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Alarming response to local action to "Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in MN"

posted Feb 25, 2016, 11:19 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Feb 29, 2016, 10:43 AM ]
Update supplement, 2/12/2016, Petition to Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in Minnesota.  

The Petition to Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in Minnesota has attracted nationwide attention. Signatures have come in from Minnesota residents, natives, relatives, friends, and visitors residing in every State of the U.S.A. (and in other countries around the world). The regional subtotals of Petition signatures have shown an average response of about 14% per region in the US. Response was higher in the southwest, and lower in the central and northwestern States. 

To follow up, a number of petition signers contacted City Officials, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Wild Turkey FederationPheasants Forever, and the Marshall Independent 

An alarming response came out in the Marshall Independent news on 2/11/2016. The statement is from Ty Brouwer, the organizer of the "Save the Birds" Coyote Hunting Tournament, and the President of the Buffalo Ridge Gobblers chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. 

"I think people from all over America caught wind of that petition," Brouwer said. "Some of these people, they don't like hunting in general. I've had people say, 'Well, why don't you just shoot off their legs and see how long they survive? That's not what we're about." 

The meaning of the statement was confused by possible shifts in the meaning of the words "people" and "their." Any way you read it, it's alarming; but depending on how you allow for the possible shifts in meaning, you can come up with three basic alternatives: 1) animal abusers have encouraged him to shoot the legs off of animals for fun, 2) homicidal maniacs have encouraged him to shoot protesters, to shut them up, or 3) angry animal defenders have taunted him with the suggestion that, since he's gone so far as to encourage the mass killing of coyotes for "fun" and prizes, that he might as well go one step further, and openly encourage people to shoot off the legs of animals (for "fun" and prizes). 
  • Interpretation #1 was not considered immediately actionable.  
  • Interpretation #2 was considered to be a credible threat against petition signers, and in order to be on the safe side, was reported to the Marshall Police Department. It is the only such statement known or reported by the petition organizer. 
  • Interpretation #3 (as convoluted as it is) is apparently what he meant. And in a way that's good, because it would mean that no person is in danger. 
Nevertheless, the best advice at this point is "be safe." Don't put yourself in harm's way. Don't confront these potentially-dangerous people in any way that might expose you to harm. 

This does not in any way change plans to deliver the Petition to its addressees at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) and the Minnesota Governor's Office.

== Detailed analysis == 

Here's a grammatical analysis (for the geeks like me who do it on their own if it weren't included here). 

"I think people from all over America caught wind of that petition," Brouwer said. "Some of these people, they don't like hunting in general. I've had people say, 'Well, why don't you just shoot off their legs and see how long they survive? That's not what we're about." 

The statement includes four sentences comprising five clauses; with the predominant point of view being "us vs. them" ("me, you, we, our, us" vs. "they, their, them"). 

In the first and second sentences (first and second clauses), "they" are the petition signers opposed to the coyote-hunting tournament. 

The third clause does not identify the people who reportedly made the disturbing suggestion. The fourth clause recounts that disturbing suggestion, but does not identify who "they" are, who would have "their legs shot off." 

One method of identifying a pronoun like "they", when it can't be determined from the sentence itself, is to look for it in the preceding sentences. Using that method, the people who would have "their legs shot off" would be the petition signers opposed to the coyote-hunting tournament. 

Here it is in tabular form: 

 Clause   Text  "Us"  "Them"  Description
 1  I think people from all over America caught wind of that petition.  Targets of the Petition.  Signers of the Petition.  The Petition to Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in Minnesota has attracted nationwide attention.
 2  Some of these people, they don't like hunting in general.  Targets of the Petition..  Signers of the Petition.  Some signers of the Petition have written angry comments directed at tournament organizers, sponsors, and/or participants.
 3  I've had people say  Target of the Petition.   (not identified)   The tournament organizer is about to tell us about something that was said to him by an unidentified group of "people."
 4  "Well, why don't you just shoot off their legs and see how long they survive?"  Target of the Petition.   (not identified)   The tournament organizer seems to be telling us about a disturbing suggestion or question that was posed to him by an unidentified group of "people" asking why he would not, hypothetically, torture and kill an unidentified group of animals or people (organisms with legs large enough to be "shot off" by a firearm used in hunting)." 

The closing quotation mark, which was missing from the published statement, has been added here in order to avoid further analysis of why it might have been missing and/or where it was meant to have been placed.
 5  That's not what we're about.  Target of the Petition.   (not identified)   The tournament organizer seems to be distancing himself (and one or more of the organizations with which he's affiliated) from the disturbing suggestion or question that was posed in clause #4. He implies but doesn't explicitly say "we would never do such a thing," nor "I don't know anyone who would do such a thing." He only says is that doing such things is not what primarily defines him or the organizations with which he's affiliated.

In each case where the term "(not identified)" appears, substitute a different alternative, and find all of the alternative meanings. All alarming.

== Local problems with wildlife-killing contests, and their potential, local solutions == 

On February 20, 2016, participants in the "Save the Birds" Coyote Hunting Tournament will be bringing in their freshly-killed coyote carcasses to a parking lot in the City of Marshall, MN. There, the carcasses will be weighed--guts and all; fresh, not frozen; jaws blocked open. This is a competition for the most coyotes killed, heaviest killed, and smallest killed. If last year's photographer is available again this year, contestants will have the opportunity to drop the carcasses onto the bloody sidewalk before them, and pose for "heroic hunter" photos. 

The carcasses will be oozing bodily fluids, jumping with fleas, parasitized and infected. Some of their wounds will be gaping, inflicted by multiple, long range shots from high-powered, semi-automatic rifles. Some from close-range shotgun blasts. The animals will have been dropped in distant fields and wetlands. Since time is of the essence, they will have been shot at the first opportunity, by contestants eager for prizes. These contestants won't necessarily have spent time calling the animals in closer for safer and more species-specific, accurate, and humane shots. The carcasses that are brought in will not include domestic dogs, game that might be taken out of season, or other wildlife that might be taken by way of other violations of hunting regulations or laws (most such animals, when and if they're shot, are suspected to be left where they fall, or to be dumped in inconspicuous locations, so as not to arouse public anger or invite prosecution).  

The numbers of predators taken will not be a significant percentage of the predator population, nor a significant percentage of the potential "problem animals" around livestock-production areas, nor of those that will take the wild turkeys as part of their natural hunting behaviors. The contest will not provide any form of support for non-lethal livestock best management practices or methods of sustainable coexistence with wild-living predator populations. 

Although this contest will raise funds for wild turkey habitat restoration and maintenance (the actual goal of the National Wild Turkey Federation and its chapters including the sponsor of this contest); most of the financial activity surrounding the contest will center on door prizes, raffles, and tournament prizes; on the gear that's on display; and on the "pro-staff" sales reps who are on hand to sell it: firearms, ammunition, optics, calls, clothing and other gear. 

So, for residents of a city in which a contest like this is scheduled, the question is this: "what can we ask our local officials to do?" These contests do seem to be legal, according to current City Ordinances, and according to the State gambling and hunting regulations.  

And in answer, there's the key word: these contests seem to be legal according to *current* Ordinances. Residents could request new Ordinances. For example, an Ordinance requiring prompt disposal of carcasses, or prohibiting their public display. A ban on the promotion or operation of killing contests in the City. Or the enforcement of an Ordinance against public obscenity. 

Sportsmen could express their opposition to the National Wild Turkey Federation and Pheasants Forever. These parent organizations didn't come up with the idea of wildlife-killing contests; their scientists, staff, and members promote a focus on habitat restoration and maintenance, and a stable coexistence with predators and the natural environment. They're probably embarrassed to be associated with such contests. 

The safest approach is to only address these issues privately with trusted local officials, animal-advocacy organizations, or the petition organizer, Scott Slocum (info@ss-slocum.info). 

Please do not risk direct confrontation with the potentially-dangerous people who organize, support, or participate in these contests.  



Marshall Independent headline, 2/11/2016. Headline in the Marshall Independent, 2/11/2016.