Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pennsylvania Residents May Soon Be Able to Use a Very Dangerous and Ancient Weapon to Kill Animals (and Anything Else that Gets in It’s Way).

An atlatl is a prehistoric weapon that uses a wooden sling to propel 6-foot-long darts at speeds up to 80 mph.

I can see it already – drunk hunters wielding this weapon – “whoops” says one as it mistakenly flies off at 80 mph in some direction.

I think this quote sums it up:

''It's common sense that animals will be wounded,'' said Heidi Prescott, senior vice president of campaigns for the Humane Society of the United States. ''This is not an accurate, high-powered, modern weapon. Our troglodyte ancestors were savvy enough to scrap the atlatl as soon as something better came along.''

January 25, 2006

From The Morning Call

Atlatl gets tentative OK as deer-hunting weapon

http://www.mcall.com/sports/outdoors/

all-a6_5atlatljan25,0,998446,print.story

Game Commission rejects its staff recommendation.

By Christian Berg

Of The Morning Call

HARRISBURG | Until now, the definition of a traditional deer hunter was someone who pursued his quarry with a flintlock rifle like those wielded by frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.

But thanks to a measure approved Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the state's nearly 900,000 deer hunters may soon be allowed to head afield with a weapon that is much older.

Going against the recommendation of the agency's staff, commissioners voted 8-0 to give preliminary approval to a proposal that would allow hunting with an atlatl, a prehistoric weapon that uses a wooden sling to propel 6-foot-long darts at speeds up to 80 mph.

Atlatl use dates back more than 8,000 years in Pennsylvania and far longer elsewhere in North America and Europe. The name, usually pronounced AT-lad-ul, is derived from an Aztec word for ''throwing board.''

Commission Executive Director Carl Roe and the agency's wildlife management staff strongly opposed the plan. They don't dispute the fact an atlatl can be an effective weapon in the right hands. However, they fear it isn't lethal enough for the average hunter to safely, ethically and humanely harvest game.

The decision also angered the nation's largest animal rights organization, which worried that many deer hit with an atlatl dart will be wounded but not killed.

''It's common sense that animals will be wounded,'' said Heidi Prescott, senior vice president of campaigns for the Humane Society of the United States. ''This is not an accurate, high-powered, modern weapon. Our troglodyte ancestors were savvy enough to scrap the atlatl as soon as something better came along.''

Commissioners disputed Prescott's claim and said atlatls are deadly when wielded by those who know how to use them.

''Anyone who has witnessed the use of it would never question its ability to harvest big game efficiently,'' said Commissioner Stephen Mohr of Lancaster County.

Commissioners also noted that only a few dozen sportsmen are likely to hunt with atlatls, making their impact on deer numbers negligible. Gary Fogelman, president of the Pennsylvania Atlatl Association, said there are fewer than 100 atlatl users statewide. He estimated that fewer than half of those would actually hunt with one.

The commission's action thrilled Robert Berg, a professional atlatl maker from Candor, N.Y., who traveled to Harrisburg to testify in favor of the weapon at a public comment session Sunday. He has used the weapon to kill deer, boars and fish.

''I have proven to myself and others that the atlatl is a very effective hunting weapon,'' Berg said, adding that atlatls are also used to kill buffalo, elk and alligators. ''I spend thousands of dollars traveling to distant locations to hunt with the atlatl, and I would be more than glad to hunt down here.''

Preliminary approval means the commission will consider final approval at its April meeting. Prescott, the Humane Society official, said she is already making plans to appeal the agency's decision to lawmakers if that happens.

''If the commission doesn't have the sense to stand with their staff and vote against a Stone Age device, hopefully the Pennsylvania Legislature will,'' she said.

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