Response to 'The politically incorrect guide to hunting' (updated with rejoinder)

Frank Miniter was interviewed for American Thinker by Jamie Glazov. I guarantee you that I am an American and I do think.  When I read the article by Jamie Glazov resulting from the interview with Frank Miniter, I felt compelled to respond.

Mr. Miniter is a hunter.  He said he wrote a book because America's hunters are being mischaracterized.  Of course hunters don't like to be criticized.  However, Mr. Miniter's  reasons to make hunters look  respectable, justified and even beneficial are totally incorrect.

Miniter told Jamie Glazov that "regulated hunting has never caused a wildlife species to become endangered or even threatened."  He also said that "every animal with a hunting season on it has always increased in number after that season was placed on it. This is true of black bear, elk, whitetail deer, geese, and so much more."

Yes, hunting does increase the population of the animal hunted!  And exactly what has that caused?  It has caused people in the United States to scream that we have too many deer, too many geese, etc.  Then, "thrill of the kill" hunters, and/or those who are paid to kill, offer to kill the "too many." This results in even more of the "too many."

When deer are killed, the remaining deer will respond by reproducing dramatically.  This phenomenon is known as "Compensatory Rebound," and explains why sport hunting as a management tool has resulted in an ever-increasing number of deer in this country.

Since hunting causes the reproduction rates of a deer population to double or triple, hunting is not a solution to a problem, but a commitment to a permanent problem! And, this is exactly what state game agencies want. They want more and more deer so they can sell more and more licenses.  Also, wildlife population problems are directly related to the state wildlife agencies pandering to the fiscal interests of the sport hunting industry.

Once upon a time, my state's Fish & Wildlife was funded by license sales revenue and the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program. That is not true today. A huge amount of the general fund's state taxpayer dollars (nearly $15 million) is used for Fish & Wildlife's annual operating budget.

My taxpayer dollars are being spent in a way I do not think is right. Yet, I have no say.

All over the state, hunting clubs, directly in the midst of townships complaining of too many deer --are managing private acreage for more deer. So is the state, using hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife management areas.

The irony is that my state's Fish & Wildlife deliberately propagates wildlife to assure an abundance of victims for "recreational" hunters. We pay for this with our state taxes. Then, when some residents begin to complain about too much wildlife for various reasons, the municipal governments use our taxes again to hire killers for our wildlife. We pay to propagate and we pay to kill - thanks to hunters!  This does not make them respectable, justified and even beneficial.

No, I do not believe that hunters only want to kill "trophy" animals.  They want to kill for fun - period.  And many have told me exactly that!  They think it makes them manly. HA! HA!  The truth is that the public's tolerance of invasions of its parks and backyards by armed strangers is declining, just as its sympathy for wild animals and its interest in non-lethal solutions to wildlife problems are rising.

Even my 13-year-old grandson wrote to me: "Do you know what these men look like?  These men look like a bunch of huffy red-necks who think it makes them "tough" to kill a living creature.  Yes, "tough" to use a fancy rifle and hunting equipment, bait, and camouflage to kill a plain, naked, unarmed animal.  With all of the hiding, and baiting, and waiting until the poor thing has no means of escape, I wouldn't be surprised if they tied it up and then shot it.  There is no chase, no effort, no muscle, just sitting and making unfair odds for the "prey". Believe me, it's not so impressive for five or six men with all the tools of the trade to take down one animal.  It shouldn't be hard to notice that hunters use weapons and equipment that the animal would never be able to use, while the unarmed animal has to wait and die."

Next, Miniter fusses about deer-car collisions. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) public affairs department, I received statistics for a 10-year period regarding Driver Related Factors involved In Fatal Crashes.  Of 663,771 deaths, only 1,233, were due to Animal in Road. (That included all animals.)

BUT, of 663,771 deaths, 662,538 were due to Humans in their cars.  The highest in number as a cause of fatal accidents (had nothing to do with animals): Driving too Fast, Erratic/Reckless, Inattentive, Failure to Yield, Failure to Obey, Drowsy, Asleep, Water, Snow, and Oil, Physical/Mental Condition, and Potential for Distraction (Such as cellular telephone).

Yes, deer-vehicle collisions do occur.  But, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most deer/car collisions happen during hunting season.  Deer head for the roads when their natural habitat is disturbed by hunters.  Hunting only increases deer/car collisions.

The Erie Insurance Group, Pennsylvania's second largest insurer, recently observed, "Erie Insurance receives an average of 34 claims a day. That number rises nearly five times on the first day of buck season and doe season for 157 and 160 deer losses, respectively."

Scientists have proven that sleep-deprived, multi-tasking drivers -- clutching cell phones, fiddling with their radios or applying lipstick apparently are involved in huge number of crashes.

Distracted drivers were involved in nearly eight out of 10 collisions or near-crashes, says a study released in August 2006 by the government.  Researchers reviewed thousands of hours of video and data from sensor monitors linked to drivers, and pinpointed examples of what keeps drivers from paying close attention to the roadway safety agency.

People were watched on the roadways talking on the phone, checking their stocks, checking scores, fussing with their MP3 players, reading e-mails, all while driving 40, 50, 60, 70 miles per hour and sometimes even faster.

A driver's reaching for a moving object such as a child or pet increased the risk of a crash or potential collision by nine times, according to researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

On every road,  drivers must remember to wear seatbelts, to drive slowly, and to scan the roadways for animals, especially at dusk and during the night.  The drivers themselves need to assume responsibility and drive defensively!!!!!

And, please remember that we have many deer on the roads BECAUSE hunting increases the herd. The deer are the innocent, exploited victims of hunters like Miniter.

Then, naturally, Miniter fusses about deer and the forests.

Forests everywhere are failing due to fragmentation, sprawl, the draining of wetlands, the clear-cutting of forests, pollution, invasive species, climate changes, and the acid rain that has been falling throughout the entire 20th century .  In addition the soil in many areas was already acidic because the many rocks  are acidic. Liming of areas may increase the ability of the soil to regenerate plant and tree life such as oak, but killing the deer will not.

The NJ Audubon Society has called for the mass killing of deer - incorrectly blaming them for inhibiting forest re-growth.  And, hunting will merely increase the herd. 

A new study by the National Parks Conservation Association says that one of Teddy Roosevelt's best ideas -- the National Park System -- is being threatened by air pollution as are all parks in our country.

Air pollution is a lingering and insidious problem.

It makes it difficult for plants and animals to thrive, and puts the health of park visitors and staff at risk.

From Acadia National Park in Maine to the Cascades in Washington State, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and mercury can be found at air-monitoring stations in spite of a 30-year congressional mandate to restore clean air to the parks for this and future generations.

The Clean Air Act's 1990 acid-rain program made some progress in reducing the pollutants that fouled the air and contaminated park streams.

The Environmental Protection Agency's auto and power-plant emission limits also cut some of the smog and its damage to plants, trees and humans, but more needs to be done or the situation will only get worse!

And, just as I would expect, Miniter blames deer for Lyme Disease.  I am an American and I think he is wrong.

People are being made to be terrified of Lyme so hunters can kill.  And what a paradox it is that the people from "conservancies" want ground cover in the parks.  This merely causes more ticks, since the mice will be there due to the ground cover!

In areas in where I live, where the deer ate the low-lying vegetation, the Centers for Disease Control researchers could not find many ticks.  There were not many ticks because the mice left the area since there was no ground cover!  One CDC researcher said, "The deer are doing our job for us in getting rid of ticks."

In the same areas, where people had fences and deer could not enter, there was lots of low-lying vegetation, BUT there were also many, many tick due to the low-lying vegetation!

When a professor, who hunts, from Rutgers University spoke to residents of Madison, NJ, in November 2004 at the YMCA, he asked people to raise their hands if they believed that deer caused Lyme Disease.  He was delighted that only a few residents raised their hands, and he proceeded to explain that deer are not the cause of Lyme Disease.

At the time, the fellow was an extension wildlife specialist at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  Now, he is a professor of NATURAL RESOURCES - WILDLIFE ECOLOGY in Wisconsin.  I was so happy to hear him tell the truth!

Dr Steven E Schutzer, a UMDNJ Allergy and Immunology specialist and other New Jersey researchers did a three-year study during which they staked out an area of countryside and measured the number of ticks per square foot. Areas with thick ground cover (more than ankle-deep) averaged 23 times the tick populations of areas with sparse or low-lying vegetation.

The reason? Mice need dense ground cover to feel secure. "Mice have three principal requirements to inhabit an area: variety of food, nearby water, and ground cover, which is extremely important for protection, whereas open space is dangerous," wrote Schutzer and colleagues in a letter published in the Lancet, the prestigious British Medical Journal.

The favorite habitat of the deer tick is actually the coats of mice: where mice congregate, Schutzer explained, so will the ticks which transmit Lyme disease.

In the Lancet, Schutzer offered this rule of thumb: "when one could see the bare ground from a standing height, the area was not favorable for mice and we did not find signs of mice inhabitation or tick abundance. "

That carrier - the one most likely to bring Lyme-infected ticks in contact with human beings -is not the white-tailed deer, but the white-footed mouse according to doctors at UMDNJ.

There is a misconception among most people that deer are the culprit. But no; it's really the mice."

It turns out that ever-adaptable white-footed mice find themselves at home in lawns and hedges.  Mice and ticks often hide in plants such as pachysandra. And in a forest fragmented by development, these locations have the added benefit to mice of being mostly free of predators, like foxes and weasels, who require larger blocks of woodland as hunting grounds.

Ecologists have known for years that when forested landscapes are carved up, biodiversity decreases. In small forest fragments, the white-footed mouse population skyrockets, probably due to the loss of their predators and competitors.

Dr. Ostfeld, an ecologist with the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., determined that biodiversity reductions (which happen when forested landscapes are carved up) caused the white-footed mouse population to increase dramatically, most likely due to the loss of their predators and competitors. A reduction in biodiversity limits other animals that the ticks may feed on. Therefore, if we kill off other wildlife such as deer or foxes, the ticks will then feed mostly on mice, increasing their chances to become infected with Borrelia. These scientific findings show that increases to white-footed mice populations directly affect the number of infected ticks in an area. The deer, like other animals and humans, are simply hosts on which the ticks may feed or use for transportation. Since mice, rather than deer, are the cause of Borrelia transmission and Lyme disease, lowering the deer density would not impact the incidence of Lyme disease.

The name "deer tick" is a misnomer to begin with. These ticks can also be found on 49 bird species, and at least 30 species of mammal, including chipmunks, grey squirrels, voles, foxes, rabbits, and opossums, and even certain reptiles.

In fact, the Lyme Disease organism (Borrelia burgdorferi) is vectored principally by a hard tick, Ixodes dammini, which was first discover on and is commonly found on the Deer Mouse, (Peromyscus maniculatus).  That's probably exactly HOW the name "deer tick" came about.

Miniter says, "I've spoken to a lot of anti-hunters. Their love for nature is always moving, but their knowledge of nature is always lacking."  Actually, I think Mr. Miniter's knowledge of nature is lacking.

At the end, Mr. Miniter mentions that wolves kill dogs and livestock.  Hmmmmm - hunters kill, too!  They do so for fun.  Wolves do to survive.  OUR DAUGHTER WAS NEARLY KILLED BY A Trespassing HUNTER'S ARROW ON HER OWN PROPERTY !!!  We still have the arrow that luckily landed at her feet -- instead of in her neck!!!

Hunting teaches violence, a disrespect of nature and a devaluation of life.

There are anti-cruelty laws that attempt to prevent people from harming or starving domestic animals. Anti-cruelty laws should apply to all animals, including wildlife.

People who hunt for sport probably never consider the true fact that the bear or deer they're about to kill will feel the same pain that their hunting dog would feel!

I could go on and on about other hunting issues, but I have responded only to the ones mentioned in the article by Jamie Glazov.

Hunting is a clue to a mentality so philosophically starved it is almost frightening to contemplate.

Barbara Metzler

Update: M.W.  Gail offers a rejoinder:

Response to Ms. Barbara Metzler,

After I read your very emotional and ranting response to Jamie Glazov's interview of Mr. Miniter, I too felt compelled to respond to you. I am curious Ms Metzler, you discuss hunting and the effects thereof but I am almost certain that you have never in your life been hunting. First of all, animals reproduce whether we hunt them or not so blaming hunters for the "Compensatory Rebound," is illogical. Indeed, hunters thin populations that if left unchecked, would suffer things like starvation and disease, which this writer is certain is more painful than a bullet or an arrow.

Second, you complain about your State's Fish & Wildlife budget and they way they spend your tax dollars but upon closer inspection, this writer would wager that the 15 million dollars that you describe is more likely being spent on administrative and salaries vice the woodlands. Our license fees are still paying for that.

Third, you bemoan the fact that slavering hunters like to kill for the "fun" of the kill. Rest assured madam, this writer has hunted since he was 13 and was taught to EAT what he killed. Indeed, this writer has yet to see a hunter just shoot something and leave it and if so, that individual would be reported to the nearest Game Warden. Maybe you missed the article that came out on 1 March 2007, wherein "redneck" hunters donated 72,000 pounds of venison to food banks[1]. Another group called Montana hunters against hunger are yet another group that donates their "kill" to the needy. Let's examine that aspect for a second. These are hunters who foot the entire bill for their hunt, from license, to bullets, to gas, to guide, etc, and then turn right around and give their kill to the needy. It sounds to this writer that we need MORE of these souls in America.

Next, your letter covered every subject from soup-to-nuts and as typical liberals do, you threw in everything but the kitchen sink. What do air pollution, ticks, car crashes, and assorted other nonsense have to do with Mr. Miniter's interview. At the root of your letter is the fact that you disagree with hunting as you probably do with gun ownership but that is another issue. You wrote: "Hunting teaches violence, a disrespect of nature and a devaluation of life," which could not be further from the truth. On every hunt I have been on growing up, we left a far less impact on the land than many campers that we have come across. We don't blast away at wildlife, cackling madly as flesh flies, while swilling from a bottle of booze. We practice safety in the field and our children understand the need not only for firearm safety but learn valuable lessons in the outdoors. They learn a love of nature not a lust for killing. This writer has hunted with many people, in different countries, and has yet to witness such behavior. Can you provide a bona-fide example ma'am, or was that just your emotions talking?

You also wrote that there are anti-cruelty laws for domestic animals and this is true. However, dogs and cats rely on humans whereas deer, elk, bears, etc are wild, hence the term, wildlife. Again, it is very apparent that you are against hunting and wish to impose your views on others, which, as we have seen in the past, is a very liberal trait. What gives you the right to say what is and is not good or fair?

Lastly, you wrote: "Hunting is a clue to a mentality so philosophically starved it is almost frightening to contemplate." The person who taught me to hunt many years ago is probably more educated than you'll ever be, with a degree in engineering as well as being very well-read. Indeed, you write with such a broad-brush with that comment that insults people like Hemingway, Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, Mozart, da Vinci, Albert Schweitzer (not philosophical?), Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln, and Winston Churchill to name a few. We who hunt enjoy a sport that encompasses fellowship in the field, around a campfire, doing something that our ancestors have done for several millenniums. If you do not like hunting fine, don't do it, but please keep your opinions of us to yourself, they are ridiculous, erroneous, and uncalled for.  

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