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By: Dr. Dave Samuel

For years it has been obvious that the Humane Society of the United States is opposed to hunting. They say they only oppose ‘sport’ hunting. Hmmm. Think about that one. A lawyer could have a field day defining what that is. But make no mistake. ‘Sport’ hunting to the HSUS is all deer, elk, moose, antelope, turkey, pheasant, rabbit, sheep, coyote, etc. hunting. In fact, I’m not sure what type of hunting the HSUS would support.

Go to their website right now and you’ll find statements such as; ‘(bears) threatened by trophy hunting’ (not true by the way), ‘(relative to Lyme Disease) Killing deer can make matters worse’ (not true and a real twist on the science of this subject), ‘(elephants) as hard as it is to imagine, in some places the threatened African elephant is considered a nuisance and must be culled.’ (In most of southern Africa the elephants have destroyed much of their habitat and governments there are using real science to manage them). I’ll stop here, but the misstatements are many and they ignore real science. This isn’t to say that the HSUS doesn’t do some good things for animals, because they do. But make no mistake about it. HSUS is opposed to you hunting. Period.

Black bears have been on the antis agenda in California for years. Incrementalism may continue to erode bear hunting there.

Having said that, you may find it interesting that in California, the Fish and Game Department has entered into a ‘partnership’ with the HSUS by accepting a donation from them. Actually they’ve accepted $5000 a year for the past three years, and they are now on a very slippery slope with a very slippery organization.

Here is a little background on what is happening in California. They have a CalTIP program; Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters. This program encourages people to turn in poachers and polluters via a toll-free number, and the report then goes to a citizens review board for consideration. If reports lead to a conviction, the reporter may receive a reward of up to $1,000.

There is a CalTIP Foundation, with its own Board of Directors, and I assume it funnels money into the CalTIP program. The program itself is under the law enforcement division of the Fish and Game Department.

The money that the HSUS donated went to help feed DFG Wardens dogs. And the California Director of the HSUS, Jennifer Fearing, was elected to the CalTIP Board of Directors in October 2011. The Chairman of that Board reportedly said that this was a great move. Hmmm. Word is that others on the board did not agree and seven of nine resigned. I can’t confirm that, but at least one report was posted on the Internet. Oh yes, it seems that Fearing is also on a committee to ‘develop a new strategic mission for the Department of Fish and Game’.

Hunters are upset about all this, so much so that the Director of the Fish and Game agency issued a statement. He basically said that the agency has to manage fish and wildlife for all Californians, not just sportsmen and women. Then he went on to note that the agencies budget is $401 million and the $5,000 donation is less that two thousandths of 1 percent of that total.

OK, this all seems innocent enough. The agency has a budget shortfall as most California agencies do. The state is in debt up to it’s overspent neck. So why are hunters and hunting groups in California upset? The answer is simple. It’s called incrementalism. Incrementalism is a style of decision making whereby changes are made in slow, small, gradual steps.

Maybe it works this way in California’s future. One anti hunter on the board this year, and that member is from an organization that donates money to the wildlife agency, so why not add a second member from another anti hunting group that also donates money? Or, let’s change the name of the agency from Fish and Game, to Fish and Wildlife.

Or maybe we shorten a game season a few days. What could that hurt? Really. Or let’s lower the bag limit by one. Someone on the board noted that the species in question is suffering a bit, so we need to do that. No data, but she (he) has been a good board member, and their organization increased their donation this year by another $5,000. And those two new anti hunting board members have been so cooperative over the past two years. They’ve been very polite, so they deserve our support.

Its called incrementalism, and it works.

My guess is that the game (or should I call them ‘wildlife’) biologists cringed when this partnership came about. And cringed when a member of a strong anti hunting organization such as the HSUS was appointed to a Department of Fish and Game strategic planning committee. Yes, they probably did cringe, and much more so than some of the younger staff members. But, make no mistake here. This isn’t about generation gaps. This is about an agency moving away from its roots and each small step away is one more step away from legal hunting. Like I said, strange bedfellows on a slippery slope.