Below is a copy of the letter I wrote to the editor and editorial assistant of South Carolina Wildlife, a magazine I've faithfully subscribed to since I was in high school. Peruse and/or enjoy at will.
February 5, 2008
Caroline Foster, Editor
Tricia Way, Editorical Assistant
South Carolina Wildlife
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Rembert C. Dennis Building
1000 Assembly Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Dear Ms. Foster and Ms. Way:
My name is Katherine Crawford, and I'm a native South Carolinian and long-time subscriber (as are most of my family members in Columbia, Greenville, Anderson, Lexington and Charleston) to South Carolina Wildlife. Though I've lived in North Carolina for the past three years, I still subscribe faithfully every year. As a nature lover, outdoorswoman, former freelance reporter for The Greenville News and full-time reporter for The Hendersonville Times-News, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate your publication. I've even utilized the magazine when I focus on environmental writing in the classes I teach as an adjunct English professor at Brevard College, in Brevard, North Carolina.
I know that South Carolina Wildlife periodically focuses on articles pertaining to ethics in hunting. I'm writing mainly to suggest an article, or series of articles, about the hottest (and most disturbing) hunting topic coming out of the western and Pacific northwest regions of the U.S.: the proposed removal of wolves from the Endangered Species Act, and particularly the aerial gunning of wolves in Alaska. Many environmental groups--mainly Defenders of Wildlife--are working diligently to keep a vocal minority in these states, and, unfortunately, the Bush administration, from allowing such unethical practices to continue.
For the first time in my life, I have called my representative on the phone about this issue... twice. I have written him emails and letters, and I've enlisted friends and family to do the same. I'm hoping that he will seriously consider joining the one hundred and eleven (111) U.S. Representatives who have already signed on to co-sponsor #3663, the PAW Act, which bans the aerial gunning of wolves in Alaska. I suppose I'll have to wait and see.
What I was disturbed to find when looking at the 111 names of the co-sponsors of the PAW Act, was that no one, not a single representative from South Carolina had signed on. (In fact, only six Southern U.S. Representatives--Brad Miller and David Price, NC; John Lewis, Hank Johnson, and David Scott, GA; and Corrine Brown, FL--have yet to sign the bill.)
And it made me start to think about the grand tradition of hunting in my native state, and about the men and women hunters I'd grown up with, who all faithfully subscribe to ethical hunting practices, especially when it comes to "fair chase." The hunters I grew up with were and are experienced, talented and resourceful, and never wasteful. Gunning wolves from the air in itself is an atrocity and an affront to the thousands of "true," legitimate hunters in North and South Carolina and across the South, but it is also wasteful, ignorant and asinine. It literally gives all hunters a bad name.
A minority of protesting ranchers and hunting guides claim that wolves are a threat to their livestock, or that they are hurting the moose and elk populations. On the surface, these seem like entirely reasonable concerns. However, many environmental groups have been paying and will pay ranchers for livestock destroyed or harmed by wolves. I spent the month of October in southwestern Montana, and quickly learned--firsthand--that most ranchers there will have perhaps one incident with a wolf in a ranching lifetime, if at all. I also spent a summer in Alaska as a college student, and know that as any Alaska (native or otherwise) will tell you, you can live your entire life in the Great North and never lay eyes on a wolf. Indeed, elk and moose populations in these areas are healthier than ever, and real environmental concerns have been raised about over-population, disease, and other effects that eliminating such a startlingly large number of their main predators have had and will have on these animals.
What happens to the hunting community at large when a group of their peers acts in such a dishonest, unethical and immoral way? The hunting community altogether, and especially in a place like South Carolina, where the sport has always been and continues to be a noble, honored tradition, need to speak out. If the hunting community remains silent on this issue, it only indicates assent.
Please consider an article, or series of articles on this topic. Please consider addressing this issue in your magazine. Or, if nothing else, address this issue to the number of hunting and environmental groups to which you have access.
Thank you for your time.
Katherine S. Crawford, South Carolina Wildlife reader