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
The Fellow Mortals web site
counters all of the specious reasons given to kill Judith
and her family, but for people who have not closed off their hearts
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
Susan Gordon, Representative
Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting
PO Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561