Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
21 July 1999 Issue

By [email protected]

Somehow sport hunters have gotten the notion that they are better at maintaining "biodiversity" ( a very big word that few hunters are even aware exists) than natural predators. This is ludicrous.

For one thing, the hunting regulations and the "traditional" values of hunters are responsible for the skewed sex ratios of whitetail deer. In some areas (such as the Edwards Plateau of Texas, with the highest concentration of whitetails on earth, and few topping 100 lbs. live weight) these are as high as 25:1 female to male. Great as a target factory for hunters but nothing resembling "biodiversity". Even in areas with "good" ratios, the female/male ratio runs 5:1, still way above non-hunted population ratios.

But that is only the beginning of what hunters have done to disrupt the natural biodiversity for their own benefit.

Hunters, each year, release hundreds of thousands of non-native and pen raised birds for hunting, either directly (on private property for their own fun) or indirectly (by paying fees to clubs and game departments) that then compete with native, indigenous birds. Hunters have been responsible for the spread of the whitetail deer far beyond that of it's original range on this continent. This has come at the expense of the mule deer, antelope, elk, moose and even the bison.......all of which were once common in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions and now are gone. First they wiped out the herds through indiscriminate killing, then they substituted a more adaptable animal so the hunt could continue. For this we should be grateful and thank them for "saving our wildlife" (and increasing crop damage, disease, starvation, and auto/deer accidents) Bahhhhhhhh!!!!!!

Oh, they will say, the habitat has changed. Really? Then why have hunters spent money to reintroduce elk into Michigan, Minnesota, and Kentucky if the habitat is not suitable? They have also recently reintroduced moose into Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Of course, they are not the native species wiped out long ago, but a substitute (Rocky Mountain strain of elk in Kentucky, for example).

Shall we go on? Chuckar partridge, Hungarian partridge, Chinese ring-necked pheasant have all been introduced to take the place of gray partridge (wiped out) and three species (lesser, greater and Atwater's) of prairie chicken (all but wiped out). Is this "biodiversity"? Wiping out the native birds, substituting another species and saying you are a great "conservationist"? But hey, a pheasant is JUST as much fun to kill, right? And if it weren't for hunters I might not ever see a ring-necked pheasant. Oh, thank you, thank you!!!!!!! Hunters have even taken to calling the Hungarian partridge a "gray" partridge (after all, they are gray, what's the difference?). Completing the cycle and wiping out the memory of the great bird that once was.

Wild turkey, another of the hunters "success" stories. Hah!!!!!!! Again, turkeys have been introduced for hunting purposes far beyond their original range (49 states now offer turkey hunting, when the Pilgrims came here, they were native in no more than 21 of what are now our states), partly to replace birds wiped out by hunters, and partly so hunters can "stay-at-home-and-spend-money" to hunt turkeys. The introduced birds compete with indigenous birds, most of them non-game (so hunters don't care about those) for food, water and cover. The Osceola species of turkey, native to Florida, was wiped out by hunters and replaced with the Rio Grande species from Texas. More biodiversity. To a hunter a turkey is a turkey is a turkey. They all shoot and eat the same. We should be grateful.

Dozens of species of non-native mammals have been introduced to this country. Aoudad sheep from Africa and the middle east are a good example. In the panhandle of Texas, and particularly Palo Duro Canyon, they have virtually eliminated the native whitetail and desert mule deer, (Aoudad will eat not only the native foods of deer but other vegetation that deer won't eat) but now they are classified as game animals in Texas and you can hunt them in the panhandle. Tit for tat. Trade one target for another. Oh well, it is all here to be shot, and what about that biodiversity!!!!!!

Corsican sheep, mouflon sheep, chamois, blackbuck antelope, nilgai, Spanish/Catalina goats (that's a good one, no one would pay money to kill them when they were called what they really are.........feral goats) "wild boar" (again, usually just feral hogs, though European and Russian strains of true wild boar have been introduced and mixed with feral hogs, so who knows what they really are, hunters certainly don't care. Talk about crop damage? These things can make a field look like a Troy Bilt tiller went wild, but they are fun to shoot, right?), axis deer, sika deer...........all introduced as targets, all competing with native game for food, cover water. And maybe the best yet...........the "Y-O ibex". This is a breed of animal originated from the true Ibex of the middle east, which has nearly been wiped out by hunters. The Y-O ranch in Texas (the largest canned hunt operation in the world with over 44,000 acres dedicated to penned hunts) bred this animal from stock that was 75% true ibex and 25% Spanish goat. They continue to breed them for other "hunt" operations. If the hunters can't import something to replace, or push out, another animal they will "genetically engineer" something to their liking. Now THAT'S biodiversity.

At the same time they talk of biodiversity, hunters spend millions of dollars on deer hunting day lease operations that invariably require their guests to only shoot buck deer so as not to injure the "breeding stock" of does. This is usually done over a biodiverse bucket of bait (corn, oats, and sunflower seed are common) from a wide diversity of blinds (some heated, some not). They pay millions to hunt specially selected animals in such (perversely named) places as "The Sanctuary" in Michigan, where deer are held in an enclosure and any animal not meeting the high expectations of that hallowed place are live trapped and removed to the state's general deer population (no biodiversity is desired by the hunters at The Sanctuary). This insures a herd of HUGE antlered bucks in their enclosure for which they are booked to hunt years in advance. Biodiversity?

We shall go on. Fox hunting clubs trap and transport foxes and coyotes (natural predators) in N. Dakota and Minnesota and relocate them via truck to Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas where "fox hunting" is popular. These foxes are sold to breeders who raise foxes and purchase the trapped and relocated animals. They, in turn, sell to "Fox Hunting clubs," such as the Green River Fox Hunters in Morgantown, KY to be released in "pens." These pens are 100 to 900 or more acres in size, fenced 10 ft. high and are chock full of foxes or coyotes (generally the two are kept separated, definitely NOT biodiverse, but coyotes will EAT the foxes they paid for. Biodiversity in this case is NOT a good thing for the hunters and if it is not a good thing for hell with it). The "hunters" or members of the club who own or lease the land then pay fees to chase the foxes with their dogs. Of course, how the dogs themselves are treated is a whole 'nother story, but we are here to discuss the biodiversity of hunting.

All these predators in a close area cause a biodiversity problem. The native prey has been exterminated, or extirpated, by the hunter's biodiversity plan (there's something new, eh?) so their food has to be supplemented. No problem. Each club keeps a chicken coop to raise "food" for the foxes and they are not adverse to stocking a few "free-to-good-home" kittens either.

Hunting seasons protect the "desirable" animals, insuring suitable populations for the years to come, yet they invariably declare war on natural predators, allowing year 'round hunting and even night hunting and electronic calls for predators. Two things that are universally banned for hunting deer and other game animals and birds. Shoot a deer with a spotlight and you will be called a poacher (at least publicly) by hunters, but shoot a coyote or fox and you are their hero? Now that is getting into ethics. Stop it!!!!! We are here to discuss biodiversity!!!!!!

So there we have some of the biodiversity that hunters have given us.

Shall we discuss another subject? This one is about to make me laugh.....or wretch.

Go on to "Spirit of the Wolf Walk"
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