November 17, 2017  
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Editorial: Hunting for ways to skew(er) the truth
Editorial: Hunting for ways to skew(er) the truth
On September 7, the Trump Administration issued a news release (http://maineenvironews.com/Home/tabid/97/mid/628/newsid628/56702/Default.aspx) claiming a new report shows that 101.6 million Americans participated in wildlife-related activities last year, such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching. "The survey illustrates gains in wildlife watching and fishing, with moderate declines in the number of hunters nationally. "This report absolutely underscores the need to increase public access to public lands across the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “As a kid who grew up hunting and fishing on public lands who later took my own kids out on the same land, I know how important it is to expand access for future generations."

This news release is extremely deceptive — not that it is surprising in light of Trump Administration’s bias in favor of consumptive wildlife uses. The release lists the three categories of wildlife-related activities, in the exact opposite of their ranking in terms of numbers of participants, and then lumps them all together in one big number. The obvious goal is to promote hunting and fishing, the sports which account for big profits for the gun lobby, the ORV industry, and other manufacturers of expensive equipment, and which are strongly favored by state and federal wildlife agencies.

The actual numbers from the survey report show:
Wildlife watching — 86 million, 35% of adult population (up 20%)
Fishing — 35.8 million, 14% of adult population (up 8%)
Hunting — 11.5 million, 5% of adult population (down 16 %)

The news release buries the facts that hunting declined by 16% and huntin’ spendin’ decreased by a whopping 29%. The report illogically calls these figures “not statistically significant.”

The news release also attempts to reinforce the notion that "license fees and taxes for hunting and fishing fund just about all “conservation work.” According to the consumptive-obsessed Trumpsters: “Regarding the decrease in participation in hunting, Zinke said: ‘Hunters and anglers are at the backbone of American conservation, so the more sportsmen and women we have, the better off our wildlife will be.’” First, the critters that are "harvested" (killed), might take issue with that, but they were not surveyed. Second, no evidence is provided to back up the claim that wildlife are better off with more hunters stalking them.

The only two non-govenmental supporting actors quoted in the release are the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, both of which are heavily devoted to guns, shooting, and trophy hunting.

There is a legitimate place for hunting and fishing in the mix of uses on our public lands, but the hunting and fishing industries have been very effective in creating a fraudulent reality that hugely inflates their socioeconomic importance. They have even bamboozled many mainstream conservation organizations and otherwise progressive elected officials. Now they have their guys running the Department of the Interior and the rest of our national government, hunting for ways to skew(er) the truth about what is actually beneficial for wildlife and habitat conservation.

Posted on Sunday, September 10, 2017 (Archive on Sunday, October 1, 2017)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre
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