Going on a Snipe Hunt

I remember going away to camp for the first time. The first night the older kids took us newbies on a snipe hunt. By the time we settled in our sleeping bags, we were convinced that if we ventured to the outhouse during the night, we’d better have our sticks handy to keep the snipes away.

hunting-snipe-at-takajo

Needless to say, there was no such thing as a snipe and it was all just a fun way to torment the young campers.

Well, campers, we’re being tormented again, this time by snipe of a different sort–wolves. Grab your sticks and open your wallets, you never know when the mysterious Canadian wolf will come wandering through a neighborhood near you, ravaging your animals and laying waste to all we hold dear.

Or at least that’s what Big Game Forever and a few legislators would have us believe. But before you pull the pillowcase from your bed, let’s look into this a little further.

Wolves used to be a part of Utah wildlife. Hunted to near extinction, they were eventually placed on the endangered species list and have been reintroduced into some areas–not areas in Utah, mind you, but areas like Montana, Yellowstone National Park, etc.

Groups like Big Game Forever (really, could they be a little more obvious with that name), claim that wolves are causing all sorts of problems with the herds in their new (old) homes. But that isn’t really the case. According to a report from Utah State University, wolves target weak animals, performing an important function, as well as providing food for smaller animals that feed off the leftovers (or, if you were one of my dogs, you’d just roll in it).

Humans are the real culprit. For instance, did you know that between 3-5,000 deer are killed each year by motorists (no data on the number of dead Toyotas). And hunting–the very thing BGF is trying to “protect” is responsible for far greater reductions in herd numbers. According to the Utah Wildlife Board, Utah will issue the following hunting permits in 2013:

Deer

85,967

Bison

104

Elk

50179

Bighorn Sheep

77

Pronghorn

1815

Mountain Goat

162

Moose

71

BGF wants you to believe that they are protecting us from the scourge of the wolf and that in order to keep on protecting us they need money. Big money–Big Game Forever money. Turns out they convinced the right people (Senator Okerlund, for example) to get them not one but two successive legislative handouts budget allocations. They were so successful keeping the nonexistent Utah wolf population under control with their first $300k allocation, that they easily secured a second round of funding this session. They have also failed to give any real accounting of how the money was spent because of their claim that the allocation was commingled with their private funds.

So, just to recap, that would be $600,000 of taxpayer money going to a “non-profit” pro-hunting group to lobby against reintroducing wolves–despite the lack of any reintroduction plan.

I feel safer already, maybe I don’t need these sticks after all.

wolf-cub

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