- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2006

It didn’t take very long for the World Hunting Association to back away from its initial plans to hold “hunting tournaments” in which the participants would shoot animals with some sort of tranquilizer dart, thus making it possible to get a score and allow the animal to be revived and return to whence it came. It sounded so good on paper, but when the rest of America’s hunting family got wind of the WHA’s plans, the roof caved in.

The darting of wild game was immediately denounced as one of the dumbest ideas ever to come down the pike. Every major hunting organization in the country distanced itself from the WHA and its grandiose plans. Those who stayed on and even touted the idea of doing something that might eventually be referred to as “catch-and-release-hunting” suffered ridicule.

But the WHA doesn’t want to slither away and eventually become one of the silliest memories in hunting history. It now has lowered earlier lofty aims and has agreed that in order to hold some kind of hunting contest, an animal will have to be killed.

The way I see it, hunting tournaments are a bad idea whether you use non-fatal “darting,” snowballs, rocks, slingshots, or real live ammo from rifles and shotguns. It simply isn’t sporting to conduct a contest only to see who can kill the best, the heaviest, or the most animals and then be rewarded with cold cash.

Meanwhile, the WHA says it will hold its first tournament at the Lost Arrow Ranch in Gladwin, Mich. Twelve such events are scheduled in which a bow, modern rifle and muzzleloading rifle must be used. Six deer will be allowed to be shot by the contestants.

To which I can only say, go away, WHA. Look into some other way to gain notoriety, perhaps golf tournaments in which only a 4-foot 2-by-4 can be used as a club. Or what about bowling contests that require contestants to roll a head of cabbage down the lane?

Beetles to fight nuisance plants — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the state’s Department of Agriculture has released non-native galerucella beetles that control and limit the growth of purple loosestrife, an invasive, non-native plant that thrives in wetland areas. The DNR said the beetles eat and reproduce only on the purple loosestrife and thus far have done a fine job in reducing the dreaded plant in New York, New Jersey and parts of New England. The beetles were released along Route 331, east of the Dover Bridge in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore.

A question of allocation — State fisheries managers love to talk about allocating natural resources and being fair when it comes to handing out the amount of fish that can be removed. Let’s take the Maryland DNR, for example. Ken Hastings, of the Southern Maryland chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, says the DNR must decide what to do with the tidal water yellow perch. Will it continue to allocate 95 percent of this resource to roughly 30 commercial netters while some 380,000 recreational perch fans will be handed the leavings?

Hastings and his chapter members have made yellow perch propagation a top priority over the years, but they became quickly disillusioned. After the CCA/Southern Maryland actually stocked several creeks in St. Mary’s County, then noticed that the fish thrived, even returned to those same waters, Hastings asked the state to keep the creeks off limits to perch harvesters of any type. The DNR didn’t listen. Instead, it made it plain that it would allow commercial netting in the fragile, newly stocked waters.

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



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