Ask Uncle Joe – Summer 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the first Uncle Joe column in a looooong time to not feature incoherent hate mail.  I’ve done this intentionally since the hate mail that has been coming in lately has not been very creative.  While this column will not be so entertaining, I hope it will be informative.

Dear Uncle Joe:

It seems that every spring people ask me what to do when they find a baby bird who has fallen out of the nest.  I pretty much tell them that they should put the bird back in the nest if they can see it since the mother cannot be too far away.  Is this the right thing to do or should I be giving them other advice?

Sonoma, CA

Dear Rebecca:

What a great question!  Yes, putting the baby bird in the nest is the best thing to do if s/he is a nestling.  People often worry that if they pick up a young bird the mother will smell some putrid human scent on the baby and reject her.  This is a myth that has no basis in fact since birds have a very poor sense of smell.  If the baby is a fledgling it is best to leave her alone.  She’s learning to fly, and unless she’s in immediate danger it’s best to let her get in all the practice time that she needs.  If you find a baby blue jay or mockingbird on the ground, leave her alone or be prepared to be attacked by her mother who is undoubtedly nearby and keeping a close eye on her baby.

There are exceptions to this – if the fledgling is on a sidewalk where she can be stepped on, by all means remove her to the closest tree.  If the bird is in your yard and is at risk of being attacked by your dog or cat (please keep your cat inside!) she should go back in the nearest tree and your dog should be brought in.  Unless she’s in immediate danger, the simple solution is usually the best.

Of course, keep an eye on the baby to be sure that the parents are coming to feed her.  If not, she should go to a wildlife rehabilitator.  You can call the Wildlife Watch Hotline at 877-WILDHEL(P).

Uncle Joe

The following was a phone call that has been put in “letter” form:

Dear Uncle Joe:

My daughter Kayla is a fourth-grade student who is so passionate about animal protection that she’s gotten her father and me to start eating vegan meals with her. She wanted to ask a question but is too shy to call you herself.  Her friend’s father is a trophy hunter who travels to Africa twice a year to hunt exotic animals, and his daughter has told Kayla that such hunting is necessary because without the help of hunters, wildlife would overrun the villages and the local people could not survive.  I told her that this sounds like nonsense to me but since she’s a big supporter of C.A.S.H. she wanted to ask you about it. Thank you for all you do.

Arlington, TX

Dear Merilee:

Thanks for your call – it was nice to speak with you and with Kayla.  In many African countries there are active programs that protect people and farms from the natural movements of wildlife herds.  In Cameroon for example, some members of elephant herds have been fitted with collars so their movements can be monitored.  When the herd makes its way toward a village or farm, rangers are deployed to divert the herd away from crops or human homes.  In other countries, crops such as taro that are not palatable to elephants are grown and the animals show very little interest in checking them out as a food source.  Solar-powered electric fences have been used successfully to keep wildlife away from farms and human settlements.  As is the case with all situations involving wildlife, education and information is key to prevent avoidable human/wildlife conflicts from taking place.

While C.A.S.H. cannot be considered to be a leading resource in the protection of African wildlife, there are commonalities between all human/wildlife interactions. Likewise, slaughtering wildlife for recreation is intolerable no matter where it’s done.  Hunters love to give their dastardly deeds a noble spin.  See how the US Senator, Chuck Schumer, is helping them by making donations of deer and other wild animal flesh tax deductible.  That, in spite of the potential human illness from lead, parasites, CWD, and other health and human-caused conditions that the individual animal may have.

Uncle Joe

Dear Uncle Joe:

Peter Muller’s article in the last issue of the Courier entitled “Cooking the Numbers” was a real eye-opener.  I had long suspected that hunters were fewer than they claim to be but I had no way of knowing if was actually true.  When the USFWS announced earlier in the year that the number of hunters had increased I knew it had to be a lie because I know their population had been decreasing every year.  Why do you think the USFWS would falsify the data to make it appear that there are more hunters?  Aren’t they going to generate the same amount of revenue regardless of what they publish?

Millstone, NJ

Dear Penny:

For readers who have not seen the article you’re referring to, it’s in the winter 2013 issue of the CASH Courier.  You can find it online at Cooking the Numbers.  In the article, super-sleuth Peter Muller uncovers that the systems used for collecting data were different than those in years past, so there is no way to draw any conclusions at all about the number of hunters in the USA as they relate to the numbers from years past.

Why the change?  One can only guess that the sport of recreational hunting is in such a terrible state that had they used the same recording methods the data would show the number of active hunters to be lower than ever before.  Given human nature as it is, when people find out that something is not popular they tend to not want to be involved.  So yes, while the amount of money flowing into state hunting agencies is the same regardless of what the USFWS reports, being honest about the demise of hunting is not good for future business.

Interesting note:  How many times have you heard a hunter tell you that “hunting and poaching are different things” and that poachers should be prosecuted?  Well, it seems that in an effort to give the impression that hunting has increased in popularity, the USFWS is now counting “people who hunted without a license, even though a license was required” as hunters.

Hunting agencies are in the business of recruiting hunters into their violent and bloody sport, and do you think that someone who enjoys blasting harmless birds out of the sky would refrain from exaggeration and practicing poor scientific methodology if doing so could make you think that the hunting cartel has more clients than before?  They are bloodthirsty killers, and, as the article showed, they are also liars.

Uncle Joe

Dear Uncle Joe:

I’m a hunter, but at my age I no longer find it pleasurable to get up at 4:00 am and be in a tree stand in the damp weather waiting for the season to begin.  And quite honestly, I’ve lost the desire to bring down and field dress game before dragging it back to the car for the trip home.  But much like the NRA member whose gun you can pry from his cold, dead hands, you will never get me to stop supporting the sport and the heritage that has given me a lifetime of memories and nourishment.  Hunting has allowed me to build lifelong friendships with people I’ve so much in common with.  I met my wife of forty-three years through the sport.  The books I’ve written have supplemented my income.  Since I began hunting with my father on my 9th birthday the sport has given me more than I could ever imagine.

Though I no longer hunt I will always be a hunter.  Please publish this in your newsletter.

Lancaster, OH

Dear Richard:

Thanks for sharing your opinion with us and for telling us that you’re no longer hunting – we’re always happy when we hear news like this. Hunting can be many things for many people, but let’s strip away the fellowship and the memories and look at the other things you’ve done in your time as an active hunter. You have spent a lifetime feeding the machine of wildlife management that has killed billions of helpless animals and has trampled upon the rights of those of us who wish for wildlife to live as nature has intended.  You’ve fueled an industry that has made it illegal for someone to talk to a hunter from the edge of their own property.  You’ve contributed to an industry that is responsible for the deaths and injuries of thousands of people every year. You’ve made some money and some lasting friendships, but what has hunting done to your heart?  It’s made you insensitive to the needless suffering of others.  It’s given you the false notion of “might makes right” and has given you a false sense of superiority over those who are helpless against your aggression.  It seems to have eliminated your capacity for critical thought and has caused you to erroneously believe that because something makes you happy, it must be good.  We feel sorry that you seem unwilling to change, but we mostly feel sorry for the animals you’ve killed and those you’ve wounded.  In the end, you’ve made the world a more violent and bloody place and that is inexcusable.  We’re glad that you’re no longer hunting; now we want you to develop a sense of compassion and empathy for those other than yourself.

Uncle Joe


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561