If a GON subscriber doesn’t know that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is our No. 1 anti-hunting enemy, then they’re getting the magazine just for the pictures. They sure aren’t reading the thing.
The “Eye on the Antis” column has been a part of GON since 1991. That’s 13 years of trying to inform sportsmen about the anti-hunting threat, and often asking them to take action against companies or politicians who support anti-hunting groups. The message is getting through, and it is action in the form of letters, e-mails and phone calls from sportsmen who are keeping the anti-hunters in check.
When this column first began, hunters heading to Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge were met by protesters. Wayne Pacalle, now a leader at HSUS, came to Eatonton to speak to an audience of educators, and his message was the anti-hunting mantra. There were even anti-hunting protesters at the Atlanta Buckarama.
Skip forward to today, and it has been years since Georgia sportsmen have been called on to fight a direct anti-hunting action in this state. Are we lucky? Yes, but we’re also good. There is a core group of hunters and fishermen willing to take action, and it is this ready force that has helped keep anti-hunters in check in this state.
Is the battle over? Not even close. I predict that in the future GONetwork’s biggest challenge will be fighting anti-hunting efforts.
In Georgia it has been quiet. But on the national scene, hunters and fishermen are up to their chin straps in anti-hunting muck.
Be thankful you don’t live in New Jersey. There, HSUS is circulating petitions and expects to get a ballot initiative on the November ballot to let voters decide whether to ban bear hunting. Also, the New Jersey state legislature is considering a bill that would ban hunting with muzzleloaders. Another bill would surrender wildlife management power to anti-hunting forces by changing the composition and authority of the Fish and Game Council. The bill guarantees representation of anti-hunters. Anti-hunting groups including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Bear Education and Resource Group and New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance will recommend five members for the governor-appointed committee.
Could these types of actions happen in Georgia? With an exploding urban and suburban population — not just in Atlanta anymore either — it would be naive to think anti-hunting battles are not on the horizon.
In the meantime, sportsmen can savor some victories against the anti-hunters.
In June we wrote about a tire company’s support of an anti-hunting group. Michelin was running a promotion that financially supported the American Humane Association. Many GON readers wrote letters to Michelin, and replies from the company stated that, “Michelin’s support… ends with the conclusion of the bobblehead promotion on June 25, 2004. Michelin did not intend to offend anyone when it established the sponsorship and remains neutral on the issue of sports hunting.”
One part of the letter I didn’t like at all was Michelin’s attempt to parse their support for a specific program of American Humane Association.
“I think we can all agree that rescuing animals stranded by natural disasters is a worthwhile effort. This one-time sponsorship specifically supports those efforts to rescue animals affected by disaster.”
That pretty much ruined the apology for me. If a terrorist group had a program to rescue dogs during hurricanes, would Michelin feel it “worthwhile” to “specifically support” that effort? Of course not. For sportsmen faced with idiots trying to ban hunting, we would prefer a company not try to parse their support of anti-hunting groups, either.
There have been other victories. Michigan and Minnesota just approved dove seasons after bitter battles with anti-hunters, and Maryland is clinging to its bear season.
In Georgia, all is calm. But I look at that calm like I would sitting in the eye of a hurricane.