Livin' Wild Wednesday: Animal Rights Nuts Not Going Away

Drew YoungeDyke Drew YoungeDyke
You didn't think they'd just say, "Oh, well," and go home, did you? Immediately after our democratically-elected legislators passed the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act with a bipartisan majority, the anti-hunters and animal rights nuts vowed to use two of their favorite tactics: frivolous lawsuits and lying to their members. We've won this battle, but you can sure that they'll be back to attack another hunting right in Michigan soon, because we kicked their you-know-what and they're mad and well-funded.
The Humane Society of the United States is trying to claim that if they win in November, they can stop a 2014 wolf hunt. Except that there isn't time now to do a 2014 wolf hunt anyway, and our law goes into effect in March. So no matter what HSUS does in November, there will not be a hunt this year, and no matter what HSUS does in November, there will be a hunt the next year and every year thereafter as long as it continues to be supported by the science and the data. And that's okay, because this wasn't about hunting wolves. This was about making the decision and other decisions like it with sound science, and it takes more than a month to do that. It's just another fundraising ploy for them. 
They also keep threatening to sue the state to block the law we passed, except that they don't have a legal leg to stand on. They're claiming that the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act bundles three unrelated issues, except that all the issues pertain to exactly what's in the title of the act: conserving fish and wildlife using sound science; how the decisions are made and how they're funded. It's as if they've never actually read the Michigan Constitution or the case law applying it, which isn't surprising because they're from Washington, D.C. If they do sue, they might make it to summary disposition before a judge throws out their case, but that's about it, and they know it. For them, that's even another fundraising ploy, as in, "give us money to save cute wolf pups from evil hunters," that kind of thing.
House VoteBut even though we beat them on this hunting rights issue, you can bet they'll be back soon to attack another one. That's part of their agenda: attacking hunting rights state-by-state, species-by-species, method-by-method. We've made their road to attacking hunting rights in Michigan much harder, but that doesn't mean they won't try a different tactic. Consider this: in 2004, Maine voters rejected HSUS's attempt to ban hounding, baiting and trapping bears. Then HSUS tried to get a law passed in Maine last year that would have banned hounding and trapping bears. When lawmakers rejected that, they collected signatures to put a ban on baiting, hounding and trapping bears on the November ballot.
What we have to realize in Michigan is that anti-hunting animal rights nuts don't just go away. Their agenda is to ban hunting and they will keep coming at us with every dime they have. This isn't a once-a-decade thing anymore: we have to be ready to fight them every election cycle. We don't know what specific species or method of hunting rights they'll attack next, but we know it will be something. It might be to ban hunting with dogs or the hound training season (HSUS opposes both). It might be to ban trapping (HSUS opposes trapping and the use of fur), or even to ban bowhunting. Just last week, a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokesman in Canada told a news outlet that bowhunting is "one of the cruelest forms of hunting." And let's face it, HSUS is pretty much just PETA in a suit.
So how do we fight a multi-million dollar anti-hunting organization consistently? By working smarter, harder, and with numbers. Membership numbers. There were multiple conservation, hunting, fishing and trapping organizations that worked together to defeat HSUS this time around, and MUCC was one of those. We literally exist to defend the rights to hunt, fish and trap. But we can only do so if the coalition of organizations that won this fight continue to work together and if those organizations are strong.
Resource Defense FundWhen we go to the Legislature and ask them to pass a bill, we are only as effective as our membership. If Matt Evans, our Legislative Affairs Manager, goes to your representative and asks him or her to vote yes on a bill to protect hunting rights, he is much more effective if he can say that he represents 42,000 people statewide and 5,000 people in your district than, say, 50 people. But he can only say that if you are a member of MUCC, either as an individual member (by clicking here) or as a member of a full affiliate club of MUCC. And you'll only get the call from us to call your legislator if you're a member of MUCC, because that's what MUCC does: we unite citizens (like you) to conserve, protect and enhance Michigan's natural resources and outdoor heritage. That's our mission.
We're in for a fight, folks. But we have momentum coming off the biggest victory for hunting rights since Proposal G. Let's keep that momentum up by taking some concrete steps, as individuals, that can help us keep this momentum and get us ready to fight the next time HSUS comes to attack our hunting rights.
1. If your legislators voted for this, call and thank them. And write a letter to your local paper thanking your legislators, too.
2. If you're a member of MUCC, recruit another member or donate to MUCC's Resource Defense Fund. If you're not a member, then join here, right now.
3. Volunteer for a wildlife habitat project. We have one coming up this weekend at Dansville State Game Area, hinge-cutting for deer habitat, and another on September 20 building rabbitat at the Standish Nature Preserve. When we show that hunters and anglers are true conservationists who do the work to improve habitat for the species we hunt, we improve our perception among the non-hunting majority who might decide our fate.
4. When you successfully hunt a deer this year, donate your hide at a Defend the Hunt dropoff location. The hides will be sold at auction in the winter or spring and the funds will be used to create a warchest to defend hunting rights from anti-hunters like HSUS. Last year we raised $9,300 through Defend the Hunt. This year we can do better with your help.
5. Act right. Seriously. Don't poach, don't trespass, don't talk about or practice the three "S"'s, and don't hunt unethically or post videos of idiotic behavior online. All those actions do is give ammunition to the anti-hunters. Every time you go afield or hold yourself out to be a hunter, angler or trapper, you are representing every other hunter, angler and trapper in Michigan. Act accordingly.
Defend the HuntThese are pretty simple actions that every person who hunts, fishes or traps in Michigan can take. Or, you can just hope against hope that HSUS doesn't come back to Michigan to attack hunting rights, just like they didn't in 1996, 2006, 2012, 2013... oh wait, they did. They're not going away, folks. We have to be ready for them.
What does your right to hunt, fish and trap mean to you? Does it mean enough to join an organization like MUCC? To volunteer? To donate a deer hide? To make a phone call?
What will you do today to protect your rights to hunt, fish and trap from the next attack by anti-hunters? Let us know in the comment section below!
Livin' Wild Wednesday is the weekly blog from MUCC Grassroots Manager Drew YoungeDyke.
 

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