Sierra Club: Pro Or Anti-Hunting?

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March 31, 2010

Sierra Club: Pro Or Anti-Hunting?
In recent years, The Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental membership
organization, has gone to great lengths to appear supportive of hunting,
fishing and scientific wildlife management in an attempt to distance itself
from more recognizable — and radical — anti-hunting organizations. But is it
really a pro-hunting group? You be the judge. You’ll also read about benevolent
hunters in Tennessee,
the passage of Firearms Freedom Acts, and more!

We Support Bear Hunting, But…
The Sierra Club’s official policy on hunting reads, in part: “Acceptable management
approaches include both regulated periodic hunting and fishing when based on
sufficient scientifically valid biological data and when consistent with all
other management purposes and when necessary (for) total protection of
particular species or populations.”

J.R. Absher

Last week, the national office of the Sierra Club publicly announced it is
opposing a California Department of Fish and Game proposal to expand black bear
hunting and the use of hounds in The Golden State. 

The proposal, made public in January, would expand bear hunting with hounds
beyond Tuolumne and Calaveras counties and
would allow use of GPS tracking collars fitted with tip switches that indicate
when an animal is treed. It would also increase the annual bear harvest from
1,700 to 2,500 and lengthen the season statewide.

The reason for the changes put forth by the state agency is simple: there
are too many bears and more need to be killed.

The Sierra Club press release claims the rule changes will lead to increased
bear poaching, among other things.

“We strongly oppose uncontrolled hounding of bears, a practice which results
in gruesome injuries to bears and dogs,” states the release. “The use of dogs
to hunt bears is the favored method of bear poachers.”

Richard J. Garcia, who chairs the Sierra Club’s Black Bear Task Force,
stresses that the organization doesn’t oppose bear hunting, just the use of
hounds and tracking collars. He told the Sonora Union Democrat that the Sierra
Club contends that forcing dogs and bears into “violent interactions” violates
animal cruelty laws.

The professional biologists with California Fish and Game correctly
understand that the best and most effective method to control burgeoning bear
numbers in the rugged California
backcountry is pursuit with trained hounds by experienced hunters. In the vast
Western landscapes, it’s simply not practical to hunt bears through treestand hunting or

Firearms Freedom Acts
Becoming State


In recent weeks, the governors of two Western states
have inked legislation that exempts firearms and ammunition manufactured and
retained in-state from federal regulations, bringing the total number of states
passing so-called Firearms Freedom Acts to five.

Last week, Gov. Mike Rounds signed the South Dakota Firearms Freedom Act, just days after Gov. Dave Freudenthal
from neighboring Wyoming
placed his signature on similar legislation. With the governors’ action, the
two states joined Montana, Tennessee
and Utah as
states that have passed firearms sovereignty laws in the past two years.

And this week, lawmakers in Arizona
sent its version of the Firearms Freedom Act to Gov. Jan Brewer, who is
expected to sign the bill into law.

Similar measures appear to be on the fast track in Oklahoma,
Alaska and Idaho in the current legislative session. A
total of 19 other state legislatures had similar bills introduced this year.

State firearms groups in Montana— as
the first state to pass a Firearms Freedom Act in 2009 — have filed a lawsuit in
federal court to validate the principles and terms of the Montana Firearms
Freedom Act (MFFA). Led by the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the suit
does not contend that the federal government has no authority to regulate
firearms, but rather that courts have misinterpreted interstate commerce
regulations under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In addition to its firearms sovereignty provisions, Wyoming‘s
Firearms Freedom Act goes further, providing that any state or federal official
who tries to enforce any federal gun law on firearms made and sold in Wyoming may face a
$2,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

Tennessee Hunters Make Record Venison Donations
Even though the statewide whitetail deer harvest declined from the previous
year’s levels, the generous hunters in Tennessee made record donations to the
state’s “Hunters for the Hungry” program for the 2009-10 season.

The program collected more than 100,000 pounds of venison, which was 30
percent more than in 2008-09. This came despite a 1.3-percent dip in the deer
harvest, from 163,976 in 2008-09 to 161,771 in 2009-10.

The Tennessee Wildlife Federation, which oversees Hunters for the Hungry said part of the credit for the increase goes to
popular former Tennessee Football Coach Phillip Fulmer, who taped television
public service announcements encouraging hunters to participate in the venison
donation program.

Federation representatives said Coach Fulmer’s efforts helped raise
awareness among hunters and led to the establishment of some new Hunters for the
Hungry chapters.

The program provided more than 400,000 meals with the venison it collected.

New TWF chapters were created in Hardeman
, where the
second-most deer were harvested, along with Gibson and Madison. A large group
of volunteers from Marshall and Lincoln counties also joined the effort.

Quote Of The Week
“Together, in the minds of some who mean absolutely nothing sacrilegious,
quail, dogs and hunters form a minor trinity.”
-Bob Bell
“The Digest Book of Upland Game Hunting,” 1979

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the
outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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