Ottawa Sportsmen's Club NewsJune 30, 2003
Carole Williams, Club Reporter
One of the latest alerts from the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance dated June 20th is that the anti's have so far outworked Sportsmen on the issue of banning bear baiting in the 9 states that allow this practice.
The list of U.S. representatives co-sponsoring the Bill had climbed to 131 as of June 23rd, with only one name withdrawn and nine additional names added to the list on and after June 12th, the date of the hearing before a subcommittee of the House Resource Committee.
A representative of MUCC states and I quote, " A lot of people have signed on, but I am told that the reason is that it is a dead issue." The logic of this comment is lost on me, as I can't fathom why elected representatives would want to support legislation that is purportedly thought to be going to fail.
The Alliance, in the alert posted on its Website, states that through an aggressive recruiting campaign, Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., is persuading more and more representatives to back this proposed legislation and that because of this he is the key reason why bear hunting is in jeopardy in the United States. Gallegly and Jim Moran, D-VA, are the primary sponsors and since Moran has an established history of being anti-hunting and pro-gun control, sportsmen have honed in on his involvement in the issue. However, instead of Moran, it's been Gallegly who is turning the otherwise dead bill into a very serious threat to Sportsmen's rights.
Gallegly's big issue seems to be that he feels it's inconsistent to prevent visitors to National Parks from feeding bear while allowing this practice by hunters. Well, what the heck, eh? First they pass federal legislation that could be considered inconsistent and now 131 of them want to patch up that gaffe by passing a piece of "bad news for sportsmen" legislation.
I'm not naive enough to believe "inconsistency" is the motivation behind Gallegy proposing HR 1472, especially when I know he's been presented with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Humane Society of the United States, are you? NaÔve was I, however, when I was foolish enough to believe that the anti-hunting-aholics were only concerned with ophaned kittens and puppies and not with benefacting elected legislators.
Moran is less coy, coming right out and saying that he finds bear baiting "unsportsmanly", "unfair", and like "shooting fish in a barrel". Is that a sufficient reason to co-sponsor legislation that would disrupt the excellent and very effective wildlife management programs in 9 states? No, that's just his personal "opinion" and it's echoed with instigation by anti-hunting animal-welfare organizations without concern to the effects passage of this legislation will have on those wildlife management programs. Mr. Moran is in a position of power as an elected Representative from Virginia, and don't think for a minute that the anti's aren't using him like a borrowed mule. You can check out his integrity record at www.morantics.com.
According to the June 20th U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance alert, Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, who is not a co-sponsor, has helped Gallegly's efforts. He's reported to have discouraged key democrats from testifying against the bill when the House Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans subcommittee conducted a hearing on June 12th. Rep. Rahall is the highest-ranking democrat on the House Resources Committee and a powerful ally for the anti's. He's also listed as an ex officio member of the Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans subcommittee.
In looking through the list of those who were invited to testify on June 12th, it's noted that Representative John Dingell, a democrat who represents urban Detroit's 12th District, received one of those invitations.
The Executive Director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs has noted Representative Dingell as being a very powerful friend of that organization. Information directly received from the Executive Director on June 26th is that MUCC is continuing to monitor the bear-baiting ban very closely and that the word from their contacts in Washington is that HR 1472 will not become law.
This is in direct contradiction to the alert posted by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and also contradictory to current information coming out of John Dingell's office.
O.S.C. member Dave Hoover has called Dingell's Washington office today, June 30th and has been told that the representative from Michigan's 12th District did not testify because of "a scheduling conflict". Mr. Hoover was informed that the western part of Michigan needs to be targeted, and so one would certainly be led to believe that HR 1472 is very much alive and should still be of concern to all sportsmen regardless of what the MUCC is advising.
I have learned that Representative Dingell did submit written testimony in opposition to the legislation and I've requested a copy of that testimony today from Mike Hacker, his Washington office liaison. Mr. Hacker will be in Michigan tomorrow, but will hopefully be helpful as soon as he returns to the Nation's Capitol.
Although scheduling conflicts may have prevented him from testifying, a search of Dingell's name has come up negative as being mentioned in the Detroit Free Press or Detroit Daily News in relation to HR 1472 since it was proposed on March 27th. In fact, I could find absolutely no mention of HR 1472 in these newspapers although I searched back to March 27th. I do note, however, that both Representatives Peterson and Young have come out swinging and hometown newspapers in Minnesota and Alaska have reported this.
And while "some key Democrats" were reportedly discouraged to testify, representatives of some animal rights groups including the Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals cleared their schedules to give testimony to rally support for the abolition of bear baiting by hunters on all federally owned land in the nine states that allow this practice.
Out of the 42 members of Congress from the nine states that allow bear baiting, only five are cosponsors. All five appear to have received the endorsement of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, formerly known as Hand Gun Control, Inc. Two of these five are Michigan's Carolyn Kilpatrick and Sander Levin, both Democrats from the Detroit area; the two from Wisconsin are Democrats Tammy Baldwin and Jerry Kleczka: and the remaining one is Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat. According to a posting by "Outdoor Life" magazine in 2002, Ms. McCollum has received donations from the Sierra Club, as has Ms. Baldwin. I've been unable to confirm that Carolyn Kilpatrick received a donation from Hand Gun Control, Inc., although there is a thin thread of information leading to that possibility.
Several of the Sierra Club's State Chapter Websites contain information in opposition to bear baiting by hunters.
Gallegly has recruited support for HR 1472 from 50 members of Congress who represent states that either do not permit black bear hunting or do not have bear populations. More shocking to try and understand is that 47 members of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.
Michigan Legislature Considers Officially Opposing Federal Anti-Bear Hunting Bill- (06/27)
The Michigan House of Representatives could soon show its support of sportsmen if it passes a measure that puts the state of Michigan on record in opposition to a federal bill to ban bear hunting.
Michigan House Resolution 82, sponsored by Rep. Dale Sheltrown, D-Gladwin, would ask the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose HR 1472, introduced in Congress on March 27. The federal bill would ban the use of bait to hunt black bears on federal land.
Several Michigan sportsmenís groups have joined the U.S. Sportsmenís Allianceís National Bear Hunting Defense Task Force to stop the congressional bill. The task forceís Michigan members include the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, Michigan Bow Hunters Association, Michigan Hunting Dog Federation and Michigan State United Coonhunters Association.
On June 12, members of the National Bear Hunting Defense Task Force testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans in opposition to HR 1472.
Take Action! Michigan sportsmen should contact their state representatives immediately and ask them to support Michigan HR 82. Sportsmen in Michigan should then join hunters nationwide in sending a message to their U.S. representatives, asking them to oppose U.S. House Resolution 1472. Congressmen must be informed that bear baiting is an effective wildlife management tool that is endorsed in nine bear hunting states. Remind them that wildlife management is the responsibility of state wildlife agencies. To find your state legislator and for contact information, call (517) 373-0135 or use the Legislative Action Center at www.ussportsmen.org. To find your U.S. representative, call (202) 224-3121 or use the Legislative Action Center.
Information on this website can be reprinted with a citation to the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and www.ussportsmen.org
Michigan House Resolution No. 82.
Reps. Sheltrown, Tabor, Rivet, Brown, Elkins, Gillard, Lipsey, Adaniini and DeRossett offered the following resolution:
A resolution to memorialize the Congress of the United States not to enact any legislation that would ban bear baiting on federal lands.
Whereas, Michigan, along with other states throughout the country, has been very successful in its wildlife management strategies. While there is always more progress to be made, the increasing numbers of game animals and effective control of wildlife populations in Michigan and other states reflect the wisdom of local management of wildlife and hunting matters; and
Whereas, Congress is considering legislation, H. R. 1472, that would require the adoption and enforccmcnt of rcgulations that would prohibit the intentional feeding of bears on federal lands in order to end what is known as ďbear baitingĒ; and
Whereas, Of the states that allow bear hunting, Michigan is one oF several that permit bear baiting. The experience in Michigan and the other states that permit bear baiting is that this technique is a valuable and highly effective wildlife management tool. The voters of Michigan overwhelmingly rejected a 1996 ballot proposal that included a ban of bear baiting. Bear baiting is part of an overall strategy that effectively controls the bear population and does so more humanely than hunting techniques that may result in higher rates of injuries for the animals. This mechanism has clearly allowed Michigan to keep the bear population at appropriate levels; and
Whereas, Michigan is a state that includes extensive federal lands. The citizens of our state have used these lands respectfully, and our stateís hunting and fishing management efforts have enhanced these lands over the years. Michiganís proven effectiveness in dealing with wildlife management challenges should not be negated by federal control of the matter of bear hunting; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives. That we memorialize the Congress of the United States not to enact any legislation that would ban bear baiting on federal lands; and be it further
Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and the members of the Michigan congressional delegation.
The resolution was referred to the Committee on Conservation and Outdoor Recreation.
Dear Representative Brown:
I'm an active and vocal member of the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club located near Pelkie. We have approximately 400 members and will be adopting a formal resolution in opposition to the U.S. House of Representatives Bill HR -1472, also known as the Don't Feed the Bears Act of 2003, at our July 7th meeting.
I will bring Michigan House Resolution 82 to the attention of our membership at that meeting and information on it will also soon be posted at our Website at www.ottawasportsmen.org. We already have much information posted in opposition to HR 1472, most of which I have written.
I am contacting you to ask that you do anything and everything within your power as my State Representative to support Michigan's Resolution 82 on behalf of all Ottawa Sportsmen, as well as on behalf of all of our Upper Peninsula sportsmen and sportsmen everywhere.
HR 1472 is an extremely bad piece of legislation promoted by a coalition of anti hunting and anti gun organizations whose final objective is to do away with all hunting, as well as the right of all citizens to own firearms. They are notorious for snipping away at the fringe groups, such as those who hunt with dogs and/or with bait, abolishing the rights of these groups one little bit at a time. It is the strategy of an effective battle tactic known as "Divide and Conquer" and sportsmen, you included, simply cannot allow this strategy to be used. All sportsmen, whether they hunt bear or not, must unite to protect the rights of all.
Representatives Gallegly and Moran, who have been gifted and otherwise supported by these organizations, have initially co-sponsored this bill without thought to its effect on the 9 states involved. Urban Alexandria, Virginia and Santa Barbara and Ventura, California do not have bear management plans and these men should not be supporting legislation that would put individual state's wildlife management plans into a tail spin, especially when they either know nothing about the issues involved or choose to ignore them if they do.
In some instances, the other 18 states who do not allow bear baiting by hunters, have been forced to give up this right by the anti's through aggressive ballot campaigns. That the anti's and the co-sponsors of HR 1472 are now citing this as a reason for the other 9 states to follow suit is ludicrous and illogical.
I implore you to use your logic and to act on that, rather than emotions, when considering Resolution 82. The bear who are currently visiting my yard located in the Ottawa National Forest are "habituating" THEMSELVES to my bird feeder on their own and without my encouragement.
To do away with bear baiting by hunters will not solve the problem of dangerous encounters between man and beast, if such danger is as prevalent as the anti's would have the American public believe. In reality, it would only serve to increase Michigan's bear population, depleting their natural food supply and forcing them into neighborhoods in search of any tasty morsel discarded by humans.
The vast majority of Michigan's black bear population lives in District 110, and therefore, you also represent them as well as your constituents. Please act accordingly to provide what is good for them as well as for the sportsmen who are voters in your district.
Carole Williams, Public Relations Ottawa Sportsmen's Club
Dear Ms. Williams,
Thank you for contacting me regarding House Resolution 82. You will be happy to know that I am a co-sponsor of this resolution. In addition, as the Vice-Chair of the Michigan Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus, I, along with other leaders of the bi-partisan Sportsmen's Caucus sent a letter to Congressman Richard Pombo opposing HR 1472 which was referred to the House Resources Committee which he chairs.
Thank you again for your email. If there is anything I can assist you with in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.
District 110 www.housedems.com/rbrown
Testimony of the Honorable John D. Dingell
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
Hearing on H.R. 1472
June 12, 2003
Chairman Gilchrest, Ranking Member Pallone, Former Chairman Young, distinguished members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify.
We are today again discussing another anti-hunting piece of legislation, which is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by non-hunters to restrict the rights of hunters and sportsmen. Legislation of this character is introduced in almost every Congress. And in every Congress, those of us from states that permit the baiting of black bears - a legitimate and necessary management tool - are forced to defend against needless attacks from anti-hunting organizations.
Let me be clear. H.R. 1472 is a totally unnecessary preemption of state authority by Congress and should advance no further than this hearing.
This legislation is properly described as an anti-hunting enterprise. I would note that it has been attempted in previous Congresses without success. As you know, the authority of state game agencies for fish and wildlife management on most federal public lands has been affirmed by Congress in numerous federal statues. The issue of wildlife management, including the lawful means of hunting game, is specifically the domain of the states.
State fish and wildlife agencies have authority and responsibility for managing bears and are doing a commendable job. Contrary to the assertions of the proponents of this legislation, black bear populations in North America are robust and generally increasing. From the late 1980's to 2000, the overall black bear population has increased 21 percent. Black bear populations across the United States are at historic highs, and hunting is a valuable management tool in keeping rising bear populations in check.
Baiting is a means and method of take, and as such is regulated by the states. Ten states, including my home state of Michigan, allow regulated baiting as a method of hunting bears. This is principally in order to harvest an appropriate number of bears to maintain them at levels consistent with society's tolerance level, which is generally below the biological carrying capacity for black bears. The professional opinion of the state wildlife agency in Michigan is that baiting is ethical and legal and one of the best ways to reduce bear numbers.
The proposed legislation would reduce the annual bear harvest in my home state of Michigan. As a historically legal harvest method, baiting has remained an integral part of Michigan's bear management strategy. About 83 percent of Michigan hunters used bait in 2002.
The management of bear harvest should be left up to the states. Most of the states that do not allow bait for hunting bears tend to have habitat which allows for "spot and stalk" hunting; have many more hunters than Michigan does; or have climates that allow bears to den late in the year, so they can be hunted during deer and elk season.
Bear hunting in Michigan is different than in other states. When we hunt bears in Michigan, it is in densely wooded forest terrain where visibility is low. We have less than half as many bear hunters as several states that do not allow bait hunting. Furthermore, Michigan's bear population is already in dens by the time firearm deer season begins in November. These are just a few of the reasons why it is imperative for state wildlife agencies to have the authority and responsibility for managing wildlife. A one-size-fits-all federal approach to wildlife management is neither necessary nor warranted.
I should also note that the people of Michigan have also spoken on this issue. In 1996, voters in Michigan soundly defeated a proposal to ban bait hunting for bears.
Almost 15 percent of land open to bear hunting in Michigan is federally owned. Additionally, almost a quarter of the western end of the Upper Peninsula is in federal ownership, and almost half of the bears harvested annually in Michigan are from this area. The proposed legislation would have far-reaching and serious negative consequences for Michigan's annual bear harvest.
In summary, this legislation is unnecessary, unwarranted and unwise. Simply put, this is an anti-hunting measure, and I urge the members of the Subcommittee to reject it.
Thank you, again for the opportunity to testify.
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