- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2002

When Charles Fox, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, resigned after having been in office for less than two years, part of a farewell message to his staff read, "Working alongside you and Governor [Parris N.] Glendening in the service of Maryland's citizens and our vast natural resources has been an honor and a privilege unlike any I have known." But the mention of Glendening was part of the problem all along.
Sadly, those of us in the hunting and fishing community the primary cash cow for the DNR have never really gotten to know the man who called himself Chuck Fox. Recreational hunters feared all along that Glendening never would have appointed Fox had he not shared the boss' views.
Glendening is widely perceived to be more than a little sympathetic to the animal rights movement, and if Chuck Fox was of like mind, it wasn't good to have him at the helm of the department that formulates proper wildlife management and all the hunting and fishing programs and seasons.
Let us also not forget that a DNR secretary is in a position to disburse certain favors. Yes, favors. When you're the biggest fish in the pond, you can decide which one of the minnows you're going to eat on any given day, and there was quite a bit of minnow-eating going on during the Fox reign. Some eminently qualified people were shuffled into lower positions, while others who were never thought to be world beaters in any job were elevated.
To our mind, Fox, who has accepted a position with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as a senior policy adviser effective next month, never appeared to think favorably of hunters. He wasn't a hunter or a fisherman two avocations with which all DNR honchos should familiarize themselves. Fox said he enjoyed sailboating, which for a lot of the country lads in the state is the waterborne equivalent of drinking tea from a porcelain cup with an extended pinky finger.
For instance, on Fox's recent black bear task force, a commission that was to look into the possibility of having a limited black bear hunting season, two of the task force members represented national animal rights organizations and two others are thought to be pro-animal rights, which, of course, means they are against hunting of any kind.
Hopefully, Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will recognize the massive contributions made by the hunters and anglers in the state and appoint someone to head the DNR who is more in line with the majority's wishes. (Please, don't believe that the anti-hunting, anti-fishing movement in the state or in the entire United States represents more than a tiny percentage of the citizens. Don't be bowled over by emotional rhetoric from organizations that worry far more about making money than they do about the animals.)
The Maryland example of having people at the helm of state wildlife departments who are sympathetic to the mindless ravings of animal rights groups should be carefully watched by the residents of all states. The politically correct "thinking" that pervades government offices nowadays is mind-boggling. For example, among the Maryland bear task force's recommendations was one that proposed to survey the personal feelings of all the state's residents regarding the hunting of bears.
When you hear such things, you feel like putting your head down and sobbing. For heaven's sake, who cares what the average person thinks of hunting black bears when that person has never even seen a bear? Yes, there's always Winnie the Pooh, and if anyone believes that this cartoon animal is real believe me, some do you'll know what the reaction will be concerning wildlife management and the possibility of using hunting as a management tool.
Folks, when you have highly qualified wildlife biologists who cash paychecks funded by the taxpayers, what do you say we let them do their jobs? That, after all, is what we hired them for.
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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