Letter to the editor: Legislation would curtail hound hunter activities

The negative language that has been added to S.321 threatens both the hunting community and the integrity of the Fish and Wildlife Department. Senator Chris Bray stated on the record that he doesn’t believe these are attacks on hunting. If this concerns you, seek him out and speak to him about it.
The Fish and Wildlife Department spends the majority of its sportsman-generated dollars on non-game programs, yet this bill creates a study committee that is made up of legislators. We could end up with some Fish and Wildlife Board members whom neither have a hunting, fishing or trapping license, but would have voting power to change the outdoor activity they don’t support or take part in. How many will be people who just want an end to hunting? Those folks can have their opinion, but hunting is what pays for the well-being of all of our wildlife. If they succeed in destroying it, then who will pay? The answer is the wildlife, and all of us along with it.
If they get rid of all the hound hunters, who is going to haze bears when we need them chased out of our state parks, yards, or crop fields? If there’s no one there to chase them off, how many more will get shot as nuisances?
For those of you who have dogs, consider these parts and realize it will mean an end to bear hunting with hounds. Dog owners would have to be within 528 feet of their dogs, maintain visual contact at all times, and it would be a violation if a dog went in land where the hunter didn’t have prior written permission to hunt. A first violation would be a five year loss of privilege, and a second violation would be a lifetime loss. The conditions are impossible, and the penalties are greater than that for irresponsibly killing someone.
That committee has spent four days on testimony for a bill that was not contentious until the senator added this language. That’s an entire legislative week wasted. Senator Bray could be working on a lot of more important things in his committee. With all the real ecological issues facing us today, why is it so important to use his power to attack a minority?
Last week I contacted the legislature and offered to provide testimony on S.321 due to bear problems we’ve had at our home over the past several years.
I’ve not been asked so apparently Senator Bray isn’t interested in my views…
Bob Patterson

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