If people were eating the doves and pheasants and quail that are shot, goes the thinking--sometimes right out of their pens as Vice President Dick Cheney is wont to do--it couldn't be as easily said that hunters just like to kill things.
But efforts to redeem the hunters' image through getting people to eat their handiwork have failed.
In Illinois, despite complaints that the once endangered Canadian goose has overpopulated corporate parks, residential subdivisions and golf ranges, there was no support for a cull. Even though proceeds were supposed to go to seniors or the poor.
Sure the birds are territorial, everyone agreed and their road apples hard to miss. But should that earn them the death penalty? When you can just shake their eggs to control their population?
And besides--how do you get people to eat something you know you wouldn't eat yourself: "This is a dirty pest no one wants around--but it will make a nice meal?" You could say that about a pigeon.
It was even worse in Wisconsin. Thanks to chronic wasting disease, essentially mad cow disease for deer, "free fire zones" were created in 2002 in which all deer would be killed including does and fawns to wipe out the disease.
Why kill them when they're dying anyway? For the same reason Wisconsin has 700 licensed deer and elk farms: deer hunting is a $400 million business in the state.
But of course there was a little wrinkle. The perfectly good deer meat could also be lethal. And not surprisingly, food pantries refused the largesse despite an attached informed consent flier from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources--or maybe because of it.
("You want us to eat what?" you could practically hear the poor saying while some historian reminded everyone about Native Americans and infected blankets. )
Now comes news that Safari Club International (SCI)--a U.S.-based advocacy group that promotes, just like it sounds, Teddy Roosevelt style big-game hunting--is giving meat to cancer patients. Sportsmen Against Cancer, an outgrowth of SCI's Sportsmen Against Hunger, gives game meat free to cancer patients "whose ability to recover can be adversely affected by non-organic meats that contain hormones." 1
"We don't call our meat organic," says Angie Hall, chairperson of the Naples/Fort Myers Safari Club which recently held a Sportsmen Against Cancer event attended by Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. "However, it is not very likely that wild animals were injected with hormones. Patients swear by the program. The meat builds their strength."
"We're able to provide the proper type of nutrition to people with cancer," agreed Stormin' Norman who himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993 and now works with charities. 2
While the American Cancer Society is fighting "fast and furious" to find the cure, writes Hall on the SCI Foundation web site, "I know there are sportsmen and women who are going to see that today's cancer patients will have the wild game they need now to see the cure for their future."
SCI has other humanitarian programs too.
Like its Disabled Hunter, Sensory Safari and Safari Wish programs.