Fire department's plans for coyote hunt met with some

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Fire company's coyote hunt may be met with protest

By Eric Mayes, Lewisburg Daily Journal

2/14/02

MILLMONT -- Is killing an appropriate way to raise money? That is the question being raised as the West End Fire Company plans a coyote hunt next month to raise funds for new equipment.

At least one Lewisburg resident doesn't think so. Rolf Helbig is considering the possibility of organizing a protest of the hunt because he thinks the activity is an inappropriate way to raise money.

"It's for prize money...They're killing these animals just to kill them," said Helbig. "And to kill something just to kill it doesn't make sense to me."

Coyote hunt organizer Jack Plotts said he respects Helbig's point of view but still thinks the hunt is a legitimate way to raise funds.

"It's a fund raising activity just like a chicken bar-b-que," said Plotts.

Helbig, an avid conservationist, said he doesn't necessarily object to hunting, but as general rule he sticks to the principle if you shoot it eat it. In fact, although he is no longer an active hunter, it is a tradition he grew up with and he hunted as a youth.

"I started hunting at the legal age," he said. "I think I was 12 and...through my hunting years I killed three buck, but when I shot my last buck that buck looked at me in the eyes and I said to myself I'll never do this again."

That was the beginning of his personal dislike of hunting which over the years has expanded to include a belief that it may not make sense from a conservation point of view either.

"I'm against killing an animal for sport..the more I learn about nature and biology it is fantastic," he said. "And to wipe out anything for sport is beyond reason. It make no sense to me whatsoever."

He said man's efforts in population control have traditionally had disastrous effects, "we wiped out the wolf, we wiped out the mountain lion and the passenger pigeon."

He worried that if fundraisers such as the coyote hunt proliferate the coyote could be next on the list of animals driven to extinction. He'd like to organize a protest to point out what he thinks is a bad decision -- but he wants to do it peacefully.

"I believe in what I'm doing," he said. "And I may protest, but this can get ugly and I don't that. I just want to get the word out that this is cruel and immoral and it just doesn't make sense. We don't want to go nuts we just want to stop the hunt."

Plotts said that he respected the viewpoint of any would be protestors but pointed out that the state Game Commission has estimated the Pennsylvania population of coyotes at between 20,000 and 30,000 and says it is growing.

"We have a number of these animals around us so why not have the hunt," he said. "I really don't know what to tell these people."

He said that in his opinion much of the information any protestor might use to object to the hunt could be wrong.

"I applaud these people for their position," he said. "I really do...but a lot of the information they are giving out is incorrect."

Plotts said that he didn't disagree with Helbig specifically but that the fire company had gotten letters from several people.

"There are a number of those people out there we have received at least 25 to 30 letters (of protest)," he said. "They are saying they run in packs, and they do not. They feed on rodents and small turkeys, rabbits and occasionally they will start taking things other than that, they kill pets if they are hungry. They are not beyond taking a dog or a cat, they are very bold sometimes...and as far as hurting the population, I don't think we're phasing it a bit."

Plotts said the protestors time might be better spent somewhere else.

"I think there are other animals out there that need protested," he said.

The hunt will be held over a period of three days beginning at 4 p.m. March 7. Participants must pay a $20 fee to enter and can kill a coyote anywhere in a 10 county range. Hunters may participate individually or in groups. According to the rules dogs and calls may be used.

The hunt is one of four in the state this year. Prizes run a high as $5,000.

"We're hoping for a good turn out," said Plotts. "The funds will be used to purchase of equipment."

Helbig has hopes for a larger goal.

"I want a perfect world," he said. "Is that realistic? No, but a better world is...to kill for sport is not trying to improve ourselves as a species."

To comment on this story, contact Eric at eric@standard-journal.com.
 

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