Redefining Refuge – Maine Senators Back Inhumane Wildlife Law

The human race is pretty strange.
 
What other species writes poetry, frames its thoughts in words, and performs wonderful acts of kindness while, at the same time, condones cruelty to each other and to other creatures who occupy the planet? 
 
Just recently, the United States Senate passed S.J. RES. 18 by a vote of 51 to 47 to allow the killing of denning wolves and pups, hibernating bears and other predators on national refuges in Alaska. Apparently our Senators don’t know the meaning of the word ‘refuge.’ Here’s what is now legal in what would normally be a protected area:
        – Killing black or brown bears or sows with cubs at den sites; October 15 through April 30.
        – Killing brown bears over bait.
        – Killing of bears using traps or snares or from an aircraft.
        – Killing wolves and coyotes during the denning season (May 1 through August 9). 
Here’s what the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) had to say about the legislation:
 
“While America is celebrating the 114th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the U.S. Senate has failed to take a stand for keystone species living on these same public lands. IFAW condemns the passage of S.J. Res. 18 and its House-passed counterpart, H.J. Res. 69, which allow for the killing of iconic animals including grizzlies and wolves — as well as their young — on federal refuge lands across Alaska."
 
This lethal legislation will permit the use of barbaric devices like leg-hold traps, which can leave animals struggling and suffering for days, and neck snares that slowly strangle entangled wildlife — all for the purpose of inflating “game” populations.
 
To call these practices cruel is a vast understatement.
 
It is deeply concerning that the Senate has taken this step, placing Alaska’s wildlife, habitat and ecological balance in jeopardy. Congress seems intent on doing anything but protecting wildlife on lands that have been set aside for that very purpose. Irresponsible policies like S.J. Res. 18/H.J. Res. 69 are not only threatening our native wildlife, but also clearing a path to the reintroduction of extremely inhumane, indiscriminate and unsporting hunting practices on our shared lands.
 
This legislation would also allow hunters in wildlife refuges to shoot hibernating bears with cubs; kill wolves and their pups near their dens; use airplanes to scout, land and shoot grizzly bears; and use steel-jawed leg hold traps and wire neck snares to kill black and grizzly bears. Since our national wildlife refuges are owned by taxpayers, and the federal government has a duty to maintain standards of decency in wildlife management, these practices should not be permitted. 
 
But guess who voted for this bill? Both of Maine’s Senators, Susan Collins and Angus King. You have to wonder why. Is it because they didn’t fully understand its provisions?  Could it be because Maine also allows bear baiting as well as the trapping of bears and other animals? Were they held political hostage by the small but vocal minority of hunters in Maine whose influence far outweighs their numbers?
The next step is for the President to sign the bill, which he will likely do, though he can still be contacted and urged not to. In any case, our Senators should realize how most of us feel about decisions like this that condone hunting methods that are neither sporting nor humane, and in places that are supposed to be safe. I’ll be calling them both to let them know that they do not speak for me, nor do I support legislated cruelty. I recommend you do the same.  
 
Senator King: (202) 224-5344. Twitter: @SenAngusKing
Senator Collins: (202) 224-2523. Twitter: @SenatorCollins
 
 
Don Loprieno is a published author and has maintained a life-long interest in education and history. He lives in Bristol, Maine where he is active in community affairs. Don is a frequent contributor to a radio program called "Into the Wilderness", broadcast Tuesday evenings from 8-8:30 on WMPG FM 90.9.

Last modified onWednesday, 29 March 2017 14:03