The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Sport of hunting being manipulated

hunting manipulated In regard to Initiative 655, this attempt is to stop only hunters from the use of bait and hounds to harvest bears, cougars, and bobcats. Under I-655, government agents, commercial timberlands, and scientific researchers will still be using bait and dogs as their means to eliminate them.
   I have spent two unsuccessful years baiting bears. This pursuit has been costly not only financially, but in time as well. In my 20-plus years of hunting, I have only seen three bears. The bear is an intelligent animal and does not just stumble in to be shot.
   Washington is second only to Alaska in black bear population. Alaska stopped bear baiting between 1977-1982, yet has since had to restart. It is thought these methods are a threat to mothers with young, but in reality the hunter using dogs or baiting are close to the animals where identification can be made.
   Bears and cougars must be regulated or they will destroy our deer and elk populations. This would keep bears and cougars out of rural areas where there is opportunity for conflict. The Fish and Wildlife Dept. has been maintaining our wildlife populations for 30 years quite successfully using both these techniques.
   I would like to say that I have watched with grave despair as the sport I love (hunting) has been manipulated by animal activists. I feel that the activist agenda is to bring about complete abolition of hunting and fishing.

Rusty L. Straw, Woodinville