Wild Animals

We are the stewards of the earth.  As such we are responsible for our wards.  Yet, our laws not only permit the cruel and reprehensible treatment of our charges but, in some cases, mandate it.

We can do better than that, learn how:

Baltimore County Votes to Keep Sundays protected during hunting season!

Deer in Woods with FawnKeep Sundays protected for animals and people!

UPDATE 2/13/15: UPDATE: Excellent News! Baltimore County delegation voted this morning (Friday 2/13) to protect Baltimore County's way of life. Baltimore County residents get to keep their Sunday day of rest and outdoor safety for animals, people and families.  Kudos to the legislators who bravely took a stand on this issue.  Vote count will be published when available!

UPDATE 2/12/15: Baltimore County Legislators will vote THIS FRIDAY morning (2/13) on legislation to expand Sunday hunting into Baltimore County for the first time in nearly 300 years!  If we do not ACT Now this bill could pass and our way of life in Baltimore County will be changed forever.

Update 1/30/15: Baltimore County weighed in on new Sunday hunting legislation (HB18) at a hearing in Annapolis on January 30, 2015. Baltimore County legislators heard testimony on expanding hunting in Baltimore County.

Sunday has been a day of rest for animals and people for nearly 300 years in Baltimore County.  A few individuals want to change that way of life for everyone just so those few can hunt and kill animals 7 days a week instead of six.

There is still time for Baltimore County residents to Act Now and send a letter opposing the push to sanction Sunday hunting.

Animals need a rest, and the over 98% of Marylanders who do not hunt, don't want to lose the one day a week they currently have to enjoy nature and wildlife without gunfire, death, and the chilling effect of fearing for the personal safety of their families.

Bullets and arrows do not stop at property boundary lines, endangering people on their own property and on public lands adjoining private property.

If you are a Baltimore County resident, please contact your legislator NOW and oppose the expansion of Sunday hunting into Baltimore County.

 

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Maryland's Deer

Whitetail Deer In Maryland

Where did our whitetail deer come from, who brought them, and why?

  • While for decades, seeing a whitetail deer in Maryland was a rarity, it isn't anymore because of actions taken by what we now know as the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), our agency charged with "wildlife management."
  • In 1916, Maryland's legislature created the Conservation Commission to protect and propagate wildlife, and in 1918, the first hunting licenses became law.  But who's going to buy a hunting license without big game to hunt and kill in Maryland?  DNR had to do something about that.   
  • In the early 1920s deer were purchased from nearby states for "breeding stock.  They flourished, and Maryland deer hunting reopened for the first time in 1927.  Then, the big push to populate deer throughout Maryland in the 1940s was on.  DNR staff trapped over 2,000 deer located on the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Grounds, relocating them throughout Maryland until the early 1960s.

How did we get so many whitetail deer?A Young Fawn

  • Maryland's deer herd expanded beyond biologists' wildest predictions.  Suburban habitat became more "deer friendly" -- lots of flowers, shrubs and bushes for deer to eat.  Also, contrary to scientific thinking, deer did not run away when humans encroached on their territory.  Deer tend to reproduce in greater numbers when they are hunted.  It's called the "compensatory rebound effect." even with the expansion of deer hunting opportunity, we continue to have about the same number of deer we had a decade ago. 


How does DNR primarily "manage" our deer that they put here -- and why?

  • Current whitetail deer "wildlife management" primarily means that DNR finds ways to legally allow hunters purchasing a license (less than 2% of Maryland citizens hunt) and others to kill our deer.  During the 2007-2008 season, hunters killed over 92,000 does, fawns (babies), bucks - with rifles, shotguns, and even bows and arrows for sport and recreational trophies and food.
  • Today, over 80% of DNR's funding for wildlife management comes from hunting license sales.  Almost nothing is done by DNR or other state agencies to help citizens co-exist with deer, yet technology for such practices is proven and available.   


Who kills our deer? 

  • Anyone with a Maryland hunting license can kill dozens of deer every year in Maryland, during regular deer seasons, in public parks, on state lands - even in "wildlife refuges!"  Last year it was "war on whitetails" at Loch Raven Reservoir!  And when hunters don't kill enough deer to satisfy DNR, our tax dollars are used to pay sharp shooters to kill even more. 
  • Children can get hunting licenses, too, and hunt at any age in Maryland, unsupervised by adults for most of the season.  DNR even promotes child hunting with a special "Youth Deer Hunting Day."   
  • Farmers can easily get "crop deprivation permits" allowing hunters to come on their lands and kill deer year round.  If it sounds like a "war" on our deer, you are getting the picture.


But what about deer eating my plants, crashing into my car, or perhaps giving me Lyme disease?

  • Deer eat plants, and crash into cars - but there are things you can do to help prevent it.  For an extensive listing of plants they don't like, other ways to keep them out of your garden, and how to help reduce your chances of a deer/vehicle collision, go to www.deersolutionsmd.com. 
  • You could kill every deer in Maryland and you would still have Lyme Disease because deer don't give you Lyme disease:  That's a myth.  In fact, simply removing the deer from an area where Lyme disease has been detected can increase your chances of getting the disease.  Once again, for a more detailed explanation of how this disease works and ways we can help prevent it, go to www.deersolutionsmd.com.


How can I help humanely control our Maryland deer population and stop deer killing for sport?

Do This Now!

  • First, contact the Governor.  Request that Maryland's DNR include in their Deer Management Plan a section providing for implementation of alternative procedures to prevent our deer from reproducing.  Federal EPA approval for GonaCon, a vaccine that interrupts deer reproductive cycles is effective and should be approved very soon.  But we MUST get Maryland's DNR on-board to make this happen here!   
  • Second, join MVFA if you have not done so already.  Politics plays a key role in Maryland's management of whitetail deer in Maryland.  We need to work together providing a voice for the animals in the Maryland General Assembly.  We are dedicated to electing those who will support animal protection causes.  Without you, our deer have no voice. 
  • Finally, contribute.  We have zero paid staff, so every penny you give goes to support our goal of passing humane legislation and protecting Maryland animals.

Sport Killing Maryland's Black Bears

Sport Killing Maryland's Black Bears 

Black BearAfter hunters killed practically all of Maryland's black bears, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) closed bear hunting season in the early 1950s, and placed our state's black bears on the endangered species list in 1972.  Today, our bears are being killed once again.   

A small population of black bears rebounded in Western Maryland, and they are now being killed for sport and recreation again, thanks to Governor Robert Ehrlich and Governor Martin O'Malley.  Here's what happened and how you can help stop it!   

  • In 2004 when Governor Robert Ehrlich ignored a 12-7 vote of the Maryland Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review committee's decision against reopening bear hunting season.  Instead, Ehrlich accepted DNR's recommendation to open up a black bear hunting season.  This pleased a small group of hunters bent on killing our bears with guns, and bows and arrows as recreational sporting activity.
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has yet to produce any scientific evidence supporting a need for holding these generalized bear hunts.  Instead, virtually all of the written documentation points to requests by hunting lobby groups such as the Maryland Sportsmen's Association and others, asking DNR for a bear hunting season.
  • Over pleas from local animal welfare supporters, letters, television messages, rallies, public debate, and requests by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Governor Martin O'Malley continued to allow bear hunting.  Another bear hunt is scheduled again for this fall.
  • DNR refused a $75,000 offer from HSUS to pay farmers for alleged crop damage caused by black bears in return for not opening bear hunting season.
  • So far, hundreds of Maryland's bears have been needlessly and randomly killed, including 18 cubs weighing only 54 to 97 pounds.  
  • Bear hunting in Maryland represents a classic example of how the less than 2% of Marylanders who hunt, have a stranglehold on DNR policies and philosophy about wildlife management in our state.  Time for change is long overdue. Over 98% of Marylanders do not hunt.

Do This Now!

Join MVFA if you have not done so already.  Together we can save our bears - they have nobody but us!    

Maryland's War on Wild Animals

Introduction:

At Maryland Votes for Animals, we advocate for the protection of all animals.  Whereas dog fighting, cat torture, and even equine abuse are often in the news, other forms of animal suffering and abuse are not.  This is the case with Maryland’s wild animals.  Why?

Three reasons:  Because wild animal abuse is 1) often done “legally”; 2) promoted by Maryland state government; 3) done out of sight and mind of the public. The abuse is then explained away with tried and true euphemisms by our Maryland state agency authorizing it – Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  DNR is financially linked at the hip with hunting and trapping special interest groups who enjoy killing these animals for recreation and sport, yet the mainstream public rarely sees the sickening consequences.  

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Our Wildlife and Heritage Division of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (WHS-DNR) is charged with “managing” Maryland’s wildlife and with preserving healthy and diverse ecosystems.  How is this “management” carried out and at what cost to Maryland’s wild animals?

History of DNR
According to DNR reports, Maryland began licensing hunters back in 1916, through what was then called the “State Conservation Commission.”  The goal was to “manage” a variety of wildlife species, many of which – especially waterfowl – were being potentially hunted to extinction.[1]  Its funding came mainly from selling hunting licenses, and that method of funding still dominates the way the current Wildlife and Heritage Division of DNR stays financially afloat. 

DNR Marketing and Philosophy 
The hunters, trappers and fishermen pay most of the costs for wildlife and fisheries “management.”  As such they are DNR’s key targeted audiences.  Wildlife is the carrot that brings in the money.  DNR’s marketing is obvious and so is their philosophy:

The more animals available for hunting and trapping, the more hunting/trapping licenses sold, the more funding goes into DNR’s pocket.  Concern for animals is not critical.  Here’s why.

DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Division is run by key personnel endeared to a hunting and killing philosophy as their primary means of “wildlife management.”  Virtually all are hunters.  Furthermore the majority of DNR’s citizen advisory group, called the Wildlife Advisory Commission (WAC) is handpicked with the same mindset.

The result: The foxes are not only in the henhouse, they control the whole place. They run it, write the regulations, propose the laws, and influence our legislators.  Yet, times have changed and so have attitudes towards wild animals.  The question remains:  How do they do this with so little resistance from the general public?  Language may play a key role.   

The truth behind DNR’s language – it all equals “killing.”
Rarely will you see the word “kill” used in DNR’s literature about wildlife management.  Killing is veiled within multiple euphemisms that mask animal suffering.  This language begins the word “game.”  This word collectively defines all animals that can be legally killed for sport and recreation.   

Animals trapped and oftentimes crushed in cruel leg hold traps are called “furbearers” – not raccoons or foxes.  Your dog or cat can become “collateral damage” by being caught in these traps, as they are non-discriminatory, operating more like landmines, clamping on anything that steps in them. 

Animals are not “killed:” They are “taken.”  Whitetail deer are “harvested.”  Getting your “bag limit” means you killed all of the animals of a certain type – like rabbits -- allowed for that day.  Keeping large groups of animals in check by targeting and killing specific species or gender is called “culling the herd.”  Mute swans are called an “invasive species,” targeted for complete extirpation in Maryland, meaning DNR kills them all, using some of the most hideous methods imaginable.  The same with nutria.  Hiding the sad truth behind DNR language goes on and on. 

Change yesterday’s attitude toward wildlife: “Wack’em and Stack’em” must Go!”
While Maryland’s DNR/Wildlife unit is run, advised, and paid for by those endeared to the hunting culture, today, less than 2% of Marylanders actually hunt!  And those having no desire to kill wild animals, but rather to enjoy them, vastly outnumber Maryland’s hunters. Over 98% of Maryland citizens do not hunt.

There are more than 1.3 million bird watchers and wildlife watchers in Maryland, along with a myriad of hikers and bikers, walkers, horseback riders, and sightseers – called by DNR the “non-consumptive users.”  These are people wanting to enjoy the great outdoors without killing anything.  The people who want to go outside without the chilling effect and fear of being shot by a hunter in hunting season, or have their dog or cat caught in a trapper’s leg hold trap hidden in the brush.  

What can you do to help?

  1. First and foremost, join Maryland Votes For Animals if you have not done so already.  You are already on our website (www.VoteAnimals.org). Just follow the instructions on the homepage and become part of the fastest growing, number one political action committee in Maryland championing animal protection legislators and legislation.
  2. For a real eye-opener, review the digital version of the Maryland Hunting and Trapping Guide at http://www.eregulations.com/maryland/hunting/pageFlip/
  3. Share your concerns about DNR’s war on wildlife by writing directly to the Wildlife Advisory Commission at wac@dnr.state.md.us.  Tell them that you want your voice and your vote for animals inside DNR by having more animal advocates appointed to WAC.
  4. Tell DNR and your legislators that you want leg-hold, snare, and body gripping traps banned in Maryland, and that you want non-lethal alternatives used as their first resource method instead of immediately turning to lethal alternatives.
  5. Create a new license plate for those who want to help finance these new efforts, calling it:  “Protect Our Wildlife.”
  6. Tell DNR and your legislators that you want an “Office of Animal Protection” added to the DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage service designed to monitor and review all DNR related management techniques involving the consumptive use of wildlife as a management tool.  

In closing, Maryland’s DNR, like old military generals, haven’t realized that, for most Marylanders, the war against wildlife is over.  Times have changed and so have the public’s attitudes toward wild animals.  Putting respect, compassion – and humane alternatives – ahead of a bullet, a trap or an arrow is long overdue. 


 

[1] See Game Program:  Annual Report, 1996-1997, published by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, p.3.

Steel-jawed leg-hold Traps

TrappedLegalized Landmines!

What is a steel-jawed leg-hold trap, and where did it come from?

  • The steel-jawed leg-hold trap, technically called a “foothold” trap, is a steel trapping device with powerful clamping-type jaws (see photo) that can slam shut on any part of an unsuspecting animal’s body when the animal steps into it. They can main and cause horrible suffering to wildlife and domestic animals – including family pets -- if caught in them as they walk in Maryland’s forests or fields. 

  • The trap’s design has not changed since Sewell Newhouse invented it back in 1823.  These traps are still commonly sold and used today in Maryland. 

Who uses steel-jawed leg-hold traps, why do they use them, and what is wrong with them?

  • Maryland recreational sport trappers and others use leg-hold traps to trap  furbearing animals such as raccoons, foxes, nutria, opossums, skunk or others in Maryland’s forests and fields.  
     
  • These traps are indiscriminate.  They are like landmines used to kill and maim humans.  Any animal or even a human can step into a leg-hold trap, resulting in severe maiming and suffering.   Some animals experiencing such horrific pain and panic will bite their own trapped legs off to try and get away.  Trappers just call this a “wring-off.”  It just “goes with the territory” sometimes.  

How often are Maryland trappers required to check these traps and what do they do to the trapped animals?

  • Trappers only have to check their leg-hold traps once every 24 hours.

  • Targeted animals helplessly caught in these traps are then commonly bludgeoned or stomped to death with no chance to get away.  They are rarely quickly shot for fear of ruining a valuable fur pelt to be sold.  

Can I remove an animal I see suffering in a leg-hold trap?

  • No.  According to Maryland DNR regulations, “It is illegal to tamper with any legally set trap, and to remove the catch from any legally set trap.”   That means if you see even a dog or a cat suffering in one of these traps, it is illegal for you to step in and try to remove it.  Instead, you let the animal continue to suffer while you call and wait for DNR to respond.

Who supports the use of these traps, and who opposes it?

  • SupportingVery few powerful institutions.  The Maryland Trapping Association and your Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) support the use of these traps.  
  • OpposingMost everyone else. They are: 
    • the American Animal Hospital Association with over 40,000 members; 
    • the American Veterinary Medical Association with over 78,000 members opposes the conventional trap and only endorsed the modified version for necessary wildlife agency trap and relocation – not killing; 
    • the World Veterinary Association a federation with 80 national veterinary medical associations; and 
    • all 27 countries in the European Union; 
    • The Humane Society of the United States;
    • Maryland Votes For Animals
  • States banning leg-hold traps include Washington, California, Massachusetts, Arizona, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Florida.

  • Cities banning leg-hold traps include:  Columbia, Maryland; Nashua, New Hampshire; Two Harbors, Minnesota; and St. Paul, Minnesota.  Also in Maryland, only modified use of leg-hold traps exists in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince Georges counties. 

 

Do This Now To Help Ban These Traps in Maryland!

Join MVFA, if you have not done so already!  These traps used for sport trapping and killing animals should be banned in Maryland.   However, politics and money play key roles in Maryland’s management of trapping in Maryland.  We need to work together providing a voice for the animals in the Maryland General Assembly.  We are dedicated to electing those who will support animal welfare causes.  The animals have no voice without us!  Join now!