Issues of Special Interest

Letter to the Editor to the Buffalo News
(submitted 24 July 2002)

Dear Editors:

Hunters Should be Charged With Terrorism

In your Outdoor Notebook column of 7/21/02 you mention the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act" that was recently introduced by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance with the purported intent to help track down "animal rights groups responsible for ecological and animal terrorists acts." In truth it is a special interest group inextricably linked to the weapons industry that introduced this bill to assure that the forests and properties of  "canned hunt" preserves are safe for the 4% of the population who hunt.

This bill is a draconian measure to safeguard the killing hobby of a tiny group of "hobbyists" who like to kill -- and to maintain the
salaries of wildlife managers whose income depends on hunting and firearms (the same types of weapons that have been used by kids to kill their teachers and schoolmates). Wouldn't it be better to protect the 96% of the population who do not hunt from bullets gone astray, or from landowners having to walk their dogs using hunter-orange jackets so they won't be confused for deer or other game animals during hunting season?

Or how about introducing a bill to protect the non-hunting majority from wildlife management agencies whose tampering often harms the "managed" species - not to mention all others who get in the way - farmers, other non-target animals, the environment? Habitat "management" includes manipulating plant life using herbicides to allow more food for some species and less for others; and setting fires (called "prescribed burns") that can get out of control as one did a few years ago in New Mexico causing one of the worst forest fires ever recorded.

A better approach would be to pay careful attention to people who abuse animals, not those who try to protect these abusers.  The link between animal abuse and violent crime has been well documented. Psychiatrists have long recognized a "triad" of childhood traits that often predict future criminal behavior - setting fires, chronic bed-wetting, and animal cruelty.  People who brutalize animals do it often as a kind of "practice run" and many serial killers have been hunters. In 1985, Yale Professsor Steven Kellert studied 152 male criminals and found altogether 373 abusive acts involving harm or violence to animals among the group

Take the case of Russell Eugene Weston, Jr., who was charged with gunning down two policemen at the U.S. Capitol in 1998.  The previous day, Weston had blasted 12 cats with a shotgun near his home.

Such episodes give power to antisocial personalities, and with time and outrage, the sadism graduates to a more vengeful, murderous mindset.  This was seen in the school shootings.  Oregon school shooter Kip Kinkel bragged of stuffing lit firecrackers in cats' mouths; Mississippi's Luke Woodham performed ritual slaughter of pets a few weeks before he killed two girls; and who can forget the cannibalistic serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, who impaled frogs and staked cats to trees while a child.

In truth, animal rights organizations have done more good than harm - pointing out abuses in factory farms and slaughterhouses that not only cause pain and suffering to animals but also damage to human health; and by calling attention to healthier and more humane ways of eating. Other animal organizations around the country have helped people through low-cost spay and neuter programs for companion animals and by educating
people on what to do about injured wildlife.  Moreover, the Humane Society of the U.S. has recently launched a campaign for tougher sentences for animal-related crimes.

Let us learn from the great philosophers and sages such as Buddha of India, St. Francis of Assisi, and Leonardo da Vinci who practiced compassion and observed that "what goes around, comes around."

Sincerely yours,
Constance Young
Public Affairs Outreach
Wildlife Watch/Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting
New Paltz, New York

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