Memo to the Nuge: think before you speak

It seems Ted Nugent
recently became angered at Ontario, Canada, for canceling its spring bear
hunt. Nugent quickly proclaimed he and his fans were boycotting tourism
to Canada until Ontario lifts its ban. The only problem is a couple days
later Nugent confirmed he would be traveling to Canada in March to speak
at Canada’s Music Week. Announcing a boycott and then confirming you’re
going to break it a couple days later is the sort of bone headed move
one would expect from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Besides, the boycott
itself seems like an almost certain failure. Living only a few miles from
the Nuge here in Michigan, I can certainly attest to his popularity in
this part of the country, and he does get a lot of support for his pro-gun
and anti-animal rights message, but does Nugent really think he can get
his fans to boycott visiting Canada? This would be like telling people
to simply stop visiting Indiana or Ohio if those states enacted a ban
on hunting — it is just not going to happen. To make boycotts like that
even begin to be effective requires convincing large corporations and
others to take convention and other business elsewhere.

The most likely result
of Nugent’s “boycott” will be to strengthen the resolve of the opponents
of the bear hunt in Ontario who will certainly point to yet more meddling
in their affairs by their neighbors to the south.

There are better
approaches to getting the bear hunt resumed than an ineffective impromptu
boycott that even its chief organizer can’t abide.


Rocker won’t abide own boycott. Betsy Powell, Toronto Star, January 1999.

Just how long have humans been hunting with dogs anyway?

A recent book on human evolution suggests humans began Hunting
with domesticated wolves 135,000 years ago – right after our species began
migrating out of Africa. According to evolutionary biologist John Allman,
the domestication of wolves may have played a key role in Homo Sapiens
successful competition with other species, including the Neanderthals.

In Allman’s book,
Evolving Brains, he argues that domesticated wolves “would
have been a huge selective advantage for whatever human population did
that because it would have allowed modern humans to move into areas that
were previously inhospitable.”

Interesting hypothesis,
but is there any evidence for it? Allman believes DNA evidence and observations
of contemporary humans, wolves and dogs support his claim.

DNA evidence of humans
suggests homo sapiens began migrating out of Africa into Asia about 140,000
years ago. Analysis of canine DNA suggests domestication of wolves began
about 135,000 years ago.


Human hunting skills linked to domestication of wolves. Minerva Canto, Associated Press, January 19, 1999.

Washington Lawmakers Consider Overturning Cougar Initiative

In 1996,
Washington state voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 655 which banned
the use of hounds to Hunt Cougars in the state. Two years later many people
are having second thoughts about the wisdom of the law, and the state
legislature may override the initiative.

Those who supported
the initiative used the standard arguments – using dogs to hunt cougars
was cruel and unsporting. But, above all, the dogs were extremely effective.
In 1995 hunters in Washington killed 283 cougars using hounds, but by
1997 only 132 cougars were killed, which some people believe is the crux
of the problem.

the passage of the initiative the number of cougars in Washington has
soared, as has the number of reports of human-cougar contact. The cougar
population rose to about 2,500 and the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife reported cougar-human incidents rose from 495 in 1996 to 927
in 1998.

contact has the potential for tragedy. In August 1998, a 5-year-old girl
was ambushed and severely wounded by a cougar near the campsite she was
visiting. In another incident, two cougars became trapped in a school

of Initiative 655 claim the ban on dogs caused the cougar population to
increase dramatically, and they suspect the big cats are drawn to suburban
areas to prey on domestic animals and livestock. Supporters claim the
cougar population had been increasing even before the passage of the initiative
and the increased reports of human-cougar contact are more likely the
result of increased awareness and press coverage of the issue during and
after the vote on the initiative.

cause of the increase in cougar incidents may be up for debate, but the
ban on using dogs highlights an odd aspect of animal rights philosophy
– namely that it simultaneously seeks to place all sentient beings on
the same moral plane but does not apply morality consistently among all
sentient beings.

Consider the animal
rights objection to the use of hunting dogs. I take the claim to be that
(a) cougars are sentient, (b) using carnivorous predators to hunt down sentient
beings is cruel, (c) sentient beings should not be subjected to cruelty,
so (d) predators (dogs) should not be used to hunt down cougars.

To avoid
turning this into an argument against all predation by sentient beings
(leaving Ingrid Newkirk‘s fantasies aside for the moment), animal rights
activists must perform the logical leap of maintaining that of all sentient
beings, only for homo sapiens is predation forbidden on
moral grounds. Furthermore, that moral edict extends to any sort
of interaction which may assist any act of predation.

If a
pack of wolves decide to attack a cougar, this presumably is simply part
of the natural world. If a human being takes a pack of dogs to hunt a
cougar, somehow the act is transformed into an immoral one simply by the
presence of the homo sapiens. To paraphrase George Orwell, all sentient
beings are equal, but some are less equal than others.


Bills would send hounds after cougars. Deidre Silva, The Spokane Spokesman-Review, January 21, 1999.

Scientist says maybe deer hunting isn't cruel after all

Last year the National Trust in
the United Kingdom prohibited Hunting on its land after a study by Patrick
Bateson, a professor of animal behavior, claimed hunting subjected Deer
to incredible level of stress and, therefore, was cruel. In mid-September
Bateson was forced to revise his views to conclude that hunting is not
necessarily cruel.

Bateson, for example, originally
reported that deer subjected to a hunt suffered extensive muscle damage
caused by severe stress. A study by Roger Harris of the Royal Veterinary
College disputed this claim along with a claim Bateson made that stress
from hunting caused red blood cells in the deer to break down.

Perhaps Bateson’s most stunning
claim was that the stress deer experienced from predation by human beings
was unlike any sort of stress deer would experience in a natural environment.
Harris’ study, however, found no evidence of this and concluded that the
stress deer experience during a hunt is not fundamentally different from
other forms of stress.

As a result of Harris’ study, Bateson
and other researchers signed a 9-point statement issuing specific modifications
of the findings of their original research, although Bateson said he still
feels hunting is “knowingly cruel.”


“Professor revises view on deer hunt cruelty,” Charles Clover, The
Daily Telegraph, September 15, 1998.

The ASPCA's road to animal rights

The Capital Research Center, a conservative-oriented group that tracks charity and philanthropic groups, recently issued a report documenting the |American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals|’ gradual shift away from a strictly animal welfare position to what is now almost a traditional animal rights organization.

The ASPCA, of course, is the oldest humane association in the United States, and is famous for its support of animal shelters. But since Roger Caras became president of the group in the early 1990s the ASPCA move closer and closer to the animal rights community. Caras has, for example, come out in opposition to meat eating saying “nothing is worse than reducing a living creature to a steak or chop wrapped in cellophane.” In its Animal Watch newsletter, the ASPCA has urged readers at Thanksgiving to “save” a turkey “instead of serving one.”

More alarmingly, Animal Watch has encouraged its readers to visit the Rutgers University Animal Rights Law Center web site. The law center seeks to have animals legally recognized
as persons. The ASPCA has also gotten firmly behind the “Pet Theft” issue and supporter various legislative proposals to make it more difficult
for medical researchers to obtain lab animals from pounds (animal rights
activists are convinced that large numbers of pet animals are stolen by
pounds specifically to be sold to medical researchers.) The ASPCA has
also endorsed various anti-Hunting and anti-Trapping legislation, including
those that would make it more difficult and expensive to deal with predators
that threaten endangered and protected species.

The Capital Research Center recommends
people concerned about animal welfare donate their money to local shelters
rather than national organizations such as the ASPCA.


From Animal Welfare to Animal Rights. Daniel T. Oliver, August 1998.

Is Target training kids to kill?

A few weeks ago I mentioned
an animal rights group angry at the electronics chain Best Buy for selling
a series of Hunting-related computer games. Now Last Chance for Animals has put up a web site called TargetTeachesKids2Kill.Com attacking Target
for stocking similar software.

These games such as Deer Hunter, Big Game Hunter and Sportsman’s Paradise typically put the player in a first person view of a woods with the objective
being to track down and kill an animal such as a deer or bear. The games
tend to feature photo-realistic graphics (often incorporating digitized
video) and have proven extremely popular. Deer Hunter was
the number one selling computer game in the country for many weeks, which
is why Target and other stores stock them — their customers want to buy

Last Chance for Animals objects
to the software claiming, “All of these programs teach computer users,
kids and adults alike, how to hunt and kill real animals.” Yes, of
course. And cookbook and recipe software, commonly available in the discount
bins at such stores, also teach both kids and adults how to cook and
eat dead animals. Should those be banned too? Will Last Chance for Animals
soon register a domain like TargetTeachesKids2EatMeat.Com?

Last Chance for Animals goes
beyond these claims to include charges that playing these games can contribute
to everything from school shootings to gang violence, of course without
providing any concrete evidence of any sort of causal connection. Their
view is summed up by a quote the group includes from a Kenneth Stoller,

How easy would it be for your children, or children you know, to commit
an act of violence against another living creature if any authority
asked them? Playing “Duck Hunt” (aka “Kill Ducks”)
on Nintendo that your parents gave you … is not that far removed from
bashing in the heads of helpless [animals] with your parents or scout
leader egging you on.

Huh? I’d say the two situations
differ vastly in both content and context. This is just a variation on
the nonsensical idea that eating meat isn’t that far removed from cannibalism
and animal experimentation is equivalent to torture. Somebody really needs
to wean these animal rights types from their arguments by analogy.

Fortunately Target doesn’t
seem likely to stop selling these computer games. Last Chance For Animals
wrote Bob Ulrich, the chairman of Target’s board of directors, but received
a reply from Target Guest Relations to the effect that it’s up to Target’s
customers — not Last Chance for Animals — to decide whether or
not to buy a hunting game. Three cheers for Target.


Public Alert. Press Release, Last Chance For Animals, undated.