The other day I was driving down a major boulevard in Sacramento and I got behind a black SUV sporting a yellow and blue bumper sticker that read “Fishing Hurts.”
As I followed the lady for a few blocks, I started thinking about how scary the anti-fishing and hunting movements are becoming. It starts with a bumper sticker here and then the next thing you know, there’s a protest down at the local boat ramp. The next time you show up, there’s a no fishing regulation in place at your favorite lake.
My apprehension turned to rage when the anti-angler turned into the parking lot of a trendy sushi joint. I guess fishing for fun is a reprehensible act but fishing to supply restaurants with hamachi, maguro and unagi is perfectly acceptable!
The incident reminded me of a time several years back when I was walking down the street, completely minding my own business. Out of nowhere, this wannabe hippy lady comes up and starts verbally attacking me because (GASP!) I’m wearing a leather jacket. Did I happen to mention that I was minding my own business? Anyway, as she’s giving me a stern (and totally unsolicited) lecture on the evils of animal abuse, I do a quick scan of her clothing and can’t help but notice that she’s wearing a pair of leather Birkenstock sandals.
“What the heck are those made out of,” I asked and pointed at her cowhide-clad feet. Her face immediately flushed bright red with embarrassment and she turned heel and took off without another word.
To me, both of these episodes kinda spell out what the radical animal rights groups are all about. These people get drawn to such “causes” because they seem “cool.” But you need to get behind something because you truly believe in it in your core — not just because it appears fashionable.
The really wacky thing about groups like PETA and others of that ilk is that they don’t get involved in the conservation end of things. To really be a “person for the ethical treatment of animals,” (PETA’s slogan), one should forget boycotting bass tournaments and trying to get hunting banned and instead get involved with the science of fish and game management.
And that’s where the people with the genuine causes come in — groups like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Trout Unlimited, The National Wild Turkey Federation and the Mule Deer Foundation, to name a few. All of which are made up largely of hunters.
Without the dedicated individuals who make up these conservation organizations, who would really care about the declining run of wild winter steelhead in the Navarro River or the shrinking range of an elk herd in the Sawtooth Mountains? PETA? No way! And when the DFG has to close the Navarro to fishing because there are not enough spawning steelhead left, will the animal rights groups jump in and help with habitat restoration? Not on your life! Will they be there to replant trees in a burn area and build fences to keep elk off the highway? Of course not.
But groups of hunters and anglers will be.
Listen to the mission statement of Pheasants Forever, which pretty much sums up what these groups stand for:
“We are a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education.”
To me, that sounds like a true animal advocacy group.