Over the past couple months, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been sending letters to officials responsible for state parks asking them to ban fishing. The letters are being sent by PETA’s Dan Shannon, and here’s a typical one sent to the North Dakota Parks and Recreation,
October 31, 2001
North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department
1835 Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, ND 58504
Dear Mr. Perchal:
On behalf of PETAÂ’s more than 750,000 members and supporters, as well as the fish, birds, and other animals that make North Dakota state parks their home, we respectfully request that fishing be banned in all North Dakota state parks.
According to an article in U.S. News & World Report (“Parks in Peril,” July 21, 1997), the park system is bending under the pressure of encroachment, underfunding, overcrowding, and pollution. Eliminating fishing and its harmful effects would take some of this pressure off of the parks and their inhabitants.
The violent process of fishing and its consequences do not complement the peace and tranquility of a state park. As you know, fish have a neurochemical system like ours and thus the brain capacity to experience fear and pain. Fish who are torn from the water suffer from being impaled, thrown, stepped on, or mutilated while alive. Many die slowly and painfully from suffocation.
Fishing has other victims, too: In one case among many, a young bald eagle was found by the National Park Service, near death because of injuries to his feet caused by fishing line that had cut through his flesh, resulting in a systemic infection and intense suffering. He required intensive daily care for three months before he was successfully released. Not all animals are as lucky. Millions of birds and other animals suffer, and many die, from injuries caused by discarded fishing hooks, monofilament line, lead weights, and floats. Animals who become entangled in fishing line are often trapped underwater and drown or, unable to feed, die slowly of starvation. In fact, many wildlife rehabilitators tell us that fishing litter is the single greatest cause of injuries to aquatic animals.
North Dakota state parks have already made the compassionate choice to ban hunting, and we are asking you to take the next step. Fishing is just hunting in the water. The tide is turning on sportfishing with the widespread recognition of the sentience of fish and the desire to live a more compassionate, less harmful life. After reading the enclosed materials, we hope you will make the decision to ban fishing in North Dakota state parks and turn them into true havens for all.
Please contact me if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your consideration.
“Fishing Hurts” Campaign
Not surprisingly, PETA does not seem to be having much success. As a spokesman for Missouri’s State Parks told the St. Louis Dispatch after it received a letter from Shannon, “I can’t see any circumstances ever where parks wouldn’t open for fishing.”
In fact, while many Americans might be ambivalent about hunting, fishing remains very popular. In a Harris poll of Americans which asked people to rank their favorite leisure activities, fishing came in 3rd tied with spending time with family and kids, and behind only reading and watching television.
PETA faces uphill battle on fishing issue. Tim Renken, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 29, 2001.
Reading, TV, Spending Time with Family, Gardening and Fishing Top List of Favorite Leisure-Time Activities. Humphrey Taylor, Harris Interactive, August 8, 2001.
PETA Hopes to Sink Fishing in North Dakota State Parks. Dan Shannon, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Press Release, October 31, 2001.