Hunting for votes, Bush, Cheney, and Demo rivals Kerry and Clark shoot birds
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2004:
WASHINGTON D.C.; DES MOINES, Iowa–Hunting chiefly for
votes, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry shot two cage-reared
pheasants in under five minutes at a Halloween photo-op near Colo,
The bloody ritual paid off on January 19, as Kerry polled
38% at the Iowa caucuses, the first showdown with rivals in quest of
the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.
Senator John Edwards of North Carolina polled 32% support,
according to CNN, with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean third at
18%. Representative Richard Gephardt, fourth with 11%, withdrew
from the race.
Assured of the Republican nomination, both U.S President
George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney prominently shot birds
during December 2004.
Among their prospective Democratic opponents, Kerry has
previously hunted mourning doves. Retired U.S. Army General Wesley
Clark, not entered in the Iowa caucuses, is well-known as a duck
hunter, whose campaign began with support from wealthy Arkansas
Two non-hunters remain in the race, Senator Joseph Lieberman
of Connecticut and Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, but both
must do well in the New Hampshire primary on January 27 to have any
chance at winning the nomination.
Only 13 million Americans hunt, a mere 4.6% of the U.S.
population, but most hunters vote, and tend to vote as a block in
favor of fellow hunters. Surveys consistently indicate that from 25%
to 35% of Americans disapprove of hunting, with 40% to 50% having no
strong views about it. Opponents of hunting, however, vote much
less often and less consistently than hunters. This enables sometime
hunters like Kerry to risk losing the support of non-hunters to court
hunter support–and enables hunters to dominate in elected office
long after the balance of public opinion began to suggest that
endorsing hunting should become a political kiss of death.
Bush on December 19 signed into law the Captive Wildlife
Safety Act, to regulate interstate commerce in exotic and dangerous
cats. As governor of Texas, Bush vetoed a bill to restrict
possession of big cats and other dangerous species, at behest of
canned hunt promoters, but the Captive Wildlife Safety Act had solid
Co-sponsored by John Ensign, DVM (R-Nevada) and Vermont
independent Jim Jeffords, a longtime Republican who left the party
in 2001, the act evolved out of a bill promoted since 1999 by
Shambala Sanctuary founder and actress Tippi Hedren.
Having made his only legislative gesture toward humane
concerns in his first three years in office, Bush ten days later
joined his father, former President George H. Bush, in shooting
quail at El Tule Ranch, near Falfurrias, Texas.
“I think I shot five,” Bush said, making a point of eating
beef for lunch to help counter public concern over the discovery of
mad cow disease in Washington state.
“These aren’t animals, these are wild quail,” the elder
George Bush said after a similar expedition to the Lazy F Ranch near
Beeville, Texas, in December 1988. “I don’t think I could shoot a
deer,” he added. “Quail–that’s something else.”
Both Bushes are life members of Safari Club International,
as is Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney shot more than 70
cage-reared ring-necked pheasants and an unknown number of mallards
on December 8 at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township,
Pennsylvania, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Nine
companions including U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) killed
another 350 pheasants among them.
Cheney went shooting again on January 5, with U.S. Supreme
Court Justice Antonin Scalia in southern Louisiana. Each bagged the
limit of three mallards and three teal, St. Mary Parish Sheriff
David Naquin told J.E. Bourgoyne of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Bourgoyne did not question the propriety of Cheney and Scalia
fraternizing while at least two actions of the Bush administration
are under Supreme Court review.
On the eve of the Iowa caucuses Humane USA Political Action
Committee chair Wayne Pacelle updated the evaluations of the
Democratic candidates that he originally posted in June 2003.
Kerry, Lieberman, and Kucinich of Ohio, “have
particularly distinguished records on animal issues,” despite
Kerry’s record as a bird-shooter, said Pacelle, who is also the
Humane Society of the U.S. vice president for legislation.
“Senator Kerry was the co-author with former Senator Bob
Smith (R-NH) of the successful effort to halt an annual $2 million
subsidy for the mink industry,” Pacelle recalled. “Kerry was also
the co-author, with Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), of letters in
recent years sent to the leaders of the Senate Subcommittee on
Agriculture Appropriations to increase funding for [enforcement of] the Animal Welfare Act and the Humane Slaughter Act. Thanks in part
to his leadership, Congress has provided more than $26 million in
new funds” for this work in recent years. Kerry has cosponsored
almost every piece of [recent] animal protection legislation,”
Pacelle wrote, “including measures to combat cockfighting, bear
baiting, canned hunts, puppy mills, the bear parts trade, the
exotic pet trade, steel-jawed leghold traps, and the abuse of
“Representative Kucinich holds the distinction of being the
only vegan” in Congress, Pacelle noted. “Kucinich has been
co-author, with Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), of the House
versions of the Kerry/ Santorum letters seeking funding increases for
animal welfare programs,” and “also has cosponsored every piece of
major animal protection legislation,” Pacelle added.
“Senator Lieberman is a consistent and reliable supporter of
our issues,” Pacelle continued. “He, with Kerry, has assumed
leadership in fighting the efforts of Japan and Norway to engage in
Pacelle praised Iowa runner-up Edwards for winning his
office “by defeating incumbent Lauch Faircloth, who was the Senate’s
only operator of an industrial hog factory. Edwards regularly
cosponsors animal protection legislation and supports our positions
on key votes, such as banning canned hunts,” Pacelle said.
“Edwards did, however, oppose [a failed] amendment to halt the use
of leghold traps in national wildlife refuges.”
Edwards’ “general support for our positions is noteworthy,”
Pacelle conceded, “because North Carolina’s agriculture, hunting,
and animal fighting industries are larger and more vocal than those
in the states represented by the other Senators vying for the
Gephardt “has been an undisputed leader against the erosion
of American laws– including animal protection laws–as a consequence
of free-trade agreements,” Pacelle said, citing Gephadt’s position
against allowing imports of tuna netted by methods that also kill
Pacelle was cool toward Howard Dean. “As Vermont Governor,
Dean signed legislation to upgrade penalties for animal cruelty. He
was considered a friend by animal advocates in the state, but not a
leader. He was, unfortunately, an advocate of the use of
steel-jawed leghold traps,” Pacelle wrote.
A similar view of Dean came from Vermont poet Jay Parini,
who asserted longtime personal acquaintance with Dean in the British
left-of-center newspaper The Observer on January 11, adding that
“Every citizen, in Dean’s view, has the right (if not the duty) to
blow the back end off a buck or doe.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE found no confirmation, however, that Dean
himself ever said or implied active support of either hunting or
leghold trapping, beyond opposing laws that would restrict the
possession of hunting rifles. Dean has at the same time repeatedly
stated his support for maintaining the federal ban on assault rifles.
Pacelle did not evaluate Wesley Clark, who has never held
Humane USA was formed in 1999 by executives of the Humane Society of
the U.S., The Fund for Animals, Farm Sanctuary, the American SPCA,
the Doris Day Animal League, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the
Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.