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Deer Hunting in Virginia While the World Burns

“Managing Virginia’s wildlife to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth”;

– Mission Statement, website of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).

“Humans have killed off about half the world’s nonhuman vertebrate animal population since 1970” 

– World Wildlife Fund report, “Living Planet Index, September 2014.

Recent alarming developments and reports concerning our environment, climate change and a faster and more dangerous warming of the planet, as well as a 40-year overall die-off of the majority of wild animals on the planet, have had most thoughtful citizens feeling understandably anxious and alarmed over the expanding prospects for a very insecure and uncomfortable future on the planet for their children, grandchildren, and the animal kingdom.

Many of these concerned Americans are merely anxious and hoping, others working actively and politically, some loudly demanding in the streets of New York City (see 300,000 attend Climate March, NYC Sept 2014), that governments, corporations, and business communities respond far faster and deeper in forming sane agreements and binding commitments to try and limit and lessen any further destruction to their world.

But, should you choose to turn to the state of Virginia’s primary wildlife conservation agency, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), for guidance on these dire issues, you’ll be sadly disappointed. I turned to their website for some pertinent, up-to-date, information about global warming and about how these massive die-offs of wildlife fit in with this alarming trend. I came up totally empty handed.  Not a single word, line, or paragraph could I find on these literally burning current environmental topics. Nor will you detect any sense of alarm coming from these orange-vested “conservationists” of Richmond.

Honestly I was not surprised. I know why traditional “game” wardens are not out in front on these crises. The answer is that they’re too busy promoting hunting, trapping, and fishing. In particular, they’re keeping deer hunters very happy.

The old notion of having a proverbial “Elephant sitting in the room” has been VDGIF’s modus operandi in the Dominion State of Virginia on environmental issues probably since the first Earth Day in 1970.  Oh but the good boys in camouflage have been killing it, if you’ll excuse the pun, for a hundred years performing their version of “conservation”. And their website reveals this.

VDGIF’s priority has always been and remains to propagate game animals for the gun. Everything this stodgy old game agency does is about hunting, and fishing to lesser degree. They are about manipulating a handful of popular hunted species into overpopulation for hunters, such as their annual bread and butter crop of deer. They do this in spite of the dire state of world, and to the detriment of the environment and the other 99% of wild animals, simply to satisfy their very vocal and demanding (and hunting license buying) constituent group, sport and trophy hunters.

While the highest profile environmental news stories of recorded human history stream “24/7” across all our screens and front-page headlines for weeks, concerning the literal survivability of a living planet and the decimated state of our beleaguered wild animal populations, the state agency tasked by the state assembly with protecting and preserving ALL wildlife species and their habitats is literally MIA (Missing In Action).

Enter the elephant sitting mutely in the corner of our room (hint; he’s wearing camouflage and holding a hunting rifle): The VDGIF’s annual war on wildlife, commonly known as hunting season.

A major report released last week done by the prestigious ecology group, World Wildlife Fund, along with Zoological Society of London and other groups, found since the year 1970 more than half of the world’s vertebrate species have vanished from the face of the planet. An estimated 52% of animal life on the Earth has been killed off by human beings during the last forty years.

Hello, VDGIF?

WWF’s exhaustive report cited the primary drivers for the jaw-dropping loss of animal life were “exploitation from overhunting and overfishing, as well as habitat degradation, and the atmosphere-changing effects of climate change from increasing carbon consumption – the burning of fossil fuels – leading to a warming planet. Reported by the Washington Post, A section, 10/1, “Humans have killed off half the world’s animals”, the study laid out in compelling detail how species’ declines are almost exclusively caused by humans’ ever-increasing footprint on the planet. According to the report, “Humanity currently needs the regenerative capacity of 1.5 Earths to provide the ecological goods and services we use each year”.

VDGIF? Chirp chirp.

It’s past time concerned citizens of Virginia call their governor, congressional representatives, and state senators, and apply pressure. Tell them that our state and our world need a real wildlife protection agency out in the forefront of change, rather than an outdated hunting club conducting business as usual.

You might also want to express your disdain for recreational killing of animals while the world burns.

Glenn A. Kirk lives in Boston, Virginia. He is a member of  EARTH: Environmentalists Against Recreational and Trophy Hunting.

 

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