- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

The shrill cries of hysterical anti-hunters notwithstanding, the Superior Court of New Jersey decided recently that limited hunting of black bears will be permitted on state land. And on Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against a motion for a temporary restraining order to prohibit a six-day black bear hunt anywhere as long as it’s authorized by the state.

Animal rights activists had hoped the courts would deny hunters an opportunity to reduce the black bears’ numbers, and that’s where the trouble begins.

It’s not that animal rights groups care all that much for the bears. No, it’s the hunting they want stopped. All hunting. Everywhere. Not just in New Jersey.

The people who somehow attach human frailties and behavior to animals, insisting that animals are capable of emotion and feelings the way humans are, will never believe they are wrong. Instead, they will continue to scream, kick and act like little children because the majority of Americans find nothing wrong with hunting as long as it is done within a legal framework.

Those who worship at the altar of animals don’t want to hear about legalities and the rights of licensed hunters. Although the animal rightists are small in number, they are large of mouth. Sadly, they receive far too much money from unknowing, wishful thinkers who have no idea what the real aims of animal rightists are: the abolition of hunting and, lately, also fishing.

Folks who send their hard-earned money to groups who would have them believe that they rescue kittens and puppies so they may care for them, simply do not know the facts. The biggest money grabbers in the animal rights movement don’t help animals — they help themselves to fat salaries and they lobby heavily for the cessation of all hunting and fishing.

However, they have no plan or solution concerning the welfare of wildlife if it’s left to thrive unchecked. Yes, unchecked, because we humans are to blame for the veritable population explosion of so many wild species.

It is humans who have pushed their “civilization” into the realm of animals. It was humans who insisted that there ought to be a housing development, Interstate highway, paved back road, shopping center and parking lot just about everywhere that wildlife previously called home, including some of the remotest regions of our land.

Then we wonder why the wild creatures that somehow are able to adapt to new surroundings interfere with human traffic. Suddenly, people want something done about it.

The answer in many instances is some sort of regulated hunting of certain species to hold them down to manageable, acceptable levels.

That’s what happened in New Jersey, where the black bear population increased despite human presence. It is also happening in western Maryland, where next year a tightly controlled black bear hunt will take place. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Fund for Animals (FOA), or the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and others will scream and shout to stop it, yet everybody knows something must be done. Crops are destroyed, apiarists complain about losing valuable hives, people’s mountain homes (that shouldn’t be there to begin with) are being ransacked by nosy bears.

It’s the hunters who will keep the bruins in check.

Also enter the hunters who are seen as a Godsend in some areas when they reduce the numbers of whitetailed deer that, with scary regularity, slam into automobiles, dine on expensive shrubs and plants, and by some country boys are jokingly described as split-hooved, suburban alley rats because of their prolific breeding.

Bring on the hunters who are increasingly asked to rid the continent of snow geese that are so numerous nowadays they’ve stripped bare valuable tundra and marsh lands, creating veritable deserts, or visiting farmers’ winter wheat fields along the Middle Atlantic states, rendering them barren in a matter of days.

The answer: We could stop the human hunters who can be carefully regulated and instead reintroduce nature’s own regulators, the wolves, cougars, foxes, coyotes, wolverines and others who would cut into burgeoning wildlife numbers but in the end would grow by leaps and bounds themselves.

Already there are areas in the U.S. where cougars are considered a threat to humans and a nuisance that thrives amid human habitat. Attacks by surprisingly brazen cougars have been documented in Colorado and California. It’s a dicey proposition and, heaven knows, one of the big cats might bite some PETA member smack-dab in the middle of the derriere.

The day could come when they’ll beg a hunter to come and save them.

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

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