Professors Hunt for a Sporting Chance; Seek to Show Positive Aspects

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 17, 2004 | Go to article overview

Professors Hunt for a Sporting Chance; Seek to Show Positive Aspects


Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Two assistant professors at West Virginia University think hunting has gotten a bum rap in recent years and are starting a course designed to show the positive aspects of the sport.

John Edwards and James Anderson, who teach classes in wildlife and fisheries resources at West Virginia University, have won a $34,000 grant from the R.K. Mellon Family Foundation to develop a new undergraduate course for the fall semester titled "The Tradition of Hunting."

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Edwards said he hopes the class attracts not only a "pro-hunting segment," but also non-hunters and antihunters so there can be a full and open discussion of the issue.

He said he thinks many young people have a negative view of hunting "based on inaccuracies in the media" and characterizations by some animal rights groups.

"We're not trying to change viewpoints, but my hope is to expose students ... to the positive things that go with hunting," Mr. Edwards said.

"Hunting teaches patience, respect for animals and family values. A young person often learns about hunting from a father or grandfather. I spent a lot of time with my family [when I was growing up] through the act of hunting," he said.

Mr. Edwards said the course also will cover topics such as the evolution of hunting in society; its role in wildlife management; hunting ethics; gun control and economic impact.

"Hunting is the most economic tool in wildlife management today," he said. But he acknowledged many Americans "who scream" about the danger that surplus deer pose on the roadways and the harm that the free-roaming wildlife can do to property.

Hunting has been in a slow, steady decline nationally for two decades, and specialists on this trend attribute it primarily to fewer public hunting grounds.

"Nationwide, between 8 [percent] and 10 percent of the population say they hunt, but that percentage is higher - about 22 percent - here in West Virginia, where there's still a lot of rural land," Mr. …

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