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legislating wildlife management and ethics
Posted by bushrat on May 03 2006
More and more, pro-hunting orgs like the Alaska Outdoor Council are pushing and promoting ballot-box biology on the legislative level. They lobby for changes to our fish and game statutes via various bills in the legislature. They continue to set precedents that wildlife management can, and should, be handled by legislation. They continually try to take authority away from Fish and Game and put it in the hands of politicians. What this does is "builds up a hodgepodge of legal maneuvering that leaves us startled, short of cash--and the legal profession wealthy." And most recently, this kind of maneuvering has left ADFG without funding for proper wildlife management. This hurts us all.

Recently, as some of you here know, Homerdave and I, along with some others, formed an Alaska Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. We did this because not only are we concerned with hunting ethics (David Petersen, btw, is on the Board of BHA, and I highly recommend all of his books), but we were concerned with the direction hunting and fishing is taking in Alaska.

The problems we face as hunters and anglers are inded, sadly, legislative in nature in all too many cases. What hunting and angling is solely dependent on for the common man and woman is public lands that hold wild places for wild animals. Habitat habitat habitat. Conservation of all species. Clean air and water. Wise-use of the resources. A recognition again of the true role of the hunter in society. Those of us who believe in the above are going to have to join the fray to fight for and uphold these principles, and sometimes that is going to include giving testimony to legislators and Boards and voicing an opinion that runs contrary to what other pro-hunting orgs like AOC endorse. It's time to put a better face on Alaskan hunters and anglers.

Good role models and mentors are becoming increasingly hard to find. The role models of today's younger generation of hunters are often sadly found on the Outdoor Channel. They are found in horn-porn magazines, hook-and-bullet drivel. They are found at Safari Club conventions that support and condone unethical hunting and hunters and espouse competition amongst hunters as being "okay." They are found in the rank and file of orgs like AOC that promote the widescale killing of bears and wolves in perpetuity that will eventually blur the line between what is hunting and what is "control." Gun advocates are always saying how laws that seek to take one type of weapon away are the first step in a long-term progression. I see increasing predator control, atv abuse, and legislating wildlife management as steps in a long-term progression as well. One that bodes ill for us all. One that we need to curtail. How do you tell a non-hunter that same-day-airborne "hunting" of grizzlies in Intensive Management areas isn't really "hunting," and that therefore no fair-chase standards apply?  We can't even tell most hunters that...they still look at it as "hunting." Same with baiting of grizzly or brown bears...it was illegal before but now it will likely be legalized in many areas and not many hunters will really have a problem with it. In essence, it teaches and promotes a new kind of "ethics" to the majority of hunters that runs contrary to what is fair chase and what is "respect."

Finding good role models is going to require a lot of work on the part of many of us. Things have gotten out of control and are spiraling downward. It's one of the reasons I got active in Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. They are made up of men and women who are a cut above, who know that the future of hunting eventually lies in the hands of non-hunters. The non-hunter's perception of hunting and hunters is key, and while many don't like hearing that, the irony is that by once again instilling ethics and fair-chase into hunting, as well as true conservation of all species and wise use of the land, it benefits future generations of us all. Hunters and non-hunters.

Part of what defines an ethical hunter is "knowing and respecting the animals." It isn't knowing and respecting just some animals, but ALL the animals. It's about recognizing that each species has an important role to play (man included)in the ecosystem. Another part of what defines an ethical hunter is one who "behaves in a way that will satisfy what society expects of him or her as a hunter."

It's time to clean up our act. It is time to act. It's time to take back the high ground hunters once held in society.

Selah,
Mark Richards
www.backcountryhunters.org
Alaskabha@starband.net

Previous: Making Better Hunters Michael Strahan May 03 2006
Next: "someone wrote not long ago".. homerdave May 03 2006

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