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Article from the Chicago Tribune

Old 11-04-2004, 03:15 PM
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Location: Gilberts IL USA
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Default Article from the Chicago Tribune

This was an editorial from the Chicago Tribune on 11.3.04, feel free to write the Tribune back with your responses.

chicagotribune.com >> Editorials

Illinois' pheasant hunt a cruel, expensive waste

By Wayne Pacelle
Published November 3, 2004

For some, the crisp air of autumn is a harbinger of apples and pumpkins, of Halloween and Thanksgiving. But in the 16-gauge, double-barreled world of upland bird hunting, as choreographed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the change of seasons is just a signal that it's time once again to truck boxes of pen-raised pheasants out to public lands to serve as animated targets. The factorylike production of birds passes for "resource management," and the easy shots they provide pass for "sportsmanship."

Pheasant hunting hasn't always been this way. Where appropriate habitat exists, these exotic birds have a chance to forage, breed and evade predators and shotguns alike. Illinois' put-and-take hunt, however, is a pathetic blend of factory farming and canned hunting. There's no sport involved. In fact, the whole venture serves no legitimate public purpose at all. It's just a boondoggle for the state's limited number of pheasant hunters.

Illinois is one of 13 states that plant public lands with pheasants produced in large flocks like broiler chickens. Annually, these states breed or purchase three-quarters of a million pen-raised birds for this form of put-and-take hunting. Thousands more are bred for use as live targets at private shooting preserves, where they are sometimes tossed from high towers toward shotgunners arrayed below.

Far from providing a challenging hunt, pen-raised pheasants provide little more than live target practice. And stocking them is an expensive, money-losing endeavor. Illinois spends more than $500,000 on its state pheasant farm each year. If we take pheasant hunters' success rates from elsewhere and figure in the number of birds killed versus those that succumb to starvation or predators, the cost of pheasant meat provided by the state of Illinois exceeds $10 per pound, versus a retail cost of $2 to $4 per pound at a butcher.

As matters stand, Illinois' pheasant stocking program is a huge waste of life, even before the shooting starts. A week after release, according to Bird Dog & Retriever News, some 40 percent of the birds will have starved to death or been killed by predators. After a month, this mortality will reach 75 percent. By the end of hunting season, only a small percentage will have fallen to a well-aimed wad of shot. A scant 5 percent will make it through the winter.

In places like North Dakota, where suitable habitat sustains generations of pheasants, a single male will defend a handful of females and a territory of several acres. But intense confinement facilities, like Illinois' state game farm, cram as many as 66,000 birds into just a dozen acres of pens. To prevent them from injuring each other, managers fit birds with "pick guards" clipped to their mandibles--usually blue for cocks and pink for hens--which act like horse blinders. Or, they remove the tips of their beaks with a hot knife--the same cruel practice of "debeaking" suffered by millions of factory-farmed chickens.

Wild birds learn predator-avoidance behavior from mother hens, but these farmed pheasants possess few survival skills. They are products of the pen, not natural selection. The birds become habituated to humans who have fed them since hatching, and they can take up to three weeks to learn to forage effectively--during which time they may starve or become food for coyotes, foxes and birds of prey.

In defense of Illinois' controlled pheasant hunt, the director of the DNR wrote, "It is imperative in these times of resource decline and budget constraints that conservationists of all types find areas of commonality." I couldn't agree more. From a taxpayer's perspective, the resources squandered by the state in running its own pheasant farm represent money down the drain. Moreover, it's appalling to watch an agency entrusted with protecting wild animals actually finance a factory farm-style facility. The funds would be far better spent restoring habitat and native species. Pheasant stocking is a complete waste of tax dollars and a sorry excuse for sportsmanship. This year's ritual of stocking and killing should be Illinois' last.


Wayne Pacelle is the chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization.

Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune
Cooper1 is offline  
Old 11-04-2004, 06:06 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Elsmere, Kentucky USA
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Default RE: Article from the Chicago Tribune

Why's Mr. Pacelle so worried about it? It's not coming out of his pocket. Does he not realize that hunters are the ones who are flippig the bill for this? Also, if hunters are willing to spend $16 a pound -- verses the $2 to $4 he states -- there must be something more to this than just the kill.
uplandchessies is offline  
Old 11-05-2004, 05:58 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Default RE: Article from the Chicago Tribune


Wayne Pacelle is the chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization.
What did you expect from someone in that position?
dez182 is offline  
Old 11-06-2004, 03:05 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Bowling Green, KY
Posts: 295
Default RE: Article from the Chicago Tribune

Illinois voted for Kerry in the electoral college. I'll try and write him when I can Cooper.
Roost em 1st is offline  
Old 11-09-2004, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Default RE: Article from the Chicago Tribune

It is hard to be a hunter in Northern Illinois let alone being a hunter living in chicago. I am a member of an upland club and participate in the put and take hunting on public ground. I would like to see the research a bit closer. The farm raised birds that I hunt are pretty evasive and seem to be able to susstain a decent population. I have seen birds that were planted by my club miles away from where they were origonally released and looking pretty healthy.
jaysweet3 is offline  
Old 11-11-2004, 07:59 PM
Fork Horn
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Cropsey IL USA
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Default RE: Article from the Chicago Tribune

roost em yes kerry got the electoral votes from ILL but if you saw the county by county map on election night you would have seen a all bush ILL except for chicago and that bothers alot of us down staters. mayor daley and his band run this state from chicago and the hell with everyone else
HOSS is offline  
Old 11-12-2004, 05:51 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Bowling Green, KY
Posts: 295
Default RE: Article from the Chicago Tribune

I did see that and it was kinda my point. The same city that swung the state prints this article. I feel for you. All you boys across the midwest produce the crops and grain that a bunch of liberals in Chicago sell and trade. Would leave a bad taste in my mouth. This freak writer needs some letters to set him straight. I'm happy to send one but being from KY it will not get the same consideration as it would from one of you solid individuals residing in Illinois.
Some things he mentioned about the 5% of holdover birds could be brought up. I think wild birds suffer an 80% loss in a lot of cases.
He talked about Chicken Farms, they get a 100% loss, no chance for holdover[] I'd rather be a pheasant and I'd run just to make you Illinois boys pull your hair out trying to get me to fly[:-] Of course one of you would have a good dog and eventually you'd get me
In all seriuosness I am trying to come up with some thoughts to share with the liberal writer. I'll fwd them when I can. Gotta try and think like one of them freaks to get the point across and I'm finding it very difficult. What does a liberal eat? What does he drink? How does he breed? What does he read? This could take all winter to figure out so as to diguise the thoughts we all feel to where he can identify with the rest of Civilization.
Roost em 1st is offline  

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