- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 16, 2003

As concerns England supporting the United States in its desire to rid the world of Saddam Hussein, God bless England. However, that's the only blessing we'll hand England, because our cousins across the sea are doing all they can to outlaw hunting all hunting, not just the horse-riding, fox-hunting variety.
A bill to also abolish all hare and deer hunting will receive a second reading in Parliament. The most recent vote was 368-155 in favor of taking a closer look at the bill. It means things do not look good for hunters over there.
But why in the world would Americans want to copy the Brits in their anti-hunting activities?
According to the Associated Press, Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, says he intends to see the baiting of bears outlawed on all federal (hunting) lands although many state wildlife officials say it is needed to help keep bear numbers in check. Even if it sounds distasteful, the baiting of black bears with a bucketful of leftover jellies, meat scraps, fish and old doughnuts anchored in a pile of rocks or logs is so effective that the shooter who waits unseen (and not yet scented) atop a deer stand eventually will get a bruin.
Moran apparently reflects the feelings of the majority of Northern Virginians, many of them relative newcomers from other states. In the 1950s and the years before that, when most of the residents were native Virginians, the voters of his district would have unceremoniously kicked Moran out on his ear for such anti-hunting feelings. It's a sign of the times we live in that people like Moran can safely assume constituents will be OK with his idea of slapping the hunters.
Of course, Moran has the support of animal rights groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States. A little over six years ago, the HSUS tried to get bear baiting banned in Michigan and Idaho but was rebuked by voters in those states. They now appear to have gained a friend in the House.
If Moran's bill fails, that doesn't mean the anti-hunters won't try again. And again. And again.
And what about Illinois Senate Bill 2431, which would have handed the right to hunt (or not to hunt) to the American Veterinary Medical Association? The way the bill was worded, it would have allowed the AVMA to set standards for the euthanasia of wildlife.
Pretty clever, isn't it? Imagine giving the puppy and kitty doctors the power to set wildlife euthanasia standards. Animal rights lawyers could easily have argued that such a bill, had it passed, would have applied to the dispatch of any wildlife species, including ducks, deer, doves, squirrels, geese you name it. In other words, hunting would have come to a screeching halt. Not only that, such an euthanasia bill might have applied to all the fish and ended all sport angling.
Happily, the Illinois Senate thought it best to leave wildlife management in the capable hands of the state's Division of Wildlife Resources.
What the animal rights groups proved, however, is that they will travel any road, no matter how silly it might seem at the time, to take a chunk out of our American hunting heritage.
Meanwhile, one must wonder how animal rightists can ever gain any ground. In the money department, the hunting community is the 800-pound gorilla in a pen full of squirrel monkeys.
The Animal Use Issues Committee of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA) not long ago released a report that showed how much money hunters spend to pursue their recreational activity. The report shows that hunting in America is big business, generating more than $67billion in economic output, not to mention generating 1million jobs.
On average, every U.S. hunter spends more than $1,850 per year to pursue his passion. Multiply that by the low number of 13million individuals that hunt, and pretty soon you're talking about some serious money. Actually, the number of hunters in the United States is variously pegged at between 13 and 16.5million.
You'd think that hunters could come up with enough money to counter the people who worship at the altar of animals. In fact, hunters have enough money to expose their lies and emotional rhetoric for all to see.
Yet, time and the hunters' apathy has been on the animal religionists' side.
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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