Archive for the ‘Animal Rights’ Category

Hunters, Anglers and Gun Owners: Fighting for your rights

August 13, 2009

I had lunch with a friend a few days ago, and we were talking about the issues of gun control and the attacks on hunting by various groups and individuals.

He pointed out that the anti-groups ask for the moon and settle for something less, while we try to defend the status quo. By doing so, we lose our rights, bit by bit and piece by piece.

He argued that we need a different mindset. We have to go to the table with the intent of of getting more and not just maintaining what we tentatively have. We need to push the limits of the government bureaucrats and the politicians.

We may not convince them to give us what we are asking for, but we may – not right now, but somewhere down the road – realize other concessions.

The key is that we don’t go in once, get rejected and then quit. The object is to keep coming back to the table to make our case.

Thus we should be pushing for the right to hunt with a handgun.

We should be demanding that transport permits for restricted and prohibited firearms be part and parcel of the firearms licence.

We should be demanding the right to carry a handgun in the backcountry for protection, rather than being forced to pack the weight of a long-gun.

How about making them take some of those firearms off their arbitrary prohibited list rather than worrying about which guns they will next add to the list.

We should make them justify the existence of the pointless and stupid laws that are currently on the books.

Why is a shotgun with a 16 inch barrel from the factory legal, while a shotgun whose barrel has been cut back to 16 inches is illegal?

Why are noise suppressors illegal? Wouldn’t their use make eminent sense in noise sensitive areas?

We need to demand more hunting and angling opportunity for resident hunters and anglers. There is room for more opportunity – we are just not being allowed to access it.

The problem is that too many of our organizations don’t want to take the hard line. Hell, they don’t want to take the semi-hard line.

But the animal rights, the anti-gun and the anti-hunting groups have no qualms about pushing their agendas and they haven’t been disenfranchised. In fact, they have identified people within governments who, if not favourable to their views, are not willing to stand up against them.

It seems that no-one else seems to have any problem pushing their agendas. Just us.

But the blame for our weak bargaining position doesn’t lie solely with our organizations. Every gun owner, hunter and angler needs to become educated about the issues and get personally involved at some level, whether it be letting their organization know what they expect from them, communicating their concerns to politicians and government staff or informing the public of the issues. Some people are there now, but not enough.

To be overly dramatic: We either fight or die.

Selling out Peter for Paul’s Benefit

August 3, 2009

When I started to read this article by Paul Craig Robert, I was intrigued by the title: Gun Control: What’s the Agenda?

Now I thought I always knew the gun-banners’ agenda. It was, and is, to get rid of guns owned by civilians. I also thought that I knew some of their motivations.

We’ve heard the arguments hundred of times. Banning guns (so the theory goes) would materially reduce crime, suicides, fatal accidents, violence in the home and make the public domain for all intents and purposes a a safer place and although it might not create a utopia but it would be a step in that direction.

Then there are the animal rights activists who would see the banning of firearms as a way to ending hunting activities. (They could ban bows later – or sooner for that matter).

I hoped that the author might have some new insights on the subject.

As a lead-in, the author pointed out the facts behind New York’s oppressive Sullivan’s Law.

New York state senator Timothy Sullivan, a corrupt Tammany Hall politician, represented New York’s Red Hook district. Commercial travelers passing through the district would be relieved of their valuables by armed robbers. In order to protect themselves and their property, travelers armed themselves. This raised the risk of, and reduced the profit from, robbery. Sullivan’s outlaw constituents demanded that Sullivan introduce a law that would prohibit concealed carry of pistols, blackjacks, and daggers, thus reducing the risk to robbers from armed victims.

The criminals, of course, were already breaking the law and had no intention of being deterred by the Sullivan Act from their business activity of armed robbery. Thus, the effect of the Sullivan Act was precisely what the criminals intended. It made their life of crime easier.

He then dealt with the fallacy of the epidemic of gun deaths among children in the U.S. and notes that the White House Offices of National Drug Control Policy says that drugs is one of the leading factors in homicides.

According to the National Drug Control Policy, trafficking in illicit drugs is associated with the commission of violent crimes for the following reasons: “competition for drug markets and customers, disputes and rip-offs among individuals involved in the illegal drug market, [and] the tendency toward violence of individuals who participate in drug trafficking.” Another dimension of drug-related crime is “committing an offense to obtain money (or goods to sell to get money) to support drug use.”

Roberts then writes:

Those who want to outlaw guns have not explained why it would be any more effective than outlawing drugs, alcohol, robbery, rape, and murder. All the crimes for which guns are used are already illegal, and they keep on occurring, just as they did before guns existed.

So what is the real agenda? Why do gun control advocates want to override the Second Amendment. Why do they not acknowledge that if the Second Amendment can be over-ridden, so can every other protection of civil liberty?

There are careful studies that conclude that armed citizens prevent one to two million crimes every year. Other studies show that in-home robberies, rapes, and assaults occur more frequently in jurisdictions that suffer from gun control ordinances. Other studies show that most states with right-to-carry laws have experienced a drop in crimes against persons.

Why do gun control advocates want to increase the crime rate in the US?

Why is the gun control agenda a propagandistic one draped in lies?

At which point he inexplicably goes sideways.

He blames the NRA for fueling the irrational fear of guns through trade advertisements in their members’ only magazine.

The NRA is the largest and best known organization among the defenders of the Second Amendment. Yet, a case might be made that manufacturers’ gun advertisements in the NRA’s magazines stoke the hysteria of gun control advocates.

Full page ads offering civilian versions of weapons used by “America’s elite warriors” in US Special Operations Command, SWAT, and by covert agents “who work in a dark world most of us can’t even understand,” are likely to scare the pants off people who are afraid of guns.

And although he begrudgingly acknowledges that there is some validity to hunting, he apparently believes that gun owners would be better served if  it kind of went away.

The same goes for hunters. Recent news reports of “hunters” slaughtering wolves from airplanes in Alaska and of a hunter, indeed, a poacher, who shot a protected rare wolf in the US Southwest and left the dead animal in the road, enrage people who have empathy with animals and wildlife. Many Americans have had such bad experiences with their fellow citizens that they regard their dogs and cats, and wildlife, as more intelligent and noble life forms than humans. Wild animals can be dangerous, but they are not evil.

Americans with empathy for animals are horrified by the television program that depicts hunters killing beautiful animals and the joy hunters experience in “harvesting” their prey. Many believe that a person who enjoys killing a deer because he has a marvelous rack of antlers might enjoy killing a person.

He is apparently ignorant of the fact that the aerial shooting of wolves in Alaska is a State initiative to control the predator population and is not done by “hunters”, and he identifies the person who illegally shot a wolf in the southwest as a poacher whom he apparently associates with legitimate hunters. In fact his whole diatribe on hunters and hunting would indicate that Roberts sits quite comfortably in the anti-hunting camp.

So after wondering what the anti-gun agenda is, we find out that apparently they don’t really have an agenda, it’s just that the NRA (and I presume other magazines) publish advertising for modern guns that “are ugly as sin”, and whose “appearance is threatening, unlike the beautiful lines of a Winchester lever action or single shot rifle, or a Colt single action revolver, or the WW II 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, guns that do not have menacing appearances” which makes people fear guns and makes them want to ban them. And if that isn’t enough those damned hunters are out there killing wolves and other beautiful animals which makes people think that they “might enjoy killing a person”. All enough reason to ban firearms – apparently.

The author then goes on to wax poetic about the joys of target shooting which one could apparently do without fear of the gun banners if it wasn’t for the NRA’s advertising practices and – again – those damned hunters.

It appalls me that there are still those out there, who profess to be “one of us” who have such a simplistic and  (dare I say) stupid view of the issues.

One would hope that by now we would have gone beyond the divisions where long gun owners were willing to sell out handgun owners in the hope that doing so would take the focus off their firearms. Or in Britain the owners of double barreled shotguns being willing to sacrifice  those who owned pumps and semi-autos.

But apparently the message that the anti-gunners are quite willing to pick us off one by one still hasn’t reached everyone.

Whether it is the anti-gun or the anti-hunting crowd, they know that they cannot get everything they want in one big bucket and are quite happy take their little victories. Unfortunately some of which we give them in the vain hope that they will be satisfied enough to go away and leave us alone. Which of course has never been in their game plan.

There is little question that Canada;s Firearms Act was written in such a manner as to make things more bureaucratically difficult for gun owners in the hope that many would get rid of their guns and drop out of the system. Which many did. The Act relegated some firearms (most notably handguns with barrels 4″ or less in length) to ‘prohibited’ status and while current owners were grandfathered it ensured that no-one else would ever be able to legally acquire them. In that way they would eventually be purged from the system.

Toronto Mayor David Miller has been on a crusade to ban handguns, obviously in a misguided attempt to demonstrate to his electorate that he is “doing something to fight crime”. All gun owners should the strongly and publicly opposing this.

Some years ago there was an attack against bear hunting in B.C. The ban proponents wanted to totally stop the hunting of black bear – not exactly a threatened species in this province. Of course they weren’t able to win that fight, but in the process the Ministry of Environment decided that they would put in a new regulation that would force all bear hunters to salvage the meat of any bears they shot. This was just for black bear. Although some bear hunters already kept the meat (actually good eating), most hunted for the hide. The Ministry thought that bringing the meat in would legitimize the hunt and remove the objections of the environmentalists.

Did it work? Well it removed a bunch of hunters from the system and the environmentalists are currently back again trying to stop bear hunting. And the new solution being floated around to blunt the attack? Put in a regulation to make it a requirement for hunters to salvage grizzly bear meat. Which shows that we have learned little from our past mistakes.

The antis are focused and patient. We, as gun owners and hunters, are divided and complacent. If that doesn’t change, our future is bleak.

The politics of puppy mills

January 26, 2009

Over the past few years I have seen a lot of material come through on my emails about the evils of puppy mills, the abuses of puppy mills and the demands for legislation to put them out of business.

It all kind of came into focus for me after the U.S. election and the manufactured uproar over then Vice President Elect Joe Biden buying a purebred pup and not getting it from a shelter and the hoopla over what kind of a dog then President Elect Barack Obama would get for his daughters and his expectation that it would come from a shelter and not from a breeder.

The thrust of the rhetoric left the impression that there was somehow something wrong with buying a dog from a registered breeder and that got me to thinking about just what the definition of a puppy mill had become.

Twenty years ago, people knew that a “puppy mill” was a substandard kennel where unhealthy, overbred dogs were kept in horrendous conditions.

Today it’s not so easy. In the last decade of the 20th Century, activist groups began to broaden the term to cover just about any kennel that they didn’t like. As a result, commercial kennels and hobby breeders with more than an arbitrary number of dogs or litters have become targets for anti-breeding groups that lobby for laws to restrict these law-abiding operations. These organizations stir up public support for breeding restrictions and high license fees by deliberately blurring the lines between responsible breeding operations and real puppy mills. They use emotional rhetoric and pictures of dirty kennels and sickly dogs to imply that most or all breeders will subject their dogs to abusive lives unless they are regulated.

Shelter and rescue workers who receive dogs from raids on squalid kennels often lead the fight for laws restricting or regulating breeding in an effort to close kennels they label as puppy mills. Some responsible breeders are so incensed at the existence of substandard kennels that they are willing to accept these punitive licensing schemes even though the costs may limit or destroy their breeding programs.

Lawmakers who write bills aimed at preventing puppy mills leave the definitions up to those who lobby for the laws. As a result, publicity campaigns highlight kennels where dozens or hundreds of dogs are kept in poor conditions, but the bills themselves often target responsible hobby and commercial breeders with far fewer breeding dogs.

That being said, when you search the internet for puppy mill stories, or more correctly, bad breeder stories, it is pretty horrific. However the demands by animals rights groups for laws that will limit the number of breeding dogs a person keeps is not something that will solve the problem of dogs being kept under substandard conditions.

It would seem obvious that a bad breeder is just that; someone who abuses his animals through deplorable living conditions, poor medical care and just all around bad breeding practices. It would not make any difference whether he had 50 or 2 breeding animals in his kennels.

If legislators are going to pass laws to correct the problem of puppy mills (in the true context of the name) they need to deal with real abuses on site and the closing down of bad operators and not on the theoretical possibility of problems because a breeder has more animals than the arbitrary number set by statute.

But as noted, it is the activists that drive the wording of the legislation and what they want is to shut down commercial breeding operations or, at least, limit the practice as much as possible.

This is standard operating practice, a case in point being the attempt to re-write the federal animal cruelty Act, but the activists pushing the legislation insisted on wording that made user groups extremely wary of the intent. Their refusal to compromise ended up dooming the passing of the legislation.

I would normally point out that the same philosophy was implemented into the writing of the Federal Firearms Act, but it was suggested to me by someone who claims genetic linkage that I have a regrettable habit of letting my rants slide into the gun control area. So I won’t.

Happy New Year: We can only hope!

January 1, 2009

To all of you who wander by this site from time to time, I wish you all the best in the coming year.

We can only hope that the economy finally stabilizes and starts a steady upward climb. It may be overly optimistic, but 2008 did end on a bit of an upturn. Maybe that’s an omen.

It would be nice to see the federal gun registration disappear off the books. I think the government could really make it happen if it was a priority for them. But unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. We get lip service, but no serious action. Actually, the Federal Firearms Act needs to be completely re-written with the intent of making it more friendly to law-abiding gun owners, but unless we can get someone sympathetic to the issue, whether a senior bureaucrat or a highly ranked politician with the balls to push for an intelligent review of the current mess, that is unlikely to happen.

Will 2009 be the year when the media finally figures out the animal rights movement and quits pimping their message? Probably not, but you would think that there would come a time.

Is this winter the turning point for the global warming religion? As much as I would rather see some global warming rather than a cooling phase it might be worth it to hear the sound of silence coming from the “settled science” group. (Which takes me to a pet peeve of mine – if it’s settled it’s not science).

And of course – World Peace. No danger of that coming to be, but if that was ever to happen I can’t imagine the amount of Britney Spears stories we would have to endure on TV.

At best we can wish for the simple things. Good health and happiness in our lives. I wish that for you all. Oh, plus an improved golf game for me.

The high price of flatulance

December 7, 2008

This proposal is so stupid that one would expect that it must be coming from Britain. But no, it is emanating from the U.S. federal government, or more specifically their Environmental Protection Agency.

In a bizarre proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA is suggesting a tax on cows and pigs and other agricultural animals that belch and flatulate and thus add to greenhouse gas emissions.

It would require farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.

The executive vice president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Ken Hamilton, estimated the fee would cost owners of a modest-sized cattle ranch $30,000 to $40,000 a year. He said he has talked to a number of livestock owners about the proposals, and “all have said if the fees were carried out, it would bankrupt them.”

Sparks said Wednesday he’s worried the fee could be extended to chickens and other farm animals and cause more meat to be imported.

It is difficult for me to read the EPA proposal without thinking that there must be an agent provocateur for the animal-rights movement within the EPA.

Whether they have their fingers in the mix or not, the AR people are certainly in favour of the proposal.

“It makes perfect sense if you are looking for ways to cut down on meat consumption and recoup environmental losses,” said Bruce Friedrich, a spokesman in Washington for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“We certainly support making factory farms pay their fair share,” he said.

It would no doubt advance the AR agenda against meat by driving up the cost of meat to the consumer.

It is hard to believe that a proposal like this could ever be written into law. But sillier things have been pushed forward by bureaucracies and have found their way into legislation. The danger is that it is so silly, should it somehow proceed, the public (other than those directly affected) won’t pay any attention  to the threat, thinking that no one would be stupid enough to pass it into legislation.

That has been proven on numerous occasions to be a fallacy.

Whether or not the EPA has “taken a position” on this proposal , it needs to be killed. Not just filed away for another day, but removed from their computers, hard copies shredded, and the person(s) who came up with the idea reverted back to fetching coffee for the rational policy makers.

Further effects of US election initiatives

November 12, 2008

While gays in California vent their anger about the initiative that will stop same sex marriages, Massachusetts has initiative problems as well – only theirs has to do with dogs. Or more specifically, dog racing.

It’s a gray, dismal day outside Raynham Park, matching the mood inside the grandstand of the greyhound racetrack.

“It’s been very somber here,” said Gary Temple, general manager of the track that’s been in operation for almost 80 years.

In the wake of last week’s statewide referendum vote to ban greyhound racing, the track will have to shut down by Jan. 1, 2010, unless the law is changed.

“How do you tell people that you did nothing wrong but you don’t have a job anymore?” he asked. “People misunderstood an issue and you’re unemployed.”

He’s trying to explain that to his 653 full- and part-time employees, many of whom have worked there for decades.

********

Last year, Raynham Park handled $135 million in wagers. About one-sixth of that — almost $25 million — was bet on the live greyhound racing. The rest was wagered on simulcast races at other greyhound and horse tracks across the country.

From those wagers, the track gave $2.6 million to the state and $400,000 to the host town of Raynham. Those payments don’t account for property, payroll or meals taxes, nor for the $5 million in lottery tickets purchased at the track in 2007. When Raynham Park closes, all that money goes away.

“The last thing this state budget needs is the loss of revenue and the loss of more jobs,” said state Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton, whose district includes Raynham.

“We’re talking about losing 1,000 jobs (at both Raynham and Wonderland in Revere, the state’s only other greyhound racetrack), but because they’re at greyhound parks, there wasn’t too much discussion,” Pacheco said. “If we were talking about losing 1,000 jobs at an industrial park there would be an uproar.

The summary of the initiative stated:

This proposed law would prohibit any dog racing or racing meeting in Massachusetts where any form of betting or wagering on the speed or ability of dogs occurs. The State Racing Commission would be prohibited from accepting or approving any application or request for racing dates for dog racing. Any person violating the proposed law could be required to pay a civil penalty of not less than $20,000 to the Commission. All existing parts of the chapter of the state’s General Laws concerning dog and horse racing meetings would be interpreted as if they did not refer to dogs. These changes would take effect January 1, 2010.

The initiative passed by a vote of 56% to 44%. Amongst the supporters of the initiative was the large and rich animal rights organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) .

The opponents of the initiative, who were for the most part the two race tracks that would be shut down if it passed, based their argument mainly on economic concerns, while the supporters went for the emotional argument.

Arguments in favor of the initiative that have been made by its supporters include:

  • In late 2003 and early 2004, a greyhound at Wonderland Greyhound Park tested positive for cocaine.
  • The claim that thousands of dogs suffer inhumane conditions at Wonderland Greyhound Park and Raynham Park, Massachusetts’ two racetracks, by being kept confined for 20 hours every day in small cages barely large enough for the animals to stand up or turn around in.
  • The claim that over 800 dogs have suffered serious injuries while competing at Massachusetts racetracks, including broken bones, head injuries, and paralysis.
  • The dog racing industry has experienced a “catastrophic economic decline” in the past two decades, which has led to some racetracks seeking assistance from politicians, including direct subsidies, tax breaks, special trust funds, and expanded gambling rights.
  • It requires over 1000 dogs to operate a Massachusetts race track

Arguments that have been made against the initiative include:

  • That supporters of the initiative use photographs of hurt and emaciated greyhounds from other states to make its case and that Massachusetts dogs were healthy and well treated.
  • If the initiative passes, it will lead to the loss of jobs that support the Massachusetts economy.

It’s pretty obvious who’s going to win that one, but it would also seem that the State and the town of Raynham didn’t get involved in the fight, although the vote in the areas near the race track went overwhelmingly against shutting the race tracks down.

But in Raynham and nearby communities, “the places where people knew the operation and knew what the economic conditions were and could feel the consequences, the measure was defeated overwhelmingly,” Pacheco said.

Indeed, on a vote of 5,409 to 1,406, Raynham opposed the question — as did voters in all nearby communities. For those across the rest of the state, “it was an animal-rights issue, not an economic issue,” Pacheco said.

There may be issues where initiatives make some sense, but increasingly they have been used by activist groups to drive a narrow agenda.

The last word?

Asked why dog racing was targeted but not horse racing, Temple said, “People don’t have a horse that sleeps at the foot of their beds.”

The dignity of plants

October 25, 2008

I posted on Switzerland’s all encompassing animal/plants rights legislation back in May, but a more recent article gives an indication of how all this came about and some of the initial impacts.

A law protecting the dignity of plants?  Laugh if you will.  I’m down on my knees in respect and awe.  At last the Western World is realizing the dire importance of taking other species into account.

Recently, the Swiss Parliament asked a panel of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians to determine the meaning of dignity when it pertains to plants.

Lo and Behold, the team published a treatise on “the moral consideration of plants for their own sake.” The treatise established that vegetation has innate value and that it is morally wrong to partake in activities such as the “decapitation of wildflowers at the roadside without rational reason.”

Over a decade ago, an amendment was added to the Swiss constitution in order to defend the dignity of all creatures — including vegetation — against unwanted repercussions of genetic engineering. The amendment was turned into law and is known as the Gene Technology Act. However the law itself didn’t say anything specific about plants, until recently, when the law was amended to include them.

I presume that a “rational reason” for “decapitating” a flower might be the process of mowing a roadside area or something similar. But are you guilty of a crime against plants if you murder some dandelions because you don’t want them in your lawn?  Or if you clear a grove of trees in order to plant a field of corn? I can see the argument for an environmental issue, but one of morality?

I would be interested in seeing how the legislation presumes to enforce any perceived infractions. Or who decides in their infinite wisdom exactly what is an infraction. I suspect that like too many laws that are drafted by the bureaucracy the answers to specific questions are not addressed. Instead they write the laws and then wait for the courts to sort out the details.

Amazingly the author of the article professes to agree with the legislation, but then wonders just where it all ends.

And even though I think it’s a great law, where does it stop?  How humiliated is a boiled potato?  A peeled carrot?  Corn turned into a lowly, tortilla chip meant for dipping?

A damned fine question. Where is the dignity in turning a fine cob of corn into a processed tortilla chip?

The dubious conclusions drawn by this confusion of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians seems comparative to the ancient philosophers debating the serious question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

Concern over the “dignity” of wheat? This is stupidity on so many levels.

The world is full of idiots

October 24, 2008

There was a story earlier this month where a B.C. man was attacked by a black bear and saved himself by killing the bear by hitting it with a (big) stick. In the process he was badly mauled.

Jim West, 45, was out walking last Saturday morning with his two dogs near 70 Mile House, about halfway between Kamloops and Williams Lake, when he came face to face with an angry mother bear.

“I turned [when] I heard a grunt. All I saw was eyes full of hatred … I had no option … So I stuck my foot up and tried to kick her in the face,” he said.

The bear then attacked him, knocking him to the ground, and West soon found himself on the losing side of an ill-matched fight.

“I rolled onto my stomach and clasped my hands at the back of my neck. She tore into my skull at the back of my head, moved over and bit me on the left side of my body, on my ribs and left arm,” said West.

Knowing he would likely soon be dead unless he fought back, the injured West managed to get to his feet and picked up a stick about as thick as his arm.

You would think that would be the end of the story. Man is attacked by bear and successfully defends himself. Good human interest story. Too bad for the bear, especially as there were two cubs that had to be put down by Conservation Officers after the fact. But what are you going to do? Let the bear kill you? I think not.

As a matter of fact, that is apparently what some people think he should have done.

A B.C. man who clubbed a bear to death in self-defence is now defending himself from a smear campaign.

Jim West of 70 Mile House says angry animal-rights crusaders have been harassing him at home and impersonating him in e-mails to media outlets.

“I figure this is someone from PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] because I’ve had some people tracking me down and giving me the gears,” said Mr. West, 45.

“I really hate that. I hate confrontations of any kind. I try to be as polite as possible. I’m sorry, but it was simply a life-or-death situation,” he said yesterday.

PETA spokesman Martin Mersereau denied any involvement in the smear campaign.

***

Since then, e-mails have been sent to The Province in Mr. West’s name, attempting to debunk his story.

In the e-mails, someone impersonating Mr. West says the dogs started the confrontation by chasing the bears up a tree. The e-mails go on to say that Mr. West stood below the tree, waiting to attack the bear when it came down.

But Mr. West is sticking to his story.

“I’m sorry that the cubs had to be put down. I’m sorry I had to kill that bear, but she wouldn’t be sorry if she had killed me,” he said.

Mr. West says he’s also been receiving phone calls.

“One woman asked me why I killed the bear and why I didn’t run away. Well, you can’t outrun a mother bear,” said Mr. West who is recovering from the 60 stitches to his skull, upper lip and left arm he received in the attack.

“It was a matter of survival and I’m sorry people are upset about it, but it was live or die.”

There are those who believe that man’s natural habitat is highrise apartments, paved parking lots and fast food restaurants. They believe that we should never venture into the backcountry and anyone who wanders into the bears “world” deserves what ever happens. In this scenario Mr. West was at fault for the bear’s attack simply because he was there. If he had stayed at home the bears would be alive and the world would be at one with itself.

Anyone who believes this is seriously out of touch with reality.

I feel sorry for those who never experience the world beyond the confines of paved roads and man made fences. There is always an element of risk when you step into natural country.  As the saying goes, when you step into the backcountry you need to be aware that you are at the bottom end of the food chain.

Jim West elevated himself just a little bit above that line when he went tooth and nail against a determined and aggressive bear. He certainly has my respect.

The ban on the commercial slaughter of horses: More unintended consequences

August 15, 2008

All of the concerns of abandoned horses and the other consequences of the US laws to shut down the commercial slaughter of horses seem to be coming to pass.

There is a national epidemic of “surplus” or “unwanted” horses. Domestic horses are being abandoned as never before. Some are being released as “strays” on public lands. Others are being left to starve in pastures denuded of grass. The reasons are various and excruciatingly complex.

There are, to begin with, too many horses in the USA: 9.2 million as recently as 2005, up from 5.3 million in 1999. Indiscriminate breeding leads not just to too many horses, but also to too many with physical or behavioral faults that render them unsuitable for domestic uses.

Then there’s the economy. Horses are not cheap to keep. Factor in training, vet care, tack and feed, and the expense averages $1,800 to $2,400 per animal, per year — and rising, as grain and fuel costs increase. According to the American Horse Council, a third of horse owners have household incomes less than $50,000 a year. When it comes to feeding your horses or putting gas in the car, the choice is simple, if painful.

But the single overriding cause of “surplus” horses is the movement to ban the sale of horses or their meat for human consumption. Activism forced the last three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. to close last year. They had hitherto processed about 100,000 horses annually, mostly for meat sales to France and Japan, where horse meat is considered a delicacy.

Not that facts and common sense carry any weight where emotional issues are involved.

It’s not about justice

May 18, 2008

When you read a story like this, you never know if there is something about the case that you are not privy to. On the other hand, I been close to a few cases where I have become seriously cynical about the motives of the enforcement agencies and the crown prosecutors.

The lead-in:

When pilot and big-game guide David Haeg strayed outside the boundaries of a wolf control area near McGrath in 2004 to slaughter some wolves, there is little doubt he thought he was doing the right thing. Everyone involved with the wolf-killing program for which the state had permitted Haeg understood the objective was killing wolves to increase the survival chances for moose.

And even if Haeg and gunner Tony Zellers were technically outside the control area, they were still operating within the boundaries of state Game Management Unit 19D, and the state calls these things “Game Management Units” for a reason.

What were Haeg and Zellers doing anyway but helping to manage the game in Unit 19D?

Unfortunately the state didn’t see it that way. Under fire from animal activists upset about the aerial gunning of wolves, the state saw in Haeg a chance to demonstrate that you can’t just let wolf-control run wild, to spin an old phrase from former Gov. Wally Hickel.

Where it went out of control:

Where the issue turned ugly was in deciding what punishment fit the crime. This is the reason the case is still making its way through the Alaska court system.

The state wanted make an example of David Haeg. It was supposed to be pretty simple:

They’d bust him. They’d make a big show of it by playing the press like a trophy king salmon, something at which law enforcement officials in this state are good.

Wolves shot 20 to 30 miles outside the control area became wolves shot up to 80 miles outside the control area. Haeg was portrayed as a rogue, out-of-control aerial wolf hunter to make it appear the state was keeping a close watch on these hunts, which is the biggest fraud in all this.

Haeg was supposed to take the publicity hit, hire a fixer to negotiate a plea deal and then just wait for everything to fade away.

That’s the way these cases usually go down.

Whether the government decided that they could deflect the heat they were taking from the animal rights crowd by hammering a big-game guide, or the prosecutor on his own ramped up the case to look like an avenging hero, or whether the law enforcement agency felt the need to make a big score, it would appear as though Haeg was the patsy.

Of course what they did to him after he started to fight the charges seems to be par for the course with prosecutors everywhere. They made up a bunch more charges to intimidate him.

But then, we all might be if you consider what happened to Haeg after the plea agreement went bust.

The state used what Haeg said in a five-hour, plea-agreement interview to put together a bunch of new charges. They didn’t just go after him for violating the terms of the aerial wolf-control permit. They went after him for the crime of aerial hunting.

(Haeg makes an interesting argument that someone engaged in state-permitted wolf control isn’t “hunting” because the state, in permitting the aerial gunning, specifically says it isn’t hunting.)

The prosecutors saw it differently. To them, it looked like hunting, and they tried to tie it to the game management unit in which Haeg guides to make it appear he was doing wolf control to further his hunting business.

A trooper testified that Haeg killed the wolves in the game management unit where he has his hunting camps, but eventually recanted that testimony on cross-examination at Haeg’s trail.

Haeg’s case has been in the Alaska courts now for 4 years. Whatever his level of guilt it certainly doesn’t look as though anyone in the enforcement, political or legal encampments is concerned about justice. It looks more like winning at all costs and to hell with the damages that are inflicted.


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