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Letter sheds light on tactics of animal-rights activists

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Animal-rights activists might not make a lot of sense, but watching their antics is educational if nothing else.

Their public statements sometimes reveal which backdoor tactic they'll use next in their never-ending crusade to rid the world of hunting, livestock rearing, circuses, the wearing of furs, or any other activity they hope to eliminate.

A recent op-ed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal is a case in point. The man who wrote the piece, Fred Voltz of Carson City, Nev., revealed at least three tactics animal-rightists are using, or plan to use, to try to turn the tide of public opinion against hunting.

The first, and the central point of Voltz's screed, was to argue for the abolition of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners.

Voltz called the nine-member commission an example of "unelected public bodies with scant visibility," as if to insinuate that its commissioners conducted business in secret, and without input from the public.

What Voltz failed to mention is that Nevada's governor - who is elected - appoints commission members to four-year terms; and that all of the commission's meetings are open to the public, not "secret." Like West Virginia's Natural Resources Commission, the Nevada panel is responsible for setting season dates, bag limits and special regulations for the state's hunting and fishing seasons.

Voltz argued that the Nevada commission and its affiliated county advisory boards "are overwhelmingly composed of killers pursuing 'conservation' by propagating target wildlife to a level where a hunt can be declared."

"Killers?" Really, Fred?

Anyway, if Voltz had his druthers, the commission would be eliminated and management would be turned over to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, which, in his words, "employs professional staff potentially capable of rebalancing wildlife's best interests against the current, shameless slaughter."

In other words: Without that pesky commission to represent the public, we could elect a governor who shares our animal-rights views and have him dictate, top-down through wildlife employees that serve at his will and pleasure, exactly which species people would be allowed to hunt - if they were allowed to hunt at all.

Nevada isn't the only place where anti-hunting activists are seeking to co-opt or eliminate state wildlife commissions. In California and some other states, animal-rightists have succeeded in altering commission's makeup and personnel to suit their agenda.

Voltz's second tactic was revealed when he argued that visitors to the state's Spring Mountains National Wildlife Area, Mt. Charleston Wilderness and Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area are somehow in danger because hunting and trapping take place there.

"Extensive hunting and trapping regularly occur despite the ongoing threat to public safety of hidden traps and armed people killing unarmed wildlife and companion animals," Voltz wrote.

Never mind that the 2 million visitors to those areas are spread throughout 569,261 acres. That's roughly four visitors per acre per year, roughly the same visitor rate as West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest, where hunting and trapping have taken place for decades with no harm to the public from "hidden traps" or "armed people killing unarmed wildlife."

In writing what he wrote, Voltz hopes to create a perception that hunting and trapping somehow constitute a threat to public safety, when there's virtually no evidence it does.

Voltz's final tactic was a proverbial shot over the bow. He wrote that hunters and trappers "pay no severance compensation when permanently destroying the public's wildlife, a valuable natural resource akin to gold, silver, oil or natural gas. Such compensation is overdue and appropriate given the extent of damage inflicted."

So now the animal rightists want a severance tax on wildlife, huh?

Thanks for the warning, Fred.


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