In her letter, Ms. Sanderson, states about hunting “we work to curb the most inhumane and unsporting abuses. . .” and goes on to state that many rank-and-file hunters agree. Visiting their website this is what they consider inhumane and unsporting, starting with the mourning dove. Since they are a migratory game bird, dove are closely monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which is also responsible for setting seasons and bag limits. There are literally hundreds of millions in the country and they are not at risk. Opening day of dove season is a rite of passage in many states and is considered the opening bell for the entire hunting season. The HSUS worked feverishly and spent thousands of dollars to ban dove hunting in Michigan where they referred to the dove as a “protected wildlife species”, which it is not. They put forth the same effort to stop legislative action in Iowa when that state passed legislation to allow dove hunting saying, “there is no management rationale for a new hunting season-they will simply be shot for target practice.” Again, not based on fact, just emotion.
They HSUS has also opposed opening a season on black bear in New Jersey and have recently been working to stop black bear hunting in Maine. In fact if you go to their home page, click on Animals, then click on Wildlife on that page, nearly every wild game animal from antelope to deer to goose and wild turkey has some emotional reason they should not be hunted but no scientific evidence in support. The bottom line: HSUS opposes ALL sport hunting not just “inhumane and sporting abuses”. And by the way, I could find no conservation or sportsman’s organizations listed supporting their policies.
Now we get to the issue of lead in ammunition. We take Ms. Sanderson back to high school science class. Go to element 82, Pb, on the Periodic Table. Yes, that is lead. It is a natural element. In other words you can find it anywhere in nature. There are many sources of lead in nature that can affect wildlife, more so than ammunition. On the HSUS website about lead ammo they state, “There is overwhelming scientific evidence on the toxic effects of lead ammunition”. Then why don’t they cite that scientific evidence as part of their position? It is because it doesn’t exist. There is no scientific evidence to support toxicity of lead in animals or human consumption of game animals. In her letter she also refers to the “dramatic effect of using non-toxic shot had on waterfowl numbers”. She fails to mention that at the same time that law went into effect conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever (nasty ol’ hunters) were working with agencies to protect wetlands and breeding grounds through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Most wildlife biologist will agree wetlands conservation had a greater impact on increased waterfowl populations than non-toxic shot.
One last point on the lead shot issue. She states HSUS is “working with sportsmen”. As a gun store owner I’m a member of several trade associations and wildlife conservation groups. NONE of us are working with you. The only reference I saw is that five individual “sportsmen” had joined you and others in your petition to ban lead. Five out of millions isn’t exactly overwhelming support. I stand by my original article.
HSUS does not recognize the role of hunting as a wildlife management tool. For over 75 years, through Pittman-Robertson excise taxes, license fees, and contributions through conservation organizations hunters have been the major benefactors of all wildlife in this country. I close with this quote from the man who started the wildlife conservation effort in the United States, President Teddy Roosevelt: “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting and consider sportsmen as enemies of wild life are ignorant of the fact that in reality, the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.”