The Myth of Hunting Conservation

Current Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife policy promotes a culture of death and exploitation of animals for profit…

 By guest blogger Val Philbrick

Someone recently pointed out to me that there is a difference between a conservation wildlife biologist and a management wildlife biologist as the former seeks to conserve wildlife while the latter manages wildlife for profit and monetary gain. There is no explanation provided by the MDIFW on its website of why and when some animals are killed and some are not during their official hunting seasons because I suspect that the MDIFW does not really care how many and what types of animals are roaming in the Maine woods as long as they continue to make a tremendous profit, reportedly 22 million dollars for fiscal year 2015 from the sale of hunting and trapping licenses, registrations, and permits.  Don’t think for one minute that you as a tax-paying citizen are going to have any input into any of this. Your role is to keep your mouth shut and not make waves as the wildlife in this state does not really belong to you; it is for the hunters and the trappers only. The MDIFW is now in the process of coming up with a ten-year wildlife action plan per the federal government with public comment until August 12, 2015, but you don’t think they are really interested in your input, do you, you silly do-gooder non-hunter, non-trapper, hiker, birdwatcher, animal rights advocate, and/or camper?

The dwindling population of moose is this state is hunted by permit only due, in part, to a tick infestation of that population with higher temperatures due to global warming as the suggested culprit. Don’t laugh as the migration of lobsters northward and the movement of less than desirable species of fish and crabs into the Gulf of Maine have been well-documented. Bears are hunted in this state with bait and dogs. Maine is the only enlightened state in the union that still allows the public to trap bears with ever-tightening cable foot restraints. The MDIFW wisely advises hunters to place traps a “reasonable distance apart”, which gives animals plenty of room to flail about in a bloody mess and attack each other in a panic when trapped in close proximity, but not to worry because the MDIFW assures us that all animals, including bears, don’t really get upset when restrained as they just lie down, kind of ho hum-like, and wait for a hunter to come by and dispatch them. Beaver traps must be placed at least four feet apart, except when they are pulled underwater in a drowning set.

The hunting season of small non-game animals and game birds in Maine for ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, and pheasant is from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, with the reported importation of quail into the state last fall. Who knew that we were running out of quail? What if we just left them alone for a while and let them replenish their population? Perish the thought as fewer hunting licenses will be sold. We can’t have that as it might diminish the million of dollars earned by the MDIFW every year. Nothing is going to mess with this cash cow, baby, not to mention the paid advertisements supporting hunting blogs, columns, websites, and the MDIFW online store. Oh, and by the way, how much of that MDIFW revenue actually finds its way into the state coffers? Just asking…

The hunting season for rabbits is Oct.1 to March 31; the gray squirrel, raccoon, skunk, and opossum is Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. Red squirrels can be hunted at all times during the year for reasons unknown to the public, as can porcupine, woodchucks, and coyotes. Does anyone know why red squirrels are such a menace to society that they can be shot at all times during the year as opposed to gray squirrels? How about a squirrel baffle around your bird feeder? Or better yet, grab your shotgun and go out into your backyard and shoot one or two of those pesky squirrels first thing in the morning. Your neighbor will love you for it as some stray shots fly into his yard or better yet, through his house and he has to call the authorities to protect himself and his property from you. And while you are at it, don’t forget to kill a woodchuck or two as they don’t deserve to live either.

Has anyone eaten a porcupine lately? Be sure to remove the quills before making a porcupine pie. Chewing those quills can be tough on tooth enamel, not to mention flossing the remnants out of your teeth. And lastly, we all know how dangerous skunks can be to the human population with that awful smell.

The hunting season for fox is Oct. 20 to Feb. 28; for bobcat, it is Dec. 1 to Feb. 14. Who would want to kill any of these animals unless to stuff them and mount them over a fireplace? These animals are killed for no other reason than to get a little target practice and watch them die. Of course, we all know that coyotes are varmints that need to be strangled in controversial neck snares day and night during the year. Did you say that you sell the pelts? How about going out and getting a real job? The coyote is a very successful species that has thrived in close association with mankind for years and there is nothing we can do to stop them, despite Maine’s coyote bounty hunting program.

The much-maligned crow is hunted in Maine in a split season from Feb. 1 to March 31 and again on Aug. 1 to Sept. 30; the scoundrel that he is ruining all these farmer’s crops even before and after the growing season. Wild turkeys are actually shot and killed for human consumption. Now, that is a surprise as turkeys and other game birds are not just shot for target practice as their meat is actually eaten by someone other than animal scavengers.   Lynx are spared from hunting because they are an endangered species but as soon as they rebound, if they ever do, they will be fair game again. There is no “open season” on caribou in Maine. Has anybody seen a caribou lately? If I am not mistaken, I think we reportedly killed them off about 80 years ago in this state.

A past episode of North Woods Law summed it up perfectly, when an elderly gentlemen tape records the sounds of wounded crows so that their calls of distress will lure the woodchucks and other small nuisance critters out of their dens so he can kill them too. In any other situation, this would be considered animal cruelty, but under the guise of hunting, it’s all perfectly legal.

You realize, of course, that we are killing these animals for their own good as they cannot survive as a species unless we cull them out from time to time. How all of these creatures survived for all these eons without our intervention is beyond me. After all, this is the myth of the hunter conservationist as mother nature in all her wisdom cannot do as good a job managing these species as the hunter and trapper who “protects” them from themselves and saves us all. The general population, of course, who prefers to live and let live with regards to wildlife is just too stupid to figure all this out. Not only that, we need to be protected from rabies and that alone is enough justification to kill all these animals every year. However, don’t lose too much sleep over this as these animals will be here long after we have worn out our welcome as a species. Maybe we can all pile into a spaceship and just move to another planet. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature…

Val Philbrick is a local writer, talk show host, and animal advocate.

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Don Loprieno

About Don Loprieno

Don Loprieno is a student of history and a published author.