One that falls into the latter category involves the Feb. 12 flurry of gunfire that supposedly brought down a $10,000 “mikrokopter” launched by animal rights activists hoping to disrupt a pigeon shoot.
The drone’s owners, a group called SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect & Kindness) drove 920 miles from suburban Chicago to a lonely highway near Erhardt, S.C., where gunners had gathered at a shooting preserve called Broxton Bridge Plantation.
Predictably, when the aircraft and its remote video camera cleared the trees in the vicinity of the scheduled pigeon shoot, someone shot it.
According to a report the group filed with the Colleton County Sheriff’s office, damages totaled about $300. As of last week, when I checked with the department’s records bureau, no arrests had been made.
But the story doesn’t end there. The incident made news all the way to Europe and of course the activists were delighted – and have since returned to Broxton Bridge, where they videotaped what they contend are exchanges with deputies they say harassed them.
The group’s leader, Steve Hindi, complained to the county sheriff about the lack of progress in identifying whoever shot his drone.
He goes on to condemn Broxton Bridge for holding what he calls “canned hunts” in which live pigeons are turned loose to be shot, and the discussion quickly transitions to raising “test tube deer” in which genetically altered whitetails with mammoth antlers are grown and sold for sport.
Practices such as growing mutant deer and selling them like livestock can make the sport of hunting an easier target than a drone at a pigeon shoot.
That’s why – just two weeks ago – the Georgia Wildlife Federation and other groups launched a campaign to defeat legislation to legalize just such an industry right here in Georgia.
House Bill 1043 also raised concerns among wildlife professionals, including Deputy Natural Resources Commissioner Todd Holbrook, who feared the bill would further promote “canned hunts” behind tall fences in a state where hunting is not only accepted but also is gaining in popularity.
The good news, though, is that the General Assembly didn’t buy it – and its failure had nothing to do with animal rights activists.
The Georgia Wildlife Federation’s plea for legitimate sportsmen and women to lobby against the measure generated more than 1,600 responses to lawmakers, who subsequently scuttled the bill on Feb. 28, and it is now a dead issue for 2012.
Will the issue surface again?
As long as there are big bucks in big bucks, there will be out-of-state interests (and in-state politicians) who want to explore the idea.
In the meantime, though, Georgia’s hunters can still get their big bucks the old-fashioned way: by hunting in fair chase situations and by passing up juvenile bucks to allow them to mature – and I hope it stays that way.