Wakulla.com published this letter to the editor critiquing the Florida Wildlife Commission's position and promotion of racoon hunting. The letter from Joe Miele, vice-president with CASH, makes a number of observations worthy of consideration:
Raccoon hunting in Florida is a largely unregulated activity. For only $17 – the cost of a hunting license –hunters may kill as many of the animals as they want, all year-round. Where is the science in an unlimited slaughter such as this? Where is the sport in unleashing dogs to chase terrified raccoons up trees, only for hunters to shoot them dead from just a few yards away? Shooting a treed raccoon seems about as challenging as hitting the broad side of a barn.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission promotes raccoon hunting not because the practice has any conservation value, but because it profits from the sale of hunting licenses and the collection of excise taxes affixed to the cost of weapons, ammunition and hunting equipment. Thankfully, the outlook for the future of sport hunting is bleak, given that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service statistics show that the number of hunters throughout the country has declined by almost 11% since 1996.
Since hunters are dying or otherwise dropping out of the sport faster than new hunters can be replaced, it behooves the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to change the way it does business to ensure that its’ existence will continue for a long time to come. Instead of relying upon the revenue generated by hunting, the Commission should shift its focus and promote wildlife watching programs instead of the violence of hunting. Wildlife watching is the dominant form of wildlife-related outdoor recreation in the state, and the number of Florida residents who feed, photograph, or otherwise observe wildlife has increased by more than 15% since 1996.