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The Roving Sportsman… Hunters Are Not Poachers

On May 30, 2014, Satao, one of the world’s largest African elephants was killed by a poisoned arrow shot by a poacher. Satao was known as a tusker because his tusks, which weighed over 100 pounds, were so long that they almost touched the ground. Today, the killing of elephants, our largest land animal, continues

On May 30, 2014, Satao, one of the world’s largest African elephants was killed by a poisoned arrow shot by a poacher. Satao was known as a tusker because his tusks, which weighed over 100 pounds, were so long that they almost touched the ground. Today, the killing of elephants, our largest land animal, continues with thousands being slaughtered annually – by poachers – for the black market selling of elephant ivory.

In January of 2019, at the Safari Club International (SCI) Convention in Reno, Nevada, representatives from an anti-hunting group gained entry for the purpose of exposing what they called potentially illegal activity by Convention exhibitors. The anti-hunters publicized their findings, targeting SCI and several individual exhibitors. The accusers claimed that the exhibitors were selling items in violation of Nevada state law. As it turned out, the accusers had not properly researched the law, or intentionally mischaracterized it before publicizing their accusations. Further, their accusations were quickly broadcast by hundreds of internet communications, which similarly chose to skip any investigation which would have revealed the weakness of the allegations. Many states today have adopted laws restricting or prohibiting the sale of various animal parts of numerous animals, particularly African species and endangered or threatened animals. As this instance turned out, no one had broken the Nevada laws.

So, why should you even care about what is happening in Africa or at some Convention all the way across the country? Does it really mean anything to a squirrel hunter or turkey hunter in Pennsylvania? Yes, it does.

The standard definition of a hunter is “a person or animal that hunts.” The standard definition of a poacher is “a person who hunts or catches game or fish illegally.” Take note: The hunter conducts himself in a legal fashion, while the poacher goes forth and conducts his activities while disregarding the laws.

In the example above of the illegal poaching of African elephants for their ivory, you should know that the ivories are hacked out of the skull of the dead animal and the entire carcass that remains is left to rot or to be consumed by hyenas and vultures.

You should also know that while poaching is rampant, there is also some hunting of elephants that is legal, but extremely limited and monitored by the government. Generally speaking, a legal hunt is conducted when a rogue animal becomes aggressive and a threat to a village or community. The hunt is restricted to that one animal only and the hunter is accompanied by a Professional Hunter (PH) and government personnel. Once the animal is dispatched, all of the useable meat is given to nearby villagers for human consumption. The cost of the hunt is extremely high. Generally, the greatest percent of the price goes to the government to help fund the cost of stopping the illegal poaching trade. Money is used to obtain equipment and hire personnel to track and intercept the poachers and bring them to justice.

The second example of the anti-hunters targeting the SCI Convention is something that is occurring and will occur increasingly as time goes on. Those who are adamant in their quest to stop all forms of hunting, legal or illegal, have long term goals and will not cease their objectives.

We, as hunters – not poachers – must constantly remind ourselves that the line between hunters and poachers is becoming more blurred with the passage of time and as the news media jumps to conclusions and erroneously refers to an illegal activity as having been conducted by a “hunter” rather than correctly calling the individual a “poacher.” The huge and ever-growing presence and influence of social media can have a very damaging affect when information is passed on without proper research or verification of its accuracy.

Yes, while there are anti-hunting individuals and organizations, they constitute only a small percentage of our population, but are increasingly vocal and active. The majority of the population either supports hunting or is neutral on the subject and we, as law-abiding and responsible hunters, have an obligation and a duty to speak of the positive benefits of hunting to those who do not participate and to make clear the distinction between a hunter and a poacher.

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