This one hurt him

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 12:50 pm by George Smith

Readers know the mainstream press refuses to take on Ted Nugent. Whenever profiled, he’s portrayed as — at worst — a playfully idiosyncratic character from the right, sticking up for guns, hunting and free speech. And the music press, although it will now start interviewing him locally all over the country as he does his annual ag fair/casino tour, never mentions what’s he really like — someone who regurgitates the worst of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party on a regular basis, ranting about the conspiracy of Islam and sharia law overtaking the nation, or how some very old lady professor is at war with him, or how the Middle Eastern countries where everyone is in revolt are “goofy.”

If you have only read their coverage of Nugent over the past year you’d never know the man makes uncivil extremism seem middle of the road.

You also know that almost all the outdoor columnists in the country declined to make much out of the mighty hunter having his license revoked in California for deer baiting.

Until now.

This weekend, an outdoor columnist let Nugent have it with both barrels. In his home town of Detroit. It was in response to Nugent’s audience with Michigan’s governor to argue for — guess what — the legalization of deer baiting.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Nugent is a rock star whose career depends on getting public attention. Because of that he has more than once made a statement that was outrageous or thoughtless.

But his defense of baiting is more than disingenuous. Last year Nugent was fined $1,750 after pleading no contest for baiting deer in California and not having a properly signed hunting tag. He managed to plea-bargain away another charge of illegally killing a deer, which would have had far more serious consequences.

Had Nugent been convicted on the illegally killing a deer charge, he would not have been able to buy hunting licenses for up to three years in many states, including Michigan.

Nugent also told [Governor Snyder] that the state should not try to ban game ranches and that the threat from feral pigs is greatly exaggerated. Once again, Nugent’s claims need to be taken with a bucket of salt: He owns game ranches in Michigan and Texas (where he now lives) and sells canned hunts.

Nugent’s Web site said he charges $5,500 for people to hunt buffalo with him at his fenced Sunrize Acres facility in Michigan. And people can pay up to $7,700 on his Texas ranch to hunt various Asian and African antelope, sheep and deer. They can also hunt whitetails with him there, but it costs extra (the Web site says “call for pricing”).

Nugent sells hunts for “wild boar,” which makes his statement about feral pigs less than disinterested. (Michigan’s wild pig problem began with escapees from game ranches.) Though he might not be concerned about them, wildlife, agriculture and environmental agencies in several states spend millions of dollars each year to try to eradicate wild swine and repair the damage they do.

At the federal Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge in Florida (home to the Kennedy Space Center), trappers remove 2,500 or more wild swine each year, and car-pig collisions are a serious problem. The ancestors of those swine were introduced by the Spanish 400 years ago, but they still breed like rabbits.

Michigan’s pig farmers are concerned about escaped swine because they say the feral animals can carry serious diseases that threaten a pork industry valued at about $500 million.

Ethical hunters understand that their primary concern isn’t their desire to kill a specific animal or bird during the next open season but maintaining the health of all the wildlife and the habitats in which they live. Nearly as important is maintaining their image as ethical among that great mass of people who don’t hunt but do vote.

If it’s just about making it easier to kill deer, let’s not stop at baiting. As one reader suggested, why not let hunters put sedatives in the bait to slow the deer and make them easier to shoot?

Whenever I hear hunters complaining about the threat from animal rights advocates, I tell them not to worry about that small group. If they want to see the biggest threat to hunting, many hunters need only look in the mirror.

Nugent was playing Nutty Jerry’s, a concert barn in Winnie, Texas, twenty miles southwest of Beaumont, this weekend. You can bet if he read this today it gave him a major case of heartburn.

Nugent was well and deservedly crapped upon in his old home town.

The Detroit Free Press columnist patiently explained that tuberculosis in the deer population is a problem for Michigan and that scientists do not as yet have a precise grip on how it spreads. However, it can spread to cattle which requires the condemning and decimation of the infected.

Law prohibiting baiting was put in place in Michigan as a disease control measure under the reasoning that anything that reduced the concentration of infected animals would help in the control of the disease.

“The [Department of Natural Resources] overcame a late start [in combating tuberculosis] and brought the incidence of disease down by drastically dropping deer numbers and banning baiting and feeding,” wrote Eric Sharp.

Because a small number of people still illegally bait in Michigan, the DNR has not been able to totally eliminate the disease, although the incidence rate has been lowered to 1.9 percent in the most affected area.

The Detroit Free Press on Nugent is here. The picture of Ted included with it is not flattering.

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