Illegal hunting is never okay for Americans, but what about state governments?
Gun commentator and radio host Richard August is claiming that Rhode Island’s new plan for culling deer herds on Block Island goes against the state’s rules. Illegal hunting, as far as the state is concerned, includes the baiting of deer with feeders.
But that’s exactly what the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) intends to do as they hire pro hunters to decrease the area’s deer population. Politifact, the watch dog-style political media company connected to many major newspapers, did much of the groundwork to determine if August was correct. His letter, published in the Providence Journal, said,
“Baiting deer happens to be illegal in Rhode Island, but I guess if you are the state, the laws don’t apply.”
The DEM maintains that they can adopt rules or adjust regulations when called upon, but still states that “In any event, the following prohibitions and restrictions shall always apply to deer hunting.”
Rhode Island hunting regulations explicitly state, “No person shall make, set, or use any trap or snare, or salt lick or other device for the purpose of ensnaring, enticing, taking, injuring, or killing a deer.” All the same, the Block Island plan involves 15 to 20 corn bait sites, used to lure deer into rifle range.
Block Island, officially known as New Shoreham, has been experiencing deer population booms on a scale comparable to the largest in the country. The DEM and the town agreed to hire a Connecticut company to lower the population from around 800-1,000 to 150 on the 9.5-square mile island.
When Politifact asked the DEM how they interpreted the ruling, they replied in a statement that read in part: “Hunting regulations do not apply to the deer culling operation because it is not a hunting activity. Rather, it is a wildlife management action authorized under DEM’s statutory authority.”
What do you think? If wild game baiting counts as illegal hunting, should it be allowed in this case, when wildlife management would lead to the betterment of the herd and the surrounding human population?