Democratic Oklahoma state senator Earl Garrison has proposed a “Hunters Bill of Rights” that would guarantee the legality of hunting. He fears a ban on hunting could could happen at some point due to pressure from animal rights groups and hopes to preemptively block any attempts with a constitutional amendment.
“Animals have to be harvested,” he said. “It’s important that you have management because if you don’t, you get overpopulation, and the animals get smaller and there’s too much inbreeding.”[social_buttons]
Of course, hunters do have a vested interest in preserving animal habitats and a history of conservation. Under age-old tax laws, the sport generates much of the United States’ conservation budget through the purchase of tags or stamps that limit the number of kills per season.
While some conservationists and animal welfare groups say that hunting is cruel, they often fumble when trying to argue against the need for population control. Humans have hunted to extinction many natural predators and continue to encroach on habitats with suburban developments. So perhaps our involvement truly is needed to fix the damage we have done, but is hunting the only solution?
Garrison thinks it is.
“You never know when extremist groups might come in and say this is not a good thing,” he said. “I think there is some fear that some groups will make it against the law to even hunt and fish because they think it’s cruel to animals.”
But this motive for the amendment is disingenuous. Even a fellow hunter admits the prospects of a welfare-related hunting ban in Oklahoma is far-fetched: “Some of your animal rights groups might try something like that, but I doubt if they could get it to pass,” said Dorothy Farmer, director of Promoting Animal Welfare Society. “I’ve never worried about it. We’ve been hunting and fishing for years, and it hasn’t happened.”
Not only would take a massive change to America’s cultural beliefs for such a ban to pass, but also a development in other methods to control animal populations. Only then could a hunting ban come into effect, not at the whims of animal rights activists.
Various forms of wildlife contraception have been developed and put into use over the past 20 years. While the technology is still being developed and perfected, it could easily become a humane and effective alternative to hunting in the near future.
Unfortunately, Garrison’s proposed constitutional amendment could slow such technology from being used in Oklahoma. The hunters who truly are concerned with conservation should be opposed to the amendment and instead support research and development into more effecient and less disruptive means to control overpopulation.