Hunters vs. Animal Rights Groups

New York Post columnist Ken Moran hits the jackpot in the opening of a recent column,

For years, hunters quietly have helped the needy by donating part of their harvest to food banks throughout New York and the rest of the country.

On the other side of the coin, you have animal rights groups like PETA and HSUS who raise millions of dollars, most of which is spent on salaries for officers and publicity for their organizations.

You think?

Moran notes that over the past four years, two New York groups — the Venison Donation Coalition and SCI’s Sportsmen Against Hunger — have donated more than 250,000 pounds of venison that have been distributed through New York’s Food Bank network. That’s about 1 million servings of venison, according to Moran.

Of course animal rights activists are free to disagree. For example, I can imagine a PETA activist explaining that PETA’s video of half-naked women wrestling in tofu is a far, far better thing than feeding the hungry. And, given PETA’s ethical priorities, it would be hard to argue with that logic.


Hunters’ Venison Donations Hit 230 Million Meals. Ken Moran, New York Post, November 14, 2004.

Researchers Confirm Theories of Indirect CWD Transmission

Research funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health confirms long-held theories that chronic wasting disease can be spread to deer through exposure to the carcasses or excrement of infected animals.

Chronic wasting disease is a mad cow-like disease that afflicts elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer. Like mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease is believed to produce abnormal proteins that gradually destroy brain tissues. The disease is always fatal and there is no known treatment to prevent the disease.

University of Wyoming researcher — and coauthor of the NSF/NIH study — Elizabeth Williams said of the findings,

We’ve had a great deal of circumstantial evidence suggesting that indirect transmission occurs. The experimental findings show that we need to consider several exposure routes when attempting to control this disease.

So far there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease is a threat to human health, but federal and state officials recommend against eating the meat of animals known to be infected with the disease.


New research supports theory that indirect transmission of chronic wasting disease. Press Release, National Science Foundation, May 12, 2004.

Alabama State Senator Introduces Deer Baiting Bill

Alabama state Sen. Myron Penn recently introduced a bill in that state’s legislature that would make it legal for hunters to bait deer.

Penn said the change is needed to keep Alabama hunters from going to other states to hunt,

In this part of the state, hunting is king where cotton used to be. So many government officials are spending all of their time today trying to bring new industries to their towns, but I think the first thing we have to do is make the most of what we’ve already got. We have great hunting opportunities here, and we can’t make the most of them with so many people traveling out of state to hunt in places where baiting is already legal.

According to the Ledger-Enquirer, 26 states currently allow baiting of deer, including Alabama neighbor Georgia.

Groups opposed to baiting, such as the Alabama Wildlife Foundation, argue that baiting increases the risk of spreading diseases such as chronic wasting disease. According to the Foundation,

Wildlife research has shown that baiting deer causes them to unnaturally concentrate around baited areas. This increases the likelihood of spreading diseases between animals by direct contact and through eating bait contaminated with disease causing agents shed in feces, saliva or other excretions.

Penn, however, points out that supplemental feeding of deer is legal when hunting season is out, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that such supplemental feeding has increased the spread of disease among deer.

The full text of the bill can be read here.


SB49/HB518 – It’s a Bad Bill Don’t Take The Bait!. Press Release, Alabama Wildlife Foundation, Undated.

Proposed idea up for de-bait. Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Alabama), January 25, 2004.

New York Gov. Pataki Vetoes Canned Hunt Legislation

Despite lobbying efforts by a number of animal rights groups, New York Gov. George Pataki (R) vetoed legislation designed to outlaw so-called canned hunts.

In 1999, Pataki signed a bill that made it illegal to hold canned hunts on areas of ten acres or less. Not surprisingly, this had led to no less than 110 canned hunt operations in New York located on 11 or more acres.

The legislation vetoed by Pataki would have banned (emphasis added),

. . . the shooting or spearing of a non-native big game mammal that is confined in a box, pen, cage or similar container [of ten or less contiguous acres] or in a fenced or other area from which there is no means for such mammal to escape;

Animal rights activists denounced the veto.

In a press release, Humane Society of the United States senior vice president Wayne Pacell said,

Governor Pataki has embarrassed himself with this appalling veto of a bill to stop the repugnant practice of shooting animals for a fee in fenced enclosures. The animal protection community in New York will long remember his pardon of animal abusers and his rebuke of humane advocates.

Michael Markarian, The Fund for Animals president, added,

Governor Pataki has thumbed his nose at New Yorkers, including animal advocates, hunters, and upstate newspapers that called for passage of this humane bill. He has aligned himself with the handful of unscrupulous individuals who would pay big bucks to shoot a zebra ambling up to a feed truck or a Corsican ram trapped in the corner of a fence.

Pataki, meanwhile, said that the bill would not only have applied to the 110 canned hunt operations operating on more than 10 acres, but also would have banned 340 deer and elk farms throughout the state.

Supporters of the bill said that last part was nonsense, which puts the activists in a very odd position. For example, here’s a paragraph from a press release put out by The Fund for Animals addressing the issue of whether or not deer and elk farms would have been impacted,

Governor Pataki mistakenly believes that a ban on canned hunts would devastate white-tailed deer farms. The legislation is consistent with the current law which only deals with non-native mammals, and does not change the current exemption for domestic game breeders who raise white-tailed deer and have shoots on their properties. The bill would not apply to bird shooting preserves — only to operations offering the shooting of non-native big game mammals. Moreover, the bill memo indicated that it had no fiscal implications for state or local governments.

Hmmm . . . so The Fund for Animals’ position is that shooting a zebra at close range in enclosed space is inhumane, but screw the native deer and elk species? I’m just not following the logic there. Shouldn’t The Fund for Animals response to Pataki be that hunting deer and elk in enclosed spaces is cruel and that Pataki should want to outlaw the practice? The “don’t worry, we don’t care if you kill deer or elk” line is a bit strange coming from an animal rights group. Especially so since The Fund for Animals’ Dora Schomberg issued a brief press release about the veto that among other things claimed,

Governor Pataki may attempt to masquerade as an animal advocate by occasionally signing some non-controversial legislation to protect dogs or cats, but his decision to veto this much-needed legislation will result in untold suffering for wild animals and it reveals that he is not a genuine advocate of humane treatment.

So Pataki is not a genuine advocate because he only favors cats and dogs, while we’re supposed to believe The Fund is even though it hangs out deer and elk to dry? Could we see just a little consistency from these groups on occasion?

The full text of the vetoed legislation can be read here.


Pataki Endorses Cruel Treatment of Wildlife–Governor Vetoes Popular Canned Hunt Bill. Press Release, The Fund for Animals, August 27, 2003.

Activists out to can hunt. Amy Sacks, New York Daily News, September 13, 2003.

New York Governor Pataki Betrays the Animals. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, August 28, 2003.

New York Governor Pataki Endorses Cruel Treatment of Wildlife. Press Release, Dora Schomberg, The Fund for Animals, August 27, 2003.

Indiana Couple Challenges State's Hunter Harassment Law

Frederick and Rosanne Shuger are appealing an Indiana judge’s ruling on that state’s hunter harassment law, arguing that the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The Shugers stand accused of interfering with a deer cull on property owned by the town of Beverly Shores, Indiana, numerous times over the past couple years. According to the Northwest Indiana Times, the couple show up in their car prior at the beginning of the deer cull and,

They allegedly yelled obscenities, slammed car doors, belw the vehicle’s horn and alowed a dog to bark, all actions that could scare away the prey.

The Shugers’ attorney, Garry Weiss, argued before Superior Court Judge Julia Jent that the charges should be dismissed on constitutional grounds, but the judge denied the motion. Weiss has now appealed that decision to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Shugers also claim their right to free speech is violated by the statute.

The Indiana statute looks pretty solid, saying that anyone who

knowingly or intentionally interferes with the legal taking of a game animal by another person with intent to prevent the taking commits a Class C misdemeanor.

So the Shugers could show up outside the cull and hold up signs protesting the hunt, they could hand out leaflets opposing the cull — but they can’t knowingly or intentionally make a lot of noise in order to scare off animals. That seems like a pretty straightforward definition.

Weiss’ claim that the the statute is vague makes about as much sense as a poacher claiming that Indiana’s statutes don’t adequately define what it means to illegally “possess” an endangered animal.

The full text of Indiana’s hunter harrassment law is available here.


Hunter harassment law faces challenge. Bob Kasarda, Northwest Indiana Times, May 6, 2003.

Deer culls must proceed unhindered. Northwest Indiana Times, May 9, 2003.

Maryland Governor Signs Sunday Hunting Law

Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich signed a bill in late April that will allow hunting on two Sundays during the state’s next deer season. Under the new law, hunting will be allowed on private land in several rural counties on the first Sunday in November for bow hunting and on the first Sunday after the firearms season opens (Nov. 2 and Nov. 30 respectively this year.)

The bill had been passed in March by a vote of 87-41 in Maryland’s House and 33-11 in the state Senate. A similar bill was approved in 2002 but vetoed by then-Maryland Gov. Paris Glendening.

The Baltimore Sun quotes former Maryland delegate Michael Weir, who had tried to gain approval for SUnday hunting during his 28 years in office, as saying that the increasing size of the deer herd and the attendant problems explained the turnaround,

You have more people being hurt in car accidents with deer, and people are tired of deer eating their bushes and causing crop damage. Bambi’s lost a few friends over the years.

Bambi still has friends at the Fund for Animals, however, which was outraged that Ehrlich signed the bill after saying during the election that he opposed Sunday hunting. Fund for Animals president Michael Markarian said in a press release,

Sunday hunting threatens public safety, harms wildlife, and is bad for the economy. Governor Ehrlich stated during his campaign last year that he opposed Sunday hunting. He has flip-flopped on this issue, he has eviscerated a 30–year Maryland tradition, and he has gouged Maryland taxpayers in the process.

The state Department of Natural Resources supported the bill saying that allowing Sunday hunting is an important tool in controlling the size of Maryland’s deer population which is estimated at 250,000.


Sunday deer-hunt bill in Ehrlich’s hands. Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun, April 8, 2003.

Sunday deer hunt needs only Ehrlich signature. Associated Press, April 12, 2003.

Ehrlich signs Sunday hunting law. Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun, April 23, 2003.

Sunday hunting easy to defend. Gene Mueller, Washington Times, April 30, 2003.

Fund for Animals Condemns Gov. Ehrlich for Lifting 300-Year Ban on Sunday Hunting, Gouging Taxpayers. Press Release, Fund for Animals, April 22, 2003.

Md. Assembly Passes Bill Allowing Sunday Deer Hunting. Associated Press April 8, 2003.