Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hunting derbies show disrespect

At the Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Summit last August, it was noted how lucky we are here in Idaho to have the diversity of wildlife that we have. And because Idaho’s wildlife belongs to all of us, we all share a duty to conserve wildlife and their habitat. Conserving must carry some need for respect, but I fear that there are “harvest” practices that do not require respect, sportsmanship or ethics. Allowing wildlife derbies to take place is anything but respectful.

Seventy years ago, Aldo Leopold described and defined a land ethic. I believe it is time for an open discussion about a wildlife ethic. The Boone and Crockett Club, an old and respected sportsmen’s group, provides a good model. Boone and Crockett advocates fair chase defined as “the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.”

If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that trapping and baiting give the “hunter” a huge advantage. And these days with the array of vehicles that can facilitate the hunt, the motorized hunter has even more advantage.

The Boone and Crockett Club’s website includes the following tenets: 1. Obey all applicable laws and regulations. 2. Respect the customs of the locale where the hunting occurs. 3. Exercise a personal code of behavior that reflects favorably on your abilities and sensibilities as a hunter. 4. Attain and maintain the skills necessary to make the kill as certain and quick as possible. 5. Behave in a way that will bring no dishonor to either the hunter, the hunted or the environment.Isn’t it time to begin this conversation?

Christine Gertschen

Sun Valley

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