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Oklahoma Senator Seeks Constitutional Right to Hunt

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.

Photo Credit: glasgows on Flickr under Creative Commons license.




6 comments
  1. RB

    I’m sitting here smirking at my own adoption of the voice of intelligence and reason, noting that I can’t seem to properly spell “domestic.” Curse you, lack of “edit” function, for making me look a fool!

  2. RB

    I think its pretty disingenuous to claim all hunters are trophy hunters, only pay lipservice to conservation, or exhibit a vicious cruelty toward other animals. Jan S’s neighbor ought not be considered representative of all hunters. While many hunters that I know are indeed fascinated by skins and trophies (perhaps because they are a reminder of a beautiful day spent out in the glorious surroundings of nature, or in the case of the neighbor, because of some collection sickness), few that I know treat their domestice animals poorly, and of those that own livestock, none starve them.

    I don’t think that the argument is that hunting makes a species stronger. Hunting is being referred to (in this article, at least) as a population control rather than a means of selection. Contraceptive use seems impractical or potentially dangerous. Hormonal implants and vaccines require hunting down the animal anyway, and who knows what effects would come from using some sort of general application birth control on the population at large (concentration of hormones or chemicals a’la ddt? rising hormone leveles in the water supply?).

    I know that many hunters are either high-profile or wealthy sport hunters, but there are many poor people who hunt as a means of procuring food. My family was one that determined buying a deer tag and having several pounds of venison in the deep freeze was easier on the pocketbook than shopping for meat for the next couple of months.

    aaron-(and here I adopt a tone of sarcasm) What an insightful comment. Maybe you should go home and lie down. Leave the thinking to those who do it.

    Gracchus-that seems an unfair statement with no substantial footing. Yes, extremists from any side of an issue give the soundbites to the news (most all media seems enslaved by the ratings), so of course it sounds like BS if it’s not more in line with your own feelings. Furthermore, your statement exhibits a lack of understanding concerning the philosophical nature of karma. However, since we all know what you mean, might I respond by noting that if the hunter later becomes the hunted, that is part of the give-and-take of Life, and of the ‘oneness’ central to many schools of thought that embrace karma or karma-like conceptions. It’s not necessarily the act, but rather the emotions that flow with the act, that send out ripples into reality.

    All in all, I think there are many good reasons to continue the practice of hunting (including the bump in conservation money referred to in the article). I also agree with protecting hunting with an amendment to the state constitution. If you’d ever sat down with Oklahoma legilators, you’d want to take as many decisions out of their scary and inept hands as you could, as well. Heck, the state senator who wrote this amendment couldn’t even write it narrowly enough to dismiss doomsayers who worry that it will be used to use iron maidens on bunny rabbits, or whatever.

    Rant done…If you’ve read this far, you’re a stranger man than I.

  3. Gracchus

    I agree with Jan S.
    Hunters couldn’t care less about animal population balance, come on.
    They just feed us some stunning, assorted BS, politician style…

    The Karma will strike back on you guys, next one you’ll be the game.

  4. Jan S

    Hunting by man does not make any animal species stronger by weeding out individuals. Human hunt mostly for trophies and not food. Humans tend NOT to hunt the weak and crippled animals like other non-armed predators do, humans hunt the deer with the largest “rack” or fish for the biggest fish. I have a neighbor that loves to hunt and skin rodents (raccoons, skunks and squirrels). His garage is full of the skins hanging from the ceiling. In my book the man is cruel to his dogs and lets his livestock starve. He has more than enough “rights” right now without giving him more to have with the “right to kill and maime” more creatures.

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