Why are field trials the subject of such attacks? Well, the answer is not a pleasant one. In an article titled “If They Can’t Get Us One Way, They’ll Try Another”, written by Kenneth Marden, Delegate, German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America, Inc., summarized it best, “The USFWS has been infiltrated by animal rights humaniacs. When you find that a former vice president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) occupies a key position I the USFWS, and you know the HSUS is violently opposed to hunting in any form, everything becomes clear.” Simply put, many animal rights groups and environmental zealots have found their way into these government agencies. Most are in federal positions in Washington and given the opportunity and support by special interest groups have attacked our rights, much the way a sheep in wolf’s clothes would.
Even waterfowlers find the availablity of land to be an issue.
Photo by: R. Michael DiLullo
Fortunately, groups like the National Rifle Association, National Wildlife Institute, NAIA and sportsmen organization, and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) stepped up to this attack and faced it head on. After indications that USFWS misused federally appropriated funds, Rep. Young requested an audit of the USFWS by the General Accounting Office. The findings from this audit uncovered astounding abuses. Millions of tax dollars, collected from the excise taxes on the purchase of firearms, ammunition, fishing equipment, etc., where suppose to go to federal conservation effort per the Pittman-Robertson Act, where instead spent to pay themselves huge bonuses and extravagant business trips around the world. In one case, an attempt was made to finance and unauthorized project to promote a program for an animal rights group.
After such findings Rep. Young introduced H.R. 3671, “The Fish and Wildlife Programs Improvement and National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial Act of 2000”, a bill to end abuses and ensure that the millions of dollars in excise taxes, paid by sportsman annually, went back to improve the conservation projects that will benefit our sport. On November 1, 2000, this bill was signed into law. Unfortunately, the law was passed contained no statutory language regarding field trialing or the animal rights anti-hunting attacks on our sport.
However, the HR4690 amendment amended the Pittman-Robertson Program to include a modified form of the term "wildlife-associated recreation." Senators Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) and Chuck Robb (D-Virginia), together with Chairman Don Young (R- Alaska) were instrumental in including the term "field trialing" in this definition.
Sometimes it takes an attack like that waged by the USFWS (through the Pittman Robertson Act) to unite the strong personalities in our sport. Unfortunately, we let this one get a little too close for comfort. Be assured that we have not heard the last of the special interest groups. As my father and coach once counseled me after winning a big cross-country race in high school, “The minute you think you cannot be beat, you will be! Now you’re ripe for the picking, you know! This time you won. Hopefully, you have learned from winning just as much as they have learned from losing. Undoubtedly, they will come back even stronger, in ways you may not be ready for.” Lastly, as he walked out of my bedroom he stated, “I don’t mean to take anything away from your win, it was BIG, but don’t rest on your laurels. Instead, consider this your wake-up call.”