Caught in Illegal Deer Hunt
Poachers are enemies of wildlife.
They are "game hogs" -- shooting animals out of season or shooting animals
beyond legally established limits. They are "wildlife butchers" -- shooting
protected species and often using illegal methods of killing. They are
motivated by greed and often a lust for slaughter.
Their victims are
helpless wild animals, who just want to live free of molestation from
humans. But wildlife watchers and lawful hunters are cheated by the actions
of these people, too, since the poacher kills and depletes wildlife and
denies opportunities for others.
The politically-oriented hunting
rights groups, such as the NRA, the Safari Club International, and the U.S.
Sportsmen's Alliance, offer mild protest of poaching. They offer
anti-poaching bromides, but no real action to halt the slaughter of millions
of animals by poachers. In contrast, The Humane Society of the United States
has an anti-poaching rewards program, offering more than $250,000 in rewards
since 2008, and we are working with more and more state fish and wildlife
agencies on the problem. We are also working with lawmakers to strengthen
penalties to lock up poachers wherever they do their killing.
chascar/Creative CommonsSome of the biggest hunting rights advocates have
had their brushes with the law when it comes to illegal wildlife killing.
This week, law enforcement nabbed a big buck within the hunting rights
field: Rocker Ted Nugent pled no contest in a California court to poaching
activities -- baiting a deer and not having a properly signed hunting tag.
If Nugent were just some rank-and-file loudmouth, the court
proceedings wouldn't have stirred much attention. But Nugent is not only a
long-serving boardmember of the NRA (15 years), he's a self-styled voice for
hunters across America. We've always thought he's an embarrassment to the
hunting lobby, providing an unceasing bilge of callous and crude beliefs and
behaving in ways that are directly at odds with the self-portrait offered by
Nugent says one thing and does another. He says that sport
hunters are great conservationists, and then he goes on to defend the most
unsporting, reckless, and irresponsible forms of hunting, such as canned
hunts, bear baiting, or pigeon shoots.
Earlier this month, his
poaching came to light when state authorities, acting on an investigation by
wardens from the California Department of Fish and Game, brought 11 charges
against Nugent, including killing a deer too young to be legally hunted. In
a deal with Yuba County prosecutors, Nugent's attorney last Friday entered
no contest pleas to two misdemeanor charges.
On its website, the NRA
says that "All sportsmen and women have a responsibility to other hunters
and landowners, the public, wildlife, and above all, to themselves. It is
essential that all hunters abide by a code of ethics."
If the NRA
truly had hunting ethics as a paramount concern -- rather than as a
placeholder on the website -- it would oust Nugent from its board. If The
HSUS had a board member who pled guilty to animal cruelty, he or she would
be gone in a flash. But tolerating Nugent and his behavior is just par for
the course for the NRA.
The NRA gives lip service to combating
poaching, but really does nothing meaningful on the front. In this case,
we've got unmistakable evidence that one of its leaders got in on the action
This post originally appeared on Pacelle's blog, A Humane