(MA)Pheasant hunting under attack


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lapidator
July 16, 2003, 10:21 AM
http://www.capecodonline.com/cctimes/seashoredefends16.htm

Seashore defends pheasant hunt
A federal court ruling is expected before the stocking program resumes.

By DAVID KIBBE
TIMES BOSTON BUREAU
BOSTON - A federal judge yesterday heard arguments from animal rights groups that want to prohibit pheasant hunting at the Cape Cod National Seashore in the belief that it violates its management plan.

U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris declined to issue a temporary restraining order stopping the hunt last fall, saying there was too little time before hunting season to fully consider the matter.

Yesterday, she questioned whether anything had changed that would make the decades-old pheasant hunt harmful to the environment.

"Hunting has been going on there since the Pilgrims, right?" Saris asked lawyers for The Fund for Animals, which filed the lawsuit against the National Park Service last September.

Both sides sought a ruling without a full trial after the hearing. Saris is expected to issue a decision before hunting season resumes.

The issue before Saris is whether the Park Service needs to do a full study of the impact of the annual pheasant stocking and hunt under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Two residents, The Fund for Animals, the Humane Society, and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals filed the lawsuit last fall. They are convinced that such a study would find that the introduction of pheasants violates the Park Service's management plan because they are not native to the area.

The state has stocked the park with pheasants since the 1940s. The Seashore has continued to allow the practice, which predates the creation of the park in 1961 and the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969.



Hunt's impact questioned
While various environmental studies have been done at the Seashore over the years, the Park Service has never issued a formal declaration that the pheasant hunt poses no significant impact.
Kimberly Ockene, a lawyer for The Fund for Animals, said the Seashore has never researched the impact of hunters, the dogs they use in the hunt and the safety of other visitors to the Seashore.

"We do have significant changes to the ecosystem," Ockene told the judge. "...It's very important that the public get a chance to weigh in on these issues."

Eugenia M. Carris, an assistant U.S. attorney, argued that the Seashore had done adequate environmental assessments over the years. She said they never showed a threat from hunting that would require further study under the National Environmental Policy Act.

She said it was up to The Fund for Animals, the Humane Society, and other groups that filed the lawsuit to prove there was a change in the hunt or to the environment to require such a study.

"There is nothing in the record that shows there is a significant effect on the quality of the environment from the general hunting program," Carris said.

Hunters make up 3 percent of the activity on the Seashore, and no hunting-related accident has been reported in 40 years, said Barbara Miller, a lawyer for the Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council and the Barnstable County League of Sportsmen's Clubs.

The Fund for Animals amended its complaint last year to challenge all hunting on the Seashore, but lawyers for the anti-hunting groups said their primary goal was still to stop the pheasant hunt. The Seashore also allows hunting of ducks, Canada geese, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and deer.

The Seashore is phasing out the pheasant hunt over the next several years in favor of native quail. Last fall, it cut the number of pheasants released at the Seashore from 800 to 500. Most are shot within several days.

Saris said she was surprised pheasant were still being hunted at the Seashore, since she was under the impression it was going to end after last fall's hunt. But Carris said it would take several years to replace pheasant with quail. Carris said the quail habitat had to be restored first, including grasslands areas.

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Kharn
July 16, 2003, 10:43 AM
"Hunting has been going on there since the Pilgrims, right?" Saris asked lawyers for The Fund for Animals, which filed the lawsuit against the National Park Service last September.
I hope that was meant as a smackdown and not an actual question.

Kharn

El Tejon
July 16, 2003, 12:47 PM
Kharn, it's a federal judge. Questions in the middle of argument are "smackdowns.":D

Don't care for hunting but I hope the hunters prevail. These Druids are becoming bothersome.:scrutiny: It is only a matter of time before ANY discharge of a firearm will be deemed to be destroying the earf. :rolleyes:

Standing Wolf
July 16, 2003, 09:54 PM
"Hunting has been going on there since the Pilgrims, right?"

Probably about 12,000 years before the Pilgrims were ever even heard of, in fact.

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