No Safety in Wildlife Refuges

By Paula Moore and Carla Bennett

Canoeing, camping and killing: Two out of three ain’t bad. Now it’s time

to stop the slaughter of animals in America’s wildlife refuges.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which manages the National

Wildlife Refuge System, bows to the gun and tackle lobbyists. This year, the FWS announced plans to open nine new hunting programs in our national wildlife refuges.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the first official refuges

in 1940, he envisioned sanctuaries where it would be unlawful to hunt,

trap, capture, willfully disturb, or kill any bird or wild animal. Yet

today, these wildlife sanctuaries have become wildlife cemeteries,

where millions of animals are maimed and killed by guns and fishing

gear every year.

The FWS allows and encourages hunters to massacre animals in refuges with

all manner of weapons, from semiautomatic rifles to high-powered bows

and arrows. In addition to the more than 100 million animals reported

killed each year, millions more are killed illegally or simply wounded

and left to die slowly.

Hunting is a violent activity and not a civilized, kind or effective

method of population control for people or animals. Studies show that

herd populations actually rebound with an increase in size after a large

number of deaths in hunting seasons. The FWS has ignored fertility

control, such as Spay-Vac, a longterm immocontraception vaccine that has

lasted for well over six years on gray seals and been successful on

white-tailed deer, horses and every sheep it has been tested on.

Fishing is simply hunting in the water.

Fish cannot always express their suffering in ways that humans can

easily recognize, but common sense–and marine scientists–tell us that

fish feel pain, as all animals do.

According to Dr. Donald Broom, professor of animal welfare at Cambridge

University, The scientific literature is quite clear. Anatomically,

physiologically and biologically, the pain system in fish is virtually

the same as in birds and mammals. Adds Dr. Austin Williams, a U.S.

National Marine Fisheries Service zoologist, fish are sentient

organisms, so of course they feel pain.

And don’t think that catch-and-release advocates are off the hook.

Fisheries biologist Ralph Manns says fishing is inherently harmful to

fish, whether we release them or not. There is no doubt they would be

better off if we left them totally alone. No kidding–especially fish

who have their guts pulled out before being released, as fingers or

pliers crudely extract deeply swallowed hooks.

Fishing has other victims, too. More than 85 percent of the pelicans

treated at Florida’s Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, for example, have

injuries resulting from discarded fishing line and hooks. Even the

Missouri Department of Natural Resources–hardly an animal-friendly

institution–recognizes the problem. In an ad titled Death Line, the

agency reminds anglers that improperly discarded fishing line injures

and kills countless animals and birds every year.

Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act permits the use of refuges

whenever it is determined that such a use is compatible with the

purposes for which the area was established. Maiming and slaughtering

animals is completely contrary to President Roosevelt’s original vision

of refuges where wildlife would not be threatened by bullets or baited


There is some hope. The Wall Street has Journal reported that the number of

hunters plummeted 17 percent from 1990 to 1999. Gun companies efforts

to sell hunting to women and teenagers have failed miserably. Today,

less than 5 percent of Americans hunt. Fishing folk have begun recruiting kids to keep interest in fishing high. People are turning in droves to non-violent activities such as hiking, biking, rock-climbing and snorkeling.

As Americans seek ways to stem violence in our lives, let’s start with

the obvious: Stop killing for fun. Let’s turn our national wildlife

refuges back into the sanctuaries of nature they were intended to be,

where the animals can live in peace and we all can find solace and


Paula Moore and Carla Bennett write for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510,

Enviroshop is maintained by dedicated NetSys Interactive Inc. owners & employees who generously contribute their time to maintenance & editing, web design, custom programming, & website hosting for Enviroshop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *