Friday, September 29, 2017

A case of shoot first, answer questions later?

Tonka looks like a sweetie. The photo shows the young dog near a grinning little boy lying in bed. Light-colored, with oversize puppy ears and chubby legs, Tonka and the boy seem to be good pals.  

The Alaskan Shepherd was a year old when he was killed by a bow-hunter who mistook him for a coyote, an animal registered hunters are allowed to shoot (although the season when they may do so doesn’t start till Sept. 30).

Tonka’s Readington Township family is, reportedly and understandably, “devastated” over his unexpected, needless death. 

The Animal Protection League of NJ (APLNJ) could say, “We told you so,” but that won’t bring Tonka back, or save other family pets, or people, who are also in jeopardy. As long as bow-hunting to within 150 feet of a home’s back door is permissible, this kind of heartbreak could happen over and again.

Or as APL (in the person of Angi Metler, its executive director) does say: “This tragedy demonstrates basically what we’ve been saying all along: “Coming closer to homes, bow hunting will lead to more tragedies, not fewer of them.”

With thanks to Metler for info and links, here’s more context for the story about Tonka, which I saw in the Times of Trenton last Saturday, Sept. 23. 

First of all, in August 2010, the perimeter for bow hunters was cut from 450 feet to 150 feet from a back door (not property line). For schools and playgrounds, the perimeter stayed at 450 feet for bow hunters.

The following link leads to some grisly reading. In sickening detail, it spells out when and in what manner (“call, stalk or stand” . . .) a hunter may try to kill coyotes and foxes.  (Or should I say “harvest” them, using a euphemism often found in writing about hunting. Is anyone fooled?) What kind of mind, what kind of person would pore over these specifics, day-dreaming of dead coyotes and foxes?

And note that the bow-only “season” for coyotes and foxes starts Sept. 30. So did Tonka’s shooter have calendar issues?  Or did his claim that the (thought-to-be) “coyote” was chasing a deer give him the right to shoot in “deer defense”?

What must hunters pay for the right to kill animals? The “resident firearm hunting license” costs $27.50, while that for “bow and arrow hunting” goes for $31.50.  Ah, but the so-called “all around sportsman” license covers the first two here plus fishing, for $72.25.  A real steal.

Finally, how successful are hunters at eradicating New Jersey animals?  Here’s a link to APLNJ’s current report (the newest is due out very soon).

It’s disturbing to know all these things and see the Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) laboriously prepared charts, price lists and tips for hunters, who make up such a tiny proportion of the state’s population.  (“Resident hunting licenses” sold in 2016 totaled 32,512 in a population of 8.944 million, or less than ½ of 1%.) 

Here’s a DFW quote (italics added) that should live in infamy: "Small game hunting in New Jersey provides hours of recreation afield every hunting season. From abundant native populations of rabbit and squirrel to elusive ruffed grouse, there are ample opportunities for sportsmen and women to enjoy the pursuit of game.”

Poor dear Tonka, your killer may not have many hunter-peers here, but thanks to DFW, he’s got a wealth of info and support backing him up.

            Coyote image: Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources

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1 comment:

  1. 150 feet is not enough distance from a back door. Poor Tonka!