C.A.S.H. Letters to the Editor > 2004

C.A.S.H. Letters



Dear Wisconsin State Journal:

The situation described in "Bills Fast-tracked To Save Deer" (3/4/04) highlights the reason that the present bureaucratic system of managing wildlife needs to be replaced with one that represents the 96 % of Americans who do not hunt. Wildlife agencies are private hunting clubs, masquerading as wildlife protection agencies.

Fellow Mortals, the volunteer wildlife rehabilitators who saved Judith, Ricky, Angie, Millie, Lynn and Buck (and thousands of other animals), and who are fighting game agency attempts to have them killed, view Judith and her family as precious individuals. Wildlife agencies do not even view entire species, let alone Judith and other individual animals, as having inherent worth.

Hunting is a big, nasty, lucrative business. Wildlife managers exist to turn animals into live targets for hunters and to provide billions of dollars in profits to weapons manufacturers and other purveyors of killing paraphernalia. Non-game animals are considered irrelevant.

Game agencies were created specifically to preserve recreational hunting, whose future was endangered because many game species, thanks to hunters, were nearly extinct, by the early 20th Century. Hunting was to be regulated to ensure a continual supply of live targets. In order to fund this program, by and for hunters, hunters now had to pay for licenses. The federal government added weapons manufacturers to the unholy alliance between wildlife agencies and hunters, by creating the Pittman-Robertson Act, which placed an 11 % excise tax on rifles, shotguns, and ammunition. Congress later included handguns and archery equipment.

Funding state wildlife agencies through the sale of hunting licenses and the excise tax on weapons and ammunition ensured that these agencies would serve hunters and the weapons industry, rather than wildlife and the public.

Hunters claim that these funds are generated by their recreational animal killing and that the funds pay for conservation efforts. Pittman-Robertson funds are given to states based on how many hunting licenses are sold in that state, and are used to create more recreational opportunities for hunters (including the promotion of more hunting). Only a small percentage of the Pittman-Robertson tax even comes from hunters. The majority comes from the sale of non-hunting weapons.

Hunting has been on the decrease, due to demographic changes and a more evolved view of animals. To counter this natural human ethical evolution, the USFWS, state wildlife agencies, and the US Forest Service have initiated expensive programs to recruit children and women into hunting. Armed with hundreds of thousands of dollars in Pittman Robertson funds, the National Shooting Sports Foundation launched a program to place pro-hunting materials in schools.

Wisconsin is one of the states that allowed hunter education classes in their public schools.

While the DNR ordered Judith and her fawns killed, they may be spared, thanks to the intervention of Senator Neal Kedzie and Representative Thomas Lothian. In addition to supporting these bills to save Judith and her fawns (Senate Bill 503 and Assembly Bill 916), and other pro-animal bills, Americans must demand a revamping of the entire wildlife mismanagement hierarchy. When that happens, wildlife agencies will work with, not against, heroes like Fellow Mortals, and we will not need bills to spare individual animals, while millions more continue to be killed for depraved sport.

The Fellow Mortals web site www.fellowmortals.org  counters all of the specious reasons given to kill Judith and her family, but for people who have not closed off their hearts and silenced their consciences, in order to hunt, the photos of Judith, Ricky, Angie, Millie, Lynn and Buck say all that needs to be said.

To learn more about advocating for wildlife, go to www.all-creatures.org/cash .

Susan Gordon, Representative
Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting
PO Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561

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