- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fredericksburg’s Freelance-Star published a letter to the editor last week from Megan Sewell, the deputy campaign manager for hunting at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Sewell tried to convince the newspaper’s readers that Virginia hunters want the law changed so they can hunt on Sundays because their license fees were raised by a modest amount this year.

Not so. This animal rightist thinks hunting on Sunday is wrong, but remember, she also believes the hunting of wild game is just as wrong Monday through Saturday, so don’t pay too much attention to her phony rants.

If it’s true that 52 percent of Virginia’s hunters oppose Sunday hunting, I’m willing to bet a year’s wages that it has nothing to do with the baloney served up by the HSUS. It most likely has something to do with church-going Virginians’ beliefs. Sunday is set aside for church attendance, family togetherness and rest.

Instead, Sewell wrote, “One day a week free from hunting gives landowners and others who enjoy the outdoors — hikers, horseback riders, dog walkers, bikers, and others — a reprieve from hunters’ stray bullets.

“One day a week allows others to use the land, even their own backyards, without having to dress their kids and pets in blaze orange and without fear of being shot. Surely even the hunted animals deserve one day of rest.”

Sewell continued her blarney when she wrote, “Accidents where bystanders are shot — in their backyards, driveways, or cars — occur surprisingly often.”

Horse hockey! Such accidents are very rare.

Indeed, all accidental shootings during the various hunting seasons are rare. Ask any insurance company how they rate hunting among outdoor activities and the possible injuries and/or deaths. You’ll quickly learn that hunting is considered safer than fishing, swimming, waterskiing, boating, sandlot football and a number of other “safe” sports.

But Sewell lacks the intellectual honesty to speak straight. Everything needs to be skewed to lean toward the animal rights movement. I’m certain she doesn’t give a plugged nickel for the rights of bikers, hikers and horseback riders, but she hates the sport of hunting and hopes to see all of it outlawed, period. Instead of saying so loud and clear, she hides behind a veil of concern for farmers and the safety of Virginia’s citizens.

The Sunday hunting debate has been going for decades. The local pastor and priest is against it because it would reduce the ranks in his pews. Let’s not kid ourselves. All the same, I have nothing whatsoever against a day of rest for wild game. So why not give them Wednesday? It would give all the thousands of working men and women who hunt, but who have only Saturday and Sunday off, a chance to enjoy their outdoors activities on those days if they choose to.

Bear hunt applications accepted by phone — The Maryland DNR will accept black bear hunting permit lottery applications by phone through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at 888/579-6768. Applicants are required to pay a $15 nonrefundable application fee and are limited to submitting only one application. Online applications for the lottery will be accepted through 6 p.m. Friday at www.blackbear.dnr.state.md.us. The 2006 black bear hunting season is Oct. 23-28 and Dec. 4-9. When the DNR’s harvest objective of 35 to 55 bears is reached, the 2006 season will be closed.

Virginians warned not to feed deer — On Friday, a statewide regulation making it illegal to feed deer will go into effect. The prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January. This regulation does not restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots and backyard or schoolyard habitats. It is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences.

Problems with feeding deer include an unnaturally increasing population that can damage natural habitats; disease transmission, including tuberculosis as well as many deer diseases; and human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions and inappropriate semi-taming of wildlife.

In addition, feeding deer has many law enforcement implications. Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia, but deer feeding has not been. Distinguishing between who is feeding deer and who is hunting over bait has often caused law enforcement problems.

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

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