- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 23, 2004

You’ve got to give it to the animal-rights movement, little as it is. There’s never a quiet moment with those looney tunes.

Not having done well in its attempts to outlaw hunting and dining on venison steaks or roasted pheasant, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals now wants us to stop eating fish.

You may have read about it a week or so ago when the Associated Press reported that PETA is touting tofu chowder and vegetarian sushi as alternative foods because fish aren’t stupid. They are “intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat,” the PETA folks say.

PETA’s latest folly is a thing called the Fish Empathy Project, and the campaign reflects a strategy shift by the Norfolk-headquartered group as it challenges a diet component widely viewed as nutritious and uncontroversial.

Says Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s director of vegan outreach: “Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they’ll stop eating them.”

Mr. Friedrich, allow me to tell you why your thinking is more than a little on the wacky side.

I just returned from a South Carolina fishing trip, and I caught a number of bass on artificial lures that actually demonstrated how dumb fish are. You say they’re smart? Well, explain why a triangular-shaped wire lure with a plastic skirt and metal blades fooled those “smart” bass again and again. There is nothing in nature that even faintly resembles the fishing lure known as a spinnerbait, yet they chased after it as if it were a waterborne filet mignon.

Now compare them to me. Throw a plastic T-bone steak in my direction and see whether I’ll take a bite out of it.

No way. It won’t fool a seasoned carnivore like me.

The whole idea of fish being “smart” in a human way is preposterous. Fish are survival specialists, and some are better than others at a game as old as time: eat or be eaten. They’re not smart. They are survivors and opportunists. If potential food looks alive or at least inviting, chances are a fish will try to eat it — metal, wood, plastic or the real article.

End of story. They’re not finned Einsteins. They live in a stark world of predators, some of which are humans.

So go right ahead, American Heart Association, and keep recommending fish as part of a healthy diet. I’ll do my part. I’ll keep trying to fool them with outlandish, man-made fakes. Frequently, they will fall for them, proving that the fish’s brain (which is even smaller than the brains of most animal religionists) is in no way connected to a growling stomach.

Bowhunters are targeted — The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, a hunter advocacy group, says the nation’s two principal anti-hunting organizations will join forces and target bowhunters for extinction.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals want bowhunting eliminated. With that in mind, the Sportsmen’s Alliance serves notice on all hunters.

“The merger serves as a wakeup call to bowhunting groups to reunite, to defeat what promises to be a powerful attack on our heritage from this monstrous anti-hunting group,” the alliance’s Rick Story said. “To win, we will need to energize the vast grassroots network of sportsmen across this country.”

According to public filings, the two anti-hunt organizations will have combined assets of around $97million to implement its anti-hunting agenda.

Maryland deer hunt begins — Tens of thousands of Maryland deer hunters are ready for Saturday morning, when the state’s deer hunting season for modern firearms begins. The hunt runs through Dec.11.

Be sure to read the regulations booklet that comes with your license and check the various regions observed in the state. For example, RegionA consists of Allegany and Garrett counties and so on. The reason for this is that different bag limits and antler requirements might be called for.

Don’t forget, this Sunday, the first of the firearms season, will be open for deer hunting on private lands only in Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Talbot and Washington counties. Deer hunters took 2,668 deer on Sunday last season, 12 percent of the two-week firearm harvest for the 12 counties.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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