunting and recreational fishing is already open to hunting and recreational fishing.”
Drew McConville, a senior managing director at the Wilderness Society, called the order a “red herring.”
“This issue is … completely unnecessary, since national monuments are typically open to hunting and fishing already,” McConville said. “The Trump administration ‘review’ of places protected as national monuments is nothing more than an excuse to sell out America’s most treasured public lands for commercial gain by oil, gas and other extractive industries. This agenda inherently means a loss of access to premier places for hunting, fishing and other outdoor pastimes.”
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Crossing the Line — Bobcat Hunting

http://kokomoperspective.com/politics/indiana/crossing-the-line-bobcat-hunting/article_99a51b29-8734-54cd-8499-fa9455854f28.html

  • Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, 317-637-9078
A bobcat at the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City.Provided

Crossing the line separating Indiana and Illinois sometimes means dealing with different laws and customs. Readers are asked to share ideas for this weekly feature. This week: Bobcat hunting.

+1  

Bobcats in Indiana
Indiana DNR

Any self-aware bobcats who relocated to Indiana after Illinois established a bobcat hunting season two years ago soon might find it in their best interest to move again.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has proposed creating a short-term bobcat hunting season that would allow licensed Hoosiers to hunt or trap one bobcat a year until a to-be-determined statewide quota is reached.

According to the DNR, bobcats primarily live in southern Indiana and are not a nuisance or causing damage. Rather, the hunting season is intended to manage the bobcat population and permit the harvesting of their fur.

Illinois hunters and trappers claimed 318 bobcats during the 2017-18 season that ended Feb. 15. They also salvaged 40 road kill bobcats, according to state records.

That’s up from the 141 bobcats that hunters and trappers took in 2016-17, the first year Illinois offered a bobcat season since the crepuscular carnivores were removed in 1999 from the state’s threatened species list.

This article originally ran on nwitimes.com.

Hunting regulations are forcing animals to change in all sorts of ways

We put a lot of pressure on species to adapt.

mama bear with cub

A mama bear with her cub.

Ilpo Kojola

Humans are perhaps the greatest source of evolutionary pressure. Not greatest as in best—we just apply a lot of force.

In just a few thousand years we drastically changed the temperament of dogs by domesticating them, and in a couple hundred managed to diversify them into separate breeds. We’ve done the same to virtually every livestock animal. Yes, we are truly excellent at forcing other species to suit our needs and whims.

But perhaps our greatest work—and again, that’s not meant as a compliment—is how we’ve changed wild animals through hunting. The simple fact is that any time you hunt an animal, especially if you only want a specific subset of the population on your dinner table, you’re applying a selective pressure.

bear family

A happy bear family, protected by law.

Ilpo Kojola

These mothers have fewer offspring on average, because they don’t get pregnant again until their cubs leave. But that cost seems to be outweighed by the survival advantage both cubs and mama bears get by sticking together. Simply having more babies—which would have shortened the reproductive cycle—probably wasn’t as protective, since there’s still a vulnerable period between when cubs wean and when the mama bear can become pregnant again. Having your babies stick with you reduces vulnerable periods, since you get an extra full year of protection.

That’s not to say that all hunting regulations have positive impacts, though. Many have had negative outcomes.

Elephants

Hunting elephants for their tusks—or, more accurately, poaching them—has imposed a powerful selection force against impressive teeth. Once a way to dominate your social group and defend yourself against predators, tusks have become a liability. An animal with less desirable tusks is more likely to avoid poachers and have lots of offspring. As a result, increasing numbers of elephants grow short, stumpy tusks or (in very rare cases) have none at all.

Deer & sheep antlers/horns

Pretty much any animal that has impressive antlers or horns—or any impressive physical feature that we can hang on our walls—is subject to artificial selection. Hunting regulations sometimes prohibit shooting young males who have fewer points on their antlers or underdeveloped horns, so hunters tend to kill the older specimens. But this just selects for deer (or sheep or what-have-you) with smaller headgear. Over time, many deer, antelope, and sheep populations have shifted to have males with less impressive accoutrement.

Elk

Even when we’re not selecting for headgear, we usually select for sex. Human hunters tend to target male animals at much higher rates, which often skews the gender balance of wild populations. This isn’t always a bad thing, especially because many animals are polygynous—one male takes many female mates. But drastic shifts can change the calving season, which in turn can lower offspring body weight and survival rate. If you’re a moose or an elk born too late, you don’t have enough time to eat and grow before the next winter sets in.

Trout & salmon

Speaking of body size, let’s talk about fishing. Even moderate fishing applies selection force. Fishermen and -women generally want to catch the biggest specimens, whether it’s for the profit or just the food, which means we’re systematically killing off the largest fish in any given population. This means that popular fish like trout and salmon are decreasing in size overall, since being smaller gives fish a survival advantage. They’re going to keep shrinking until we stop selecting for the biggest swimmers.

Foxes

One slightly more unusual case: the silver fox. They’re a variant of regular foxes, who mostly have red fur. In the 1800s, as many as 20 percent of foxes in eastern Canada had this silvery sheen. Trappers soon realized they could get three times the price for a silver pelt as they could for the standard red, so they actively sought out the mutants. Even though they only trapped slightly more silver foxes proportionally, by 1930 they had dropped the silver fox population to just 5 percent overall. Now we’re mostly stuck with silver foxes of the human variety.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Hunting And Fishing Revival

https://www.nraila.org/articles/20170912/interior-secretary-ryan-zinkes-hunting-and-fishing-revival

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's Hunting And Fishing Revival

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is leading a revival. It’s not the kind that occurs under a big tent full of folding chairs, fiery sermons, and hallelujahs, but the kind that occurs when hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen in general feel liberated from the shackles of an overbearing federal government; when they experience anew the freedom to take their guns and gear into America’s wild places and fish and hunt the way their fathers and grandfathers fished and hunted before them.

Zinke set the tone for this revival on his first day as Interior Secretary. He did so by repealing the Obama administration’s lead ammunition ban—a ban which served as a last slap in the face to hunters and fishermen everywhere.

The Obama-era ban was contained in National Fish and Wildlife Service’s Director’s Order 219. The order came from Director Dan Ashe and required regional directors to work with state-level agencies to begin phasing out the use of lead ammunition on federal land. This included requiring the “Assistant Director, Migratory Birds, in consultation with National Flyway Councils and individual states, … [to] establish a process to phase in a requirement for the use of nontoxic ammunition for recreational hunting of mourning doves and other upland game birds.”

The Obama administration avoided calling the order an all-out ban by fashioning it so that its implementation occurred over a period of time rather than all at once.

On March 3, 2017, Breitbart News reported that Zinke had repealed the ban and that the repeal was one of his first actions as interior secretary.

The reason Zinke made this one of his top priorities upon taking office is that he understands that hunters and fishermen are a crucial part of wildlife conservation: They preserve a balance in nature whereby fish and wildlife are kept at sustainable levels, rather than being able to overpopulate and ruin food supplies and habitat. And he also understands that hunters and fishermen bring a tremendous amount of money into the U.S. economy annually.

On Sept. 1, 2017, Fox News published a column by NRA-ILA’s Chris W. Cox, in which Cox observed:

Zinke knows that America’s hunters and anglers are the backbone of successful fish and wildlife management in the United States. In 2016 alone, $1.1 billion in hunter and angler excise revenues was invested by the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies to fund wildlife projects benefiting all wildlife—game and non-game species alike.

Crucially, Zinke also acknowledges the role hunting and fishing play as traditions in America. For example, a childhood in a state like Kentucky is marked by the time a son and his father spend getting ready for hunting season. They plan the hunt, tend the food plot, build the tree stand, study the movement and habits of the deer, then go out on opening day intent on bringing home food the family can eat and stories the father and son will share for the rest of their lives.

Cox put it this way:

[Zinke] also understands … within our own local communities, hunting and angling is an important tradition that’s often passed down through the generations and enjoyed by the entire family, helping to forge lifelong support of wildlife conservation and the full appreciation of our fish and wildlife resources.

In short, Zinke’s convictions about the importance of hunting and fishing mean more opportunities for outdoorsmen. This is seen via announcements like the Department of the Interior’s Aug. 9, 2017, announcement that Secretary Zinke was expanding “hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife preserves.”

This expansion will result in responsible conservation practices, money for the U.S. economy and traditions that link generations together over time.

People Can Lose Right to Carry Gun, but Get Hunting License

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/pennsylvania/articles/2018-03-24/people-can-lose-right-to-carry-gun-but-get-hunting-license

In the 1990s, John Wolfe lost the right to carry a gun, but he bought hunting licenses for many years without running into a problem.

March 24, 2018, at 3:02 a.m.

People Can Lose Right to Carry Gun, but Get Hunting License

By MADDIE CROCENZI and ED MAHON, York Daily Record

YORK, Pa. (AP) — In the 1990s, John Wolfe lost the right to carry a gun.

But Wolfe bought hunting licenses for many years without running into a problem.

Wolfe used a shotgun that he bought when he was about 18 to shoot a nearly 11-inch turkey.

Then one December morning in 2014, Wolfe decided to go hunting before work. He got caught by game wardens. A judge found him guilty of illegal gun possession in 2016. He now faces two-and-a-half to five years in state prison.

Wolfe’s case points to a loophole in Pennsylvania‘s gun laws. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people buy hunting licenses. That allows them to hunt deer, turkey and other animals in the woods while carrying a gun.

But under state law, people don’t need to pass any type of background check to confirm it’s legal for them to possess a gun in order to get a hunting license. There’s also no background check for a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit, which allows people to carry a handgun for hunting purposes.

This can put game wardens in dangerous situations.

In 2010, Christopher Johnson was suspected of illegally shooting a deer on a rural road near Gettysburg. David Grove, a game warden, stopped him. Johnson was a convicted felon, so he wasn’t allowed to possess a gun. He had a valid hunting license, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Assistant Counsel Jason Raup.

Johnson told a passenger in his car he wasn’t going back to jail, the passenger testified later.

Johnson opened fire and shot Grove. Grove died instantly. Johnson was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.

Few arrests

The York Daily Record/Sunday News reviewed nearly four years of cases in which someone who was banned from possessing a gun was charged with illegal firearm possession in the York County Court of Common Pleas.

Of those more than 400 cases, four were related to hunting. In two of those cases, a person was caught while hunting. In two others, men were arrested for DUI and told police they had been hunting earlier.

First-time hunters and trappers must pass a hunting education course before being able to purchase a Pennsylvania hunting license. Sean Heisey, York Daily Record

Under federal law, all felonies and some misdemeanor convictions make it illegal for people to possess a gun. But specific hunting license information in Pennsylvania, such as the names of those with licenses, is not public under the Game and Wildlife Code. So it’s not possible to check the records on all of the people granted hunting licenses to see if they have criminal convictions that make it illegal for them to possess guns.

In states where license information is public, reporters have found large numbers of convicted felons hunting illegally.

In 2006, an Associated Press investigation showed that at least 660 felons on parole or probation received tags that allowed them to hunt with rifles or shotguns in Montana. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found about 4,800 felons bought hunting licenses during the 2007-08 hunting season. At least 859 hunted with a muzzleloader or a modern gun.

Few, if any, states verify that someone is allowed to possess a gun when they issue a hunting license.

But some states have stricter requirements than Pennsylvania for general gun and ammunition possession.

ConnecticutIllinoisMassachusetts and New Jersey require a firearms license to purchase or possess ammunition, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Illinois and Massachusetts require a license to own a firearm.

Massachusetts doesn’t have a background check system for hunting licenses. But Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League in Massachusetts, said he thinks the strict gun laws in the state have kept people with criminal convictions from hunting.

In fact, he thinks it’s kept too many people from hunting. Wallace said the ban winds up covering people who made foolish mistakes decades ago but aren’t dangerous.

Some states warn people they can’t hunt if they are banned from possessing a gun.

In Maine, there is no check to confirm people can possess a gun when they apply for a hunting license, but they have to disclose whether they are a convicted felon. If they lie, they could face charges of unsworn falsification and fraudulently obtaining a license.

In Rhode Island, the hunting license application says people convicted of certain crimes, including sexual assault and felony drug delivery, can’t buy or possess a hunting license. If they do, they could be punished with a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Raup said this warning isn’t included on Pennsylvania hunting license applications. He wasn’t aware of any instructions — whether on the PGC’s website or included in printed materials — that says being ineligible to possess a firearm prevents you from hunting with one.

Details from a 2011 Pennsylvania Game Commission operation showed felons continued to hunt with firearms. Operation Talon, a nighttime operation to stop poaching, was first held during the weekends of Oct. 21, 28 and Nov. 5, according to the Pocono Record. During those three weekends, two felons were caught possessing firearms. In 2017, no felons possessing firearms were caught during Operation Talon.

Raup said it’s “a growing problem” that’s difficult for the agency to quantify.

“I don’t know that statistically we have a good handle on that because we only come across it when we come across it,” Raup said.

The law

The process of identifying and prosecuting a convicted felon hunting with a firearm is complicated.

“There is no one-size-fits-all response that we take,” Raup said.

Full-time game wardens have the legal authority to charge someone for any crime, including specific wildlife laws. Wardens can stop anyone and do a background check, even if they don’t see an immediate violation. However, Raup said most stops begin with some kind of violation.

Others self-identify as convicted felons who know they weren’t supposed to be hunting. And sometimes, officers just have a “gut hunch” that something is off, according to Raup.

In Wolfe’s case, he was caught hunting by a game warden who already knew he wasn’t allowed to possess a gun. Raup said this happens but is somewhat infrequent.

A game warden will put a felon under arrest for hunting with a firearm. However, that doesn’t mean the individual will lose his or her license. Because there’s no background check, the individual could apply and hunt again the following year if he or she hasn’t committed any game and wildlife violations.

The agency has no legal authority to do background checks at the beginning of a hunting license sale, according to Raup. As a result, criminal history doesn’t stop the sale of a hunting license. Only Game and Wildlife Code violations can result in license suspension or revocation.

“A lot of folks kind of look at that and see that as ‘Holy smokes, that’s kind of bizarre;’ you’re selling licenses to persons in large respect who can’t even possess a firearm,” Raup said.

People caught hunting when their license is revoked for violating a wildlife law face a $1,000-$1,500 fine and can also face up to 90 days in prison. Hunting with an illegally possessed firearm can lead to years in prison.

“If you get this wrong, it’s not just a citation, it’s a felony,” Raup said. “You’re arrested. You’re put in jail. I do think there is an important responsibility we have as a state to ensure we are fairly applying the law.”

Response

The work game wardens do can be dangerous. That’s why state Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township, proposed a bill in January 2017 to define game wardens as “enforcement officers” – and give them the same benefits as other officers.

Gillespie, chairman of the state House Game & Fisheries Committee, said game wardens are often by themselves in remote areas of the state. He compared felons hunting with firearms to those who continue to drive after getting a DUI – people who “don’t get the message.”

“I wish we could legislate good scruples, morals and ethics,” Gillespie said. “Unfortunately, we can’t.”

Gillespie said he liked the idea of background checks to get hunting licenses and wanted to explore it with the Game Commission.

But Raup sees potential problems with that idea. Convicted felons can’t hunt with a firearm, but they can legally hunt or trap with air guns, archery equipment and more. Raup said denying hunting licenses to these people would also deny them access to legal hunting activities.

“A background check at the time of application is kind of a spooky thing,” he said. “I don’t know if our society wants us doing that.”

Steve Mohr doesn’t want that either. He is a 67-year-old hunter, the vice president of Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania and a former state game commissioner.

“We already have so many ways of checking it now, and people fall through the cracks,” said Mohr, who lives in Lancaster County, near the Susquehanna River. “So why waste the time?”

Mohr thinks that a background check system would make things harder on people who don’t break the law. They would end up having to wait longer for hunting licenses and pay more for the licenses, he said.

Shira Goodman, who recently took a temporary leave of absence as executive director of CeaseFirePA, said there are bigger gaps in gun laws than the hunting one. In Pennsylvania, you can buy a rifle from a friend or neighbor without a background check. If you lose a gun or it’s stolen from you, you don’t have to report that to police.

But she said the gaps add up and make the problem worse.

Paul Orr, an attorney who represented Wolfe, is a hunter. He thinks doing background checks on everyone seeking a hunting license might not be a good idea. But he thinks that at the very least license applications should warn people that previous convictions could make it illegal for them to possess a gun.

“It would at least put the person on notice,” Orr said.

Raup thinks part of the problem is confusing state firearms laws, which create a dilemma for law enforcement officers. He thinks the court system could provide better information and education so people don’t inadvertently commit felonies.

“I think we could do better,” he said.

‘Just a country boy’

Wolfe and his attorneys have argued that he didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to possess a gun.

“He’s not an attorney. He’s not a judge. He’s just a country boy from York who likes to hunt,” Orr said at Wolfe’s trial.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Susan Emmons described Wolfe — someone with multiple felony and other convictions on his record — as the very type of person lawmakers want to keep guns away from.

His case gives a view of how these illegal gun possession cases play out.

Wolfe, 42, has been convicted of several crimes that make it illegal for him to possess a gun. In the 1990s, he was convicted of burglary and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. In 2009, he was convicted on a charge of possession with intent to deliver marijuana.

But, over the years, he had access to guns, he testified during his trial.

In 2013, Wolfe met with a game warden after the officer got a report of Wolfe allegedly using a muzzle-loading firearm to shoot a large buck, even though it wasn’t buck season.

That game warden, Kyle Jury, and Wolfe have described the conversation that took place between them differently.

Jury testified that when he spoke to Wolfe, Wolfe didn’t have a muzzleloader with him. Wolfe wasn’t charged with a crime either. But Jury said he still warned him that he wasn’t allowed to possess a gun, even a muzzleloader.

Wolfe said the conversation was more vague.

For the 2014-15 hunting season, Wolfe bought at least one hunting license from Walmart, he testified.

In December 2014, Wolfe went hunting before work. It was a dreary morning, he said.

Jury was on patrol in Newberry Township a little after 7 a.m. It was early during rifle deer season. It’s a busy time of year, and Jury was used to doing what are known as field checks. He’d make sure hunters had their licenses. He’d see that they wore enough fluorescent orange.

Then Jury spotted someone hunting close to a property where an owner had previously expressed concerns about hunters being too close. When Jury and a fellow officer approached, Wolfe was in a tree stand, about 15 feet in the air and wearing orange.

Wolfe had a firearm with him — a shotgun with a rifle barrel for hunting deer, Jury testified.

When Wolfe took off his hat, Jury recognized him. Wolfe wasn’t carrying a hunting license with him, which is a violation.

The wardens confirmed Wolfe wasn’t allowed to possess a gun and arrested him.

Wolfe fought the illegal gun possession charge. At an April 2016 trial, he testified that he thought the ban on him possessing a gun ended when his probation did. The shotgun that game wardens found with Wolfe is one he bought when he was about 18, he testified. Whenever he was on probation and not allowed to possess a gun, he would give that shotgun and any other similar guns to his mother, he testified.

His attorney argued that probation office forms were confusing. The prosecutor and York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Bortner didn’t buy that argument.

Bortner found Wolfe guilty of illegally possessing a gun. He later defended the decision, saying, “The evidence showed he had every reason to know he was not allowed to have guns.”

Emmons, the prosecutor, asked for five years to 10 years in state prison, saying the sentencing guidelines called for that. Bortner said that amount of time was excessive and instead sentenced him to two-and-a-half to five years in state prison.

Wolfe appealed, but the Pennsylvania Superior Court agreed with Bortner. Then, in October 2017, he appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

While his case was under appeal, Wolfe remained free on supervised bail.

One of the conditions of bail is that he can’t possess a gun. That might seem obvious.

But Bortner made that extra clear back in June 2016 at Wolfe’s sentencing hearing.

“As difficult as it may be for you and your lifestyle, you need to stay away from firearms,” Bortner told Wolfe.

The case was under appeal for more than a year. But on Feb. 21, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Wolfe’s request for an appeal. The day of the decision, Wolfe’s attorney for the appeal, Eric Winter, said he and Wolfe would have to discuss options.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2G1KHnt

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Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.

ALLIGATOR HUNTING IS NOW LEGAL IN PARTS OF NC. BUT THIS TOWN WANTS TO PROTECT ITS GATOR

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article205886869.html

The Sierra Club Chooses Killers over Advocates for Life and Nature

http://aella.org/2011/05/the-sierra-club-chooses-killers-over-advocates-for-life-and-nature-by-paul-watson/

May 20, 2011

 By Paul Watson

[Translate]


On April 21st, 2006, Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, commemorated John Muir’s 168th birthday by saluting Muir’s anti-hunting philosophy in an article that accompanied his resignation as Sierra Club National Director, only a few days prior. We have decided to reawaken Paul’s article, as we feel that it is a profound piece, which echoes the feelings of many environmental, conservation and animal rights activists, alike. Thank you for allowing us to post this. Please click on Paul’s photo above to visit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s website. In Unity…

The Sierra Club Chooses Killers over Advocates for Life and Nature By Paul Watson

My resignation from the Sierra Club received more letters of support for condemning hunting than criticisms and this was to be expected considering that more than 80% of Sierra Club members do not hunt.

Of the few who were critical of my anti-hunting position, they reportedly took offense to my remarks as being anti-hunting(of course they were) and they insisted that hunters were a strong conservation lobby and thus essential to protecting wildlife and wildlife habitats.

I probably should have been more definitive of my position. Instead of stating that I was anti-hunting or opposed to hunters, I should have said that I am anti-killing and opposed to killers.

The choice is really between endorsing the infliction of pain, suffering and death or opposing the infliction of pain, suffering and death.

Pro-killers will say that those people like me who are opposed to killing are alienated urbanities, of the privileged class, and insensitive to the traditional rationale that supports hunting.

That argument does not work with me because I was raised as the eldest of seven children by a single mother in a small fishing village in a rural area of Eastern Canada. My father was abusive and he was a hunter.

I have spent a large part of my life in third world nations and on the ocean. I oppose the killing of wildlife not because I am alienated from nature but because I happen to believe that you can’t love or respect nature with a gun.

I walked the trap lines in the Eastern bush as a child. I walked them to free captive animals from leg hold traps and to destroy the traps. I destroyed hundreds of these vicious contraptions between the ages of 11 and 18.

I have seen the suffering. In Kenya I watched a mother elephant literally weep for the loss of her calf. In Michigan I witnessed a Canada goose sit for days without eating beside the body of its mate who had been shot and not recovered. In Alaska I saw a Grizzly cub sitting confused beside the skinned body of its mother who was killed only for her hide. In the Yukon, I followed a trail of blood for over a mile to discover an aerial gut-shot wolf staring at me in fear and bewilderment.

What I have observed in the wild is suffering. It was plainly evident and I felt remorse for the arrogance of our species for justifying the taking of lives for sport, for enjoyment, for fun, and for pleasure.

In Zimbabwe I spent time with big game hunters, some of whom reluctantly led rich trophy hunters into the bush because they had lost their jobs as rangers and President Mugabe had ruled that unless wildlife made money the animals would be eliminated. These hunters described most of their clients as slob hunters, arrogant and ignorant and expressed their shame at being forced to participate in the murder business.

I was amazed to discover that a Texan accountant had won a prize from the Boone and Crocket Club for bagging a trophy whitetail deer and then he was exposed when it was discovered that the rack of an animal stolen from a taxidermist in Alberta had been surgically grafted onto a smaller animal on a game farm in Mexico where they flushed it out from cover into the sights of the great hunter’s rifle.

It was John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club who first described hunting as the murder business.

In a few places in the world people hunt for survival. In the past, people were forced to hunt for survival. The constituency the Sierra Club is now courting through its killer outreach program are not people who have a need to hunt for survival.

They are people who spend more money on weaponry, travel and related expenses than the value of the meat they obtain. It is not the meat they are after but the thrill of the kill.

Dick Cheney, when not shooting lawyers, describes how he loves to see the ducks tumble from the sky. I’ve heard hunters describe how pulling the trigger gives them an erection.

These are men who slaughter for pleasure. I call them perverse death deviants and I have no apologies for labeling them as such. Killing for pleasure is a sickness, no different than child molestation or rape.

There is no sport in killing an animal from a distance with a sophisticated tool designed to inflict death. The name sportsman implies that there is a fair contest. There is nothing fair about being ripped apart by high powered bullets.

Hunters target the biggest, the strongest and the best of the species they pursue. This is behavior outside the laws of ecology. It is unnatural predation and certainly cannot be condoned by credible conservationists.

Hunters defend their perverse desire to extinguish life by saying it is traditional. Unfortunately many barbaric practices are traditional. However, modern day hunting bears little relation to so called traditional hunting. Hunters today are more akin to those who eradicated the bison and took only the tongues.

Hunters were responsible for the extinction of the Labrador duck, the Passenger Pigeon, the Eastern Bison, the Plains Wolf and the extirpation of the Grizzly from most of the lower 48 states. They were not only killers they were involved in the act of specicide, the complete eradication of entire species. This was not conservation.

Hunters cite Theodore Roosevelt as a big game hunter who was also a conservationist. This is true, he was both. He lived in a time when killing for pleasure was accepted but it was also a time when racism was accepted as normal and it was considered abnormal for women to have any rights, especially the right to vote. Roosevelt did set aside land to conserve much in the same way that the British aristocracy set aside land as exclusive hunting preserves to keep out the lower classes.

The Sierra Club is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach out to invite killers to join the Club. The leadership of the Club believes that the over 80% of Club members who don’t take pleasure from killing must be tolerant of the less than 20% who do. They want to bring in more killers into the Club.

There is a big difference between hunting and killing. Photographers and film makers can hunt wildlife. It actually takes more skill to hunt a Mountain sheep with a camera than with a rifle. Any nimrod can pull a trigger and send a high velocity bullet unexpectedly into living tissue to shatter organs and induce shock. The photographer brings back nobility, a creature caught in its natural habitat in harmony with the world around it.

The killer watches his victim tumble from the air or crash to the ground as it chokes and gurgles on its own life blood. The photographer brings back life. The hunter brings back death.

I have been a hunter myself. I’ve never killed anything but I have stalked and hunted human poachers. I have destroyed their ships, their rifles, their nets, their longlines and their harpoons. I have snatched clubs from the bloody hands of sealers and defended myself from their attacks. My form of hunting is much fairer and gutsier than these killers who prey upon their unsuspecting and innocent victims. I target the guilty not the innocent.

Once I trekked with Kenyan rangers across the plains of Tsavo on the track of poachers. We followed their trail of elephant carcasses rotting on the ground with only their tusks removed. We found the criminals. They fired on us and killed one of our rangers. We did not kill them. We wounded two and arrested seven. They were armed with AK-47 rifles and our rangers were armed with British Enfield 303’s. We were up against a superior foe and we beat them. It was not sport. It was not fun. It was dangerous and necessary work and the objective was to save lives, not to extinguish lives.

That is the only kind of hunting that makes sense today in a world with a human population approaching seven billion. If every American exercised their right to kill, the ducks, geese, quail, elk, deer and other creatures would disappear quite quickly. There are simply to many of us and not very many of them.

It can hardly be an egalitarian sport if only a minority of citizens can realistically participate. Instead of encouraging hunting, groups like the Sierra Club should be discouraging the number of hunters. The nation and the world needs fewer killers of wildlife, not more.

In Europe over a hundred million songbirds are gunned down every year. Elephant populations have been reduced by 70% in East Africa since I worked on poaching patrols there in 1978. World fisheries are in a state of collapse. Wildlife is getter scarcer and there is more need now than ever for protection.

Why can’t we protect wetlands simply because wetlands need to be protected? Why is there this demand that killers are needed to help protect wetlands simply because they want to slaughter ducks? Canada geese mate for life. Shouldn’t it bother us that we shatter tens of thousands of these relationships every year? Why should we tolerate the accumulation of lead and steel shot in the marshes and estuaries? Why should we tolerate the legal murder of human beings that we label as hunting accidents, especially when the victim is a non-killer, perhaps a child some nimrod has mistaken for a deer.

The son of Sigmund Freud was walking on his own property in Quebec when a hunter shot and killed him. The killer was found not guilty because the death was ruled an accident.

When a stranger can kill you on your own land and get away with it, it demonstrates that our tolerance for this legal killing has gone over the top of acceptability.

One killer wrote me to say that my radical anti-hunting ideas were unacceptable for a member of the Board of the Sierra Club. When did opposition to killing, to the taking of life, to the extinguishment of a living creature, to the wasting of a sentient being become a radical idea?

Sometimes I think we live in such a bizarre world where advocates for life are considered radical and proponents of death are considered normal, where violence is considered acceptable and non-violence is dismissed as unpatriotic or cowardly.

Few killers question the morality of their actions. Once you have reached a stage where you can inflict cruelty and death, thoughts of morality, empathy and respect have long since vanished.

For if a killer of a deer could feel the pain and anguish of his victim or see the fawn starve because of a mother that did not return they would have little appetite for the meat.

Humans who have crossed the line into dealing death and inflicting misery have become alienated from the wonderment of life and no longer see or appreciate the magic of being alive.

Life is to be cherished, protected, defended and championed, not to be wantonly and cruelly destroyed, and certainly not for so frail an excuse as pleasure or sport.

This essay may be freely distributed and published.

Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (1977-
Co-Founder – The Greenpeace Foundation (1972)
Co-Founder – Greenpeace International (1979)
Director of the Sierra Club USA (2003-2006)
Director – The Farley Mowat Institute
Director – http://www.harpseals.org

Whom when I asked from what place he came,
And how he hight, himselfe he did ycleepe,
The Shepheard of the Ocean by Name,
And said he came far from
the main-sea deepe.
– Edmund Spenser
A.C.E. 1590

http://www.Seashepherd.org
Tel: 360-370-5650
Fax: 360-370-5651

Address: P.O. Box 2616
Friday Harbor, Wa 98250 USA

“ECO-PIRATE: THE STORY OF PAUL WATSON” is a feature-length documentary about a man on a mission to save the planet and its oceans. Currently being screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival to wide acclaim, this documentary is the first of it’s kind to follow the life of Captain Paul Watson’s tireless battle to save our oceans. Do not miss this film!

Prince Harry Won’t Hunt Animals Because Meghan Markle Disapproves

https://radaronline.com/celebrity-news/prince-harry-wont-hunt-meghan-markle-animal-rights/

He refuses royal Boxing Day shoot tradition for the sake of animal lover fiancée.

Prince Harry‘s fiancée Meghan Markle has had quite the influence on him already!

As The Sun reported, Harry is skipping the traditional Boxing Day, Dec. 26, hunting spree with the other royals so he doesn’t upset Markle, a noted animal lover.

A source told The Sun, “The Boxing Day shoot was always going to be a tricky issue [for Harry]. Meghan is a keen animal rights campaigner and doesn’t like hunting in any form.

PHOTOS: Her Royal Thighness! Prince Harry’s Girlfriend Flashes Her Legs In Sultry Shoot

“Harry loves it and has always been out there on Boxing Day. But if it means breaking with long-standing royal traditions to avoid upsetting her, so be it,” the source said.

If Markle was “not comfortable” with Harry taking part, he “wouldn’t want to upset her,” according to the insider.

Now, Prince Charles and Prince William will participate in the shoot on the royal’s Sandringham estate without Harry.

PHOTOS: Prince Harry’s Girlfriend Meghan Markle Claims ‘People Wanted To Kill Me!’

Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, announced their engagement on Nov. 27. They have been thrilling the British public with appearances, but some have raised skepticism about Harry marrying a divorced American actress.

There was also a royal scandal when Princess Michael wore a racist brooch to a lunch with Markle — and then had to apologize. Markle is bi-racial.

The former Suits star loves animals and fights for their rights. She was recently devastated after her dog Guy, a beagle, suffered two broken legs.

PHOTOS: Prince Harry’s Girlfriend Goes Back To Work After Nude Photo Scandal

She had to leave another beloved pet pooch behind in Toronto to marry Harry.

While Markle, as a royal fiancée, will spend Christmas Day at Sandringham with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of Harry’s family on Monday, the engaged couple will likely not even be seen at the hunt the next day! The other royals, however, should be keen to bag deer and other animals on Boxing Day as usual.

The break from the shoot could give the Prince and Markle some time alone to plan their May 19 wedding!

Hunters careless, inhumane

Letter in answer to:

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/12/27/maine-voices-actions-of-a-select-few-unfairly-portray-hunters-as-careless-inhumane/

Dear Editor,

Well, Taylor LaFlamme was right about one thing in her January 27 “Maine Voices” piece, “Actions of a select few unfairly portray hunters as careless, inhumane.” The one thing she was right about was that, “..everyone has their opinion,” and hers was consistent with the opinion piece’s misguided title. 

I’m not defending Maine drivers, but when comparing auto versus hunting accidents it’s only fair to consider how many vehicles are on the roads in a given year and how many hunters are in the woods during hunting season. Granted, there are times when it seems there are a lot of hunters out there, but so far there isn’t the need for speed limits or traffic lights to prevent a pileup.

Yes, everyone has the right to their opinion, but perhaps in light of some of the recent well publicized hunting accidents, opinions in defense of hunting are best kept to oneself.

The piece ends with the inarguable statement, “Hunting…is a way of meeting new people and making new memories.” The question is, why do those memories have to revolve around killing?

Jim Robertson

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting    

Maine Voices: Actions of select few unfairly portray hunters as careless, inhumane

NORTH YARMOUTH — As a teenage girl, an avid hunter and a Mainer, it has come to my attention that there have recently been many unfair generalizations regarding hunters and their ability to hunt safely. Most of these generalizations are posted as comments on social media and news websites. Unfortunately, hunting is usually covered only when something has gone horribly wrong, stereotyping hunters as reckless and irresponsible.

From firsthand experience, I can express to you that hunters in general are not the problem; only select individuals make poor decisions. As in any human activity, such as driving and boating, accidents are inevitable. For example, in 2016 there were 160 car-related deaths and nine boating-related deaths in Maine, yet since 2011, there have only been three hunting-related deaths in Maine.

Responsibility is a central ideal of hunting, which is why candidates for a hunting license must complete safety courses and pass a test, including multiple questions regarding the process of identifying your target before shooting. In fact, it is a Maine law that in order to acquire a hunting license after the age of 16, one must have taken and passed a hunter safety course, unless one can prove possession of a hunting license before 1976.

Unfortunately, the occasional hunter has failed to adhere to these core ideals, resulting in unfair backlash against hunters in Maine. For example, after WGME’s coverage of an Oxford accident wherein a man was shot while hunting with his friends, someone who said they were from southern Maine commented online, “Hunters are idiots.”

And this isn’t the only case of people generalizing that hunters are negligent and dumb. Referring to the Hebron incident, a commenter whose online name is Firenze said on Britain’s Daily Mail website: “Hunters want us to respect them, but they continue to act irresponsibly.

How are hunters any more irresponsible than drivers in Maine? With an average of 148 car-related deaths a year in Maine since 2011, and only three hunting-related deaths in that same time period, couldn’t one argue that drivers are more irresponsible than hunters?

Although everyone has their opinions, not everyone is aware of why we hunt in the first place. For many, venison is a food source that fills a freezer at a much cheaper price than buying meat from a grocery store. Many Maine families depend on the game they shoot each hunting season to feed them through winter.

Not only is hunting for your own food cheaper, but it is also healthier and more humane. What deer in the woods eat is all natural and contains no preservatives, making venison better for one’s health. Hunters are commonly asked whether it is inhumane to shoot such a beautiful creature, but what many don’t realize is that hunting is more humane than what some factory farms do to the cows that end up in our supermarkets.

Hunting also benefits all Mainers by controlling Maine’s deer population. If we didn’t hunt, deer populations would become too great, drastically increasing the risk of deer-related car crashes. Hunting also contributes greatly to Maine’s economy, generating $8.1 million from the 168,890 licenses sold in 2016. Hunting is important to Maine and its history, though it is often misunderstood by many.

In the past five years, the number of hunting licenses has risen 10 percent, yet the number of hunting-related accidents is at a record low. Only three hunting-related deaths have occurred since 2011, yet because of the careless actions of a select few individuals, people still make disparaging generalizations about all hunters. Hunting plays a very important role in our state, even for those who don’t hunt, and many know nothing about it, yet they call us all reckless and irresponsible.

Hunting unites Mainers and is a way of meeting new people and making memories. I have never been more proud to say that I am a Maine hunter.