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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

You may also want to read this A.P. story referenced in the article:
http://www.startribune.com/stories/531/3555191.html

January 8th 13:38 Update

We have decided to make this the poll question for January 2003, owing to the fact that it is a serious issue that will effect hunters in the U.S. depending on the outcome. During November of last year we asked Is Bait Hunting Fair Chase? and the response was evenly split 52% (Yes) and 48% (No).

This is another chance to debate baiting in the case of bears. It is also a good chance to review what role Congress should play in local/state game management policy.

Should Congress Ban Bear Baiting on Federal Land?

Please use this area to post comments or questions about this poll.

[ This Message was edited by: moderator on 2003-01-08 17:30 ]

expatriate's picture
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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

Here we go, folks -- on the road to the federal government usurping state rights to control wildlife populations. Talk about a slippery slope! This will have a HUGE impact on Western states when you consider National Forest, BLM, and Wilderness areas. Public hunting is about to become under the control of the fed.

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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

While I do not bait myself (for legal reasons, since CO doesn't allow baiting), I wouldn't support a ban on bear baiting. Baiting may not be as "fair" as some types of hunting, but in my opinion it is fair enough to meet a definition of fair chase. I completely reject the Congressman's assertion that baiting is analogous to "shooting fish in a barrel".

In the debate on hunting rights the arguement seems to be slowly shifting to the point where non-hunters get to define for hunters what "sport" or "fair chase" means. How precisely is baiting a bear different than using an injured rabbit call? Both work on the bear's hunger, simply working on the desire to get an easy meal. Calling is more "active" and baiting is more "passive" I suppose, but from the bears perspective it is the exact same instinct that is being exploited. The bait hunter sits on his duff, usually, so does the caller, usually. There is very little distinction between baiting and calling from the hunters or the bears perspective, except on one grounds: Aromas carry further and can be left all day/night long. Yes this makes it easier, but a hunting tactic should not be written off as being "not fair chase" simply because it makes hunting easier. Guns, camo, decoys, scents, boots, bincos, and blinds all make hunting easier, relative to bare feet, a lions cloth, and a spear.

This is also a well organized attack by animal rights groups. Consider that this is not a "total" baiting ban but just a bear baiting ban, the AR is specifically focusing on bears, when deer baiting is legal in many of the same states that allow bear baiting. Logically if you are going to attack bear baiting shouldn't you also be interested in deer baiting? Why wouldn't you include deer baiting in your ban?

Bear hunters are a much smaller hunting segment than deer hunters, thus the outcry from hunters, the AR is hoping, will be smaller and less noticed. Bear, I would also guess, extract more sympathy from non-hunters, when they imagine winne the pooh coming in for a pot-o-honey. The AR wants to win on a federal level under this smaller scope, then use the precidence of a bear baiting ban to ban all baiting then move on to certain types of hunting. Perhaps decoys for birds because this isn't as "sporting" as just waiting w/o any decoys. Perhaps the use of guns, since this isn't as "fair" as using a bow (I'm sure the anti-gun crowd would be willing to chip in some $$$ for this one). Eventually I think they want to get to the point where, short of throwing stones at the deer/bears/cougars, nothing is fair in hunting.

The federalizing of game management is a serious issue too.

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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

There's a couple aspects of this that worry me. As I said, I get real nervous about the idea of the federal government controlling hunting. One need only to look at the makeup of the House to realize that the people near the most federal lands (i.e. Western states) have almost no say in that chamber, compared to urban areas. Consider all the federal land in Montana, and then realize that Montana has only one representative in a House of 435 members. The electoral college gives you a pretty good idea of who has the power in Washington -- urban areas and states like California and New York dominate. Do we want to give them control of all those public hunting lands?

Similarly, the federal government has a sad tendency to develop blanket legislation (like this one) that could be disastrous for wildlife. What works in Connecticut won't work in Nevada. If legislation follows the power breakdown in Congress, needs of the majority of federal lands will either be ignored, or legislation will contain so many compromises that it won't serve anyone well.

Another aspect is the wildlife management nightmare this precedent would create for the states. Wildlife doesn't respect federal land borders, and I can't see how a state like Montana could possibly manage game populations when it can't set the rules for huge chunks of its territory.

This kind of federalization would never fly in the Reagan administration, and Bush came across initially as a believer in Reagan's ideas. Yet the administration has moved a lot more power into Washington over the last couple years, so who knows what'll happen.

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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

If the bear baiting ban did pass at a federal level, I imagine there would be states that would break rank and sue the fed on the grounds that it is an unecessary infringement of power.

There is another angle to this "why pick a bear baiting ban first". Most western states already outlaw bear baiting, so the states most likely to be effected, can't reasonably come out against this federal law because they (CO, MT, WA, CA, OR) have laws against baiting anyway. WY, ID, UT, AK allow baiting, I'm not sure where AZ, NM, and NV sit...

The precidence setup by passing of such a bill will be bad for hunters even if they are against baiting in any form and the animal rights activists have done their homework, going after a bill that is most likely to pass.

Look they even have nice little email letters ready for everybody to sign and send in...

http://action.fund.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=1431

It is scary how organized these people are....

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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

Here's another wrinkle. Who's going to pay for enforcement? Is the fed going to increase funding to enable NFS, BLM, etc to take on this new role, or are they going to tap the state with enforcing it? If it's the latter the states would quickly complain of an unfunded mandate.

I agree that baiting isn't the issue here -- it's precedent. They picked baiting because division over the issue like we saw on the forum means less sportsman opposition to the idea. Once you establish a precedent for separate federal hunting jurisdiction on federal lands, you can tack on all sorts of other things in the future. Some things that come to mind would be usage fees, special permits, bag limits, season limits, etc.

Also, would bear baiting on public land(or any other violation of future statutes based on the precedent) be considered by definition a felony? I'd hate to think of suffering the consequences of a felony conviction for something that'd be a misdemeanor on the other side of an invisible line.

This is a foot in the door, and if we respond to it based on beliefs over baiting, we'll be cutting our own throats.

[ This Message was edited by: expatriate on 2003-01-08 19:30 ]

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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

The feds should NOT be involved in any of the hunting regs or game management! Period.

It should be up to the individual states to both manage the game & provide the rules/regs for hunting that game. Can you even imagine having something as cumbersome as the federal gov regulating our hunting?

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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

Imagine -- F&G reg books written by the same people who write the tax code:

"You may not hunt within one half hour prior to or one half hour following a solar eclipse. Bucks of four points per side or greater may be taken on alternate Tuesdays during months with a full moon. However, if you shot a buck in at least two of the last five years, you are restricted to does only. Note that if your gross adjusted income from line 6a is less than the number of lodgepole pines per acre in the area you're hunting (as defined in Schedule R, attachments 5 through 47), you may take both a buck of 3 points or less and a doe that has produced at least one fawn in her life. If, however, your FICA witholding divided by number of dependents exceeds the number of rabbit holes per section divided by the average slope of the primary drainage, you are restricted to either a doe with one eye and a drooping left ear or a spike buck with three legs. If successful, you must retain evidence of your harvest (expended shell casing, retrieved bullet, head with evidence of sex attached, and used butcher paper) for seven years in case you are audited."

[ This Message was edited by: expatriate on 2003-01-09 23:04 ]

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Congressman Announces Plan to End Bear Baiting

Ha Ha that is pretty good. No doubt it would create a class of "hunting accounts" to assure that you file your evidence of sex properly. H&R Block would spin off a fast growing unit called 'H&R Hunting' to help befuddled hunters, because God knows we always confuse a solar eclipse with a lunar eclipse.

[ This Message was edited by: bitmasher on 2003-01-08 23:31 ]

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