Audubon muzzled criticism of hunting
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:
SAN FRANCISCO, California––Desperately Seeking Sanctuary, an
hour-long National Audubon Society expose of abuses to the U.S. National
Wildlife Refuge system, aired March 6 on the Turner Broadcasting
Network––but only after senior Audubon officials cut criticism of hunting, trap-
ping, and fishing, investigative freelance Mark Dowie revealed the same day in
the San Francisco Examiner. Dowie is remembered for his 1977 revelation that
the Ford Motor Company had ruled against spending an extra $11 per car to keep
Pintos from exploding in rear-end collisions.
“In the original script and early rough cuts,” Dowie charged, “hunting,
trapping, and fishing were given equal time and treated with as much indignation
as drilling, logging, and military bombing runs. The script had special appeal
for (narrator) Mariel Hemingway, who spent much of her youth tearfully plead-
ing with her father not to hunt big game.” Her father, Gregory Hemingway, a
trophy hunter, pigeon-shooting champion, and convicted transvestite, was son
of author Ernest Hemingway––who became obsessed with hunting after his
mother forced him to wear dresses until he started school.
“It is shocking that Audubon would be opposed to showing everything
that is happening on wildlife refuges,” Mariel Hemingway told Dowie. “I’m not
opposed to all hunting. But hunting on a wildlife refuge is absurd. There are so
many millions of acres in this country available for hunting and trapping. Can’t a
few be set aside for the animals?”
Audubon senior vice president Christopher Palmer’s production was
gutted, Dowie alleged, at the instigation of staff wildlife policy advisor Jim
Waldman and Northeast regional vice president Dave Miller, who drew support
from president Peter Berle. “There is more at stake here than journalistic integri-
ty,” Miller wrote to Berle. “We are just starting to develop working coalitions
with sporting groups …This will backfire in more ways than you can imagine.
Please remove the anti-hunting mesage.”
Citing sources at Turner Broadcasting, Dowie said Palmer responded
that Audubon risked looking “more like the National Rifle Association than the
activist movement organization that it hopes to be. This is an issue. If Audubon
avoids it, it speaks volumes.”
“We need the NRA to win our battles,” Waldman reportedly replied.
“In the final cut,” Dowie said, “sunbathing on beaches and snorkeling
in manatee habitats receive more animus than either hunting or trapping,” which
kill more than 100,000 animals on refuges each year.
The National Audubon Society has never opposed hunting, and in fact
includes numerous hunters among its board of directors.