June 27, 2012

Jim Robertson

To the detriment of animals everywhere, the individuals most highly prized by trophy hunters are always the biggest bulls, bucks, rams and billys with (you guessed it) the most impressive horns or antlers. This sort of discriminatory culling-of-the-fittest runs counter to natural selection and is effectively triggering a reversal of evolution by giving the unfit and defective a better shot at passing on their genes.

The phenomenon can be seen in any hunted species but is especially evident among the antlered and horned animals, or “lordly game,” as that big stick-carrying, big game-hunting former US President Theodore Roosevelt dubbed them. After more than a century of Teddy-type trophy hunters messing with natural selection, today’s elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose and caribou (whose heads are traditionally seen disgracing the walls of empty-hearted halls) cannot boast the antler spread, horn curl, body size or quality of genes of their ancestors.

On the other hand, the “lordly game” protected in those national parks which remain as yet off-limits to hunting are able to grow the kind of impressive horns and antlers now rare in hunted populations. But that could soon change…
On April 17, the U.S. House of Representatives (including over 30 Democrats who were afraid to be seen as anti-hunting) passed the Sportsmen’s* Heritage Act, H.R. 4089, which threatens “to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.”

*(A “sportsman,” for the purposes of this blog, is defined as one who is unethical, disrespectful, unreasonable and offensive, as opposed to the traditional, fanciful definition of a sportsman: one who is fair, courteous, generous and clean.)

This blatant attack on our parks and wilderness areas has not gone unnoticed, but unless the voice of wildlife and environmental advocacy can be heard over the caterwauls of fat cat gun-rights groups like the Safari Club and the National Rifle Association, and other loudmouth trophy hunters backing the bill, hard-won wilderness safeguards will lose.

S.B. 4089 would drastically change the directive for federal agencies that oversee national parks and forest service wilderness by prioritizing hunting and fishing and so-called “recreational shooting” over the protection of wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man… ”

It would call for roads to be bulldozed into designated wilderness areas for dam building (and other offenses), which would be exempt from National Environmental Policy Act review, thereby eliminating any opportunity for citizen comment or participation. The “Sportsmen’s” Heritage Act would remove restrictions against motor vehicle use in wilderness areas (for the first time since the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act) just so hunters could more easily haul out their trophy kills.

It’s not too late! Urge your Senators to vote NO on S.B. 4089, the “Sportsmen’s (i.e.: one who is unethical, disrespectful, unreasonable and offensive) Heritage Act of 2012.
Portions of this post were excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game.

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