Washington’s general deer hunting season opens Saturday. Thousands of photos will be snapped to preserve the memories of hard work, fabulous scenery, quality family time, good friends and, for perhaps 10 percent of the hunters, success in filling a tag.
Until recently, it was silly to think that snapping a photo of a lucky hunter could be illegal.
Perhaps no outdoor sport is saddled with so many nerve-wracking rules as hunting.
You must be able to identify species and distinguish moose, caribou, elk and deer even in dark timber where animals may be partially obscured by vegetation.
In some districts, hunters will have to make a split-second decision on whether a buck has at least three antler points on one side before squeezing the trigger and firing a bullet that cannot be recalled to correct a mistake.
After a kill, a hunter must immediately notch a tag and attach it to the animal.
Shooting is legal only within specified hours. Hunting season might be open on one side of a road that marks a game unit boundary and closed on the other side.
Even the clothing is regulated. Deer hunters in Washington’s modern rifle season must wear at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange above the waist.
For all of these rules a hunter must observe – and the vast majority of them do so with commendable diligence – it’s outrageous that certain groups are advocating laws that could render a photo of a lucky hunter with his quarry to the same illegal cesspool as child pornography.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case (U.S. v. Stevens) that could broaden what is illegal under federal animal cruelty statutes.
The case involves a Virginia man who was convicted for putting together videos of pit bull fights filmed in Japan, where dogfighting is permitted.
Legal minds from around the country are making the case that, while films of pit bull fights are heinous, a ruling in favor of the prosecution would take a similarly monstrous bite out of the First Amendment.
The law enacted by Congress appears broad enough to make hunting images illegal in some places. For instance, it suggests that videos or photos of a hunter with dead doves could be a depiction of animal cruelty in the 10 states where dove hunting is not allowed.
It was comforting to see Supreme Court justices skeptical during the hearing.
For example, Justice Sonya Sotomayor asked, “What’s the difference between (the pit-bull fighting videos) and David Roma’s documentary expose about pit bulls and dogfighting?”
But who’s behind this absurd posturing to compromise our constitutional rights?
It’s no surprise that Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States was sucking up to the media cameras and encouraging the Supreme Court to rule in the prosecution’s favor to put the video maker in the slammer.
Pacelle is the slick-as-oil animal rights spokesman who’s made a well-compensated career out of such things as villainizing hunters and trappers.
The HSUS secret to success is finding national issues that attract huge media attention that can be translated into fundraising bonanzas.
HSUS routinely uses gross photos and videos of animal cruelty to bleed the hearts of potential donors.
Note: Please do not confuse the Humane Society of the United States money machine with the chronically underfunded animal welfare groups, such as the Spokane Humane Society, that do the hard local work of dealing with homeless animals. HSUS adopted their name, but they are not related.
HSUS tax returns help confirm the organization’s purpose.
The group’s spokesmen like to point out the good things they do on the ground for animals. They even boast of few “wildlife sanctuaries,” although they pale in comparison to the millions of acres of wildlife habitat protected and enhanced by sportsmen-based groups such as Ducks Unlimited.
Internal Revenue Service forms filed for the HSUS Wildlife Land Trust – a small portion of the HSUS conglomerate – say volumes. Here’s the bottom line from the 2007 Form 990:
•Total revenue, $4.3 million.
•Total expenses, $3.8 million.
•Mailing costs, $2.5 million.
In other words, the HSUS wildlife sanctuaries are little more than another ruse for generating more fundraising and propaganda.
No rational person favors cruelty to animals. Hunting ethics oblige hunters to prevent their game from enduring unnecessary suffering.
But last week we saw HSUS and other animal rights propaganda machines taking their moral fascism to the highest levels of our national government.
There oughta be a law.
Contact Rich Landers at (509) 459-5508 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org