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The C.A.S.H. Courier Newsletter
Spring 2012 Issue

Why Wildlife Management for Hunting Must Go


By Anne Muller

In all my years of hearing hunters and pro-hunting advocates provide fabricated reasons to kill deer, blaming deer for the decline of bird populations stretches credulity to its limits. It is truly creative.

In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, contributor Prof. Cristol was aware of the problems with wildlife management for hunting purposes, but who does he blame? The deer! Why is he blaming the victims?

Cristol touches on a few of the disturbing practices of wildlife management that intentionally create a large deer population, and he “outs” the real goal of wildlife management agencies which is to increase encounters between deer and hunters; but strangely, he then goes on to blame the deer for being more abundant than he would like.

Prof. Cristol knows full well that wildlife management agencies manipulate public and private lands to create overpopulations of “game species” at the expense of the many other animals that share the ecosystem. Shouldn’t we be putting the blame on the perpetrators of what I would call a “crime against nature?” Should the answer be to allow wildlife management agents to increase deer hunting?  Instead, shouldn’t we demand a change in the policies and practices of wildlife management? Why are we providing tax-payer support for agencies that are destroying our environment, ecosystems, wildlife, and even the economy? Think of the energy, focus, and expense that go into providing a few species for hunters to kill, while the 99% of other species lose their homes and food sources.  We need to occupy wildlife management offices!

By failing to protect land for wildlife watching, a non-lethal form of wildlife recreation, wildlife managers are losing an important source of income and will continue to harm species, individual animals, and the public.

Let’s look at some of the details of wildlife management practices. Prof. Cristol correctly pointed out that public lands are highly manipulated to provide browse for deer at the expense of other wild animals. He was also on target when he said that private landowners are encouraged to allow their lands to be manipulated for the sake of growing high deer populations. He did not say why: The reason is that the sale of firearms and ammunition, and bows and arrows carry an excise tax that funds wildlife management agencies. Consequently, wildlife management agencies manage wildlife solely as targets for hunting rather than for peaceful, popular, and lucrative wildlife watching.

What is not so obvious is that the guns and bullets that are used to kill people in cities also provide revenue for wildlife management agencies. The income is then used to creating more hunting! In other words, our wildlife management agencies benefit from inner-city crime committed with firearms. Shouldn’t that revenue at least be used to compensate the victims or their families?

Another deplorable aspect of wildlife agencies’ managing for increased hunting opportunity is that of landowner abuse. It’s one thing to “encourage” willing property owners to develop their land for growing deer for hunters, and it’s quite another to impose hunting on property owners who do not want individuals with lethal weapons trespassing on their land. The latter is happening all too frequently. What I will call homeland invasion and landowner abuse by hunters who are backed by state and federal agencies is taking place across the country.

In Pennsylvania, an attorney was charged with 5 counts of hunter harassment for telling hunters to leave her property; in South Carolina, a university administrator was charged with stealing a dog collar that she had removed from a hunting dog in an effort to locate the dog’s owner; in North Carolina, a mother and daughter were harassed by hunters who left obscene messages.  Supporting the hunters, the Forest Service changed map boundaries to allow incursions onto their property; in Michigan a teacher was charged with hunter harassment for collecting firewood on her property which allegedly disturbed a hunter; and in New York, a man was charged with hunter harassment for using his cell phone on his own property within earshot of a hunter.

These agencies basically serve only a small special interest group. Hunters are less than 5% of the population. Sadly, if you enjoy birding or other forms of wildlife watching, you are going to be disappointed by what the government offers. All too often “wildlife watching areas” on public land are barren areas littered with garbage, without interpretive signs; wild animals that have been spooked by hunters are in hiding so that spotting them is often an unfulfilled dream.

My question is, why are we tolerating or suggesting even more hunting/culling and other forms of lethal aggression against wildlife when we need to take our anger out on the agencies and legislators who have created the problems?

I agree with Prof. Cristol that wildlife management practices have to change. I agree that it’s high time for wildlife watchers to have full use of public lands managed for all species.
Where Prof. Cristol and I part ways is that he thinks the deer have to go and we think that the current practices of wildlife management for hunting have to go.

Anne Muller is President of Wildlife Watch.

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