By Hallie Arnold, Freeman staff
KINGSTON - As many as 200 sportsmen are expected to stage a protest at
the Ulster County Legislature's meeting on Monday, objecting to a proposed
policy that would limit how the Federated Sportsmen's Clubs of Ulster County
spends a $7,000 allotment granted to it in the 2005 county budget.
"We feel that the resolution discriminates against us," said member Bill
Smith of Napanoch. "We're the only contract agency to have our budget
and agenda dictated by others."
Lawmakers will vote Monday to appropriate a total of $1.1 million to
contract agencies throughout Ulster County, including the Federated
Sportsmen's Club. They also will vote on a resolution that, if adopted,
would prohibit the sporting group from spending the county's money for
the "propagation" of game and game birds.
Several speakers at the Legislature's December session protested the
county funding the Federated Sportsmen's Club because the group's activities
include raising pheasants and other animals that later area released and
One of those speakers was Peter Muller of the New Paltz-based League of
Humane Voters, who said lawmakers should expect animal rights activists to
also make their voices heard Monday.
"There's no ecological reason for it," he said of the pheasant hunt.
"It's just for pure satisfaction of their blood thirst. That's totally
objectionable, and to take taxpayers' money to pay for their little
perverted pleasure doesn't really make sense."
Hunting advocates say the dialogue has been largely limited to the
pheasant hunt, but speakers at the December session, including members of a
group called the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting, are really out to ban
"This is not about raising pheasants, this is about stopping sport
hunting. That's what this thing is all about," said Legislator Brian
Hathaway, R-Bloomington, a longtime hunter, member of the Federated
Sportsmen's Club and chairman of the Legislature's Environmental and
Consumer Affairs Committee. "I'm here to tell you that I am totally
against these wackos, and I'll do everything within my power to stop
Muller acknowledged his group would like to abolish sport hunting. And in
no way, he said, have members hidden that agenda.
Trying to reach a middle ground, Legislature Minority Leader David
Donaldson, D-Kingston, and Legislator Brian Shapiro, D-Woodstock, created
what lawmakers are calling a "compromise resolution" - one
that will give the group the $7,000 appropriation but not allow the money
to be used to
raise game or game birds for the purpose of releasing and hunting them.
Shapiro said it's appropriate for lawmakers to specify what the money
will be used for because the funds are paying for contracted county
"I hope that both polarized sides can see past the emotional aspects of
this issue and realize that this is a compromise that specifically addresses
county funding for county services," he said.
But both sides of the issue call the compromise unacceptable, and said
that in this year of a Legislature election, their members will watch
closely to see how lawmakers vote on this increasingly controversial issue.
"We can support no compromise," Smith said. "If you're
going to compromise our budget, then do the same to the others."
"I don't think they should get anything," Muller said of the
İDaily Freeman 2005