The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports Columns

February 4, 2012

Don Steese's Outdoors column: Cheers & Jeers

DANVILLE — I was reading the “Cheers and Jeers” editorial piece which appeared recently in The Daily Item, and since I’m constantly searching for a substitute for original thought, it occurred to me that I could do a similar column dealing with conservation, nature and the outdoors. Since I don’t seem to be suffering an attack of creativity at the moment ...

Jeers to the state legislators who are pushing a bill which would turn the job of managing antlerless deer in Pennsylvania to a panel made up primarily of hunters. It’s a bad idea whenever politicians, who are driven primarily by a desire to garner votes in the next election, start making decisions which are best left to professional wildlife managers.

Cheers to Sunbury’s Tom Boop for his service on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Board of Commissioners. Tom spoke for a lot of Pennsylvania deer hunters when he very openly opposed many of the changes made to Pennsylvania’s deer management program during the past 10 years or so.

Cheers to the current crop of PFBC commissioners. They seem to be bringing a much needed “resource-first” mentality to the forefront. This may make them unpopular with certain segments of the angling public, but much good will likely result from their efforts.

Cheers to former Pennsylvania governor “Tom Ridge” who was honored recently by having a wetlands preserve named after him. The Wildlife for Everyone Foundation, who owns the property, named it for the former governor. The Foundation noted that Ridge was “the first governor to buy and actually use hunting and fishing licenses. He also developed the Governors Sportsmen’s Advisory Council and signed into law a heavy agenda of pro-conservation legislation.”

Jeers to the Iowa state legislature for proposing a shorter pheasant season and lower bag limits to address Iowa’s decline in pheasant numbers. Measures such as this one represent “feel-good” legislation which does nothing to address the real problem, which is, of course, a reduction in the amount of suitable habitat within the state.

Jeers to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for making similar proposals to deal with declining bobwhite quail populations. Again, limiting hunting is merely a way for agencies to appear to be “doing something” about a problem that can, 90 percent of the time, be traced to a loss of habitat.

Jeers to irresponsible Florida burmese python owners who either allow their “pets” to escape or intentionally release them into the wild. These giant snakes are now posing a serious threat to native small animal species throughout the Everglades.

Cheers to CBS TV’s “60 minutes” for recently producing what I found to be a fair depiction of hunting exotic species on ranches in Texas. The segment did give time to animal rights activists who are fighting to stop the practice, but it also allowed ranchers to explain how hunting is likely the only way to save some of these species, which no longer exist in their native Africa, from total extinction. I was able to watch the entire segment without wanting to throw a brick through my TV, which is my usual reaction when faced with a mainstream media discussion of any hunting-related topic. Good on you, CBS!

n Email comments to jdsteese@yahoo.com

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