By Jeff and Chris Knox
Animal-rights advocates launched a vicious social media attack on U.S. Olympic trap shooter Corey Cogdell, just days before the 24-year-old Alaska native’s effort to best her 2008 bronze medal performance in Women’s International Trap. Her Facebook page and Twitter accounts were inundated with comments calling the beautiful young athlete a bitch, psychopath and murderer, and suggesting that she should shoot herself, be used as a target, or be physically assaulted. Some of the commenters went so far as to directly threaten physical violence on Corey, while others stuck to name-calling and expressing their hope that she would fail in her Olympic efforts.
The reason for the nasty assaults is that along with being a world-class trap shooter, Corey Cogdell is an avid hunter and outdoorswoman. Photographs of Cogdell with game she had taken were spread among animal-rights networks along with outrageous claims of animal cruelty and waste. As the hate spread, the threats and viciousness escalated, and the lies grew bigger.
Along with direct attacks on Cogdell, the anti-hunting extremists began lobbying the International Olympic Committee to have Cogdell – and any other athlete who engages in the lawful, and long-honored tradition of hunting – banned from Olympic competition. While the idea of banning hunters from the Olympics may seem a bit far-fetched, there is a strong anti-gun and anti-hunting sentiment among the elites who run the IOC. Consider the outrageous reaction when a couple of members of the Australian swim team posted a picture of themselves holding guns in a California gun shop. The two were threatened with expulsion from the team, but, after contrite apologies, they were allowed to compete. They were, however, required to leave London as soon as their events were over rather than staying for the conclusion of the games.
The attacks on Corey Cogdell are outrageous and unwarranted. Not only are they rude, vicious and hateful, they are misguided and ignorant.
Hunters do more for conservation and wildlife than all of the anti-hunting, animal-rights and wilderness protection groups combined. The reason wildlife in North America – both game and non-game species – has thrived over the past century is that hunters have provided the money and manpower to scientifically manage wildlife and provide critical habitat. The consumptive wildlife management model employed in the U.S. is the most successful, efficient and healthy system in the world. On the other hand, places that have instituted hunting bans and extensive animal-protection schemes are abject failures resulting in unhealthy and dwindling wildlife populations.
The U.S. system was created by hunters and is paid for by hunters who lobbied to impose special taxes on their equipment and special licensing fees on their sport. They created support and fundraising organizations for the preservation and protection of specific species and their habitat, and they instituted professional, scientific game management programs. Thanks to the efforts of hunters, and the money they provide, wildlife populations in North America are healthier today than they were 100 years ago, and the improvements continue.
In Africa, areas that employ the North American model of game management have healthier wildlife populations than those that severely restrict or ban hunting. Without revenue from lawful hunters and the herd management they provide, wildlife is subjected to overpopulation, disease and predation from poachers. Predator species that threaten local human and domestic animal populations are pushed to extinction by locals protecting themselves and their livelihoods while others such as elephants and rhinos that are prized for their ivory, horns, or other features are poached out of existence with few of the animals ever being used for the benefit of anyone.
With controlled hunting, harvest of game animals pays for protection of all animals. Overpopulation, excessive predation and disease are moderated, and habitat is set aside. Locals are provided with jobs. Families are fed with the meat, and hunters get their prized trophy.
Not everyone understands the hunting drive, even though hunting is what humans are designed to do. Hunters, like other predators, serve a vital function. Certainly there are examples of inhumane, cruel and unsportsmanlike “canned hunts,” but they are the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of hunters have a deep respect and love for wildlife and the beauty it brings to our lives. They follow rules of fair chase, and they give back to nature as they take from her.
Many of our sports, including those in the Olympics, are based on hunting and martial skills. Shooting sports are among the oldest competitions in the Olympics, and some in which the U.S. has been the most successful over the years, even though they receive minimal media attention. In the total medal count, the U.S. has won 107 medals in shooting – 53 of them gold – more than twice our nearest competitors. We won three gold and a bronze in 2012, including the first time any competitor has won an individual medal in five consecutive Olympics when Kim Rhode won the gold in Women’s Skeet.
Corey Cogdell is a hunter and an Olympian. She has hunted and fished for almost 20 of her 24 years, and this is her second time representing the U.S. at the Olympics. She hunts in a legal, ethical and respectful manner, and she competes in the same way. Despite the intense pressure, she has maintained a strong, composed public presence. She is the very ideal of an Olympic competitor and deserves the respect and admiration of all of us, not threats and insults from small-minded elites who consider humans an infection on planet Earth. Imagine the outrage if this hate speech were directed at Corey because she was black, or homosexual, or had expressed support for abortion. This sort of small-minded viciousness should not be tolerated.