February 12, 2013
I thought this would be a timely re-post considering the apathy, cowardice and ignorance that continues to surround wolves.
For Secretary of Interior, the choice is clear. President Obama should appoint Rep. Raul Grijalva. He’s a bold leader and a champion of our public lands who will protect our natural treasures, including American wild horses and burros, for generations to come.
Dear President Obama,
Your choice for the next Secretary of the Interior will determine the future of our public lands and their natural resources, including wild horses and burros.The individual you appoint must reflect the ideals that you campaigned upon and that so many of us supported.
The person best qualified to represent these ideals and move the Interior Department forward is Rep. Raul Grijalva, Congressman from Arizona’s Third Congressional District.
Rep. Grijalva has spent his entire career standing up to special interests and for American taxpayers and the preservation of our natural resources. As the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands since 2007, he has been an outspoken advocate for conservation. He has also been a leader in the fight to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) costly and inhumane wild horse and burro program.
As Interior Secretary, Rep. Grijalva will hold the BLM accountable, and he will stop the government giveaway of public resources to commercial interests that exploit our public lands.
Please nominate Rep. Raul Grijalva as the 51st Secretary of the Interior. He is clearly the best choice to protect and preserve our public lands and our natural heritage, including America’s treasured wild horses and burros.
PLEASE ClICK HERE TO SIGN PETITION
Petition credit given to: www.wildhorsepreservation.org
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Howling For Justice
Tags: Wild Horse Preservation dot org, Appoint Raul Grijalva, Secretary of the Interior, biodiversity, gray wolves, wild horses, President Obama
September 5, 2012
For over a decade the USFWS has said no to Wyoming’s brutal wolf slaughter plan, designed to exterminate wolves without mercy, treating them as vermin, to be shot-on-sight in most of the state.
In 2009 the Obama administration delisted wolves in the Northern Rockies but Wyoming wolves were excluded because the USFWS would not accept their “wolf management/slaughter plan”. Wyoming wolves remained under the protection of the ESA.
In response to the delisting a legal challenge was mounted by environmental groups and on August 5, 2010 Judge Donald Molloy relisted wolves in the Northern Rockies. He stated the USFWS could not separate wolves by state for delisting. Either they strip wolves in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho of their ESA protections or they keep them all listed. Read his decision here.
Judge orders protections reinstated for wolf
By MATT VOLZ, AP, Idaho Statesman, 08/05/10 [here]
A federal judge has ordered endangered species protections reinstated for the gray wolf in Montana and Idaho.
The federal government last year removed protections for wolves in those two states but not Wyoming. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy says in his ruling Thursday the government’s decision was a political solution and does not comply with the federal Endangered Species Act.
Molloy says the entire Rocky Mountain wolf population must be either listed or removed as an endangered species, but the protections can’t be separated by state. (Wildlife and People)
But now, as Idaho and Montana are busy slaughtering wolves, while USFWS watches, the agency has decided Wyoming’s shoot-on-site wolf plan is just perfect after all. The approx. 270 wolves who live outside Yellowstone can now be used for target practice, killed anytime of the day or night, without a permit. They can be run over by snowmobiles or ATV’s, hung from a tree, torn apart, set on fire or anything a sick mind can come up with. That’s the fate of Wyoming wolves. The cruel irony is one of the excuses given for killing so many wolves is Wyoming hunters accused wolves of decimating elk herds in the state but that’s been proven to be false. It was recently reported that many of Wyoming’s elk herds have grown so large extra licenses will be handed out to hunters to kill more elk. The hypocrites and their lies have been exposed!
Now that Wyoming has gained the authority to manage wolves and will soon have a wolf hunt, the much lamented lack of elk due to those “insatiable packs of killing machines” — wolves — has suddenly turned around and there are said to be too many elk . . . just like that.
Brian Nesvik, chief of the wildlife division for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department says “in many areas of the state, those herds have simply grown too large.” Therefore, the state has made an emergency order providing for an extra, reduced-price cow elk and elk calf license in some of the areas with too many elk. In fact, Game and Fish is trying so hard to get more hunting in the larger elk herds that they are offering special elk hunts on private lands. They are even encouraging elk hunters to buy three elk tags in some parts of the state.
September 03, 2012 10:00 am • By CHRISTINE PETERSON Star-Tribune staff writer
But in many areas of the state, those herds have simply grown too large, said Brian Nesvik, chief of the wildlife division for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Game and Fish officials have tried recently to encourage hunting in the larger herds, even offering special elk hunts on private lands monitored by biologists. Department officials are going one step further this hunting season. Hunters can now buy three elk licenses in some areas.
Until this year, Wyoming state statute mandated each hunter could only hold two elk licenses. The Wyoming Legislature gave Game and Fish the ability to control elk license numbers during its last session. Wildlife officials made an emergency order in August offering an extra reduced-price cow and calf license in some of those overpopulated areas, Nesvik said.
We know the excuses for killing wolves in Wyoming and other states for that matter, are a sham. There is no reason to slaughter wolves. The propaganda campaign waged by the livestock and hunting cabals is just that, propaganda. It’s Kabuki Theater played out to justify the unjustifiable.
So what’s changed at USFWS and their 180 turn on the long sought after Wyoming wolf killing plan? Absolutely nothing except the appointment of Dan Ashe as head of USFWS.
“Career professional in agency to assume duties immediately after a long series of Republican “holds” on his nomination
The Fish and Wildlife Service has been led since January 2009 Acting Director Rowan Gould.
“Holds” in the U.S. Senate on bills and nominations have become a kind of one-person filibuster. It is becoming difficult for any President to get anyone approved after his first round of major nominations. Ashe was held up not because of any controversy over his person, but over efforts by Republications to extract policy changes in exchange for allowing a vote.
As “Cody Coyote” wrote in a recent comment in this forum, one of the holds was by a Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso trying to assure that the Service would delist the wolf in Wyoming.”
Draw your own conclusions on why Ashe’s appointment was “held up”? Was it a quid pro quo to ensure Wyoming wolves would be delisted?
There is something very ugly going on @ USFWS concerning the delisting of gray wolves. Animals recently off the Endangered Species List are now being hunted, tortured, persecuted and slaughtered all with the approval of USFWS. Idaho and Montana have started their hunt/killing spree. Beginning October 1, 2012, Wyoming wolves lives will be worth nothing. I expect lawsuits to be filed against this horrific policy but that’s not the point. The fact USFWS would sign on to this after fighting it for years makes absolutely no sense. But nothing about ” wolf management” (a euphemism for wolf slaughter) passes the smell test. Everyday there is a new scheme to kill wolves. It’s never-ending. It’s mind numbing. It’s a repeat of the past. It’s sadistic.
Hard to believe this was all made possible by Obama, his rancher Interior Secretary and US Senate Democrats, who pushed through a delisting rider on the back of a must-pass budget bill. All those sanctimonious Democrats who bill themselves as “environmentally” friendly, had no problem throwing wolves in the Northern Rockies under the bus to help Senator Tester D-MT hold onto his Senate seat, as he panders to the wolf hating crowd back home in Montana.
Now the Great Lakes wolf population is under siege after they were unceremoniously delisted last year. Almost immediately Wisconsin and Minnesota came up with wolf hunt plans. Wisconsin wanted to chase wolves with dogs. Judge Peter C. Anderson put a stop to that, slapping a temporary injunction on the plan, preventing wolf hunters from using dogs. His ruling was in response to a legal challenge brought by several environmental groups under the premise that the state of Wisconsin was promoting dog fighting. Hopefully the judge’s injunction will stop the Wisconsin wolf hunts this season but the DNR is scrambling to make it happen anyway, minus the dogs.
Minnesota, the oh so pragmatic and fair state, is just as bad. For years their policy was a 5 years moratorium on wolf hunts if wolves were ever delisted in the state.
But lo and behold the Minnesota legislature changed that pretty quickly last year when wolf delisting was imminent. So much for tolerant Minnesota. Turns out they’re not so tolerant.
Michigan Rep. Huuki-R recently introduced a wolf hunt bill into the state House of Representatives, it looks like wolves will be given no quarter any where they call home.
If we don’t speak out now and turn the tide we’ll lose wolves once again in the lower 48. I’m not sure how many ways I can say this. I’ve written over seven hundred posts, in the last three years, on this tragedy. What will it take for citizens to finally wake up and realize we’re losing the iconic wolf, the very symbol of wildness and freedom we claim to hold so dear? How incredibly lucky we are to have intact ecosystems in the Northern Rockies with all apex predators represented. It’s one of the last vestiges of wildness remaining in the lower 48, yet we’re willing to let it slip away because a tiny majority of hateful people have decided the West and our wildlife belong to them, to dispose of as they see fit? Wake up America, we’re losing our heritage!!! Are we willing to let the inmates run the asylum? Or will we finally unite for a common purpose to save the gray wolf from the grimmest of fates? You decide!
(NEW YORK) — Federal and state officials are celebrating the successful return of once-endangered wolves to Wyoming — by declaring open season on the animals.
Beginning Oct. 1, gray wolves will be removed from the rolls of the Endangered Species Act and classified as predators, allowing Wyoming hunters to shoot the animals on sight at any time, for any reason, in about 85 percent of the state.
“Our primary goal, and that of the states, is to ensure that gray wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains remain healthy, giving future generations of Americans the chance to hear its howl echo across the area,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe in a prepared statement.
Environmental groups that have gone to court over previous measures to de-list the wolves plan to fight the most recent change in the law, said Connie Wilbert, a field organizer for the Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club.
Once killed nearly to extinction, in 1978 all species of the gray wolf in the lower 48 states were declared endangered and protected from hunting under federal law.
In the years since they received federal protection, wolf populations have returned across the West. As their numbers swelled, ranchers complained the animals routinely killed their livestock and petitioned the government for permission to kill them.
Removing wolves from the list would give ranchers in much of the state the right to kill wolves on sight. In other areas, wolves will be designated “trophy game” and subject to hunting during seasons regulated by the state.
Photo: Black wolf wallpaper
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Wyoming wolves, Animal cruelty, Howling for Justice
Tags: USFWS about-face, Wyoming wolves, shoot-on-sight, Minnesota wolves, Idaho wolves, Montana wolves, Wisconsin wolves, biodiversity, wolf wars, wolf slaughter, back to the brutal past
Bella, a husky that lost one of its hind legs in a snare meant for wolves, was a featured to help illustrate the argument of wolf supporters. (SHAWN GUST/Press}
A great pro-wolf rally was held in Coeur d’ alene yesterday. It brought a huge crowd of dedicated wolf activists. Thanks to my friends Ann Sydow, Brett Havestick, Dr. Catherine, Nancy Taylor and so many others who worked hard to make the rally a success. Thanks to Bella the husky, who was a star of the rally. Bella lost one of her legs due to a disgusting snare. She is a hero to all of us.
If the the wolf hating crowd thinks we are going away they are sadly mistaken. Yet today Wyoming wolves were officially delisted. This will allow wolves to be shot on sight in 90% of the state. Thanks to the Obama administration we now have wolf hunts in 5 states and Michigan just introduced a wolf hunt bill in their state House of Representatives.
Thinks may look bleak for wolves but this is only temporary. We will fight until our last breath to see their ESA protections restored. Take heart wolf advocates.
I will be off and on the computer until after the Labor day weekend. Think of the wolves in Montana who will be shot with arrows, dying gruesome, painful deaths. Wolf bow hunting season starts in Montana tomorrow and runs into October. Pups are not off limits. Think about Idaho wolves who are being hunted as I type this. Think about the wolves in the Great Lakes who will suffer the same fate.
We live to fight on. Do not lose hope. we are working behind the scenes to effect change for wolves!
For the wolves, For the wild ones,
About 70 rally in protest of Idaho wolf hunt
Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:22 am, Fri Aug 31, 2012.
By BILL BULEY/Staff writer | 18 comments
COEUR d’ALENE - Idaho’s wolf management plan, said Dr. Catherine Feher-Elston, is not working.
That’s because, she said, “it’s not management.”
“It’s killing, it’s slaughter,” said Feher-Elston, a naturalist and wolf advocate who spoke at what was both a pro-wolf rally and protest of Idaho’s year-round hunting season on wolves Thursday at City Park.
“We have to fight to stop this,” she said.
About 70 people attended the gathering that included speakers, songs, a dog that lost a leg to a trap, and a presentation of how to release pets from traps. There were signs that read “Stop the Slaughter” and “Wolves Belong,” while many wore shirts with pictures of wolves.
And while folks, literally, were howling at times, the meeting was mostly calm, but for a few moments when a man who supported wolf management arrived and began recording some of the speakers.
Wolf advocacy has been reduced to putting out brush fires. Every day there’s a new crisis or new campaign to persecute wolves. It goes on and on, draining energy, sending me into dark moods, constantly on the defensive.
I cut back on posting for the last several months for precisely this reason. It doesn’t mean I’m ignoring the bad stuff but I want to concentrate on solving this crisis, to come up with solutions.
I’m a passionate person, I guess I don’t have to tell you that. When I care about something, I throw myself into it wholeheartedly, as I did this blog, which has given me a forum to share my passion with you, to give wolf advocates a home where your beliefs aren’t called into question every second, a place where you don’t have to defend your positions and explain why wolves are worth caring about. I would love to bring you good news every day. To say wolves are doing just fine, that the persecution has stopped and the fairy tale ending has come true. That’s what I wish I could tell you. Unfortunately that’s not the case.
This year has been especially difficult because wolf advocates have had to watch the systematic slaughter of innocent wolves, while feeling powerless to stop it. That is not a good way to feel. It’s a bad way to feel. And it keeps us grounded in sorrow. The hunts took a toll on all of us. Gruesome picture after gruesome picture of dead wolves littered the Internet and still do. The worst is knowing wolves are suffering, the horrors of the past have come home to roost. Many wolves are tortured to death before they finally subcumb. Where’s the “code of ethics” hunters say they live by? Shame on all who torture and kill animals for blood lust.
I don’t want to see one more picture of a dead wolf, I don’t want to hear one more word about elk, I don’t want to hear one more word about cows. I’m sick of it. I’m so sick of it that it makes me sick.
I’m going to focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do. I want to feel energized again, as I did when I started this blog. Letting others dictate how I should feel about wolves or why this battle is lost or no matter what we do we can’t change things, that’s not going to be part of my thinking.
I can’t just hope things will change I want to be part of that change. Is there too much hoping going on and not enough doing? I know many people like to rely on hope but doesn’t that somehow free you from having to do anything about the situation? If you just hope things will change but don’t participate in ways to effect change, isn’t that a cop-out?
If you love and care about wolves then you’ll want to do something about it. No amount of bad news is going to stop you. I’m not going to give up because MT FWP received a $50,000 dollar donation from the RMEF to help kill wolves. I’m not going to stop standing up for wolves because the anti-wolf crowd was successful in removing their ESA protections.
We’re in a difficult battle that’s not going very well at the moment but it doesn’t mean we should give up and go hide somewhere, pretending it’s not happening. Let ostriches do that.
I guess what I’m trying to say is we all have a part to play. Things are bad for wolves right now but lamenting over every bit of bad news keeps us paralyzed. The best we can do with the bad news is to spread it around so the uninformed can become informed and join our fight. Those of us in the trenches already know the sad truth and that’s what gives us strength to keep moving forward in these dark times. I know the wolf hating crowd is hoping we’ll give up and accept that wolves will be killed by the hundreds every year until they are all gone or their population will be so small and beleaguered only their shadows will remain. Well that’s not going to happen!!
So I’m moving forward. I don’t want to keep begging people in power to give me something. Nobody gives up power willingly. Dealing with the states and their wolf hating mania seems futile to me. I believe the only way to save wolves is to bypass the states and go directly to the feds and demand they right the wrong of wolf delisting, which was rammed through riding on a budget bill.
But none of this will mean anything without the participation of everyday Americans, most of whom are unaware of the wolves’ plight because the MSM won’t cover it. They’re too in love with Obama to make him look bad, so they’ve chosen to ignore it. If it wasn’t for the Internet the story would have been completely buried.
We need to concentrate on the big picture and not get bogged down in the minutia of wolf hating policies the states are deluging us with. They’ve proved without any doubt they are incapable of caring for wolves and only want to see their numbers driven to absolute minimums based on an outdated, politically motivated, unscientific “wolf plan” that’s 17 years old.
So put down the fire hoses, we have work to do.
RELIST GRAY WOLVES!!
by Derrick Jensen
Top Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Bottom photo: Courtesy LA Times
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Activism, Howling for Justice
Tags: relist gray wolves, wolf persecution, scapegoating, fear mongering, America’s wolves
BY JAMES WILLIAM GIBSON – APRIL 13, 2012
Why me, Bill” asked “Elizabeth.”. “Why should anyone care about what I think the Bransford photos accomplished?” I’m just a wee, grubby misfit. I don’t even have one fancy title to my name.” Elizabeth (not her real name) lives in northern Idaho. She grasped that the www.Trapperman.com photos showing smiling hunter Josh Bransford with a trapped black wolf standing in blood-drenched snow in the background would soon disappear. She saved the images and through the North Idaho Wolf Alliance network, got the photographs to Earth Island Journal in late March (Read the original story, Wolf Torture and Execution Continues in the Northern Rockies).
A light has been released, a light beyond my expectations,” Elizabeth says. “We have many new eyes peering into the gap between the ethical treatment of wildlife and legality in the state of Idaho… Josh Bransford is the face of but one man being used to render wolves functionally extinct region-wide, and since his disturbing actions are legal, officials won’t budge unless we the people demand change.”
Despite the worldwide publicity, the Bransford pictures got little attention in the Idaho news media for the first two weeks after the story’s release. Bill Ross, a wolf handler at the Wolf People sanctuary in Cocolalla, Idaho, observed, “I don’t think the story’s really gotten off the ground yet. It’s not circulated among the general public here.” Ross fears that Bransford and the black wolf are “today’s news” and that “a week from now it won’t be news anymore.” Still, Ross soldiers on. “It can be discouraging, but if we don’t continue to fight, obviously there won’t be a fight,” he explains.
But Ross and the other Northern Rocky advocates got unexpected help on April 12, when the Idaho Fish and Game Service released its official report on Bransford’s “Wolf Trapping in the Red River area.” (Bransford is a Nez Perce National Forest employee.)
While the photograph clearly shows the black wolf standing in a large blood-stained pool of snow, fish and game officials concluded the blood came from “nicks,” not bullets. Moreover, the report says: “the Forest Service officer and the deputy did not observe anyone shoot at the wolf and did not receive any indication that any of the individuals they contacted shot at the wolf.” Thus, since no law enforcement officer saw the wolf shot, and no one confessed to the shooting, then the wolf simply suffered “nicks” to its lower hind legs, and the nicks bled.
The report ignores Bransford’s own blog account about the incident on Trapperman: “I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS [Forrest Service] cop that I know. He said that You got one and you better get up here as there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already! Lucky they were not real good shots.” Bransford, writing under the name “Pinching,” explains that once on the scene he talked to the boys who fired: “I was not mad, and when the boys told me the story I kind of chuckled… I would have done the same I think. They also did go out of there (sic) way to make sure I was called, and they didn’t hide from what they were doing.”
There’s also a serious problem between the report’s conclusion and the pictures of the black wolf. Gary MacFarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director, of northern Idaho’s Friends of the Clearwater, contends that only two possible circumstances could lead to a wolf’s losing so much blood. One, the wolf could be shot. Second, the wolf could have tried to chew off its trapped leg. But look at the photo of the wolf’s paw caught in Bransford’s trap. “It doesn’t look like the animal is trying to chew off its leg,” he says. “Somebody is lying. There’s a contradiction in the accounts.
Photos: Courtesy Earth Island Journal
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Idaho Wolves, Animal Cruelty, Howling for Justice
Tags: Earth Island Journal, Bill Gibson, IDFG, trapped and tortured wolf, Trappergate
Photo: Courtesy Ann Sydow (Wolf People)
Thank you so much for supporting Howling for Justice and helping it reach over a million hits. You are the best!! I started the blog to give wolves a voice, to speak for them and tell their story.
HFJ began mere months after the shocking delisting of the gray wolf by the Obama administration through the current day. Please feel free to dig into the archives and relive our proudest moments and yes our lowest lows. This odyssey is in it’s infancy. We will not rest until wolves are safe, no matter how long it takes.
We’ve traveled many miles together on our journey and I hope we travel many more. I will always be here for you and the wolves, they are my passion. I promise to continue to speak the truth, it may not always be pretty but you can count on me to give it to you straight, with plenty of opinion.
Here’s to our wolf family. I know it’s been a very bumpy ride but together we are growing a grass-roots wolf movement that will change the way wolves and other predators are treated in the future. Take comfort in that.
I have a surprise for you that I’m determined to finish this weekend. It’s a new feature on the blog and I think you’ll enjoy it. I won’t say more, I don’t want to ruin it for you.
Thank you again dear, dear readers, for caring about and supporting the gray wolf.
For the wolves, For the wild ones,
Time is running out to comment on Wyoming’s horrific wolf “management plan”, a euphemism for killing wolves. Please let your voice be heard and tell Wyoming what you think about their “wolf plan” that would allow unregulated killing of wolves in much of the state.
“Under the agreement, negotiated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials and Gov. Matt Mead, the state’s roughly 243 wolves living outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation could be killed on sight in all but the northwest part of the state, where they would be designated as trophy game and could only be hunted with a license.
The plan also establishes a flex zone covering northern Sublette and Lincoln counties, as well as southern Teton County, in which wolves would be protected only from Oct. 15 until the end of the following February.”
Northern Rockies wolves are in peril! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed to remove wolves in Wyoming from the endangered species list. This deadly proposal would allow unlimited, shoot-on-sight killing of wolves in nearly 90 percent of the state.
Under intense political pressure from Wyoming state officials, the Fish and Wildlife Service cut a deal that could hand wolf management over to the state, allowing politics—not science—to decide the fate of wolves in the region.
Independent scientists say that 2,000 to 3,000 wolves are needed for a sustainable, fully recovered population. But at the end of last year, only an estimated 1,650 wolves were living in the Northern Rockies—with just 343 wolves in Wyoming.
The federal government has spent 16 years and millions of dollars to reintroduce wolves in the West. This proposal combined with the recent congressional delisting and hunting of wolves in Idaho and Montana threatens their very survival. Help us fight back against this deadly proposal.
Public Comments Processing
Attn: Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2011–0039
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, Virginia 22203
Speak out for Wyoming’s wolves!! Deadline tomorrow, January 13, 2012.
The anti-wolf forces have alerted their followers to send in their comments. Please do not let them drown out our voices.
Friends of Animals
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Wyoming Wolves, Howling for Justice
Tags: Unregulated killing of wolves, Wyoming, wolves threatened, Wyoming wolf delisting
Imnaha Pack alpha male (ODFW)
While 55 wolves have been killed in the ongoing Montana and Idaho hunt/slaughter, Oregon’s Imnaha Pack alpha male and yearling are safe tonight, after the Oregon Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay of the” kill order” hanging over the two wolves heads!
Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit on October 5th to halt the killing of the two wolves and the judges listened. The killing of the alpha male and the younger wolf would likely have been the nail in the coffin for the Imnaha pack, leaving the alpha female, B-300 and her six month old pup to fend for themselves.
Although the injunction is temporary we call on Governor Kitzhaber to end the “witch hunt” permanently and stop the harassment of this wolf pack.
As I stated in an earlier post, Oregon ranchers lost 51,200 cattle to non-predation in 2010, so the continual coverage of miniscule wolf depredations looks like persecution, driven by the livestock industry and is casting a pall over Oregon’s reputation as a moderate and progressive state.
JOSEPH — As state biologists combed northeastern Oregon’s rugged mountains Wednesday to kill two gray wolves in the Imnaha pack, conservation groups challenged the kill order in court and called on Gov. John Kitzhaber to intercede.
Late in the day, the Oregon Court of Appeals granted their request to temporarily halt the hunt, The Associated Press reported.
Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild contend that efforts by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to remove the pack’s alpha male and a younger wolf would leave only a female wolf and one pup born this year to fend for themselves this winter.
“They are proposing to take out the leader of the pack, which will, in my best estimate, render the pack unviable,” said Josh Laughlin, spokesman for the Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands. “Oregonians are not going to stand for that.”
Oregon’s Governor Kitzhaber (503-378-4582)
Photo: Courtesy ODFW
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Oregon Wolves, Howling for Justice
Tags: Oregon Court of Appeals, Imnaha alpha male, ODFW, “kill order” stayed, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity
Death and suffering are a big part of hunting. A big part. Not that you’d ever know it by hearing hunters talk. They tend to downplay the killing part. To kill is to put to death, extinguish, nullify, cancel, destroy. But from the hunter’s point of view, it’s just a tiny part of the experience. The kill is the least important part of the hunt, they often say, or, killing involves only a split second of the innumerable hours we spend surrounded by and observing nature…For the animal, of course, the killing part is of considerable more importance. José Ortega y Gasset, In Meditations on Hunting, wrote, Death is a sign of reality in hunting. One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrarary, one kills in order to have hunted. This is sort of intellectual blather that the “thinking” hunter holds dear. The conservation editor of Field & Stream, George Reiger, recently paraphrased this sentiment by saying, We kill to hunt, and not the other way around, thereby making it truly fatuous. A hunter in West Virginia, one Mr. Bill Neal, blazed through this philosophical fog by explaining why he blows the toes off tree raccoons so that they will fall down and be torn apart by his dogs. That’s the best part of it. It’s not any fun just shooting them.
There is a formula to this in literature—someone the protagonist loves has just died, so he goes out and kills an animal. This makes him feel better. But it’s kind of a sad feeling-better. He gets to relate to Death and Nature in this way. Somewhat. But not really. Death is still a mystery. Well it’s hard to explain. It’s sort of a semireligious thing… Killing and affirming, affirming and killing, it’s just the cross the “good” hunter must bear. The bad hunter just has to deal with postkill letdown.
Many are the hunter’s specious arguments. Less semi-religious but a long-standing favorite with them is the vegetarian approach: you eat meat, don’t you? If you say no, they feel they’ve got you—you’re just a vegetarian attempting to impose your weird views on others. If you say yes, they accuse you for being hypocritical, of allowing your genial A&P butcher to stand between you and reality. The fact is, the chief attraction of hunting is the pursuit and murder of animals—the meat eating aspect of it is trivial. If the hunter chooses to be ethical about it, he might cook his kill, but the meat of most animals is discarded. Dead bear can even be dangerous! A bear’s heavy hide must be skinned at once to prevent meat spoilage. With effort, a hunter can make okay chili, something to keep in mind, a sports rag says, if you take two skinny spring bears.
As for subsistence hunting, please… Granted that there might be one “good” hunter out there who conducts the kill as spiritual exercise and two others who are atavistic enough to want to supplement their Chicken McNuggets with venison, most hunters hunt for the hell of it.
For hunters, hunting is fun. Recreation is play. Hunting is recreation. Hunters kill for play, for entertainment. They kill for the thrill of it, to make an animal “theirs”. (The Gandhian doctrine of nonpossesion has never been a big hit with hunters.) The animal becomes the property of the hunter by its death. Alive, the beast belongs only to itself. This is unacceptable to the hunter. He’s yours…He’s mine…I decided to…I decided not to…I debated shooting it, then I decided to let it live… Hunters like beautiful creatures. A “beautiful” deer, elk, bear, couger, bighorn sheep. A “beautiful” goose or mallard. Of course, they don’t stay “beautiful” for long, particularly the birds. Keep shooting till they drop! Hunters get a thrill out of seeing a plummeting bird, out of seeing it crumple and fall. The big pheasant folded in classic fashion. They get a kick out of “collecting” new species. Why not add a unique harlequin duck to your collection? Swan hunting is satisfying. I let loose a three-inch Magnum. The large bird only flinched with my first shot and began to gain altitude. I frantically ejected the round, chambered another, and dropped the swan with my second shot. After retrieving the bird I was amazed by its size. The swan’s six-foot wingspan, huge body, and long neck made it an impressive trophy. Hunters like big animals, trophy animals. A “trophy” usually means that the hunter doesn’t design to eat it. Maybe he skins it or mounts it. Maybe he takes a picture. We took pictures, we took pictures. Maybe he just looks at it for a while. The disposition of the “experience” is up to the hunter. He’s entitled to do whatever he wishes with the damn thing. It’s dead.
Hunters like categories they can tailor to their needs. There are the “good” animals—deer, elk, bear, moose—which are allowed to exist for the hunter’s pleasure. Then there are the “bad” animals, the vermin, varmints, and “nuisance” animals, the rabbits and raccoons and coyotes and beavers and badgers, which are disencouraged to exist. The hunter can have fun killing them, but the pleasure is diminished because the animals aren’t “magnificent”.
Then there are the predators. These can be killed any time, because, hunters argue, they’re predators, for godssakes.
Many people in South Dakota want to exterminate the red fox because it preys upon some of the ducks and pheasant they want to hunt and kill each year. They found that after they killed the wolves and coyotes, they had more foxes than they wanted. The ring-necked pheasant is South Dakota’s state bird. No matter that it was imported from Asia specifically to be harvested for sport, it’s South Dakota’s state bird and they are proud of it. A group called Pheasants Unlimited gave some tips on how to hunt foxes. Place a small amount of larvicide [a grain fumigant] on a rag and chuck it down the hole… The first pup generally comes out in fifteen minutes… Use a .22 to dispatch him… Remove each pup shot from the hole. Following gassing, set traps for the old fox who will return later in the evening…Poisoning, shooting, trapping—they make up a sort of sportsman’s triathlon.
to one another. Undeniable pleasure radiated from her smile. The excitement of shooting the bear had Barb talking a mile a minute. But in public, most hunters are becoming a little wary about raving on as to how much fun it is to kill things. Hunters have a tendency to call large animal by cute names—“bruins” and “muleys”, “berry-fed blackies” and “handsome cusses” and “big guys”, thereby implying a balanced jolly game of mutual satisfaction between the hunter and the hunted—Bam, bam, bam, I get to shoot you and you get to be dead. More often, though, when dealing with the nonhunting public, a drier, businesslike tone is employed. Animal become a “resource” that must be “utilized”. Hunting becomes “a legitimate use of the resource”. Animals become a product like wool or lumber or a crop like fruit or corn that must be “collected” or “taken” or “harvested”. Hunters love to use the word legitimate. (Oddly, Tolstoy referred to hunting as “evil legitimized”.) a legitimate use, a legitimate form of recreation, a legitimate escape, a legitimate pursuit. It’s a word they trust will slam the door on discourse. Hunters are increasingly relying upon their spokesmen and supporters, state and federal game managers and wildlife officials, to employ the drone of a solemn bureaucratic language and toss around a lot of questionable statistics to assure the nonhunting public (93 percent!) that there’s nothing to worry about. The pogrom is under control. The mass murder and manipulation of wild animals is just another business. Hunters are a tiny minority, and it’s crucial to them that the millions of people who don’t hunt not be awakened from their long sleep and become antihunting. Nonhunters are okay. Dweeby, probably, but okay. A hunter can respect the rights of a nonhunter. It’s the “antis” he despises, those misguided, emotional, not-in –possession-of –the-facts, uninformed zealots who don’t understand nature… Those dime-store ecologists cloaked in ignorance and spurred by emotion… Those doggy-woggy types, who under the guise of being environmentalists and conservationists are working to deprive him of his precious right to kill. (Sometimes it’s just a right; sometimes it’s agod-given right.) Antis can be scorned, but nonhunters must be pacified, and this is where the number crunching of wildlife biologists and the scripts of professional resource managers come in. leave it to the professionals. They know what numbers are the good numbers. Utah determined that there were six hundred sandhill cranes in the state, so permits were issued to shoot one hundred of them. Don’t want to have too many sandhill cranes. California wildlife officials reported “sufficient numbers” of mountain lions to “justify” renewed hunting, even though it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the animal is extremely rare. (It’s always a dark day for hunters when an animal is adjudged rare. How can its numbers be “controlled” through hunting if it scarcely exists?) a recent citizens’ referendum prohibits the hunting of the mountain lion in perpetuity—not that the lions aren’t killed anyway, in California and all over the West, hundreds of them annually by the government as part of the scandalous Animal Damage Control Program. Oh, to be the lucky hunter who gets to be an official government hunter and can legitimately kill animals his buddies aren’t supposed to! Montana officials, led by K. L. Cool, that state’s wildlife director, have definite ideas of the number of buffalo they feel can be tolerated. Zero is the number. Yellowstone National Park is the only place in America where bison exist, having been annihilated everywhere else. In the winter of 1988, nearly six hundred buffalo wandered out of the north boundary of the park and into Montana, where they were immediately shot at point-blank range by lottery-winning hunters. It was easy. And it was obvious from a video taken on one of the blow-away-the-bison days that the hunters had a heck of a good time. The buffalo, Cool says, threaten ranchers’ livelihoods by doing damage to property—by which he means, I guess, that they eat the grass. Montana wants zero buffalos; it also wants zero wolves.
Large predators—including grizzlies, cougars, and wolves
are often the most “beautiful”, the smartest and wildest animals of all. The gray wolf is both a supreme predator and an endangered species, and since the Supreme Court recently affirmed that ranchers have no constitutional right to kill endangered predators—apparently some God-given rights are not constitutional ones—this makes the wolf a more or less lucky dog. But not for long. A small population of gray wolves has recently established itself in northwestern Montana, primarily in Glacier National Park, and there is a plan, long a dream of conservationists, to “reintroduce” the wolf to Yellowstone. But to please ranchers and hunters, part of the plan would involve immediately removing the wolf from the endangered-species list. Beyond the park’s boundaries, he could be hunted as a “game animal” or exterminated as a “pest”. (Hunters kill to hunt, remember, except when they’re hunting to kill.) the area of Yellowstone where the wolf would be restored is the same mountain and high-plateau country that is abandoned in winter by most animals, including the aforementioned luckless bison. Part of the plan, too, is compensation to ranchers if any of their far-ranging livestock is killed by a wolf. It’s a real industry out there, apparently, killing and controlling and getting compensated for losing something under the Big Sky.
Wolves gotta eat—a fact that disturbs hunters. Jack Atcheson, an outfitter in Butte, said, Some wolves are fine if there is control. But there never will be control. The wolf-control plan provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service speaks only of protecting domestic livestock. There is no plan to protect wildlife… There are no surplus deer or elk in Montana… Their numbers are carefully managed. With uncontrolled wolf populations, a lot of people will have to give up hunting just to feed wolves. Will you give up your elk permit for a wolf?
It won’t be long before hunters start demanding compensation for animals they aren’t able to shoot.
Hunters believe that wild animals exist only to satisfy their wish to kill them. And it’s so easy to kill them! The weaponry available is staggering, and the equipment and gear limitless. The demand for big boomers has never been greater than right now, Outdoor Life crows, and the makers of rifles and cartridges are responding to the craze with a variety of light artillery that is virtually unprecedented in the history of sporting arms… Hunters use grossly overpowered shotguns and rifles and compound bows. They rely on four-wheel-drive vehicles and three-wheel ATVs and airplanes… He was interesting, the only moving, living creature on that limitless white expanse. I slipped a cartridge into the barrel of my rifle and threw the safety off… They use snowmobiles to run down elk, and dogs to run down tree cougars. It’s easy to shoot an animal out of a tree. It’s virtually impossible to miss a moose, a conspicuous and placid animal of steady habits… I took a deep breath and pulled the trigger. The bull dropped. I looked at my watch: 8:22. The big guy was early. Mike started whooping and hollering and I joined him. I never realized how big a moose was until this one was on the ground. We took pictures… hunters shoot animals when they are resting…Mike selected a deer, settled down to a steady rest, and fired. The buck was hit when he squeezed the trigger. John decided to take the other buck, which had jumped up to its feet. The deer hadn’t seen us and was confused by the shot echoing about in the valley. John took careful aim, fired, and took the buck. The hunt was over… And they shoot them when they are eating… The bruin ambled up the stream, checking gravel bars and backwaters for fish. Finally he plopped down on the bank to eat. Quickly, I tiptoed into the range… They use decoys and calls… The six-point gave me a cold-eyed glare from ninety steps away. I hit him with a 130-grain Sierra boat-tail handload. The bull went down hard. Our hunt was over… They use sex lures… The big buck raised its nose to the air, curled back its lips, and tested the scent of the doe’s urine. I held my breath, fought back the shivers, and jerked off a shot. The 180-grain spire-point bullet caught the buck high on the back behind the shoulder and put it down. It didn’t get up…They use walkie-talkies, binoculars, scopes… With my 308 Browning BLR, I steadied the 9X cross hairs on the front of the bear’s massive shoulders and squeezed. The bear cartwheeled backward for fifty yards… The second Federal Premium 165-grain bullet found its mark. Another shot anchored the bear for good… They bait deer with corn. They spread popcorn on golf courses for Canada geese and they douse meat baits with fry grease and honey for bears…Make the baiting site redolent of inner-city doughnut shops. They use blinds and tree stands and mobile stands. They go out in groups, in gangs, and employ “pushes” and “drives”. So many methods are effective. So few rules apply. It’s fun!… We kept on repelling the swarms of birds as they came in looking for shelter from that big ocean wind, emptying our shell belts… A species can, in the vernacular, be pressured by hunting (which means that killing them has decimated them), but that just increases the fun, the challenge. There is practically no criticism of conduct within the ranks… It’s mostly a matter of opinion and how hunters have been brought up to hunt… Although a recent editorial in Ducks Unlimited magazine did venture to primly suggest that one should not fall victim to greed-induced stress through piggish competition with others.
But hunters are piggy. They just can’t seem to help it. They’re overequipped… insatiable, malevolent, and vain. They maim and mutilate and despoil. And for the most part, they’re inept. Grossly inept.
Camouflaged toilet paper is a must for the modern hunter, along with his Bronco and his beer. Too many hunters taking a dump in the woods with their roll of Charmin beside them were mistaken for white-tailed deer and shot. Hunters get excited. They’ll shoot anything—the pallid ass of another sportsman or even themselves. A Long Island man died last year when his shotgun went off as he clubbed a wounded deer with the butt. Hunters get mad. They get restless and want to fire! They want to use those assault rifles and see foamy blood on the ferns. Wounded animals can travel for miles in fear and pain before they collapse. Countless gut-shot deer—if you hear a sudden, squashy thump, the animal has probably been hit in the abdomen—are “lost” each year. “Poorly placed shots” are frequent, and injured animal are seldom tracked, because most hunters never learned how to track. The majority of hunters will shoot at anything with four legs during deer season and anything with wings during duck season. Hunters try to nail running animals and distant birds. They become so overeager, so aroused, that they misidentify and misjudge, spraying their “game” with shots but failing to bring them down.
The fact is, hunters’ lack of skill is a big, big problem. And nowhere is the problem worse than in the new glamour recreation, bow hunting. These guys are elitists. They doll themselves up in camouflage, paint their faces black, and climb up into tree stands from which they attempt the penetration of deer, elk, and turkeys with modern, multiblade, broadhead arrows shot from sophisticated, easy-to-draw compound bows. This “primitive” way of hunting appeals to many, and even the nonhunter may feel that it’s a “fairer” method, requiring more strength and skill, but bow hunting is the cruelest, most wanton form of wildlife disposal of all. Studies conducted by state fish and wildlife departments repeatedly show that bow hunters wound and fail to retrieve as many animals as they kill. An animal that flees, wounded by an arrow, will most assuredly die of the wound, but it will be days before he does. Even with a “good” hit, the time elapsed between the strike and death is exceedingly long. The rule of thumb has long been that we should wait thirty to forty-five minutes on heart and lung hits, an hour or more on a suspected liver hit, eight to twelve hours on paunch hits, and that we should follow immediately on hindquarter and muscle-only hits, to keep the wound open and bleeding, is the advice in the magazine Fins and Feathers. What the hunter does as he hangs around waiting for his animal to finish with its terrified running and dying hasn’t been studied—maybe he puts on more makeup, maybe he has a highball.
Wildlife agencies promote and encourage bow hunting by permitting earlier and longer seasons, even though they are well aware that, in their words, crippling is a by-product of the sport, making archers pretty sloppy for elitists. The broadhead arrow is a very inefficient killing tool. Bow hunters are trying to deal with this problem with the suggestion that they use poison pods. These poisoned arrows are illegal in all states except Mississippi ( Ah’m gonna get ma deer even if ah just nick the little bastard), but they are widely used anyway. You wouldn’t want that deer to suffer, would you?
The mystique of the efficiency and decency of the bow hunter is as much as illusion as the perception that a waterfowler is a refined and thoughtful fellow, a romantic aesthete, as Vance Bourjaily put it, equipped with his faithful Labs and a love for solitude and wild places. More sentimental drivel has been written about bird shooting than any other type of hunting. It’s a soul-wrenching pursuit, apparently, the execution of birds in flight. Ducks Unlimited—an organization that has managed to put a spin on the wordconservation for years—works hard to project the idea that duck hunters are blue bloods and that duck stamps with their pretty pictures are responsible for saving all the saved puddles in North America. Sportsman’s conservation is a contradiction in terms (We protect things now so that we can kill them later) and is broadly interpreted (Don’t kill them all, just kill most of them). A hunter is a conservationist in the same way a farmer or a rancher is: he’s not. Like the rancher who kills everything that’s not stock on his (and the public’s) land, and the farmer who scorns wildlife because “they don’t pay their freight”, the hunter uses nature by destroying its parts, mastering it by simplifying it through death.
George (“We kill to hunt and not the other way around”) Reiger, the conservationist-hunter’s spokesman (he’s the best they’ve got, apparently), said the “dedicated” waterfowler will shoot other game “of course”, but we do so much in the same spirit of the lyrics, that when we’re not near the girl we love, we love the girl we’re near. (Duck hunters practice tough love). The fact is, far from being a “romantic aesthete” the waterfowler is the most avaricious of all hunters… That’s when Scott suggested the friendly wager on who would take the most birds…and the most resistant to minimum ecological decency. Millions of birds that managed to elude shotgun blasts were dying each year from ingesting the lead shot that rained down in the wetlands. Year after year, birds perished from feeding on spent lead, but hunters were “reluctant” to switch to steel. They worried that it would impair their shooting, and ammunition manufacturers said a changeover would be “expensive”. State and federal officials had to weigh the poisoning against these considerations. It took forever, this weighing, but now steel-shot loads are required almost everywhere, having been judged “more than adequate” to bring down the birds. This is not to say, of course, that most duck hunters use steel-shot almost everywhere. They’re traditionalists and don’t care for all the new, pesky rules. Oh, for the golden age of waterfowling, when a man could measure a good day’s shooting by the pickup load. But those days are gone. Fall is a melancholy time, all right.
Spectacular abuses occur wherever geese congregate, Shooting Sportsman notes quietly, something that the more cultivated Ducks Unlimited would hesitate to admit. Waterfowl populations are plummeting and waterfowl hunters are out of control. “Supervised” hunts are hardly distinguished from unsupervised ones. A biologist with the Department of the Interior who observed a hunt at Sand Lake in South Dakota said, Hunters repeatedly shot over the line at incoming flights where there was no possible chance of retrieving. Time and time again I was at the behaviour of hunters. I heard them laugh at the plight of dazed cripples that stumbled about. I saw them striking the heads of retrieved cripples against fence posts. In the South, wood ducks return to their roosts after sunset when shooting hours are closed. Hunters find this an excellent time to shoot them. Dennis Anderson, an outdoors writer, said, Roost shooters just fire at the birds as fast as they can, trying to drop as many as they can. Then they grab what birds they can find. The birds they can’t find in the dark, they leave behind.
Carnage and waste are the rules in bird hunting, even during legal seasons and open hours. Thousands of wounded ducks and geese are not retrieved, left to rot in the marshes and fields… When I asked Wanda where hers had fallen, she wasn’t sure. Cripples, and there are many cripples made in this pastime, are still able to run and hide, eluding the hunter even if he’s willing to spend time searching for them, which he usually isn’t… It’s one thing to run down a cripple in a picked bean field or a pasture, and quite another to watch a wing-tipped bird drop into a huge block of switch grass. Oh nasty, nasty switch grass. A downed bird becomes invisible on the ground and is practically unfindable without a good dog, and few “waterfowlers” have them these days. They’re hard to train—usually a professional has to do it—and most hunters can’t be bothered. Words are easy to tumble…Canada geese—blues and snows—can all take a good amount of shot. Brant are easily called and decoyed and come down easily. Roughed grouse are hard to hit but easy to kill. Shark tails are harder to kill but easier to hit… It’s just a nuisance to recover them. But its fun, fun, fun swatting them down… There’s distinct pleasure in watching a flock work to a good friend’s gun.
Teal, the smallest of common ducks, are really easy to kill. Hunters in the South use to practice on Teal in September, prior to the “serious” waterfowl season. But the birds were so diminutive and the limits so low (for a day) that many hunters felt it hardly worth going out and getting bit by mosquitoes to kill them. Enough did however, brave the bugs and manage to “harvest” 165,000 of the little migrating birds in Louisiana in 1987 alone. Shooting is usually best on opening day. By the second day you can sometimes detect a decline in local Teal numbers. Areas may deteriorate to virtually no action by the third day… The area deteriorates. When a flock is wiped out, the skies are empty. No action.
Teal declined more sharply than any duck species except mallard last year; this baffles hunters. Hunters and their procurers—wildlife agencies—will never admit that hunting is responsible for the decimation of a species. John Turner, head of the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, delivers the familiar and litanic line. Hunting is not the problem. Pollutionis the problem. Pesticides, urbanization, deforestation, hazardous waste, and wetland destruction are the problem. And drought! There’s been a big drought! Antis should devote their energies to solving these problems if they care about wildlife and leave the hunters alone. While the Fish and Wildlife Service is busily conducting experiments in cause and effect, like releasing Mallard ducklings on a wetland sprayed with the insecticides ethyl parathion (they died—it was known they would, but you can never have enough studies that show guns aren’t a duck’s only problem), hunters are killing some 200 million birds and animals each year. But these deaths are incidental to the problems, according to Turner. A factor, perhaps, but a minor one. Ducks Unlimited says the problem isn’t hunting, Ducks Unlimited says the problem isn’t hunting, it’s low recruitment on the part of the birds. To the hunter, birth in the animal kingdom is recruitment. They wouldn’t want use an emotional, sentimental word like birth. The black duck, a very “popular” duck in the North East, so “popular” in fact, that game agencies felt that hunters couldn’t be asked to refrain from shooting it, is scarce and scarcer. Nevertheless, it’s still being hunted. A number of studies are currently underway in an attempt to discover why black ducks are disappearing, Sports Afield reports. Black ducks are disappearing because they’ve been shot out, their elimination being dreadful example of game management, and managers who are loath to “displease” hunters. The skies—flyways—of America have been divided into four administrative regions, and the states, advised by a federal government coordinator, have to agree on policies.
There’s always a lot of squabbling that goes on in flyway meetings—lots of complaints about short-stopping, for example. Short-stopping is the deliberate holding of birds in a state, often by feeding them in wildlife refuges, so that their southern migration is slowed or stopped. Hunters in the North get to kill more than hunters in the South. This isn’t fair. Hunters demand equity in opportunities to kill.
Wildlife managers hate closing the season on anything. Closing the season on a species would indicate a certain amount of mismanagement and misjudgment at the very least—a certain reliance on overly optimistic winter counts, a certain overappeasement of hunters who would be “upset” if they couldn’t kill their favourite thing. And worse, closing a season would be considered victory for the antis. Bird-hunting “rules” are very complicated, but they all encourage killing. There are shortened seasons and split seasons and special seasons for “underutilized” birds. (Teals were very recently considered “underutilized”). The limit on coots is fifteen a day—shooting them, it’s easy! They don’t fly high—giving the hunter something to do while he waits in the blind. Some species are “protected”, but bear in mind that hunters begin blasting away one half hour before sunrise and that most hunters can’t identify a bird in the air even in broad daylight. Some of them can’t identify birds in hand either, and even if they can (they are likely to bury unpopular or “trash” ducks so that they can continue to hunt the ones they “love”.
Game “professionals”, in thrall to hunters’ “needs”, will not stop managing bird population until they’ve doled out the final duck (I didn’t get my limit but I begged the last one, by golly…). The Fish and Wildlife Service services legal hunters as busily as any madam, but it is powerless in tempering the lusts of the illegal ones. Illegal kill is a monumental problem in the not-so-wonderful world of waterfowl. Excesses has always pervaded the “sport”, and bird shooters have historically been the slobs and profligates of hunting. Doing away with hunting would do away with a vital cultural and historical aspect of American life, John Turner claims. So do away with it. Do away with those who have already done away with so much. Do away with them before the birds they have pursued so relentlessly and for so long drop into extinction, sink, in the poet Wallace Stevens’s words, “downward to darkness on extended wings”.
“Quality” hunting is as rare as the Florida panther. What you’ve got is a bunch of guys driving over the plains, up the mountains, and through the woods with their stupid tag that cost them a couple of bucks and immense coolers full of beer and body parts. There’s a price tag on the right to destroy living creatures for play, but it’s not much. A big game hunting license is the greatest deal going since the Homestead Act, Ted Kerasote writes in Sports Afield. In many states residents can hunt big game for more than a month for about $20. It’s cheaper than taking a little woman out for lunch. It’s cheap all right, and it’s because killing animals is considered recreation and is underwritten by state and federal funds. In Florida, state moneys are routinely spent on “youth hunts”, in which kids are guided to shoot deer from stands in wildlife-management areas. The organizers of these events say that these staged hunts help youth to understand man’s role in the ecosystem. (Drop a doe and take your place in the ecological community, son…)
Hunters claim (they don’t actually believe it but they’ve learned to say it) that they’re doing nonhunters a favor, for if they didn’t use wild animals, wild animals would be useless. They believe that they’re just helping Mother Nature control populations (you wouldn’t want those deer to die of starvation, would you?). They claim that their tiny fees provide all Americans with wild lands and animals. (People who don’t hunt get to enjoy animals all year round while hunters get to enjoy them only during hunting season…) Ducks Unlimited feels that it, in particular, is a selfless provider and environmental champion. Although members spend most of their money lobbying for hunters and raising ducks in pens to release later over shooting fields, they do save some wetlands, mostly by persuading farmers not to fill them in. See that little pothole there the ducks like? Well, I’m gonna plant more soybeans there if you don’t pay me not to… Hunters claim many nonsensical things, but the most nonsensical of all is that they pay their own way. They do not pay their own way. They do pay into a perverse wildlife-management system that manipulates “stocks” and “herds” and “flocks” for hunters’ killing pleasure, but these fees in no way cover the cost of highly questionable ecological practices. For some spare change…the greatest deal going… hunter can hunt on public land—national parks, state forests—preserves for hunters!—which the nonhunting and antihunting public pay for. (Access to private lands is becoming increasingly difficult for them, as experience has taught people that hunters are obnoxious.) Hunters kill on millions of acres of land all over America that are maintained with general taxpayer revenue, but the most shocking, really twisted subsidization takes place on national wildlife refuges. Nowhere is the arroganace and the insidiousness of this small, aggressive minority more clearly demonstrated. Nowhere is the murder of animals. The manipulation of language, and the distortion of public intent more flagrant. The public perceives national wildlife refuges as safe havens, as sanctuaries for animals. And why wouldn’t they? The word refuge of course means shelter from danger and distress. But the dweeby nonhunting public—they tend to be so literal. The word has been reinterpreted by management over time and now hunters are invited into more than half of the country’s more than 440 wildlife “sanctuaries” each year to bang them up and kill more than half a million animals. This is called wildlife-oriented recreation. Hunters think of this as being no less than their due, claiming that refuge lands were purchased with duck stamps (…our duck stamps paid for it …our duck stamps paid for it …). Hunters equate those stupid stamps with the mystic, multiplying power of the Lord’s loaves and fishes, nut of 90 million acres in the wildlife Refuge System, only 3 million were bought with hunting-stamp revenue. Most wildlife “restoration” programs in the states are translated into clearing land to increase deer habitats (so that too many deer will require hunting…you wouldn’t want them to die of starvation, would you?) and trapping animals for restocking and study (so hunters can shoot more of them). Fish and game agencies hustle hunting—instead of conserving wildlife, they’re killing it. It’s time for them to get in the business of protecting and preserving wildlife and creating balanced ecological systems instead of pimping for hunter who want their deer/duck/pheasant/turkey—animals stocked to be shot.
Hunters’ self-serving arguments and lies are becoming more preposterous as nonhunters awake from their long, albeit troubled, sleep. Sport hunting is immoral; it should be made illegal. Hunters are persecutors of nature who should be prosecuted. They wield a disruptive power out of all proportion to their numbers, and pandering to their interests—the special interests of a group that just wants to kill things—is mad. It’s preposterous that every year less than 7 percent of the population turns the skies into shooting galleries and the woods and fields into abattoirs. It’s time to stop actively supporting and passively allowing hunting, and time to stigmatize it. It’s time to stop being conned and cowed by hunter, time to stop pampering and coddling them, time to get them off the government’s duck-and-deer dole, time to stop thinking of wild animals as “resources” and “game,” and start thinking of them as sentient beings that deserve our wonder and respect, time to stop allowing hunting to be creditable by calling it “sport” and “recreation.” Hunters make wildlife dead, dead, dead. It’s time to wake up to this indisputable fact. As for the hunters, it’s long past check-out time.
Williams, Joy. “The Killing Game,” Esquire Magazine, 1990.
Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Carrying a bear trophy head at the Kodiak Archipelago)
Posted in: Animal Rights, Howling for Justice, Wolf Wars
Tags: evils of hunting, Joy Williams, The Killing Game