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The U.S. armed forces often comply with state game laws when hunting or fishing on military reservations (THE OUTDOOR WEEK, May 14). But evidently there is no dearth of instances where they don't, and Congress is considering legislation to make compliance the law. The states seem to feel such action necessary. The services do not, but last week in hearings before Chairman Herbert Bonner's (Dem., N.C.) House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee a parade of state wildlife officials and Congressmen cited specific instances where the military had cavalierly ignored local fish and game laws and had in fact used bases as private hunting preserves where anything goes (THE OUTDOOR WEEK, June 4). The armed forces denied all, but an obviously angered Chairman Bonner announced that he would push hard for passage of the proposed bills.
RED FIELD, RED STREAM
Granting the Russians may occasionally stretch a point or two, could be that the Soviet Union is a Western outdoorsman's happy hunting and fishing ground.
Beyond the creaking iron curtain at Edinburgh, Scotland last week, Dr. Alexander Malinovsky, among other things Chief of the U.S.S.R.'s Department of Game and National Parks, proudly described Russia as a sportsman's paradise where a man can hunt and fish "probably more freely and cheaply than anywhere else in the world." Furthermore, the doctor added in this exclusive SI interview, Americans would be most welcome to share what every sporting Ivan has.
According to Malinovsky, a Russian hunting license costs 10 rubles (about $2.80) and entitles the owner to hunt more than 300 species of mammals anywhere in the country. A few animals are protected, most notable being the tiger, which now survives only in Siberia, but, by and large, game is legion. Russian hunters, estimates Malinovsky, topple annually 9 million hares, 8 million squirrels, 200,000 foxes, 12,000 elk and moose, 10,000 bear, and deer and steppe antelope in unrecorded but vast numbers. Game birds, including white ptarmigan, grouse, snipe, pheasant and bittern, as well as ducks and geese, fall at the rate of 30 million a year. And the entire bag might well be bigger if a gun was not priced at 1,200 rubles (a month's pay for a professional man) and if distances were not so great and transportation so primitive and expensive.
Dr. Malinovsky says angling is an even more economical pursuit. No license is required, and Soviet streams are teeming with trout, pike and salmon. Fly-fishing, incidentally, is little known, and most Russians prefer artificial minnows or spinners. And, since many streams are frozen solidly for as much as five months a year, ice fishing is almost by necessity a popular sport.
On the subject of conservation, Malinovsky and his two colleagues, who have been attending the Congress of the International Union for the Protection of Nature at Edinburgh, dropped some interesting remarks. Professor G. P. Dementiev, head of the Soviet Commission for the Protection of Nature, and Dr. L. K. Shaposhnikov, Chief of the U.S.S.R. Nature Reserves, agreed with Malinovsky that it was difficult to say how much of Russia was still wilderness. "It is a large country," said Dementiev, and even though industrialization is encroaching on sporting country, the problem is not yet an urgent one. Nonetheless, explained the Russian experts, future difficulties are anticipated and zapovedniki or national parks encompassing 3.5 million acres have already been established. In the U.S., only half the size of Russia, 28 national parks alone cover almost 13 million acres, but the Soviet outdoors as described in Edinburgh sounds enticing. What it proves to be for American pioneers is up to the Russians.
THE HORRIBLE HEFFALUMP