Monday, September 26, 2005

Hunting going the way of the Dodo?

The number of people hunting has been declining for over a decade according to the Christian Science Monitor's Marc Clayton. But the NRA and the hunting lobby are working to change that.

The National Wild Turkey Federation's new Families Afield program is targeting 33 states that currently make it illegal for youths to go deer hunting before age 12. It also is deploying new youth programs like Xtreme Jakes, which combines elements like rock climbing and mountainbiking with target shooting in triathlon-style events.

"We're just starting a new generation of programs based on solid research - not just things that feel good," says Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, a Harrisonburg, Va., opinion research firm serving wildlife agencies and hunting groups.

These programs - built on the research of psychologists like Jean Piaget, who pioneered the study of children's intellectual development, focus on the psychological requirements to build an inclination toward hunting starting at an early age.

Hunting groups have gotten the message. "We decided to use those [extreme sports] as a hook to get them interested first, then involved in the outdoors - and then tell them about hunting," says Mandy Harling, Xtreme Jakes program manager for the Wild Turkey Federation.|CSM|
I'm pretty ambivalent about hunting. If you're actually eating what you hunt, that's cool. But trophy hunting seems superfluous to me. Take up bird watching or something.

While I enjoy shooting guns, I don't see the need to kill animals to have a good time. And hunting is dangerous. I'm not sure I want people under the age of 12 hunting while I'm out in the woods with them. Both for my safety and theirs...

It is true that we've almost eradicated the natural predators for deer and that deer now are damaging some ecosystems with overgrazing, but that strikes me as a good reason to bring back the natural predators.

It is true that permitting brings money into conservation, but there are a zillion different ways to fund conservation. How about taxing gasoline or bullets or SUV's or suburban sprawl or any of the other totally superfluous anti-environmental things Americans buy?

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