Dear friends & readers:
Shotgun blasts boomed out across the Saratoga Passage, almost directly below our home three short blocks away as we started down toward Hidden Beach with our dogs, Teddy, a young Jack Russell/Shi tzu mix, and Bo, an old cattle dog mix.
A startled flock of surf scoters hurried out across the water, leaving several dead behind.
By the time we reached the beach, one of the hunters had already retrieved the small dead ducks with a kayak. Lining them up on a driftwood plank for show, he rejoined two other hunters, apparently his sons, crouching behind old pilings in attempted ambush of any more surf scoters who might fly their way.
The hunters wore expensive new camouflage outfits from head to toe, with an oversized new pickup truck and a power boat on a trailer still hitched behind. Their license plate frames indicated that they had come from the far side of the water, quite a long drive away.
Clearly they had no legitimate business shooting ducks at Hidden Beach, a popular dog-walking, whale-watching, agate-finding, and just plain nature-appreciating strip of sand, rocks, and crushed shells, with resident otters and harbor seals, and a row of 23 human-occupied shoreline houses at the southern end.
But, what could we do about it? Duck hunting on state-owned tidelands is legal, in season, even in obnoxious and dangerous locations. And it looked as if these hunters had carefully paced off the requisite 500 feet from the nearest occupied dwellings, plus about 50 feet more to be sure.
Beth tried asking the hunters to leave, to no avail. They threatened to have her arrested for “hunter harassment.” We learned from that exchange that the older of the men is a maker of duck hunting videos. He improbably claimed to have made videos at that very site for 14 years without previously attracting anyone’s attention. He also is an activist for opening more public property to hunting.
Most people at that point might have given up. Asking around the neighborhood, we discovered that many already had.
But Beth & I are ANIMALS 24-7. We investigate and report about animal issues all over the world. Further investigating our local situation seemed to be in order, beginning with gathering evidence. Beth photographed the entire scene, documenting the exact locations of the hunters and the number of ducks they had killed. After the hunters left, we found and photographed the shotgun shells, ear plugs, and even a decoy they left behind.
Then we interviewed other witnesses. We discovered that while there was no signage, Hidden Beach is under long term lease to Island County as a designated public park. Shooting of any sort is illegal in county parks, along with detonating fireworks and camping outside of specified campgrounds, both also longtime local problems. All we had to do was get the requisite signage posted to enable the county sheriff’s department to enforce the law. Apparently no one else had ever bothered to try.
The signage has been up now for several months. Hunting, fireworks, and camping in shoreline wildlife habitat have ended.
We never quit
ANIMALS 24-7 never quits. Beth & I investigate, research, and expose animal issues in depth and detail all day, every day, and often long into the night.
We don’t always find quick, easy ways to turn difficult situations around, but sometimes something changes so quickly that we can hardly believe it ourselves. For example, earlier this summer, we exposed how a series of dips in Icelandic tourism, leading toward complete collapse, had closely followed a series of belligerent escalations of Icelandic whaling.
We sent our coverage to as many people in Iceland as we could. Iceland, claiming to be the world’s oldest continuous democracy, is a nation of just 338,000 people. Several hundred times more of those people work in tourism than in whaling.
Whaling season cancelled
Within less than eight hours the 2019 Icelandic whaling season was cancelled. We can’t prove this was because of us, but only ANIMALS 24-7 appears to have looked up the dates and numbers, done the math, and published the findings for all to see.
With your generous help, ANIMALS 24-7 will keep right on investigating, exposing, looking for the points of leverage on animal issues and finding ways to change the world on behalf of animals. Each small gain adds up.
Please help ANIMALS 24-7 to stay on the job. Your generous donation of $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, or whatever you can afford, will pay off, perhaps in saving whales, perhaps in saving ducks, probably in many other ways unforeseen until we look into whatever the crisis.
P.S.––The animals would also thank you for your generous donation of $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, or whatever you can afford, if they could.