LOHV Capital Region Speaks Out Against Duck Hunting

By Patty Keelen

The following text was presented at the Clifton Park Town Board meeting on August 6, 2007:

Good evening, my name is Patty Keelen from the Capital District Chapter of the League of Humane Voters. I come here tonight to present information on behalf of the residents who live in your district and their opposition the yearly duck hunt in the VF Preserve.
Unfortunately, arrangements to meet with Mr. Barrett regarding this never came to fruition. So, therefore, much of the information that would have been provided then will be provided here.  However, the League would still be interested in meeting with Mr. Barrett to discuss the subject further.

I might add that I have read that the Town states that this subject comes up during every election, but I assure you we would have been here last year but were working on another election. If the ban doesn’t happen this year, we will continue to work on this endeavor.

The League is in the process of collecting signatures from the residents of this voting district. We have collected close to 400 signatures, and climbing, against the duck hunt. Very few people have not signed our petitions. Approximately 98% of those we approach eagerly sign this petition. Most notably, even hunters have signed our petitions – they condemn the practice of hunting in the VF preserve as unethical and have no respect for those who do. I think that’s really saying something about this practice. There are four hundred signatures of residents who are against the hunt vs. 23 hunters.

Some of the comments we received from your residents are about: buck shot falling into nearby yards during the hunt, shooting after dark, shells left behind littering the preserve, sound of rapid fire indicating shotguns are not being used, coming upon men walking with guns in the preserve outside of the duck hunt week who state they are not hunting (then why are they in the preserve with guns?), injured and crippled ducks left to fend for themselves after the hunt, hikers disturbed by the numbers of ducks plaintively searching for their missing mates after the duck hunt, resident frustration at the inability to use the preserve for their personal use during the week of the hunt, residents having to rush to warn visitors going into the preserve during the hunt unaware the hunt is taking place.

50% of residents we talk to are not aware there is even a duck hunt in the preserve…further supporting the argument that the hunt is dangerous to folks who may inadvertently enter the preserve during the week-long hunt. Not only are they upset when they find out that ducks are being killed, the very ducks they and their children admire 51 weeks of the year, but they are equally angry at the possibility of a hunting accident happening. Can Clifton Park really afford a liability lawsuit for negligence if anyone is injured or worse, killed in the preserve? Or will the town only do something about it once there is an accident? According to the Canal Corporation, the permit which Clifton Park has with them would not preclude the town from eliminating the hunt.

In addition to the above reasons, here are some interesting facts about hunting vs. wildlife watchers which are of particular note:

66 million people participate in wildlife watching vs. 13 million who hunt; 40 billion dollars are spent annually on wildlife watching vs. 20 billion dollars on hunting.(1)

Although wildlife watching is not yet an established economy, in fact it’s in its incipient stage, whereas hunting is established and is declining faster than a speeding bullet. 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation. There are interim reports (2) but new, final reports will be issued in November, 2007. (2)

Hunter numbers are falling…according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service nationally by over two million since the ’80s. Source: Richardson the Oryx Hunter, By MARTHA ROSENBERG Counterpunch http://www.counterpunch.org/rosenberg06182007.html

Although the hunt only lasts one week, the negative effects on the entire bird population in the preserve are long lasting. According to Sue Russell in “Deer Under Fire,” (copyright 2006).

“…wildlife refuge managers identify hunting as the primary cause of disturbance to birds, disturbance that leads to death, nest failure, and aberrant behavior;1 bird hunting, an activity responsible for the deaths and crippling of an estimated 13.5 million ducks, 4.7 million geese,2 and 20 million mourning doves each year.”3

A resounding majority of Clifton Park voters want it to end…these are your constituents. It’s dangerous, illogical and not in the best interest of the Town of Clifton Park to continue it. Clifton Park is a progressive upscale area…except when it comes to this barbaric killing of defenseless birds. If these 23 hunters want to hunt ducks…why can’t they can hunt in the other areas recommended by Encon…and hopefully a place where the birds have an even playing field. Remove their wings, fence in the area and you have a typical canned hunt – another deplorable hunting practice.

Mr. Barrett has stated that the hunt is a tradition reflecting the past ruralness of Clifton Park – I’d like to remind the board that slavery, burning witches at the stake, and barring women from voting were all traditions that have gone their way….it is time to do the same with this illogical duck hunt.

1 National Wildlife Refuge System Policy/Wildlife-Dependent Recreational Uses Policy (http://policy.fws.gov/library/01fr3681.pdf), U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (Jan. 2004).

2 “Preliminary Estimates of Waterfowl Harvest and Hunter Activity for the 2003 Hunting Season,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management Reports 2005.

3 “Mourning Dove Breeding Population Status 2004-2005,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2005.


Contact Us

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