Friday, April 29, 2011

Tweetweek: A predictable bear editorial, a credit card company that hates hero shots, and NYT love

Not a slave to Twitter? No problem - here's my Tweetweek in Review:

L.A. Times on bears: I'm sure it will come as a shock to everyone that the L.A. Times just posted an editorial that takes the HSUS position on black bear hunting hook, line and sinker.

This is to say that the venerable Times thinks our Fish & Game Commission needs to back off a proposal to raise the statewide bear cap next week from 1,700 to 2,000. Instead, the Times says, it should take time to study regional bear populations to see if there are any variations that should be taken into consideration.

Granted, we do apply some special limitations in some regions on deer hunting so it's not like the idea is inherently freakish. It's just that ... hmmmm ... the HSUS's biologist suggested taking that route but for some reason didn't mention that there is really any hint at all that there are any regional bear population problems.

Given HSUS's propensity for, and considerable skill at, exploiting any advantage it can get, I'd think HSUS would've mentioned it if there's a sensitive population that warrants extra consideration. Funny, eh?

Then at the end of the editorial, the LAT recommends banning hunting bears with hounds because animal rights activists think it's unsportsmanlike.

Naturally, I tried leaving a comment on the LAT site, but of course, the comment feature doesn't seem to be working this evening. I hit "post" and nothing happens. No spinning wheels, nothing. So, L.A. Times, here's my comment, and I hope I don't see 17 copies of it on your site tomorrow:

"(T)he bigger question is how bear populations are faring region by region in the state."

Bigger question, indeed! Is there a region where we have some hint that bears, as a species, are in trouble? Do you really believe that if there is such a region, the HSUS, with its vast resources, hasn't heard about it? I looked for, but did not find, hint of it here.

"Animal welfare advocates have argued for years that this is unsportsmanlike."

Tell me, what do "animal welfare advocates" consider sportsmanlike? Could it be that they use the term to sound reasonable, when in fact, they not only oppose all hunting, but all consumption of animal flesh? I don't hunt with hounds, but nor do I look to people who oppose hunting for guidance on hunting sportsmanship.


Two fun facts before I close:

1) Hank and I are eating bear tonight - and this was planned well before we saw the editorial - but I think I'll have seconds now, just because.

2) I will give the LA Times credit: Last time they covered this topic (which I wrote about here), it was with an incredibly biased "news" story. This time, at least, the opinion is showing up in the proper section - the opinion section. That's where newspapers are supposed to take positions. It just so happens that I don't think this position was well-reasoned.

Speaking of HSUS: Gwyn Zetah-Meitin used to be a member of the HSUS, and she loathed hunting. The night she met Patrick Meitin, she made it clear she hated hunters.

"She listed the usual indictments against slobs who spotlight and kill animals out of season, are interested in antlers only as collection pieces, shoot roadside signs and toss beer cans from vehicle windows," Meitin writes.

"I smiled and offered my stock reply. 'We're in agreement then,' I said, pausing for her look of confusion. 'I hate them too. But of course, you're not talking about hunters. You're talking about jerks who happen to own firearms.'"

You can already figure out one part of the story by the way the woman's last name closely resembles his now. You can figure out another part when you see the title of the piece: "My Wife, The Bowhunter."

It's a long piece (said the pot, calling the kettle black), but well worth the read as it culminates in her first - you got it! - black bear kill. What she says about that kill at the end is something pretty much every hunter will be familiar with, but something the folks at, say, the L.A. Times would do well to read.

I really wanted to leave a congratulatory comment on the story, but the Petersen's doesn't seem to have a comment function at all. Hopefully the folks there will see my praise for the story here.

Why I'm glad I don't use my Capital One card anymore: Capital One loves to tout the fact that cardholders can design their own card, but when New Jersey cardholder Lou Hinger tried to upload a photo of her husband posing with a deer he'd killed, CapOne said it was "unacceptable."

The problem? “Sorry, we were unable to approve the image you submitted. We will not approve any images that contain the following: Violence, hatred, or cruelty to humans or animals, profanity obscenities or any type of death imagery.”

So, hey, farmers, don't you dare upload pictures of the cows you plan to slaughter. And foodies, whatever you do, DO NOT UPLOAD PHOTOS OF JUICY STEAKS! You sick, animal-hating bastards.

You can read the whole story at NRAhuntersrights.org, but - spoiler alert! - the good news at the end is that if you have an NRA card, you can customize it with your hero shots.

Shameless self-promotion: Hank's upcoming book, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast, got a glowing mention in the New York Times last week.

I love the New York Times. The newspaper has shown incredible openness to hunting, and appears to get the fact that a lot of people hunt for a lot of good reasons.

The book comes out May 24, but you can pre-order it here.

Hint, hint.

Gratuitously funny video ending: I don't have time to cruise YouTube, but my students always turn me on to the best stuff. Like a baby penguin being tickled:



Have a good weekend, everyone!

© Holly A. Heyser 2011

17 comments:

neonaura@comcast.net said...

In CA DF&G has disallowed all hunters (of various prey not exclusive to bear-hunting) from using gps tracking collars on their dogs due mostly to the efforts of HSUS and its perceptions of what's sportsmanlike regarding bear-hunting.

The end result is that many for dogs are lost needlessly as in end up in shelters or worse because a simple solution for tracking a dog's whereabouts is prohibited. Another brilliant tactic by HSUS (and the L.A. Times).

Chris Lewis

NorCal Cazadora said...

Chris, I'm totally on your side on this, but I have to say the GPS issue is the least of your troubles: HSUS is clearly gearing up to push for a ban on hunting bears with hounds altogether.

If it goes to the F&G Commission, who knows would happen. If it goes to the ballot, I think what would happen is obvious. People who hunt with hounds are an extreme minority within an already tiny minority, and it is far easier to vilify this style of hunting (poor bears being chased up trees) than it is to defend it (requires vigorous hunters, allows hunters to be selective with quarry to avoid sows or young bears). Voters make decisions based on soundbites. Which soundbite is more compelling?

If the houndsmen don't have a war chest and expert political consultant yet, they would be wise to do so. Quickly.

Phillip said...

To begin with, I do think the growth of the bear population does, generally, justify an increase in the hunting quota. The animals are definitely doing well, at least as far as my anecdotal knowledge. I don't doubt the DFG has provided due diligence in their research, or they would not be recommending the increase.

Nevertheless...

In the interest of a semblance of fairness, I think there's some merit to the idea of exploring regional bear populations during the process of expanding the seasons and limits. It's not so much that there are areas where the bears are in trouble, although there are places, like the Central Coast and even up into the Santa Cruz mountains where bears are only now making a resurgence. It would be a shame to jump the gun in some of these regions and throw a wrench in that recovery.

But the other side of regional variations would be places like Tahoe, where the expanding bear population is most noticeable and causing conflict with people. When you hear reports about a huge population increase, it's worth knowing if the expansion is in every region, or if it's localized to places where the bears are drawn in by the easy availability of food and the protection from hunting pressure (no different from deer). It may be necessary to create zones, if hunting is really to be used as a management tool, so that the increased harvest can be directed to places where it will do the most good.

It's just a thought, and god knows I have no interest in joining the HSUS against the quota increase. I don't think that raising the limit this season is going to cause a problem. But I do think there's a nugget of a good idea in looking at regional variations in population density. This can provide more opportunity for hunters in areas that need to be hunted harder, while allowing some hunting in areas that have been restricted or closed. That would be a win for every hunter.

The hound-hunting ban is a definite threat, and is low-hanging fruit for anti-hunters. There's a ton of myth and misunderstanding about hound hunting (both in and out of the hunting community) and it's easy to turn public sentiment against it.

And now I'm returning to the TV, where I'm watching Roy Rogers in Susanna Pass... where he plays a CA DFG warden!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Oh, I agree that the idea itself isn't bizarre, but in this case, it's just a delaying tactic. I covered politics at the local, state and national levels for a good 20 years in the newspaper business, and I see this for exactly what it is. (And the LAT no doubt does too.)

I would have no objection to the F&G Commission approving the higher cap AND directing DFG to study the regional issue - particularly because I believe that the results would show some regions where DFG would have to recommend much higher limits, thereby increasing bear hunting. Be careful what you ask for, HSUS.

Re hound hunting, something clicked with me recently. I was talking to some folks who live up in Gold Country here and they were talking about the families that have a long tradition of hunting over hounds. The word "Arkansas" came up a lot. I know there's a vigorous hound-hunting culture in the South, and I started wondering if some of the anti-hound sentiment wasn't rooted (at least originally) in anti-Southern sentiment.

This kind of bigotry was clearly the case 100 years ago regarding Italian immigrants' propensity for hunting songbirds, which evoked quite a hostile response from the Americans' who preceded the Italians in their immigration here.

Brian said...

Gwyn Zetah-Meitin turning bow hunter = warm and fuzzy feelings ;-)

Nice 180 from her....

NorCal Cazadora said...

Yeah, that was pretty spectacular. Speaks volumes about the value of changing minds one at a time with logic and experience.

Erik Jensen said...

One other problem with the times editorial, which I didn't read but trust your quote: "animal welfare advocates"...HSUS is an animal rights organization ultimately, even though sometimes does animal welfare work with its shelters, etc. A big majority of hunters and Americans generally support animal welfare laws, a small minority thinks animals deserve no welfare laws, an even smaller minority supports animal rights. Broken record here...I'm always glad I live in MN when I read the strange stuff in your state, we're pro-hunting and very "green".

NorCal Cazadora said...

True, and while there may be actual animal welfare advocates who are not anti-hunting but don't like hound hunting, this editorial sprang straight from the womb of HSUS, which loves to play the arbiter of what is and isn't sportsmanlike. Puh-lease!

Al Cambronne said...

The story about Gwyn reminds me of a couple we're friends with. He was already a hunter and trapper when they met, but she was definitely not. She still has her old PETA backpack, which she now uses every fall to take her sandwiches and thermos out to the deer stand.

neonaura@comcast.net said...

Yes, we know we're in for a fight when HSUS starts gearing up (lobby days, etc.).
Thought you might find the following Glendale News-Press story interesting:

http://www.glendalenewspress.com/news/tn-gnp-0501-bear,0,6888988.story

And also reported in the L.A. Times L. A. Now Local blog:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/05/la-caƱada-flintridge-city-manager-mark-alexander-on-friday-said-he-has-asked-state-wildlife-officials-to-expand-their-prese.html

NorCal Cazadora said...

LMAO. That's fantastic.

Ingrid said...

Holly, I know you have rare good things to say about HSUS and I understand why. From the perspective of someone who's worked in animal welfare for more than two decades, however, I simply can't agree with the black and white characterizations many hunters make about animal advocate groups like HSUS.

I don't know how any significant legislative or societal protections would be implemented for animals were it not for empowered groups that can, in fact, lobby on behalf of those who have no voice. The small shelters and rescue groups with whom I've worked certainly don't have the resources to devote to legislative agendas, beyond their already under-funded medical and rescue operations. Once in a while, a grassroots cause, yes. And often at great cost. I was recently at one rescue recently where they can't even post their location because of viable death threats. This isn't the first sanctuary I've been to where that's a reality of life. Dead deer on doorsteps, that sort of thing.

On the larger scale of inching us toward more humane treatment toward animals across the board, legally -- where anti-cruelty statutes can actually be enforced -- I just don't see how it can be done without some semblance of the methodologies you criticize. Where HSUS gets it wrong, I guess I would ask . . . who do you suppose should step in and fight the big-boys fight on behalf of animals instead? I don't see an alternative.

Prior to the inception of animal orgs like ASPCA, nothing was done for any animal, except the discretionary act of kindness. Animal welfare movements have a noble history, including being the first in the U.S. to recognize the need for child protection laws (ASPCA). They've never been popular, though, because they're trying to protect living entities that humankind, as a whole, would prefer to keep as a usable commodities.

I guarantee you that standing up for the welfare of animals is grueling, painful, incrementally slow in terms of progress . . . and I personally am grateful that organizations exist to at least offer some hope to the animals that are so brutally and unforgivably exploited on this planet. I've seen most of that brutality in person and I would be devastated if there were no national organizations to help fight for the barest of protections, woefully inadequate as they are.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Ingrid, I don't say things like this lightly because I really like you. But are you nuts???

HSUS is anti-hunting, period. That's as black-and-white as it can get if you're a hunter.

I know HSUS likes to say it opposes only cruel forms of hunting, but the reality is it opposes anything that would increase hunting opportunity.

For example, HSUS opposes bills to overturn blue laws that forbid hunting on Sundays - please tell me what is cruel about that? Hunting is cruel on Sundays, but not Saturdays? Please.

And it actively fights any form of hunting that is vulnerable in public opinion polls - no "cruelty" required. That means bears, doves, anything with the word "trophy" in it - which, by the way, HSUS is always happy to insert on its own, even when there is no justifiable reason for doing so, aside from furthering its own ends.

Re I don't know how any significant legislative or societal protections would be implemented for animals were it not for empowered groups that can, in fact, lobby on behalf of those who have no voice.

I don't object to the principle of groups being allowed to lobby. But I will fight the anti-hunting lobby with every tool I have at my disposal.

Where HSUS gets it wrong, who should step in? On the issue of hunting? No one, Ingrid. I will never say anything nice about any group that is anti-hunting. I fundamentally disagree with them on this point. I will fight them on this point.

Re Prior to the inception of animal orgs like ASPCA, nothing was done for any animal, except the discretionary act of kindness, I must repeat: Are you nuts? Do you understand that the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation - which is responsible not just for the preservation but in many cases the miraculous rebound of many species - was instigated by hunters?

Do you understand how many wild animals have a sustainable habitat in which to live due entirely to the direct and indirect support of hunters?

I'd say that rebounding populations and habitat preservation are pretty nice to animals. I'd venture it's way more than HSUS has done for any species.

I appreciate your passion for the cause, but I'm flabbergasted that you seem to expect me to have charitable feelings toward an organization that fights hunting. That's just irrational.

Phillip said...

Chiming back in...

First, Holly, I don't need the much touted "20 years experience as a reporter covering politics etc." to recognize what HSUS is doing here. I get it. Honest I do. I doubt they're gonna zip that one past anyone who reads this blog.

The point of my comment is that the discussion raises an idea that is worth exploring (if DFG hasn't already explored it). I actually believe it may open or expand hunting opportunity in areas where the pressure will do the most good. As I said, it doesn't have to be prohibitive and there's no reason such a plan couldn't be investigated without changing this coming season's regulations.

As to the tradition of hound hunting, I'm sure some folks do associate it with the redneck south, just as they associate hunting in general with rednecks and hillbillies... which are usually southern associations. There's bigotry there, no doubt. The semi-ironic thing is that hound hunting was once the domain of the landed aristocracy. The poor, white trash were limited to pot hunting and poaching for the most part.

And then there's the HSUS and Ingrid's comments... I feel like there's a thin line there.

What the organization claims to stand for is, in general, a good thing. I agree, to a point, with Ingrid that someone needs to step up for animal welfare, and at first glance, no one else is really doing it. Of course, part of the reason for that illusion is because HSUS jumps in with their overwhelming publicity machine at every politically advantageous opportunity and becomes "the voice" of the issue.

The problem, as you pointed out, Holly, is that the HSUS has very clearly demonstrated an anti-hunting agenda, despite lip service to the contrary. It's impossible not to look through their position on bear hunting and not see that there is only one desired outcome, and that is to limit the ability and opportunity of hunters to hunt.

Their reliance on emotional arguments that either ignore or defy science is a clear indication, at least to me, that the organization isn't really focused on the management or welfare of all bears so much as it is interested in stopping hunters from hunting some of them.

Sure, they have other agenda besides anti-hunting. But if they're dishonest in this thing, how and why should we trust them on anything else?

There are good animal welfare organizations out there that have yet to be co-opted by anti-hunting agenda and they promote and work for good causes. Unfortunately, it's hard for them to break out of the shadow of HSUS's over-funded publicity machine.

Michael Lee said...

Never a dull moment in California is there? Interesting how East meets West journalisticly or not... NY Times - LA Times. Looking forward to Hunt, Gather, Cook!

Keep your fletching dry!
Michael Lee
Michael Lee's Stickbow Archery Blog
Stickbow Archery.com

Biomouse said...

One of my students sent me that ticklish little penguin on Facebook a few weeks ago and it just made me dissolve into giggles over and over, loved it!

As for the note about Gwyn, I can say I was in much the same boat until about five years ago when I spent time at a Ducks Unlimited fundraiser with a good friend who invited me, and really listened to what the people around me had to say about hunting, and the reverence they showed when speaking about the animals they chose to hunt for food.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Biomouse, I just set my mom up with broadband and when it came time to test it out on YouTube, that was the first video we watched.

And while I didn't hate hunters like Gwyn did, I definitely did not have a high opinion of them until I became one myself and started meeting all the people I'd been silently judging.