Front Groups Make Inroads in Trenton and at State Land Grant University
According to the chairman of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, the gun lobby brokered a deal with a key legislator, promising ostensible electoral support in return for “being taken care of.”
We hope that this is not the case.
In any event, the “endorsement” proved ephemeral. NJOA PAC groups comprising the bulk of the organization (New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs), and the National Rifle Association (NRA), actually endorsed the above candidate's unsuccessful opponent.
UPDATE: On June 2, NJOA-endorsed candidate, State Senator Marcia Karrow, was defeated in her primary bid (Republican- District 23) for re-election. NJOA endorsed Karrow, co-chair of the "Hunter Conservation Caucus," and sponsor of the Reduced Safety Buffers for Bows legislation, as "exactly the kind of person our organization needs in the Senate," and held a pig roast for the Senator. The party base turns out for primaries. Still, the NJOA candidate lost.
That is no surprise. “[D]espite its poor record in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles,” notes The New York Times, the NRA continues to perpetuate the myth of electoral influence. (LINK) (LINK) According to the NRA itself:
“Tim Kaine’s victory in the Virginia governor’s race was a huge loss for the NRA, which exerted an unprecedented amount of time, money and personnel to the unsuccessful bid of Jerry Kilgore. Up to the eve of the election, the NRA was telling its members that Kaine “supports shutting down gun shows, suing the gun industry out of existence and has been endorsed by the Brady Campaign.” (LINK)
Desired Client Access
Hunter ranks are shrinking dramatically.
Figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show that the number of
hunters 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006. “We
hear concerns about land access,” said a state hunting official. (See
“2006 National Survey of Fish,
Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation.”
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Non-lethal wildlife recreation has increased substantially, with federal data showing surging numbers of birdwatchers, wildlife photographers, and other wildlife enthusiasts. Non-invasive recreationists increased from 62.8 million in 1996 to 71.1 million in 2006. Hikers, birdwatchers, bikers, and other wildlife watchers outnumber hunters 17 to one, and outspend gunners four to one.
According to The Associated Press, “Rob Sexton, a vice president of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance [a trade association], said one upside of the shrinking numbers is that hunting groups are more motivated to seek remedies, such as access to more land and less burdensome regulations.”
Sunday hunting and reduced home safety buffer zones are about client retention. Scores of industry “hunter satisfaction” surveys register hunter demand for access; to more of our public lands, and a mere 150 feet from our homes. (“Hunting 2007: Decline in hunter numbers worries wildlife agencies.” Kalamazoo Gazette, Sept. 27, 2007)
Accordingly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has re-defined the future of hunting: “The outdoor recreation experience will change because emphasis will shift to providing wildlife-associated outdoor recreation [hunting] in or near urban centers.” (Emphasis ours).
In 1998, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife conducted a study to identify “reasons for declining hunter activity.” Hunters responded, “not enough lands to hunt and limited access to these lands.” And not enough time.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), firearms, archery, ammunition and equipment manufacturers, and shooting trade associations are engaged in a nationwide effort to stem the decline in hunter-clients, and related gun, ammunition and license sales, with an emphasis on bringing shooting to hunters’ doorsteps. (LINK) And our backyards.
The campaign focuses on expanded hunter access, and “opportunities,” on private and public lands. Priorities are Sunday hunting, and decreased safety zones near occupied dwellings, including homes and businesses. According to the NRA: “Hunter access will not be denied.” Scroll down to second article synopsis: LINK.
Despite the gun lobby's lack of public disclosure, and the consequences for public safety, the NRA has engineered political gains.
Governor Jon Corzine signed the Sunday Hunting Bill on May 4, 2009. Legislation (S976/A595) to reduce home safety zones for bow hunting awaits a likely mid-to-late May vote in the New Jersey Senate. S976/A595 reduces the current bow safety zone near homes from 450 to 150 feet.
In legislative jargon, New Jersey's premier environmental advocate described the Sunday Hunting Bill - whisked through committees and floor votes despite strong opposition - as a “dirty bill.”
Guns on the Way
“Hopefully this will lay the ground work necessary to allow Sunday hunting with firearms in the near future,” said Rob Sexton U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Vice President for Government Affairs. “Sportsmen throughout New Jersey should support this bill and ask Governor Corzine to sign it immediately.” LINK If the link disappears, please go here.
The Alliance is a trade association that includes Hornaday, Federal Cartridge Co., and Remington Arms.
Unless citizens insist that their home safety buffers remain at 450 feet, there is no doubt that the NRA will again “be taken care of” – at public expense.
Neither bill has anything to do with reducing deer numbers. In fact, the opposite effect is likely.
In 2006, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department confirmed that bow hunting is neither efficient nor humane:
“Archery: [P]ublic deer hunt data suggests that hunter success is usually much lower with this method compared to firearms hunting. Additionally, archery hunting is commonly perceived to result in higher wounding losses and increased travel distances before deer succumb to their injury (Kilpatrick and Walter 1999). This could lead to possible conflicts with nearby residents and should be considered prior to employing this technique. (“Deer Management Within Surburban Areas.” Texas Parks and Wildlife Department April 2006.)
New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA)
The 99 percent of New Jersey residents who do not hunt are up against entwined, commercial interests and lobbies masquerading as “animal welfare” or “grassroots” organizations.
Created in 2007, NJOA is a political action committee (PAC) “formed with the support of leaders of major pro-hunting, pro-angling, pro-trapping” groups, and The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA). (SourceWatch) (See: Contract Shillers, by Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the largest animal protection organization in the U.S.)
NAIA is a known front-group for animal-use commerce, including “financial interests, legislation and public perception related to animal agribusiness, sports, blood sports, entertainment, breeding, hunting, fishing, trapping, fur ranching and animal testing.” (SourceWatch) NAIA was founded and is still headed by Patti Strand, a trade advocate who is “reliably antagonistic” to animal welfare. (SourceWatch)
NAIA at Rutgers
One of NAIA's chief actors and president is the equally antagonistic Larry S. Katz (SourceWatch). Katz chairs the Animal Science Department at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where he advances NAIA’s agenda.
Katz is also a long-term board member of the American Animal Welfare Foundation (AAWF), yet another “animal welfare” front group founded by a public relations couple in St. Paul, Minnesota. There is no IRS 990 form or website available for this group. AAWF is “funded by furriers, meat companies, hunting groups, the pet industry and other pro-animal-use individuals and organizations,” according to spokesperson Tim Sullivan. The most famous member of its board of directors has been rock guitarist, vulgarian, and bowhunter Ted Nugent.
AAWF's animal welfare credentials remain elusive. From The Washington Post: ‘Ted Nugent's Down to Earth, promises raw, unedited footage of America's no. 1 rock 'n' roll bowhunter as he whacks 'em and stacks 'em. Nor was it hyperbole. In the first 10 minutes, viewers got bird's-eye of broadheads fatally piercing such fearsome creatures as an armadillo, a squirrel perched in a tree, some pigs and a goat. 'I love that part,' said the glinty-eyed Nugent after running death scenes in sequence. 'Let's see it again.' And the appalling whack 'em and stack 'em compendium ran all over in slow-motion replay.’ – (The Washington Post, Recreation Section, September 23, 1990). Nugent is also on the board of the NRA. Ted Nugent Quotes.
Nugent recently “went on a vicious onstage rant in which he threatened the lives of Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.” LINK
To date, NJOA has not publicly disclosed the names of supporting “major” gun-fur interests. National groups of this kind are usually trade associations for firearms, archery, and trap manufacturers and dealers. NJOA works closely with the New Jersey NRA (New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs).
Tied to the unsavory National Animal Interest Alliance (see below), NJOA uses materials supplied by yet another front group, The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), (SourceWatch), to attack animal protection organizations and individuals.
Attack campaigns are designed to change the subject, to lower the level of debate, and to divert attention from the cruelty at hand by attempting to kill the messenger. For that reason, legitimate groups generally avoid response. What has occurred with the advent of collective front groups working together, however, requires a response, not in kind, but in identifying the affiliations and tactics of animal–use players who pretend to be something they are against (“animal welfare,” “conservation”), and who labor to mis-label opponents. NJOA continues to repeat personal aspersions concerning the head of an animal protection organization in New Jersey. The aspersions are nonsense, likely planted by a front-group, and are being addressed by attorneys.
In “Contract Shillers,” Wayne Pacelle wrote: ‘Groups like these have been attacking the good work of animal protection for as long as I’ve been involved—truth-bending, story-telling, taking quotes out of context, and wasting the time and attention of the public. (In the past, CCF has been forced to retract its false and defamatory attacks on The HSUS.) These agents of conflict serve no legitimate purpose in helping society to think through its ethical obligations concerning animals; they operate only to obscure public understanding and to sidetrack intelligent public policy debate and corporate reforms.”
“Consumer Freedom,” wrote Pacelle, “has no purpose other than to attack ‘do gooder’ groups such as The Humane Society of the United States, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Center for Science in The Public Interest, and even the radical U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
In the minor leagues, NJOA employs many of the same, disagreeable tactics in New Jersey, spending an inordinate amount of energy smearing opponents, primarily women.
On the margins – and not knowing it
NJOA chairman Anthony “Ant” Mauro, a self-published gunning author, poses as an ardent “conservationist.” Mauro is a trophy hunter affiliated with the “anti-environmental” (SourceWatch) Safari Club International and the NRA, and previously hosted a website (captured) featuring his animal trophy room (LINK) and photos of his trophy hunting excursions (LINK).
National headlines (LINK) attest to Safari Club International’s (LINK) decidedly not mainstream disregard for the preservation of rare and endangered species. Environmental groups openly assailed Safari Club for increasing quotas for the shipment of leopard trophies, and defeating an attempt to rescind quotas for black rhino trophy shipments. The Club consistently opposes all efforts to protect polar bears.
Safari Club International trophy killing of endangered animals flouts the foundations of legitimate wildlife protection. Consistently, the public registers especially strong disapproval of trophy hunting; only 18 percent approve (Kellert, 1978). According to hunting websites, “The majority of Americans disapprove of sport hunting unless it's done for food ‘meat hunting’ and most of these people find trophy hunting especially improper. Even among hunters, trophy hunting often rates low in esteem.” (LINK)
Ironically, NJOA’s favorite pejorative for opponents of any stripe or conviction is “extremist.”
NJOA misleadingly promotes itself as “the voice of conservation” in New Jersey, when in plain fact it is the strident voice of business/trophy shooting interests.
Surfacing in Trenton in 2007, with no discernable civic or track record other than gunning down all manner of species (LINK), the NJOA Chairman presumes to denigrate organizations and individuals who have for decades worked constructively with the Legislature to obtain some of our strongest humane statutes and policies. Dedicated individuals targeted by NJOA have been praised as “consummate professionals” by key legislators, in writing, and are recipients of the venerable Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s The Scott McVay Unity Award.
While many hunters oppose Sunday hunting, (LINK), NJOA attacks The Sierra Club, horsemen’s associations, and horse farmers who oppose the measure as “extremists” – even as a rider responded that Mr. Mauro’s anonymous, on-line rants were “fanatic[al.]” Seventy-six percent of Americans disapprove of steel-jaw leghold traps; due to immutable cruelty and non-selectivity, the device has been outlawed by 67 countries. Nevertheless, NJOA is so out of touch with, or contemptuous of, mainstream humane sensibilities that it portrays banning the traps as “radical” – with no sense of irony.
Playing With Others
NJOA’s role in reducing home safety buffers to a mere 150 feet for nocked arrows (from current 450’ requirement) is especially problematic. If history is prologue, homeowners who object to weapons too close for comfort are in for a rough experience.
When riverside residents in Monmouth County objected to shooting directly behind their homes, NJOA intervened, as an outside gun interest group, to lobby state and local officials—and to denigrate resident opponents who actually lived on the river. The public approach was accompanied by an ugly back campaign, whereby residents were vilified—online, in print, and behind the scenes. LINK Asbury Park Press Ad When a homeowner in Trenton, on the Delaware River, told a hunter that he was hunting illegally, the hunter shot over his head. LINK
The unpleasantness, including incidents not published here, may not rise to typical hate group standards, but they are fast approaching the threshold. Smear and whispering campaigns, including those by hired representatives, are neither innocent nor accidental; they intend to do damage: to humane causes, to good names. The goal— orchestrated by groups that are by definition extreme, and whose boards of directors include Ted Nugent – is to attempt to denigrate individuals and organizations performing legitimate, and much needed, humanitarian work.
The NJOA chairman infiltrates web boards under fake names (“Greenie” – a “conservationist”) when assailing horse and rider associations who oppose the Sunday Hunting Bill. When riders lobbied against Sunday hunting, Mauro attempted to broadbrush all riders by publishing a law enforcement report about a single horsewoman. See image below. For full thread, click LINK.
National Animal Interest Alliance Trust (NAIA)
(SourceWatch Link ABOVE) NAIA, a front group for animal use industries, is part of the NJOA PAC.
According to Sourcewatch: “National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) is a front group and industry lobby for animal commerce. Their primary (if obfuscated) agenda appears to be protecting their interests and/or status quo (when they may be irrevocably tied to maintaining such). These include: financial interests, legislation and public perception related to animal agribusiness, sports, blood sports, entertainment, breeding, hunting, fishing, trapping, fur ranching and animal testing.” Its members testify and work against animal protective legislation.
NJOA PAC member groups have opposed mainstream legislation to reform puppy mills; to prohibit the slaughter of horses, and to require marginally more humane conditions for animals raised for food. (See. Larry S. Katz, below).
NAIA/AAWF in New Jersey
The president of NAIA is Larry S. Katz, (LINK) chairman of Animal Sciences, director, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and associate director, NJ Agricultural Experiment Station. The Wildlife Management Institute, the firearms trade association, is the sole private “partner” - with government regulators - in the Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit Program at more than 40 land-grant colleges and universities. (See, Wildlife Management Institute, below.)
Katz is on the board of only two groups: NAIA, and the American Animal Welfare Foundation. The names and stated purpose of both deliberately mislead the public.
“The American Animal Welfare Foundation, one of several misleadingly named fur trade fronts run by St. Paul public relations people . . . is now distributing free interactive computer programs (developed by Katz) for use with students in grades K-3. One is called 'A Trip to the Mall,' in which children match pictures of animals with animal products, e.g., a cow inserted into a hamburger bun.” (Animal People news magazine: 8/94).
His outreach activities in behalf of Rutgers fully reflected NAIA/AAWF purposes. They were limited to promoting the fur trade, opposing humane initiatives, and portraying animal protection in a hostile way.
When testifying against humane farming legislation, Katz stated: ““'I'd wish I wasn't tethered all the time. But you know what, I'm a person, that's why I'd wish that.' said Larry Katz, chair of the Department of Animal Science at Cook College and a farm industry adviser.” (New Livestock Rules Sow Debate on Animal Rights. The Star Ledger. 7/2/03.)
In behalf of the State University of New Jersey, Katz appears to be chief of, and spokesperson for, the state's erstwhile effort to develop birth control for deer. (See, “U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Feature: Deer Birth Control Program Threatens Bowhunting.” (LINK) The cited “Rutgers report” was authored by Katz.) At the same time, he is president and a board member of front groups that oppose contraceptives as a threat. In fact, the firearms industry has challenged contraceptive trials in court. The NAIA president's anti-contraceptive statements are in the name of Rutgers University; NAIA/AAWF ties are not disclosed.
Nor has Katz disclosed NAIA/AAWF affiliations in Op-Eds, press, and journals. In the name of Rutgers—not NAIA/AAWF—Katz has actively campaigned for reducing home safety buffers and expanding bow hunting on all public lands.
Editor's Note: Contraceptives for white-tailed deer and other species already exist and are at the trial stage. The trials continue to be challenged by the shooting sports industry.
2. Results suggest that the public's values toward wildlife have been shifting more toward mutualist values and away from utilitarian values. The change is slow and occurs between generations of people. Analysis of the study would suggest that the change is due to some very basic changes in society — including increases in urbanization, economic well-being and education. As these changes occur, people are less driven by economic or subsistence needs and become less likely to have utilitarian orientations toward wildlife.
Cyberwest Magazine. October 30, 2005 CSU: Views toward wildlife changing in West.
3. Wildlife Management Institute (WMI): Their board is limited to Smith & Wesson, Remington Arms, Alliant Powder, Taurus International Firearms and other equipment and ammunition manufacturers, operates under partnership agreements with the Department of Interior and state wildlife agencies: “No other organization,” boasts WMI, “has a greater hand in molding state, federal and provincial resource agencies, typically working away from the limelight to catalyze and facilitate strategies, actions and decisions.” (The Wildlife Management Institute, Mission Statement, www.wildlifemanagementinstitute.org (Jan 2000). Ed. Note: The statement has since been removed/revised.)
Prior to cosmetic adjustments, WMI board members were : Remington Arms, Inc.; Browning Arms, Inc.; Alliant Powder; Olin Corporation’ Hodgedon Powder Com.; Blount, Inc.; National Shooting Sports Foundation [funded by gun manufacturers]; Marlin Firearms Company; H&R 1871 Inc.; Sturm, Ruger & Co.; O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.; SigArms Corporation; Taurus International Firearms; Weatherby, Inc.; and Smith & Wesson. In 2000, Hornaday was also on the board of the National Rifle Association.
Each of the Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Research Units is a “partnership among the U.S. Biological Resources Division, the state natural resource agency, a host of universities and the Wildlife Management Institute.” WMI also “conducts in-depth reviews of state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies' organizations, authorities and programs.” Cooperative research units are central to wildlife policy and should be unassailably independent.
Editor's Note: WMI's strictly gun-ammo composition proved problematic when the Institute announced a partnership with National Audubon. WMI has recently made cosmetic adjustments to its board, now headed by ATK Ammunition Systems.
4. Kilpatrick, H. J. and W. D. Walter.
(1999). A controlled archery deer hunt in a residential community: cost,
effectiveness, and deer recovery rates. Wildlife Society Bulletin.
5. Kellert S.R. (1978). Characteristics and Attitudes of Hunters and Antihunters. Transactions of the 43rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference.