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Anglers, Conservation Suffer Because of Dysfunctional D.C.

Score another victory for political gridlock in Washington, D.C., and this time anglers and hunters are the losers.

In an argument over procedure, the U.S. Senate failed to move The Sportsman’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) forward. Vote was almost strictly on party lines, with Republicans responsible for this one.

Republicans support most of what the bill would do, but blocked the legislation because of objections about spending on conservation programs, which would violate budget rules. Democrats pointed out that the bill also would raise money.

“The shocking aspect of this bill’s defeat – one that would have such a positive impact on anglers, hunters and fish and wildlife conservation - is that it occurred over a budget argument giving the Secretary of the Interior the ability to increase the duck stamp price $10, thus pumping more dollars into wetland conservation for both fisheries and wildlife benefits” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

“Adding salt to the wound is that the increase is strongly supported by waterfowl hunters who champion the user pay-user benefit concept for fish and wildlife conservation along with all sportsmen and women as well as the fishing and hunting industries,” said Robertson. “The Congressional Budget Office has stated that overall, S. 3525 would reduce the nation’s deficit by $5 million.”

“It’s a cruel twist that the Senate failed to move S. 3525 over a budget procedural question when in the end the bill adds to conservation and would most certainly have a positive impact on the nation’s economy,” he continued. “It would truly be a tragedy if this historic piece of legislation went down in flames due to partisanship and simmering disputes over Senate rules and procedures that have nothing to do with the merits of the bill.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership added this:

“With their backs up against the so-called fiscal cliff, elected officials from both sides of the aisle locked antlers again. American sportsmen are paying the price.

“Hunters and anglers are experiencing the fallout from congressional inaction as access dwindles, development diminishes opportunities for sportsmen and funding for conservation disappears.”

Read more from TRCP here.

Keep America Fishing shows you how your senators voted.

Here’s a news story about the vote.


Killing Dolphins Is a Crime, But It Is Not Murder

Six Flags photo.

Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is offering $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for killing dolphins along the northern Gulf Coast.

I applaud him for that. If I were king, I’d lock up these despicable human beings and throw away the key. These miscreants shot, stabbed, and otherwise brutalized  friendly, playful, and intelligent mammals.

(Read the story here.)

But here’s where I part company with Watson:

“I regard the killing of a dolphin as murder,” he says.

Murder is the unlawful killing of one human being by another. No matter how heinous and illegal the act, the killing of another species is not murder.

What Watson is engaging in with that assessment is “mutualism,” a practice that I warned about in my Sept. 5 post, “Fishing for Sport Viewed as Cruel by Growing Number of People.”

Here’s the pertinent portion:

Anglers and hunters view fish and wildlife as resources to be used, while being managed wisely and treated with respect. Traditionally, most Americans have agreed with that “utilitarian” philosophy.

But as people become more urbanized (and often more affluent), some begin to favor a “mutualism wildlife-value orientation, viewing wildlife as capable of relationships of trust with humans, as if part of an extended family, and as deserving of rights and caring.”

Mutualists, the authors say, “are more likely to view fish and wildlife in human terms, with human personalities and characteristics.”

What’s coming down the road in the United States if mutualism prevails?

The Swiss Animal Welfare Act of 2008 highlights the nightmarish possibilities. The legislation makes catch-and-release illegal because “it is in conflict with the dignity of the fish and its presumed ability to suffer and feel pain.”

A similar rule has been in place since the 1980s in Germany, where anglers also must take a course in fish handing before they can obtain a license.

“The argument runs that it is legally acceptable to go fishing only if one has the intention to catch fish for food,” the study says.

“Wider economic benefits created by angling are usually not considered a sufficient justification --- it all boils down to the individual benefits experienced by the angler, and here food provision is currently the only acceptable reason.” 

In other words, recreational fishing as millions of Americans now enjoy it is not allowed.

That’s why I disagree with Watson’s use of the word “murder” for the killing of dolphins, no matter how horrible the acts. This comes perilously close to the arguments of those who believe that pets are slaves, that livestock facilities are genocide factories, and that animals should have equal rights before the law.

You think that I’m exaggerating? I wish that I were. Check out this at

“The stance is well captured by Newkirk's earlier declaration, ‘Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses," and in her infamous aphorism "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.’”

 Protecting dolphins from atrocities is one thing. An ideology that doesn’t differentiate between a boy and a rat is quite another.


Happy Thanksgiving from the Activist Angler

Early morning double rainbow on Bull Shoals Lake. Photo by Robert Montgomery

For the following I am thankful:

The fondness of bass for topwater lures.

The rainbows that I’ve seen because I got up early to go fishing.

The opportunities that I’ve had to fish with friends all over the world and catch all kinds of fish.

The 10-pound bass that I’ve caught --- and those that got away.

Cold margaritas after a day on the water in Mexico.

Bluegill too big for me to hold with one hand.

The catfish, the bowfin, the musky, and the northern pike that hit my bass baits.

Bimini bonefish. Photo by Robert Montgomery

The big bonefish that found my offering, even though my cast was way off target.

Sailfish that grey hound and tuna that dig deep.

Sashimi from the yellowfin that I caught just a few hours before.

Thousands of dolphins swimming alongside the boat.

The good people that I’ve met and the friendships that I’ve made because of fishing.

Summer nights river fishing for catfish, while listening to the baseball game.

Bats chasing insects all around the boat under a full moon.

Manatees that drop by to say, "Hello."

The unexpected shower from a huge peacock bass that struck right at the boat.

The delicate take of a tiny dry fly by a big rainbow --- just before all hell breaks loose.

The headshake of a big walleye following the hookset.

North Knife Lake shore lunch. Photo by Robert Montgomery

Shore lunches on a Canadian lake.

Seeing the joy that a child derives from his first fish.

The power of fishing to bring us together, no matter how polarized we are politically.

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all from the Activist Angler.


Family Foundation Ties Walmart to Anti-Fishing Movement

Walmart is garnering lots of headlines these days for its plans to force employees to work on Thanksgiving.

If you’re an angler, you should be more concerned about the huge contributions that the Walton Family Foundation makes to anti-fishing groups.

Here’s an excerpt from “Walton Family Greenwashing”:

“The Walton Family Foundation proudly reported ‘investments’ totaling more than $71.4 million in ‘environmental initiatives’ in 2011, including contributions to corporate ‘environmental’ NGOs pushing ocean privatization through the ‘catch shares’ programs and so-called ‘marine protected areas’ like those created under Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.”

The MLPA, by the way, has been used --- and misused --- to deny angler access to some of California’s best fishing grounds.

Read the full story here.


Four More States Guarantee Rights to Fish, Hunt, Trap

Four more states have amended their constitutions to guarantee citizens’ right to fish, hunt, and trap, according to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming all passed the measures with more than 70 percent support.

Both interesting and disturbing is the fact that Idaho was the lowest with 73, while adjacent Wyoming had 89. Likely the reason is that Idaho is being “civilized” by people who don’t fish and hunt, moving in from California and other states.

“The motivation for amending these state constitutions is based on the recognition that anti-hunting forces are actively working to restrict or eliminate sportsmen and women’s access to public wildlife resources throughout the country,” says CSF.

“Consequently, voters and state legislators have taken it upon themselves to make it clear that hunting, fishing and trapping are safe, responsible and fundamentally important recreational activities that should be protected for generations to come.

“Fortunately, citizens in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming have shown that they recognize and appreciate sportsmen and women’s contributions to conservation by overwhelmingly approving constitutional measures that protect the right to hunt, fish and trap.”

While CSF points to “anti-hunting forces,” anti-fishing forces are at work as well, as I’ve often pointed out at Activist Angler.

Need reminding? Check out Anti-Fishing Agendas Revealed and Fishing for Sport Revealed as Cruel by Growing Number of People