In a disappointing vote, on June 5, the Utah Wildlife Board approved holding a crow hunt this fall. The Board members were split 3 to 2.
Earlier, the members of the Regional Advisory Council meeting for Utah’s northern region had voted 9 to 3 against the proposed crow hunt, giving some hope to opponents of the hunt that it might be voted down by the Wildlife Board. But that was not to be. All the other RAC meetings for regions throughout the state had approved holding the hunt. Most of these meetings had been held early in May. Around 90 people showed up for the June 5 Wildlife Board meeting, among the largest turn-outs ever for these meetings, and the vast majority of members of the public who attended opposed the crow hunt. Thirty people spoke, being allowed three minutes each, citing a number of reasons why the crow hunt was not needed and should not be held.
Representatives of many Utah wildlife groups called for a vote against the hunt. Hundreds of emails sent to the Board, as well as a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures, expressed opposition to the hunt. Among many concerns, hunt opponents stressed the difficulty of telling ravens apart from crows and the virtual certainty that ravens, a federally protected species, would also be killed. That would be a violation of federal wildlife law. In Utah law, wildlife that is hunted must be used for food, otherwise it is deemed a “wanton waste of wildlife” and is a violation of state law. This fact was acknowledged by Blair Stringham, who presented the Division of Wildlife Resource’s proposal for the crow hunt, in one of the earlier RAC meetings, and then again during the Wildlife Board meeting. Either seriously or jokingly, it wasn’t quite clear which, he also mentioned that recipes for crow could be found online. Almost no one eats crows, so nearly every crow hunter would be in violation of this Utah state law.
The crow hunt proposal which passed is plagued by inconsistencies, vagueness, a lack of scientific basis, and conflicts with existing wildlife law. There will be many difficulties in enforcing these laws, and “turning a blind eye” to violations may, sadly, become the order of the day. The DWR conveyed their intent to give tickets with every violation, but it’s hard to see how this could be done in practice.
This is just a brief summary of this news, and there will be much more to follow.
The efforts of all of you who gave so much of your time and very heartfelt efforts to save crows, ravens, and other birds from this hunt are by no means wasted.
It can take a long time for the kind of change that is needed to take place. What is required is a cultural change so that most of the people in the society in which we live, throughout this country and the world, view every wild bird and animal as a beautiful, unique, innocent being entitled to live out his or her life, as nature intended, free in the wild.
Every voice that is raised on their behalf is heard in some way, on some level, and contributes to bringing about this goal.
Thank you all.
To read the report on the Wildlife Board meeting in the Salt Lake City Tribune, click here.
Photo: © 2014, view of snow-capped mountain in central Utah