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Anti-Hunting Groups Spend, But Don’t Mend

Thu., Oct. 31, 1996, midnight

Early snow is blocking access to some of the region’s best elk hunting this week.

But that’s not why anti-hunters are giddy with delight.

With huge bankrolls for political action, the Humane Society of the United States and other anti-hunting groups have successfully driven a wedge between hunters and conservationists by promoting ballot measures to ban bear or cougar hunting with hounds.

Spending on both sides of the two ballot initiatives in Washington and Idaho total $1.07 million.

Has anyone considered how much good we could do for wildlife by using that money for habitat?

Unfortunately for wildlife, the Humane Society for the United States (HSUS) and the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) have nothing better to do than be a political force against hunting. They have no significant programs for helping wildlife populations.

To counter their political propaganda, organizations founded to boost wildlife habitat are compelled to respond, siphoning money from worthy projects.

The North American Foundation for Wild Sheep, for example, donated $20,000 in the blink of an eye to help biologists rescue bighorns during an epidemic that rampaged through Hells Canyon bighorns last winter.

HSUS, incidentally, contributed nothing to help the bighorns.

This year, the sheep foundation gave $10,000 to fight Idaho’s Proposition 2. That’s $10,000 that could otherwise be conquering wild sheep diseases.

The most detrimental part of these illfounded initiative campaigns is the gap they widen between groups that have a common interest in perpetuating wildlife.

HSUS has no interest in wildlife habitat. The Audubon Society does.

A few local Audubon chapters with anti-hunting activists in their ranks have publicly supported these anti-wildlife management measures.

But the state Audubon committees in Idaho and Washington have tried to step clear of the mess.

“We’re trying to actively work with hunting groups on larger conservation issues,” said Ron Shultz, Audubon spokesman in Olympia.

Idaho’s state Audubon committee also has chosen not to take a stand on the hound and bait-hunting measures.

“We’ve started to realize that we can’t be effective by being a mile wide and an inch deep,” said Susan Weller of Cataldo, Audubon’s Idaho state president. “We’re trying to restore our focus to birds.”

Weller looks at the funds raised in the Proposition 2 campaign with envy.

The Idaho committee has made a broad plea to raise money for planting food plots that could lure sandhill cranes away from the guns that will greet them if they continue to damage crops in southeastern Idaho.

“We’ve only been able to raise $1,000,” Weller said.

The Humane Society, incidentally, has made no contributions to the welfare of Idaho’s sandhill cranes, either.

The anti-hunters can’t afford to waste money on wildlife conservation when they have to pay six-digit salaries to their top brass. Their agenda is simply to put an end to hunting one piece at a time.

Vote now, hunt later: Elk hunters packing their bags today have no excuse for not voting in Tuesday’s election. Simply stop at the county courthouse and pick up an absentee ballot.

Be warned: And if you vote for Washington’s Initiative 655 because you don’t like those slimy hound hunters, don’t complain if the struggling elk herds in the Blue Mountains don’t rebound in the next few years. We have to feed those extra cougars and bears with something.

Seeing through the smoke: The Good Paper’s Outdoors Political Action Undercover Committee has evidence that the anti-hunting initiatives in Idaho and Washington are part of a brilliant Republican plot.

The GOP has decoyed attention from its pitiful record on environmental and wildlife issues by luring conservationists and sportsmen into a ridiculous but expensive battle. The million dollars spent to sway votes on the anti-hunting initiatives is a million dollars NOT spent on exposing the radical Republican committee leaders.

Remember the charge they started in 1993 to gut laws protecting wetlands that control floods, purify water for drinking and for fish, and produce our waterfowl.

The ruse has deflected attention from the Congressional majority’s attacks on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Endangered Species Act.

The diversion has helped smokescreen the GOP’s willingness to compromise the future of our fishing streams, big-game winter ranges and other wildlife habitat for the short-term interests of greedy private property rights activists.

Maybe the HSUS chief Wayne Pacelle will get a shot at the podium at the next GOP convention.

, DataTimes MEMO: You can contact Rich Landers by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 5508.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review

You can contact Rich Landers by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 5508.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review

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