At the beginning of March I began receiving emails from several friends regarding an Action Alert that the Massachusetts Audubon Society emailed out to their followers and supporters. The alert voiced the organization’s opposition to bill HB3946 and urged their constituency to contact their state representatives to fight the bill. The bill would give the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife the authority to open Sundays to bow hunting.
Mass Audubon opposes hunting on Sundays because “there’s only one day a week where families can be in the woods in peace and quiet and not worry about hunters.” Their position neither supports or opposes scientific or economic data on the subject or hunting in general.
The position of the largest conservation organization in New England disappoints me. As a professional land manager and outdoorsman it boggles my mind that a land trust which doesn’t even allow hunting on its properties would voice an opinion on the issue. When competition between land trusts for members and donations is steep and resources are being slashed, one would think they would either invest their time in more strategic and higher priority advocacy, or better yet, capitalize on it by marketing to attract new visitors, members and donors to their properties and programs on those Sundays to build a larger constituency. Even if you disregard the irony that the organization’s namesake, John James Audubon, was a hunter that shot just about everything he could – because it was easier to study and draw a dead bird than a live one – it just doesn’t make sense to me.
At the heart of it, their premise doesn’t hold water in Massachusetts. Plain and simple, Sunday hunting doesn’t nullify the opportunity to enjoy nature without worry of hunters. There are more beautiful, hunting-free public properties in the Commonwealth than one can count, literally. Ask anyone from the large land trusts or State agencies how many properties allow or don’t allow hunting and frankly they don’t know. The answer I can give you off the top of my head, well that’s easy. All Mass Audubon properties, more than 50% of the Trustees of Reservations properties, and many State parks and forests in every corner of the state do not allow hunting.
Hunting has been proven time and again to be the best available and most practical means of managing deer populations. Roughly 80% of all states allow some form of Sunday hunting. Why? Because it works and ding, ding ding it also generates significant revenue through licensing and permitting for each state.
In fairness, it isn’t Mass Audubon’s position that is the problem. Its what it represents – a general lack of common sense. Hunting and expanded hunting opportunities through new properties being opened to hunting, Sunday hunting or expanded seasons is common sense.
My Five Point Pitch
- Hunting has been proven to be the best available and most economical means of managing deer populations;
- Hunting generates revenue for each state;
- Hunting does not compromise one’s ability to enjoy nature free of hunting;
- The economic contributions of hunters is significant and particularly benefits rural economies and matrix of businesses large and small; and,
- Hunting is a safe activity, and it is getting safer all the time. Over the last 50 years hunting related injury rates have decreased dramatically, even as populations of deer, wild turkey, elk, geese, and other species of game have risen to record numbers. -International Hunter Education Association, IHEA
While we all usually latch on to just one or a couple of the themes that best suit us individually, I encourage you to adopt this Five Point Pitch and share one voice, the voice of common sense. I hope in this case, so does the Commonwealth. – Chris Ward