Management: hunters or environmentalist?
on September 28, 2012 The Asheville Tribune, Asheville, NC.
By Don Mallicoat
If hunters do not
get vocally involved in wildlife management issues soon, we
may find that we no longer have our hunting privileges. Not
if environmentalists and animal rights groups have their way.
National organizations like the NRA, National Shooting Sports
Foundation (NSSF), and U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), have
valiantly fought the fight for many years. The most recent
case that we reported on was the attempt to ban lead in ammunition
lead by the Center for Biological Diversity. Now they are
at it again in a continuing battle in grey wolf management.
On Tuesday September
18th, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Minnesota-based
group, Howling for Wolves, filed a lawsuit in the Minnesota
Court of Appeals against the Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources (DNR). That lawsuit attempts to block the state’s
upcoming wolf hunting and trapping season. The anti’s are
asking the Court to issue a preliminary injunction, seeking
to stop the wolf season while the rest of the case is decided.
The lawsuit claims that the Minnesota DNR failed to follow
technical rulemaking procedures in adopting the wolf hunting
and trapping season. Particularly, the groups are claiming
that the DNR should not have adopted the wolf season under
its expedited rulemaking powers and should have given more
opportunity for public comment on the rules. These claims
are based solely on procedural grounds and do not challenge
the science behind the state’s management of wolves through
hunting and trapping. Minnesota’s wolf hunt is scheduled to
open on Saturday, November 3rd. Last month, anti-hunting organizations
in Wisconsin filed a lawsuit
attempting to block Wisconsin’s upcoming wolf hunting season.
In that case, a Wisconsin Judge granted an injunction barring
a portion of Wisconsin’s wolf hunt.
So you may ask: What does a Minnesota lawsuit have to do with
us in Western North Carolina? There are several issues here.
First, these anti-hunting groups use lawsuits in federal courts
for two purposes. One is to raise money for their cause by
being reimbursed by the federal government for legal expenses
involved in the suits. Most importantly, when they do win
a case in federal court they then use it for precedent in
subsequent cases anywhere else in the country for any other
wildlife species. For example, due to rising bear populations
in the mountains let’s say the NC WRC decided to allow bear
hunting in designated bear sanctuaries. They could sue the
NC WRC on a procedural matter and delay or stop the hunts.
But those are tactical issues. There is a more strategic issue
here. Who should be determining game seasons and bag limits,
professional wildlife managers or environmentalists through
the courts? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been fighting
this battle over Endangered Species Act delisting and hunting
of wolves for over six years. All of the biological sciences
show that their populations exceed the carrying capacity of
the environment they inhabit. The natural balance is upset.
Hunting is a valid method of wildlife management and has been
These groups just want to force their agenda on hunters with
the ultimate goal of stopping all hunting. They probably know,
but don’t care, that wildlife populations need to be kept
in balance. That is not the issue. They just do not like hunting
period. It is time we as hunters stop them.
So how do we do it? Get involved. Too many hunters sit idly
by and expect their state wildlife agencies to “take care
of these things”. That has to end. We have to financially
support organizations that support scientific wildlife management
like those mentioned in the first paragraph. We also have
to get personally involved by active participation. That means
attending public hearings (which are usually required when
changing federal and state game laws) and making our voices
louder than the environmentalists.
That also applies to land management in our local National
Forests. Every time the U.S. Forest Service proposes a land
management project for wildlife they are required to accept
public comment, usually at a meeting. Show up and let them
know you want the land managed for wildlife. I guarantee you
the environmentalists will be there. If you cannot make it
to a public meeting provide written comments. Get involved.
Hunters have to take wildlife and land management back from
those who want to destroy our hunting heritage. If we do not
get involved, there will be a day when you will not be able
to take your grandson hunting. It will be against the law.