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E-M:/ Doves and Hunters

Enviro-Mich message from Richard Hitz Consulting &Design <rehitz@umich.edu>

I am a hunter. I am also an environmentalist--I cannot seperate the 
two.  For many years I have been advocating the creation of native, 
old growth forests on state lands and lobbying for the reduction of 
massive clearcuts and timber harvest mandates. Yet, I am an avid 
grouse hunter and stand at odds with the Roughed Grouse Society at 
the NRC meetings and local compartment reviews.  It saddens me when 
other hunters consider deer, grouse and turkey habitat management as 
a positive, environment friendly activity. I am saddened by the NRA's 
shrill and unyielding position on handguns and registration. I am 
saddened by the "slob" hunters' soul-less killing.
As I follow the debate on dove hunting I have come to realize there 
are also "slob" enviromentalists. People who speak with conviction 
and venom without knowledge. Based on my own experience I would like 
to address a few myths I've heard in this debate that are personally 

1) The passenger pigeon was as much a victim of habitat loss as 
hunting.  As I said earlier, I advocate the return of old growth 
hardwood forests (passenger pigeon habitat) without any hope of ever 
seeing or shooting a passenger pigeon.  Old forests are good for all 
of us and we have been diminsihed by their disappearance.

2) It is a joy to hunt and eat the flesh of an animal I have killed. 
There is no joy in the killing.  There is sadness and remorse knowing 
I must take a life to live.  But I have chosen to take that life and 
would prefer to do so than hire someone to do it for me. If you eat 
meat you are responsible for the death of every animal you 
consume--are they raised and killed humanely and with respect? Do you 
have any idea at all?

3) Yes, doves are small and there really isn't much meat on each one, 
but how much meat do you need? Two doves will provide all the protein 
I need for a day.  By the way, they are incredibly good much like 
woodcock and pigeon.  If you follow the "too small" argument out a 
few steps further you have to ask is a chicken too small? A domestic 
duck? Should we eat only the largest animals on the planet? What is 
the "right" size?

4) "Doves are our symbol of peace and are peaceful therefore it is 
unthinkable and barbaric to eat them."  Are doves more peaceful than 
starlings? Are they more deserving of life than any other being? Why 
are you not ourtraged that starlings and pigeons may be shot at any 
time of the year with no limitations? Because you don't like them? 
They're a nuisance? You don't like their plumage, their song? Because 
their ancestors came over on the boats like the rest of the white 
folks? They don't fit into any of our neat native ecosystem packages? 
Are their souls, their spirits less valuable? Is their imagination 
less rich? Do you care?

5) "Hunters are irresponsibly training their children to be killers, 
isn't their enough killing going on?" My ten year old son and his 
friends want to kill little animals.  I did when I was a kid. My 
father disdained hunting and would not allow guns of any sort in the 
house, but when we got our hands on a BB gun we went after anything 
that moved.  My son has a BB gun and a 16 gauge shotgun.  He has been 
trained to handle each one safely, there is no mystery or glory for 
him in handling guns. He knows it is forbidden to kill without reason 
and resists, reluctantly, that strange, primal urge to kill.  I don't 
know how he'll turn out but I do know that he has more respect and 
care for life than I and my peers did at his age. The reasons people 
kill each other has nothing to do with hunting, they happen to commit 
homocide with similar tools.

Finally, if you are a vegetarian I respect your right of choice to 
take the lives of plants but not animals. Please respect mine.

Richard Hitz

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