Why Bear Baiting is Important to You
There it is on page 5 of this mornings’ paper, “Bear baiting under renewed fire”. Big tough guy Governor Ventura reminds us “Until you’ve hunted man, you haven’t hunted yet”. Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) reminds us that it is “comparable to shooting fish in a barrel”. He just doesn’t know “what kind of sport that is.”
A vice president of the “Humane Society” (I believe that is a mistake and should be Humane Society of the United States, a separate organization) supports Congressman Moran’s proposed legislation to ban bear baiting on “Federal lands.” It is amusing to see a politician and an animal rights executive express concern for the quality of “sport” when they would eliminate all “sport” hunting, fishing, and trapping tomorrow, if it served their personal purposes.
A few days ago I wrote an article about why this is wrongheaded legislation. First it is no concern of the Federal government since bear hunting is Constitutionally under the jurisdiction of state governments. Second it is one of the most consistent and efficient ways to harvest a desired number of bears over diverse habitats and during all weather year in and year out. This results in numbers and distributions of bears that minimize human conflicts while assuring healthy populations. Third it is one of the more egalitarian methods of harvest since most hunters can afford it and it is the most respectful method of harvest regarding property rights since wounded bears or dogs are unlikely to be a problem. Fourth, and most important, it is the most humane way to harvest bears (and other mammals) since the bear is reasonably close, not moving, and able to be inspected by the hunter as to its sex, age, and condition. This last, combined with a relaxed hunter and close range, assures the best shot placement which minimizes crippling and damage to the hide and meat.
All that said, where states prohibit bear baiting, that is a perfectly legitimate expression of that states’ wishes. I am not defending bear baiting because I do it. Many years ago a friend and I hunted bear over baits in Ontario for a week and we were totally unsuccessful. It was fun and I would probably do it again, which is something a retired guy like me doesn’t anticipate. So why am I spending my time writing about it?
First, it is the classic environmental/ animal rights ploy. The Humane Society (of the United States?) lobbies and “supports” a politician who champions their cause. In this case Moran represents a very liberal, urban Northern Virginia district that has neither bear hunting nor “Federal lands” where hunting takes place. His constituents are easily prodded to eliminate hunting, fishing, trapping, logging, ranching, circuses, rodeos, animal experiments, etc. They are largely anti-gun use and enthusiastic supporters of Federal powers superceding all state or local powers. The issue is a real winner for the sensitive Congressman just like the Arkansas Senator who years ago championed the Marine Mammal Protection Act while observing that his constituents would love it since it didn’t affect them. Governor Ventura should run his state as he is authorized by voters to do and not pretend he is personally an authority on every issue. However, even in Minnesota, the majority of busy Minnesotans initially reacts like it is a good idea for the poor bears and thinks kindly of the Governor. Behind the scenes bureaucrats drool as they foresee more money and staff for “enforcement” and “management” of yet another Federal “responsibility.” Behind all this, the animal rights/ environmental lobbies provide offers of all manner of things to politicians while offering their employees as “authorities” as new Federal and state employees.
Why even activist and unnamed reporters of the “Associated Press” capitalize on reporting the issue. He/ she/ or they tell us on page 5 that “bear baiting is allowed in federal PARKS (sic) in nine states.” What emotional and untrue propaganda. While “PARKS” evoke bucolic imaginings of children playing and verdant expanses of chirping bids, the harsh truth is that “federal PARKS (sic)” have been off-limits to nearly all hunting for years. The National Park Service has a 25-year record of shamefully (and illegally in my view) eliminating all natural resource management and sustainable human resources (trapping, hunting, fishing, etc.) from all “federal PARKS (sic).” This legislation will affect the other 98% of Federal lands in nine states that are “owned and managed” by the US Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and?? The Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and??? all the state managed lands purchased in part by “Federal” dollars.
Well if you’re still with me, here is why this matter is VERY IMPORTANT for you to not allow the politicians, bureaucrats, and their environmental/ animal rights allies to perpetrate this dangerous fraud. If you hunt, but neither hunt on Federal land nor hunt bears, stay with me. If you own a pet, or attend circuses or rodeos, don’t stop reading. If you ranch or log, the same goes for you. If you are either vaguely or acutely concerned about the growth of central (i.e. Federal) powers in Washington or at the UN stay tuned. If you see property rights as vitally important and are concerned about their absorption by central governments you have a big stake in this too.
Methods of bear hunting are Constitutionally, and have been for over two hundred years, under the sole authority of state governments elected by the residents of each state. For many years as a Federal employee I witnessed the arrogance of Federal bureaucrats grow concerning “their” lands. They have used the Endangered Species Act, NEPA, and other such Federal laws to get court decisions and write regulations that essentially treat all Federal lands as existing in an imaginary Federal state outside and independent of the states in which they occur. Each year they buy more and more lands to place in this imaginary state. While you and I theoretically “own” these lands, bureaucrats, politicians and their activist allies close them to energy development, logging, ranching, hunting, hiking, driving, trapping, fishing, etc. more and more each year. Currently one BLM unit that gets $5 a head for people and each of their dogs to day-hike is now prohibiting dogs since they poop on “our” land. BLM should take some of the “overhead and administration” money and people and either clean up the poop or require owners to keep it clean as do local jurisdictions. However, as with bear baiting the ultimate goal is an over bloated bureaucracy, “support” for politicians, and fat animal rights/ environmental treasuries to prevent all sustainable resource use and management on all lands public and private.
The danger here is the continuing precedent that some politician can introduce legislation that substitutes Federal authorities for state responsibilities as described in our Constitution. While private landowners certainly have the right to prohibit certain methods of hunting on their lands, Federal landowners should recognize lawful activities and NOT DENY CITIZENS rights duly authorized by the state governments. Except for the miniscule amount of Federal lands under what is termed “Exclusive Jurisdiction” (the Mall in DC, Yellowstone, and a few other areas that are under the sole jurisdiction of the Federal government), the millions of acres managed by USFS, BLM, USFWS, and others should always accommodate state jurisdictions just like any corporation who represents its stockholders and its customers (you and me). We own them, IT IS NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!
If a Congressman can just introduce and get enough sycophant politicians to pass a law that does this then it will one day be OK for another or the same one to:
- Prohibit or license, or require training, or require fees, or require registration of all guns, or
- Prohibit lead fishing tackle, or
- Prohibit dog training, field trials, or dog use for hunting, or
- Prohibit trapping (almost prohibited five years ago by a secretly drawn Executive Order), or
- Prohibit logging, or
- Prohibit predator calling, predator hunting, or
- Prohibit (you fill in the blank)
ON ALL FEDERAL LANDS! Remember too that “all Federal lands” can and does include the millions of acres that state and local authorities think they “own” but which, since they were bought in whole or in part with Federal funds, are readily included when the time comes. You don’t have to look at the Democratic Senator Schumers or the socialist independents like Bernie Sanders who are either virulently anti-gun or rabidly pro-all powerful central government to see the future. There are enough Conservative Senator “Federal Chimpanzee Home” Smiths of NH and Senator “Puppy Protection Act” Santorums of PA to send chills down your spine as well.
Please take the time to consider the ever-growing danger of such “laws” incrementally stripping away state powers and citizen rights to steadily eliminate one small group of traditional activities after another while a few activists and some amoral bureaucrats and politicians, for their own purposes, subvert the most free and successful system of government known to man. This happens as the vast majority of citizens ignore what is going on around them because it doesn’t “concern them.” Remember that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. What has occurred over the past 30 years and what is currently occurring regarding bear baiting proves the wisdom of that statement. If we can’t draw the line here, then where can we draw it?
Tell your elected representative that you strongly oppose such legislation to ban bear baiting on Federal lands. Tell your neighbors, tell your relatives, tell your co-workers, and anyone else who will listen. Bear baiting is important to all of us and it will take all of us to start turning all such things around. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. What kind of future will we make for ourselves?