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PHEASANT PLIGHT

Note: While the vote on the plight of the pheasants did not go in our favor,  there was more opposition to funding than had ever occurred before. As stated in our mission statement:  this is a process.         ~Anne Muller

Sportsmen's group opposes spending restrictions

By Hallie Arnold, Freeman staff

01/09/2005

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 hunted.

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 hunting altogether.

"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 them."

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 services.

"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 Federated Sportsmen.

İDaily Freeman 2005


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