My wife and I found a lot not to like in Ty Stubblefield's miguided opinion piece in today's Statesman Journal, "New director must give ODFW new direction."
Download New director must give ODFW new direction
His piece echoed familiar misconceptions about so-called "wildlife management," including the weird assumption that what hunters want should guide the policies of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
Stubblefield acknowledges that fewer people hunt every year. At the same time, Oregonians increasingly are drawn to wild, natural areas for recreation and rejuvenation. So ODFW needs to meet the needs of everybody in this state, not just those who buy hunting and fishing licenses.
Here's the thing: big developers pay the largest fees for construction permits, which go to support planning agencies. But obviously those developers shouldn't be allowed to decide what city zoning codes and planning policies should be.
Yet hunters believe that because their fees help pay for ODFW, their special interest wants should trump those of the general public.
I left a comment on the opinion piece. Not surprisingly, I feel like I made good sense. Here's what I said:
Ty, you represent a special interest group, the increasingly small number of Oregonians who hunt and fish. Our natural lands, especially those owned by the public, have to be managed for the benefit of everybody, not just a few.
Most people want wilderness to be as wild as possible. Nature just did fine managing predator/prey populations before humans came along and upset that balance.
You really need to educate yourself about current research on the value of top predators such as wolves and cougars (along with coyotes). ODFW's goal should be to encourage a healthy population of top predators to benefit the entire ecosystem, rather than to maximize the ability of hunters to kill deer and elk.
My wife and I, along with countless other Oregonians, would much prefer to enjoy natural areas that are filled with wolves and cougars, rather than hunters marching through the woods with high-powered weapons looking to shoot something.
I like your suggestion to fund ODFW from general funds, or some other source of revenue, rather than hunting and fishing licenses. Have you noticed that "W" stands for "wildlife," not hunters?
It's crazy to look upon wildlife as a crop to be harvested by hunters. That's missing the point of what environmental sustainability is all about. You aren't doing the cause of hunters any good by reverting to outmoded, scientifically indefensible attitudes about wildlife management.
I'll end with a quote from Naomi Klein about the folly of "extractivism," which you and your organization appear to subscribe to:
"Extractivism is a nonreciprocal, dominance-based relationship with the earth, one purely of taking. it is the opposite of stewardship, which involves taking but also taking care that regeneration and future life continues.
Extractivism is the mentality of the mountaintop remover and the old-growth clear-cutter. It is the reduction of life into objects for the use of others, giving them no integrity or value of their own -- turning living complex ecosystems into 'natural resources'..."
Wolves, cougars, and other top predators aren't lifeless objects whose only purpose is target practice for hunters. They are essential parts of a vibrant living ecosystem.
Most Oregonians, I believe, would prefer to have the deer and elk population kept in proper balance naturally, not by ODFW making our state's public lands into a gun-filled playground for hunters who, in my view, should find a better hobby than killing defenseless animals.
As a long-time martial artist, may I suggest that if hunters want to feel all brave, powerful, and macho, they should learn how to fight other people (who can actually fight back), rather than shooting wild animals with a high-powered rifle from a safe distance.
And in case you're wondering... I live in a rural area with quite a few coyotes. Cougars also wander through from time to time, leaving their mark with an occasional deer kill. I frequently walk our dog at night after a cougar has been sighted in the area. I enjoy feeling a sense of wildness.
I also know that no one ever has been killed by a cougar in Oregon, so I'm much safer being around cougars than being around other human beings -- including hunters, who are responsible for many deaths of Oregonians.
[Update: my wife, Laurel, just finished a letter to ODFW about this issue. Here's what Laurel said;]
January 3, 2015
Information and Education Division
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE
Salem, Oregon 97302
Re: Consideration criteria for new director
Dear Mr. Fuhrman,
I would like to share my views as an Oregonian and frequent user of Oregon trails and natural areas in regards to considerations for the choice of the new director for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It appears that the views of hunters and fishermen/women is already well represented on the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
However, people like me, who are probably well in the majority of Oregonians these days, enjoy nature without killing anything, even fish. We just like to hike, trail bike, kayak or canoe, bird watch, etc, and enjoy seeing nature and being in it. Even when we don’t get out into nature, we want to know our wildlife is being preserved for when we do, or when our children grow up and hike, etc. We pay taxes although we may not be supporting ODFW through fishing licenses or hunting tags.
We believe that Oregon’s wildlife should be protected and managed for all of us, not just hunters and fishers. If another way is needed to fund ODFW, then other funding sources such as taxes should be sought. I would be happy for an additional tax to adequately manage our wildlife, catch poachers, etc.
My biggest concern is who the Fish and Wildlife Commission will choose as its new director, since it appears to me that all of the commission members are either hunters or fishers. I know that there will be pressure on the commission to hire a director that emphasizes hunting and fishing enhancement as the main goals of ODFW.
This could mean discounting the fact that fewer Oregonians are hunting these days,and fewer like the idea of killing wildlife for fun. Very few Oregonians rely on the fish they catch or the prey they shoot for meat, since the cost of hunting and fishing for most people far outweighs the savings in “free” meat; hunting/ fishing tags, gas for travel, equipment, etc.
It could also mean giving into the pressure from those who falsely believe that if more natural predators like cougar and wolves and coyotes were killed off, there would be healthier and greater numbers of prey like deer and elk. The fact is, that prey populations are far more affected by weather and forage availability, and natural predators who kill sick and weakened prey actually keep herds healthy.
I would encourage the choice of a new director to be based on which candidate will best represent the views of all Oregonians, and who will base decisions on science and not just pressure from those who have hunting and fishing licenses. The new director should have an adequate education in an area of wildlife science, and not just be an administrator who is an avid fisherman or hunter.
ODFW should manage Oregon’s wildlife for all Oregonians, not just the minority who hunt and fish. The choice for new director should reflect this.
(Please distribute my letter to all commission members; I will also send a copy to the Governor. I hope to be able to be at the February 12th “meet and greet” and submit a question, but fear my question may not be one of the chosen ones, and I would not have a chance to fully express my views).