I have hunted my entire life. When I was young, I did not pay much attention to politics or news, but as I grew older things have changed. Now I see things in a different light. I see how things are going and how dangerous they are for the past time that I love.
The past few weeks laws in California have highlighted in a big way the issues facing hunters and what will happen if hunters do not take action. These laws serve as a road map and can show us in real-time how things got this bad.
Perhaps the most significant wake-up call came when California’s Governor signed a bill that banned recreational trapping and trapping to sell fur. It is the first state in the nation to do so.
But how can this happen? How could something that has been so woven into the fabric of America be banned? The answer is trapping in California suffered the death of 1000 cuts.
The Death of a 1000 Cuts is an execution and torture technique that originated in ancient China. Characterized by inflicting a person to many small cuts until they are overcome with bloodloss, then they die.
The term has also been used in psychology circles. It means while a single small issue or restriction may not be not fatal to the institution. The cumulative effect of many of them could cause it to bleed to death figuratively.
That is precisely what happened in California. Over the years, trapping became more and more restrictive. The state even received an A+ rating from the animal rights group, Born Free, in regards to there trapping regulations. These regulations made recreational trapping very difficult. A lot of trappers just gave up.
This move away from trapping was highlighted in the legislative analysis of the trapping ban bill. According to the Associated Press, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife sold 133 licenses, leading to the harvest of 1,568 animals and the sale of 1,241 pelts. They also stated that all the pelts were sold outside of the state.
The laws, restrictions, and other hurdles placed in the way of California’s trappers led to its demise. But it is not stopping there the same little cuts that doomed trapping is also happening to hunting.
The danger to hunting is highlighted by two issues that cropped up during this year’s dove season opener. They are California’s complete ban on lead hunting ammunition and the need to receive a background check to purchase ammunition; both took effect 1 July 2019.
These two laws cause quite a few hunters to have to stay home this year instead of going to the dove field. Hunters that did not already have steel dove ammunition in their possession had a hard time finding it and if they did they had to jump through hoops to buy it.
Some hunters got rejected from buying ammunition because they had not registered a firearm with in the last five years. They were required to fill out paperwork then wait ten days, only after that could they buy ammo. Others were stymied by the requirement to have a “Real ID” and would have to visit the DMV before getting ammo.
These seem like small inconveniences to hunters and can be rectified with a little prior planning, but all we have to do is look at the trapping ban. We can see that all the small cuts add up.
Will the same thing happen to hunting that happened to trapping? Only time will tell, but the writing on the wall is there. If hunter sits by and does nothing, little cut by little cut will slowly bleed away our sport.
If you are looking for a way to get involved, check out the Sportsmen’s Alliance. They are actively fighting to protect our hunting and trapping rights.