“All these hunters who are shrieking now, oh do they speak for us?”

— Leonard Cohen

Interest in killing wildlife has been declining 1 percent annually over the past decade. Hunters and trappers established the state and federal wildlife agencies a hundred years ago to secure control of public lands and wildlife for killing in perpetuity. They are desperate to maintain their exclusive power base.

The average hunter is a white male 55 years old. Hunting used to be a good ol’ boys club. No more. Hunters are evangelizing to the black and Vietnamese communities. They have high success in attracting young women. They would like to start children killing from strollers, but have them at 10, working toward 8. No hunter safety class required, a 10-year-old can “test-drive” killing bears, deer, turkeys, waterfowl — all in special youth hunts at reduced fees of $2-$7 per license.

$7 to kill a bear.

A father commented, “When most 10-year-olds are still not responsible enough to take the garbage to the curb each week, one has to wonder what was in the head of the sponsor of this measure, Democrat Jim Holperin.” Children were not lobbying Sen. Holperin. Why was the senator so eager to give children deadly weapons?

About 10,000 10- and 11-year-old kids enrolled in the new program in 2009.

Break the natural bond of love between animals and children before they have cognitive skills or freedom and maturity to make moral decisions. Lure them with the adult status of a gun. Impressionable 10-year-olds just want to please adults. Hunters believe they can create children as lifelong serial killers of wildlife if they offer them the male approval they crave and rarely receive.

As you see in the video, this 10-year-old is learning what adults approve of as he is praised highly for killing a cub, barely 2 years old and about the size of the boy.

Training children to enjoy killing should be considered child abuse. It is good preparation for brainwashing in the military/industrial complex.

As the hunting lobby “Conservation” Congress prepares to launch a new Youth Congress, the Natural Resources Board and Legislature continue to deny Wisconsin’s 3 million adult wildlife watchers their own congress. Other states are democratizing and including wildlife lovers for the good of nature — power sharing for the first time.

Wisconsin is regressing. The Department of Natural Resources has created a new paid staff position of recruitment and retention coordinator of 1,200 volunteers enrolling new hunters and trappers.

I once talked to a young man in his late 20s about the trapping sticker on his truck. I asked him what it was like for him to kill. His answer was profound. He said, “I kill the animal, stand over it and think damn, I have done that. And I put my feelings aside and I deal with it.”

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“Putting feelings aside” is a patriarchal hunting doctrine. It is also systemic in 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America. Children are taught to split their brains and deny their feelings. Cats and dogs are beloved. Wolves and bobcats are demonized. Oohs and aahs are lavished on the baby calf at the petting zoo, followed by a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Raise a farm animal for ribbons and then forfeit it to the slaughterhouse. Put feelings aside and you get the world we have: ravaged, poisoned and dying; wild native nature destroyed and devalued; our wild brethren trapped, tortured, and murdered for fun, and profit.

Denial is an easier religion than “Thou shalt not kill.” Pass the plate for killing licenses and fund the DNR. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

At the beginning of the months of deer seasons, I walked down to the northern edge of my rural woods to ask my 30-something neighbor to move his deer stand away from its position three feet from my boundary. No woods grace his 10 acres, so he hunts off of my 50 acres of woods. He knows I love and try to protect the wildlife here.

A young tow-headed boy was in the stand. Questioned, he told me his uncle owned the stand. Asked his age, he replied, “13.” I said, “What are you doing there?” “Waiting to shoot a deer.” I said, “Oh — have you ever met a fawn, or talked to a doe?” “Uh – no.” I said, “Don’t you think you should know who you are killing to decide if that is what you want to do?”

No reply.

Please sign a petition to stop the slaughter of 5,000 black bears in Wisconsin.

Sept. 4 column: A call to action as the mourning dove and bear killing begins

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife.