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The Hunter, Sportsman and Conservationist.


I am an avid hunter and sportsman. By virtue of this I can identify with some of the problems that we as hunters and sportsmen encounter from a misinformed public and a biased media. In writing and educating people about the problems hunters face, I hope to be active in supporting our hunting heritage.

I am an active member of The California Varmint Callers Association. As a group, we have been forced to become politically active by the animal-rights and anti-gun extremist's constant attacks on our freedoms. We have been fighting prospective legislation that could have, and in some cases has, ended hunting as we know it. Most anti-hunting legislation is presented by animal rights groups on nothing more than emotional grounds and is simply an attempted to legislate their morality. They are usually well financed and with the help of their media friends have mounted effective propaganda campaigns in misinforming the American public about hunting.

I present to you clear, uncontroversial examples of how hundreds, even thousands of animals have come to be endangered or extinct.

Contrary to the widely held belief that it is hunters and sportsman who have contributed to this endangerment, I will illustrate how invariably it has been money making, commercial enterprises of one type or another, that have been the real culprit. And that in fact, it was and presently is, the general public (including our so called anti-hunting environmental activists) who wittingly or unwittingly support these commercial enterprises by simply living out their lives.

In describing how commercial exploitation of wild animals has contributed to their extinction or endangerment, I hope that you will keep foremost in mind that the overwhelming motivator or driving factor is money and profits. This list of examples is by no means complete. I have included only those examples that I think most people have at one time or another heard about.


For example

  • Commercial exploitation of whales has resulted in the near extinction of many different species and in the case of the largest animal on earth, the Blue Whale, scientists are not sure there are enough surviving members to ensure their survival.

  • Commercial fishing has contributed to a serious depletion of many of the worlds stocks of fish. The Pacific Salmon population is in jeopardy because of over fishing and the destruction of many of their spawning beds.

  • Canada was almost in a state of war with Spain because of their insistence on fishing for undersized Atlantic Turbot. The Atlantic Turbot is in serious decline and at their lowest numbers since records have been kept.

  • The Red Snapper was so popular as a fare in restaurants ("Blackened Red fish") that commercial fishing for it had to be stopped and a limit of one fish per day placed on sportsman so as not to threaten the continued existence of the species.

  • Commercial fishing for tuna threatens the bottle nosed dolphin as well as the tuna itself.

  • The Japanese and some other oriental countries have been regularly caught fishing illegally within the 200 mile coastal limits set by the US and Mexico. Their fishing techniques are indiscriminate as they cast drift nets for miles across the continental shelf of the U.S. , Canada and Mexico. The insatiable Japanese demand for seafood is well known and helps drive their commercial fisheries to the furthest reaches of the planet. The problem is compounded by the fact that they will eat almost anything (not bias just fact).

  • The Whooping Crane in the US was exploited to the point of near extinction because it's feathers were valued as ornaments on ladies hats.

  • The dodo bird became extinct as it was used as an easily caught food source for sailing ships on their voyages of discovery. Many of these voyages were financed in order to find new areas for trade or commercial exploitation.

  • The American buffalo or bison was nearly wiped out as part of a systematic campaign to deny the American Indian a food source, because of a great European demand for the skin and because of a government bounty of 5 cents per hide.

  • The beaver was in jeopardy because it's fur was prized for men's hats.

  • The wolf was almost eliminated from the lower 48 states because it was (is) considered a threat to humans and farm animals. A government bounty helped this to happen.

  • During the "gold rush" of 1849 in California, slaughter houses processing the Thule elk sprang up to feed the ever growing number of hungry miners. By the time the slaughter stopped there were only a handful of Thule elk remaining. The efforts of hunters have brought them back from the verge of extinction.

  • Presently, there are heroic efforts underway to save the California Condor. But I doubt they can continue to survive without human intervention as many of the animals they naturally feed upon have been driven out of the condor's areas by human expansion.

  • The American alligator was nearly eliminated as it's skin was used for everything from shoes to wallets to belts. Their survival is still threatened as human expansion into the Florida Everglades is eating up whatever little is left of their habitat.

  • The African rhino is in serious danger because it's horn is highly prized as an aphrodisiac by the Oriental cultures. It is also prized as a handle for ceremonial daggers in certain Muslim societies as a rite of passage and a mark of virility. You would not believe how much money you can get for a rhino horn.

  • The African elephant is poached for it's ivory as ivory has a hundred money making, commercial applications.

  • The tiger is seriously threatened because it's bones and other body parts are valued as an aphrodisiac by oriental cultures. Many believe that consumption of tiger products will imbibe them with the tiger's attributes of strength and ferocity.

  • Any Bear from any part of the world is threatened because of it's gall bladder, again for it's value as an aphrodisiac in oriental cultures. In the US, a group of Orientals were caught illegally poaching hundreds of bears, cutting them up to get at their gall bladder and leaving the rest of the animal to rot. Had they not been caught they might have slaughtered thousands. They had no concern for the ultimate fate of these animals and were only interested in profiting from them.

  • Thousands of other animals face similar threats because of human expansion. There is enough land being taken up by housing and industrial developments all over the world that the natural habitats of these animals are no longer available for them to live in.

I could go on and on but I think you get the point. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of examples just like these and in every example I defy you to find an instance where you can accuse the sportsman in the extinction of any animal!

I'm sure that with little effort you too can come up with similar examples. One that I have heard about in the short time I have been here in Australia is the problem they have with various wild birds like the sulphur crested cockatoo. These birds are extremely popular as pets and as a result they need to be protected. Some species bring in excess of $20,000 apiece. People are regularly caught trying to smuggle birds and eggs into the U.S. No doubt they are purchased by animal lovers! Here again, we have a commercial interest working to threaten a species. The desire or need to "make a dollar" is a powerful incentive in the destruction or endangerment of wild animals!

Historically, hunters and sportsmen have not been the cause of animal extinction nor will they ever be. It is the hunter and sportsman who have been at the forefront in pushing for laws and regulations that promote sound, scientific game management principles like those in place in the US and other parts of the world.

Hunters and sportsmen have endeavored to ensure that any given game species will continue to thrive while at the same time ensuring our continued right and ability to hunt. It is hunters and sportsmen who are most outraged by the previous examples of endangerment or extinction, as we seem to be the easy scapegoat for these atrocities. I can't begin to remember how many so called "nature shows" and "documentaries" I have seen that come right out and blame the hunter for the problem of animal endangerment. These people are guilty of outright lies or at best a well financed and misguided propaganda campaign.

What is little known and almost never acknowledged by the media and environmental activists, is the fact that sport hunters are the original "environmental activists". Teddy Roosevelt, a well known big game hunter and former president of the United States was one of the first. He helped develop America's consciousness of the environment and created some of the best and most beautiful National Parks in the world. I think he knew that human expansion and commercial exploitation of animals in the wild were a threat to the future use and enjoyment of our natural wonders.

In the United States, hunters and sportsmen contribute more money to the protection of threatened animals and their habitat than all other conservation groups combined bar none. Through the efforts of hunters and sportsmen, we instituted legislation that imposed a small tax on the purchase of ammunition, firearms and other related items. Money is also collected from the sales of hunting and fishing licenses. This money goes towards ensuring the health and viability of many animals and is also responsible for some of the animal "re stocking" or "reintroduction" programs.

I see the best way to fight the anti-hunters and pseudo-environmentalists (those who don't practice what they preach) is to educate the media and the public in general as to the real dangers to our animal populations. They should be made aware of how they are in fact witting or unwitting accomplices to these atrocities. They should be made aware of how they, themselves shoulder part of the blame and guilt. Do they own a home that has encroached upon an animals habitat? Do they eat fish? Do they own products made of wood? Do they use gasoline, steel, electricity, rubber (you name it)? If they do then they are as guilty as the rest of society. They must be informed as to how the hunter and sportsmen is proactive on the issue of game species protection and at how we hold righteous indignation to their attempts to put an end our hunting traditions. Especially since we have not caused the extinction of any game species and that we in fact work vigorously towards their protection in order that we may continue to enjoy the benefits they provide us for generations to come.

You may or may not agree with everything I have said here, but I hope that these arguments and observations will provide you with some ammunition in blunting the anti-hunters arguments. As an avid hunter and sportsman, I understand the frustration in dealing with people who cannot understand the hunt. They will never understand the thrill of the chase, the success, the failure, the friendships developed, the camaraderie between fellow hunters, the bonds developed between men nor our personal relationship with nature. By not understanding the whole hunting experience, they see it as nothing more than the kill. The only way I have found to make the non-hunter fully understand the hunting tradition is to actually take them on a hunt and let them get the full experience. They then begin to see and understand how the hunt goes back to the earliest beginnings of man. They begin to see intuitively, the capacity, the innate drive for the hunt that is within everyone. Let's not forget that as with all other animals, we too are physically part of this earth.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to do this for everyone. As I see it, the next best course of action is to educate those who will listen. We must also inform the media that their emotional appeals to the public implicating hunters as the problem are misguided and in fact does a disservice to those who work vigorously toward the continued existence and protection of animals - the hunter and sportsman.

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