Tops on the Endangered Species list: The American Hunter

Above, Iron Eyes Cody

The evidence is clear if not overwhelming. The American sportsman is being hassled, taxed, and harassed into oblivion. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports show there were 19.1 million hunters in 1975. That number declined to 12.5 million in 2006 and by 2025 the number is projected to be 9.1 million. This, despite the increasing population of the United States.

Conservationists and DNR departments should be concerned, if not alarmed. States near financial ruin that rely on hunting dollars in the form of tourism should also be concerned. Unless you think that food prices in 2011 are just too low, everyone should be concerned. Conover (2002) estimated that wildlife-related economic losses to agricultural producers (farmers and ranchers) in the United States exceed $4.5 billion annually.

Who cares about healthy, vibrant game populations more than the hunter? Conservation is the United States was largely started by hunters and outdoorsmen. Folks like Teddy Roosevelt, Aldo Leupold, John Olin, and William Seward. William H. Seward was U.S. Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson.

William Seward's greatest role almost didn't happen. As part of the Lincoln assassination plot, Seward was attacked at home and stabbed in the throat. Seward recovered though and, in 1867 completed a little project lambasted as “Seward's Folly” and “Seward's Icebox.” Seward was harshly criticized for stupidly engineering the purchase of Alaska from Russia, squandering about two cents an acre for the purchase. The tab was $7.2 million in total, for the acquisition roughly twice the size of Texas. That equates to about $100 million today, or about the first day cost of our involvement in Libya.

The current decay of hunting is astonishing. It doesn't take much deep thinking to understand that it is hunters who buy hunting licenses, hunters who fund DNR departments, hunters who pay for their hunting equipment and hunting excursions. The DNR's who charge the money and take the money from hunters have made the process so burdensome, so costly, so over-regulated and hassle-filled, millions of hunters have been encouraged to do something else. Many millions of hunters are no longer hunters.

Why some DNR's exist today is a really good question. Failing at managing game populations, failing at preserving the use of renewable resources, failing at providing attractive or pleasant conditions for the very people they take money from and are supposed to “serve,” ridding ourselves of non-productive portions of our sprawling bureaucracy is in style right now. The drag-anchors of hunting and fishing need not exist at the expense of the taxpayer.

It is hard to say what is worse, Wisconsin or my home state of Illinois. Wisconsin as of late is trying to ban lead for all the public areas the DNR controls. Oblivious to crop depredation from doves, dove hunting wasn't allowed in Wisconsin at all until 2003. Lead bans on upland game are not supported by any science, it seems just another attack on guns and hunting. While dentists may prefer steel shot, the increased wounding losses from steel and the ricochet hazard from steel seems well beyond the comprehension of some DNR departments.

Some Wisconsin bureaucrat actually wrote this: “Because wildlife affected by lead toxicity tend to seek isolation and protective cover, the may not be readily apparent.” Just where is this coming from? Aside from the inability to use the English language ("the may"), where is the data that supports this? Is it “not readily apparent” or is it indetectable? When ever you hear “it may” it equally means “it may not.”

See: -- straight from Madison, Wisconsin. “Lead pellets may remain intact in tissues and lead core rifle bullets may fragment into hundreds of pieces upon impact and can be found several inches from the site of the wound in large game mammals.” Your American grade school student of average intelligence knows better. A basic, fundamental property of lead is that is not brittle and does not fragment. The opposite is true. Lead has a very high molecular cohesion. It readily deforms, flattens, mushrooms. It is the opposite of shattering like glass or brittleness like bismuth. Lead, which comes from the ground in the first place and is not water-soluble, is not at all brittle. It seems that problems should be identified correctly before they are fixed by random regulations.

Illinois has been trampling the gun rights of its citizens for years. Although our state constitution reads, “Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” based on the behavior of Illinois' elected officials, you wouldn't know it. Although our elected officials swear to uphold the Illinois Constitution, not subvert it, and the job of elected officials is protect the rights of Illinois citizens, not strip them, our state legislators must feel they are somehow above the Constitution of the State of Illinois. The Illinois Constitution also reads, Section 23: “A frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of civil government is necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty. These blessings cannot endure unless the people recognize their corresponding individual obligations and responsibilities.” Our politicians must think they are above their obligations and responsibilities as well any notions of preserving the blessings of liberty. I do agree that convicted felons should not own guns. That would mean both of Illinois most recent ex-governors. Forty-eight of the fifty United States currently allow concealed carry of firearms by law-abiding citizens. Forty-eight states allow this for the simple reason that it saves lives. Only two states in the union are so blind, so pathetically ignorant that this escapes them. They are Illinois and Wisconsin.

According to Dr. Billy Higginbotham, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, deer-automobile collision happen about 1,500,000 times a year in the U.S., at a cost of one billion dollars. It is a well-known problem in both Illinois and Wisconsin, two states doing their level best to harass the Endangered Species, the American Hunter, out of existence. The American Hunter is the best resource we have to manage game populations, a fact so obvious it also escapes the governments of Illinois and Wisconsin. When DNR funding ceases, due to reckless anti-gun and anti-hunting policies of the governments of Illinois and Wisconsin, two states mired in the destructive spawn of their equally reckless self-inflicted debt, who should really be surprised?

Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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