Predator hunters for the environment

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife has protected a lot of Western land and species. It’s also killed a lot of coyotes (and can’t wait to go after some wolves).

  • Kevin Smith, a member of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho, holds a cougar he shot in Owyhee County

    COURTESY SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE-IDAHO
  • Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife founder Don Peay, left, and former Utah Jazz great Karl Malone with an Alaskan grizzly

    COURTESY DON PEAY
  • Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, at a presentation of a check for $1 million from Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife for the purchase of wildlife habitat near Salt Lake City

    COURTESY SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE
  • An SFW habitat restoration project near Holden, Utah

    COURTESY SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE
  • Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho Board Chairman Scott Allan, with his two sons, and a wolf he shot in Northwest Territories while hunting sheep

    COURTESY SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE-IDAHO
  • Bob Wharff with a pronghorn he shot near Evanston, Wyoming

    COURTESY SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE-IDAHO
  • Winter on the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming

    MARK GOCKE
  • A Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho rally in Boise wrapped up the petition drive to get wolves delisted in Idaho. Gov. Butch Otter spoke and promised "to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself"

    COURTESY SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE-IDAHO
  • Participants in the Predator Derby pose with their harvest

    COURTESY SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE
 

MARSING, IDAHO

"The drawing for the wolf hunt will be at the very end, so nobody can go sneaking out early,” says Nate Helm, addressing a crowd of about 30 men and women at Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife’s first annual Predator Derby, held in January at the new American Legion Hall. Helm is SFW-Idaho’s executive director, a trim, youthful and redheaded man in his early 30s, the former natural resources coordinator for Idaho U.S. Sen. Larry Craig. Helm’s wife is busy signing up the entrants to the derby with three of the six Helm children in close attendance, camo-clad and well-behaved.

The line of contenders includes a local taxidermist and his contest partner, a plumber from Boise who is originally from Russia and is new to coyote hunting but a devoted waterfowler; they are discussing the glories of the oxbows of the Snake River near Marsing. The taxidermist tells me that he’s in the derby to save a fawn or two by killing coyotes, and if he can do that, it doesn’t matter if he wins. Former government trapper Layne Rio Bangerter and his partner Mike Svedin are at the back of the line. Someone remarks that Bangerter has just been appointed as a natural resources advisor to Idaho’s new governor, Butch Otter, which is no surprise, since Bangerter held the same post for U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo for more than two years. In a brief conversation, Bangerter will tell me, “We are normal Idahoans here, and we want animals to hunt, fish and trap. And we want to keep Idaho the way it is.”

Everybody’s kids are running the place hard, marveling at the raffle booty spread out on the long tables: the bags and buckets of calls and scents, headlamps and camo-gear and hats and copies of the glossy magazine Predator Xtreme. (Lead story: “In-Your-Face Bears: Could You Survive?”) On a table near the door is an old Mauser-action rifle with one of the original Unertl sniper scopes mounted on it; most visitors, including me, study it with fascination. In general, though, the talk tonight is of wolves, hunting and politics, three subjects that, for SFW, and for so many people around the West, are like three pieces of clay, worked and kneaded together into a single smooth entity.

After a barbecue supper, the presentations and calling contests begin. Larry Lansdowne, a sales rep for Quaker Boy, a call and hunting-gear maker, is here to demonstrate some calling techniques and offer up his advice on how to kill coyotes, foxes and bobcats in tomorrow’s derby. Lansdowne is a fan of cowboy-action shooting — hand-gunners who use period-piece weapons from the 1800s in fast-paced competitions — and he looks the part, heavy-set, with long graying hair and a black cowboy hat that has a hatband made of dozens of elk ivories. He tests a few different calls. “You got a dog (coyote) out there at a mile, you can challenge …” he says, making the call howl. “You can go to a ki-yi,” he barks fast, “or you can go to a hurt pup,” and then he whines.

“A female coyote will get real mama-ish if she thinks somebody’s hurting her pup,” he says. “People ask what this call is, or that one, and really, it’s either something barking or something dying.” He makes a long dying rabbit squeal. “Follow that with a quick bark. Make ’em think there’s food, and somebody else is getting it.”

Once the predators are called in, Lansdowne notes, shot placement isn’t particularly important. “You are going for a straight harvest here. It’s about the numbers, and the more you take out of here, the better it will be,” he says. “Don’t be tentative, don’t get discouraged. Even if you fail all day long, it still was better than going to work. It’s about being able to enjoy Mother Earth and the things she’s putting out there for us to use.”

As promised, the picking of the ticket for the grand prize comes at the end of the evening. SFW member Richard Scott holds the winning ticket. He and a partner will be headed to hunt wolves with BOSS Outfitters in Alberta, where, as one unsuccessful contestant remarked, “There are plenty of ’em, and you can shoot as many as you want.”

The group disperses into the cold night air of the parking lot, in a whirl of conversation and the rattling start-up of big diesel pickups, running lights glowing orange. Everyone would be back near Marsing in 24 hours, to meet at the Homedale Rod and Gun Club and see who had been most successful at the business of killing all the predators that were legal to hunt.

In 1993, when Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife first appeared, Utah wildlife and wildlife habitat were in trouble.

“Wildlife was going down,” says SFW founder Don Peay of Bountiful, Utah, who has been called “the Don of Wildlife” by the Salt Lake City Tribune. “Our fish and game department was totally out of touch with the Legislature, with sportsmen, even with the governor. There was a failure to address habitat restoration on our public lands, a failure to address predator control. There were so many challenges, and our game and fish director actually made the decision to abandon hunting, and move toward watchable wildlife.”

Former Utah Fish and Game Director John Kimball, who was in the agency at the time, said a convergence of factors was working against wildlife. “Our deer numbers were way down, and we were looking at really having to reduce our big game licenses, which meant we were looking at losing all that license money,” he said. “Especially from our sales of nonresident deer licenses.” The low deer numbers were, in part, the fault of the agency’s management, Kimball said.

At the same time, a coalition of groups, including the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, was involved in an attempt to purchase two remote wildlife-rich ranches in the Book Cliffs area, near Vernal.

“A bunch of what I would call ultra-right-wing cattlemen went in and hammered the fish and game (department) and said, ‘If you have the money to buy ranches for wildlife, you have too much money.’ Then they went to the Legislature and got fish and game’s budget cut even more,” Peay says.

It was a defining moment for Peay. He believed that Utah was giving up on something — not just the Book Cliffs purchase, or wildlife, but the state’s long hunting heritage — that most residents still valued but were not organized enough to defend. “We had cattlemen all over Utah who did not want to see larger deer and elk herds. At the same time, we were seeing successful moves by animal-rights groups to shut down predator control and a rising anti-hunting sentiment in the cities,” Peay says. “We needed a group that could restore the game and the hunting in Utah. We could let other groups worry about the spotted owls and the desert tortoises.

“Not that those things are not important.”

Since its founding, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife has calved into two entities that have a common board of directors — Sportsmen for Habitat, a nonprofit charity, and the original Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a nonprofit recreational club. The Utah-based SFW looks forward to the day when there’s no need to travel to Canada to hunt wolves. SFW’s members, in fact, are ready to start the wolf hunt, right now, in Idaho. So are their counterparts at SFW-Wyoming. There is a new branch in New Mexico, and SFW hopes to start others.

With close to 10,000 members and a 2005 budget of over $1.3 million, SFW is the largest and by far the most powerful wildlife group in Utah. Its two-part structure is also unique among wildlife groups. According to SFW Treasurer Byron Bateman, the split was “part of Don’s (Peay’s) original plan. It was set up so that if we needed to, we could do a lot of lobbying for our interests.” In the early days of SFW, Bateman explained, lobbying was a big part of their work. “But not so much now,” he said. “We have our relationships built, and we can do the same thing with just a phone call.” The money from members’ dues and other sources can still be used for lobbying, but more of it is earmarked for the group’s magazine, Sportsmen’s Voice, and to pay a small number of staffers.

Sportsmen for Habitat has no dues-paying members, Bateman said. It is simply the tax-deductible arm of the group. In Utah, at least, it stays very busy. Last year, Sportsmen for Habitat was awarded the first-ever Kevin Conway Award (named in honor of the former Utah Division of Wildlife Resources director, who passed away in 2004) for its support of Utah’s Watershed Initiative, which included extensive (and ongoing) work restoring native sagebrush habitats across the state.

SFW has stirred controversy in all the states where it operates with its unapologetic demands for maximizing big game herds and hunting opportunities through transplanting species like bighorn sheep into new ranges; changing hunting regulations to favor trophy-sized deer and elk; and spending money on predator control, not just to protect livestock, as it has been traditionally done across the West, but to protect and increase wild game herds and game birds.

In Utah, Peay has been at the center of the storm, in no small part because he plays an unprecedented role in lobbying the Utah Legislature for policies that he and his followers say will foster a stronger hunting culture and more game animals in his state. Peay’s many political contributions go to candidates not generally associated with wildlife conservation, such as Republican congresswomen Barbara Cubin of Wyoming and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, among others. Peay is also a strong supporter of President George W. Bush; he’s visited with the president both at his ranch in Texas and in Washington, D.C., and penned articles for SFW’s in-house magazine with headlines like “Conservation George W. Bush Style.”

Peay’s critics call him arrogant, “a bull,” and many Utahns interviewed for this story asked me not to use their names, saying “people are afraid of him.” And yet, almost everyone interviewed said that Peay and SFW had a powerful record of success in working on behalf of wildlife, wildlife habitat and hunting in Utah, a state where, less than 20 years ago, it seemed as though the citizenry and the Legislature were content to let their wildlife and heritage of hunting fade away forever.

rjlaybourn
rjlaybourn
Jun 24, 2007 11:07 AM

If you repeat buzzwords and emoticons often enough most knee jerk no-necks will accept them as fact. And base a movement around them. This is not conservation; it's just turning wildlife (the "good ones") into livestock protected from carnivores ("the bad ones") for ego-driven trophy killers to glorify at the expense of real game management!

Anonymous
Jun 25, 2007 12:28 PM

This sounds like the same old right-wing "Sportsman For <place far right-wing politician's name here>" crowd that's existed for decades, except that they've finally figured out one piece of the conservation puzzle, which is that wildlife needs habitat (something real conservationists have known for a long time).  This has gained them a certain amount of legitimacy, but their obsession with killing predators seems to border on the maniacal.  I think this mentality will carry less and less weight as SLC and Boise continue to grow and dominate the politics of Utah and Idaho.  Effective, scientifically defensible, and publicly palatable wildlife management includes predators as part of the ecosystem, rather than excludes them as vermin to be eliminated.  Notice that the arguments against predators are anecdotal, or "gut feeling", rather than scientific.

Anonymous
Jun 25, 2007 01:15 PM

I love to hunt, but I only kill what I intend to eat. I do not hunt predators because I feel they have been over persecuted in the past. I believe in science and believe it should be used to manage wildlife. Cattlemen and animal rights activists should have no say whatsoever.

Anonymous
Jun 25, 2007 04:24 PM

Wildlife have to have three things to survive. 1) Habitat- just like us they have to have a place called home to survive. 2) They have to have food to live. 3) They must have endless supply of clean water. Just like humans we can not survive the elements of mother nature without food, water and cover. Without sportsmen we can not have wildlife. Sure you can have anti-hunting groups that say they protect our wildlife from being killed off by blood thirsty hunting individuals. You can also have groups like the humane society of america who are supposed to protect animal rights but do this by targeting hunters and children of hunters buy offering premade ready to use classroom material that target sportsman as the bad guys. I have hunted all my life and was raised by my grandfather to respect wildlife and their natural enviroment. 1) If you carry it in carry it out dont leave it. 2) If you see trash even if its not yours pick it up and bring it out and throw it away where it belongs. 3) Take only what you will use. My granfather and many of yours grew up when they hunted to survive. If they didnt hunt they didnt eat during the depression. We as Americans dont know what this time period was like but we have heard the stories. Now as sportsmen we catch the blame of being blood thirsty killers that do not respect wildlife or habitat. We as sportsman are the ones buying the licenses,guns,ammo and special permits offered for bid to support programs to  rebuild habitat and replenish this habitat with native wildlife. For those of you who do not believe this start reasearching and find out who and where this money comes from to do this. Call your congressmen and senators ask them where the dollars come from. Ask them when the last time the recieved a contribution check from a anti-hunting or humane society group to support a habitat growth or replenishment or a habitat cleanup project. So the next  time you are driving down the road and you see a trophy sized animal standing with in sight range of the human eye ask yourself why that animal is there was it dollars spent by anti-hunters or is that there because of our American sportsmans dollars spent for hunting gear. We as sportsman,fisherman and hunters cherish our ability to hunt trophy size animals, our ability to go to the local trout stream and catch and release trophy size fish, our ability to go out and spend a day afield just taking pictures of wildlife and habitat. Just last weekend I made my first trip through northwestern Wyoming, this is a awesome part of America one of the few places that have wild buffalo,grizzly,black bears and habitat that is untouched. I took over 400 pictures of this vast wilderness that god put here for us to use and see but in todays society we would not have this if it wasnt for the people that stand up and say enough is enough. When Yellowstone National Park was established the buffalo were almost gone killed off for meat and fur. Mr. Rosevelt and several other people stood up and said enough is enough we must protect the natural resources we have and protect the wildlife of this great nation. Funding for these projects come from taxes put on sporting goods and ammo that our sportsman pay for. Be it guns.fishing poles, spotting scopes and licenses/tags/special permits. Without these taxes it is not the sportsman of this country that would be deprived its the wildlife of this country. When we stand back and look our forefathers were the ones that saved our wildlife by laws they put into effect decades ago before any of us were even thought about. If it wasnt for these people we wouldnt have the wildlife or habitat to look at today. Our greatest treasure would have been killed off for fur and meat. When the people of this country quit trying to be big shots in there own little groups and start working together to improve the quality of wildlife we have and the quality of habitat we have then and only then our wildlife will flurish again. We as sportsman can not fight each other on what we are going to do about it but fight for how we are going to get it done. As long as we play tug a war with who is doing what and when we are wasting time and our wildlife is the point of suffer not us. As far as predator issues go we can not have more predator pressure than we have wildlife. There has to be a even balance god put two of each animal on earth to go and reproduce and prosper but you can not have more than the other. To many predators mean no wildlife to enjoy. Not enough predators means sickness and death due to desease and starvation because of over population. As a member of SFW Wyoming I do see the need to protect a certain number of predators but I also see a need to take a certain number of predators out of the circle. The people of mountainman days shot game from an abundent number of game animals but they still took bears, wolves,mountain lions and coyotes for furs to keep the balance and to survive the long cold winters for coats and blankets. In todays society we dont live like this we go down to the local wal-mart or department store to buy the things we need for survival. We dont live off of the land if our lives reverted back to old days I would almost guarantee 75% or more of todays population could not survive living off the land. How many people in todays society can grow a garden or even fish and hunt and provide food for there families to eat. How many of you would have to depend on a sportsman or sportswoman to provide food for your family. Or a neighbor to show you how to raise vegetables to eat. We are nolonger a selfstanding people we depend on society for our survival.  

sagenav
sagenav
Jun 25, 2007 06:11 PM

I'm not sure I get the author's point.  A lot of rambling about good ole boys that like to kill things just for the pleasure of killing.  He really lost me when he admitted that killing coyotes with machines guns would be "fun". 

Anonymous
Jun 26, 2007 11:31 AM

SFW is known to conservationists in Utah as the Sportsment for Certain Wildlife; that is, wild animals that (1) can be hunted, and (2) are not predators.  Their idea of habitat restoration is putting food on the landscape for wild ungulates...period.  They care little for restoring native ecosystems so long as they have enough game to kill. 

The SFW rallies members around the idea that "anti-hunters" in the cities out east are trying to take away their "right" to hunt.  The irony is that most "anti-hunters," as SFW would label them, are not oppossed to hunting per se, but the needless and wanton killing of wild animals.  News flash: Most people are fine with the idea of harvesting deer and elk for food, what upsets them is the idea of mowing down predators with guns for the "fun" of it.  In my estimation the SFW does not represent hunters, but people who like to run around the woods with guns and kill things.  They only care about conservation in as much as it means more things to kill.

The following quote succinctly summarizes the SFW's position: “To think you can have a natural landscape with wolves and bears and other predators on it is romantic, but it’s not true.” Apparently, Don thinks wolves and bears are not part of the "natural" landscape.  This notion is not only false, it's absurd. The fact that Don Peay and SFW hold as much sway as they do over wildlife management in the west is a travesty.  

 

Anonymous
Jun 26, 2007 11:47 AM

So Hal Herring agrees with the dimwit teen who thinks it would be fun to machine gun coyotes.....also great 

description of snot-nosed kid jumping back and forth over a line of frozen, bloody coyote carcasses.  AND YOU 
WONDER WHY SOME PEOPLE THINK HUNTERS ARE BLOOD THIRSTY FREAKS????  I certainly am not opposed to responsible hunting and know how much sportsmen have done to save wildlife habitat.  But this idea of
no-holds-barred predator elimination to save ungulates, both wild and domestic, is irrational, not to mention
really bad science.  There really is no predator quite like the human one.......
Anonymous
Jun 26, 2007 11:49 AM

What's with the animosity towards "good ole boys" and "red necks"? They are citizens, taxpayers, and put their pants on just like everyone else. I found the article long, but the author was trying to throughly cover a big subject. I believe it is a fair representation of SFW.

SFW/SFH in Idaho are effective organizations. They have been bold enough to take stands that might not have been politically correct. That is what they believe, and that is what they say. Helm and company jumped into the political fray and were burned a few times, but overall they represent the views of many sportsmen. If they are not your cup of tea, find some other group to support, but the endless sniping sportsmen do to each other only weakens  hunting, fishing and trapping.

And by the way, what's with anonymous? And the little quirky pen names? Mine name is Tews and you can call me Mister.

rjlaybourn
rjlaybourn
Jun 26, 2007 12:39 PM

some reasoned discusssion here, but also;  the long and short of clattrap! A better name than "rednecks" is slob hunters; irresponsible killers that give true sportsmen and consevationists a black eye.       Teddy Roosevelt was a killer and wastrel of game in the tradition of Lord Gore; he only saw the error of his way as an old man looking back at his unbridled lust for killing and hoping to save some small remnants as penance.      Personally I believe that Don's name should be Peabrain and his organization SO F----G WHAT! If that's obscene or inane; so's this whole damn subject.

Anonymous
Jun 26, 2007 01:26 PM

Maybe it is claptrap, but SFW is making a lot of decisions about the management of your wildlife.

Anonymous
Jun 26, 2007 06:37 PM

When all is said and done, this is the old hook and bullet good old boy hate the predators because they are better hunters than we are club, only with better PR...habitat is the red herring card they are playing. I still say..plunk these old boys down in the middle of grizz country...rely on their native wits and skills--No "black guns", no high tech compound bows....as prey to survive and spend " a hunting season" to see if they make it through. And they would have the benefit of the one characteristic that will always expose this "human as predator niche" I read about for the sham it is...animal predators kill to live only; there is no other way possible for them to survive. No grocery store, no supermarket. Human predators...there are very few indeed.. probably Native peoples in the North..who must kill to live, and they do it with respect and with an understanding of the need for the predators to survive as well as they do. This kind of human predator I can respect and support. Trophy hunters, people who kill for the thrill of the hunt, or to be part of nature...just all rationalizations...or maybe compensations...Viva La Predators!! 

 

Jim T. 

Anonymous
Jun 27, 2007 11:22 AM

This article might (just might) be a fair representation of what SFW stands for, but the author's groveling over how great these hunters are eliminates any semblance of balance of the larger issue in the article.  Hal Herring mentions several times how much hunters have done for wildlife, and I do not dispute that they have done much.  But he fails to mention those who pushed for the National Parks, Wilderness, and other protected areas that serve as refuges for these animals and replenish areas depleted of animals by hunting. 

The boosterism and admiration of the author in this article shows yet another failing of the new editor of HCN, with whom I have been increasingly disappointed since he took his post.  I hope he will be replaced soon. 

Brendan Hughes 

KSWild
KSWild
Jun 27, 2007 11:30 AM

Wow. HCN has slid even further down the slippery slope of pandering to ranchers and trophy hunters with this unbelievably biased piece. Yes, hunter tags constitute the majority of most state wildlife management agencies' budgets, which is exactly why we have unnaturally high numbers of 'game' species that are stressing their habitat and are thus likely to soon experience precipitous population declines. What trophy hunter groups like the one so romanticized in this article are really doing is helping to secure some prime hunting land so that it will ultimately be devoid of practically all native species - no predators, an overpopulated, starving prey population, and greatly denuded riparian and forage habitat. Sure sounds like sound wildlife conservation to me. I initially wondered why legitimate criticisms of such selfish, unbalanced 'conservation' were given short shrift, until I realized the author is himself a trophy hunter. In order to regain at least a semblance of balance, HCN's next feature piece should be on the damage that over-hunting does to long-term species viability. This piece is appalling.

Anonymous
Jun 28, 2007 11:31 AM

I did a correspondence course from that school that puts out the wildlife and forestry conservation class and I learned a good background about the subject.  I also was interested to learn that hunters and sportemen in general are good conservationists, simply because they need animals to hunt and so are interested in habitat, etc.  Sportsmen are also good for other things.  For one, they are not afraid of the sight of blood, etc., so when there is a real criminal threat loose in society, there are a few good men to face the threat.  There are, for sure, a lot of milk toast among us who are not used to the sight of blood, etc.  That generally is the real use of hunters--saving us from the few vicious animals that may from time to time threaten us, and to protect us also from those among us who might lose some marbles and threaten their own kind. So hunting is mostly just practice and practical.  I don't begrudge sportsmen, as long as they don't begrudge me, that's all.

Anonymous
Jun 28, 2007 11:31 AM

poor animals.  :(

Anonymous
Jun 28, 2007 03:25 PM

A friend of mine showed me this article and since I've got a few seconds I'll weigh in on the psycho babble that's going on here for the most part.

 

He with the biggest gun wins. end of story.

 

Anonymous
Jul 02, 2007 04:34 PM

 I am a native of Northwest Wyoming, just outside Yellowstone.  I grew up in a ranching family and continue to be a subsistence hunter.  My position on Sportsmen for Some Fish and wildlife as some of us here call it is very guarded.  I simply cannot believe they carry the political clout they have mustered and I find it pretty darn audacious to prescribe predator bounties to our area despite the warnings and advisement of the local Game and Fish department against it.   I find them very short-sided, without a grasp of the bigger picture and the connectedness of not only all wildlife, flora and fauna, but humans' connection to it as well.  Its a way of justifying a lack of accountability and personal sacrifice by using macro predators as a scapegoat. True, a portion of my dollars from hunting and fishing licenses do go to habitat sustainability, but it is really a small percentage. Nevertheless, I have told people in the past that if they wanted to support wildlife in our state, to buy a tag even if they do not use it. With the bureaucratic factor added in, I still find it more reassuring that a state agency should manage our wildlife than a vigilante group of amateur biologists who are only focused on antlers.  I also find ironic that SWF supports some habitat regeneration, but refuses to acknowledge the habitat fragmentation that rampant oil and gas development creates.  If they really wanted set an example, they could abandon their 4-wheelers and get on a horse or on foot. They will never gain my support as long as they continue down this route.

eohippus
eohippus
Jul 03, 2007 03:20 PM

This article is another example of how our contemporary media discourse ignores broader ecological, sociological, and historical contexts that would make the information meaningful. The author has extensively researched the contemporary social and political context, but in our world this is not enough.


The term "sportsman" was used throughout the article as a synonym for hunter, and the notion of hunting for meat was only mentioned in the quoted story at the end, without any sense of the historical relationship between sport hunting and meat hunting. Sociologically, there's a continuous spectrum between the two; trophy hunters also eat their game, although at the big-ticket tag-hunt banquet I once attended we were fed steak, not mountain sheep. But the meat hunters I know do not consider themselves sportsmen, and my Uncle Slim and his sons had a full gun cabinet but no trophies.

All hunting is part of human ecology, part of the role humans play as animals in an ecosystem. Like other animals, humans kill and are killed (but usually not by the animals they hunt!), and sports hunters (and fishermen) have an effect on animal populations whether or not they eat their catch. It's easy to lose sight of this ecological dimension, and the related sociological spectrum from sport hunter to meat hunter, as we focus on the political realm. In Europe and the Middle East, tribal meat hunting occured (and still occurs) alongside sport hunting by the feudal aristocracy. Sport hunting emerges historically as part of an affluent leisure class in hierarchical societies like ours, but its social origin and deeper ecological context is meat hunting, which is a supplemental practice observed by most small-scale farming societies. This hunting in small-scale communities is an adaptive behavior, since it may enable those societies to feed themselves when environmental change limits agriculture.

Returning to the article, I'd say that the story about the coyote hunt just reflects bad upbringing, and I feel sorry for kids who grow up with these kinds of role models. Organized predator hunting is so far removed from healthy hunting traditions, it's not even worth considering.

I sent a letter on a related theme last year, which earned me an editorial response but didn't appear in print. FYI, my subscription is under my other name, Timothy Ludington, and I also fund a number of other subscriptions for friends and family, so I'm a big supporter of HCN!

Take care,

-max
Anonymous
Jul 05, 2007 11:40 AM

What i really said is with tens of millions of people, that there needs to be a balance of all things, people, game, livestock, oil and gas, predators, etc.  The west is not a natural ecoystem, thus, there needs to be management of habitat, management of hunters, management of game species, etc.  As big as it is, Yellowstone, is not a natural ecosystem, as animals must leave the park during the winter months to survive.

 IN utah, SFW has helped created over $100 Million in habitat restoration and protection efforts, including around $12 million a year for land conservation.  who else can make that statement ?  And with $12 Million a year into land conseravtion, and about $500,000 a year into coyote control, there is a 24 to 1 effort on habitat versus predator control.  However, doing good things doesn't sell, thus the controversial angle of the article, highlighting predator control, and not so much habitat restoration.

 

If you don't like what SFW is doing, quite your job and go form your own conservation group, and call me in two years and tell me how many members the organization has and how many dollars you have put into land conservation.  Getting people organized and motivated to action is not an easy thing to do.

 

don Peay, don30@comcast.net

Anonymous
Jul 09, 2007 11:03 AM

Here we go again-kill off coyotes just because.  Coyotes eat mostly rodents.  Here in New Mexico rodents carry the fleas for bubonic plague and deer mice carry Hanta virus.  We again have new cases this year--but still people never learn.  LEAVE THE COYOTES DO THEIR JOB OF EATING RODENTS AND PLAGUE AND HANTA VIRUS CASES WILL DECREASE!  Is this too difficult to understand?   krenrie  07/07/07 

Anonymous
Jul 09, 2007 11:07 AM

I'm just wondering  on average how close does a hunter get to his/her prey? How many yards? I don't mind hunting for food, and I wouldn't hesitate to kill in defense. But I wonder how many hunters would be "man" enough to fight an animal one on one.

PW

Anonymous
Jul 09, 2007 11:43 AM

Pardon the expression, but this article is about "wolves in sheeps clothing". The money given 

that is helping the ecology of the West in some ways is like cigarette companies that give money from taxes on the smoking of noxious weeds to communities for programs that help young people, or plant trees. We are becoming dependent on a sort of drug money. Money from ill gotten gains. Wake up America.

It's time for elected officials who hold the trust of their constituencies to realize that they need to develop a management style that doesn't have girls and boys thirsting for blood and dancing around a kill. What are we teaching here? Death to my enemy, death to any living thing I want to dominate.

  The predator here is man. A man with a gun. Let's call a spade a spade. The thrill of looking into an eye of a mountain lion knowing you can kill it any time you want is nothing short of barbaric.  Napalming foxes so you have more sage grouse to kill is an attitude that needs to be put on a shelf with the rack. In the name of God atrocities were committed and in some places still are. In the name of "for the environment" atrocities are being committed. The very worst is what is being taught to children. Kill if you must because it is the only way to put food on your table. We, the human race, in  our race to dominate the land, rape the land, build on the land ,have moved plants and animals which has resulted in more bad management. "Kill the wolves!" "Save the wolves" "Too many elk" "Not enough elk" The pendulum swings from side to side without any desire for middle. What is needed here is a louder, more powerful voice devoid of corruption, devoid of "kill 'em all so I have trophies to hunt". Get a new life. Help the land because without  mountains, streams, plants and non-game animals you will be lost. My stomach is wretching  at child abuse, animal abuse and the belief that SFW is alive, well, and kicking.

Why is one organization who lives in the pockets of too many politicians making the decisions  for all of us? Don and his ilk need to realize that the lust fir and wanton killing of innocent animals to prove you are the top dog, is going to lead us all down the wrong path. It's a new "dawn" Don. 

Anonymous
Jul 13, 2007 11:19 AM

Let's protect all the habitat we can and argue about the details later.  If the habitat is there, the predators will be there.  Let's get to that stage first -- then we'll sort out the rednecks, hippies, and yuppies.

Wolf hunting is premised on the existence of a viable wolf population.  Sounds good to me.

Anonymous
Jul 20, 2007 11:50 AM

There is absolutely NOTHING sporting about hunting!  It is barbaric and can only be justified if necessary to feed a family due to poverty.  These hunters are outrageous.  This only speaks to how backwards our society really is!  It's really not much different than private property trophy hunting and dog and cock fighting.  Men need a better outlet for their testosterone!

C. Marsh, Environmental Scientist 

 

 

Anonymous
Jul 27, 2007 12:27 PM

First, despite what some say about hunting's heritage, none of my grandparents or great-grandparents hunted. And that goes back to the 1870's. It wasn't "everybody". Even today, the people who enjoy wildlife nonconsumptively vastly outnumber those who want to kill. But Game departments have not figured out a way to tap into our wallets. I have heard much about how hunters preserve wildlife with their license fees, but I think this is one of the biggest myths going. I live in remote wildlife habitat in the southwest. What I see is habitat "improvement" projects that are ill concieved and non-functioning. Usually they involve building water storage earthen tanks, putting in fences and rain catchment drinkers. They aren't maintained properly and within only a few years if they ever worked to begin with, they fall into disrepair. I am certain that not one extra fawn or elk calf survived because of these expenditures. They sometimes allow cattle to occupy areas they couldn't previously. Most of the hunting license fees go to paying the salaries of Game and Fish employees and building their infrastructure so they can sell more hunting licenses.  Mainly we have wildlife today because we put an end to market hunting and got hunters to agree to bag limits. Wildlife is still threatened by habitat destruction mainly from livestock. Interestingly, except for mountain lions and bears, there are no bag limits on any other predator in my state. So much for hunter conservation.

Anonymous
Jul 30, 2007 11:44 AM

SFW members should all read the book "Never Cry Wolf."  And watch the movie.  Then maybe they will understand that without predators, herds become weak with disease and overpopulation.

To see what happens when predators are removed from an ecosystem, visit Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  The whitetail deer is so overpopulated that hundreds starve each winter.  It is sad to see.

Predators keep herds of deer, elk, and caribou healthy by culling the weak and old from the herds.  No amount of "harvesting" by humans will ever keep these herds healthy long term.  The herds need predators to thrive.

Anonymous
Jan 14, 2008 11:27 AM

Please explain to me why predators are NOT wildlife and that only ducks and deer are?

Anonymous
Jan 14, 2008 11:35 AM

I wonder if these people realize that THEY are predators !!   Perhaps suicide is in order.

 

 

Anonymous
Jan 15, 2008 10:36 AM

Comments on the commenters - Some people do, others just whine. The old adage, 'lead, follow, or get thehelloutta the way' needs an addition - AND SHUT UP! If you are not part of the solution, you ARE part of the problem. These are the same bed wetters (jackass crowd) that invariably scream the loudest when it comes to spending other people's money while always failing to contribute to anything themselves in the way of meaningful substance. One couldn't choose a more appropo symbol for them, pointless, meaningless, incessant braying, and you tell me they chose that symbol for themselves? Their forte is name calling and profanity. In their own way, they are the worst predators in the country, and perhaps some 'professional management' is in order for them, as they have definitely gotten out of hand.

  If 'professional management' was doing such a wonderful job, there would be no need for organizations such as SFW. "Not sure I get the point" really sums it up for these folk. But I do agree that there appears to be some waste involved here with the killing of predators, the meat should be donated to food pantries in the cities, for the homeless, disadvantaged, jobless, hungry down-and-outers, so they can reproduce.

H. Loyette

Anonymous
Jan 31, 2008 10:58 AM

Hunting in this day and age is disgusting and wrong! Hunting predator wildlife is not for enviromental purposes, it is for human greed!I hate to break the news, but the only reason why the government allows trophy hunters to kill natural predators is to artificially boost deer and elk populations only so there is more deer and elk to hunt for greed and its not right. It is the trophy hunters themselves that have depleted the deer and elk populations.Wolves and other predatory wildlife hunt to survive, most humans hunt just to kill.It is not right to slaughter predatory wildlife just so some sick morons can have an artificially increased deer population to shoot at.I say since lack of deer is such a problem for trophy hunters to blame predators while trophy hunters take far more deer than natural predators ever will, then its time for trophy hunting to be banned and let the numbers even themselves out.The natural predators have more of a right to the herbavores anyway.Hunting is no longer essential to human survival.This is not right! Besides, anyone who decorates their home with dead animal corpses is only a few steps away from being like Jeffery Dahmer in my opinion.If we are going to allow cruelty such as trophy hunting then we might aswell pardon people like Micheal Vick, and allow dogfighting.I am so sick of the double standards of what animal cruelty is and isn't.Just because its not a pet or a domestic animal, does not make trophy hunting right.Either way, all trophy hunting is animal cruelty and it needs to be banned all together period!I say ban it like anything else that is inhumane and cruel.