Why Hunters Dominate Congress and States & Why Ryan Zinke is Worst Secretary of the Interior Ever: The Wall Street Journal reports that Ryan Zinke signed an order to open “as many U.S. national monuments as possible” to hunting and target shooting. The strangest aspect to this is the argument that he uses to support this move: the number of sports hunters has declined to only 11.5 million or, in other words, they only constitute 3.5% of the U.S. population and their numbers and percentage have been consistently declining. For most groups, a steadily declining percentage would suggest that this group should have LESS POWER and INFLUENCE over public lands that are for the 97 percent WHO DO NOT HUNT. But, not for Zinke. He blames the decline on the closing of Federal lands to hunting. Of course, this argument is totally false—the major reason is that the U.S. has become urban and the primary fixation of younger people is on their smart phones—not on hunting animals. Nevertheless, Congress is now about to pass a “Sporstmen’s Heritage and Recreational Act” that will enable a number of things that the NRA and hunters will be gleeful about: (1) Buy armor piercing bullets; (2) Allow importation of polar bear carcasses; (3) Make it easier to use gun silencers because the loud guns used by hunters hurt the hunters’ ears. As I have documented in my Wildlife Politics book and in other blog posts, the dominance of the hunters is due to some basic characteristics of U.S. politics: (1) The intensity of a small group like hunters that cares about their special interest outweighs the preferences of a huge but less intense majority-and, indeed, the smaller the numbers and percentage of hunters become, the more paranoid and intense they become about maximizing their rights to kill whatever they want with whatever means (forget about ethical hunting and fair chase) and the rights of non-hunters to be safe from them; (2) Congressional and state institutions that set hunting policy are dominated by representatives, senators, and officials who are happy to toady this small minority due to their concern with their small but dedicated votes and the (increasingly smaller) revenues they pay for licenses; (3) This is a scary group with members who have threatened (and sometimes acted on it) with violence anyone who opposes their rights to do whatever they want; (4) This toadying is primarily done by Republicans but also by Democrats in states like North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and other states where slob hunters are numerous. Still, one would hope that the Secretary of the Interior would address his policy concerns to the vast majority of users of public lands but Ryan Zinke is the Anti-Teddy Roosevelt, a man who in his short term of office has consistently done everything possible to undermine the conservation and biodiversity goals of the Interior Department while toadying to extractive industries and hunters. If he remains in office for 4 years, the conservation and biodiversity goals of the Interior Department will terribly weakened. The only hope is that those who care about conservation and biodiversity can speak to their representatives, senators, and public officials in as intense a manner as the hunters. Check out the Wall Street Journal article on hunting on public lands at https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-to-expand-hunting-at-national-monuments-1505488706
And Gail Collins of The New York Times describes the scariness of the so-called “Sportmen’s Act” (nothing sporting at all about it!): https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/opinion/guns-silencers-congress.html?emc=edit_tnt_20170915&nlid=10365419&tntemail0=y
I have just completed a book titled "Wildlife Politics" that is scheduled to be published by Cambridge University Press on March 30, 2017. The book covers broadly all major aspects of wildlife conservation policy worldwide. During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.