- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Just about everybody who hangs around the marinas or boat launching ramps in Maryland is talking about it. It seems some government egghead who believes it’s his duty to waste taxpayers’ money felt sorry for the people whose crab pots are splattered all over the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers like a bad case of measles. So each of the commercial crabbers is getting a $500 check. Why? Because the water has been a bit too cold this spring for productive crabbing, and the watermen apparently need the money because blueclaw crabs have been tough to come by.

Get serious. Is $500 going to cure the commercial men’s ills?

Apparently the money came courtesy of some kind of federal “disaster” grant, and it will provide $500 for the Maryland crab potters and $300 to $900 checks for Virginia crabbers, with additional money being offered to commercial crabbers in New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Imagine that. Can you remember the days when a man took his chances taking up any profession or job to make a living — kind of like taking a chance when you became a bricklayer or a CPA. You had good and bad days — and you knew life wasn’t going to be a bowl of cherries. However, America nowadays is infected with a “give me” virus. The government mindset is that it wants to take care of everybody.

To qualify for the handout you had to show that you were licensed and crabbed at least 100 days during 2002.

As a fishing friend in Southern Maryland said in regards to these welfare payments, “You know it’s not too farfetched that one day someone will come around and give us compensation for the deer we failed to harvest last year.”

Don’t laugh. If crabbers who charge $150 to $175 (retail) for a bushel of crabs can qualify for welfare money, why shouldn’t a deer or duck hunter who’s had a tough time?

The entire deal is so ludicrous it would be funny if it didn’t hit every taxpayer in the pocketbook.

Water safety partners — In a partnership designed to educate Fairfax County high school students on water safety, volunteers from a local sport fishing club presented a “Perils and Pleasures of the Potomac River” program at local schools last month and in early June. Staff members of the Fairfax County Park Authority and members of the Potomac River Smallmouth Bass Fishing Club played an integral role in the program.

Developed by aquatic staff personnel in the Park Authority, the presentations focused on the dangers of river recreation, particularly at the Potomac. Students were reminded of the many opportunities to enjoy the river while hiking, fishing and boating. The program featured the American Red Cross video “Water, the Deceptive Power.” Boyd Post, the project liaison for the fishing club, was a presenter at the schools and was instrumental in the development of this program.

“Too many of us forget to give the Potomac River credit for its power or possible dangers,” said Pat Cook, aquatic program specialist for the Park Authority.

Free fishing in Maryland — The Maryland DNR’s Martin Gary reminds would-be anglers that they can try their hand at America’s favorite recreational activity Saturday and again July 4. During such “free fishing days,” fishing licenses will not be required for recreational anglers in Maryland waters. It is the perfect opportunity to introduce newcomers to the sport.

Gallup poll on animal rights — A Gallup poll conducted May 5-7 shows that the vast majority of Americans say animals deserve at least some protection from harm and exploitation but most oppose banning medical research and product testing on laboratory animals. An even larger majority opposes banning all types of hunting. A clear majority, however, favors strict laws concerning the treatment of farm animals.

Women are more likely than men to support animal rights and Democrats more than Republicans, but there are few differences by age. Twenty-five percent of Americans believe animals deserve “the exact same rights as people to be free from harm and exploitation.”

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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