In an op-ed page article that appeared June 18th in the Bangor Daily News, John Glowa, a spokesman for the Wildlife Alliance of Maine (WAM), asserts that Maine’s fish and wildlife management system is “corrupt.” He argues that IF&W wildlife management policy is driven solely by politics, not science or biology. He attempts to support his theory with a series of distortions, half-truths and unfounded “facts” that he pulls out of thin air. How ironic that his analysis conveniently overlooks the fact that it was his organization, WAM, that sought through its Bear Referendum a few years ago to force Maine wildlife management policy out of science and into the political arena.
Unfortunately, Glowa’s outlandish and irresponsible allegations published in Maine’s second-largest daily newspaper have been largely ignored by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
In this media-intense age, simply ignoring your detractors is a recipe for losing ground in the never ending battle for public opinion.
What will probably go likewise unaddressed is Glowa’s use of a tiresome and subtle gambit that his fringe organization continually relies upon in its anti-hunting rhetoric: pitting nonconsumptive users (non-hunters and non-anglers) against “consumptive users” (hunters and anglers). This is an effective and convenient political polarization that reflects Glowa’s perspective of a black-and-white world that bears little resemblance to the real world.
In Maine, as in so many other states, it is the “consumptive users” (the hunters) who are being relied upon by professional wildlife managers to control and regulate wildlife populations. Nationwide last year in deer-vehicle crashes, there were 100 deaths and 10,000 injuries. Wisconsin had in one year 48,803 deer-vehicle crashes. Coyotes have become a problem in urban areas threatening children and pets. Last month in Maine, moose-car collisions left an increasing number of our citizens dead or injured. A few weeks ago at a national park in Utah, a black bear dragged a sleeping 11-year-old boy from his tent and mauled him to death while his horrified grandparents stood by helplessly.
In my experience, most people who hunt and fish are as much dedicated wildlife watchers as hunters. In other words, consumptive users are also nonconsumptive users. Another well-kept secret that you won’t hear from the Glowas of this world is that, historically, sportsmen are the fathers of American conservation. Wildlife flourishes today largely as a result of sportsmen’s organizations and their license fees and taxes paid on sporting equipment. But as we all know, words are the weapons that will decide the outcome of the culture war that has Maine in its grip. “Consumption” has become a dividing, pejorative word in our guilt-ridden society and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine, and other similar organizations that are determined to plunder Maine’s hunting heritage can be expected to exploit its usefulness.
Remember, the deadline for submitting your mailed application for a doe permit is July 16. If you apply online, you have until Aug. 3. The IF&W website is www.mefishwildlife.com. For more information, call the IF&W information center at 287-8000.
The Appalachian Mountain Club, which pledged to “allow the continuation of traditional use” on its newly purchased land tracts in the Katahdin Iron Works area, notified a number of bear guides and outfitters in June that AMC would no longer allow the placement of bait sites on their newly acquired land. AMC bought this land with the use of federal and state tax revenues. So much for AMC’s pledges.
V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WCME-FM 96.7) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected]