Once again the old school media is not getting... or conveying ... the true message.
In Sarasota Herald Tribune* columnist Eric Ernest's offering "Compared to earlier uproar, hog hunt is ho-hum" he completely misrepresents or misunderstands what the animal welfare community has been desperately trying to convey to their elected officials in regard to handling the local wild hog population.
The objection on the part of those appearing at the BCC meeting pre-hunt was to the cruelty involved and the glorification of killing to the youngsters accompanying the 150+ people and twice as many dogs as they tromped all over this environmentally sensitive land supposedly on a hunt to protect the land ... sort of the equivalent of making war for peace.
A great deal of documented info was sent to the BCC before they made thieir deadly decision to proceed with these hunts; Mr. Ernst's statement that "If there were an easier way to do it, people would be doing it " proves he was not privy to this info:
- The first such proof came from the Texas Dept of Agriculture... a state with a far worse hog problem than Florida suffers ... and documented that Texas’ best efforts have been TRAPPING and removing, not slaughtering on site.
- The same was proven on screen when a TV series about hunting wild hogs (I swear I am not making that up) showed a hog huntin' family (whose conversations, though in English, often had to be subtitled for viewers) as they banded together to kill pigs. In one episode the (purportedly) college-educated son challenged his old-school pappy to a contest, trapping vs killing, and the son's traps won by a mile.
Mr. Ernst does not mention in his article whether any dogs were injured or killed in this hunt; perhaps he saw the recent news story of an area family whose dog died after being gored by a wild hog right on their own property while not even engaged in any such aggression as being forced to hunt the pig? It is not an uncommon occurrence in this "event" where macho men pit their personal, trusting, eager-to-please pets against wild beasts in a classicly cowardly "Let's you-and-him-fight" scenario where neither animal has any say in the mater. (Does that remind anyone else of the much-reviled dog-fighters?)
If Sarasota county doesn't want to keep coming out in the red to remove hogs, perhaps they could get a clue on how things are being done in this century in more enlightened areas... or am I misunderstanding the fees charged for this "sport?" Was it ONLY the 58 recognized hunters who each paid $75. to join in the fun for a grand total of $4350.00? Or did their 95 "assistants" (sort of like sneaking into the drive-in with a trunk full of friends) also pay $75.00 each, bringing the county's fee take to $11,475.00? And whatever the case, how the hell did they still manage to LOSE $603.00? Excuse me? What expense did they have over having someone on site to officially yell "Y'all have fun!" ???
Perhaps the next time the BCC holds a meeting where dozens of voters take off work to object to something that ONE... count 'im, ONE ... person shows up to support, they might want to LISTEN to the majority that Commissioner Barbeta claimed to be supporting. (Really? Hunters in this artsy, oh-so-enlightened county are the MAJORITY?!). There was not a big brouhaha at the hunt because the MAJORITY of voters had already seen firsthand at that BCC meeting that the fix was in and their elected officials refused to listen. It was quite a learning experience, and here is what was learned:
The time to fight is when you vote, and unlike former CC Jon Thaxton who was the only member of the Board with a conscience and a willingness to listen to the will of the people, the remaining members of this county commission will not have to worry about being ousted by term limits. They better hope that ALL THOSE HUNTERS they catered to are willing to take off work to vote for them when they wouldn't do so to show up at that meeting.
* Full disclosure: Charmaine Engelsman-Robins wrote a weekly column for the Sarasota Herald Tribune every Friday for approximately 10 years.