View Full Version : Hunting, Science, Politics, Law

Art Eatman
May 7, 2001, 09:00 AM
Keith Rogan and I have some disagreement about hunting regulations, money, law, science, emotion--the mix of these. He has a certain amount of optimism about the power of the money involved in hunting; I'm somewhat pessimistic.

This article from World Net Daily shows how a series of events can lead to a court decision of harm to people's livelihoods. Well down in the article is a comment about the science that led to the original set of regulations that this later court decision upheld.


This particular instance has to do with irrigation water for farming being totally withheld in favor of fish. The unintended consequence (ah, that phrase, again!) will be the death of wildlife which depend on both the water and the pattern of farming--food for the predator-prey chain--and the loss of hunting. (See? I can can get on topic. :) )

Nuff for now,


Keith Rogan
May 7, 2001, 12:01 PM

This is certainly worth a topic to itself and I thank you for starting a new thread.
The case here with the irrigation project actually supports my view in a back-handed sort of way. In this case, the Greenies are using the Endangered Species Act (ESA), to cut off irrigation to farmers to protect some endangered fish.

Well... if the fish weren't endangered - if they had been planted in suitable lakes all over the NW, then the Greenies wouldn't have much of a case would they?

And this is why I'm not pessimistic about the spread of wolves and grizzlies throughout the Rockies - once they're established, they are no longer "Threatened" and the Greenies do not have a case for them either.

It's important to understand the difference between "Threatened" and "Endangered" species as it applies to the ESA. An "Endangered" species means that all access to the animals habitat is cut off, hunting or harvesting of it's prey species (or food of any kind), would be forbidden. Mining, logging, water rights - everything goes when an "Endangered" species is involved.

Wolves and grizzly bears are not "Endangered", but only "Threatened" which means only that they themselves are protected from hunting, trapping, etc. Once the numbers reach a certain level, they are then removed from the list and the normal rules apply - they are just another game animal.

I can only recount again, the situation with wolves and bears in Alaska. The wolves in particular have become an almost sacred icon to the Greens. Yet, despite all the rhetoric, emotion, protests and money they've poured into the fight, anyone can still shoot a wolf or bear in Alaska on a general hunting license. This is because game laws are set up by biologists along the principles of sustainable yield, and those same biologists are entirely funded by hunting revenue. These guys are not going to eliminate their own jobs by ignoring science and kowtowing to some nutbar in a wolf suit and chanting on the Channel 2 news.

My position is this: If wolves and bears spread back into much of their historic range they will be removed from their threatened status and you will have no real problems.
However, if wolves and bears ranges are limited by pressure from hunters and ranchers (and they're already there, so let's face facts), then they will remain "Threatened" and this will be used against us.

So, since they're back (more or less), it only behooves us to encourage their return in full force. They will not eat all the deer and elk - look at Alaska and Canada, we have plenty of game.

Dat's my opinion.

Art Eatman
May 7, 2001, 07:08 PM
Overall, I agree with a lot of your argument, and certainly would hope the sequence of events you describe would come to pass.

A problem I've seen in the Texas area, first hand, and read of in other place--notably California, and some in Colorado and Florida--is that a fair number of USF&WS types are out there hunting for "endangered" critters and growies.

If something is found, there is an immediate hue and cry from the Sierra Club. Next comes some do-gooder in either the Legislature or in the upper echelons of USF&WS to "save the whatzit".

Even if it's proven that the whatzit isn't endangered, there has been the time and money wasted in dealing with it all.

One good case of emotion over fact is the end of hunting black bears in Florida. The population was declining in the Ocala National Forest; too many "interactions" with cars, mostly. The population in the Appalachicola NF was stable with the hunting controls then in place. The legislature, however, got stampeded into ending all hunting, statewide. Hunter money be damned.

So, we are now seeing the natural progression of cutsie-poo human interest news stories of bears around Tallahassee, to be followed by a story in the not-too-distant future about what happens when a school kid gets between a mama bear and her cubs. Quite a few people are already nervous about taking out garbage at night, if they live on the edge of Tally or the towns around. "Dumpster Bears Are Dangerous!" The beehive people aren't happy, either.

And so it goes...


Keith Rogan
May 7, 2001, 09:07 PM
Those are good points, and ones that came up in a similar thread some time ago - specifically, the push to have wildlife decisions but on statewide ballots. These are decisions that need to be made by biologists rather than soccer moms.
But as you say, when somebody gets munched by a bear (and it will happen), then bear hunting in Florida will be back.

May 7, 2001, 09:27 PM
Same thing happened with the black bears here in South Louisiana. For years there was even a month long season which ran for the month of October. Well suddenly the "dogooder feds" decided that the black bear in Louisiana was endangered. Now we got em coming out of our ***. I will not do it but lots of guys that I know swear that if they see one they will "pop" it but good and the feds too if they get in their way. I will not do that but damn sure wont see it if it does happen :D. "Nope i ain't see nuttin."

Art Eatman
May 8, 2001, 12:47 AM
Keith, do you remember the woman in California, near Sacramento, killed by a mountain lion? The animal lovers raised more money for the cubs of that lion than was raised to help the family of the dead woman.

And lion hunting is still a no-no in Granola-land.

Go figure.

As long as I'm anecdotin' about people: West of Fort Davis, Texas, there is a subdivided ranch development called "Davis Mountain Resort". Five- to 20-acre tracts; some 50 or so homeowners and lots of absentee "someday" types. At one of the annual meetings of the landowners, one woman called upon the Property Owners' Assoiciation "wheels" to "do something" about the herd of javelinas which wandered through her yard and scared her. (The by-laws call for no guns, no hunting.)

When somebody quietly suggested she just shoot the damned pests, she launched into a tirade about the evils of killing anything, totally forgetting how the whole subject arose in the first place...

What do I know? That's just people.

You get around New Jersey or Pennsylvania. In some places, they're up to their hip pockets in deer pills, with regular wreckage of cars from hitting deer. Even when the biologists suggest re-opening hunting of deer, folks come out of the woodwork to protest harming poor, innocent Bambi. Local government goes along with the most vocal, and nobody has ever out-vocalled an idiot.

"The squeaky wheel gets the most grease."


Keith Rogan
May 8, 2001, 01:03 PM
Well, my optimism may be misplaced but I don't think the country has gone as bad as all that.
Remember that blue and red map of Republican and Democratic voters in the last election? And don't forget that we have two more states wavering into the CCW block - the heartland is still good despite what's happening on the left and least coasts.
The last 8 years of corruption have set the forces of darkness back by a dozen years and people are re-thinking those liberal notions that they've been force-fed.

Despite what you'd think, this state of Alaska is crawling with liberals - we've got a liberal governor for cripes sakes! And yet every attempt to inject emotional handwringing into game management has been throughly defeated.

And you have to realize that SOMETIMES we do have to suspend hunting of species in trouble. Somebody mentioned black bears in Louisiana - well, some years ago I lived in that state and in all my hunting I never saw a black bear, a black bear track, or even heard a first person story of a black bear being seen. So, why not cut hunting for a few years until more bears are available? Having lots of bears is a good thing (in my opinion).

I also lived in North Florida for a few years (ex-Coast Guard - I've lived damned near everywhere and have the ex-wives to prove it!) and I never saw any sign of a bear in that area - same story as above.

Fall before last I went bear hunting on Prince Of Whales Island, Alaska (we don't have blackies in my part of the state), and it is simply AMAZING how many black bears a piece of real estate can support! If I lived back in Florida or Louisiana I would want that sort of quality hunting to be available - even if it meant a drawing where I could only hunt every few years.
And before somebody says Alaska is "different" cuz there ain't no people - I'll tell you that you're wrong. P.O.W. Island is densely populated (by Alaska standards), with little villages and towns all over the place.

Quality hunting sometimes means you have to cut bag limits or even suspend hunting for periods - but I'd rather have a drawing and hunt once every five years in a target-rich environment than hunt all the time in an empty one.

May 8, 2001, 01:30 PM
Keith, no offense my friend but during last deer season I spotted 6, yes 6 of them. Now I will admit that 2 were yearlings just getting out of the cub stage and were with mama so I guess you could say that there were only 4 times I saw any. In the last year there have been 2 that I know of that have met their demise from names like Goodyear, Firestone, Cooper etc. One on US-90 and the other on LA317. Sightings are getting more numerous all the time. Now the feds are even talking about expropiating some peoples land to make a bear preserve. Knowing most of the folks down here if that would come to pass someone better have a recipe for "preseving" feds, or maybe reducing the bag limit on them.

Art Eatman
May 8, 2001, 03:15 PM
Yeah, Keith, the whole deal varies from place to place. I'd agree that in large part the red/blue counties' votes map is an indicator of emotion-over-science.

I certainly have no problem with reduced or no hunting when it's at the behest of the wildlife biologists, for sure. The Game Dept in Florida wanted to close the Ocala, and leave the Appalach open.

What worries me is the deal going on right now where people from PETA and Sierra Club are going to work for the USF&WS. They are becoming the ones to "interpret" the regulations written under the ESA, etc.

So you have stuff like the sea lions in the harbour at San Francisco, crawling into and sinking folks' boats, pooping up the slackwater area--STINK!--and the Marine Mammals' Protection Act prohibits protecting one's private property.

I am regularly reminded of the story of a Congressman who took a particular tax deduction; IRS denied it. He complained, "I know that deduction is legal; I wrote that law!" The response was, "Sorry, Sir. We don't interpret it that way."

Let us hope Alaska remains lucky about "interpretations".

Actually, were I not an absolute wuss about temperatures below some 70F, I'd probably move to AK. However, at 100 and up, my arthritis doesn't hurt.

:), Art

Ron Ankeny
May 8, 2001, 03:19 PM
Well gentlemen, I am fortunate enough to live in a state that is the recipient of transplanted wolves. We also have the famous Black-footed Ferret, and we have the largest grizzly bear management program in the country.

As a result, we can no longer shoot prairie dogs in Northeast Wyoming, bears are making snacks out of tourists, and the freaking wolves are raising hell with the elk. Keith is right, the wolves can’t eat all of the game, but they (wolves) have been responsible for reduced game populations. So much for a target rich environment. Also, the darn wolves managed to run large herds of elk up the Gros Ventre last winter, chasing them off of the feed grounds. The fish and wildlife folks spent their time chasing the elk back the other way, toward the feed grounds, via snowmobiles. Oh well, if the elk starve to death we don’t have to feed them or listen to PETA bitch when we knock one down and toss it in the freezer. Wolves might be fine in Canada and Alaska, but around here they are a pain in the butt.

Interestingly enough, I had a fish and wildlife biologist tell me that bears and wolves were eradicated from this country for a reason, and those reasons are becoming apparent to those of us who forgot. We will tolerate the bears and wolves for as long as we can, then I would imagine the process will be reversed.

May 8, 2001, 04:29 PM
Ron, that's like that old saying. I think it's something like this "Those that forget (or don't learn) history are bound to repeat it". Or something like that. Problem today is lots of folks that have never been off of concrete in thir life are acting as if they know all there is to know about the wilds and wildlife.

Art Eatman
May 8, 2001, 10:11 PM
Carlyle, ballpark is "Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." I have changed it slightly to "Those who will not learn history won't enjoy repeating it." :)

Back in the mid-1970s an oil-company fella told me of their hunt camp off in SW Cameron Parish. A few years after the total ban on alligator-skin anything, the gator population had increased dramatically. Resident at the hunt camp was an older black woman as caretaker. She quit; first the gators had eaten her dogs, and then one day she walked out her front door to see an eight-footer on the porch--of a building built on piling!

Folks have heard of gators in SE Texas; cast your eyes on a Texas map and follow I 35 south from Santone to Cotulla on the Nueces River. Believe it or not, 12-footers in that area are not all that uncommon!

Heck, there's even a resident gator in the Rio Grande near Redford (below Presidio, if that helps) which is most probably an import--but he's surviving. But, lonesome. I think he needs companionship--hint, hint...

Anyway, sorta getting back to the thread, Florida has more and more problems with "interactions" between gators and people--including a couple of dead people. Remember Fud's stories?

And so it goes.


Dave R
May 9, 2001, 10:47 AM
And in Orange County, CA Mt. Lions/Pumas are becoming a significant threat. More human encounters annually. No fatalities, yet?

True story, back a few years when I lived there, I went on a "nature hike" with a home school group in a little 120 acre "preserve" in the OC foothills. This was 10 miles or so from my house.

The park ranger was waxing poetic about the wondrous Mt. Lion, and giving all sorts of statistics. He said they need X amount of range per male. 10 square miles? Can't remember.

Anyway, later he talked about their radio collar program and said that, at one point, they were tracking TWELVE adults in this 120 acre preserve!??!?!

I had the nerve to say something about this preserve being a whole lot smaller than the range of ONE average adult. He sputtered a lot and said they thought most of them were "moving through".

Yeah, right. I think they were developing a taste for freshly manicured poodles and fat housecats.

Keith Rogan
May 9, 2001, 11:20 AM
Let's cook this down to two broad issues, one valid and one (IMHO) not.

Firstly, Federal interference in wildlife issues - or land issues in general - is wrong, unconstitutional, immoral, and sometimes damned near worth armed insurrection. While I strongly favor the reintroduction of wolves and grizzlies to the Rockies, I also realize that I DON'T LIVE THERE. It should be up to the people of those states to decide rather than being force-fed wolves by the federal government. Even if one doesn't agree with that view and believes the gubmint can do what it wants on federal land, a reasonable person would at least have to acknowledge that the fed shouldn't be able to set game regulations or interfere in traditional practices within a state because of these reintroductions.
Federal land, by law, is for multiple use (what's that term?) and those uses include both hunting and grazing.

So yes, I agree wholeheartedly that the way these reintroductions are coming about is sometimes abrasive or worse, outright unconstitutional. I've read the tenth amendment and understand it, I only wish our politicians would do the same.

The second issue though, is the broader one of whether it is simply worth having big predators. This is entirely a personal issue and one in which I've already stated my case.
Big predators make for quality hunting. You can draw a tag for them, or at least when hunting your traditional game have the added element of seeing them around - that is a quality hunt.
The case was made about alligators and the ban (at one time), on hunting them. Well, now you CAN hunt them and if I lived in alligator country I'd be the first one to be putting in for tags every year to nail a big alligator hide up on my living room wall. So, was the temporary ban worth it in order to have enough alligators to sustain hunting? I certainly think so.
And lastly, if you have numerous predators you WILL have human casualties. Without a doubt, where there are plentiful big cats, bears, gators, whatever - people, pets and livestock will die.
That's just part of the equation and one that I (since I share the risk), am willing to accept.

Keith Rogan
May 9, 2001, 11:41 AM
Now, let me ask you all a question.

What if you picked up a newspaper and read that the residents of the state of Alaska had decided that all the big predators would be wiped out - forget the legalities and PETA, etc, for the moment. Just imagine we up and passed a statewide "public safety" ballot to poison and shoot all the bears and wolves off.
Wouldn't you say to yourself "Doggone it, that's crazy - I was going to go up there one of these days and hunt bears and wolves!" We could include moose in this too, since moose kill almost as many people as bears.

What would your visceral reaction to such an announcement be?

I started a separate note on this so it wouldn't be buried in the lengthier note above. My point is that many people are all for having big mean critters around (for hunting or simple aesthetic reasons) - we like to know there are still wild places that haven't been reduced to a "park" where all elements of risk have been removed. But we want those places somewhere else - why is that? We think of Alaska or Africa as being the great hunting places they are because of the predators. And we all dream of buying that big rifle and going there, but when a little of that is offered to you in your own neighborhood... Suddenly it's not such a good idea.

If I lived where you do I'd want the big critters back. But of course I don't live where you do, so I'd like to hear why you wouldn't to hunt around predators - or hunt predators for that matter.

May 9, 2001, 01:54 PM
I can only speak for myself on this as a Wyoming hunter. It's not that I don't want any wolves or bears around, but that I want to hunt in a natural world where there are natural consequences for the actions of man and animal. I leave grizzly bears alone and I expect the same from them.

The problem is, these furry beasts are promoted by extremist organizations like the Sierra Club who do all they can (and they have a lot of political clout in the Lower 48, like it or not) to interfere with natural consequences and create a bunch of oversized, pampered pets who face no consequences for their actions. This is the antithesis of wild animals and a wilderness experience. I don't get much of a thrill from seeing grizzly tracks outside my tent when I know the local Game & Fish Department fully expects me turn over a 6x6 bull elk to any grizzly who happens to want it.

In Wyoming, the Sierra Club is currently howling for all hunters to be required to carry pepper spray on their person whenever in bear country. As if this non-lethal aerosol product with SERIOUS limitations is a magic potion to fend off a grizzly bear. When a rancher is getting sheep killed by wolves, they will offer him some rubber bullets to hose them down with. Now how many people seriously believe that rubber bullets will alter wolf feeding behavior? It's this sort of constant cluelessness with which we have to deal that turns many hunters off, because it looks like there will be no end to it.

I hope Keith is right about what could happen after eventual de-listing, but I'm still in the pessimistic camp.
Good Shooting, CoyDog

Dave R
May 9, 2001, 06:08 PM
Keith, I think you've pursuaded me that we agree more than we disagree. I do not want big predators extinct. If Alaska voted to "repeal" predators, I think I would feel exactly the same as I do about the programs to re-introduce these predators to Idaho (or worse).

My opposition to re-introduction in Idaho is:
a) they're already there, or on their way, if we leave them alone
b) Its a waste of tax dollars.

My opposition to CA's protection of Mt. Lions is that they are in an over-population scenario (especially near Orange County north Ventura County) which is potentially dangerous to both humans and critters.

I believe that Nature will solve these problems on her own if we just use common-sense game management. And common-sense government, for that matter.

Art Eatman
May 9, 2001, 06:26 PM
Keith, lemme bring in a side-issue. I have read that wolf and grizzly behavior was altered to some extent by the early ranchers in the mountain states in that the animals learned a fear that did not particularly exist during the time of the Indian. Thus wolves and bears tended to stay away from herds because of men and dogs.

As usual, homo sap went overboard about killing off perceived "enemies"--until the wolves were gone and the grizzly nearly so. We seem to have a habit of doing that sort of thing...

Now, the predators which are being returned are not only lacking some of this learned pattern of fear of man, they are protected such that they will learn to look upon man and herds as larders.

(Reminds me of my Coastal Zone Management Program daze. You can imagine the cartoons around the office, of "Striking a happy medium" or "Whose ox is gored".)

It bothers me not at all for Gummint to say that for scientific reasons I cannot hunt wolves or bears--there are just not enough of them. It does bother me when Gummint says I am to regard myself and my livelihood as incidental to the "big picture"; that I have no self-defense rights for my herd, and that I must merely sit by and watch if depredation occurs.

This is a "Taking" of a property right, and is subject to the same sort of legal action as any other taking.

But I think that I would not get too terribly bent out of shape if my local resident mama lion and I stayed in a state of argument over her interest in any livestock I might have. I like living with neighbors like that. Dunno if she'll ever get used to me, though.

Ol' Griz on the front porch, however? Somebody's in trouble.

:), Art

May 10, 2001, 09:13 AM
Keith, the fact of the matter is that the gator NEVER was endangered. The Feds overeacted and closed hunting of them and put them on the endangered list. If anyone thinks that that stopped the taking of gator I want some of what they have been drinking. No, all that really did was stopped the selling of the hides on the open (read that as the legal) market. The day after the Feds closed it I could have taken anyone out and get em 10-15 big ones! Hell no one I know of down here EVER went without gator in the freezer for frying, closure or no closure. If anyone thinks that stopped the taking of gator I want some of what they have been drinking. Even when there were no regulations on hunting gator there was a stable population. Basically what the closure did was bring the gator from a stable (but smaller) population to an exploding population that today is becoming (or has in some parts already become)a nusiance. Now there are lots of folks that ask me "aren't all the gators there dangerous?". I always tell them that there are a lot more coonasses that eat gator than gator EVER ate connasses, so you tell me who is dangerous? I guess if they are considered dangerous depends on who you are :D.

Keith Rogan
May 10, 2001, 12:01 PM

Agree wholeheartedly that predators caught taking stock should be shot. I know a lot about wolves since I've been raising one for the last 6 or 7 years. One of the things I've come to understand is that they are driven by learned behavior rather than being instinct-driven robots that go into hunt mode as soon as they see a mammal. I even take my wolf as a pack animal when deer hunting and she is well behaved around deer because I've just told her "no" when she wanted to chase them.
I think that if these introduced wolves had bad experiences when taking stock (like somebody shot their pack members), they would very quickly revert to wild game and cease to be a nuisance. So I think it's not only fair to the ranchers but necessary for the wolves long term survival that they learn this lesson.
There is an area north of Anchoarge called the Matanuska Valley which is full of dairy operations, and just as full of wolves, but I've never heard of wolves taking stock there - they know better. Learned behavior.

The gubmint always has to over-do it and that pattern applies to whatever they get involved in, whether it's guns, critters or taxes.