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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Hunting ethics require sportsmen to do their best to assure a quick kill, and make every possible effort to find wounded animals to spare them prolonged suffering. says a true hunter will “search for an arrow hit or bullet hit animal that is wounded for as long as possible.” Those who follow the NRA Hunter’s Code of Ethics pledge to “do my best to acquire those marksmanship and hunting skills, which insure clean, sportsmanlike kills.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty apparently had neither the skill nor the time to be a true hunter. He badly wounded a buck on Saturday at the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Opener, but rather than follow the blood trail, he followed the money trail to Iowa where he was headlining a Republican Party fundraiser. The owner of the land where Pawlenty’s group was hunting described the animal as “bleeding profusely” and searched for the deer all weekend, but turned up nothing.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty failed to abide by basic hunting
values during his hunt this past weekend.

It’s surely a sign of reckless and unsportsmanlike behavior to leave an animal severely injured and hope that others might take on the responsibility to end the animal’s suffering. If Pawlenty wants to hunt animals, he should at least have the decency to abide by basic, centuries-old values. Hunters talk a good game about ethics and humane treatment, and they should be held to their own professed standards.

Pawlenty was the same governor, of course, who enacted legislation in 2004 to allow Minnesota’s first mourning dove hunting season in 58 years. Mourning doves don’t cause nuisance problems, aren’t overpopulated, and don’t make a viable food source—that’s why they were protected as songbirds for more than a half-century in Minnesota and are still protected in many northern and Midwestern states. When they’re shot for target practice, the small birds are riddled with lead shot and are of little value to hunters, so about 30 percent of those hit are left wounded and unretrieved—a fact apparently untroubling to the state’s chief executive hunter. 

When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was on the Republican ticket in the 2008 presidential campaign, she galvanized animal advocates against the aerial gunning of wolves and her retrograde wildlife management policies. If Pawlenty decides to launch a presidential bid for 2012, we’ll give his behavior the scrutiny it deserves.


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