Kids put feral hogs in crosshairs | Oct. 13, story
Youth hunts not best solution to hog problem
I must say I was appalled to read your article about Swiftmud organizing a hunting program for young people to arm themselves and hunt feral pigs as a way of eliminating the pigs and as a way to get children outdoors.
Is this the only way? And is it the most humane way to eliminate feral pigs? I think not. As a former corporate fundraiser for the Nature Conservancy in California, I learned of the tremendous damage the pigs can do to habitat that supports flora and fauna. I completely concur that these destructive animals need to be eliminated, but to arm children and have them go out and slaughter them and not, I am sure, on the first shot?
To have kids shoot pigs is not the only nor the most humane way to eliminate them. Please advise Swiftmud to come up with an alternative idea for getting children outdoors and a kinder, more effective way to eliminate these destructive animals.
Dale Sturges, Tampa
Hunts are a great idea
In the Oct. 13 article about youth hog hunts, Nick Atwood of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida states about the hogs that "if you can tolerate them for a short time, the pigs will probably move on."
As a taxidermist and hunter myself, I have seen firsthand the kind of destruction these animals can do to the environment. And they do not simply "move on." They stay in one territory, which typically consists of up to an 8- to 10-mile area. Within this territory, they will continue to breed, and even the young hogs can begin to breed when they are less than a year old, which results in rapid overpopulation.
Hogs can also carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, which can be spread to livestock and even people if proper precautions are not taken.
The most effective means of controlling the hog population is through hunting. By removing the invasive feral pigs from the area, it allows the rooted-up habitat to return to its natural state and therefore make a better and healthier home for native wildlife that would otherwise be pushed out by the hogs.
I think the youth hunts are a great idea: Not only do the kids get to experience the wilderness and help control the hog population, they will also support conservation efforts if they keep hunting.
Many people do not realize that hunters and other sportsmen contribute more to conservation than any other group. If it wasn't for hunters, we wouldn't have many of the national parks and nature preserves we have today.
Ellie Willingham, Odessa
There must be a better way
Apparently in order to control the population of feral hogs, there will be youth hunts, with children, ages 8 to 16, armed with rifles and shotguns on hog-hunting expeditions in a reserve two Saturdays this month. The Southwest Florida Water Management District also touts these events as a way to get kids outside more. Whatever happened to nature walks through preserves or field trips to our beautiful parks?
There must be other ways to humanely control feral hogs besides killing. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers instructions for youths on hunting hogs, deer, turkey and waterfowl. What does this teach children about compassion and respect for our living and breathing wildlife and all other animals?
Someone stated that kids should be taught that food doesn't come from a grocery store. How about taking the young kids on trips to factory farms and slaughterhouses?
Carol Lushear, Dunedin
Not good for children
I was raised in family where hunting was part of my dad's biggest pleasure, rewarded by all of us cooking and eating that which had been killed.
While I agree that it is paramount for young and old alike to appreciate where their food originates, I don't agree with this method. The event smacks of a "paid safari" and not a photographic one at that!
I was shocked by this article. I was barely able to accept that Swiftmud and other sponsors were going to send 8- to 16-year-olds into the woods, a controlled preserve at that, with the intention to kill pigs.
The young lady who stated that she could kill a pig because "they're creepy" made me want to weep. Hunting isn't about eradication based on looks. Hunting was and should represent man's respect of nature and appreciation that creatures and plants of our planet sustain human life.
Yes, I am an environmentalist. However, I do accept that not all creatures are beneficial, especially when the population is not regulated by natural predators. Sending youngsters and teens on a "hog-hunting" expedition is not the best solution to the problem.
The kills are likely going to be less than clean, animals will suffer needlessly and, while the participants are pumped up regarding the event, what will they think, feel and remember upon hearing the panicked squeals of a doomed-to-die feral pig.
Lisa Doran, St. Pete Beach
Disgusting and barbaric
In response to the article about the state of Florida teaching grade-school kids to hunt and kill hogs, this is wrong on every level.
Isn't society violent enough without putting loaded guns into the hands of children and encouraging them to blow away an animal?
The little girl in the story has no qualms about killing hogs because "they're creepy." So it's okay to kill or maim anything that looks "creepy" or different to you?
But Kenny Barker of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission gives it all away when he says "we've lost a couple generations of hunters. This is an effort to recruit new hunters." This is really a way to revive a dying "sport," and keep the FWC in business.
The whole concept is disgusting and barbaric. Thank goodness only 20 parents with questionable values signed their kids up for this bloody event.
Jim Patterson, Tampa
'Kill the pig! Cut his throat!'
What better way to instill in our children the beauty and benefits of the outdoors than to romp through the wilderness killing pigs.
Perhaps a literary component could be added to the project. William Golding's Lord of the Flies would make a wonderful companion piece. Its scenes of violence may bother some of the parents and not be age-appropriate for 9-year-olds, but it would give the little hunters some tips on how to really slaughter those little pigs.
Peter Forde, Clearwater
Hillsborough rejects homeless camp Oct. 14, story
County's denial of site for homeless is shameful
There are times when I feel elated to be a resident of Hillsborough County, and there are times of indifference. But there are few times when I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I am embarrassed and ashamed to say that I live in the Florida county with the greatest homeless population. Embarrassed and ashamed to admit that our elected officials are aware of that fact but have taken no active steps to ameliorate the condition of the homeless. And totally embarrassed and ashamed to admit that those same elected officials had an opportunity to change those conditions, and chose not to do so.
It would have cost the taxpayers nothing to allow Catholic Charities to use the proposed site off Hillsborough Avenue. All they asked was for the opportunity to help the plight of the homeless. They asked for no money, no favors, no thanks for all their efforts. And their efforts were summarily dismissed under the guise of what's best for the area, with a vocal group of 100 citizens playing the fear card as their primary weapon.
The NIMBY (not in my back yard) mentality always uses tactics that obfuscate its true purposes. They speak of really caring about the homeless, of caring for the homeless in a better-than-proposed way, of placing responsibility for the lack of homeless facilities on the shoulders of others. Unfortunately, all these hollow rationales almost always work. And after the smoke has cleared, no new solutions are forthcoming.
The eyes of the general public have been focused on our county government for some time now, given the revelations of indiscretions and poor judgment on the part of elected officials. Pandering to the whims of the vocal minority with the intention of garnering votes will further erode the declining respect that the public has in elected officials in our county.
Larry W. Myers, Tampa
Giant step backward | Oct. 14, editorial
Tent city deserved rejection
Obviously your editorial writer did not attend the hearing Tuesday or didn't listen to Paul Cotter's testimony regarding the hundreds of criminal reports in Pinellas County's files emanating from the "clients" with phony IDs at Pinellas Hope, ranging from petty theft to rape to burglary to armed robbery — then later even murder.
As I told Chandra Broadwater in your story on July 20, being a lifelong Catholic I was at first totally for this project. However, the more I learned, the more I disagreed with a tent city. No human beings should live in tents without utilities and a toilet. If you're living in a tent for 90 days, you are still homeless.
The County Commission, wishing to do something about the homeless, thought it was a great political move to show their heartfelt concern to let someone else tackle the problem where they have failed to for years and years. They were actually going to rewrite the county housing code to make tents legal. Can you imagine what effect that would have on the entire county? And they may still do it behind closed doors in this "legislate in the sunshine" state.
I'm certain your author has not considered at all the topic of property values. Picture this project 500 feet from your house, sir.
Elly Wencka, Tampa
Hillsborough rejects homeless camp Oct. 14, story
We should offer some hope
It's amazing that the streets of Hillsborough County, much like Pinellas County, have become the great "home of the homeless" and that Hillsborough County likes it that way.
I cannot understand why the people of Hillsborough County and the county's commissioners would reject the plans of Catholic Charities to build a tent city for the homeless there.
All those wonderful intentions earned nothing. Why do the citizens and the commissioners of Hillsborough County prefer to have homeless people roaming the streets, begging nearby residents for money, sleeping and doing their "business" on those same streets rather than having them in a decent, secured, hope-giving environment?
Homeless people who are served should be registered citizens and they should be from the area. They should also be helped into lives of productivity when at all possible. Catholic Charities will work to make that happen and at how much expense to the taxpayers?
Of course there will be problems related to their endeavors, but to ignore the situation as it is today seems like a deviant sort of decency.
I hope a day will come when Catholic Charities will realize their dream to build their city for these homeless people so that they are no longer so homeless and hopeless.
Anne Marie Jorgensen, St. Petersburg
Orchestra, musicians strike deal on salary Oct. 3
Working hard for success
In this story, performing arts critic John Fleming covered news of an agreement between the Florida Orchestra musicians and board that modified and extended our labor contract. The article was completely accurate. The contract modification was also just one — though significant — part of a much larger picture.
Over the past two seasons, TFO nimbly reduced our expenses by more than $2 million and maintained balanced budgets, while serving our community better. The recently modified agreement is one of the many cost-saving measures we have instituted in response to world events while maintaining our commitment to our core mission of artistic excellence and community service.
Last season, music director Stefan Sanderling built one of the best program schedules in our history, leading to growth in both our Masterworks and Coffee Series subscribership, and last weekend's performances demonstrate that this season promises to deliver another spectacular concert lineup in all three of our subscription series.
Despite the economic realities we all currently face, our board significantly increased its annual fund support while simultaneously taking the lead with our $30 million Sustainability Campaign. All of these decisions laid a strong foundation for our future.
Our successes in the face of overwhelming odds were not the result of pure chance, but of the hard work and dedication of many people: our music director, musicians, board, donors, staff and volunteers. Every orchestra has its defining moments, and I believe this is one of ours.
Jay B. Starkey Jr., past board chair, the Florida Orchestra, Odessa
Gay rights backers march in Washington Oct. 12, story
Standing for equality
Thank you for reporting on the National Equality March in our nation's capital on Sunday. Our congregation held a special service to stand in solidarity with the tens of thousands who were on the National Mall.
Sunday's march had a clear and simple demand: Full equality under the law for all Americans. Not a laundry list of rights currently denied in employment, inheritance, Social Security, marriage, military service. Not a plan for compromise and tiny, incremental steps toward justice. Full equality.
We live in a country that is dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal; that all people have certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away from them; and that, in the eyes of the law all are equal. As Unitarian Universalists, these are the primary values that motivate us to be involved in the struggle for equal rights and protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Our faith compels us to stand on the side of love and harness its power to stop prejudice, exclusion, oppression and violence based on identity, be it race, class, religion, nationality, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Where love is, we have a responsibility to affirm and support it, even with our own doubts, against all bias.
The Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater