A year ago the Ohio Farm Bureau was prepared to take on the Humane Society of the United States - the most determined anti-hunting (and everything else) organization in the country.
And the state's farmers had the backing of the state's sportsmen. The latter know all too well that the HSUS has an agenda and is prepared to get its way, piece by piece if necessary.
And then this week the Farm Bureau announced a "compromise" along the Strickland Administration with the HSUS. All of which stunned the Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.
Among the points conceded to the HSUS were a number of farm animal provisions, some of which will take years to fully implement. The organization also got Strickland to back a legislative proposal dealing with the so-called "puppy mills" as well as possession of "exotic" animals.
It is these two provisions that most concerns the Alliance, says one of its spokesmen, Rob Sexton.
Sexton said the Alliance had eight favorable amendments inserted into the bill's language that would help protect breeders of hunting-style canines as well as hobbiest breeders (those who may see one or two litters of hunting dog puppies each year).
What the Alliance is seeking are assurances from Strickland that these protections remain in the proposal's final form.
"I think he'll do it. We'd like him to say that he'll support sportsmen's interests. He's never disappointed us yet (but) we're waiting for the Governor's response before issuing a statement," Sexton said.
Another point of possible contention is the definition of exotic animal, Sexton says.
If it encompasses only such critters as bears, pythons and alligators, that's fine.
The threat will come if the bill's language includes species like the ring-necked pheasant, which is not native to Ohio, Sexton says.
And as Sexton has said this is only one step in the Society's agenda to eliminate as much as possible animal husbandry as well as recreational hunting, trapping and fishing, noting that the organization was a huge backer in the failed initiative to ban dove hunting in Ohio.
(A version of this will appear as a News-Herald Politics Blog.)
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn