Issues of Special Interest


Where are the Lentils? - A Response to Audubon’s “incite” article

We were shocked by Audubon’s “incite” article, “Public Menace,” the purpose of which was to gain public support for sport hunting.

The article contained many essential elements in the soup of wildlife management: game and forest managers, the game commission, bucks, does, natural predators, hunters, and environmental groups, and animal protection organizations. However, the main element that was glaringly avoided was the firearms industry.

Leaving out the role of the firearms industry is like leaving out the lentils from a lentil soup. It can’t be done. Well, it can be, but how in the world will people ever know what lentil soup tastes like if the lentils are missing?

What the readers cannot ascertain from the article is that “game” species are managed to be the recipients of bullets and shot. That’s the crux of the business. In the 1930s, the Pittman-Robertson Act inextricably linked wildlife management agencies to the firearms industry, later bows and arrows were added to the mix. That feat was achieved by placing an excise tax on firearms and ammunition, which, once collected, goes into the Conservation Fund. The Conservation Fund is set up in a circular fashion to promote hunting and hunting opportunity which provides a continuing market for weapons and ammunition, which provides funding for wildlife management to provide more hunting through game species population manipulation. Manipulation for hunting impacts homeowners, farmers, insurance companies and drivers.

Wildlife management agencies were set up to promote hunting by ensuring a continuing supply of deer for hunters. There are now two main faction groups, those who want Quality Deer Management (QDM) and those who want quantity deer hunting (just bring ‘em on).

The Quality Deer Management Association in Georgia writes on their website that QDM is a:

“philosophy/practice that unites landowners, hunters, and managers in a common goal of producing biologically and socially balanced deer herds within existing environmental, social, and legal constraints. This approach typically involves the protection of young bucks (yearlings and some 2.5 year-olds) combined with an adequate harvest of female deer to maintain a healthy population in balance with existing habitat conditions and landowner desires. This level of deer management involves the production of quality deer (bucks, does, and fawns), quality habitat, quality hunting experiences, and, most importantly, quality hunters.

…Pleasure can be derived from each hunting experience, regardless if a shot is fired. What is important is the chance to harvest a quality buck - an opportunity lacking in many areas under traditional management. When a quality buck is taken on a QDM area, the pride can be shared by all property hunters because it was they who produced it by allowing it to reach the older age classes which are necessary for large bodies and antlers.”

In other words, they are catering to the hunters who are looking for big bodies and big racks. There is a fundamental difference in how deer would be managed if large racks are the objective rather than number of deer.

Most hunters want to kill bucks, male deer. Yet for QDM, the females need to be killed to restore the ratio to a much smaller percentage of females. Deer are naturally born in a 1:1 male to female ratio, but quantity management, which caters to natural preferences of hunters and seeks a lot of animals for the gun, has skewed the population so that there are many more females to males. Than ensures a continuing supply of deer for the bullets and shot. QDM would, no doubt, bring the population in general down, but should it come to pass, the car-deer collisions would result in far more fatalities with a greater number of larger, heavier bucks. That aside, the fundamental question is, should the society continue to tolerate wildlife management agencies that focus on less than 1% of all species and so heavily impact the public. Notice that I am even leaving out the ethical issues.

It is actually wildlife management that has caused deer-car collisions, and an insurance company, headquartered in PA has proven that it is hunting, and not the rut (as game managers like to claim) that causes deer to flee onto the highways and roads to then be slaughtered by vehicles. Our point is that management for hunting isn’t good for drivers or insurance companies.

There was so much hodge-podge in the article to comment on, but the most glaring misinformation was when Mr. Williams said that hunters alone pay the bills. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Pittman-Robertson Act required states to provide a 25% matching amount to the federal excise tax allocated to the state (based on the number of hunting licenses sold). That 25% comes out of the General Fund and amounts to millions of dollars that won’t go to education or health care, bur rather to the management of deer and other wildlife for hunting.

In addition, the wildlife management agencies use General Fund monies for all of their overhead: printing, PR, support staff salaries, legal, printing, and postage needs. That overhead no doubt far exceeds the firearms money that they bring in for this self-serving division of the states’ environmental agency.

While public money is being used to support this carnage, not one person who would like to see alternative forms of management employed is a member of the game commission. This is truly taxation without representation.

Audubon appears to have sold out to the hunting interests. We find this appalling and deceitful. Instead of advocating hunting, Audubon should be seeking and lobbying for other forms of wildlife management, such as wildlife watching.



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