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SULLIVAN'S BULLY PULPIT:


Terry Sullivan Writes a Column called the 'Bully Pulpit' for ‘Creeker Gazette, the official journal of the Harrod’s Creek Field and Stream Club, Inc. Newsletter. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

A Call to Action for Kentucky Sportspeople

Recently, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife held the quadrennial election for Third District Fish and Wildlife Commission Member. At this election, five people were chosen by the hunters and anglers of the district as nominees, one of which will be appointed by the governor the commission. The election went about like every other election of its type for the last fifty years.

The aftermath of this election was different from in past years. This year our animal rights cult friends from the Fund for Animals filed suit in Federal district court, claiming that they were not granted equal protection under the law.

What law failed to protect them, you ask? The law that says that you must have hunted or fished in Kentucky for the last two years to be eligible to vote in the commissioner's election. The Cult feels that it should not have to adhere to the laws of the Commonwealth.

Early in the twentieth century, American political leaders and conservationists recognized that conservation should not be a political football. It should not be funded or ruled by the whims of elected officials. Theodore Roosevelt proposed that states establish fish and wildlife commissions that would be the stewards of our fish, game and environment. These commissions would be independent appointments, who would be resistant to legislative influence. To ensure a steady stream of funding, all revenues from hunting and fishing licenses and fees and excise taxes on sporting goods would be dedicated to the state fish and wildlife departments.

Under this system, the twin horns of political cronyism and shuffling money were blunted. Conservation departments were more or less assured of autonomy. Forty two of the fifty states subscribe to this system. Kentucky takes it a step farther, by letting hunters and anglers (who are paying for the operation of the department) choose the nominees (by vote) to the fish and wildlife commission. In order to vote in these elections, one must have hunted or fished in Kentucky for the previous two years. The most common validation of this eligibility is two years worth of hunting or fishing licenses. The governor must choose the regional commissioner from the group nominated. What could be fairer?

Apparently, the animal rights cult feels that giving them a seat on the commission would be fairer. The bunny huggers demand equal protection under the law. Equal protection? Protecting them from what? They want to intrude on a department that we've been supporting through our money and efforts for half a century. Seems to me that the protection that should be afforded is protecting us hunters and anglers from the nut cases who try to legislate our sports out of existence. They claim that they deserve a seat at the table. Their claim is groundless. We built the table, we set the table and it's for us and our invited guests.

The Fund for Animals suit is just one more example of the threats posed to our sports by people who have no understanding, tolerance or empathy for what we do. Over the years, I've written about these threats, be they anti gunners, the animal rights cult or the tree hugging cult. It has to be boring to keep listening to my almost non-stop diatribes on these subjects. I get bored writing them. The problem is that we come together as sportsmen and women because we enjoy the same things, hunting, angling and the great outdoors. Because we enjoy these things, we naturally want to spend as much time possible in their pursuit. It's a damn sight more fun to go fishing than it is to read me ranting about our enemies. It's sure more fun to go fishing than it is to write this stuff. Most of us view the bunny huggers in the same light as we view mosquitoes, flat tires or backlashes in our reels. They are a minor inconvenience we encounter while we're having fun. Having fun, not preserving the right to having fun is the nature of our enterprise.

The animal rights cult looks at things differently. We are their enemy. Their entire goal in life is to keep us from doing what we enjoy. Their only reason for existence is to make us miserable. They live and breathe to put us out of business. They are absolutely fascist in their beliefs. Left to their own devices they stop at nothing to force us to toe the line on their cult beliefs. In some places, they've bombed labs. In others, they've thrown paint on furs. They've broken into farms and set the livestock loose. Here they're using a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) lawsuit. When it comes to indoctrination by terror, they make most banana republic dictators look like pikers. It makes one wonder if the only difference between the animal rights cult and middle eastern terrorists is that one can sometimes negotiate with middle eastern terrorists. They are smart, organized and well funded. They have what it takes to beat us down if we let them

This lawsuit is going to be pivotal. It raises some interesting constitutional issues. The suit names as defendants, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the Attorney General, and Governor of Kentucky, the Fish and Wildlife Commission and four of the five candidates getting enough votes to become nominees. Their purpose is to tie up every one in sight.

By suing the nominees, they are causing innocent people to incur legal costs to defend themselves. The nominees did nothing more than to be public spirited volunteers. Now , they are going to be saddled with legal bills because the animal rights cult wants to SLAPP them down. The threat of such suits will no doubt have a chilling effect on people who may want to serve the public in the future. The bunny hugger lawyer, Katie Brophy is no dope. She'll keep at it until she gets the cult its day in court. It's up to the State to defend the suit on behalf of the Department, the Governor and the Attorney General. They've got smart lawyers and deep pockets. The five nominees appear to be on their own. It's a hell of a situation when you have to hire a lawyer for doing something public spirited. Before it's resolved, this is going to be a battle royal.

This lawsuit is going to be pivotal. The Commonwealth of Kentucky will defend the interests of the State. The five successful candidates will have to incur the legal costs of answering this wrong headed suit and defending themselves. The bunny hugger lawyer, Katie Brophy is no dope. She'll keep at it until she gets the cult its day in court. It's up to the State to defend the suit on behalf of the Department, the Governor and the Attorney General. They've got smart lawyers and deep pockets. The other five appear to be on their own. It's a hell of a situation when you have to hire a lawyer for doing something public spirited. Before it's resolved, this is going to be a battle royal.

The sportsmen and women of Kentucky have had it very good for a very long time. We've been largely free to hunt and fish as we please. We've been blessed with an abundance of opportunities. We've been cursed with very few impediments. Up to now, the animal rights cult has been a minor annoyance; a protest here, a letter to the editor there. This suit kicks things up several notches. They view Kentucky as a place where the sportsmen are poorly organized and not highly motivated. We've been lulled into a false sense of security because it's always been so good here. I'm afraid this lawsuit is but the opening salvo of quite a fight between us and them. Our club has always jumped into the breach in such battles. It is to our credit and not to our detriment that we've followed the politics and have been active in the fish and wildlife community. I hope that we continue that tradition. I hope our fellow sportsmen and women will be willing to jump into the fray, because I'm sure there's going to be one.

© Terry Sullivan, 1998. Reprinted with permission from The ‘Creeker Gazette, the official journal o f the Harrod’s Creek Field and Stream Club, Inc. You may reach Mr. Sullivan at (502) 228-5464.



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