Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources last week accepted an offer of $75,000 from the Fund for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States to mitigate bear and human conflicts. However, the DNR rejected the animal rightists’ stipulation that the proposed bear hunting season in Allegany and Garrett counties be canceled.

Let me make it clear that what I’m about to comment on is my personal opinion. Allow me to recall an old western Maryland fishing partner, Gene Moon, who used to say, “If you sleep with dogs, sooner or later you’re going to have fleas.” I suggest that the DNR heed Moon’s advice.

Agreed, the DNR serves all the people in Maryland, not just hunters, anglers and trappers. But, folks, if you enter into an unholy alliance with people whose objective is to stop all hunting and fishing, you’re no better than they are.

That’s what worries me. I’ll wager the well-heeled Fund for Animals and the Humane Society are having parties right now, celebrating the fact that they got a foot into the door of an agency that regulates all the hunting and fishing of an American state.

The $75,000 funding offer by the animal religionists would be used to further the financial resources the DNR currently dedicates for bear damage compensation and bear-human conflict management. Specifically, these funds would be used to compensate individuals who can document bear damage and to implement an “aversive conditioning and bear education” campaign in bear-occupied areas, says the DNR.

If DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service director Paul A. Peditto is the man responsible for this incredible gaffe, he should be fired immediately. Just read a statement Peditto made: “I hope that the Fund for Animals’ and Humane Society of the United States’ commitment to assist us is sincere and that we can count on their financial and philosophical support for the remaining nonlethal and education strategies in our bear management plan.”

This fellow is counting on the “philosophical support” of the two most virulent animal-rights organizations in the country. What in the world is he thinking, or does he have an agenda of some sort?

If Gov. Bob Ehrlich doesn’t step in and do something about this, we might as well throw in the towel.

I, for one, am thinking of moving to hunter-friendly Virginia. What about you?

Sportsman of the Year — Congratulations are in order for Howard W. Pollock, a retired Congressman from Alaska, gentleman sportsman, author, bon vivant, past president of the NRA and very easily one of the finest men I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. On May21, Pollock will be named Sportsman of the Year during the National Kidney Foundation’s Sporting Clays Classic at Pintail Point Farm in Queenstown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Pollock, who celebrated his 84th birthday on Easter Sunday, is a world traveler and adventurer who, despite an artificial arm and hand, can fish and shoot with the best of them. For example, last year during the famous One-Shot Hunt in Cody, Wyo., Pollock downed the largest antelope of the event. It was a considerable feat, what with the incredible shooting distances the shooters face.

Pollock also belongs to a very exclusive club of wild turkey hunters, having accomplished a World Slam, successfully hunting and shooting all six wild turkey species: the widely distributed Eastern wild turkey, the Osceola sub-species found only in Florida, the Rio Grande sub-species of the central plains states, the Merriam’s sub-species of the western mountain regions, the Gould’s sub-species turkey of Mexico and the Ocellated sub-species found primarily on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Our hat’s off to you, Dr. Pollock.


Kids’ Fishing Day — May 1, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Martin Luther King Regional Park, Silver Spring. Information: pptu.org; 301/562-9307.

Trout Unlimited chapter meets — May 6, 7:30 p.m., Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. A former senior aquatic ecologist will discuss trout fishing in Garrett County, Md. Information: nvatu.org.

Surf fishing school — May 6-9, Sept. 9-12, Oct. 21-24, Outer Banks in Nags Head, N.C. Contact Malat, 252/441-4767; joe@joemalat.com. Motel reservations, 800/334-3302.

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

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