Here’s an interesting question: is it appropriate for a state agency to conduct public meetings at events celebrating the activity that agency regulates, or should those meetings be held in a “neutral” location? That’s the situation that has some Oregon animal-welfare activists crying foul.
From this story on the Oregon Public broadcasting website:
Some animal-welfare activists are irate that state wildlife managers are using an Oregon Hunters Association meeting Thursday in Medford as the venue for gathering local comments on whether to tighten wildlife trapping restrictions in 2013. Sally Mackler, conservation chairwoman of the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, said she believed it was inappropriate for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to pair up at such meetings with the OHA, which has locked horns with animal activists over the past two decades.
Mackler said she was not informed of the OHA meeting at 7 p.m. at the Eagles Lodge in Medford, and that other like-minded people interested in reducing trapping’s risks to pets and nontarget animals likely would feel intimidated by the OHA crowd. “I’m uncomfortable showing up there,” Mackler said. “I think it’s very short-sighted, inappropriate and un-user friendly, regardless of the topic,” she said.
Now, the initial reaction (mine, anyway) is “Big deal. Pound sand, sister.” The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, like every other state wildlife or game and fish agency, is funded almost entirely by sportsmen dollars, so therefore it is entirely appropriate for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct public hearings at said gatherings. But having said that, let’s play Devil’s advocate: what if this wasn’t about hunting and fishing rights? What if the issue in question was, say, industrial pollution and the state agency charged with regulating industrial waste was holding its public hearing at the United States Toxic Sludge Coalition* annual meeting? Would you feel differently then? Would that be appropriate? Why is that different from a state wildlife agency holding public meetings at a state hunting association meeting?
Thoughts? Reaction? State your case. Destroy theirs.
*_Not a real organization_