Guest column: Use of hounds to hunt bears is unethical, inhumane
April 6, 2017
Hunting is an honorable tradition and a significant part of our way of life in Nevada. We all have friends and neighbors who mark time by the seasons — not winter, spring and fall but chucker, deer and elk. Trekking through the backcountry and filling the garage freezer are annual rituals in many Nevada families.
Unfortunately, there are some people who dishonor those traditions with unsporting practices like hounding. Some "hunters" use packs of dogs that are often equipped with GPS collars, two-way radios and other telemetry tools that make it easy for the hunter to track the pack of hounds as they do the hard work of stalking prey.
The packs chase and corner the hunted animals, now easy targets. If the hunter isn't fast enough, the pack of dogs can attack which can result in the prey being torn apart and hounds possibly being mauled or even killed. This hardly seems humane or sportsmanlike. Nevada Assembly Bill 443 (AB443) would prohibit using dogs to hunt bears.
Using dog packs to hunt contradicts ethical codes among most hunters. The Boone and Crockett Club, founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt, describes fair chase as "the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals."
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association of America's firearms industry whose mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. The NSSF puts out an ethical hunting guide, available on its website http://www.nssf.org, which states:
"Though our tools are more efficient than those of our ancestors, as ethical hunters, we avoid the use of technology that would place the game we hunt at an unfair disadvantage. We abide by ethical standards to preserve the challenge of the hunt."
Using a pack of hounds and GPS to track and corner prey hardly seems sportsmanlike and clearly puts the hunted animal at a disadvantage. This view is reflected in a 2011 state survey conducted by Mason Dixon Polling that revealed 57 percent of Nevada voters strongly oppose hunting black bears with packs of dogs.
AB443 would prohibit the use of packs of hounds to hunt in Nevada. It's important that all of us, including hunters, say clearly that we support ethical and humane practices when it comes to our wildlife. Hounding is neither ethical nor humane, and it's time we end the practice in our state. I urge you to contact your state legislators and urge them to vote yes on AB443.
Elaine Carrick is a citizen lobbyist for Nevada Wildlife and a Reno resident.
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