Saskatchewan gopher contest brings predictable reaction from

spectr17

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Animal rights activists dismayed by Saskatchewan gopher hunt
 
Canadian Press

April 02, 2002
 
SASKATOON (CP) - Animal activists across North America and abroad are condemning Saskatchewan for making it open season on a crop-eating critter.

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation has sponsored a gopher-hunting derby which started Monday and runs until June 23.

The top 10 hunters who bring in the most gopher tails as proof of their kill will be awarded cash prizes.

The intent is to make a dent in the rapidly expanding gopher population. The animals have eaten crops and marred the prairie landscape with holes which can break the legs of cattle.

But SaskTourism has been told through letters the derby will harm the province's reputation.

A line from a form letter sent by people in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Ontario, Quebec, Maryland, Michigan, Connecticut, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York and England states: "Please be aware that, until such barbaric acts become a part of your area's local history, I will not be inclined to visit your province - for any reason."

The letter, written by a group called Canadian Health Action Professionals, chides the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation for working towards wildlife destruction rather than protection.

Sinikka Crosland, a group member and co-author of the letter, said she is worried ill-trained people will use guns in the hunt and the animals will suffer.

Gophers are considered a non-game species which means a person does not need to take a firearms safety training course to hunt them, according to the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.

"It sounds like a very dubious situation even from the point of public health and safety," said Crosland of Westbank, B.C., who urged people to send the letters.

The hunt has also prompted a handful of members from the federation to hand in their memberships.

Len Jabush, the federation's business manager, said those who complain about the derby have no idea what it's like to deal with a gopher invasion.

Jabush said rural Saskatchewan and like-minded provinces support the contest because they understand the crisis.

"How many of these people who are concerned about this are from Manitoba and Alberta? None. Zip," he said.

"We've been getting mega calls from people in those provinces wanting to get in on the shoot."

Several winters with little snowfall have allowed gopher numbers to swell and acres of crops are disappearing.

Last year, administrators in some rural municipalities declared a state of emergency. Normally, spring thaw will pare down the population as water flows into the holes and drowns the young.

It's why the federation came up with the gopher derby. The prize pool will be split. Half will be distributed among the winners and the other half will go to wildlife preserves.

The federation has printed 30,000 more applications after 10,000 went in the first week from rural municipality and town offices.

But only about 100 people have paid the $20 fee to sign up for the derby, a rural event that was common in the 1930s. And with recent cold weather and snowfall, organizers suspect people will wait for milder weather to hit the hunting grounds.
 

davered1

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Sinikka Crosland, a group member and co-author of the letter, said she is worried ill-trained people will use guns in the hunt and the animals will suffer.
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This makes me puke!! It is a typical "concern" made by someone to sway the general public,that usually knows no better.

Yes, gophers are a non-game species. You may not need to take a firearms safety training course to shoot them but you do need a FAC(firearms acquisition certificate) or a PAL/POL license(possession and acquisition/possession only LICENSE) to handle a gun. Part of the test to get a PAL/FAC is passing a Gun handling course that was taken directly from the firearms safety training course .

I am surprised the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation didn't point that out
 
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