Friday, January 20, 2006

Safari Club members defend sport

Safari Club members defend sport



Posted: 1/20/2006




A huge sculpture of a bass made of stainless steel by California artist Ed McBride dominates his display at the Safari Club International Convention on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006. Waiting for potential customers were the artist's daughter, Sara McBride, and Cody Jones.



Wayne Pacelle hates the very idea of paying a lot of money to travel to Africa, shoot a lion, then have its head stuffed to mount on a trophy-room wall.


"We are critical of sport or recreation hunting," Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said by telephone this week from his Washington, D.C., office. "Shooting animals for fun."


Adam Hill holds a far different view.


"One has to look at wildlife as a resource," said Hill, executive officer of the African Professional Hunters Association. "If you're going to hug it like a bunny, it's going to die out."


Hill, from Tanzania, is among an estimated 25,000 people, most of whom either hunt for business or pleasure, attending the Safari Club International Convention this week in Reno.


Pacelle, who often opposes the Safari Club in court and Congress, is highly critical of the organization, claiming it "promotes the trophy hunting of big game animals throughout the world."


But Hill and other club members say their hunting, along with being sport, is good wildlife conservation.


Human population growth has reduced the space for wild animals in Africa and other countries, said Hill, who insists hunting, when it's controlled, is one way of thinning herds to thrive on the land they have left.


"Animals are surrounded by humans, not hunters," Hill said.


Trophy hunting, according to Hill, helps, not hurts, the herd.


"Your taking off non-breeding males," said Hill, who calls hunting's opponents "antis."


Along with Pacelle's humane society, another U.S.-based group, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is anti-hunting.


On its Web site, PETA says sport hunting "jeopardizes nature's balance" and hunters kill anything they "would like to hang over their fireplace."


But hunters say those and similar arguments are emotional, not logical.


"We have to keep emotion out of it," said Carl Wall, executive director of the Manitoba Lodges & Outfitters Association in Canada. "That's what these people use, emotion."


Hunters want to preserve, not destroy, herds, Wall claims. Otherwise, there wouldn't be anything to hunt.


"There's no doubt, hunters and fishers in North America have played a huge role in conservation," he said. "That's one role the 'antis' don't like to recognize."


Other opinions given



Hunters say they pay for conservation with their license fees, which fund state wildlife agencies.


"The biggest issue is that hunters and fishermen pay the bill for (conservation)," said Kim Toulouse, a hunter from Verdi at the Safari convention. "Where they get the money is from hunters and anglers. The rest of society doesn't foot the bill. If hunting and fishing decline, the (agencies) have less money."


Eugene Decker, a longtime Safari Club adviser and retired wildlife management professor at Colorado State University, estimates hunters and fishermen pay $2.6 billion annually to states, just to hunt and fish.


"Who pays for conservation in the U.S.?" Decker asked. "Hunters pay for the bulk of conservation."


But Pacelle says the Safari Club promotes the business of killing animals, not conservation.


"These trophy hunts are done as head-hunting exercises," he said. "They aren't consuming the animal. They are spending tens of thousands of dollars to shoot these animals so they can accumulate more awards in the Safari Club pantheon."


The club's convention is filled with booths where hunting guides offer trips to Africa and other countries for thousands of dollars.


"There are people in the 'anti' movement who firmly believe you shouldn't use (wildlife) resources for commercial gain," Wall said.


That includes PETA.


"Today, hunting, which was a crucial part of survival 100,000 years ago, is nothing more than a violent recreation," PETA says on its Web site.


Hunting may be business, but it also serves a useful purpose, according to Hill.


"It's no good saying 'with no hunting everything will be great.' " he said. "For a hunter to hunt, he has to conserve the resource."


For the cats,


Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 150 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.920.4130 fax 885.4457 cell 493.4564


Meet our recent mountain lion cub rescues:


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