A recent survey by Responsive Management on the public’s attitude toward hunting and recreational fishing shows 80 percent of Americans approve of hunting and 93 percent approve of recreational fishing.
But the survey also said approval of hunting drops when “Trophy Hunting” is the motivation of the hunter.
If hunter Joe draws a bull elk tag in 2015 — it may take an Arizona hunter 3-10 years or longer to draw a tag — and he says, 'I would love to shoot a big bull, but I really need some meat in the freezer,' so he decides to not be too choosy if he gets a chance to shoot a bull elk. (Elk hunt success rate is around 35 percent each year.)
Is Joe a “trophy hunter” or a “meat hunter”?
I believe most would say he wants the meat, and that’s OK.
If hunter Joe draws another bull elk tag in 2019 and he says, 'I have a good supply of meat in the freezer, so this year I am going shoot a big bull or nothing,' if he kills his big bull, he plans to top off his freezer and give the rest of the meat to his family and friends.
Is Joe a trophy hunter now? Do you now disapprove of Joe?
The fact is, it is illegal to waste the meat from a big game animal. It must be removed from the field for human consumption — period. So, is Joe’s motivation in 2019 an issue for you?
I get it, hunting should fulfill more basic needs than killing a “trophy,” and for 99 percent of hunters it does. I read an article from Seattle that disparaged “Trophy Hunters” but missed the mark. The guy outlined in the article bought an auction tag for big bucks and then killed a nice bull elk in a closed area. What the writer should have conveyed is a poacher killed a “trophy” elk. This guy should have the animal confiscated, lose hunting privileges for five years, face a big fine and some jail time — but that is up to the state of Washington to decide.
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Another issue brought up in the Seattle article is how this poacher was able to buy his elk tag.
Most states donate a few tags each year to conservation groups to auction off. The proceeds from the auctions (and in Arizona we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars each year) must be returned to the state and used for habitat and research projects.
There are pros and cons to this process.
The pros: The auctions generate much needed revenue for wildlife management with no impact on the resource. As hunter numbers decline needed wildlife management remains but the funding source is decreasing. These auction proceeds also delay the time when the state has to raise hunting fees for all hunters.
The cons: The auction tags fosters the “Trophy Hunting” stigma and smacks the face of the North American Model of Wildlife Management, which is rooted in the concept that a states wildlife is managed for the benefit of all citizens, not just the wealthy.
When you realize that the Arizona Game and Fish manages big game, small game AND desert tortoises and woodpeckers and black footed ferrets and 750 other species and that 95 percent of you do not pay them a dime for any of that management cost you can see where the auction tag process is a needed evil.
Oregon just passed legislation that sets aside $1 million in state general fund dollars to be matched by donations to help the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife manage Oregon’s wildlife.
There is proposed Federal legislation, HR 3742, that would allocate $1.3 billion to state wildlife management agencies and an additional $97.5 million to tribal wildlife management agencies.
This Federal help is sorely needed.