Feds Overlook Wildlife Watchers Again in New Conservation Panel


Sarah Palin – Caribou Hunt,courtesy  Grizzly Bay by way of Kinship Circle.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar created a new panel for citizens to tell the federal government what to do about conservation and wildlife. But, instead of having the Wildlife Hunting and Heritage Council include the growing portion of Americans who just want to watch animals, not gun them down, he geared it to the dwindling minority of hunters.

More Americans have fun watching wildlife than shooting it (71 million wildlife watchers versus 12.5 million hunters), according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hunters already have advocates in the NRA. State wildlife a encourage hunting. The Pittman Robertson Act makes sure of that. As any NRA member can tell you, there’s a 10-11% tax on guns that supports wildlife and conservation. That tax makes the agency beholden to hunters. Seven states have commissions that specifically require hunters or anglers, the HSUS says.

What NRA members won’t tell you is that the tax is on all guns, not just those used in hunting. The NRA tells members that the tax is on “sporting arms” Which weapons does the NRA consider sporting? Pretty much all of them. (I think it’s their effort to get hunters–by far the most respectable and respectful gun contingent–in on the government-fearing bandwagon.) The tax on pistols and revolvers is 10%. What percent of handguns do you suppose are used for hunting? Very few. But the portion of the gun market that buys for self protection, crime or militia purposes doesn’t have a strong lobby. Hunters

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Five Questions Lesley Stahl Didn’t Ask the “Frozen Zoo”

Animal Tourism Blog Test Tube Wooly Mammoths

Last night on 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl went to see the Frozen Zoo, the Audubon Nature Institute’s Species Survival Center. The center is doing fascinating. historic, ground-breaking work storing the DNA of threatened species and even producing clones of endangered African wildcats. What was missing from the story, however, was a closer look at the context in which the center operates. If Stahl and 60 Minutes had asked the following questions, the piece might not have been as much of an inane exercise.

Who’s paying for all this?The nonprofit Audubon Nature Institute grew out of a once ailing, old New Orleans institution. They’re not related to the Audubon Club. ANI runs a zoo, insectarium and Imax theatre. So are they supporting the whole $43 million operation (including the $2.5 million it costs to save endangered species) by creeping out kids with bugs and selling zoo T-shirts? If so, that would be quite a feat and worth knowing. Too bad Stahl didn’t ask.

The issue is important because in 2007 the Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott pointed out ANI’s ties to big oil, raising the possibility it used Chevron money to make a lame Katrina Imax movie that doesn’t mention oil’s role in destroying wetlands. (No way, say the film-maker and Audubon: Chevron was just ordered by a court to funnel cash to an environmental cause and they chose this one.)

According to finances posted online, the operation just about breaks even (a loss of $187,000 in 2008, the latest

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