(John J. Jackson, III Note: Readers already know that Conservation Force lost an important member of its Board of Directors last year. Professor Bart O’Gara left a legacy of books and articles. The last published before his death was the new Elk book published by Smithsonian Press and another is to be published by Safari Press in late 2004 containing Bart’s own hunting stories. The following "musings" was forwarded to me by his wife, Wilma O’Gara, at Christmas when she came across it in his papers.)
That there no longer is a need to hunt is a common theme in writings by those who oppose hunting. As a rational act, hunting, indeed, is not a necessary human activity in most parts of the world today. However, hunting is more an urge - like sex and gluttony - than a rational act. Hypothetically, with rapid population growth and the trend toward small families, there is no longer a rational need to have sex more than a few times in a lifetime. Likewise, with the trend toward inactive lifestyles and -obesity in developed countries, neither is there a rational need for three meals a day. The primary differences between the desire for sex or to satisfy hunger beyond necessity and the urge to hunt lies in the fact most people enjoy the former two, while only a minority have the urge to hunt. Imagine, if 80 percent of humans did not enjoy sex, the scorn that we in the minority would endure? Hunters can well imagine.
Much has been written asserting that youths learn to enjoy hunting in rural settings and from family and friends. This is logical, and such youths certainly hunt more than do those from cities or those not exposed to hunting by family or friends. However, many such hunters enjoy the sport until they move to the city, become too busy or lose contact with family and childhood friends. In other words, many of those hunters - for whom hunting was convenient and socially satisfying - were not avid (genetic?) hunters.
Avid hunters seem to be born with the urge in their genes. I wondered about this as a child, why my brother - raised on a farm by the same non-hunting parents, educated by the same teachers in the same one-room schoolhouse and playing with the same peers -could take hunting or leave it. Hunting was my avocation; no game, pastime or social function provided the same satisfaction or feeling of elation.
As I write this, sitting in front of a tent at 12,000 feet (3,657 meters) in the Tien Shan of the Kyrghyz Republic, I again ponder why I must hunt. At 74 (I would have taken better care of myself had I known I would live this long), I can hardly struggle over the treacherous talus slopes at 14 to 15 thousand feet (4,267 to 4,572 meter) where the great rams thrive. The 12 to 13 hour days in a crude wooden saddle, negotiating slopes and slides that no one should ask even tough mountain ponies to attempt, have become torture. Yet, I love this endeavor more than anything in life, except my feisty little wife.
During three years I spent in Africa, I was surprised to find that only about 20 percent of the men in many villages were hunters. The others farmed, gathered or herded. A few women also hunted - mostly snaring small mammals and taking gallinaceous birds with throwing sticks - or fished. The hunters were honored members of tribal society, providing most of the meat for their villages. They had the most wives and, consequently, the most fields and beer. With the obvious advantages, why did only the minority hunt? Genetics?
For 25 years, I was associated with a university wildlife biology program. Most students had experience with wildlife or hunting because of family, friends or rural backgrounds. Increasingly, television nature programs has kindled interest in wildlife (not hunting). A few students came from large cities, had never handled a gun and did not know anyone who hunted. Some had parents or a parent who were (was) violently anti-hunting. Yet, those students came to a wildlife program in Montana primarily because they wanted to hunt - something they had read about in a magazine. Genetics?
Anti-hunters generally cannot understand how hunters can admire and love wildlife and still kill the most beautiful. I have seen no entirely satisfactory explanation and cannot offer one. I have cried every time I had a dog euthanized, quit farming largely because I detested inflicting the pain of castration and dehorning and have stayed awake all night with remorse - and nearly quit hunting - when I lost a cripple. Yet, I always went back to hunting. The only rational defense I can offer, if one is needed, follows. During more than 55 years of wildlife watching and hunting around the world, invariably the countries with sport hunting programs – programs that promoted sustained-yield harvests and benefited local people - had the healthiest wildlife populations and best habitat. Can this be wrong? The welfare of populations seems more important than the fate of surplus individuals.
One argument sometimes heard against hunting contends that non-consumptive use is increasing while hunting is decreasing, and the latter interferes with the former. Mention is seldom made that much wildlife watching takes place on wildlife refuges and winter ranges bought and managed with sportspersons’ dollars. A recent survey revealed that during 1991-1996 there was no change in the number of hunters but wildlife watchers decreased by 17 percent. This fact should not be viewed as positive by hunters. The welfare of wildlife is benefited by the broadest support possible by all segments of the public. - Bart O’Gara, 1997. Written while on a hunt for Marco Polo Sheep. Successful hunt given him by Bob Lee of Hunting World. Late October - early November.
Antis Appeal Argali Suit: The fight to save Argali hunting and importation of trophies of other "threatened" species continues. On Christmas Eve the anti-hunters filed a notice of appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from the order granting summary judgment to the intervenors (Conservation Force, FNAWS, Grand Slam/OVIS, et al and Safari Club International, USSA, et al). The order being appealed also denied the antis’ own motion for summary judgment against the defendants. They also appealed the July 31, 2003, subsequent order that denied their motion to the trial court to reconsider the order that dismissed their case.
That means they are taking their loss to a higher court. It will take approximately one year to complete the appeal process. If they lose there, then they can seek writs to the US Supreme Court. We fully expect them to take it all the way because to them the litigation is an engine for raising funds. It is also one of the single most damaging, effective and direct attacks they can make against international hunting particularly if they succeed.
If they win their appeal, then the appeals court usually remands the case back to the trial Judge for further proceedings. Normally, it is sent back to the trial judge, but the appeals court in this case may address all the issues since the appeal is of the order that denied the antis own motion for summary judgment, as well as the order that granted the motion of the intervenors that dismissed the case. The record is complete. No further evidence will be considered. The appellate court may simply reverse that part of the order that held the antis did not have standing and send it back to the trial court to adjudicate the case on the merits that were not reached. That is what we would expect. In that case, it will probably take at least an additional six months to resolve in the trial court. In summary, the litigation is likely to continue for at least another one and one-half years.
We feel confident that we can defeat this appeal. Second, we are confident that we can win the case on the merits if the appeals court "throws-out" the trial judge’s decision that the antis did not have "standing" to bring the suit, which was the basis of the decision being appealed. The merits were never reached because we persuaded the trial judge that the antis did not have standing to bring the case in the first place. Nevertheless, in deciding that "threshold" standing issue in our favor, the trial judge made a number of determinations about the underlying issues in the case that strongly suggest she agrees with our legal and factual arguments on the merits, as well she should. Conservation Force will continue its representation of itself, FNAWS, Grand Slam/OVIS, Mongolia, and a host of renowned biologists and hunters.
We conceived and first presented the winning strategy. We will most definitely defend it. It is the most threatening attack on hunting internationally ever made. We must win. We need your support and more. Contributions to Conservation Force are tax deductible. Mail to Conservation Force, 3900 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 1045, Metairie, Louisiana, 70002-1746.
Now, Hare Hunting to be Banned: The Environment Minister of Northern Ireland has announced her intention to ban "all forms of hare hunting in Northern Ireland." The Minister, Angela Smith, is an ex-employee of the League Against Cruel Sports, which is adamantly against sport hunting. The Countryside Alliance reports that the Minister has proposed to list the Irish Hare on the list of "protected" species. That would prohibit all forms of hunting. The Department of Environment has received thousands of protest letters against the hunting ban and the irregular procedures being followed by the agency,thanks to the Countryside Alliance, which is also contemplating several legal challenges to the listing. We at Conservation Force closely monitor the Countryside Alliance and are a member of it to learn all that we can to protect hunting interests closer to home.
A Game Warden’s Report: Ron Thompson has published a wonderfully insightful book, A Game Warden’s Report, explaining the state of wildlife and wildlife policy in Africa at the start of the Third Millennium. The book is beyond compare for those who really care about Africa and want to understand and want to know what to do about it. The book is extremely comprehensive. It covers everything from international bio-political affairs, conservation strategy, animal rights, the fundamental principles of wildlife management that every hunter needs to know, to the facts about safari hunting and the importance of the safari hunting industry as a force for conservation. The central species is the elephant of Africa because of its effect on policy and its impact upon the environment. The more than 400-page book even includes Conservation Force’s report on the 2001 Animal Rights Conference in Virginia in its Appendix.
The book is based upon Ron Thompson’s more than 50 years of professional wildlife experience in Africa. He spent 28 years actually employed in Africa’s national parks and wildlife areas. He has been in charge of everything from Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe to serving as the first director of Bophuthatswana National Parks and Wildlife Management Board in the Republic of South Africa. He was the Provincial Game Warden-in-charge of Hwange National Park that contains one of the two largest elephant populations in the world – certainly the largest park population by far. He is of our persuasion, and his book will no doubt go down in history. If you want to get the big picture you must read it. You can contact him directly for the book at Magron Publications, P.O. Box 733 Hartbeespoort 0216, South Africa. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another Famous Bear Enthusiast Eaten: One of Russia’s best know bear researchers/observers, Vitaly Nikolayenko, was found half eaten in Kamchatka. A large swath of orange pepper spray at the scene of the mauling indicates that he tried to defend himself without success. An unfired flare gun was lying next to his half consumed body, as well as a six and a half-inch wide paw print from a medium-sized male bear. Tracks also indicate Vitaly may have been tracking and photographing another large male bear. His camera was found broken and bloody nearby.
Vitaly was a senior ranger on the Kronotsky Wildlife Reserve. He was a self-educated researcher/observer and photographer, who had spent 25 years living with and documenting the behavior of brown bears in Kamchatka. He was probably one of the most experienced bear enthusiasts in the world. He reportedly had documented encountering an average of 800 bears a year. We do not know if he ever had to resort to pepper spray before. Regardless, it did not work adequately.
This mauling occurred just two months after bear researcher/observer Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a brown bear in Alaska.
Bumper Sticker: Dallas Safari Club and Conservation Force have partnered to produce another important education product for the hunting community. It is a bumper sticker that states "147 Million Hunters and Anglers Pay for Most Wildlife Conservation." That is the number of hunters and fishermen who hunt and/or fish within the US every three years, according to the 2001 National Survey on Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife Participation. Fewer hunt and/or fish in any one-year, but more participate over four or five year periods. Three years was thought to be representative of the number paying America’s wildlife conservation bills. It is equivalent to one-half of America’s population.
The 10-inch by four-inch, four-color bumper stickers are available for Five Dollars ($5) each from Conservation Force. See address in above Argali article. That price includes the postage. Order as many as you would like. Include an extra sum as a tax-deductible contribution to support Conservation Force and we will send you an acknowledgement for income tax purposes as well. A donation will help us do even more.
Sportspersons pay more for wildlife conservation than all others in society combined. They pay more in total and they pay more per capita. We call it being indispensable! Be PROUD! Sportspersons also spend the most time in the greater outdoors and are more likely to belong to wildlife conservation organizations, but that is another poster or bumper sticker in the future. Dallas Safari Club and Dallas Ecological Foundation have been supporters of Conservation Force from the inception. As well as providing a substantial sum for our core support for the past seven years, they contribute a pro rata share of our costs of attending CITES conferences. They were our partners in producing the "Growth in Big Game Hunting" brochure and also helped us fund the Okavango Lion Study that has proven to be the single most important lever to re-open lion hunting in Botswana. The phenomenal growth of big game hunting and big game hunters’ role in funding American wildlife conservation would still be a secret but for the "Growth of Big Game Hunting" brochure. Dallas Safari Club and Dallas Ecological Foundation are responsible, growing organizations of wonderful people that we are glad to have as "Supporting" Organizations. - John J. Jackson, III.