Spears? Really?

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As reported in the Independent, Sen. Greg Hinkle wants to return Montana to the Stone Age by allowing spear hunting during general rifle season (see “Going primitive,” Jan. 20, 2011). When is enough enough? We’ve got bullets, arrows, and traps; we’ve got year-round, unlicensed recreational killing of many predator and “nongame” species in addition to regulated hunting and trapping seasons. As if there weren’t already enough methods and opportunities to kill animals in Montana!

And just why is a Treasure State legislator infatuated with Neanderthal blood sport? Hinkle, in his service to citizens of Montana, cited defensive end Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings. Allen’s showy exploits are available online, where he spears an elk on an Illinois game farm. That’s right, a football player from Minnesota, spearing domesticated elk on an Illinois game farm is influencing legislation in Helena.

Sadly, the bill passed the Senate last Wednesday by a vote of 27-21 (two Republican senators were absent, and one lone Dem crossed over to vote with all the Republicans). Next up, the House.

Let’s consider suffering, something that 27 of our senators failed to do or simply dismissed. A poorly placed bullet can quickly be followed by another, but what about with a spear? I posed this question to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Is there research on injuries to animals from poorly thrown spears? Is there data from other states? Shouldn’t this be part of the discussion?

This answer came back from the FWP Law Enforcement Bureau: “When this bill was introduced, we sent out an inquiry through National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs regarding this issue. Of the 50 states, 35 responded, with all but one not allowing spears or atlatls for hunting big game. Many states did allow it for either small game or birds, however. The one state that did allow it for big game hunting (Alabama) had only one season behind them and had no information regarding wounding, etc. That is really the extent of the information available to us at this time.”

FWP is taking no position on SB 112, maintaining that it’s a “social issue” with no biology involved.

Is spear hunting actually about hunting—or really just about ego and killing?

Kathleen Stachowski

Lolo

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