It is not about eliminating fishing and hunting...
... it is about eliminating our freedom of choice.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
BY ANTHONY P. MAURO SR.
It is becoming more commonplace to read letters from animal rights activists that label fishing and hunting as cruel and the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the agency that manages New Jersey's wildlife, as a purveyor of death. These advocates represent themselves as guardians of wildlife and portray the angler, hunter and DFW as unpopular with New Jerseyans. The depiction is self-serving and misleading.
The results of a Fish and Wildlife public opinion survey were re cently released for New Jersey. Responsive Management, a nationally recognized research firm specializ ing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, reported that New Jerseyans are outdoor-oriented, half of all respondents indi cating they or someone from their household had gone out to observe wildlife in the past year. Ranking high on the list of favorite outdoor activities were fishing, hunting, visiting a state or national park, wildlife watching, bird watching, hiking and biking.
With respect to fishing and hunting, 87 percent of the state's population approved of fishing and 66 percent approved of hunting. While many people may not participate in either of these activities, the survey points out that they enjoy popular support.
Public opinion and credibility of the state's fish and wildlife management agency, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, was looked at extensively. Notably, there was strong support for the professional management of the state's fish and wildlife by this entity. The survey confirms that 8 percent of state residents believe the division is the most credible source of fish and wildlife information. Not surprisingly, respondents ranked spokespersons of advocacy organizations the least credible sources of information. The vast majority of respondents determined that the DFW effectively balances the interests of anglers, hunters, conserva tion groups and the public.
Some may wonder why anglers, hunters and the DFW are por trayed as evildoers, when they have the backing of the majority of New Jerseyans. Further examination of the issue leads to an intriguing sup position.
Animal rights activists target fishing and hunting for elimination because it occurs within the pub lic's purview and easily evokes strong sentiments. On the other hand, the institutional processing of cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, fish and other staples offered by food markets are performed by businesses -- hidden from the public's eye. They are not as easily ma ligned. Additionally, 97 percent of the population eats meat, fowl and fish, so, to avoid a backlash to the animal rights movement, fishing and hunting are aggressively tar geted.
However, the angler, hunter and the meat purveyor are one and the same -- each serves as a source for providing sustenance. If fishing and hunting are removed, the outdoorsman or outdoorswoman that once brought home wild game for table fare simply moves to the line that gathers before the butcher. This only serves to increase demand for domestically slaughtered meat, fish and fowl, offsetting the loss to wildlife. However, the amount of slaughter remains the same; it saves the deer but does so at the expense of the cow.
The animal rights activist that protests the killing of wildlife furthermore protests the killing of farm animals. The advocate knows that the amount of killing will re main unchanged regardless of the removal of fishing and hunting, but his or her reasoning is that it is easier to eliminate a consolidated grouping that stands before the butcher. Their beliefs do not allow for celebration until all animal and fish consumption is purged and a vegetarian lifestyle becomes the mainstay.
In fact, animal rights organizations claim to have a disproportionate number of vegetarians. Vegetarianism offers a platform for animal rights advocates to encourage activism and advance their lifestyle. It is commonly promoted in vegetarian circles that the best way to save the greatest number of animals is by becoming a vegetarian. Experts say the activists aren't just concerned about animal welfare but are trying to win them the same rights as human beings.
Earlier this year, Kay Johnson- Smith of the Animal Agriculture Alliance was quoted as saying that the ultimate goal of animal activists is to eliminate animals as food. She also commented that there was a danger in allowing a small minority of activists to determine the various procedures chosen to raise animals for food. The literature and websites of animal rights organizations are replete with stated goals to eradicate animal use for food, fiber, medical research and even as pets.
New Jersey is a hotbed of animal rights initiatives. Last year, two bills were introduced to abolish fishing and hunting. This year, A1202, an even more pernicious bill that seeks to "change the composi tion and revise the authority" of the Fish and Game Council, was created and awaits approval by the General Assembly.
Although the efforts of the animal rights movement may be di rected at the angler and hunter, we must keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not the elimination of fishing and hunting; its purpose is to restrict people's table fare and impose a lifestyle. It is about eliminating our freedom of choice.
Anthony P. Mauro Sr. is chairman of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (www.njoutdooralliance.org