Few people ever challenge the statistics that animal rights groups toss out. Perhaps if we did so more often, their credibility would increasingly be damaged.
by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, January 22, 2011.)
Why would the HSUS say anything to imply an equivalence between hunting and poaching?
The radio ad says over 100 million animals are killed by poachers each year. That number comes from the Humane Society of the United States and it can't be true.
Here it is, directly from the HSUS website: "In the United States, wildlife officials estimate that for every animal killed legally by hunters, another is killed illegally, amounting to perhaps more than 100 million wild animals poached each year."
These days, we hear so many big numbers that many people tend to accept them without question. But I have a few questions.
The first one is simple: "Really?"
Think about it.
If the HSUS is correct, and if those 100 million poached animals are averaged equally among the 50 states, Pennsylvania would lose about two million animals to poachers each year.
No one knows exactly how many animals are poached in Pennsylvania, but it's far less than two million. Jerry Feaser, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, says that "on average, about 1,000 individuals are added to Pennsylvania's revocation list for hunting and trapping license privileges annually."
If all 1,000 are poachers, and if each poached 10 animals, that's only a tiny fraction of two million - one half of one percent.
That leaves 1,990,000 unsolved poaching cases in Pennsylvania. I have more confidence in our wildlife conservation officers - and the general public - than that.
My second question - where does the HSUS get its outlandish poaching estimate? Feaser said even he wonders about that.
Answer: I think it comes almost totally from thin air.
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