As hunters, we are used to attacks on our lifestyle from the animal-rights-vegetarian-vegan coalition. But an article in the Lowell Sun on July 19 stating that hunting is worse than dogfighting was so mindboggling and utterly fraught with fallacies that we had to set the record straight.
A few excerpts from the story are sure to get your blood boiling:
“What does your pristine ‘sport’ have to do with the outlawed mayhem of ultimate doggie brawls? Well, you don’t have to go hunting for the answer. I'll fire back the reality.
“There is a difference. Hunting is worse. Hunting is deadly certain. At least when White Fang is brawling, he has a fighting chance. In hunting, the bullet and arrow offer no TKOs.
“You hunters don’t give a flying duck about protecting the wildlife. And I don't give a flying duck about your rights as hunters. You are not outdoorsmen, or sportsmen. To claim that you are conservationists would be like saying ExxonMobil is peddling the idea of getting more cyclists on the roads.
“It astounds me that Michael Vick is jailed as a war criminal, deemed worthy of a Nuremberg tribunal, yet armed citizens are licensed by our states to get their jollies blowing Bambi, Bullwinkle, Braer rabbit and even Yogi Bear to smithereens.
“As someone who has never executed a fellow mammal, I am even more astounded by the fact that states encourage children to join in on the kill shots. In the Bay State, I was shocked to learn that a child at the tender age of 15 can get a hunting license.”
For the record, that emotional rant was brought to you by Matt Spencer, who can be reached at email@example.com.
I would like to counter Mr. Spencer’s anti-hunting diatribe with just a few facts, since he chose not to do so.
First of all, his claim that hunting is worse than dogfighting is absurd to anyone who has actually hunted a day in his or her life. The ranks of hunters are filled with decent, hard-working, family-oriented people that make up the very fabric of this country. Those who engage in dogfighting are criminals, pure and simple. Hunters are not.
With that said, I particularly take offense to Mr. Spencer’s statement that hunters are not conservationists. In fact, hunters are the ultimate stewards of our wildlife and land resources. The taxes and license fees paid by hunters have generated funds to purchase millions of acres of public land and improve wildlife habitat. Since 1937, hunters have contributed more than $4 BILLION through the Pittman-Robertson Act for the benefit of all wildlife species. In 2007 alone, hunters and shooters contributed $233 million in Pittman-Robertson funds.
Virtually all outdoor enthusiasts benefit from the excise tax dollars hunters pay on guns, ammunition and related equipment. The bird watchers, hikers and bikers don’t need to pay a cent to fund the outdoor pursuits they enjoy. Why should they open their wallets when hunters foot the bill for them?
In addition, hunters DO care about protecting wildlife. Hunting keeps game populations in balance with their habitat. When a population exceeds the habitat’s carrying capacity, sickness and die-off are the result. Hunting keeps overall game populations healthy and sustainable. For example, in 1900, whitetail deer populations in this country totaled 300,000. With the help of regulated hunting, wildlife management paid for by hunters, and an influx of Pittman-Robertson dollars, whitetail populations today number more than 20 million.
There are other facts I could provide in support of hunting—it prevents deer-auto collisions and keeps our insurance rates from skyrocketing; it provides nearly 600,000 Americans with work; it strengthens family bonds with time spent together outdoors; and it feeds our country, not just with the meat itself, but also because of the crop damage and livestock predation it prevents.
But perhaps the number one fact that Mr. Spencer apparently missed is this: 73 percent of Americans approve of legal hunting, according to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. Only 10 percent believe hunting should be illegal. I would venture to guess that dogfighting would receive a much less favorable public reception. Just ask Michael Vick.