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Entries in PETA (15)

Sunday
Dec292013

Snakes, Bears Make Florida a Dangerous Place to Live

Nationally, the exotic species of most concern are carp, mussels, and plants.

But in Florida, a reptile also is in the mix. It’s an apex predator that gobbling up birds, mammals, and other reptiles in the Everglades.

And as its food supply dwindles and its population increases, the Burmese python will expand its range.  It will go south into the Keys, west toward the Gulf coast, north toward Lake Okeechobee, and east toward the most densely populated portion of Florida.

At the moment, it seems unlikely that the python will migrate too far north. But it’s an exotic species in a new habitat, meaning behavior is unpredictable. Also, winters are moderating. Could it travel all the way up the peninsula and then west along the upper Gulf Coast? It’s possible, although unlikely.

What’s more certain is that the threat to human life will increase, especially in and around Miami. One of the largest snakes in the world, the python can grow to 20 feet in its native Asia, and already has been documented at 16 feet in the Everglades. Such massive reptiles weigh more than 100 pounds

And they can kill and consume human-size meals. Check out this recent report from Indonesia, where a python killed a security guard near a luxury hotel. A few years ago, a “pet” python killed a child in Florida. Earlier this year, two children were strangled by another “pet” in Canada.

Children and pets in Florida are going to be especially at risk in the years to come.

But I no longer believe that the python is the most dangerous species in the Sunshine State. No, it’s not the native alligator either.

I put the black bear at the top of the list. Its population has reached critical mass in the central part of the state, and, sooner rather than later, someone is going to be killed.

Especially in the Longwood area, the bears roam neighborhoods, tear up garbage cans, and try to enter houses. Nevertheless, many lived under the mistaken notion that they could peacefully co-exist with these large omnivores that will gobble up garbage as quickly as they will a pot-belly pig. Some of them still feel that way.

But they are wrong, as evidenced by the attack on a woman out walking her dog earlier this month. More recently, a bear broke into a screened patio, looking for food.

And, yet, the biggest problem is not the black bear. It’s the people. Some continue to feed the animals, despite warnings not to. Others don’t secure their garbage and/or feed their pets outdoors.

Those people who are the most problematic, however, are the bear defenders, those who raised holy hell when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) killed two in the aftermath of the attack on the woman, and those who mistakenly believe that they can live in peace and harmony with the bears if all people will just “follow the rules.”

What we’re talking about now in central Florida is a large, aggressive bear population that has lost its fear of humans and has learned that food is most abundant where people live. That food could be the remains of pizza, a dog, or a child. A wild predator doesn’t differentiate.

Of course, the animal apologists argue that their furry friends should be “relocated” to nearby national forests instead of being killed. The problem with that is that those areas already have the maximum population that they can sustain, which is one of the main reasons that bears are roaming suburban neighborhoods. Additionally, bears accustomed to eating from garbage cans and breaking into patios to eat pet food are not going to stay in wild areas; they will return to more civilized dining.

The most logical solution is a managed hunt, which other states, including New Jersey, already utilize as a way of keeping the bear population under check. That’s also the way that we maintain populations of deer, turkey, and other species. If we are going to co-exist with these animals we must limit their numbers because we also have reduced their habitat. It’s that simple.

But you can bet that if the FWC proposes a hunt, PETA and other animal rights groups will descend on Florida like a horde of locusts, delighting in the reality that they will receive nationwide publicity in such a high-profile state.

I don’t envy the good folks at FWC who want to do the right thing, but must figure out a way to manage both the wildlife and the uneducated people who seek to prevent the agency from doing what’s right.

And I am saddened by realization that the only thing that will prompt a rational response to this problem is for someone to be killed. No such easily implemented solution exists for the Burmese python, but it certainly does for the black bear.

Wednesday
Dec182013

Providing Aid and Comfort to PETA

Here’s a perfect example of providing aid and comfort to the enemies of fishing and hunting: SportsOneSource cites a PETA study regarding the benefits of synthetic insulation over duck and goose down.

I don’t question that synthetic might be better. It’s entirely possible and a comment below the article lends credence to that.

But just look at the wording in the article:

“PETA says a poll it commissioned shows that a vast majority, or 80 percent, of outdoor sports enthusiasts are happy to choose products with synthetic insulation rather than duck or goose down and would shop at stores that don’t offer any down products.

“The number rose to 88 percent after respondents were informed that down is sometimes obtained from birds force-fed for foie gras, in addition to the birds who are pinned down and have their feathers ripped out while they are still alive.”

Now, let me ask you this:

Do you think PETA’s motivation is to help sportsmen stay warm while they are hunting and/or ice fishing? Do you think that it would be content if down is no longer used as insulation in outdoor clothing?

SportsOneSource and others in the outdoors industry should ask themselves those questions before providing free publicity to an animal rights organization that wants to stop us from fishing and hunting.

Tuesday
Dec172013

Cruelty to Fish

As a complement to my “Catch and Release Is Cruel column in the December issue of B.A.S.S. Times, editor Dave Precht penned “Cruelty to Fish.”

In his opinion piece, he provides some great insights from Protect the Harvest, “an education and advocacy group founded in 2010 by Forrest Lucas of Lucas Oil to help farmers fight back against animal rights activists, especially those from HSUS (Humane Society of the United States).”

And he quoted executive director Brian Klippenstein:

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. If we continue to say, ‘It’s a hunter’s problem, or a fisherman’s problem or a cattleman’s problem,’ we’re going to get our clocks cleaned.

“But if we’re formally aligned, there’s no way on earth they can beat us. The key is to get out of our slumber. Spread the word to county commissioners, to congressmen . . . Don’t let the other side control the whole agenda.”

In other words, we can’t be isolationists, allowing the chicken producers, dog breeders, and trappers to fend for themselves, or we become like the appeasers of World War II.

Quoting Winston Churchill, the executive director said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

Precht’s conclusion: “Let’s take on the crocodile now.”

My sentiments exactly.

And one of the best ways to counter-attack is to point out what a scam that HSUS is perpetrating on the public through its commercials about neglected and abused cats and dogs. Go here to learn more and check out the great "Lawyers in Cages" video.

 

Tuesday
Dec102013

Catch-And-Release Latest Target for Anti-Fishing Movement

Here is something that you didn’t know: You are a hypocrite if you practice catch-and-release.

That’s right. If you care enough to turn a fish loose after you catch it, then you should be smart enough to realize that you shouldn’t catch it in the first place.

Don’t laugh. That’s the latest strategy by animal rights activists in this country to kill recreational fishing. Twice now it’s been used in comments at my Activist Angler website. The latest was in response to a post of mine that ridiculed PETA for distorting facts to support its anti-fishing ideology.

I was accused of being so steeped in a “pro-fishing, pro-industry dogma” that I have lost perspective. “Attempting to demonize people who are concerned about the ethics of sport fishing is a clear act of bigotry,” said commenter Rob Russell.

“Any thoughtful angler will reach a point where he or she desires to lessen their impacts on fish. When you engage in premeditated C&R, when your only goal is ‘sport’ (gratification), how do you rationalize putting a fish’s life at risk?

“If you are not concerned about this, then you have some thinking to do.”

Well, Rob, I have been thinking about it, and I am concerned. And if you fish, you should be concerned too. As irrational as this ploy seems, it already has worked in Europe.                        

The Swiss Animal Welfare Act of 2008 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 handling before they can obtain a license.

“The argument runs (in Germany) that it is legally acceptable to go fishing only if one has the intention to catch fish for food,” say the authors of a disturbing study, “A Primer on Anti-Angling Philosophy and Its Relevance for Recreational Fisheries in Urbanized Societies.”

In other words, you can have fun catching fish in Germany, but don’t tell anyone--- and you must keep the fish. Tournament fishing is not allowed and economic benefits are not a sufficient justification for fishing.

 “It all boils down to the individual benefits experienced by the angler, and here food provision is currently the only acceptable reason,” the authors add.

Think that can’t happen here, a country of nearly 40 million licensed anglers? Think again, and don’t be misled by the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans approve of legal fishing and support using fish for food.

The authors of that study discovered that when people are asked whether they approve of recreational fishing for sport, answers change dramatically. Twenty-five to 30 percent view angling for sport as cruel in more urbanized states such as Colorado and Arizona, while about 20 percent feel the same way in more rural states, including Alaska and the Dakotas.

And then there are the useful idiots. They fish but are so narrow-minded that they support anti-fishing activists in this campaign.

The second commenter at my website said this: “Sport fishing for catch-and-release should be outlawed! We are working to keep fish for real fishermen who enjoy the taste and food. We need to keep these so called ‘sport fishermen’ out of Minnesota lakes!”

How do we combat this strategy? We don’t engage in the false argument that catch-and-release is just one step on the road to enlightenment and that, if we really care, we must stop fishing for sport. That’s like trying to answer the question “Do you still beat your wife?” and not sound guilty. An attempt to answer either instantly puts the responder on the defensive.

The reality is that catch-and-release is a conservation practice, not an action prompted by concern for the welfare of an individual fish. Since B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott popularized the practice during tournaments in the 1970s, it has been embraced by anglers worldwide as a way to sustain fisheries. And it’s working. For example, Florida anglers keep less than 10 percent of the bass that they catch, with the vast majority released so that they can continue to reproduce, as well as be caught again.

And let’s not forget the value that we derive from catching and releasing those fish.  Yes, fish as food nourishes the body, but fishing for fun nourishes the spirit. During this chaotic and angry time in our nation’s history, nothing is more important.  

(This column appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Wednesday
Jun192013

Future of Fishing Threatened by PETA Propaganda

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, the article below (For Cod’s Sake Stop Fishing) provides a perfect example of the irrational and false arguments against recreational fishing that we must confront and dispel. Written by a PETA “senior writer,” it appeared, unchallenged, in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on June 8.

No doubt the organization managed to get it inserted in other media as well.

Particularly note the second paragraph, which alleges that fish can feel pain and fear and “these facts are no longer in question.”

But none of the “facts” cited are supported by credible fisheries scientists.

Here’s the truth:

“When a fish is hooked by an angler, it typically responds with rapid swimming behavior that appears to be a flight response,” says Dr. James Rose, who has spent more than 30 years studying neurological responses  to pain in animals. “Human observers sometimes interpret this flight response to be a reaction to pain, as if the fish was capable of the same kind of pain experience as a human.”

But fish “don’t have the brain systems necessary to experience pain,” he says, adding that “flight responses of fish are a general reaction to many types of potentially threatening stimuli and can’t be taken to represent a response to pain.”

Someone did respond (Anti-Fishing Column Nonsense). But even though the writer did defend fishing for food, she bought into the argument that fish feel pain and fear.

That’s what is insidious and dangerous.  If these zealots can convince enough people that fishing for sport is wrong, they will be well on their way to banning fishing entirely. They've already achieved a ban on catch-and-release fishing in parts of Europe.

I write about this threat and others  in “No Fishing?,” an essay in my new book, Why We Fish.

The threat is very real, my friends. Please don't ignore it.

For cod’s sake stop fishing

Earlier this month, a German angler made headlines for reeling in a 103-pound cod off the coast of Norway. The fish is believed to be the largest cod ever caught anywhere in the world, and if confirmed, the catch will break the existing record, which was set back in 1969. As I looked at the obligatory photos of the grinning angler with his “prize” and giving the “thumbs-up,” my first thought wasn’t, “Atta, boy!” but “How disconnected does a person have to be to take pleasure in killing other living beings – any other living beings?”

Here are two things that anglers should know about their supposedly “harmless” pastime: Fish can feel pain, and they can experience fear. These facts are no longer in question.

Even though fish don’t scream audibly when they are impaled on hooks, their behavior offers evidence of their suffering. When biologist Victoria Braithwaite and her colleagues exposed fish to irritating chemicals, the animals behaved as any of us might: They lost their appetite, their gills beat faster, and they rubbed the affected area of their bodies against the side of the tank.

A study in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science found that fish who are exposed to painful heat later show signs of fear and wariness – suggesting that they both experience pain and remember it.

Other studies have shown that fish communicate distress when nets are dipped into their tanks or they are otherwise threatened. Researcher William Tavolga, for example, found that not only do fish grunt when they receive an electric shock, they also begin to grunt as soon as they see the electrode, in anticipation of the painful experience to follow.

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada concluded that fish feel fear when they are chased and that their behavior is more than simply a reflex. The “fish are frightened and … they prefer not being frightened,” says Dr. Ian Duncan, who headed the study.

Now think about what all this means. Try to put yourself in the fish’s place. When fish are impaled on an angler’s hook and yanked out of the water, panicking and gasping for breath, they aren’t having a good time. It’s not a game to them. They are scared and in pain and fighting for their lives.

Anglers may not want to hear this, but fishing is nothing more than a cruel blood sport, and killing animals for pleasure – just so that someone can set a world record or pose for a silly photo with a corpse – is inexcusable. It’s time to stop pretending that it’s “good, clean fun” to engage in an activity in which most of the participants aren’t even participating willingly but are, instead, desperately struggling in vain to stay alive.

Moore is a senior writer for the PETA Foundation.

Anti-fishing column nonsense

As an avid fisherwoman married to an avid fisherman and mother to two avid fisher-boys, I just had to write my first-ever letter in response to the Paula Moore opinion column in the June 1 Forum.

If I understand correctly, we are not supposed to fish because it hurts the fishies. I do not discredit the facts presented but, honestly, why someone would test fish for pain tolerance leaves me scratching my head. And I see Moore did not bring the smack-down on those “researchers.” But what of those of us who fish to eat? Are we now required to not fish to eat because it hurts the fish? And is the next step worrying about the feelings of the cows and chickens and pigs?

Good grief. Has she not heard of the circle of life? If we are now supposed to worry about the feelings of fish, then it is nothing but downhill from here – to the dock, to the lake, to the boat to fish.